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Barastir
Master of Realmslore

Brazil
1600 Posts

Posted - 12 Jun 2013 :  19:16:10  Show Profile Send Barastir a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by hashimashadoo

Corellon was always a vengeful deity, punishing before thinking. Very out of character for a supposedly Chaotic Good god.
The descriptions I have of Corellon's character, at least in 2e books and novels, are very different from this.
Which references do you have?

EDIT: typos and clarifying

"Goodness is not a natural state, but must be
fought for to be attained and maintained.
Lead by example.
Let your deeds speak your intentions.
Goodness radiated from the heart."

The Paladin's Virtues, excerpt from the "Quentin's Monograph"
(by Ed Greenwood)

Edited by - Barastir on 12 Jun 2013 19:34:15
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TBeholder
Great Reader

2394 Posts

Posted - 12 Jun 2013 :  20:12:24  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Thauranil
Have elves committed acts of genocide? I think the answer to that question is yes, however we cannot stigmatize the entire race based on the actions of a few and especially when most of these incidents took place in the distant past.
Most of these incidents took place in the distant past because a wicked cow has short horns... after century after century of ramming too many hard objects. Elves simply aren't really up to it - or almost anything - anymore. For crying out loud, most either died out or slid away from the world to their little magical island.
With exception of Dhaeraowathila, etc elves aren't too crazy to understand the obvious fact: in long term, they barely can hold their own and are lucky when not forced into Retreat - which means they simply don't have enough of strength to afford an attack on any other major power.
Give an average formerly decent Golden elf sudden taste of power and vitality - and you'll get him flipping out all the way to "Vartan+Labelas" fireworks. Just like with humans.

quote:
Also if we look at humanities past and indeed present behavior in the realms, well lets just say that its nothing to be overly proud off, especially from a moral standpoint.
As for monsters such as orcs
quote:
Originally posted by Quale
And the dragons exterminated the Aeree...
Well, duh. But neither get for some inexplicable reason designated as "good guys".

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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carbos
Acolyte

14 Posts

Posted - 12 Jun 2013 :  20:33:26  Show Profile Send carbos a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Barastir
People usually complain about the perfectness on Tolkien's elves. In fact, most of them are too good to be true, because Tolkien drank on the mythical elves, inspiring himself also in angels (fair creatures with melodic voices, and so on). In games, there is also the question of elves threatening game balance, but this is another topic.


I take it most people didn't read Silmarillion, with Noldors commiting one massacre after another or even Hobbit where Elves of Mirkwood show up to loot lone Mountain.
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  00:56:08  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I don't know of anything that says civilizations were erased from existence by the elven Sundering -- it's my understanding that the rippling back and forth in time was more in regards to the creation of the island of Evermeet. Because the destruction of the continent was certainly not something that reached back and forth in time -- they saw it happening, which means it happened at the same time the spell was cast.


That may be the case... or it may not. It's hard to say when you go fiddling around with time, isn't it? Of course, it's not even to say that the changes - if there were indeed changes - were bad. Had the elves not performed the Sundering, things could have been worse... but they could have also been better. It's impossible to say, because they've screwed with time itself.

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I also think that far too much emphasis is being placed on the actions of elven leadership, and upon unforeseen circumstances. Arrogance is not the same as deliberate evil, and a people's leadership -- particularly when that leadership is not selected through election -- does not necessarily reflect the attitudes and mores of the people. Zhentil Keep, for example, is ruled by some pretty non-nice folks. That doesn't make every single citizen an unsavory character.


The same can be said for any group. The argument given for the elves destruction of Jhaamdath is exactly the same argument you are making. They were harassing the elves, and thus the elves had no choice but to act as they did.

Yet, by the measurement that you give here it should only be the leaders of Jhaamdath, and at worst those who carried out their orders as well who should have been held accountable. There were hundreds of thousands if not millions of innocent people living in Jhaamdath who had nothing to do with the actions against the elves. Yet, despite this the elves decided to engage in an act of genocide, an attempt to kill all humans in the region - the guilty along side the innocent - by wiping their civilization off the map - literally.

Now, it can be argued whether or not it was a justified act, but it was decidedly not a good aligned act. In fact, if we assume that the majority of elves are good aligned then the majority of elves should have actively been opposed to what happened to Jhaamdath - they should have been attempting to prevent it. Not because some people in Jhaamdath didn't deserve to die, but because some people in Jhaamdath were innocent and deserved to live.

We see no evidence of any major - yet alone nearly overwhelming - opposition to what was done to Jhaamdath.

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Elves are considered good not because they are pretty, but because the vast majority of elven individuals are good. Just because they've had some ruthless leaders in the past, it doesn't mean they're all a bunch of murderous fiends now -- or even in the past, when certain acts were committed.


I disagree, not surprisingly. It's a pretty well established trope in D&D that pretty things tend to be considered good while ugly things tend toward evil. Look at pretty much any evil standard monster: orcs, gnolls, goblins, etc. you're going to find that most of them are ugly by human standards. Even devils and demons are often portrayed as twisted in some way, almost never flawlessly beautiful. Meanwhile beings like Angels are often portrayed as creatures of stunning beauty.

There is no fundamental reason that a being of pure goodness couldn't look like the most hideous troll imaginable. There is nothing inherent in beauty or ugliness that makes one good or evil.

Now, it's not true in ALL cases, thus making it a guideline rather than a rule. However, in the vast majority of cases it is true. Elves benefit from this because they're often portrayed or considered to be more aesthetically beautiful than humans.

If elves looked like Orcs, Goblins, or Trolls for example - even if every action they committed was identical - most people would regard them as evil at worst or neutral at best.

There is nothing that I can find that is innate in elves themselves that make them more good than humans. They are capable of bigotry, cruelty, hatred, murder, wide spread destruction, etc. To be innately good these types of actions would be adverse to their nature - it would be abnormal. I know of no creditable evidence that claims this to be the case.

This means that elves aren't born innately good, and that they need to earn the alignment through their actions. This makes them no different from humans.

One of the things that elves benefit from that humans do not is a double standard. Let's give a hypothetical example.

We have a group humans who have been expanding for some time into a region. They have been threatening a forest sacred to Corellon and the elves. The elves have tried - through various means both peaceful and violent - to get the humans to leave the area. All attempts have failed, and now there is open hostility between the humans and the elves.

Feeling that they have no choice, the elves use a High Magic ritual that causes a massive tsunami to hit the human kingdom. It kills most of those living there and permanently reshapes the coastline. (In other words, exactly what happened to Jhaamdath.)

On the other hand we have a situation that is much the same. There is a human kingdom expanding into a region with a sacred forest to a group of druids for some time. There are many endangered species living in the forest, and the druids have used various methods - both peaceful and violent - to get the humans to leave the area. All attempts have failed, and now there is open hostility between the humans and the human druids.

With their back against the wall, the human druids use their magic to unleash locusts on the humans crops causing famine, cause plague and disease to spread among their cities, and call upon the elements in a targeted way (after all they are druids) to lay waste to their major settlements. The human kingdom is smashed and broken, and a steady stream of human refugees flee the region.

The two reasons are virtually identical. Yet most people would see the actions of the elves as justified at best, if not neutral at worst. On the other hand, the human druids would be seen as neutral at best, and evil at worst.

Yet, if we examine their actions closely the druids were more merciful than the elves. While both the elves and druids killed scores of innocent people, the druids actively limited their destruction, thousands if not millions still lived and were able to flee as refugees. That certainly isn't an ideal situation to find oneself, but it is better than the alternative. With the Elves they simply wiped out the entire region - innocent and guilty alike - human and everything else alike - and permanently reshaped the land. Few if any were left alive to flee as refugees.

However, for some reason the actions of the human druids are more likely to be seen as evil at worst or neutral at best. Why is that? It's a clear double standard.
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sfdragon
Great Reader

2285 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  00:58:34  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message
and you keep saying elves meaning as a whole.

the answer still would be no.

each of those known incidents was all done by a group of elves and not the race as a whole save maybe the crown wars....... and maybe the sundering.... .although......odd though on the sundering.....you suppose since it went forward and backward in time that it sunders the majority of the connection between the abeir and toril????


also the write ups for 4e corellon has nothing to do with the FR corellon. 4e core has him as unaligned the fr version still ahs him as good and every article that mentioned him in ddi was core and not realms specific unless duly noted.

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


My FR fan fiction
Magister's GAmbit
http://steelfiredragon.deviantart.com/gallery/33539234
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36782 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  01:13:40  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message
You know the double-standard that bugs me?

I've seen people argue that "Elves are evil, because small numbers of them have done very bad things!" and then turn around and argue that "Just because orcs have slaughtered anyone they can for tens of thousands of years, it doesn't mean they're evil -- look, here's a small, isolated group that isn't evil, and that proves the majority aren't evil, either!"

It's a fact that in FR canon, most elves are indeed good-aligned. Some individuals here and there aren't, but the majority are. That's a simple fact of the setting, and I don't understand why people have to argue it.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

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I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  01:36:55  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

You know the double-standard that bugs me?

I've seen people argue that "Elves are evil, because small numbers of them have done very bad things!" and then turn around and argue that "Just because orcs have slaughtered anyone they can for tens of thousands of years, it doesn't mean they're evil -- look, here's a small, isolated group that isn't evil, and that proves the majority aren't evil, either!"

It's a fact that in FR canon, most elves are indeed good-aligned. Some individuals here and there aren't, but the majority are. That's a simple fact of the setting, and I don't understand why people have to argue it.


Because alignment is a tangible thing in the Forgotten Realms, not just an abstract concept. Actions and character matters, and there is nothing innate about elves or their actions that seems to make them any more good aligned than your average human.

I'm not arguing that elves are evil. I'm saying that elves are no more nor less good than humans by nature.

Just because a group of game designers get together and decide because elves look pretty that they should be considered naturally good rather than neutral like humans doesn't mean it makes sense. You actually have to explain the reason behind their innate goodness.

quote:
Originally posted by sfdragon

and you keep saying elves meaning as a whole.


Yes, I am talking about the elves as a whole. My argument is this: elves as a whole are no more good than humans as a whole. Some elves are good, some elves are evil, and most elves probably belong in the neutral / unaligned category because they have not engaged in sufficient actions to warrant a good or evil alignment.

The only exception to this would be if elves are somehow innately good in the same way a celestial is innately good. There is no evidence that this is true for elves in the same way it is true for a celestial. In fact, elves seem to have more in common with humans than planar beings.

This isn't an attack on elves, it's a simple statement of what appears to be obvious.

quote:
Originally posted by sfdragon

each of those known incidents was all done by a group of elves and not the race as a whole save maybe the crown wars....... and maybe the sundering....


The same is true for every atrocity committed by humanity. Yet, we do not consider humanity innately good.

quote:
Originally posted by sfdragon

odd though on the sundering.....you suppose since it went forward and backward in time that it sunders the majority of the connection between the abeir and toril????


The Sundering of Abeir and Toril took place before the Elven Sundering. It was actually the first Sundering, done by Ao as he forged the Tablets of Fate. When he destroyed the tablets at the end of the Time of Troubles Abeir and Toril slowly began to merge back together. The events of the Spellplague sped up this process.

We honestly don't know what the elves screwed up when they messed with time itself. The world could be a better place due to their actions, it could be a worse place, or it could have had no real impact at all. We simply don't know.
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CorellonsDevout
Great Reader

USA
2708 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  02:19:45  Show Profile Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message
I deleted my original post to this topic, because when I posted, I hadn't read others yet. Now I've read most of them.

I like elves. They are my favorite race, and as a whole, I like them better than humans. But I also know the elves have faults, just like everyone else. Some of the elves are evil, or at least have done evil things. There have been elven characters I do not like, and the Crown Wars I think is a dark stain in their history. There were several elves in Elminster in Myth Drannor I did not like. But, as some have said, we cannot judge an entire race on the actions of some, or events from the past.

I wouldn't call them a bloodthirsty race who are constantly searching for something to kill.

Sweet water and light laughter
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sfdragon
Great Reader

2285 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  02:52:23  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message
it would be interesting to know if what history said elves did with their sundering, they didnt really do....

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


My FR fan fiction
Magister's GAmbit
http://steelfiredragon.deviantart.com/gallery/33539234
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sfdragon
Great Reader

2285 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  02:53:58  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

You know the double-standard that bugs me?

I've seen people argue that "Elves are evil, because small numbers of them have done very bad things!" and then turn around and argue that "Just because orcs have slaughtered anyone they can for tens of thousands of years, it doesn't mean they're evil -- look, here's a small, isolated group that isn't evil, and that proves the majority aren't evil, either!"

It's a fact that in FR canon, most elves are indeed good-aligned. Some individuals here and there aren't, but the majority are. That's a simple fact of the setting, and I don't understand why people have to argue it.




it might be that we're all humans and as such, we love a good story and a good controversial theory.....

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


My FR fan fiction
Magister's GAmbit
http://steelfiredragon.deviantart.com/gallery/33539234
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  03:22:47  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

I deleted my original post to this topic, because when I posted, I hadn't read others yet. Now I've read most of them.

I like elves. They are my favorite race, and as a whole, I like them better than humans. But I also know the elves have faults, just like everyone else. Some of the elves are evil, or at least have done evil things. There have been elven characters I do not like, and the Crown Wars I think is a dark stain in their history. There were several elves in Elminster in Myth Drannor I did not like. But, as some have said, we cannot judge an entire race on the actions of some, or events from the past.

I wouldn't call them a bloodthirsty race who are constantly searching for something to kill.


Ah, but would you say they are no better or worse than humans?

Humans are not a bloodthirsty race who are constantly searching for something to kill, either. There are good aligned humans, there are evil aligned humans, and most humans have a tendency to fall somewhere in the middle - neutral / unaligned. Some humans engage in unspeakable atrocities, and other humans engage in unimaginable altruism. It runs the entire spectrum.

I argue that elves are fundamentally no different, and that there is nothing innate in their nature that leads them to be good aligned in the same way a celestial is good aligned. It is something that each elf must achieve over time through their actions. In other words - no pure blooded elf is born innately good.

As a result, simply assuming that elves are naturally Chaotic Good makes no sense.
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TBeholder
Great Reader

2394 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  10:29:34  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

Some of the elves are evil, or at least have done evil things. There have been elven characters I do not like, and the Crown Wars I think is a dark stain in their history. There were several elves in Elminster in Myth Drannor I did not like. But, as some have said, we cannot judge an entire race on the actions of some, or events from the past.
Crown Wars didn't happen because two or three elves thought to punch each other and the rest who were innocent babies sucking on their fingers. Neither was the dubious state of affairs in Cormanthyr of late Eltargrim time. Both problems had deep roots and demonstrated common trends. Perhaps not any outstanding viciousness, but less than cute habits were here, and they remained.

Crown Wars? There was Battle of the Gods Theater, which highlights a lot. 70000 elves got killed, mostly because 100000 orcs somehow crept up on them without early warnings. So, does a hundred thousands of orcs fit the idea of "stealth incarnate" or it's like that drunkard joke about snails being too damn fast to track? This one event speaks volumes about great organizational and strategical abilities of elven commanders of this period - both Vyshaan and their enemies, at that.
And that both were more interested in throwing oversized hissyfits than thinking over what they're doing. Recognizable?

In "Elminster in Myth Drannor", did you notice conspicuous absence of one little detail? Every other noble ardavanshee was up in arms and frothed on mouth about one human in the capital city - which, as lady Holone said, in itself was a sign of way too many being "poor dutiful lords". But... how did they react on the event from which it started - hobgoblins daring to walk in and slaughter their patrol? It means a very nasty threat is already looming in plain sight. They were so loudly concerned, but where were the lines of young elves enlisting to make smoking hot goblinoid-kebab? Oh, right, it looks like too much of risk (compared to getting rid of one Elminster Aumar... heh, heh) and a lot of drudge. The place was already decadent, and their last Coronal who had enough of sense to notice this managed only to stave off the effects of decay.

So, the main difference between "distant past" and more recent times is that elves who still act the same way outside their own settlements tend to have longevity of a snowball on Avernus - and those of them who aren't literally too dumb to live adjust behaviour accordingly. If a blind and shaking old man doesn't stoop to pick up a wallet someone else forgot in plain view of ten witnesses, this doesn't prove that his honesty: it's simply not a feasible option, whether he's an unrepentant ex-highway robber or a saint.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
3802 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  10:53:29  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

You know the double-standard that bugs me?

I've seen people argue that "Elves are evil, because small numbers of them have done very bad things!" and then turn around and argue that "Just because orcs have slaughtered anyone they can for tens of thousands of years, it doesn't mean they're evil -- look, here's a small, isolated group that isn't evil, and that proves the majority aren't evil, either!"

It's a fact that in FR canon, most elves are indeed good-aligned. Some individuals here and there aren't, but the majority are. That's a simple fact of the setting, and I don't understand why people have to argue it.



I speak only for me here, but I think that the reason of such claims lies in the fact that it is getting tiresome to see races being automatically associated with an alignment. I mean, it looks a bit unrealistic to me that the vast majority of the elves on Faerun are good, or that the vast majority of orcs/drow/duergar/whatever are evil because of their race (and I fail to see any other explanation for this matter: since it is given as a fact that most of X race are Y aligned, I take that it must be because of the race. Drow might be an exception 'cause of their brainwashing, but after all the examples of different possibilities they witnessed, something should have had happened).

I'd like to see significant variety in behavior when it comes to humanoids (and I'd like to see other motivations behind 'evil' actions than 'me smash', 'because evulz', or the extremely overused 'mwahaha powah'), since realistically most of them would rather pursue their personal goals than try to act accordingly to some alignment.

Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things.

Edited by - Irennan on 13 Jun 2013 10:55:27
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Barastir
Master of Realmslore

Brazil
1600 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  12:05:18  Show Profile Send Barastir a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by carbos
I take it most people didn't read Silmarillion, with Noldors commiting one massacre after another or even Hobbit where Elves of Mirkwood show up to loot lone Mountain.

I've read it long ago, and in that you're right. About the Noldor I don't remember, but Mirkwood elves were the Wood Elves, that inspired the more neutral and xenophobic Sylvan Elves of D&D.

"Goodness is not a natural state, but must be
fought for to be attained and maintained.
Lead by example.
Let your deeds speak your intentions.
Goodness radiated from the heart."

The Paladin's Virtues, excerpt from the "Quentin's Monograph"
(by Ed Greenwood)
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Barastir
Master of Realmslore

Brazil
1600 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  12:51:33  Show Profile Send Barastir a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by IrennanI speak only for me here, but I think that the reason of such claims lies in the fact that it is getting tiresome to see races being automatically associated with an alignment. I mean, it looks a bit unrealistic to me that the vast majority of the elves on Faerun are good, or that the vast majority of orcs/drow/duergar/whatever are evil because of their race.
(...)

It IS unrealistic because originally the races were created based on myth. And the building of the races was made this way, back in the 70s, accordingly with some stereotypes. Elves were good and children of a goodly deity, orcs were monsters created by a devilish and brutal god. Humans were different exactly because of their free will, and while some were good and tender as elves others were ruthless and cruel as the worst goblinoids.

Of course, there were decades of gaming, different authors writing the game, and the way people see good, evil, and different races changed through time (see Klingons in Star Trek). It was not something that happened overnight, but it happened.

Also, as I cited before, conflict was needed to make stories interesting, even to Tolkien, if you think of the Silmarillion. But then again, if one of Tolkien's inspiration were the angels, even angels had their rebellions before falling and turning into demons (and not in the same way, but elves were also turned into orcs).

Some FR novel authors made elves more human, like Elaine Cunningham, that wrote very interesting stories with elves, but their conflicts for power and their conflicts sometimes were very human-like, even to make them interesting to us readers. Other writers, like Salvatore, kept the appearance of elves to a minimum in his novels, but most of them are truly good.

I like to portray elves in my game sessions like faeries, and sometimes like Greek heroes. They are heroic, but sometimes they are capricious (like the Greeks), and their emotions are very strong, from joy to sorrow (for they are faeries, not humans). I tend to play them more noble, though (like Tolkien).

About the destruction of some places like Jhaamdath, and even of some dark elven cities (even before they were turned into drow), I think of the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when Lot looked for even one just person and couldn't find; only then God chose to destroy the place. Or about the corruption of Babylon. Maybe there were no innocents, for the corruption influenced the citizens since their very upbringing, just like the drow societies in Salvatore's novels. Occasionally, in centuries, maybe there would be born a good guy, but at that historic moment no one was found as just.

You can argue this is unrealistic, but once again, if you think the creatures and inspiration of the game were based on myths and fantasy, it makes (its own?) sense. Anyway, if you don't agree elves are good, say they are not in your game, or change them to make them good.

I do think elves (and I say elves in general, like most of their population, in their different levels) have a more goodly and just society, based in books like "Elves of Evermeet". And so I chose to reflect them in my game. In my games there are no elven beggars, and they are generally more generous and worried about other people, and they usually do not understand the human posture of putting material concern over the concern for others. But they are not perfect, and deal sometimes harshly to any threat to their lives and to the life of those they love. Being passionate like fey are, they are also very vindicative.

Once again, elves are fantastic creatures, created in a different social context, and based on myth. Use whatever the game offers you about them as you wish, for you are soreveign in your own game table.

EDIT: typo

"Goodness is not a natural state, but must be
fought for to be attained and maintained.
Lead by example.
Let your deeds speak your intentions.
Goodness radiated from the heart."

The Paladin's Virtues, excerpt from the "Quentin's Monograph"
(by Ed Greenwood)

Edited by - Barastir on 13 Jun 2013 12:55:29
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Quale
Master of Realmslore

1757 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  13:59:57  Show Profile Send Quale a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by TBeholder

quote:
Originally posted by Quale
And the dragons exterminated the Aeree...
Well, duh. But neither get for some inexplicable reason designated as "good guys".



It was a kill or be killed situation, the avariel were also nearly gone. Depends if they could make the mythal only affect the chromatics.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
3802 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  14:28:13  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message
quote:
It IS unrealistic because originally the races were created based on myth. And the building of the races was made this way, back in the 70s, accordingly with some stereotypes. Elves were good and children of a goodly deity, orcs were monsters created by a devilish and brutal god. Humans were different exactly because of their free will, and while some were good and tender as elves others were ruthless and cruel as the worst goblinoids.

Of course, there were decades of gaming, different authors writing the game, and the way people see good, evil, and different races changed through time (see Klingons in Star Trek). It was not something that happened overnight, but it happened.

Also, as I cited before, conflict was needed to make stories interesting, even to Tolkien, if you think of the Silmarillion. But then again, if one of Tolkien's inspiration were the angels, even angels had their rebellions before falling and turning into demons (and not in the same way, but elves were also turned into orcs).

Some FR novel authors made elves more human, like Elaine Cunningham, that wrote very interesting stories with elves, but their conflicts for power and their conflicts sometimes were very human-like, even to make them interesting to us readers. Other writers, like Salvatore, kept the appearance of elves to a minimum in his novels, but most of them are truly good.

I like to portray elves in my game sessions like faeries, and sometimes like Greek heroes. They are heroic, but sometimes they are capricious (like the Greeks), and their emotions are very strong, from joy to sorrow (for they are faeries, not humans). I tend to play them more noble, though (like Tolkien).

About the destruction of some places like Jhaamdath, and even of some dark elven cities (even before they were turned into drow), I think of the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when Lot looked for even one just person and couldn't find; only then God chose to destroy the place. Or about the corruption of Babylon. Maybe there were no innocents, for the corruption influenced the citizens since their very upbringing, just like the drow societies in Salvatore's novels. Occasionally, in centuries, maybe there would be born a good guy, but at that historic moment no one was found as just.

You can argue this is unrealistic, but once again, if you think the creatures and inspiration of the game were based on myths and fantasy, it makes (its own?) sense. Anyway, if you don't agree elves are good, say they are not in your game, or change them to make them good.

I do think elves (and I say elves in general, like most of their population, in their different levels) have a more goodly and just society, based in books like "Elves of Evermeet". And so I chose to reflect them in my game. In my games there are no elven beggars, and they are generally more generous and worried about other people, and they usually do not understand the human posture of putting material concern over the concern for others. But they are not perfect, and deal sometimes harshly to any threat to their lives and to the life of those they love. Being passionate like fey are, they are also very vindicative.

Once again, elves are fantastic creatures, created in a different social context, and based on myth. Use whatever the game offers you about them as you wish, for you are soreveign in your own game table.




Well, I didn't want to sound harsh, but by unrealistic I meant dumbed down. Personally, I think that it is time to remove concepts like 'X race is mainly Y aligned', they only detract from the depth of the setting IMO. Sure, every race should have their particularities and recurrent attitudes (for example -like you said- the elves feel emotions more strongly than other races, and therefore tend to overreact by human standards, have stronger bonds and so on), but it should mainly be about the individual, whose behaviour and ''alignment'' is determined by his/her personal goals. Of course some races might hold a bad/good reputation because of their open use of shady methods/general helpfulness, but this shouldn't be so extended to warrant reactions like ''OMG an Orc. He's evil, kill him/run!!'' on a wide scale (only the most bigot among the people from the unprogressive places should act like that). I'd like it if when meeting anyone from any race, people didn't know what to expect beyond the loose and not so reliable conceptions I described above.


Things like ''Orcs are mostly brute savages'', ''Drow are mostly brainwashed religious fanatics'', ''Elves are mostly kind-hearted people who care about each other''... add nothing to the setting, because they standardize groups of people, feed prejudice and tend to make stuff a bit too much ''black and white'', which is always a limitation (and sadly, as far as I know WotC's intentions are to continue this trend, seeing that -for example- they have done their best to remove any kind of depth and diversity among the drow).

PS: About the dark elven cities: the destroyed nation (yep, not cities. A whole nation and almost everyone living there) was Miyeritar, possibly one of the most open minded, progressive and advanced kingdoms ever existed on Faerun. They were destroyed 'cause they refused to bow to Aryvandaar. No possible corruption anywhere here.

PS2: I'm sorry if this sounds hostile (this post isn't intended to be), but please stop saying 'you can do w/e you want in your game'. It is obvious, and stay sure that I'd be treating this matter how I see fit, if I was running a campaign.

Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things.

Edited by - Irennan on 13 Jun 2013 14:40:49
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carbos
Acolyte

14 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  14:55:02  Show Profile Send carbos a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Barastir

quote:
Originally posted by carbos
I take it most people didn't read Silmarillion, with Noldors commiting one massacre after another or even Hobbit where Elves of Mirkwood show up to loot lone Mountain.

I've read it long ago, and in that you're right. About the Noldor I don't remember, but Mirkwood elves were the Wood Elves, that inspired the more neutral and xenophobic Sylvan Elves of D&D.


On top of my head Noldors:
-Killed bunch of peaceful Elves because they didn't want to give them ships
-Commited another mass murder on Elves when they were already back in the Middle Earth and pissed off Elu Thingol so much he forbid to speak their language in his Kingdom
-Hunted dwarves for a sport
-Destroyed Doriath most powerful Elven Kingdom in The Middle Earth

quote:
Originally posted by BarastirAlso, as I cited before, conflict was needed to make stories interesting, even to Tolkien, if you think of the Silmarillion. But then again, if one of Tolkien's inspiration were the angels, even angels had their rebellions before falling and turning into demons (and not in the same way, but elves were also turned into orcs).

Even "pretty" elves weren't super nice in Silmarilion. Feanor supporters were consistently portrayed as a greedy assholes, and even Elu Thingol was portrayed a rather biggoted person.(which ended up killing him)


quote:
Originally posted by BarastirAbout the destruction of some places like Jhaamdath, and even of some dark elven cities (even before they were turned into drow), I think of the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when Lot looked for even one just person and couldn't find; only then God chose to destroy the place. Or about the corruption of Babylon. Maybe there were no innocents, for the corruption influenced the citizens since their very upbringing, just like the drow societies in Salvatore's novels. Occasionally, in centuries, maybe there would be born a good guy, but at that historic moment no one was found as just.

Jhaamdath actions were caused by fear and even then when elves nuked it Jhaamdath was barely keeping itself together as 20 years before it had coup and less than 10 years before part of country tried to secede.

Edited by - carbos on 13 Jun 2013 15:11:53
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  16:03:42  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message
I'm mostly in agreement with Irennan. When it comes to the way I handle things I tend to ignore alignment entirely unless I'm dealing with outsiders or it is absolutely necessary. If we're talking about fiends or celestials then we're talking about beings with innate moralities. They lack free will - a devil could never willingly choose to be altruistic or benevolent. Neither could a celestial choose to be cruel, spiteful, or in some cases - even violent. They are alien beings that lack free will. Mortals differ (and the reason they are so important to such beings) because they HAVE free will - the very thing they lack.

It's the collective free will of mortals manifested through belief that determine the fate of the multiverse. ...but that's neither here nor there.

I have no problem with elves as you describe them, Barastir. However, those are not the elves from canon. The elves you describe, by their very nature, would lack free will. A being cannot be innately good and then 'choose' to do evil, because being innately good means that doing evil things would be alien to such a being.

This is clearly not true for the elves in canon, and this is true for most other races as well. If we want to argue that orcs are innately evil, then it makes perfect logical sense - it's even a good aligned action - to murder orc children and pregnant orc women. Why? Because it's no different than killing a demon, and the only reason it would seem distasteful is because we'd be humanizing the creatures - believing that they are capable of feeling emotional sorrow and pain as we do... which they wouldn't be able to do.

Orcs in my Realms are not innately evil creatures. They are different from humans in that they have difficulty empathizing with others, and are innately more aggressive. In effect, they are similar to humans with neurological problems that push them toward anti-social and violent behavior. However, orcs do have a choice, and are capable of restraining themselves - it's just more difficult than it would be for a human.

The elves in my Realms are different from humans in that they are capable of experiencing much deeper emotions and are far more passionate. This stems from their fey heritage. Their great works of art, song, poetry, and even magic is directly attributable to this deeper emotional ability and passion. They are capable of experiencing love and joy more profound and complex than any human could ever experience. However, the darker side of that is that they are also capable of experiencing grief, heartbreak, and hatred more profound than any human could ever imagine.

Much of elven culture is designed to channel the innate passion and emotion of the elves toward positive pursuits. As a result, you often see great acts of elven art, magic, poetry, and music. Yet, the reverse side of that coin is that you also see elves occasionally slipping into genocidal tendencies completely blinded by hatred that would make even the most bigoted human pale in comparison.

So are elves prone to genocide and mass murder? Under the right circumstances, absolutely - and even more ruthlessly than humans. Although the elves would like to think groups like the drow prior to the Dark Disaster are unique, that they somehow fell under some sort of corruption - the truth of the matter is the seeds of what they became exists in every elf.

Some humans may look at how the elves dealt with the dark elves or Jhaamdath and consider it extreme. They wonder how they could have murdered or cursed so many innocent people. Yet, they are looking at it through the eyes of a human, and in coldly logical terms at that. It's easily understood when you see it through the emotional and passionate eyes of the elves, and realize - like in our greatest moments of anger or lust - logic and reason often does not play much of a role in how we act. Long term consequences, likewise, do not factor into those decisions. This is one of the reasons elven culture is constantly trying to slow things down. It allows their actions to be more logical and sensible rather than become driven primarily by emotion and passion.

This is simply a difference in the psychology of elves. They still have free will, and are capable of making choices just like humans. However, they are greatly influenced by these factors.

The other humanoid races are similar to humans but different in important ways as well.

This is how I handle and describe elves in my Realms. It's not 100% canon, but it keeps elves from becoming just pointy-eared humans and it makes sense with canon lore. (It also explains a lot of elven behaviors, traits, and history.)

Edited by - Aldrick on 13 Jun 2013 16:04:17
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Barastir
Master of Realmslore

Brazil
1600 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  17:04:55  Show Profile Send Barastir a Private Message
Well, the destructions of Miyeritar and Jhamdaath were described in canon much more recently, and it originally meant the destruction of corrupted dark elves, AFAIK. But as I said, writers changed, the game designers changed, and yes, many now-canonic elves and their actions were and are definately non-good.

My intention in saying you can do whatever you want in your game is because many people DO get stuck to canon and sometimes give published lore much more importance than they should, at the point of altering their campaigns because of new info. So, please forgive me if I was being repetitive. If canon wasn't so important to many people, this discussion woulb be way shorter, and sometimes those chains need to be broken. That's why I stick to myths and older lore, but then again, this is just IMHO. It works for me, and even if it limits elves a bit, they have a lot of advantages, and humans... Well, they have their broader cultural and moral diversity.

For elves being passional/ruthless against their enemies, for example, I make them vindicative, yes, but not cruel, or taking pleasure in other's pain, for example. Because this I would see as evil, something that would be alien to them, or something that just makes no sense, since they see and understand life differently. It is not that they don't have free will, but that they have different concepts, and are somehow limited to them.

And yes, being a non-human good or evil was, in the past, somewhat akin to the behavior of devils and celestials, by Aldricks' concept. Treating and seeing orcs - or Klingons - more "humanly" is a relatively new concept, and the cradle of these questions.

"Goodness is not a natural state, but must be
fought for to be attained and maintained.
Lead by example.
Let your deeds speak your intentions.
Goodness radiated from the heart."

The Paladin's Virtues, excerpt from the "Quentin's Monograph"
(by Ed Greenwood)
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
3802 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  17:13:33  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Barastir
Well, the destructions of Miyeritar and Jhamdaath were described in canon much more recently, and it originally meant the destruction of corrupted dark elves, AFAIK. But as I said, writers changed, the game designers changed, and yes, many now-canonic elves and their actions were and are definately non-good.


Miyeritar has always been a Sehanine-Eilistraee worshipping, green-dark elven kingdom dedicated to the development of arts and culture, AFAIK (the ''evil'' guys were the Ilythiiri). However Jhamdaath actually was a warlike and expansionist empire, IIRC.

quote:
My intention in saying you can do whatever you want in your game is because many people DO get stuck to canon and sometimes give published lore much more importance than they should, at the point of altering their campaigns because of new info. So, please forgive me if I was being repetitive. If canon wasn't so important to many people, this discussion woulb be way shorter, and sometimes those chains need to be broken. That's why I stick to myths and older lore, but then again, this is just IMHO. It works for me, and even if it limits elves a bit, they have a lot of advantages, and humans... Well, they have their broader cultural and moral diversity.


The importance of canon is in its influence of the published setting and novels, which is what people purchase. That's why the ones interested in the Realms as a world and not just as a campaign setting can't simply shrug at WotC choices.

Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things.

Edited by - Irennan on 13 Jun 2013 17:15:07
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Barastir
Master of Realmslore

Brazil
1600 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  17:25:39  Show Profile Send Barastir a Private Message
True enough. Well, al I was trying to say was that elves are not - or aren't supposed to be - mass murderers, and if they are more human-like, just like now orcs are considered more human, it is because times changed, and because writers, readers and game designers are humans. For the future of published lore... I'm now, approaching the 40s, much more picky about the books and lore I buy or use, but this is me. Anyway, thank you all for sharing thoughts with me, and even considering my ramblings.

PS: About your comment of Miyeritar and Jhamdaath, I agree, but they were written quite recently, in the game's perspective.

"Goodness is not a natural state, but must be
fought for to be attained and maintained.
Lead by example.
Let your deeds speak your intentions.
Goodness radiated from the heart."

The Paladin's Virtues, excerpt from the "Quentin's Monograph"
(by Ed Greenwood)

Edited by - Barastir on 13 Jun 2013 17:38:05
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Emma Drake
Learned Scribe

USA
206 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  19:35:58  Show Profile  Visit Emma Drake's Homepage Send Emma Drake a Private Message
Genocides:
-Dracorage Mythal (Elves against dragons; -25000 DR)
-Dark Disaster (Sun elves of Aryvandaar against dark elves of Miyeritar; -10500 DR)
-Descent of the Drow (Corellon and his priests/mages against the dark elves/drow; -10000 DR)
-Sharksbane Wall (Sea elves, along with other sea races, against sahuagin; -8938 DR and the following seven centuries)
-Second Serôs War (Sea elves, along with other sea races, against kuo-toa; -8282 DR)
-Fifth Serôs War (Sea elves against shalarin and morkoth; -780 DR)
-Fall of Jhaamdath (Elves against humans; -255 DR)
-Destruction of Clan Melairkyn (Drow against dwarves; 211 DR)
-First Murders by Eldreth Veluuthra (Elves against humans, half-elves, and drow; 757 DR)
-Fall of Blingdenstone (Drow against svirfneblin; 1371 DR)
-Destruction of Ched Nassad (Jaezred Chaulssin/drow against drow; 1372 DR)

Mass Murders and/or Criminal Stupidity:
-The Sundering (Elves against the world; -17600 DR)
-Destruction of Deep Netheril (Sea elves and other sea races against humans; -1660 DR)
-Third Serôs War (Sea elves against merfolk; -1531 DR)
-Night Wars (Drow against humans; -790 DR)
-Fall of Jhaamdath (Elves against sea elves; -255 DR)
-Crushed Helm Massacre (Elves against humans; 267 DR)
-Battle of Fallen Trees (Elves against humans; 267 DR)
-Darkwoods Massacre (Elves against humans [using orcs as the weapon]; 335 DR)
-Attack on Evermeet (Drow, gold elves against elves; 1371 DR)

I used The Grand History of the Realms exclusively for this. Since the entries are somewhat brief and don't explore intent in-depth, my judgement could be flawed in certain cases.

For example, in the Third Serôs War, the sea elves killed fully 30% of the merfolk in a rebellion. This could mean that in the military action between merfolk rebels and Aryselmalyr forces, 30% of merfolk were killed (military casualties) or it could mean that the sea elves indiscriminately slaughtered as much as 30% of the merfolk in the area (mass murder). In the case of the destruction of Deep Netheril by the sea elves, I debated placing it in genocide and still wonder if I should. In that case it came down to me looking at the dates (the colony only existed for 60 years) and surmising that there was an ongoing war between the two groups (one that wanted to settle, the other that didn't want them to settle) and this was an effort not to kill the humans as a group, but to prevent them from settling there.

Most of these unclear examples lie in the "mass murder or war?" arena though. Is an elven kingdom attacking another for little reason and killing thousands of soldiers and non-combattants war or mass murder? Depends on the circumstances and inent, which aren't explored in the short 1-3 line descriptions of those conflicts. Most cases of genocide seem to be described pretty clearly in the text. Feel free to disagree or add though.

"I am always here, all about you. You are never truly alone. I flow wherever life flows, wherever winds blow and water runs and the sun and moon chase each other, for there is magic in all things."

- Mystra (Ed Greenwood, Silverfall)

Edited by - Emma Drake on 13 Jun 2013 19:36:46
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carbos
Acolyte

14 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  21:19:34  Show Profile Send carbos a Private Message
Thank you, just what I was looking for.
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Emma Drake
Learned Scribe

USA
206 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  21:48:55  Show Profile  Visit Emma Drake's Homepage Send Emma Drake a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by carbos

Thank you, just what I was looking for.



You're welcome. It took some time, but I found that I was curious enough to look into it.

Like I said earlier on in the thread, I'm a scholar of these sorts of dark things in my real life. I found bending my analytical tools to the FR events to be an interesting exercise. Some questions that had me pondering were things like...

In a world where there are many sentient races, each with their own subgroups, cities, cultures, etc., what defines a discrete group (since the idea of genocide is based upon the concept of the elimination of a discrete group)? Where does the line lie between war, mass murder, and genocide when dealing with groups that have weapons at their disposal that we don't (like magic)? When looking at smaller bits of territory with city-states and groups that are part of the same race but not the same subculture or sub-race, what is the extent of "elimination" and "sublimation" needed to cross over the line from mass murder to genocide? Etc, etc...

"I am always here, all about you. You are never truly alone. I flow wherever life flows, wherever winds blow and water runs and the sun and moon chase each other, for there is magic in all things."

- Mystra (Ed Greenwood, Silverfall)
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2013 :  22:32:32  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message
Barastir -

I understand what you're saying and largely agree. What I'm not sure about is how much of the original concept of the Elves was Ed's verses how much the elves were influenced by D&D. (And a desire to get the earlier versions of the elves to look as much like the stereotypical elves of Middle Earth without violating copyright. )

I'd be curious as to how Ed envisioned the elves early on, and whether what they ultimately evolved into is still pretty close to his original vision.

Emma Drake -

That's fantastic. I love what you've done, and I'd be interested to hear what you think about the elves now as a result of the research you've done so far. Do they seem more prone to genocide and mass murder than humans might be, or do they seem pretty on par?
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sfdragon
Great Reader

2285 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2013 :  08:22:39  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message
interesting... though I still say Jhaamdath had it coming whether or not they all deserved it, we'll never know, nor we'll never know what would have happened if Jhaamdath was able to continue being a war machine.... you know Im going to go ask ED that...

all is fair in love and war and all

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


My FR fan fiction
Magister's GAmbit
http://steelfiredragon.deviantart.com/gallery/33539234
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TBeholder
Great Reader

2394 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2013 :  08:28:37  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Emma Drake

Most of these unclear examples lie in the "mass murder or war?" arena though. Is an elven kingdom attacking another for little reason and killing thousands of soldiers and non-combattants war or mass murder? Depends on the circumstances and inent, which aren't explored in the short 1-3 line descriptions of those conflicts.
With elves, there's not going to be a hard difference, because what they really do is "an unreasonably oversized hissyfit", which may turn one way or another depending on circumstances, rather than depending on their ideas of honor or custom of law, or anything else. It's their consistent modus operandi.
Again, look at the Battle of the Gods Theater. The only way 100000(!!!) orcs could somehow pull a surprise attack on two elven armies of over 70000 combatants total is: elves didn't seriously care for things like reconnaissance, striking enemy flanks or fearing the enemy will get on their flank, they simply ran on each other with screams and bloodshot eyes. That is, the Crown Wars had to be mostly series of temper tantrums rather than military operations in the sense we understand this (or even ancient Greeks did, and let's not even start on Hindu, who had a special term for light infantry escorting tanks chariots).
Unless, of course, we'll invoke a shadow of The Universal Fallback Villain once again by saying "Lolth must have done this, too! Elves could never screw up on their own!"...

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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Ze
Learned Scribe

Italy
147 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2013 :  10:07:38  Show Profile Send Ze a Private Message
I admit I had been following this thread with little care so far, BUT:

Reading Emma Drake's list, I see how that could become a very nice subplot - I've always thought that the actions of the Eldreth Veluuthra could lead to an increase of the opposite sentiment in the (human) population.
An anti-elven movement could just use Emma's list as part of a subversive pamphlet, having it circulate in human cities and towns, fostering hard feelings against all elves, and possibly retortions in small towns, where guards may be partial to the "human cause".

It's something I'll have to work upon, yes.
Thanks for the inspiration, people.

Edited by - Ze on 14 Jun 2013 10:09:32
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Bladewind
Master of Realmslore

Netherlands
1280 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2013 :  15:17:43  Show Profile Send Bladewind a Private Message
First of, who are we speaking of here. Elves on as a racial whole are devided along the major cultures of sun elves, drow, moon elves and sylvan elves. Of the 'genocides', all of them were done by sun elves and drow.

In the upper echelon of elven governance there are definately elements of sublimation of racist sentiments. Certain (usually sun elven) houses could casually research arcane means of reaching their racist goals, and whole parts of their social and intellectual capital was directed to achieve results. The acts of frighteningly powerful arcane war crimes that the governance of Nikerymath and Aryvandaar pulled off were the result of the decisions of a powerful few. The Killer Storms cast during the Dark Disaster were the acts of a mysterious cabal of Aryvandaaran High Mages, and not ordered by the governance. The rulers of Nikerymath decided that using experimental elven high magic (the arcane tidal wave) was justified, and were probably aware of the consequences but chose to be blind to them at the same time because of the social pressure (sublimation at it "finest") to stop the destruction of their homes, though.

Sylvan elves leadership rarely is involved in the wars elves have had. The Crushed Helm Massacre and Battle of Fallen Trees were acts of defence and retaliatory strikes that were overpoweringly effective, but they didn't involve a racist motivation.

Moon elves are likewise mostly grunt soldiers in the employ of sun elf generals. Their rulers have done their shares of warfare, but they tend to make war as short as possible, favoring diplomacy as a means to end fights (their armies have been massacred by drow magics because of that during the Sable Wars).

I always thought the good of elven societies can be seen by looking at their means of punishing crimes. They rarely use death penalties, instead prefering exile, banishment to the elemental planes, stasis or other convuleted means to deal with enemies and criminals. Elves long lives and memories makes them sometimes act with motivations driven from the past, seemingly out of the blue for most shorter lived races. They have worked alongside humans, dwarves and halflings for thousands of centuries, and some of the pacts their ancestors made are long forgotten by the people now, but are honored still by certian elven houses.

I also got the impression that the era of upheaval has seen a rise of instances that elven and human armies needed to stand together to defend themselves. The crusade of Seiveril saw a mixed army of humans of the Free Dales, Sembia mercenaries and the elven host from Evermeet defeat a fiendish horde led by Deamonfey.

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