Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Ecology Of The Eloi For Your Old School Campaigns

There are times when conversations with friends can be engaging and eye opening such as today when I got together with friends to discuss and play a bit of Mutant Future. We began the second half of the conversation that we were having two weeks ago about HG Well's Time Machine and the Morlocks
Tonight we started to talk about the Eloi and the relationship between the Morlocks & the Eloi. Its actually the Eloi who are really the key. Lately I've been revisiting Mutant Future and mixing it up with the Advanced Labryth Lord Companion. This all comes down from HG Well's Time Machine and the caste system ecology of the novel. But not all is as it seems as I learned tonight.

When I think of the Time Machine I think of the iconic George Pals Time Machine from 1960. The Pal film takes on a journey into a possible AD802,701. His Eloi are degenerate elf like short beings with mostly human traits and a very passive society preyed upon by the Morlocks. The film is so entrenched in science fiction fans minds that it has appeared in countless television shows, books, and pop culture references. The Eloi go back much further though.

In 1895 the Eloi first appeared in HG Wells novel the Time Machine and Wiki has a very good breakdown of the post human species; "By the year AD 802,701, humanity has evolved into two separate species: the Eloi and the Morlocks, whereof the Eloi live a banal life of ease on the surface of the earth, while the Morlocks live underground, tending machinery and providing food, clothing, and infrastructure for the Eloi. The narration suggests that the separation of species may have been the result of a widening split between different social classes. Having solved all problems that required strength, intelligence, or virtue, the Eloi have slowly become dissolute and naive: they are described as smaller than modern humans, with shoulder-length curly hair, pointed chins, large eyes, small ears, small mouths with bright red thin lips, and sub-human intelligence. They do not perform much work, except to feed, play, and mate; and when Weena falls into a river, none of the other Eloi helps her (she is rescued instead by the Time Traveler). Periodically, the Morlocks capture individual Eloi for food; and because this typically happens on moonless nights, the Eloi are terrified of darkness.
A portion of the book written for the New Review version, later published as a separate short story, reveals that a visit by the Time Traveller to the even more distant future results in his encountering rabbit-like hopping herbivores, apparently the descendants of the Eloi. They are described as being plantigrade, with longer hind legs and tailless, being covered with straight greyish hair that "thickened about the head into a Skye terrier's mane", having human-like hands (described as fore feet) and having a roundish head with a projecting forehead and forward-looking eyes that were obscured by lank hair." Here we get our first glimpse into a possible artificially evolved species. But why do I say they're an artificially evolved species? Well according to the Mutant Future wiki Eloi gain the following mutations; "Mutations: Atrophied Cerebellum, Bizarre Appearance (nymph-like features), Weak Will.
This is a weak PC, so a player would have to play carefully or treat as a challenge." Eloi are known to be; "
The Eloi are a race of meek, delicate humans, who are the descendants of the social elite. Generations of having every and all needs taken care of has resulted in them becoming vary docile and hedonistic. They are also not really smart, nor are they considerate of others. In their isolated, well hidden communities, they live in a perpetual bliss of drug-induced fantasies and sexual orgies. In the wild, they are just helpless animals to more savage creatures, who see them as easy pray. Some industrious creatures (like Morlocks) would provide all their needs -- from food and shelter, to drugs and protection. The only price is that they are nothing more then human livestock. Do to their unearthly beauty, docile nature and willingness to preform any carnal act, they have become highly valued sex-slaves.
An untouched Eloi community is usually an underground arcology, space station, or generation spaceship with a limited capacity. Population is controlled by special enforcers that hunts down rogue Eloi, who refuse to die a after their "last day" - an expiration date, based on their birthday (the maximum age could range between 16 - 30). "last day" could range between a trip inside a suicide booth, to an elaborate mass-suicide ritual." Yes there is a solid connection between Logan's Run and the Time Machine for reasons that we'll get into in a moment. And these reasons are tied within their origins.

The Eloi's origins can be traced into the novella "A Story of the Days To Come" written in 1897 and was first published in the June to October 1897 issues of The Pall Mall Magazine. It was later included in an 1899 collection of Wells's short stories, Tales of Space and Time. "This novella depicts two lovers in a dystopian future London of the 22nd century and explores the implications of excessive urbanization, class warfare, and advances in the technology of medicine, communication, transportation, and agriculture. Like "When the Sleeper Wakes", published in the same year, the stories extrapolate the trends Wells observed in nineteenth-century Victorian London two hundred years into the future.
The London of the early 22nd century is over 30 million people in population, with the lower classes living in subterranean dwellings, and the middle and upper classes living in skyscrapers and largely communal accommodations. Moving walkways interconnect the city, with fast air-travel and superhighways available between cities. The countryside is largely abandoned." It also happens to be the precursor to When The Sleeper Wakes which was published in 1910.
The plot of ' A Story Of The Days To Come ' is interesting on several levels and goes something like this;
A wealthy heiress falls in love with a middle-class worker of romantically quaint disposition. In part one, the woman's father hires a hypnotist to program his daughter to instead choose a more appropriate suitor selected by him. When that plot is unraveled, the couple secretly marry and flee into the abandoned countryside and attempt to live off the land. After being driven back into the city, the couple live a modest middle-class lifestyle until their money runs out. At that point, they move to the "underneath" area of London to toil in physical labor as lower-class workers. Finally, their issues are resolved through the machinations of her spurned would-be suitor, and they resume a middle-class lifestyle.
Among other things, this short story appears to anticipate technical developments toward massive urbanization, skyscrapers, moving sidewalks, superhighways, and intercontinental aircraft traveling at jet speeds.
Socially and economically, however, it predicts a very stratified class structure and a largely communal society where few mega-corporations control all means of production. It also predicts hypnosis as a supplement or replacement to psychology, "creches" where child-rearing is transferred from parents to professionals, and a megapolis served by city-wide moving walkways and escalators, with enormous cities (four in England) separated by abandoned countryside."
All of the plot elements of When The Sleeper Wakes are in play and we get to see the very mechanisms of the Eloi starting to be played out in the society of 'A Story of The Days To Come'. The dystopian future dovetails quiet nicely into the Logan Run's style stratified culture of Wells world.

When the Sleeper Wakes is a about Graham a man from contemporary London who sleeps over the course of decades, and awakens exactly 203 years later, in futuristic 2100. This is a stratified society where hundreds of thousands of Morlock like workers toil underground  and the elites of the White Council rule from above. The elite society resembles the decadent Eloi  and the novel traces the protagonist's journey into subversion and rebellion among the various factions of the city. London is portrayed as a dehumanised, industrialized quagmire caught in perpetual darkness. The lower classes are forced to work day and night in the factories, having nothing more to look forward to than some cheap amusements. As he examines this grim scene, Graham learns that Ostrog has ordered his troops to London to disarm the remaining
revolutionary workers.

It is from these elites that we start to get the clearer picture of who these Eloi are or will be. There is a further class of warrior Eloi who carry out the will of the White Council in the form of Hunter Eloi or the Sand Men from Logan's Run. These are dirrived from the armed forces that carry out the will of the White Council.

And what about the White Council themselves? Those ruling elite are Hyper Eloi who have developed hyper consciousnesses and gain the following mutations Bizarre Appearance (nymph-like features), Empathy, Frailty (infertility), Metaconcert, Mind Trust, Neural Telepathy, Tinker Affinity, Reduced Immune System from Mutant Future. Who are these elite bastards?  "Hyper-Eloi are a class of Eloi who have developed a degree of "super conscious." They are considerably more intelligent then normal Eloi, and they consider their own judgement and morality to be superior of all other races, but they are actually quite arrogant, aloof, and self-righteous. They may ignore the plight - the starvation; the brutality; the human-condition - of the outside world, but those that don't, would ether force outside to conform to the methods that allowed is type of Eloi to become Hyper-Eloi, or to exterminate the "animal-like savages" like vermin. In the later, they would rather bread a race of super-soldiers to carry-out the extermination, then to do it themselves" This would go on to explain the machinations of Ostrog from When The Sleeper Wakes. This species would later go on to evolve into the Eloi that we have come to know but they are not the only example of the seemingly docile post human species.

But the Eloi are not simply an artificial species that exists in one time line. In 1956 the science fiction film World Without End came out.  The film proceeded the George Pal effort by four years and had a plot so similar to HG Wells Time Machine that the rumors are that the Well's estate sued the production company of the film.

The film is a reverse text book example of Eloi and Morlock ecology here's some of the background according to Wiki; "In March 1957, Commander Dr. Eldon Galbraithe (Nelson Leigh), engineer Henry Jaffe (Christopher Dark), radioman Herbert Ellis (Rod Taylor) and scientist John Borden (Hugh Marlowe), are returning to Earth from the first spaceflight, a reconnaissance trip around Mars. Suddenly, their spaceship is somehow accelerated to incredible velocities, and they are knocked unconscious. Their ship crash lands on a snow-covered mountain. When they venture out, they discover that they have become victims of time dilation and are now in Earth's future.

They theorize, from seeing time-worn gravestones and after their ship's instruments register heightened residual radiation, that a devastating atomic war had broken out in 2188, and that they are at least 200 years past that date. (They later learn that the year is 2508.) Jaffe is particularly hard hit, as he realizes that his wife and children have long since died.
After surviving an ambush by giant, mutant spiders, they are attacked by one of two competing remnants of human society. The "mutates" (as the astronauts label them) are violent, primitive surface dwellers. They have mutated due to generations of exposure to heightened radioactivity. (However, the background radiation has decreased to tolerable levels, and the men later learn that normal humans are often born to the mutates. These, however, are enslaved.)
Seeking shelter from the attacking mutates in a cave, the four men discover the entrance to an underground city, whose residents are the descendants of those who fled there from the atomic war. These people live in a high-tech, sophisticated culture. They are a peaceful group led by Timmek (Everett Glass), the president of the ruling council. Underground, the men have grown less virile, and there are fewer and fewer children born each generation. In contrast, the women remain physically vital (and ready for romance). Elain (Shirley Patterson), admires a shirtless Herbert Ellis, commenting that the astronauts are "more muscular than our men". Deena (Lisa Montell), rescued from the surface as a child, falls in love with Ellis.
The astronauts try to persuade the underground people to arm themselves and reclaim the surface, but they are content with their comfortable existence." 

World Without End could be thought of as another alternative timeline for an old school retroclone campaign from the time machine all of the trappings are perfectly lined up with classic 1950's sci fi and since the video game series Fallout has been in vogue World Without End is a perfect post apocalyptic fodder.
So Eloi might exist across multiple alternative dimensions and Earths, why would this be? This might be explained by the Morlocks themselves seeding various worlds with colony farms of Eloi to harvest at will.
This might partially be true. But this might help to explain the existence of divergence in the existence of the Eloi from the 2002 Time Machine film. These Eloi though are no different then any of the others described in this article all stem from the same Eloi genome simply engineered for different traits and artificial genetic mutations.

There might be a far more insidious explanation; there are several races that use the Eloi as post human livestock and have for quite sometime.  This also includes the Brain Lashers from Mutant Future and as we've seen they're a race with a long line of using alien caste warriors, thinkers and more to their alien society. There are several reasons for this easy of implantation, self sustaining live stock and food source with a built in management group. The brain lashers have the mutations, time, and alien technology to clone, seed, and maintain these Eloi colonies. Other species of OSR monsters who deal with them are easily likely to pick up on their advanced alien super science methods.

Brainlashers also have the drive and incredible will power necessary to carry out extended exo colony farming projects such as this spreading the Eloi taint far and wide across several plane Prime time lines. I've used Skirmisher Publishing's Brain Lashers in the past. There have been several surprises when PC's have broken into the various palaces of green porcelain in the wastelands of my campaigns only to come face to face with these other dimensional farmers of the Eloi in the wastelands.  The Forbidden Monsters of Foree: Brainlashers (Cardstock CharactersTM)
From Skirmisher Publishing has been one of my resources when using these behind the scenes movers and campaign shakers in the past.

The Eloi should never be under estimated when encountered in the wastelands they are far more dangerous and degenerate then they first appear. Many PC's have died in the mistaken belief that these simple appearing wastelanders are all that they seem.

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