Thursday, March 18, 2021

OSR Matters - The Origins of Elves, Moorcock, & The Forces Beyond

 Do you really know who or what your PC's are adventuring with?! How well do you really know the Elven race of original Dungeons & Dragons or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition?! According to Wiki ( that reliable font of knowledge cough, cough) ; The elf is a humanoid race in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, one of the primary races available for player characters, and play a central role in the narratives of many setting worlds of the game.[1] Elves are renowned for their grace and mastery of magic[1][2]:58 and weapons such as the bow[2]:15, 58 and sword.

Becoming physically mature by the age of 25 and emotionally mature at around 125,

[3] they are also famously long-lived, capable of living more than half a millennium and remaining physically youthful. Possessed of innate beauty and easy gracefulness, they are viewed as both wondrous and haughty by other races; however, their natural detachment is seen by some as introversion or xenophobia.[1] They were usually antagonistic towards dwarves.[:36"  Elves are literally better at everything according to their tireless public
relations department. But what if I told you that you never actually want
to be an elf.  Elves & a literal host of subspecies have been seeded across
the planes; "There are numerous different subraces and subcultures of elves,[2]:79 including aquatic elves, dark elves (drow), deep elves (rockseer), grey elves, high elves, moon elves, snow elves, sun elves, valley elves, wild elves (grugach), wood elves and winged elves (avariel). The offspring of humans and elves are known as "half-elves
" among humans, and as "half-humans" among elves."  A species that we as human beings have bred as food animals for thousands of years are cattle & they've been bred to literally every possible biosphere or grazing ecology that we could. And its possible that the 'gods' did the same thing.

Ängsälvor (Swedish "Meadow Elves") by Nils Blommér (1850)

Now according to wiki on the mythological Elves;"Reconstructing the early concept of an elf depends largely on texts, written by Christians, in Old and Middle English, medieval German, and Old Norse. These associate elves variously with the gods of Norse mythology, with causing illness, with magic, and with beauty and seduction.

After the medieval period, the word elf tended to become less common throughout the Germanic languages, losing out to alternative native terms like Zwerg ("dwarf") in German and huldra ("hidden being") in Scandinavian languages, and to loan-words like fairy (borrowed from French into most of the Germanic languages). Still, beliefs in elves persisted in the early modern period, particularly in Scotland and Scandinavia, where elves were thought of as magically powerful people living, usually invisibly, alongside everyday human communities. They continued to be associated with causing illnesses and with sexual threats. For example, a number of early modern ballads in the British Isles and Scandinavia, originating in the medieval period, describe elves attempting to seduce or abduct human characters."
So once again we've got the Elves associating with the 'gods' & tied into dangerous aspects of religion. Childbirth & sexual norms are intricate to the well being of communities. 
What if the Elves had been seeded across the planes to act as grazing cattle & as a food source for beings who created life on Earth & else where. Don't believe what your reading let's look at fact that Monster Manual  gave us several subspecies of Elves; "The elf also appeared in the original Monster Manual (1977), with subraces including High Elf, Gray Elf (some of whom are also called Faerie), Dark Elf (also called Drow), Wood Elf (also called Sylvan), and Aquatic Elf.[11] The grugachvalley elf, and cooshee (an elven dog) first appeared in Dragon issue #67 (November 1982) in "Featured Creatures", an ongoing series of articles where Gary Gygax released information on official creatures before their release in the upcoming Monster Manual II. The grugach, valley elf, and cooshee then appeared in the original Monster Manual II (1983).[12] A number of elven subraces were presented as character races in the original Unearthed Arcana (1985).[13] "

There are three reasons why Elves & cattle are similar. The Elves are
 highly specialized species, 
they once lived in very close proximity 
to human beings, & they are very closely tied to the supernatural.
 If we look into 
Appendix N author Arthur Machen's 'The White People' we get a
Fey or former
Elven fairyland in the Green book section; "And it was a long, long way. It seemed as if I was going on for ever and ever, and I had to creep by a place like a tunnel where a brook must have been, but all the water had dried up, and the floor was rocky, and the bushes had grown overhead till they met, so that it was quite dark. And I went on and on through that dark place; it was a long, long way. And I came to a hill that I never saw before. I was in a dismal thicket full of black twisted boughs that tore me as I went through them, and I cried out because I was smarting all over, and then I found that I was climbing, and I went up and up a long way, till at last the thicket stopped and I came out crying just under the top of a big bare place, where there were ugly grey stones lying all about on the grass, and here and there a little twisted, stunted tree came out from under a stone, like a snake. And I went up, right to the top, a long way. I never saw such big ugly stones before; they came out of the earth some of them, and some looked as if they had been rolled to where they were, and they went on and on as far as I could see, a long, long way. I looked out from them and saw the country, but it was strange. It was winter time, and there were black terrible woods hanging from the hills all round; it was like seeing a large room hung with black curtains, and the shape of the trees seemed quite different from any I had ever seen before. I was afraid. Then beyond the woods there were other hills round in a great ring, but I had never seen any of them; it all looked black, and everything had a voor over it. It was all so still and silent, and the sky was heavy and grey and sad, like a wicked voorish dome in Deep Dendo. I went on into the dreadful rocks. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. Some were like horrid-grinning men; I could see their faces as if they would jump at me out of the stone, and catch hold of me, and drag me with them back into the rock, so that I should always be there. And there were other rocks that were like animals, creeping, horrible animals, putting out their tongues, and others were like words that I could not say, and others like dead people lying on the grass. I went on among them, though they frightened me, and my heart was full of wicked songs that they put into it; and I wanted to make faces and twist myself about in the way they did, and I went on and on a long way till at last I liked the rocks, and they didn't frighten me any more. I sang the songs I thought of; songs full of words that must not be spoken or written down. Then I made faces like the faces on the rocks, and I twisted myself about like the twisted ones, and I lay down flat on the ground like the dead ones, and I went up to one that was grinning, and put my arms round him and hugged him. And so I went on and on through the rocks till I came to a round mound in the middle of them. It was higher than a mound, it was nearly as high as our house, and it was like a great basin turned upside down, all smooth and round and green, with one stone, like a post, sticking up at the top." 

Where is all of these opinions & thoughts coming from?!
Readings into the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg. 

If Elves are a food source for various occult or supernatural entities who or what created them & why?! I think it might be the Elder Things because of three factors. The otherworldly pocket dimension Fairylands that Elves inhabited eons ago. The strange consciousness & self awareness that Elves have in common with Shoggoths. 
And the fact that we see an association of Elves across any number of OSR games (cough, ACK's cough,) trying to open portals into Lovecraftian realms.. 

Wayne Douglas Barlow Elder Thing artwork from 
'Barlow's Guide To  Extraterrestrials'

Now if we follow the trail of seeding of the Elves they may have been found by the Lords of Law & the Gods of Chaos across the moon beam paths. A great example of this could actually be the empire of the  Melniboné.

Black magick using empire of proto Elven peoples who are in complete decline 
because their civilization is ending.
 And the forces of Chaos & Law have fed for eons. 


Is the Elric saga merely the cosmic harvest of yet another civilization a cycle we see repeated over & over with the eternal champion as both witness & host to this?! What does this mean for the average D&D, OSR, or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons player? That Elves are a complicated & varied lot to play prone to the saga of forces far beyond the ken of mankind's understanding. 

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