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Old 06-10-2020, 09:13 PM   #31
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

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Originally Posted by shawnhcorey View Post
I always thought elves would use permaculture to get their woodlands to produce food. Permaculture produces about the same amount of food as modern agriculture. If the society is medieval, it would produce more.
My own experience with permaculture doesn't lead me to see it as a separate thing but rather as a set of tools that can be used in variable amounts. A sliding scale as opposed to a binary decision.

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
It was used in the Amazon for the pre-Columbian Amazonian civilization to support a population that may have been larger than that of Europe at the time. Their practice, the making of terra preta, which may have covered up to 10% of the Amazon Basin (an area twice that of Great Britain), is probably the best example of agroforestry. It is too bad that the European plagues were especially deadly to their civilization, leaving only the Amazonian native tribes as a remnant.

Of course, that suggests that you could have a high population of elves living in a tropical rainforest. Imagine a place like the Amazon Basin, where an elven civilization could support a population of 80 million elves through using practices similar to terra preta, and then have magic being commonly practiced. A human civilization that encountered the elven civilization would be confused, surprised, and terrified, especially if they are used to elves living in small villages and subsisting only through small forest gardens.
Related to that there is an interesting inverse relation between hunter gather population densities and Agricultural population densities. And yeah Biochar/Terra preta is interesting as a relatively self replenishing soil.

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Originally Posted by shawnhcorey View Post
Altho the research is sketchy, permaculture seems to produce about as much food as modern agriculture. With a very long life to perfect their techniques, elves should be able to outproduce medieval agriculture.
The full permaculture switch is an interesting consideration, having a larger production to area ratio may not be the best way to look at things, given that elves are seldom seen to have high population densities. The other side of that is that elves may simply have scattered small areas of garden that are remarkably productive for the size. A high Yield to Labour ratio will be something to consider.

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Originally Posted by Black Leviathan View Post
Some assumptions I work with based on elve's legendary longevity.
- Elves don't evolve well, don't adjust to cultural change. Their generations are very long so they are a people that resist social or environmental change and becomes alarmed easily in situations that seem unstable.
-Elves struggle with a generation gap much wider than other races. It is challenging to build understanding between parents and children and it would be a focus of their culture but often it's not possible for one generation to understand the other, or the other many generations that live simultaneously so it's likely normal for elves to move away from family and develop strong peer bonds with other elves.
-Elves would be annoyed with poorly made things in any aspect of their lives. They come from a culture with very little scarcity where artisans have basically forever to refine their crafts. For a human, boots that hold up for two years would be a pretty good pair, but for an Elf they'd be garbage. Consequently elven goods would be very durable, very well designed and articulated. They may not be the best and are certainly expensive, but they're made to last, to remain in style, to hold up to time.
-Elves don't have birthdays or don't think about them much. Elves are less focused on counting their short time in the world that other races. They wouldn't be impressed by a seasonal rotation out of so many. They may celebrate transitions like becoming an adult or being accepted as an apprentice, but birthdays and anniversaries probably wouldn't be a cause to make people gather or bake a cake.
-Elves probably have mountains of nick-nacks. Elves can acquire huge fortunes in their long lives and have to drive to accomplish those things so they're not likely very focused on income or even reaching career goals. But they would value the memories, especially if parent and child separates over distance or if peers you had spent decades with one another go on to serve in another community. Small forget-me-not gifts would be very common in elven society to help them remember those moments. In fact I imagine such trinkets would be it's own art form in elven societies, small portraits with decorative frames, preserved bouquets, flowers pressed in glass artful little reminders of the good times, because in a long life there's a lot of time for things to be not-so good. The problem is these nick-nacks aren't easy to let go of, and in a long life you acquire them often.
-Elves likely have ZERO Fear of Missing Out. FOMO wouldn't be a thing for elves as so much of existence is cyclic. Most elves would understand if not see that no opportunity is unique and some other chance like it will come along if you're patient and watchful. Impulsive behavior would likely be harshly criticized in eleven societies as immature thinking.
Yes, consideration will have to be made for Quality (and possibly high skill levels). The lower level of focus on a seasonal cycle as well as several other things mention by others seem to indicate that orchards should definitely play a part. Other separation from a simple annual cycle is also likely. hmmm.
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Last edited by (E); 06-10-2020 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 06-11-2020, 12:16 AM   #32
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

Of course, elves could potentially become really good at any skill that they decide to indulge in. Since elves do not decay, the average elf of two hundred years might be a 1,000 CP character (assuming a 75 CP racial template and 5 CP per year of development after age 15 from self-teaching and on-the-job training). The only thing that might keep elves from conquering the world is their atrociously low fertility, which makes them quite risk adverse, as a lucky human could kill them with an arrow to the eye.
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Old 06-11-2020, 01:25 AM   #33
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

Revised assumptions Version 1

- Elves are long lived or immortal, as a result they favour high quality or long-lasting products. Their point of view is less focused on a strictly annual or seasonal cycle.
- Elves have a greater understanding of genetic inheritance allowing more advanced selective breeding of plants and animals. Alternately they can use magic to obtain similar effects, this fits with the instances of elves having enhanced breeds of horses and the like.
- Elven technology diverged from the human norm, at TL 1 or 2.
- Where possible/plausible Elven technology will be simple with higher quality, magic and/or higher skill making up the deficiency.
- Elves are omnivorous with similar requirements to humans, however they are not as reliant on grain crops. Among other things their assumed proficiency with bows seems to indicate meat is eaten, possibly often.
- This particular group is semi-nomadic and agricultural production* is discrete/nonobvious, sustainable and relatively harmonious with nature. It may even devote effort to improving the quality of the surrounding environment.
- An inherent level of magic has some effect. Probably increased yield for a given area or increased yield for a given amount of work. It may also be applied to less directly such as by applying something like a glamour to magic springs and food caches.
- There may have been magical catastrophes in the past.
- Weigh in favour of Tolkien’s elves
-Skinny builds are indicative of a high energy/nutrition diet. large stomachs are loosely associated with lower quality diets.
- Temperate forest is the likely base location.
- Elves have some ephemeral social issues.
- Permaculture influences.
Maybe’s
- The agriculture is likely to include more hunting and gathering than human societies at equivalent TLs.
- They may be poorly adapted to recent changes, a suggestive if likely inaccurate example might be “Unemployed master mammoth hunter”
-Elves have some domestic or nearly domesticated fantastic animals.
- Elves themselves may not follow genetic inheritance. This might not end up relevant in the first example but may be useful when explaining other issues like subraces of elves that develop over a very few generations or Winter and Summer courts.
-Elven fertility is low, there are possibly issues involving reproduction.
*I’m using this as a catchall term for things harvested from organic sources
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Old 06-11-2020, 07:40 AM   #34
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

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They grow new ones, like sharks or crocodiles.
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Or have teeth that can heal, whether that means a mechanism for healing bone or just not using protruding bone for teeth in the first place. No harder of a problem than keeping the rest of their body in good condition for a thousand years or more.
Perhaps elves mature and age at the same rate as humans, but they go into a regenerating chrysalis every 40 or 50 years. They go into seclusion while their teeth pop out like milk teeth, their skin melts and reforms, and their organs self-devour and grow anew. You wouldn't be able to tell an elf's age by looking at them, only how long since their last rejuvenation.

Of course, this is getting away from any traditional conception of elves, but I thought it was a cool idea to share.
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Old 06-11-2020, 08:41 AM   #35
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

My take on elves tends to see things like traveling, adventuring, and reproducing as juvenile distractions to be outgrown by 120 or so. Young elves often live in transient (by elf standards) settlements, with the iconic tree village being basically a hippy commune. The grown-ups live a monastic lifestyle.
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Old 06-11-2020, 09:20 AM   #36
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

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That last issue alone could explain half elves. The human half picks up the slack for fetal mana dependency.
Not really. Tolkien always pictures man/elf romances as Arthurian eccentricities looked on with suspicion at least by elves and possibly men. There are only a few times elves actually mated with Humans or Dwarves for that matter.

Half-elves are usually royal children. They have a story behind them and a pretty interesting one.

Of course that does not have to be the way you do. If you go by the route you do you might get a situation where the relation between elfwives and humanwives is rather like that between wives and concubines among humans. You might have a Prince only allowed one elfwife but a large numbers of willing (or not depending on the elven evilness rating) humanwives.
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Old 06-11-2020, 10:54 AM   #37
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

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Of course that does not have to be the way you do. If you go by the route you do you might get a situation where the relation between elfwives and humanwives is rather like that between wives and concubines among humans. You might have a Prince only allowed one elfwife but a large numbers of willing (or not depending on the elven evilness rating) humanwives.
Well, it's not like the humans last very long, so they're hardly going to be competition for a proper elf partner are they? A momentary diversion.

Centuries later, and the real problem becomes apparent - all these half-elfs running round, probably more fertile than pure-blood elfs (especially with each other), claiming rights to elven riches and heritage. Cut them out of any citizenship and you have a problem with unrest, etc., let them in and before you know it your bloodline is contaminated beyond repair and your descendants are merely attractive, long-lived humans, not proper elves at all.

Alternatively, things go all Errant Story, and everybody loses.
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Old 06-11-2020, 12:29 PM   #38
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

This assumes that half-elves are more fertile than elves. If they only possess elven levels of fertility, then they are less of a problem. Elves may even possess an extra pair of chromosomes compared to humans, meaning that half-elves could be sterile like mules.
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Old 06-11-2020, 12:36 PM   #39
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

GURPS magic systems tend to have a risk of backfire, so elves might either not use it for regular activities like agriculture, or they might in practice have lifespans limited by such acidents.

If they in practice do live for a very long time, an important consideration is how their memories and skill levels work. Do they suffer from a finite memory capacity, and do they never get much more skilled than experienced humans due to skill decay. Alternatively do they have some trait which makes that less of an issue (or not an issue at all). A modifed Photographic Memory advantage perhaps?

As mentioned earlier, one of those leads to elves on average being 1000 point characters when they reach a certain age. That would obviously have a massive impact on how elven societies work!

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Centuries later, and the real problem becomes apparent - all these half-elfs running round, probably more fertile than pure-blood elfs (especially with each other), claiming rights to elven riches and heritage. Cut them out of any citizenship and you have a problem with unrest, etc., let them in and before you know it your bloodline is contaminated beyond repair and your descendants are merely attractive, long-lived humans, not proper elves at all.
Half-elves might just not be able to compete with the far more long lived elves. In that case, the elves could both include and cut out them without any significant danger.
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Old 06-11-2020, 12:47 PM   #40
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Default Re: Assumptions about Elves

You're assuming they work as hard as competent humans over long periods of time. Most people tend to slow down even for on the job training when they're "good enough". Elves could spend time doing or living rather than pushing hard to constantly improve themselves.

Though one could split the difference and say they have the ability to consciously forget. Thus they would save space/points not just in a computer/metagaming sense but in an emotional sense in order to adapt.
I have no idea how one would write that up in Gurps though.
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