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Old 08-19-2019, 12:00 AM   #31
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Default Re: Elven maturation and population growth

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There was an Original Sin of sorts, but it wasn't a sin of Men, but rather of Morgoth, who'd been watching for the rise of the Second-Born in order to attempt to corrupt them at the source. (He succeeded in the case of most Easterlings and Southrons, but there were those who resisted his corruption and fled West seeking the Light.) Morgoth's surrounding darkness and evil was what led Men to begin fearing the dark. (In fact, in my current reread of The Silmarillion, I'm near the beginning of Akkalabeth, the tale of the downfall of Numenor to the whispers of Sauron.)
The Original Sin would lie in listening to Melkor and following his evil counsels. He provided the temptation, but he couldn't make them give in.

Likewise, the Dunedain didn't have to listen to Sauron's temptings. The Elves of Eregion, likewise, didn't have to listen to Sauron when they made the Great Rings.

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On the other hand, the Elves had their own Original Sin, in the foolish oath of Feanor that no one else should ever possess the Silmarils. That led to the Doom of Mandos, the Kinslaying, and a great many more evils descending therefrom.
But that's not the Elves as an overall people, it's just a subgroup, the Noldor, and not all the Noldor at that. It doesn't apply to the entire race.
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:57 AM   #32
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Default Re: Elven maturation and population growth

To clarify: when I said "there was no original sin leading to mortality in Tolkien," I was being specific. The "leading to mortality" is an important part of that. Men didn't start out immortal and gain mortality through original sin.

Whether original sin exists at all in Tolkien can be debated. Yes, Men have a darkness in their past, but this darkness can be overcome: the early Numenoreans, for example, have done so. It takes Sauron and a whole new cycle of temptation to corrupt them. Lifespan is certainly influenced by corruption, but nothing Morgoth or Sauron do can change the essential morality or immortality of the Children of Iluvatar.
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Old 08-19-2019, 10:43 PM   #33
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Default Re: Elven maturation and population growth

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To clarify: when I said "there was no original sin leading to mortality in Tolkien," I was being specific. The "leading to mortality" is an important part of that. Men didn't start out immortal and gain mortality through original sin.

Whether original sin exists at all in Tolkien can be debated. Yes, Men have a darkness in their past, but this darkness can be overcome: the early Numenoreans, for example, have done so.
Not so much overcome as repented, or rejected. That's what brought the original ancient Edain into Beleriand in the first place, their ancestors had rejected Morgoth, and they had fled westward in the track of the ancient Eldar seeking some place where they could escape from the evil within and without.

But the repentance did not free them from all the consequences. Even the Numenoreans were not totally free of it.

The Hobbits, and the Wild Men, seem to be less burdened by it than most Men, as well, but they aren't free of it either.

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It takes Sauron and a whole new cycle of temptation to corrupt them. Lifespan is certainly influenced by corruption, but nothing Morgoth or Sauron do can change the essential morality or immortality of the Children of Iluvatar.
The second Fall that brought down the Dunedain started much sooner than that. By some accounts, the first hints of it were emerging in Prince Aldarion's time. The Dunedain of Numenor were becoming restless and discontented by the middle of the Second Age, worsening a bit with each generation.
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Old 08-20-2019, 06:29 AM   #34
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Tolkien's original sin comes from creation, when Morgoth was trying to usurp the song and introduce his own creative elements. Judo-like, Eš accepts and incorporates those themes to produce something yet grander.

So there are threads of corruption running through potentially everything in Middle-Earth: Men, Elves, Dwarves, whatever. And what you do in the face of it counts for more than its mere existence.
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Old 08-20-2019, 06:47 AM   #35
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For those that like a metaphysical angle, perhaps the elves have a problem with their supply of souls - conception requires a soul to inhabit the flesh, but there are fewer elven souls awaiting incarnation than are required for the species to reproduce rapidly. This allows you to drive the birthrate down.
Why will depend on the metaphysics of your setting...

Other random ideas:
An elven childhood of a century or so may not mean slow physical maturation - perhaps an elf is full grown in the same sort of time as a human, but is not considered an adult for much longer and thus is unable to participate fully in elven society, marry or whatever until they have hung around for a long time. This is the period of their life where they wander about the place annoying shorter lived species - they then go home, settle down and become NPCs (if they weren't already) and live until long after everyone is tired of them.

Elves are hermaphrodites with a circumstantial gender - population stress caused by conflict with shorter lived species had forced most of them to assume their "male" gender (identified in comparison to mammals where the male is non-offspring bearing, optimised for resource control), thus reducing the proportion of "females" well below what is required for a replacement birthrate.

Elves are naturally fae - immortal, non-reproducing outsiders and at least partially spirit beings. Being spirit/conceptual in nature they are suffering from what is essentially memetic mutation and, due to the influence of (mostly human) mortals they are becoming more fertile but shorter lived. One day they will be nothing more than humans with pointy ears and a bad attitude. The greatest amongst the elves are still terrifying, inhuman and immortal - and probably not that fond of mortals - the least are far more suited to being RPG characters...
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:01 AM   #36
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Other random ideas:
An elven childhood of a century or so may not mean slow physical maturation - perhaps an elf is full grown in the same sort of time as a human, but is not considered an adult for much longer and thus is unable to participate fully in elven society, marry or whatever until they have hung around for a long time. This is the period of their life where they wander about the place annoying shorter lived species - they then go home, settle down and become NPCs (if they weren't already) and live until long after everyone is tired of them.
That's my take. It's during that time of childish indulgence that most elf (and pretty much all half-elf) babies are born. To a human, an elf seems to become an adult around thirty and retire around one hundred twenty. To elf culture, that's their rebellious teenaged years.
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Old 08-20-2019, 09:50 AM   #37
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I wonder, do most elves die of old age or do they die of illness, accidents, and war? The question is equally valid for fantasy humans as well: Humans have a positive growth rate if something isn't killing us off or social situations don't stabilize birth rates.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:40 PM   #38
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Fantasy settings are far more dangerous than reality, so it's more amazing to me that there are any humans let alone huge populations.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:47 PM   #39
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I wonder, do most elves die of old age or do they die of illness, accidents, and war? The question is equally valid for fantasy humans as well: Humans have a positive growth rate if something isn't killing us off or social situations don't stabilize birth rates.
Sorry that I keep harping on about my elves (which I guess is kind of ironic, considering none of the settings I might consider running right now features elves), but my elves just become more and more withdrawn until they just disappear from public view entirely. What that means exactly is not discussed with others, but they are treated as being absent but still alive. Human scholars have theories ranging from ritualistic suicide to transcendence to a higher realm.
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Old 08-20-2019, 03:02 PM   #40
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Default Re: Elven maturation and population growth

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Sorry that I keep harping on about my elves (which I guess is kind of ironic, considering none of the settings I might consider running right now features elves), but my elves just become more and more withdrawn until they just disappear from public view entirely. What that means exactly is not discussed with others, but they are treated as being absent but still alive. Human scholars have theories ranging from ritualistic suicide to transcendence to a higher realm.
You can harp on your own, or on one of the major fantasy groups like Tolkien elves.

In Tolkien, the Eldar die of accident or violence, but are immune to disease and aging. They were summoned to return to Valinor by the Valar just after the overthrow and exile of Morgoth, but they were permitted to take as long as they wished to go about it. (Almost all the remaining Elves chose to depart with the closing of the Third Age - there may have been a few stragglers even after, but the destruction of the One Ring and the departure of the Three Rings meant that the ability of the Eldar to channel the power or Eru Iluvitar within the confines of Arda would quickly diminish to nothing. Even Galadriel was starting to show her age by the time of the Last Departure, and that was even with the help of one of the Three.)

Of the non-Elven kindreds, it's implied that Ents are similarly immortal, but over time will become indistinguishable from the trees they shepherd, while Hobbits are as mortal as Humans (and not much longer-lived - the Rohirrim could expect lives in excess of 80 years, while few Hobbits lived to be over 100 in the late Third Age). Among Men the Dunedain, as the last of the Numenorean peoples, were extremely long-lived by Humans standards, although of course even the eldest among them were still young from the viewpoint of the Elves (Galadriel was among those who left Valinor under the leadership of Feanor, after all, while Elrond Half-Elven was born to Elwing and Earendil the Mariner in Beleriand in the First Age, before Morgoth was banished by the Valar - his brother Elros was the first king of Numenor, and was mortal only because the brothers were allowed to choose whether they would bear the fate of Elves or Men).
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