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Old 11-11-2020, 09:38 AM   #11
Anders
 
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

Elves could maybe buy some of their IQ and DX with an Accessibility limitation (Not if wearing metal, -30%)? We don't really have a good system for touching a material giving you a condition - it's something that's lacking.
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:18 AM   #12
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolemnGolem View Post
TL;DR - If elves as a race have magical bonuses relating to Mother Nature, then how to explain their lower tech level? (As well as the fact that they presumably haven't just curbstomped all the lesser races already?)

I like the idea of a race that's more in tune with nature, and perhaps has a few freebie magical powers as a result. Many of the common tropes of elves have them, frankly, as overpowered - the D&D elf has night vision, a greatly extended lifespan, and a host of magical immunities. (So much so that a common question is "Okay, now we're building the game world and have to create a reason why they haven't conquered everything already.")

For my storytelling, I'm thinking of casting the elves as a similar role to Native Americans prior to the arrival of European invaders. The main tropes will be:
  • living more in balance with nature (so a lower population for sustainability),
  • a greater degree of innate powers due to their closeness to nature, and
  • a technology level that lacks several advances of the human civilizations.

I was trying to come up with reasons why such a culture would avoid metalworking and other such advances. My explanation is to say they have some innate revulsion to metals and perhaps other such non organic materials.

If they thrive and draw aesthetic (and/or magical) energies from the thrum and weft of organic life, then stone would be unresponsive to the elven nature cycle, and something intentionally worked like metal could be outright repulsive or give headaches or other physical manifestation of discomfort.

An elf might hesitantly put a stone tip on his arrow, but donning a metal helmet and breastplate would be more trouble than it's worth, if the helmet gives him a headache and the breastplate gives him a sense of asphyxiation. If metal outright shuts down the natural magic affinities of an elf, it would also give an in-game justification for a player to want to avoid metal.

Such a culture would still be able to do impressive things with wood structures and natural animal hides (though would likely still need stone implements to shape them). Construction would take longer than if you had metal tools, and the resultant structures would last for a briefer time than stoneworked or metalworked buildings. To a naturalist cultural viewpoint, perhaps that's a plus - "everything returns to the earth eventually" and all that.

But most monuments would be temporary, and massive population centers probably wouldn't be feasible.

This would also give decent support for the "stubborn forest guerrilla" trope of elves - if they get magical affinities just for being in nature, then any invading force could find them quite difficult to dislodge on their home territory. But their innate racial weaknesses against several key human technologies also means they will remain in the Stone Age, thus preventing a "why don't the elves just conquer everything?" speculative dilemma.
Is there some reason that they have to imitate some human culture at all? None of which in real life had the slightest resemblance to elves.
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:44 AM   #13
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

I've posted this before in a similar thread about possible ways of thinking about how an Elvish culture might work, but here it is again:

John Lanchester's "The Case Against Civilization"
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2...t-civilization

I think magical elves would rely on natural abundance and self-reliance; they wouldn't be interested in structures that supported strict hierarchies because their communities would be radically egalitarian and wouldn't suffer from many of the hardships associated with scarcity. It's a pretty interesting article.
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Old 11-11-2020, 12:04 PM   #14
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

But magic provides effective tech level (ETL). If elves have magic that grants them the benefits of TL11, then they have ETL 11, regardless if they have metallurgy or not. The Nature modifier should apply in cases of ETL as well as TL, as ETL is just as unnatural as TL.
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:58 PM   #15
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolemnGolem View Post
TL;DR - If elves as a race have magical bonuses relating to Mother Nature, then how to explain their lower tech level? (As well as the fact that they presumably haven't just curbstomped all the lesser races already?)

I like the idea of a race that's more in tune with nature, and perhaps has a few freebie magical powers as a result. Many of the common tropes of elves have them, frankly, as overpowered - the D&D elf has night vision, a greatly extended lifespan, and a host of magical immunities. (So much so that a common question is "Okay, now we're building the game world and have to create a reason why they haven't conquered everything already.")
I think Poul Anderson toyed with that in "Three Hearts and Three Lions" (which is also the source of a lot of ideas in Basic and 1e AD&D: regenerating trolls, infravision, and a Law/Chaos dichotomy). He used it for fairies, and I like the idea of applying it to Tolkienesque elves.
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Old 11-11-2020, 02:07 PM   #16
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
But magic provides effective tech level (ETL). If elves have magic that grants them the benefits of TL11, then they have ETL 11, regardless if they have metallurgy or not. The Nature modifier should apply in cases of ETL as well as TL, as ETL is just as unnatural as TL.
I totally don't agree with that. Elf magic may be a different technology, but it can be a different technology that's allergic to materially based human technology. The fact that two things both have the same game mechanical label doesn't at all make them the same thing in terms of actual cause and effect.
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Old 11-11-2020, 02:09 PM   #17
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
I think Poul Anderson toyed with that in "Three Hearts and Three Lions" (which is also the source of a lot of ideas in Basic and 1e AD&D: regenerating trolls, infravision, and a Law/Chaos dichotomy). He used it for fairies, and I like the idea of applying it to Tolkienesque elves.
I don't think that works for them. The Noldor, at least, were master smiths, jewelers, and artisans generally, from Feanor to Celebrimbor; and Celebrimbor and Galadriel both got along well with dwarves.
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Old 11-11-2020, 05:18 PM   #18
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I totally don't agree with that. Elf magic may be a different technology, but it can be a different technology that's allergic to materially based human technology. The fact that two things both have the same game mechanical label doesn't at all make them the same thing in terms of actual cause and effect.
I agree with AlexanderHowl when it comes to game mechanics but with you storywise.
It makes sense that such elves would develop an alternative "technology" that coexists with nature and thus doesn't penalize their magical abilities. However, if they can so easily replace normal technology with their natural one, then the -10% mundane countermeasure modifier is not really limiting them, so it wouldn't be worth the point break. On the other hand, if such natural technology is more expensive than normal one (which would make sense, as it's likely to preclude mass production) then it arguably might work.
By the way, I wouldn't rate porcelains as high TL for this purpose, at least not if the elves has some sort of magic-powered kiln instead of using coal.
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Old 11-11-2020, 08:23 PM   #19
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I don't think that works for them. The Noldor, at least, were master smiths, jewelers, and artisans generally, from Feanor to Celebrimbor; and Celebrimbor and Galadriel both got along well with dwarves.
Well, any version of Tolkienesque elves takes some bits from his works and mixes them in with others. For example, there is a d20 setting where due to a curse elves have very short lives (and very few versions use Tolkien's philology or his Catholic theology). And there is the bit in one of the books or appendices about how the Elves who stay in Middle Earth may fade away. But I think its fair to call versions of "tall, fair, long-lived, keen-eyed, clever at crafts and magic, live in woods or in hidden cities" elves Tolkienesque, whereas modern pop culture dwarves have many fathers.
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Old 11-11-2020, 09:46 PM   #20
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Default Re: Elves as "closer to nature and lower-tech" - give them a revulsion to metal?

If you imagine elves as having a lower TL than others, I would think you would pretty much have a choice of one or more of the following:
  1. They can't have it
  2. They don't want it
  3. They don't need it

Historically, "cold iron" was believed to be harmful to or to repel beings such as fairies (which were often considered the same as elves). In GURPS terms, this could be covered by variations of things like Dread, Revulsion, Weakness, possibly Susceptible depending on the setting.

One of these and Vulnerability to iron could be a justification for elven society forbidding or at least strongly discouraging its use.

And there are sometimes low tech ways of dealing with things that work just as well as higher tech. For example, I live in the country, and keep ants out of the house and snakes and wild animals away from my front door by using methods that could be done at TL 2 and below.

And there can be the issue of, "If I can take care of it with a few words and a wave of my hand, why would I want your machine?"
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