Archives for posts with tag: elves

In one of the first episodes of Torchwood, the team encounters faeries. Related to my latest post about the fey, the faeries of Torchwood are mischievious, magical, and even murderous. Older by far than the humans and completely alien to us, they will not hesitate to kill to achieve their ends. Their victims are found without a mark, rose petals spilling from their mouths.

I quite liked the idea of fey assassins, so I’ve adopted and adapted it for my own purposes. The elves in my world are divided, some allied with the humans and some with the fey. There is a group of elves with unclear motives and alliances who have begun to kill, leaving no mark other than rose petals.

The group is made up of two ranks, the assassins and the foot soldiers. Each assassin has several levels in an arcane casting class, enough to allow him or her to cast phantasmal killer. They kill their victims magically, supported and protected by the foot soldiers. They specialize in killing quickly, quietly, and undetected.

I haven’t yet decided whether the group works for hire or is self-directed. They could easily play a part in political intrigue, or would make excellent rivals for a group of PCs.


Modern fantasy has largely repurposed elves. Elves used to be tricksters feared for their magic and otherworldliness, but especially in fantasy gaming elves have become ancient and noble creatures of high culture and learning. While thinking about the background of my gaming world I decided to adopt a more traditional approach to elves, and so I’ve come up with the following supposition:

Suppose the elves are not a race apart from humans, and suppose they are not ancient. Suppose the faeries left the feywild and entered the world of man, enslaving and entrancing it. Suppose they bred with humans and created the elves (and thus there are no half-elves). Suppose the humans and some of the elves rebelled and fought and drove the faeries back to the feywild (ie. were thrown out of the garden). Suppose there is a barrier, erected at great cost, and planar magic is dangerous and forbidden to most. Suppose some of the elves remain but are not exactly on great terms with the humans, and some of the elves get along fine.

The elves are a relatively new race, one trying to find its place in the world. They have magic in their blood and, like every other race, have as much potential for good as they do for evil. Still, there is something unsettling about them to most of my world’s inhabitants, and they will offer numerous roleplaying and plot opportunities. Furthermore, planar magic and the feywild will be an epic challenge and bring in traditional high fantasy stakes.

Old dwarf

Image via Wikipedia

The following are some of my brainstormings bits and pieces that I came up with recently.  I’ve been thinking about how to customize some of the basic elements of my campaign world, inspired by some reading I’ve done on Tolkien’s creative process.  A recent lecture by Tom Shippey made me think about how Tolkien really built his world from the ground up, but it was constructed in such a way as to make the worldbuilding invisible.  An article in the Kobold Guide to Game Design pushed me further along that line of thinking, and so I decided to start with racial origins and go from there.

  • Elves and halflings share a common ancestor
  • The elves were once immortal and stood apart from the lesser races. For their arrogance they were cast down and now must live amongst the mortals.
  • Most elves live a modest life and worship the gods.
    • There is a sect that, while they don’t disbelieve the gods, does deny their power over mortals. They seek to return the elves to their former place of glory.
  • The elves and halflings get along well, largely because the elves usually keep to the forests while the halflings are plainsfolk.
  • Dwarves, gnomes, and goblinoids are all distantly related. Dwarves and gnomes have an uneasy peace, because they step on each other’s toes geographically, but the goblinoids just bother everyone.
    • Hobgoblins arrived via interbreeding between humans and goblinoids, and they are considered the most civilized.
  • The dwarves and gnomes divided their territories between the two. Dwarves live beneath the mountains, while the gnomes live above them and in the foothills.
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