Sunday, March 24, 2019

Elves of Prace and Xahaca

Getting elves *right* has been difficult in this setting.  Here is my latest attempt.  This post replaces both "Elves of Monvesia" and "Monvesian Culture: Elfish Gender."
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Language Analog:  Finnish (Prace), Hungarian (Xahaca)
Inspiration:  Greek myth, fairy folklore, Wicca
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Tainted Counterpart: none, elves are immune to Taint
Temperamental Association: Vitalist

Names (any gender): Aamu, Aatos, Ahti, Aimo, Aino, Alli, Ansa, Armas, Armo, Arvo, Aulis, Eija, Eino, Hella, Hilja, Ilma, Ilta, Impi, Into, Jalo, Kai, Kaleva, Kauko, Kielo, Kirsikka, Kukka, Kyllikki, Lahja, Lempi, Lumi, Mainio, Maire, Meri, Merja, Oiva, Onni, Orvokki, Otso, Paiva, Pilvi, Pyry, Rauha, Ritva, Sade, Sampo, Satu, Seija, Seppo, Sini, Sirpa, Sisu, Soile, Sulo, Suoma, Suvi, Tahti, Taika, Taime, Taisto, Taipo, Tarmo, Taru, Tauno, Terhi, Terho, Terttu, Toivo, Tuija, Tuuli, Tyyne, Ukko, Urho, Vanamo, Varpu, Veli, Vesa, Vieno, Virva, Voitto, Vuokko



With Dwarves and Rakasta, Elves are one of the original races of Prace.  Their Pracian homeland is called Sünnimaa, and once included all of Cuorria, Notopoli, and even Inheritance.  It is on the islands of Inheritance that the elves first emerged--from here one branch of the race migrated northwest into Prace (the haltias) and another migrated southeast into Xahaca (the hulders).  In Xahaca, the elfish territory is known as Szülőföld.

The elves of Monvesia are have a more striking sexual dimorphism than other races in the world.  Early on, humans assumed elves existed as two species:  female dominated nymphs and male dominated fauns.  They would come to understand that these two "races" are members of the same species--the perceived genders thereof representing four of five sexes:  sylphids, ondines, sprights, pucks, and fetches.

Elves with feminine secondary characteristics are collectively called nymphs.  They include biologically female sylphids [xx] and biologically male ondines [zy].  In Prace, nymphs are the idyllically beautiful, fair haired and skinned, long eared beings typically thought of as elves.  In Xahaca, nymphs are just as beatiful, but have ash- or coal-colored skin with white or silver hair.  Nymphs typically live in cohorts of 3 – 13, which may include any number of children.

Elves with masculine secondary characteristics are collectively called fauns.  They include the biologically female sprights [xz] and the biologically male pucks [xy].  In Prace, fauns have the lower bodies of hoofed animals (goats, deer, bulls, etc.), human-like upper bodies, and animal-like horns & ears; the exact animal form being tied to family lines. They have ruddy complexions, in stark contrast to their nymph counterparts.  In Xahaca, fauns share traits with aquatic mammals--virtually hairless with fins.  Adult fauns are solitary beings, but may be found with an adolescent “student.”

There also exists the rare, androgynous and intersex fetches [zz].  These elves have the strongest connection to Faerie, and their bodies are said to change with the seasons.  In practice, Pracian fetches can change their physical form at will--and doing so affects their elemental connection.  Xahacan fetches have only a shadow form, representing that race's subterranean and subaquatic nature.
NOTE:  Elves do not recognize the "human" elements of light and void.  Their elements are tied to the "traditional" elements of the four seasons.
Humans often accuse elves of being a hypersexual race. This is a direct result of misunderstanding elvish gender roles and identity.  While elfish culture does embrace polyamory, gender fluidity, and pan-romanticism, these factors are not definitive of the race's society.  Truly, elves are a queer people.
The elf language does not have gendered pronouns.  In practice, humans refer to nymphs as she; fauns as he; and fetches as [singular] they.  Some elves who have spent time among humans have come to do the same--though most prefer singular they for all elves.  In the dwarf language, the native gendered-caste pronouns have been adapted for use with the five recognized elf genders: noble feminine and masculine for nymphs, expert feminine and masculine for fauns, and worker feminine for dactyls.  The rakasta simply have an elf-specific third-person pronoun (just as they have a dwarf/gnome pronoun, a goliath pronoun, and a human pronoun).

The Crossing

There is an elvish coming-of-age ritual known as the Crossing, during which a young elf passes through a faerie ring. Faerie rings are naturally occurring ring of fungus, flora, or stones. These rings form around regions of the world which retain their ancient, idyllic state (via Faerie). When an adolescent elf passes through one of these rings for the first time, he or she is transformed by it--for it is only after this ceremony that the elf develops their "sub-race" abilities.

When Hulders experience the Crossing--typically through moss, crystal or coral rings--they experience it much the same way as Haltias.  However, it is not the idyllic state of the ancient world they invoke, but the inevitable state of the end of the world.  Originally bound to Feerie as their kin, the Hulders have adapted their race's culture to the Abyss.

Elfish Gender Identities

Elven sub-races represent, in part, the natural sexes and corresponding gender identities of the race.  They also represent an elf's continent of origin.

Haltias (or Surface Elves) are the elves of Prace
  • Nymphs (Sylphids & Undines) are High Elves.  These appear as traditional elves--though outwardly all appear female.
  • Fauns (Sprights & Pucks) are Wood Elves.  These have the appearance of satyrs--with hoofed lower bodies and antlers/horns.
  • Fetches are Eladrin (Tome of Foes).
Hulders (or Secret Elves) are the elves of Xahaca.  This branch of the elfish race has yet to be encountered by humans.
  • Nymphs (Sylphids & Undines) are Drow.  These appear as traditional dark elves inhabiting the dry, underground spaces.
  • Fauns (Sprights & Pucks) are Sea Elves (Tome of Foes).  These appear as traditional sea elves, inhabiting the coastal waters of their drow counterparts' caves.
  • Fetches are Shadar-Kai (Tome of Foes).

Transcendence

Unlike the taintable races, elves are incapable of ascension to sainthood. Instead, they are capable of transcending mortality into a fully fey state.  Each sub-race has the potential of transcending into its own forms.

REWRITTEN Mar 24, 2019.  Edited Mar 29, 2019; April 20, 2019.

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