• Eilistraee is Not Dead!

     

     

     

    Warning! Plot Spoiler!

    THE TEST BELOW DESCRIBE THE ENDING OF A BOOK SERIES!!!

    The series is The Lady Penitent, by  Lisa Smedman.

    Warning! Plot Spoiler!

     

     

    In the book series by Lisa Smedman, The Lady Penitent, Eilistraee is supposedly slain. This was a terrible thing to read and, as a super fan of Dark Elves and Eilistraee, I was instantly heartbroken! But… I didn’t loose hope. After I spent a few moments rereading the events of the ending and I noted that Eilistraee could not actually be dead! Here is why:  Eilistraee  inhabitants one of her avatars who is subsequently beheaded. Interestingly, by the cannon of D&D, a creature and ANY type cannot be killed on a plain other than its own. It may be banished and wounded, but not killed. Only during he Time of Troubles was it possible to kill a God by killing their form in the prime material plane. In fact, the entire reason the Gods in the series, the Time of Troubles, were so frought with fear and haste (a major device in the plot of the series) was based upon the fact that their bodies could be killed on the prime material plane (curtesy of the Over God). With this in mind, I knew something was wrong with the ending of this series. The author, Lisa Smedman, is just too good of a fiction writer to have let such a err slip by… and it turned out she had not:

     

    As soon as I read the fate of Eilistraee I contacted the author of the Lady Penitent series, Lisa Smedman, in regard to the fate of the Lolth’s two children, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun. Ms. Smedman was quite delightful to talk about and answer of my frantic questions. Most important to me was why, or if, Eilistraee had been killed. Ms. Smedman had this to say:

     

    “I would have love to have kept both Eilistraee and Vhaeraun alive and kicking, since they make such interesting antagonists for Lolth, but my assignment from Wizards of the Coast was to make the necessary “tweaks” to the drow pantheon. WOTC stipulated that they had to die, but I had the fun of coming up with the gruesome details. Whether Eilistraee or Vhaeraun are ever resurrected (either in game material or a novel) is strictly up to WOTC — although individual DMs can do as they will, within their own campaigns. Hopefully, I’ve written in a couple of “loopholes” in my trilogy that they can use!” -Lisa Smedman.

     

    With this result I knew that Eilistraee had been killed for some silly reason and not because of the actual nature and progression of the story. The obvious loopholes which prevented her death were also very much correct and, it would appear  left in place by the author. In light of WOTC’s decision to remove these Gods, I am glad that it was done with finesse and with enough loopholes for Dungeon Masters to allow for their own returns of the Gods. I seriously hope to see the return of these Gods in later editions of Forgotten Realms. I am also looking forward to reading more novels by Ms. Smedman! Her previous novels really enthralled me; especially Extinction, book four of the series War of the Spider Queen.

    Keep up the good work Lisa Smedman!

     

    As you can see, Eilistraee was “killed” in such a way that she can be reborn. Given that she was not killed on her home plane, she must be alive, per D&D rules.

     

    *relaxing sigh*

     


  • Dark Elves of Fantasy

    I love Dark Elves! They are one of my favorite fantasy critters. Here is an ultra-short primer on their history!

    The first historical mythological context of the Drow was seen in ancient Norse, Germanic, and Scottish mythology/folklore. The Drow, also called Dark elves, are seen in Germanic and Norse mythology. Dark elves were called the Dökkálfar (old Norse) or the Svartálfar; However, the Svartálfar were mainly referred to as black elves, as “Svar-“ means ‘Black’, while the Dökkálfar were referred to as the dark elves. These Germanic myths of the dark elves were first documented in Snorri Sturluson’s Gylfaginning Edda. These were considered the opposite of the Ljósálfar, or “light elves” (Simek, R., 1993, p.295-296).

     

    The Svartálfar from Norse mythology were humanoids that lived underground where they flourished in a place called Svartálfheim, or “Black-Elf-World”. According to the folklore they worked forges on the world tree at the lowest level, and it was thought that they developed their black skin from working the forges (Dark elves, 2007). Also these elves were believed to act either benign or evil, but most myths told of the elves acting evil (Lindow, J., 2001, p. 110).

     

    The Dökkálfar from Norse mythology were a bit different from the Svartálfar. While they did not like the light they did not live underground usually and were considered ancient male spirits that could protect humans, however they were often malevolent. They were considered the opposite of the Ljósálfar (light elves and/or high elves) Scottish folklore developed their version of dark elves from the Norse. They were referred to as Trow or black elves and were homogeneous to the Svartálfar. They lived in mines and caves and were sometimes considered to be good, but most stories portray them as being evil (Dark elves, 2007).

    Gary Gygax in the game Dungeon’s and Dragons created the second and most commonly known context for the Drow. He based all of the games mythology on ancient mythology, such the mythology listed above. This is a role playing game using paper, dice, and a pencil, most commonly played by the gaming and nerd culture. In my experience I have found that more males play this D&D then do females. The Drow are a playable race in this game. In general a Drow character has the social-alignment of evil. They have black skin and silky white-silver hair, generally. They usually have red eyes, but may have grey, amber, or even violet eye colors. Their eyes are sensitive to the light and they cannot tolerate sunlight well so, they live underground in a place called “the Underdark” (Vaughan, G. A., Schwalb, R. J., Pryor, A., Marmell, A., 2007).

     

    In this fantasy realm there is a vast amount of mythology and story behind the Drow. There is so much mythology; this essay cannot cover it all. Depending on which branch of D&D is being played, generally there is one goddess that Drow worship called Lolth. She has eight corporal forms, however she is mainly depicted as a Drow, a Strider (half Drow and half spider), or as a spider. She is often referred to as the spider queen. Also in the Drow realm the females rule and are the clerics to Lolth. The males are looked down upon and are often sacrificed to Lolth. In other branches of the D&D, such as Forgotten Realms, there are two other popular Drow gods. The first, Eilistraee is the only goddess that is good and attempts to lead the Drow from their evil ways, while the second, Vhaeraun, is an evil god yet his followers are males that wish to overpower the females of the race. All of these gods and goddesses are continually at war with one another (Vaughan, G. A., et al, 2007).

     

    The third context Drow are found in is really an off-shoot from D&D. Again the cultures involved are gamers and nerds. Many books were written about the Drow from the mythology found in D&D. These books again depict the Drow, as being evil however there are a few exceptions. In the Forgotten Realm series the Drow Drizzt Do’Urden and Liriel Baenre reject their evil culture and choose to follow a moral path they felt in their hearts (Salvatore, 2005).

     

    The last and fourth context for the Drow can be found in video games. Again, the cultures involved are gamers and nerds, and again most males play these. Some video games are part of the D&D world and those games include: Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Roll-Playing Game, and the Neverwinter Nights series, Icewind Dale, etc. Other video games, however, are not related to D&D directly; yet still contain Drow by other names. The Drow are referred to as dark elves since they did not have the copyrights to call them by the same name as D&D. Dark elves can be played in the following role playing games: The Elder Scrolls Series, Everquest (mmorpg), Everquest II (mmorpg), Lineage (mmorpg), and Lineage II (mmorpg) are just some of the examples. Again, generally the dark elves are socially-aligned as evil.

     

    “Dark elves.”, (2007). Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 13, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Elf

    Lindow, J.(2001). Handbooks of world mythology: Handbook of Norse Mythology. Denver, Co: ABC Clio.

    Salvatore, R. A. (2005). The Legend of Drizzt, Book I: Homeland. Renton, Wa: Wizards of the Coast.

    Simek, R. (1993). Dictionary of Northern Mythology. (Hall, A., Trans.). Rochester, NY: D. S. Brower. (Original work published 1984).

    Vaughan, G. A., Schwalb, R. J., Pryor, A., Marmell, A. (2007). Dungeons & Dragons: Drow of the Underdark. Renton, Wa: Wizards of the Coast.

    Watson, T. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master (personal communication, September 12, 2007


  • What is a Dark Elf?

    Simply put, a “Dark Elf” is a mythical humanoid creature having pointy ears, slender with human features, and dark skin ranging from blue and purple to absolute black. Dark Elves are not always good or evil and have been portrayed in many different settings for many hundreds of years.

     

     

    General

    First, let’s look at what an Elf is in general terms: An elf is a mythical humanoid creature of northern European mythology. Elves appear in differing forms throughout history, but they tend to have similar features and characteristics. Elves tend to be slender in form, often aesthetically pleasing, depicted with an abundance of endowments. There are conflicting tales concerning the height, life span, and even the ear shape of elves, but for the purposes of fantasy works Elves generally have pointy ears, long life spans measured in centuries, and heights ranging from a few feet to the size of a normal human. These trends are an idealization of human fantasy and may be found in other mythological beings, such as titans, nymphs, fairies, and ever heroes. Given all of these differences, we are lead to the question: How does anyone categorize an elf since classical fairies, nymphs, etc, have many of the attributes described. The difference shouldn’t be sought in their appearance, but their archetype. Elves are an idealized sense of what humans could aspire to. They are often very wise, as skilled in their arts as a Kung Fu master, and beautiful beyond normal human measures. They cheat death with their extended lives and healing magic’s, while remaining young and well endowed for the majority of their lives. These are common human aspirations which exceed the bonds of tribe and tongue. We love Elves because of what we are not.

     

    The Dark Elf

    As humans come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors, so to do Elves. Because of their fantastic nature and the literary muse of their envisioners, Elves tend to be cast in themed groups based upon physical features, habitat, or abilities. The literary Dark elf is actually a product of the writings of a famous Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson, c. 1179-1241. Snorri’s famous book (poem), the Younger Edda, makes a short reference to the Dark Elves as being the maintainers of the fires burning deep below the world tree, or Yggdrasil:

     

    Then said Ganglere: Great tidings you are able to tell of the heavens. Are there other remarkable places than the one by Urd’s fountain? Answered Har: There are many magnificent dwellings. One is there called Alfheim. There dwell the folk that are called light-elves; but the dark-elves dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike the light-elves in appearance, but much more so in deeds. The light-elves are fairer than the sun to look upon, but the dark-elves are blacker than pitch. Another place is called Breidablik, and no place is fairer. There is also a mansion called Glitner, of which the walls and pillars and posts are of red gold, and the roof is of silver. Furthermore, there is a dwelling, by name Himinbjorg, which stands at the end of heaven, where the Bifrost-bridge is united with heaven. And there is a great dwelling called Valaskjalf, which belongs to Odin. The gods made it and thatched it with, sheer silver. In this hall is the high-seat, which is called Hlidskjalf, and when Alfather sits in this seat, he sees over all the world. In the southern end of the world is the palace, which is the fairest of all, and brighter than the sun; its name is Gimle. It shall stand when both heaven and earth shall have passed away. In this hall the good and the righteous shall dwell through all ages (Sturluson, 17).

     

    Note: In the Younger Edda the word for Dark Elf is dökkálfar, literally “Dark Elf” and the word for Black Elf, another reference to Dark Elves, is Svartálfar, literally “Black Elf”.

    Dark Elves are often seen in popular fantasy, such as video games and books, most notably in the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. In these contexts Dark Elves tend to have commonalities: They tend to be subterranean, matriarchal, reclusive, evil, and extremely powerful. Above all else, popular fantasy tends to place light colored elves at odds with Dark Elves. These themes are reminiscent of story devices found throughout all of recorded literature and probably reflect many of the basic truths, fears, and longings of humanity.

    Sturluson, Snorri. The Younger Edda. Trans Rasmus B. Anderson Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company. 1901.