D&D General Alien Character Mindsets: Elves should be pretty conservative about almost everything.

Can you imagine the mindset of someone who grew up in the Colonies where slaves and women were property, only landholding white men were even -considered- to be people, and barbaric torments were seen as routine... Looking around as the US evolves from a revolutionary war to modern day?
if elves live alone or secluded sure... but elves that live mixed with shorter races would have to be surer adaptable. they wouldnt still be the same people they were 100 years ago
 

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This is not bioessentialism.
I just...I don't understand how you can say that. "Bioessentialism" is the view that biology determines one's personality, psychological, or developmental characteristics. Saying "elves are social conservatives because of their natural lifespan" is far more bioessentialist than "elves are agile and dexterous because of their builds."

The distinction you draw between life expectancy and lifespan is apt, though I'd note that average age at death has increased as well. Some of our thinking about Bronze Age lifespans was skewed by the kinds of people for whom records existed (i.e., elites). Studies of the skeletons of working-class Romans, for example, indicate the average age at death was about 30 years.

In any case, I personally wouldn't connect character race or species to social, political and economic alignment, but maybe that's just me.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
If Elven Perception of time were that compressed then no human would mean anything to them, at all, since we'd be born, grow up, and die within 2 weeks.

We wouldn't even be puppies. We'd be mosquitoes.

Might explain why I prefer my elves to be weird mysterious people on the decline that are not available as PCs. :LOL:

But still, not sure that'd necessarily be the case - since mosquitos aren't sapient.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
@Steampunkette Elves are considered adults at 100, but they physically mature at the same rate as humans, meaning that around the age of 20 they're more or less fully matured. I do wonder what that would do to a person. Spending 80 years when you're functionally mature (at least as far as any human or dwarf can tell) but still considered a child by your own culture? That seems like it would be a recipe for frustration.

I would expect that a significant percentage of elven adventurers would be elven "children" who got tired of waiting for their own culture to accept them as the adults they view themselves as.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I'll be 40 this year, @Vaalingrade. That's not -that- old, but it's old enough that I look back at my teen years sitting in The Bookmark (Comic book shop) playing those first sessions of AD&D 2e with my first DM Toby and the rest of the gang and I have hefty nostalgia for it.

I think back to Gargoyles and how great a show it was. I titter to myself as I remember sneaking out of my bedroom at 2am to watch new episodes of Deep Space Nine after CBS tried to kill it to make Voyager "The" Star Trek, and I remember it fondly.

I still remember all the bad things that happened around that same time in my life. I remember being closeted. I remember being exposed to hurtful, hateful, ideas. I remember internalizing a lot of hatred about myself at that point.

But I still have those rose tinted glasses about AD&D 2e. About picking up the Psionics Handbook for the first time and reading it cover to cover.
I'm only a few years younger and actually have the Gargoyles DvDs (and still buy DvDs in general), and also think DS9 was the best we're going to get.

Buuut.... neither of us are ancient monsters with a long eye into a future hundreds of years to come that we have a direct, physical stake in. And I kind of wonder if a long-lived thing would necessarily have the same mental safeguards we have that tends to bury the negative as we become removed from it because for them, the same process would eventually grind down any lessons they learn in that time.

I feel like the longer lived you are, the better your recall would have to be.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Maybe, yeah. Though more than likely they'd be trying to steer the ship straight on the direction it's going, since it's worked for the last 200 years, right?
Absolutely, and keeping in mind they've already been steering that ship who knows where for 10,000 years, too. Imagine what they've done to tweak history to their ends in all that time? I'd expect them to look very much like good guys in some centuries, and very much like villains in others!
I think if any races are driven by inscrutable "wheels within wheels within wheels" style plots, it'd be the elves and dwarves.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
I just...I don't understand how you can say that. "Bioessentialism" is the view that biology determines one's personality, psychological, or developmental characteristics. Saying "elves are social conservatives because of their natural lifespan" is far more bioessentialist than "elves are agile and dexterous because of their builds."

The distinction you draw between life expectancy and lifespan is apt, though I'd note that average age at death has increased as well. Some of our thinking about Bronze Age lifespans was skewed by the kinds of people for whom records existed (i.e., elites). Studies of the skeletons of working-class Romans, for example, indicate the average age at death was about 30 years.

In any case, I personally wouldn't connect character race or species to social, political and economic alignment, but maybe that's just me.
Biology doesn't determine one's personality, experiences do. This particular kind of people have a LOT OF TIME to experience lots of things, and in the context of a 300 year old person compared to a modern 20 year old person those experiences are weighted to the past. Their identity is going to be shaped by that exceptionally heavy weight of their personal history.

But the same could be said of a 60 year old person and a 20 year old person. It's just a more extreme version of that phenomenon.
Might explain why I prefer my elves to be weird mysterious people on the decline that are not available as PCs. :LOL:

But still, not sure that'd necessarily be the case - since mosquitos aren't sapient.
S'truth. But since an entire human life span would last 2 weeks and your longest conversation with them would last maybe 8 seconds with most of your other interactions in that 2 week period being 2 seconds or less...

Not -much- of a sapience...
@Steampunkette Elves are considered adults at 100, but they physically mature at the same rate as humans, meaning that around the age of 20 they're more or less fully matured. I do wonder what that would do to a person. Spending 80 years when you're functionally mature (at least as far as any human or dwarf can tell) but still considered a child by your own culture? That seems like it would be a recipe for frustration.

I would expect that a significant percentage of elven adventurers would be elven "children" who got tired of waiting for their own culture to accept them as the adults they view themselves as.
5e holds to the "Hit 20 and physically be an adult" thing, but previous editions, and various settings, don't. Remember how Tanis grew so much faster than his elven playmates and yet so much slower than his human ones and couldn't have long-term friendships because of it?

That said... you're right. In a modern US setting 20 year old elves would probably act pretty much exactly like all the other 20 year olds around them, since it'd be a generational thing. They'd just also have overbearing parents who are -way- older than everyone else's parents.

Imagine your Mom and Dad met in France after your Dad stormed the beach at Normandy and liberated your Mom's village. And they were both just "Barely 100" at the time.

shudders
I'm only a few years younger and actually have the Gargoyles DvDs (and still buy DvDs in general), and also think DS9 was the best we're going to get.

Buuut.... neither of us are ancient monsters with a long eye into a future hundreds of years to come that we have a direct, physical stake in. And I kind of wonder if a long-lived thing would necessarily have the same mental safeguards we have that tends to bury the negative as we become removed from it because for them, the same process would eventually grind down any lessons they learn in that time.

I feel like the longer lived you are, the better your recall would have to be.
To some degree... but the fact that I recall all the terrible things that happened around me, and to me, in that time doesn't mean I don't look back fondly. That I don't think Saturday morning Cartoons should look like the lineup I enjoyed back then. Y'know?

Media in the 80s and 90s is a touchstone identity point for me, always will be. And even when it was bad or just not as good as I remember, I'll still think back on it fondly, even for all the trouble it caused.

I guess it would work better as an analogy if it was something ephemerally or tangibly "Lost". Something that isn't around anymore, like Ice Cream Shoppes and Sock hops or whatever. Something that existed only in a fairly narrow window of time surrounded by injustice that I still yearned to return to and rejected all things modern for....

I love the Orville, by the way.

... crap have we broken that cycle of society by advancing technology far enough that we can't ever really "Lose" our cultural touchstones since they're always waiting for us somewhere on the internet? That's... that's a deeply disturbing thought...
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
@Steampunkette Elves are considered adults at 100, but they physically mature at the same rate as humans, meaning that around the age of 20 they're more or less fully matured. I do wonder what that would do to a person. Spending 80 years when you're functionally mature (at least as far as any human or dwarf can tell) but still considered a child by your own culture? That seems like it would be a recipe for frustration.

I would expect that a significant percentage of elven adventurers would be elven "children" who got tired of waiting for their own culture to accept them as the adults they view themselves as.
Yeah, the elven 100 year mark for adulthood is socially constructed, same as the 21 year mark is for modern humans. If elves develop at the same rate as humans, that means they’d be sexually mature by their mid-teens, grown to their full height by their late teens, and their brains would finish developing by their mid 20s. Being considered a child by your society for 75 years after reaching full developmental maturity would have to be pretty damn frustrating. If one did go with the “elves are conservative” idea, you’ve got to imagine the 25-99 year old demographic would be pretty radically progressive.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
To some degree... but the fact that I recall all the terrible things that happened around me, and to me, in that time doesn't mean I don't look back fondly.
Without getting too personal and I absolutely apologize is this comes off as cruel or invasive and I really am trying to keep it general but...

This is entirely because of how our brains work.

The good times hold firm and so do personal traumas.

But imagine how different we'd be as people if we could still feel the tail end of the Cold War, Bosnia, the OKC bombing, Desert Storm, the LA Riots, Hurricane Andrew, etc etc with the same clarity with which we remember our favorite shows and the general vibe?

Hell, how different would it be if we remembered Ripping Friends as vividly as we remember Gargoyles?

If elves have better memories than us, they would be DESPERATE to prevent another Ripping Friends or Angela Anaconda. Maybe those other things too.
That I don't think Saturday morning Cartoons should look like the lineup I enjoyed back then. Y'know?
I'd just like them to be a thing again.

I actually did a month of posts in memorial when they died.
Media in the 80s and 90s is a touchstone identity point for me, always will be. And even when it was bad or just not as good as I remember, I'll still think back on it fondly, even for all the trouble it caused.

I guess it would work better as an analogy if it was something ephemerally or tangibly "Lost". Something that isn't around anymore, like Ice Cream Shoppes and Sock hops or whatever. Something that existed only in a fairly narrow window of time surrounded by injustice that I still yearned to return to and rejected all things modern for....
But that's kind of my premise: Would elves have nostalgia goggles like us? IF they have better recall, would they feel loss as keenly as I do when I'm trying to recall say, Eek! the Cat?
I love the Orville, by the way.
You have excellent taste, I must say.
... crap have we broken that cycle of society by advancing technology far enough that we can't ever really "Lose" our cultural touchstones since they're always waiting for us somewhere on the internet? That's... that's a deeply disturbing thought...
I mean, we've still lost privacy, personal ownership of media and malls; so never fear, there will always be mundane, non-traumatic sadness.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Personally, I stole Dragon Age’s concept of Uthenera for my elves. When an elf has lived a full mortal lifetime, and everyone they’ve known during it is starting to whither and die while they remain unchanged since their 20s, they tend to start growing pretty disillusioned with the whole life thing, and just go into Trance. Their metabolism slows to a near standstill, and their younger relatives protect their bodies while they meditate and perform simple maintenance like occasionally putting a few drops of liquid food and water into their mouths. Then after a century or so, when the world has changed enough that it will be new to them again, they wake up, refreshed and ready to start over with a clean slate. So, while any given elf may be many hundreds of years old, they’ll only have been conscious for a normal mortal lifespan.

This also gives me a neat origin for ghouls. They’re what happens when a slumbering elf doesn’t get the necessary upkeep performed on their body, and they awaken desiccated and starving.
 

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