TSR Appendix N Discussion

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Ugh.

This is why I don't read fantasy very much anymore. The idea that setting exposition is important or necessary or even wanted is something I just can't get behind. I really don't enjoy it. It's why I couldn't get through A Song of Fire and Ice. Just couldn't be bothered. I simply do not care.

Very, very much a different strokes kind of thing.
None of this is important or necessary. I read this stuff for fun.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Ugh.

This is why I don't read fantasy very much anymore. The idea that setting exposition is important or necessary or even wanted is something I just can't get behind. I really don't enjoy it. It's why I couldn't get through A Song of Fire and Ice. Just couldn't be bothered. I simply do not care.

Very, very much a different strokes kind of thing.
You’re not getting it. The main reason the setting exposition was the best part was because everything else involving the protagonist was so annoying.
 

Hussar

Legend
You’re not getting it. The main reason the setting exposition was the best part was because everything else involving the protagonist was so annoying.
Ahh. Heh. You're not exactly wrong. :D It's definitely an acquired taste.

Granted, I enjoyed Donaldson's Gap series much more, despite again having a loathsome anti-hero.

Give Donaldson some credit - he writes anti-heroes like nobody's business.
 

Hussar

Legend
None of this is important or necessary. I read this stuff for fun.
Oh, hey, no, I totally get it. I'm the weird one here. Fantasy as a genre is DEEP into the whole world building spectrum. No, I totally understand.

It is just not to my taste.

Then again, I've been a much, much larger fan of shorter fiction for years. I rarely read novels anymore. Novella's are about the longest genre fiction I tend to read. Sources like Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Heroic Fiction Quarterly and Escape Pod (as well as the much missed Drabblecast) are far more to my taste.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Oh, hey, no, I totally get it. I'm the weird one here. Fantasy as a genre is DEEP into the whole world building spectrum. No, I totally understand.

It is just not to my taste.

Then again, I've been a much, much larger fan of shorter fiction for years. I rarely read novels anymore. Novella's are about the longest genre fiction I tend to read. Sources like Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Heroic Fiction Quarterly and Escape Pod (as well as the much missed Drabblecast) are far more to my taste.
A big part of ot is less Fantaay as a genre and more the modern economics of publiahing: it doesn't cost a publisher significantly more to put out a fat book than a svelte book, so they cost the same MSRP. Which means a lot of people still reading physical books prefer the fatter book for the value on the dollar, amd audio book listeners are often using Audible points, and when From Green Anfel Tower (60+ hours long) costs the same 1 Credit that a 5 hour novella does...boy, the long listen is attractive. So publishers have been preferring and promoting fat books as a matter of financial competition for a while.

I gather this wasn't much the case when t
Computers weren't common.
 

teitan

Legend
And, as I said, it contains references to "Mirkwood" and "wargs." Which were published with The Hobbit. In 1937. The former, perhaps, could have been a similar coinage--it's not like "mirk" (an archaic spelling of "murk") and "wood" are uncommon words. "Warg," on the other hand, was a pure invention by Tolkien, rooted in his knowledge of Old Norse and Old English. It is simply untenable to argue that Anderson did not get the latter from Tolkien, and thus almost surely the former, and many other things besides, as well.
And Anderson said he read the Hobbit in the early 50s which would be after he wrote the original 3H & 3L. It’s ok to say oh he added on the later expansion. It’s cool to do that and acknowledge they used similar sources and Anderson was paying homage to Tolkien in the later expansion to the book. You don’t have to double down just to be right.
 

teitan

Legend
But they aren't called elves. That's the key thing here. "Elf" meant a tiny little sprite thing until Tolkien came along. Prior to Tolkien, "elf" did not mean what it means today. Prior to Tolkien, "orc" wasn't even a word people used in Middle English, let alone Modern. Prior to Tolkien, the word "warg" did not even exist. Dwarves are more complicated, as sometimes they are more people-like, but most of the time they were people-shaped plot devices prior to Tolkien (which isn't a knock against them, plot devices are important writing tools, but they rarely rise to the level of being characters in their own right.) Etc.
You are factually incorrect. Elf before Tolkien did indeed include beautiful human people all the way down to dwarves depending on the culture and the different cultures had a shared etymology for the word coming from Aelfr/Alfr etc. the word Orc also has etymological antecedents, including as Orc, and the derivative word was Orcus, a name for Hades as lord of Hell and the word Orca, or demon. Orc itself, simple google search on this, was ferocious sea creature and orcneas was Old English for “monster”.

Encyclopedia Brittanica says Orc also is from the Italian word for Ogre… Orco.

So was it Middle English? No but Tolkien was a man obsessed with etymology and languages and he did not create the word. He appropriated it for his “monsters”. And since we’ve lost the classical education popular in his time our arrogance assumes people in that time didn’t make the connection that the word Orc indicated monster. Just like we don’t make the connection that goblin also means a type of faerie and and elf is also a type of faerie.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
You are factually incorrect. Elf before Tolkien did indeed include beautiful human people all the way down to dwarves depending on the culture and the different cultures had a shared etymology for the word coming from Aelfr/Alfr etc. the word Orc also has etymological antecedents, including as Orc, and the derivative word was Orcus, a name for Hades as lord of Hell and the word Orca, or demon. Orc itself, simple google search on this, was ferocious sea creature and orcneas was Old English for “monster”.

Encyclopedia Brittanica says Orc also is from the Italian word for Ogre… Orco.

So was it Middle English? No but Tolkien was a man obsessed with etymology and languages and he did not create the word. He appropriated it for his “monsters”. And since we’ve lost the classical education popular in his time our arrogance assumes people in that time didn’t make the connection that the word Orc indicated monster. Just like we don’t make the connection that goblin also means a type of faerie and and elf is also a type of faerie.
So...it's very frustrating that you say these things, because you're arguing against points I didn't make in several cases. If you have examples of "elf" meaning beautiful humanoids prior to Tolkien, I'd love to see them; I've never seen any myself, and have heard that from numerous sources before. Knowing that I was wrong, and having good evidence thereof, would be useful to me.

I never said orc didn't have antecedents. In fact, I explicitly said it DID! I said it wasn't used in Middle English. It is etymologically related to Orcus, yes, and as you say it is an OLD English word, but not a MIDDLE or MODERN English word before Tolkien, which is the actual argument I made. Tolkien revived a word that was essentially dead. Same with "dwimmer," a Middle English word that had essentially gone extinct by Shakespeare's time and which Tolkien used, resulting in its partial revival (Gygax favored the "dweomer" spelling.)

"Warg," on the other hand, is only attested as a (variably-spelled) borrowing of the Old Norse vargr prior to Tolkien's use, which as I said is a blend of the Old Norse word and an Old English word (wearh, sometimes spelled wearg.) Its use, to mean a particularly monstrous and intelligent wolf, really does derive from Tolkien in modern English. It's thus extremely difficult to believe that Poul Anderson, a physicist by trade, would have re-introduced a random Old Norse word that hadn't been used in English for hundreds of years other than by Tolkien.

Unfortunately, I can't find any PDFs of the original magazine serial version of Three Hearts and Three Lions, so it's hard to be absolutely sure that the word "warg" was, in fact, used there. But whatever Mr. Anderson may have said, it's pretty hard to argue that there was no influence whatsoever from Tolkien going on. Is Tolkien the end-all, be-all of the fantasy genre's foundation? HELL no! Absolutely not! Not even close, but his long shadow often causes others--like Mr. Anderson--to get forgotten. I don't want to contribute to that erasure. I just want to not turn "don't erase the others!" into "Tolkien really didn't make a big difference." I'm reminded of the threads we've had on here, duelling over whether Gygax is over- or under-rated in his influence on the game, and whether Arneson gets appropriate recognition or continuously short shrift.

Poul Anderson contributed enormously to what we now consider D&D, and the high fantasy genre, and does not get as much credit as he should. But I stand by the notion that, IN ADDITION to that lack of deserved credit, he ALSO was advancing and spreading key ideas already built up--quite recently--by other authors, and Tolkien was foremost among those authors.
 

teitan

Legend

Attachments

  • IMG_0467.png
    IMG_0467.png
    750.5 KB · Views: 59

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Have you read 3H&3L and The Hobbit? If you have, then you should recognize that the point of resemblance isn't the mere fact of trolls/giants turning to stone when exposed to sunlight. In both cases, that's just some lore the characters use to their advantage. The real resemblance is in the gambit played out in both sources to delay the trolls/giant through trickery long enough for the sun to rise. Now maybe there are bodies of folklore in which tales of this type can be found. I'd be happy to learn of a reference to one. But I don't recall ever hearing of any myself.
Yes, both. My recollection from traditional folk tales is that tricking the troll or jotun into being exposed to sunlight, and/or manipulating their fear of being caught in daylight, was a familiar concept. I'm sorry that I don't have a good specific reference to point at right now, though.

Tolkien would have been aware of the elves in Sir Orfeo. Who are beautiful, human-sized fae.

But they aren't called elves. That's the key thing here. "Elf" meant a tiny little sprite thing until Tolkien came along. Prior to Tolkien, "elf" did not mean what it means today. Prior to Tolkien, "orc" wasn't even a word people used in Middle English, let alone Modern. Prior to Tolkien, the word "warg" did not even exist. Dwarves are more complicated, as sometimes they are more people-like, but most of the time they were people-shaped plot devices prior to Tolkien (which isn't a knock against them, plot devices are important writing tools, but they rarely rise to the level of being characters in their own right.) Etc.

I'm not saying he invented the concept of "pretty otherworldly human-like being," because that would be trivially obviously a really stupid thing to say. What I'm saying is, if we're declaring "Poul Anderson invented the idea of 'elf' as D&D uses it," that seems to be contradicted by Tolkien having published his initial work years earlier. That is, according to Wikipedia, Three Hearts and Three Lions comes from expanding a 1953 novella Anderson wrote for Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, so the core ideas predate the publication of The Lord of the Rings, but were still nearly 20 years after the publication of The Hobbit. With the in-text references to words Tolkien himself coined, it's impossible to argue that Anderson wasn't influenced by Tolkien.
But let's not get caught in the D&D lens of trying to draw strict categories between things which didn't exist as such in older texts. To my understanding Anderson's and Tolkien's elves draw on a few sources, including the Norse alfar and the Celtic fairies and sidhe. We have examples of elves and fairies being conflated from several centuries ago, as in Milton's Paradise Lost, book one line 781 where he refers to 'fairy elves', fairy here is an adjective describing the elves. Or a 16th century example from a poem by Alexander Montgomerie, with fairy, elf, and incubi all being used interchangeably: "The King of Fairy, and his Court, with the Elf Queen,with many elvish Incubi was riding that night.".

Perhaps it's my background in the Irish tales, but Tolkien's elves (and Anderson's) have most strongly recollected to me the Daoine Sidhe or Aos Sidhe, the people of the fairy hills. The noble folk of whom are always described in the tales as human sized but of otherworldly beauty.

My understanding is that elves and fairies being small, tiny sprite like things is to some extent a product of the Victorians. Though in older tales there are at least two major categories of elves, some of whom are tall and other small, as mentioned, for example, here, by the folklorist Morgan Daimler.

Interestingly, if you look at the elves in The Hobbit, they are still not yet quite the great and powerful and dramatic figures we see in LotR, with Elrond perhaps excepted. The song the elves in Rivendell sing to Bilbo and the dwarves leaps to mind.

 
Last edited:

Remove ads

Top