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D&D 5E Dwarfs, Elfs, and Memory

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, I’ve been thinking about the assumption that elves and dwarves aren’t born knowing how to fight with their weapons, or brew, or smith, and I had an idea that challenges that, and I think makes a lot of sense.

So, Dwarfs. I’ve always seen them as people who naturally view themselves as part of a larger whole, more than as individuals, and that plays a part here. What if the reason they are like that isn’t because of how they live, but rather they live like they do because of their nature, because a dwarf isn’t really a complete individual.

What if dwarves remember their ancestors lives? What if they know how to work stone and use axes because their ancestors did?

And then with elfs, it’s right there in the 5e lore. Elves recall past lives. Why wouldn’t that mean they can pick up a bow and just use it intuitively, if most elves use bows?

Any thoughts?
 

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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
So, I’ve been thinking about the assumption that elves and dwarves aren’t born knowing how to fight with their weapons, or brew, or smith, and I had an idea that challenges that, and I think makes a lot of sense.

So, Dwarfs. I’ve always seen them as people who naturally view themselves as part of a larger whole, more than as individuals, and that plays a part here. What if the reason they are like that isn’t because of how they live, but rather they live like they do because of their nature, because a dwarf isn’t really a complete individual.

What if dwarves remember their ancestors lives? What if they know how to work stone and use axes because their ancestors did?

And then with elfs, it’s right there in the 5e lore. Elves recall past lives. Why wouldn’t that mean they can pick up a bow and just use it intuitively, if most elves use bows?

Any thoughts?

I seem to recall that dwarves have indeed the ability to enter a kind of trance to remember the past and glory of their bloodline, often helped by a lot of alcohol. That's also why Duergars hate to drink (not that they are much of a party people for starter): drinking makes them enter the trance and remember the atrocities their ancestors suffered in the underdark (Illithid enslavement, Devil-lord taking the place of their god to leech their faith, war with anything that moves, etc)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I seem to recall that dwarves have indeed the ability to enter a kind of trance to remember the past and glory of their bloodline, often helped by a lot of alcohol. That's also why Duergars hate to drink (not that they are much of a party people for starter): drinking makes them enter the trance and remember the atrocities their ancestors suffered in the underdark (Illithid enslavement, Devil-lord taking the place of their god to leech their faith, war with anything that moves, etc)
Interesting. I’d probably decouple it from drinking, but I like the idea.
 



doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think it was in the Duergars chapter of Mordy's Tome of Foes, IIRC. But yeah, I'd think ''working on a masterpiece allows them to tap in the collective memories of their bloodline'' is better than getting drunk :p
Yeah, and other forms of like...impassioned effort? Like a dwarf training montage would have flashes of ancestor memory.

Btw, this would also mean that multiple dwarves share memories, which is really wild to think about.
Dont start thinking like that, your DnD gonna collapse.
with the logic of life span of elve, we should give them proficiency in all skills, all weapons, all tools,
Don’t worry, I only ever let logic or science or whatever other real life thing inspire my fantasy worldbuilding, not restrict it.
 


auburn2

Adventurer
So, I’ve been thinking about the assumption that elves and dwarves aren’t born knowing how to fight with their weapons, or brew, or smith, and I had an idea that challenges that, and I think makes a lot of sense.

So, Dwarfs. I’ve always seen them as people who naturally view themselves as part of a larger whole, more than as individuals, and that plays a part here. What if the reason they are like that isn’t because of how they live, but rather they live like they do because of their nature, because a dwarf isn’t really a complete individual.

What if dwarves remember their ancestors lives? What if they know how to work stone and use axes because their ancestors did?

And then with elfs, it’s right there in the 5e lore. Elves recall past lives. Why wouldn’t that mean they can pick up a bow and just use it intuitively, if most elves use bows?

Any thoughts?
I think according to FR cannon - elves do remember both the feywild and the lives of their ancestors when they are born (or maybe it is their previous lives?). As they grow older they gradually forget these things and by the time they are adventuring age they have forgotten completely. My understanding is this is when they become adults, when they get to this point that they don't remember any more. When they are in trance they are remembering some of this, but they lose it when they wake.

That is from memory, so I might have a few of the details wrong, but I think that is the gist of it.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
Dont start thinking like that, your DnD gonna collapse.
with the logic of life span of elve, we should give them proficiency in all skills, all weapons, all tools,
This assumes their memory can stretch back hundreds of years. I am in my late 40s and memories from my teens and 20s are still there, but they are fading. I don't remember names, specifics etc and I am certainly not "proficient" in things like hitting a baseball or diagram a sentence in English.

My guess is if I live another 940 years I will forget most of that completely ...... If I do live that long, I will come back on this board and post the results .... if I remember to. :p
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think according to FR cannon - elves do remember both the feywild and the lives of their ancestors when they are born (or maybe it is their previous lives?). As they grow older they gradually forget these things and by the time they are adventuring age they have forgotten completely. My understanding is this is when they become adults, when they get to this point that they don't remember any more. When they are in trance they are remembering some of this, but they lose it when they wake.

That is from memory, so I might have a few of the details wrong, but I think that is the gist of it.
I think you’re right, and to me that is a pretty good argument for them having proficiencies even if raised by humans, and a good reason that elves in different worlds have different proficiencies.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
This assumes their memory can stretch back hundreds of years. I am in my late 40s and memories from my teens and 20s are still there, but they are fading. I don't remember names, specifics etc and I am certainly not "proficient" in things like hitting a baseball or diagram a sentence in English.

My guess is if I live another 940 years I will forget most of that completely ...... If I do live that long, I will come back on this board and post the results .... if I remember to. :p

Hmmm thats actually kinda cool - maybe Elfs memory is kind of a fuzzy indistinct ephemera and they create art and music as a means to soldify some of their faded memory into something that can prompt recollection.

Similarly maybe Dwarfs are drawn to stone because its a lot more sure than fleshy memory and when a Dwarf crafts a stone monument or a metal tool it gives them permanence in the world
 

While I am not a fan of many of the changes MToF did to elf and drow lore (such as being forced to reincarnate because they can only stay in Arvandor for a period of time, as punishment for what their ancestors did), it has been part of the lore for a while that reverie allowed elves to, well, remember. Not past lives, per se, but their current life. Through reverie, an elf can remember events that happened to him/her/them a long time ago. It also helped them connect with other elves. Not in a telepathic sort of way, but, like the dwarves, even though elves are very individualistic, they also view themselves as part of a greater community.

The pull and connection to Arvandor is also very strong--MToF kept this to some extent--and, well, if we go by elven legend, they were born of Corellon's blood, so that gives them a connection to their god. Even if you just label it as elven mythos, I believe we can draw some truth from it, at least when saying that the connection between the elves, the Seldarine, and Arvandor is strong, and, as an elf reaches "venerable" age, they start to feel the pull even more keenly, and will start getting their last affairs in order.

Point being, it wouldn't surprise me if all this indeed had some influence on elven "innateness" to master things like archery--and I also think it's just a big part of their culture, not to mention the fact their lifespan allows for them to master a number of skills.
 

Mind of tempest

Adventurer
Dont start thinking like that, your DnD gonna collapse.
with the logic of life span of elve, we should give them proficiency in all skills, all weapons, all tools,
you assume the muscle memory does not rot over that time, so they remember how to do it but no longer have the skills.
 

Dont start thinking like that, your DnD gonna collapse.
with the logic of life span of elve, we should give them proficiency in all skills, all weapons, all tools,
I like Keith Baker's solution for this: his idea is that elves mentally mature at the same rate humans do up until age 70 or so, and then get stuck there in that old age mindset for the rest of their lives. This is based on the perception that old people both have difficulty with learning and adapting to new trends and generally choose not to because of a preference for what's familiar; I have no idea how accurate this is, but it's certainly an idea that could hold purchase in-universe even if it ultimayely turns out to not be true.
 

Mind of tempest

Adventurer
I like Keith Baker's solution for this: his idea is that elves mentally mature at the same rate humans do up until age 70 or so, and then get stuck there in that old age mindset for the rest of their lives. This is based on the perception that old people both have difficulty with learning and adapting to new trends and generally choose not to because of a preference for what's familiar; I have no idea how accurate this is, but it's certainly an idea that could hold purchase in-universe even if it ultimayely turns out to not be true.
that would explain so much honestly.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Dont start thinking like that, your DnD gonna collapse.
with the logic of life span of elve, we should give them proficiency in all skills, all weapons, all tools,

I usually deal with that by having most elves be higher level than say, humans. A middle age ordinary human probably is a level 2-3 character equivalent (not necessarily one with PC classes...), but an elf is probably at least level 5. An elven PC adventurer starting at level 1 is usually preeety young.
 

I like Keith Baker's solution for this: his idea is that elves mentally mature at the same rate humans do up until age 70 or so, and then get stuck there in that old age mindset for the rest of their lives. This is based on the perception that old people both have difficulty with learning and adapting to new trends and generally choose not to because of a preference for what's familiar; I have no idea how accurate this is, but it's certainly an idea that could hold purchase in-universe even if it ultimayely turns out to not be true.
Keith's thoughts on the Elvish language, and the way both Lizardfolk and Goblins use shared dreams to form their cohesive societies may also be of use.
 




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