Elven childhood

jorgeo

Explorer
I'm writing a small story about my campaign. One of the PCs (human) is in love with an elf NPC. The story revolves around the elf, and I was mapping out her childhood to expand her backstory.

Now, with elves having longer lifespans than humans, does that mean that they mature slower than them? Or do their minds mature with the normal passage of time (12 years to reach teens) while their physical body and sexual maturity lag behind?

I found the following doing a google search. I don't think it would be a compelling story to narrate 110 years before the elf starts interacting with the PCs!

Elves mature at roughly the same rate as humans, though they are not usually considered past adolescence until they reach 110 years of age

Since this is my story I have flexibility to modify as needed. I was thinking more like 40 years to grow past adolescence, and then a growth plateau for a century. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

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aurance

Explorer
It depends on the edition/source. 3rd edition and before, elves reached physical maturity around 100 years. There's no definitive source on how quickly their minds matured.

In 4th edition, elves reached physical/mental maturity at about the same age as humans.

In Tolkien material, elves reached maturity at around 50.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Since this is my story I have flexibility to modify as needed. I was thinking more like 40 years to grow past adolescence, and then a growth plateau for a century. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!

That's about how R.A. Salvatore handled it with his drow character in the Dark Elf Trilogy. Physical maturity reasonably close to human normal and then an extended adolescent phase that included extended training.

One thing to keep in mind is that the 110 year may be a "coming of age" more than an actual level of maturity. They may have an extended period of lesser responsibility and social expectations even though they are physically and mostly emotionally mature and the 110 mark is when they are treated as fully political actors within their society, capable of wielding legal and official authority.
 

Yora

Legend
I say elves are at 30 where humans are at 20, and after that aging pretty much stops until they reach 75% of their maximum life expectancy.
 

As was said, different editions, even different settings within the same edition played it different ways.

The way we always did it was to assume that physically, it was like a human childhood, except slightly longer. Pregnancy is 2 years (directly from the 2e Complete Book of Elves), they mature at about 2/3 the rate of humans, meaning they reach puberty at roughly 15, and are physically mature in their mid 20's.

However, Elven society still regards them as essentially children, despite being physically mature. They have a long, prolonged adolescence spent playing around, singing, dancing and learning various arts and crafts, dabbling in a wide variety of fields and trades, reading up on a variety of subjects and gaining a very broad and fairly deep education (both formal and informal), maybe some informal wandering elven society (essentially backpacking around Elven lands the same way a modern-day teen or twentysomething might backpack around Europe one summer). They would also be getting a perspective on their longevity that a human wouldn't by living long enough to see any humans that they might interact with be born, age, and probably die of old age during their "childhood, not to mention any natural changes that would (or wouldn't) happen to the world in that time.

After about 75 years or so of this, around 100 to 110, they would be declared an adult and be expected to actually take up one of those trades (i.e. classes) they dabbled in and do something productive.

Imagine what life would be like if you knew you would live to be 400 or 500 years old, you were physically an adult at 21, but your parents would support you and basically let you be a semi-permanent college student/bohemian/hippie for most of a century (they are from a Chaotic Good society after all).
 

blargney the second

blargney the minute's son
In my games, elves mature at the same rate as humans, and the women can have children during the same age range. After that, they just live for a really long time.
-blarg
 

jorgeo

Explorer
they mature at about 2/3 the rate of humans, meaning they reach puberty at roughly 15, and are physically mature in their mid 20's.

I was thinking I would do this, but maybe mature mentally a bit faster.

They would also be getting a perspective on their longevity that a human wouldn't by living long enough to see any humans that they might interact with be born, age, and probably die of old age during their "childhood"

This is definitely something I was wanting to explore and where I was heading with the whole age and maturity issue. What would happen is an elf and a human child had their first crush on each other? Invariably it seems that the human would grow up as a teenager and eventually disconnect with the elf, who's only fault was to age too slow.

Thanks for all the answer to everyone. I think I'll use 1/2 speed of grow rate for 50 years, then plateau for a century or so and then a slow descent into old age.
 

Hand of Evil

Hero
Epic
Think of animals, cats, dogs, horses, whales whatever. Getting to maturity can be shorter than being mature, then old age can be even shorter.

Think bell curve...The other problem is you are putting age to a human term, a year - think cycles or groups of years, like 7. Takes a human 7 years to get to 7, the same could be the same for an elf but how about to 14? It could take an elf 1.5 years to 1, then to 21, maybe 2 to 1. From 21 to 28? those 7 years are a cycle and marked by biology (body changes) in humans. A elvish cycle could be 13 years, 1 to 26 close to that of a human but start slowing down for them after that.

Break down the elf life cycle.
  • baby
  • child
  • teenager
  • adult
  • ...young
  • ...adult
  • ...mature
  • old
 

Dioltach

Legend
I'm sure that if you asked an elf, he would say that the difference between humans and elves maturing is the same as the difference between cheese and wine.
 

mmadsen

First Post
If you look at human growth rates, you can see that modern American children grow at a fairly steady rate until they hit their adolescent growth spurt and then stop growing entirely.

320px-Human_height_growth_per_month%2C_United_States.png


It's not hard to imagine elves who don't spurt but just grow at the same steady rate until maturity, and that rate could be slower than in humans, too.

Not yet reaching physical maturity doesn't mean that these elves would have to be mentally and emotionally immature by human standards.

Further, you don't need any physical difference to be considered immature. Modern Americans of different social classes feel grown up at different ages -- generally whenever they leave school and enter the Real World. So elves simply might not finish their apprenticeships and form families until much, much later than quasi-medieval humans.
 

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