D&D 5E [Homebrew] Elf


He Mage
Strictly, the D&D Beyond video is describing the origin of the Elves in the Forgotten Realms setting. In an other official settings, like Eberron, immortals like Corellon and Lolth lack existence. The Elves have an origin story that is unlike Forgotten Realms.

Different settings have different races and different explanations for the arrival of these races.

Each setting is its own frame of reference. Its own ultimate objective truth.

In the multiverse of the Forgotten Realms setting, multiple planes refer to Elves springing from the blood of Corellon − the Feywild, the Material, plus the Astral including spokes of the Great Wheel of polytheism, Chaotic Good and Chaotic Evil. These planes may or may not exist in other settings.

I appreciate empowering the DM as the author of the setting.

I hope designers focus on inviting DMs to opt in for game-changing setting assumptions, rather than forcing the DM to figure out how to opt out.

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He Mage
When referring to alignment names, this axis works well:

Good - Neutral - Evil

But for this axis, I like:

Lawful - ‘True’ - Chaotic

This way, the alignments are: ‘True Good’, ‘True Neutral’, and ‘True Evil’, along with Lawful Neutral, ‘True Neutral’, and Chaotic Neutral.

Neutral is ethically neutral, neither fully Good, nor fully Evil, but is usually a person who is a mix of both.

But ‘True’ is true in the sense of balance, like the balance of Yang and Yin forming the Dao. The ideal of ‘True’ is to incorporate both Law and Chaos in an optimal way. Consider a solar system. The hot star is pure Chaos, while cold outer edge is pure Law. Life happens somewhere between the two extremes.

In Norse animism, animistic nature spirits are called Vettir (Vættir), literally ‘beings’. A nature spirit is the psychic presence of some cosmic feature. A recognizable pattern includes a kind of consciousness that can mentally interact, show up in dreams, and so on. All of nature is a community of interacting psychic relationships. Humans are also a kind of nature spirit, one among many, all as neighbors of each other.

The Iotnar (Jotnar) are Chaos spirits and the Esir (Æsir) are Law spirits. The Alfar, Dvergar, and Vanir, are somewhere in between these extremes. It even makes sense to characterize the Alfar as True Good, the Dvergar as True Evil, and the Vanir as True Neutral. The Undead (Náir) are whatever they were in life, albeit sometimes insane. The Humans (Menn) are any alignment.


He Mage
As an aside, a cool alignment system is:

The vertical axis: Altruism versus Selfishness.
The horizontal axis: Compassion versus Justice.

Here the Good is, to figure out ways to fulfill selfish needs by pragmatic altruistic means. Generally, Selfishness is more animalistic and Altruism more intuitive.

Meanwhile, strike a balance between Compassion (sharing power with those who have less power) and Justice (only allowing power to those who show they can use the power altruistically).

Comparing to D&D, Justice is similar to Law, and Compassion is similar Chaos in the sense of individualism, tolerance, and random acts of kindness. Meanwhile Altruism compares to Good, and Selfishness compares to Evil. But Selfishness isnt necessarily Evil. Indeed, each individual has legitimate needs, including food and safety. To help others fulfill their personal needs is a definition of Good. I find the characterization of Altruism/Selfishness and Compassion/Justice to be less judgmental, more useful, and more nuanced and interesting.

Notice, Justice can be used Selfishly, punishing those who did you wrong. Even Compassion can be used Selfishly, allowing criminals to prosper and harm others as long as they dont harm you.


He Mage
In Norse animism, there are seven kinds of nature spirits.

• alfar − sky spirit (elf)
• dvergar − land spirit (dwarf)
• vanir − fertility-fate spirit
• jǫtnar − wilderness-chaos spirit
• æsir − civilization-order spirit
• náir − corpse spirit
• mennskar (menn) − human spirit

(To avoid complex grammar for the sake of English, I improperly use the Norse plural form at all times for both singular and plural. So, ‘one alfar’ and ‘many alfar’, and so on. D&D often does this: compare, one drow and many drow, one duergar and many duergar, and so on.)

The seven kinds of nature spirits appear explicitly in the poem Alvíssmál, in the book Sæmundar Edda, also called the Poetic Edda and the Elder Edda. Norse poems are probably songs set to music without musical instruments.

In the poem, an æsir named Þórr ‘thunder’ challenges a dvergar named Alvíss ‘all wise’ to list the nickname that each kind of nature spirit gives for a certain cosmic feature. For example, the alfar call the ‘sky’ by the nickname ‘Splendid Roof’, but the dvergar call it by the nickname ‘Dripping Great Hall’. The nicknames evidence the viewpoints of each kind of nature spirit. The whole world appears as a circular flat floor with the horizon all around. Vaulting over this floor, is the dome of the sky. It forms a kind of hemispheric great hall. The alfar call the sky the Splendid Roof because they live high up with the sun, at the dome of the sky, above the clouds where the weather is always good, and for them the celestial dome is a lovely luminous ‘roof’, whether shining blue or glittering stars. By contrast, the dvergar call the sky the Dripping Great Hall because they live in ground, under the floor of this dome, inside the soil and the rocks that the clouds rain on, and for them the sky dome is a ‘great hall’ that leaks on the floor. The alfar and the dvergar are the animistic spirits of the sky above and the earth below, respectively.

Thus the structure of the poem mentions all seven of the main kinds of animistic spirits within the Norse worldview. The nicknames supply clues that help reconstruct what each animistic spirit is about.

The poem Alvíssmál lists humans as one of the kinds of nature spirits. Humans too are a significant cosmic feature that collectively has a psychic presence. Humans (mennskar) are animistic spirits, just like alfar and dvergar are.

In the Old Norse language, a ‘nature spirit’ is called a vættir, literally a ‘being’. There are seven different kinds of vættir. Each kind is understood to form its own ‘clan’ (ættir). For example, the entire human species is one clan, in the sense of an extended family who descend from the same ancestors. Sometimes this Norse word is translated less accurately as ‘race’, in the sense of a ‘species’ that is humanlike. Really, these are seven different families. In the Norse view, humans collectively are a clan of nature spirits.

Individuals from different clans can have relations with each other and have children together who descend from both kinds of nature spirits. There are individuals who descend from both alfar and human parentage, individuals who descend from both jǫtnar and human parentage, individuals who descend from jǫtnar and dvergar parentage, and so on.

These different kinds of nature spirits coexist as neighbors, and interact like neighboring clans.

The animistic ethic prioritizes the building constructive relationships with all aspects of nature.


He Mage
Each clan of vættir has its own ‘realm’.

The realm is both an area of the cosmos, as well as its own spirit world. Note, Old Norse has two words that are related but with distinct meanings. Heimr means ‘realm’, region, or world. Heima means ‘home’. Both have the sense of a place of habitation, but note the difference.

The seven clans and their realms are as follows.

alfar − Alfheimr (celestial dome)
dvergar − Svartalfaheimr (underground)
vanir − Vanaheimr (fertile places)
jǫtnar − Jǫtunheimr (wilderness, cliffs, glaciers, waters)
æsir − Ásgarðr (world center linked by rainbow to clouds)
náir − Hel (underworld, collective grave)
mennskar − Miðgarðr (human civilization)

These are seven realms. The Norse cosmology is more complex, but the above simplification is representative.

Sæmundar Edda has two poems, Vafþrúðnismál and Vǫluspá, that mention the ‘nine realms’ of the cosmos (níu heimar). Neither lists them. From references in many poems, the nine are usually understood to be the seven realms of the seven kinds of nature spirits, plus the realms of ice and fire, respectively.

Niflheimr (realm of mist, arctic icecap in the north)
Muspelheimr (probably associated with Sahara Desert)

Together they are nine.

Among the realms of the seven kinds of nature spirits, one vættir can leave their own realm and emigrate to that of an other. The vættir of the new realm adopt the immigrant as one of them. For example, Loki is a jǫtnar who lives among the æsir, and is counted as an æsir. Similarly, certain human aristocratic families descend from a jǫtnar or an alfar, who became part of the human realm. And so on.

These nature spirits relate to each other in the same way that Norse families do.
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He Mage
Here is a brief description of the seven kinds of nature spirits. In Old Norse, ‘nature spirits’ are called vættir, literally ‘beings’. For English, I always use the plural form of the Old Norse names as if both singular and plural. So, ‘one alfar’ and ‘many alfar’.

The alfar is the Norse elf, a sky spirit associating with sun, sunlight, solar corona, and sunrays, along with sexuality, beauty, fate, success, magic, and technology. The Norse concept of elf is distinct from the concepts of an elf in other cultures. For example, among the Scottish, the elf is a land spirit who lives underground, under the influence of the Celtic sidhe. Even so the Scottish elf likewise associates with sexuality, fate, magic, and technology. Norse and Scottish cultures especially attribute beauty and charisma to their respective elves.

The dvergar is the Norse dwarf. Similarly, the Norse concept of dwarf is distinct from that of other cultures. The dvergar are fully human size, generally malevolent, and strictly nocturnal, petrifying in sunlight. The Eddas and Sagas portray them as highly intelligent, skillful in magic, curses, shapeshifting, and technology − and typically traitorous.

Regarding size, dvergar are the same size as humans. In Sæmundar Edda, the poem Alvíssmál describes the dvergar as having the ‘body of a þursar’ (þursa líki). This þursar is a grotesque type of jǫtnar, meaning dvergar are the same size as jǫtnar. Most jǫtnar are human size, but many are giant size. However in stories, dvergar interact normally with humans without comment about size, and the human size is understood. The poem Reginsmál describes an individual dvergar named Reginn as being a ‘dvergar of stature’ (dvergr of vǫxt). Here, the ‘stature’ refers to the greatness of his dvergar magic. Likewise he is ‘skillful’, ‘wise’, ‘fierce’, and ‘multiply knowledgeable’ knowing all forms of magic, prophesy (spá), mind magic (seiðr), shapeshifting (hamfarir), and spellsong (galdr). The poem Vǫluspá lists Reginn as one of the dvergar. In Snorris Edda, in its section Skáldskaparmál, the family of Reginn inhabits the realm of the dvergar, Svartalfaheimr, altho he himself lives in the realm of the humans. In Norway and Sweden, there are carvings in runestones and stave churches that depict this dvergar Reginn as the same size as the human Sigurðr.

The concept of a small dwarf is Non-Norse. However, it does appear in a late Old Norse text that translates a foreign text. After Christianization, and under the influence of continental European literature, the late chivalric saga, Þiðreks Saga av Bern, translates Low German poetry about King Theoderic, set in northern Germany. It mentions a German dwarf, a zwerg, who according to the German worldview is the size of a small child. This particular zwerg is wellknown, a zwerg king named Alberich. The Old Norse saga renders the name of this German dwarf into Old Norse by its cognates: a ‘dvergar’ named ‘Alfríkr’, but must specify that this German type of dvergar is unusually small. Originally, the German zwerg was a spirit that resembled a human child. But later it came to be perceived as an adult spirit that nevertheless remained the small size of a child. A similar process of diminution happened to the German kobold, the English fairy, and so on.

In both Eddas, Sæmundar and Snorris, the dvergar goes by the nickname ‘alfar of blackness’ (svartalfar). Similarly, Snorris Edda also characterizes them as ‘alfar of darkness’ (døkkalfar). Certain individual dvergar have personal names and nicknames, such as Alfr, Vindalfr, and Gandalfr. Generally, the blackishness refers simultaneously to their black hair, their sunless lifestyle, and their cruel mentality. The comparison to an alfar is ironic. Where alfar are helpful, the dvergar are unhelpful to the point of cruelty. However, dvergar can be a source of powerfully good fortune if convinced to help. In these rare instances, the supplicant generally tricks the dvergar into helping, then later the dvergar seeks revenge for being tricked. Or the dvergar helps because of some ulterior motive, that ends up harming the person helped. Nevertheless help from a dvergar can be valuable, even if dangerous. In this sense of good fortune, a dvergar is nicknamed an ‘alfar’.

Despite the nickname ‘alfar’, the dvergar are not actually one. For example, there is an individual nature spirit, named Bárðr, whose father is a mix of various kinds of jǫtnar and whose mother is human. He began life in the human realm and became a king, but eventually abandoned his kingdom to join the realm of the jǫtnar. From there, this half-jǫtnar spirit often safeguards humans from other jǫtnar. He gained the nickname the ‘æsir of Snow Glacier’ (Snæfelláss). At no point is he actually an æsir, but gains the nickname because he defends against hostile jǫtnar, similar to the way the æsir called Þórr defends against hostile jǫtnar. Samewise, altho dvergar gained the nickname ‘alfar’, these dvergar are at no point actually an alfar.

The vanir are a kind of nature spirit that is peculiar to the Norse worldview and seems to lack existence in other European cultures. Individual vanir have personal names with cognates in related languages, namely Njordr, Freyja and Freyr. However, the vanir as a separate kind of nature spirit, as well as Freyja as a separate person from Frigg, seems unique to the Norse worldview.

With regard to cosmic features, the vanir are animistic spirits of sexuality and fate, who associate with magic, fertility of livestock and crops, fertile skies with rain and warm sunshine, and fertile land with lush plants, plus success, shining beauty, wealth, love, friendship, and peace. These aspects of the vanir overlap with the aspects of the alfar. Indeed, in Sæmundar Edda, the poem Grímnismál describes the realm of the alfar (Alfheimr) as a subset of the vanir, being a gift in the service to one of the vanir, Freyr. The alfar have in common with the vanir the concepts of warm sunshine, fate, good fortune, success, prophesy, sex, beauty, and magic.

The nature spirits Freyr and Freyja are twins and lovers. Both are spirits of sexuality. The male Freyr seems to associate more with the sky in the sense of life-giving weather and fate in the sense of success. The female Freyja seems to associate more with fate in the sense of prophecy. Their father Njǫrðr seems to associate more with the land, honored for fertile harvests in an annual celebration in Trónðheimr, mentioned in Heimskringla by Snorri. But the father perhaps associates more as fertile winds, explaining his association with both good harvests and seafaring ships. Both siblings are accomplished mages known for magic. In Vǫluspá, the æsir Óðinn learns mind magic (seiðr) from the sister. In Skírnismál, the brother has a messenger, Skírnir (‘clear one’, blue sky), who is a powerful mage casting a spellsong (galdr) while carving runes to formulate a curse, and who is apparently a human who learned the magic from the brother.

The vanir brother himself uses mind magic (seiðr). Mind mages, such as the vǫlur shaman in Eiríks Saga Rauða, sometimes use a high seat that is ritually elevated on a wooden framework, called ‘enchantment scaffolding’ (seið-hjallr). Hliðskjálfr (‘the shaking of the gateway’) appears to be this kind of ritual chair. When the brother climbs up on it, he employs magic to project his ‘mindforce’ (hugir) outofbody to distant remote locations.

The vanir are animistic spirits of sexuality, beauty, love, friendship, and peace, fate, prophesy, success, and magic. The alfar overlap much of this.

The jǫtnar is a spirit of wilderness, chaos, and the deadly forces of nature. The etymology of the name is generally explained as relating to the word ‘eat’, possibly in the sense of eating humans, where natural disasters kill humans, and generally associating with the consuming quality of entropy.

The Old Norse word jǫtnar often translates less accurately into English as ‘giant’. Certain jǫtnar are a head taller than humans, or even the size of a mountain, or even the size of a realm. But most jǫtnar are the size of a normal human. For example, Loki and Gerðr. Loki can wear the cloak the vanir , Freyja. The father of Gerðr can wield the sword of the vanir, Freyr. They are the same size. Many jǫtnar live among humans and interact normally with humans, even if exhibiting a more muscular physique. Jǫtnar can grow to be various sizes. Hrólfs Saga Gautrekssonar describes two jǫtnar brothers, here referred to as ‘trǫll’. One brother is human size. The other brother is a towering giant.

There are several types of jǫtnar. Mainly, they divide between the beautiful risar versus the grotesque þursar. A certain jǫtnar family might include members that are beautiful risar, members that are monstrous þursar, and other members that are a mix of both. Moreover, some jǫtnar shapeshift into a beast form, such as monstrous serpent, eagle, bull, horse, or so on. Rather than using the English word ‘giant’, it is probably clearest to use the Norse names when referring to the Norse concepts, and emphasize the jǫtnar as animistic spirits of the chaos of wilderness − opposite the spirits of the order of civilization. Their size is less significant than the kinds of threat that they pose.

All jǫtnar know magic. Indeed trǫll is an other name for jǫtnar. The Old Norse term trǫll literally means ‘witch’, mage, enchanter. The related verb trylla means ‘to bewitch’ someone. Some trǫll are known for mind magic (seiðr) to play with the minds of others, including charm, illusion, curse, and outofbody psychic attacks. Some are known for shapeshifting (hamfarir), where berserkar rage is an aspect of animalistic shapeshifting. Others have other skills, such manifesting violent weather, healing, or so on. There is such a thing as a benevolent trǫll, but like the English term ‘witch’ where there is such thing as a good witch, if unspecified, it conveys mainly negative connotations.

As jǫtnar, some trǫll are goodlooking while others hideous. The risar are a kind of jǫtnar who are famous for beauty and strength. These nature spirits personify beautiful aspects of dangerous nature, including majestic mountains, pristine snows, captivating fire, shimmering aurora borealis, lulling waterfalls, and so on. They sometimes have children with humans. Certain human clans descend from a risar ancestor.

The Norse value male beauty. Risar, like alfar, are celebrated for their extreme beauty. Þorsteins Saga Víkingssonar says, ‘Logi (‘blaze’, a human-size fire risar) was bigger and stronger than any other in that land. ... Logi was the most beautiful (fríðastr) of all men. He brought about in himself the muscularity and stature in his clan because of he was of the risar kind.’ Similarly, Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss says the jǫtnar father of Bárðr ‘was coming from risar kind in the clan of his father. And that is an appealing (vænna) folk, and stronger than other men.’ Bárðr the half-risar son inherits his fathers goodlooks. ‘This lad was both great (in the brawn of his physique) and appealing (vænn) to see. (So) that men found (it) difficult to have seen a more splendid (fegra) masculine man.’ The traits of the beauty of male risar include masculinity, muscularity, and goodlooks.

Note, early modern Norwegian folkbelief tends to refer to the trǫll as ‘under-earthers’ (underjordisker), nature spirits that dwell underground, in mountains, or underwater. Where trǫll means mage, it serves as a loan translation to equate the British concept of faerie that means ‘magic’. Likewise, these underearthers dwell underground similar to the Irish sidhe. In the sense of extreme beauty, the folkbelief occasionally refers to certain trǫll as an ‘elf’ (alver ≈ alfar).

Jǫtnar are highly diverse with appearances ranging from superhumanly beautiful to grotesquely terrifying, and with heights ranging from typical human to tallest mountain. The jǫtnar personify magic, and associate with dangerous aspects of wild nature: cliff, fire and water, air and ice, animal and plant.

Besides humans (mennskar) as a kind of nature spirit, jǫtnar as a spirit of wilderness and æsir as a spirit of civilization are the most frequent nature spirits in Norse texts.

The æsir is an animistic spirit of civilization, order, and creative forces of nature, as well as cognition. Cognition includes consciousness, will, knowing something to be true, inspiration (various mind altering experiences, including transcendental insight, poetic inspiration, berserkar rage, and magical trance), honor, boasting, oath of commitment, and so on. However, longterm sensory memory associates more with the jǫtnar, and intellectual knowledge more with the dvergar. Some æsir associate with the sky, such as Óðinn the sky generally, Baldr the daylight, and Þórr the lightning storms. The sky with its cycles of day and night, summer and winter, circling sun, moon, and stars, equates cosmic order and conscious will. Some æsir are more abstract concepts of civilization, like Sif who is a spirit of in-laws, in other words, the formation of family by means of a legally binding marital oath rather than by blood. Cognitive experiences are a kind of cosmic feature having æsir as the kind of vættir that personifies them.

The name æsir means a ‘spirit’ (from Proto IE ansu-) and relates to other Old Norse terms such as andi ‘spirit’, and ǫnd ‘breath’, ‘lifeforce’. These vættir are also called goð, literally ‘invoked’ ones. Humans ‘invoke’ them to honor their presence as civilization and defense against the dangerous forces of nature. Yet the Norse heroes of the eddas and the sagas almost never pray to the æsir for help. In times of crisis, these heroes normally rely on themselves, their skill at warfare or their skill at magic. For otherworldly assistance, they are more likely to turn to jǫtnar, alfar, and dvergar. The heroes do avoid offending the æsir. The Old Norse term goð is often translated less accurately into English as a ‘god’, however despite being a cognate that shares the same etymology, the words ‘goð’ and ‘god’ have different meanings. The æsir are mortals who age and die, like humans do, according to Snorris Edda, in Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál. The æsir are not especially powerful, and even one dvergar can capture three æsir at the same time, namely Óðinn, Loki, and Hœnir, according to Völsunga Saga. Nor are they omniscient, indeed even shapeshifting can trick them, and events away from their presence remain unknown. The æsir learn the magic abilities that humans do in the same way that humans do, such as prophesy (spá), mind control (seiðr), and shapeshifting (hamfarir), according to Gylfaginning. The æsir of order and the jǫtnar of chaos are about equally powerful, and when in battle, it is probably fair to generalize that jǫtnar successfully destroy æsir, except æsir survive the destruction by innovating a new tactic that outmodes jǫtnar. Various Norse aristocratic families claim descent from various nature spirits, alfar, jǫtnar, æsir, and vanir, where all of these clans of vættir are about equally prestigious. The æsir are a kind of nature spirit according to a largely prehistoric animistic worldview. The translation ‘god’ is misleading at best. Indeed, when Christians missionized the Norse aborigines, the Christians were forced to invent a new Norse word ‘guð’ to describe God, because the indigenous Norse term goð failed to convey the Christian sense of ‘deity’.

The context is somewhat complex. Among the Norse in the north, remote regions of Norway seem strictly animistic, while among the Saxons in the south, urban centers of Germany seem strictly polytheistic, under Roman influence. Meanwhile there are gradations in between. Any human sacrifice indicates a hierarchical polytheism of masters and servants that has departed from the egalitarian animism of good neighbors.

In the animistic worldview, the nature spirit is the thing itself. For example, an animist who shares food with a river spirit, drops it into its water, thus the river itself can taste the food. Compare the thunderbird of certain Native American peoples. The thundercloud is itself the thunderbird. Looking at the cloud is looking at the thunderbird, being a kind of a soaring eagle that carries snake-like lightning in its talons. When there are no thunderclouds, then likewise the thunderbird is absent. For the Norse people, arctic storms are a kind of eagle, a shapeshifted jǫtnar. When lightning flashes, the ‘thunder’ spirit Þórr is present, a kind of warrior hurling his hammer-like lightning. When there is no lightning, then there is no thunder spirit. Note, as a punisher of oath-breakers, the thunder spirit may alternatively be present in the abstract form of an oath or marriage vow. But if there are no oaths, likewise the thunder spirit is absent. What a modern Westerner might think of as an inanimate object or concept, is for an animist a kind of living being with a psychic presence. The thing is a feature of reality and part of the mindscape. The personality of this being corresponds to the experienced qualities. Fire is beautiful and shifty, and so on. These living beings can interact with each other thru dreams, visions, and otherworldly encounters.

The purpose of a shaman is to interact with these neighboring nature spirits to keep relationships cordial. The spiritual leaders of the Norse people are the vǫlur shamans, characteristically female, who interact mainly with jǫtnar and alfar. Arguably the skald bards, characteristically male, are also spiritual leaders who transmit lore about the æsir for a courtly context of law and administration.

It is the kinds of things that the æsir embody that makes these nature spirits significant − civilization and defense against wilderness threats. Yet in terms of power, they are moreorless equal to other kinds nature spirits, including humans.

The Náir is the spirit of a ‘corpse’. Normally this spirit is a venerated ancestor at a grave. Because a living human and a dead corpse are different features of the cosmos, they are different kinds nature spirits. Despite being of human kind, the human enters the realm of the dead and becomes a member of it. All vættir become náir at death, whether jǫtnar or æsir or any other kind. The náir generally look after the fates of their living descendents. One particularly potent náir who brought especially good fortune to those paying their respects, gained the nickname ‘elf’, Ólafr Geirstaðaalfr (alfar of Geirstaðr). Normally, the alfar are responsible for successful outcomes.

On rare occasions, such as to avenge a murder or save a relative, the ‘mindforce’ (hugir) of the corpse spirit magically animates the corpse as an undead draugar, a Norse revenant. Essentially this is shapeshifting, and might include teleportation. Some also know mind magic to influence or curse others. The draugar is dangerous, known for supernatural strength and a single-minded mission. Sometimes the undead is insane in the confusion between life and death, thus killing the living without realizing it. The insane ones seem more likely to haunt the vicinity of their grave site. The name draugar relates to 'delusion', possibly something like a dreamlike manifestation.

In Grettis Saga the draugar is malevolent, but in Njáls Saga the draugar is joyful. In Eyrbyggja Saga, the draugar is insane and causes the corpses of those that it kills to also rise as draugar.

Physically destroying the corpse likewise ‘kills’ the draugar.

The seventh clan of nature spirits is the 'human', mennskar. Old Norse also calls humans menn, but this can ambiguously mean either ‘humans’ a synonym of mennskar, or ‘male adults’ a synonym of karlar. Mennskar always means the humans, in contrast to the six other kinds of vættir. Humans too are a feature of the cosmos that possesses a psychic presence.

The ethic of the spirituality of animism is to maintain good relations with neighbors, or at least shrewd arrangements, thus live in harmony with the cosmos.
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He Mage
The Norse elves, the alfar, inhabit the sky. In Old Norse, in Snorris Edda, a wellknown passage in the prose Gylfaginning mentions the ‘realm of elf’, Alfheimr. The passage is brief, but ascribes useful data.

• Alfheimr is in the sky.
• It is the capital, the location of the government of the alfar.
• Alfar inhabit Alfheimr.
• Alfar are the nature spirits of the light in the sky.

Snorris Edda, Gylfaginning

Then Gangleri spoke.
You know great news to say about the sky.
What is there (in the sky), (with regard to) (other) capitals,
more than (the æsir capital) at Urðarbrunni (in Ásgarðr)?

Hárr said.
Many honored places are there.
One such place is there (in the sky), which is called Alfheimr.
There dwell that people, which are named alfar of light.

Þá mælti Gangleri:
Mikil tíðendi kannt þú at segja af himninum.
Hvat er þar fleira hǫfuðstaða
en at Urðarbrunni?

Hárr segir:
Margir staðir eru þar gǫfugligir.
Sá er einn staðr þar, er kallaðr er Alfheimr.
Þar byggvir fólk þat, er Ljósálfar heita.

Alfheimr is in the sky. The alfar inhabit it.

Subjectively, from the perspective of the humans, the sky appears as if the shape of a dome. The base of this hemisphere is the horizon all around. Its arch is the starry constellations, vaulting over from horizon to horizon. Daylight, sun, and moon glide over this dome from horizon to horizon. Clouds fill this dome. The floor beneath the dome is the surface of the earth and the sea, round and flat like a disk within the horizon.

The nickname alfar of ‘light’ also corresponds to the luminosity of where the alfar dwell. The sky is luminous. In Sæmundar Edda, the poem Alvíssmál has the alfar nickname the sky ‘beautiful roof’ (fagra-ræfr). The Old Norse term ‘beautiful’ (fagr) extends to mean ‘luminous’. The alfar dwell at the ‘roof’ of the sky, across the hemispheric surface. For them high above the clouds, the weather is always ‘beautiful’, cloudless and bright, be it blue daylight or glittering starlight.

Relatedly, in the poem Skirnismál, Freyr the vanir spirit of fertile weather calls the sun by its nickname ‘radiance of elves’ (alfa-rǫdull). The light of the sun is an aspect of the light of the alfar. The sun glides over the roof of the sky, where the alfar dwell. In the poem Alvíssmál, the alfar call the sun by the nickname ‘beautiful wheel’ (fagra-hvél), suggesting the alfar travel with the brightly beautiful sun across sky.

The sky has three layers: ‘sky’, above it is ‘length of breath’, and above it is ‘the wide dark luster’. The alfar inhabit the highest two layers.

The term ‘sky’ (himinn) can refer to the sky generally, or can specifically refer to the first and lowest layer of the sky. This layer forms the dome-shape core of the sky. It is the hazy air of the lower atmosphere where clouds appear and disappear, from fluffy cumulus clouds rolling across the cloud level across the base of the dome, to wispy cirrus clouds that contour the vault of the dome of the sky.

Note, below the ‘sky’, the space between the earth and the cloud level is called the ‘weather’ (veðr), especially characterized by winds, but also snow, rains, and sunbeams. Together the ‘sky’ above the cloud level and ‘weather’ below the cloud level correspond to what meteorologists today call the troposphere.

Above this first layer of the sky is the second layer of the sky called ‘length of breath’ (and-langr). The ‘breath’ reaches higher beyond the cirrus clouds. This second layer corresponds to the ether, the cloudless pure air of the upper atmosphere. The term ǫnd (and-) means ‘breath’, ‘spirit’, and ‘ether’ of the sky. This layer of ether appears as if it envelops the dome of clouds, as a kind of dome-shape shell. The ‘length of breath’ corresponds meteorologically to the bright stratosphere and the faintly luminous mesosphere above it. These levels of the atmosphere become luminous because they refract and scatter solar light, thus forming the ubiquitous ‘light of day’ (dags-ljós).

The third and highest layer of the sky is ‘the wide dark luster’ (við-blá-inn). Sometimes, it is translated ‘the wide blue’, but here the Old Norse term (-blá-) denotes a very dark lustrous color. This is the layer of the sky that is beyond the mesosphere. The sun and stars travel thru it. In other words, the wide dark luster corresponds to what we today understand as empty space, within which the lustrous celestial phenomena drift. Where the earth is now was once a primordial emptiness, called the ‘gaping of delusion’ (ginnunga-gap). Possibly, this delusion refers to the ephemeral quality of reality itself. ‘The sky of the gaping delusion’ (ginnunga-gap-himinn) was the primordial emptiness above. This emptiness now corresponds to ‘the wide dark luster’. From the perspective of Norse animists, the third layer of the sky is a great wide expanse of outer space.

Compare the layers of the sky to descriptions of the sky in the poem Grímnismál and the prose Gylfaginning. The sky dome spirit, Óðinn, shapes the sky out of a skull to form a dome. The clouds are the brain inside it. Accordingly, the clouds equate the first layer of ‘sky’, the dome-shape brain that fills the sky. The dome-shape shell around the brain equates the second layer of the sky, length of breath. Finally, the empty space that is beyond the skull is the third layer of the sky.

Also compare the lowest layer of the sky to the description in Gylfaginning, regarding the cosmic tree, Yggdrasill. This tree is the first layer of the sky. The wood of this tree is the air itself. Its branches spread outward to fill the sky. The tree is understood as an ‘ash tree’ because the branches of this kind of tree spread out in the shape of a dome. Clouds are ‘white clay’ (hvíta auri) that the fates fling across the tree to keep it healthy. The wispy cirrus clouds are the highest and outer most branches, forming the dome of cloud patterns. The trunk of this tree grows up from Ásgarðr, at the center of the cosmos where the sky meets the earth. A wind spirit, called ‘pale of weather’ (Veðr-fǫlnir), shapeshifts into a giant eagle, who sits in the ‘branches’ of the atmosphere, and forming the overcast clouds whose wings flap windstorms.

The three layers of the sky are:

• first, clouds filling a dome
• second, ether forming a dome-shape shell containing the clouds
• third, outer space where celestial objects traveling over the vault of ether

Alfheimr is in the sky. Specifically, it is located at ‘roof’ of the sky, relating to the second layer of the sky, the pure ether of the upper atmosphere. In Alfheimr, no clouds obscure the vision of the ‘roof’. The sun rides over the top of this roof.

Possibly, Alfheimr is the sun itself. If so, it is in this sense, the sun is called the ‘radiance of elf’. The alfar of Norse traditions (Proto-Norse *albʰaz) being artisan spirits who associate with the sun, are possibly cognate with the arbhu of Hindu traditions (ɽbʱu) being likewise artisan spirits who associate with the sun, and who inhabit the rays of the sun. If alfar and arbhu are cognates, the term alfar would relate to ‘labor’, in the sense of the work and skill of an artisan. Some traditions have the arbhu dwell in the starlight and in the winds of the sky. If Alfheimr is the sun, then the alfar would seem mainly active during the day while the sun is up. Oppositely, the dvergar are mainly active during the night while the sun is down. Yet in the poem Vǫluspá and in the prose Gylfaginning, in the future days of the ‘reckoning of the rulers’ (ragnar-rǫk), the sun will cease to exist, while a new young sun emerges from it. The alfar seem undistressed the loss of the sun, thus corroborating the alfar as being the light of the sun, rather than the round object of the sun itself. This coheres with the Hindu arbhu identifying with the sunlight as distinct from the sun.

In any case, the alfar identify with the ‘light’ (ljós) of the sun. This sunlight extends from the ‘radiance’ (rǫdull) of the sun to the sunrays, including the solar corona that is easily seen during an eclipse, and the aura that illuminates the ice crystals of the level of upper clouds forming a halo of light around the sun, plus the sunbeams shining down thru the clouds and onto the earth. The concept of direct hot sunlight is distinct from the concept of ubiquitous cool daylight. The alfar associate with the vanir Freyr, the spirit of sex and sunshine, rather than with the æsir Baldr, the spirit of truth and daylight.

Like the sun, alfar themselves radiate an aura of sunlight. Alfheimr inhabit the luminous upper places of the sky, namely the layers called length of breath and the wide dark luster. Alfheimr is at the roof, length of breath. An other location called Gimlé is in the wide dark luster. The Old Norse term ‘beautiful’ (fagr) also denotes bright luminosity, thus the poem Vǫluspá describes Gimlé as ‘more beautiful than sun’ (sólu fegra). The prose Gylfaginning takes this word ‘beautiful’ to mean, Gimlé is ‘brighter than the sun’ (bjartari en sólin). The sun is the brightest phenomenon that the humans observe in this world. A light that is brighter than the sun is an otherworldly light. Where the prose Gylfaginning describes the alfar as ‘more beautiful than the sun’, it understands this to mean, the alfar shine a brilliant otherworldly light. The ‘alfar of light’ are nature spirits of light, whose beauty actually shines. Likewise they inhabit places of light.

Alfheimr is the location of the government of the alfar. This place is observable as sunlight. Yet the alfar themselves radiate light that is even brighter than the sun.
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He Mage
These photos help to visualize the cosmic phenomena that Norse animists perceive as living ‘beings’ (vætir).

‘Sky’ (Himinn)
This is a photo of the æsir nature spirits in the ‘sky’ (himinn).

Note the wispy cirrus clouds above and the clumpy cumulus clouds below. These are the ‘white clay’ that the fates fling across the branches of the cosmic tree. The photo is from the perspective of someone sitting in the branches of the cosmic tree. Also note the sunbeams relating to the warm fertility of the vanir nature spirits, but being the alfar nature spirits coming down from above.

Sky 1 - upper troposphere - cirrus clouds above, cumulus clouds below.JPG

‘Beautiful Roof’ (Fagra-ræfr)
This is a photo of the ‘beautiful roof’ (fagra-ræfr) of the sky that relates to the alfar nature spirits.

Note the three layers of the sky. Below, the first layer is the ‘sky’ forming the orange clouds below. Above the clouds, the second layer is the ‘length of breath’ forming the luminous whitish and bluish daylight of ether. Above all, the third layer is the ‘wide dark luster’ forming the blackish color of outer space. The lustrous sun moon and stars travel thru this layer of empty darkness. The whitish and bluish second layer forms the ‘beautiful roof’. The sun and moon and stars travel over this roof.

View attachment Shuttle between pure cyanish mesosphere and hazy yellowish stratosphere, above orange troposhere.jpg
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Strictly, the D&D Beyond video is describing the origin of the Elves in the Forgotten Realms setting. In an other official settings, like Eberron, immortals like Corellon and Lolth lack existence. The Elves have an origin story that is unlike Forgotten Realms.

Different settings have different races and different explanations for the arrival of these races.

Each setting is its own frame of reference. Its own ultimate objective truth.

In the multiverse of the Forgotten Realms setting, multiple planes refer to Elves springing from the blood of Corellon − the Feywild, the Material, plus the Astral including spokes of the Great Wheel of polytheism, Chaotic Good and Chaotic Evil. These planes may or may not exist in other settings.

I appreciate empowering the DM as the author of the setting.

I hope designers focus on inviting DMs to opt in for game-changing setting assumptions, rather than forcing the DM to figure out how to opt out.

While this is old I feel like pointing out this is not the origin of the Elves in the FR setting. It contradicts it.


Why not just get rid of the subraces all together and let the player pick from literally any of the elf-like traits and elf-like proficiencies.

Also, I don't know that the ability score should be able to be applied to any score. Maybe anything except Strength or Constitution?

But-- with those two fixes, it might be a good template for how to remake all the various races in the game.

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