Rogue Angel

Book III - Varlyrio: Guild sign-up and Discussion

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Basiliscus said:

To be fair, I really just leveraged @Andrew Spader's storyline and expanded it a bit for my own needs. Totally agreed on the race equals character thing. That's basically why I despise Tolkien (controversial I know) because he characterises entire races and to me this is childish and inhibits good storytelling. I think that, albeit fantasy, races such as orcs and minotaurs would have their own reasons for doing good and evil. I was planning on having humans who want to destroy all the non-human and marauder settlements a la the crusades, but are limited by a lack of manpower and support from the wealthy eastern families, orcs/minotaurs who collaborate with the humans because they want other enemy tribes defeated, humans who live amongst the orcs/minotaurs and want to trade with them, etc. A mixture of the crusades and the American old west is probably about right.

I don't quite despise Tolkien but I probably tend to agree with your assessment of that problem. I think your idea about xenophobic humans trying to wage war against entire races maps depressingly well onto history, both in the Crusades and the Old West so it's a neat angle for a story. Might be a bit dark for GoH but I say go for it.

54 minutes ago, Andrew Spader said:

I think this is a misread of Tolkien personally. Orcs weren't their own race, they were the bizarro elves (and elves being 'angels' orcs would be fallen angels) and thus I find the charges of racism leveled at Tolkien ridiculous.

In fairness, the Marauders were more of a plot device than an actual addition to the lore of Varlyrio. I'm not a fan of 'orange man bad' character explanations ether, rest assured of that. The device was more to explain why the Head of a Trading Company was a warrior, and why trading companies had (or contracted with) private armies. Orsen Waythe's dream (and it's close to becoming reality) is to plant his flag so trading can actually go peacefully without everyone's stuff getting stolen. 

On a more personal note, very glad to hear my story is interesting enough to be adapted into yours!

Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to single out your storyline when I brought this up. I was just being general because we have a lot of new members and I wanted to steer things in the right direction if I could. In GoH, it's been pretty good about this issue. The only truly evil race is the "drow" and we haven't seen them for a while. Since they're lifted wholesale from Forgotten Realms, I shrug it off.

Not to derail this into a Tolkien discussion but I disagree with you. I know orcs are a corruption of elves, but they and goblins are "evil races" for all intents and purposes. You can't really use Tolkien's special in-universe justification as a way to defend this. People like to do that, point to the text and say "but see, this is explained" but they're missing a pretty fundamental part of literary analysis by doing so. Tolkien might have liked to think of himself as a sort of historian for a made up world, but he wasn't really one. He was a white British dude with a fairly patrician background and lifestyle and was writing at the edge of modernism, the afterlife of colonialism, and at a time when racial "science" was still quite popular. The better argument would be that we shouldn't entirely dismiss him because he was a "product of his time" but this, many would argue, is a misunderstanding of history since there were always people who defied, criticized, and rejected racism and other social issues and policies. So that's still not clear-cut either.

Excuses for Tolkien wear thin when you also consider what I think are more compelling reasons to say his work is more than a little racist: the "Haradrim" (linguistically coded as middle eastern, brown-skinned, etc) and Easterlings are invaders in-league with Sauron and, aside from orcs and goblins, the only non-white folks in the world as we know it. The "black corsairs" also IIRC are baddies coming up from the south. Because Tolkien kept ME parallel to Europe in many ways, it's not hard to see what he's going for here (whether he meant to or not). North-west Europe = good, colonial/wild/non-white Africa and Asia = bad. There's a reason why neo-nazis and racists like to point to LotR's "invasion of the savage hordes" narrative and the alliance of white peoples from various backgrounds (elves, dwarves, and Men) in opposition.

So you might reject this analysis, if you want. But it's not ridiculous. It's actually pretty well-trodden scholarly ground. Wouldn't be too hard to find better, more rigorous critiques than mine. Personally, I don't think it ruins Tolkien or his books. I also don't think it was really intentional. I don't see Tolkien as a secret white supremacist hunched over his desk cackling into his pipe. I think he reached for cliches that he could keep so sketchy that they wouldn't seem like cliches. Or perhaps it wasn't cliche then for fantasy worlds to do a "white/west=good" thing but it sure became a cliche after that. Have a peak at the Belgariad for example. Even if you decide you see some merit in these points, you don't have to reject Tolkien like @Basiliscus seems to. My stance is that it's important to know what the themes, unintentional or not, are in a work. I can still appreciate Tolkien and his works while acknowledging there's some problems. If I can encourage anyone, fellow nerds or students of mine, to do anything... it would be to pay more attention to what they like and what it is saying. Doesn't mean we can't still like stuff. I still like Lovecraft's work and he was one world-class turd.

 

Edited by mccoyed

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, mccoyed said:

Not to derail this into a Tolkien discussion but I disagree with you. I know orcs are a corruption of elves, but they and goblins are "evil races" for all intents and purposes. You can't really use Tolkien's special in-universe justification as a way to defend this. People like to do that, point to the text and say "but see, this is explained" but they're missing a pretty fundamental part of literary analysis by doing so. Tolkien might have liked to think of himself as a sort of historian for a made up world, but he wasn't really one. He was a white British dude with a fairly patrician background and lifestyle and was writing at the edge of modernism, the afterlife of colonialism, and at a time when racial "science" was still quite popular. The better argument would be that we shouldn't entirely dismiss him because he was a "product of his time" but this, many would argue, is a misunderstanding of history since there were always people who defied, criticized, and rejected racism and other social issues and policies. So that's still not clear-cut either.

 Excuses for Tolkien wear thin when you also consider what I think are more compelling reasons to say his work is more than a little racist: the "Haradrim" (linguistically coded as middle eastern, brown-skinned, etc) and Easterlings are invaders in-league with Sauron and, aside from orcs and goblins, the only non-white folks in the world as we know it. The "black corsairs" also IIRC are baddies coming up from the south. Because Tolkien kept ME parallel to Europe in many ways, it's not hard to see what he's going for here (whether he meant to or not). North-west Europe = good, colonial/wild/non-white Africa and Asia = bad. There's a reason why neo-nazis and racists like to point to LotR's "invasion of the savage hordes" narrative and the alliance of white peoples from various backgrounds (elves, dwarves, and Men) in opposition.

So you might reject this analysis, if you want. But it's not ridiculous. It's actually pretty well-trodden scholarly ground. Wouldn't be too hard to find better, more rigorous critiques than mine. Personally, I don't think it ruins Tolkien or his books. I also don't think it was really intentional. I don't see Tolkien as a secret white supremacist hunched over his desk cackling into his pipe. I think he reached for cliches that he could keep so sketchy that they wouldn't seem like cliches. Or perhaps it wasn't cliche then for fantasy worlds to do a "white/west=good" thing but it sure became a cliche after that. Have a peak at the Belgariad for example. Even if you decide you see some merit in these points, you don't have to reject Tolkien like @Basiliscus seems to. My stance is that it's important to know what the themes, unintentional or not, are in a work. I can still appreciate Tolkien and his works while acknowledging there's some problems. If I can encourage anyone, fellow nerds or students of mine, to do anything... it would be to pay more attention to what they like and what it is saying. Doesn't mean we can't still like stuff. I still like Lovecraft's work and he was one world-class turd.

 

4
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This then is not so much a disagreement with Tolkien as you rejecting the idea that the West is a force for good. And when you create a universe for better or worse you are the historian. You seem to be arguing that since Tolkien doesn't ram down our throats that orcs were once good that somehow makes his portrayal racist. I really like LOTR, but that's actually not the reason I'm arguing this point. Tolkien, like all of us, is a product of the time and place he lived in.

For better or worse, we are the inheritors of the West. Over and over again, the West has been assaulted by 'hordes from elsewhere' whose skin tone is darker than ours. The skin color had nothing to do with it. We have a way of life, a religion, a culture, that other people want to erase. And you have to make a determination. Was Charles Martel 'problematic' or 'racist' when he halted the Ottoman Empire at Tours in 732? Was the Pope racist to view the Mongols as a monolith that must be opposed wholesale? Was it racist for Jan III to break the siege at the Gates of Vienna in 1683? 

The Orcs did not want fair treatment or land rights, they did not want religious liberty or trade. They wanted to wipe out Middle Earth. In this Tolkien's works demonstrated that heritage in western thought. Sometimes there are good guys and bad guys, sometimes it really is that simple. Because I for one believe in Western ideals, and I am willing to stand at the gate to defend them even if it means that people look down their nose at me from ivory towers and faculty meetings at universities. 

Edit: It dawns on me this is Varlyrio's discussion page and not a place for arguments about the merits of the West or the literary thought behind the Lord of the Rings, and it is not my intention to clog the chat or to go to war over something ostensibly not part of GoH. But I hope you all forgive my defense of the West and Tolkien, both mean a lot to me and I want a fair discussion of what they are and what they mean. 

Edited by Andrew Spader
Spelling errors in my argument

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Since we're gonna have a proper debate about this, let's move it over to a private discussion.

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Quite a few posts in the last few hours. 

As Andrew said, this is not the place to get into extended and potentially divisive discussions about arguably racist roots in literature.  The concept of whether there should be evil races or not is just fine. 

In the future, if anyone is considering an extended defense or justification of anything that is related to RELIGION or RACISM or SEXISM or real-life POLITICS, please refrain from doing so.  This is not the place for these types of discussions.

It is perfectly acceptable to get into extended discussions about races and culture and politics in GOH, but these should not get argumentative in nature, and you should be able to restrain yourself if you are starting to post something that is getting you worked up, or feeling divisive. 

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30 minutes ago, mccoyed said:

Since we're gonna have a proper debate about this, let's move it over to a private discussion.

Oof

23 minutes ago, Rogue Angel said:

Quite a few posts in the last few hours. 

As Andrew said, this is not the place to get into extended and potentially divisive discussions about arguably racist roots in literature.  The concept of whether there should be evil races or not is just fine. 

In the future, if anyone is considering an extended defense or justification of anything that is related to RELIGION or RACISM or SEXISM or real-life POLITICS, please refrain from doing so.  This is not the place for these types of discussions.

It is perfectly acceptable to get into extended discussions about races and culture and politics in GOH, but these should not get argumentative in nature, and you should be able to restrain yourself if you are starting to post something that is getting you worked up, or feeling divisive. 

If you wish I'll delete my posts (or at least scrub the politics from them) 

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11 minutes ago, Andrew Spader said:

Oof

If you wish I'll delete my posts (or at least scrub the politics from them) 

Nothing needs to be deleted. 

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These things come up from time to time. Hopefully they can be settled in a friendly private debate. :P

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Appreciate things escalated there, but just to be clear that when I said:

8 hours ago, Basiliscus said:

That's basically why I despise Tolkien (controversial I know) because he characterises entire races and to me this is childish and inhibits good storytelling. I think that, albeit fantasy, races such as orcs and minotaurs would have their own reasons for doing good and evil.

This was in direct response to:

17 hours ago, mccoyed said:

Just some thoughts. I personally dislike "evil races" and things like that, so I try to look at historical (or at least reasonable) rationales for banditry or larger-scale attacks/tension with "civilization".

In other words, I was trying to get across that my disdain for Tolkien is because he writes boring characters and makes entire races (e.g. the evil orcs) behave like mindless drones and personally I don't find that wholly believable (being fantasy and all that).

I appreciate a storyline largely mirroring events like the crusades and the American old west will be darker than the GoH norm but I just can't read/write stories any other way. For me what makes stories interesting is the characters, and everyone has their own desires which motivate them. Sometimes they do good and sometimes they do evil. I don't think they are universally applicable to entire groups of people. That's how I see the world anyway.

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I am in agreement that races as a whole would not typically be evil in GoH, but the values and cultural norms of a race or society can make them 'seem evil'. 

The following mindsets likely exist in GoH and would be viewed as "evil" by some:

- Viewing strength and prowess as key qualities and adopting the "might means right" or "survival of the fittest" strategies (Most wild animals)

- Place little value on individual life, or embrace self-sacrifice (colony insects)

- Viewing other life forms as inferior, insignificant or unacknowledged (humans vs. ants, "Civilized" vs. "Savages")

Power = Right in many more isolated communities, and the Wastelands would be a good example of this, as was Feudal Europe. 

The wastelands are much more prone to powerful groups taking advantage of less powerful groups.  There are many bandits, marauders, and other lawless folks there.  In addition to human settlements, there are also gnome, goblin, lionel, minotaur, orc, etc.  Pretty much anything you can think of or want.  We also don't want to make too many blanket statements about the wasteland as a whole.  This is a vast area, open to many different interpretations.

In regards to the Drow, we have adopted Tolkiens' Elves and Dwarves wholesale, and many races from Dungeons and Dragons, why would Drow be any different?

Just now, Basiliscus said:

I appreciate a storyline largely mirroring events like the crusades and the American old west will be darker than the GoH norm but I just can't read/write stories any other way. For me what makes stories interesting is the characters, and everyone has their own desires which motivate them. Sometimes they do good and sometimes they do evil. I don't think they are universally applicable to entire groups of people. That's how I see the world anyway.

Most of world history is extremely dark, our history books just portray things more nobly (not that that's a word).  Varlyrio is a bit darker than the other realms, and I think GoH can handle it. 

BTW, I love the Belgariad and Mallorean, but it is too rosy, and every character is the best at the world in everything they do.  Still love them though.

GoT is great because it does a much better job of portraying how the "good guys" are never universally good, and do bad things, and likewise the "bad guys" are never entirely bad.  There are good people and bad people, but it is still all in shades of grey (other than the Mountain-that-Rides and Ramsey Bolton)

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Just now, Rogue Angel said:

In regards to the Drow, we have adopted Tolkiens' Elves and Dwarves wholesale, and many races from Dungeons and Dragons, why would Drow be any different?

That wasn't a criticism, Rogue. I meant that anyone familiar with drow from their source material would recognize the shorthand and not feel that they are a strong counter-example to the norm of not having intrinsically evil races in GoH. Wholesale in that case means that they are basically unchanged, so it's safe to presume that their "evil" is cultural. I even think I recall someone making a "good" drow character but maybe I just see little baby Drizzts everywhere I look.

But to be fair, Tolkien lifted elves and dwarves (not exactly wholesale) from Norse mythology. They've since grown well beyond his conception of them and personally, I like the diversity of "takes" on these fantasy races that are represented in GoH.

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6 minutes ago, mccoyed said:

That wasn't a criticism, Rogue. I meant that anyone familiar with drow from their source material would recognize the shorthand and not feel that they are a strong counter-example to the norm of not having intrinsically evil races in GoH. Wholesale in that case means that they are basically unchanged, so it's safe to presume that their "evil" is cultural. I even think I recall someone making a "good" drow character but maybe I just see little baby Drizzts everywhere I look.

But to be fair, Tolkien lifted elves and dwarves (not exactly wholesale) from Norse mythology. They've since grown well beyond his conception of them and personally, I like the diversity of "takes" on these fantasy races that are represented in GoH.

My understanding is that Elves and Dwarves were minute beings until Tolkien converted them to the full-size humanoids they are today, but I could be wrong on this.  Orcs were a completely new creation, correct?

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Glad you don't object to my suggested storyline @Rogue Angel! I agree the wastelands can have a lot of variety and my question was "will my interpretation make sense in context" rather than "this is how the wastelands would look". It's a large geographical area so while a crusade in all but name is going on in one area that doesn't mean other areas can't have fantasy races living in harmony.

GoT is a much better example of the theme I'm going for - in contrast to Tolkien I love GRRM's characters (even the bad ones). In that vein there will be collaborating orcs attacking their own kind, humans who want to help the orcs, etc, because that shows that individuals have their own motivations.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Rogue Angel said:

My understanding is that Elves and Dwarves were minute beings until Tolkien converted them to the full-size humanoids they are today, but I could be wrong on this.  Orcs were a completely new creation, correct?

The classification or taxonomy of fairytale and mythological beings is fairly difficult and popular culture makes it even worse. It's especially hard in societies that are a hodgepodge of different root myths, of which the British Isles are a grand example.

Elves are sorta god-like beings of "divine light" in Norse Mythology so it's fair to say they are a pretty straight lift. Dwarves are more difficult since different translations and storytellers came up with different versions and origins. Sometimes "Svartalfheim" is considered the realm of dwarves, or dark elves, or neither. That's just an example. Dwarves as craftspeople is definitely from Norse myth, though what exactly "dwarves" are supposed to be is subject to debate. Tolkien basically used them as a stand-in for Scotsmen much the same way that Hobbits are a stand-in for pastoral English country folk which Tolkien somewhat idealized.

Orcs, I think, were Tolkien's for the most part. They are also a mixture of different mythological monsters and creatures, though, and the word "orcs" comes from "orcneas" in Beowulf.

At the end of the day, this stuff is messy and Tolkien was an expert, merging the Norse constructions with other fairytale creatures and beings from Welsh, Irish, and other Celtic lore as well. I think "elves" as explicitly diminutive is commonly considered a construction that came later, like Santa Claus as we know him now, to sell cookies and coca cola. But that depends on whether you think the term "elf" applies to this or that creature from this or that mythic tradition. Or what even comprises a mythic tradition when so few "original" sources exist. Or what you think the etymology of "elf" even is.

 

Edited by mccoyed

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6 minutes ago, Basiliscus said:

Glad you don't object to my suggested storyline @Rogue Angel! I agree the wastelands can have a lot of variety and my question was "will my interpretation make sense in context" rather than "this is how the wastelands would look". It's a large geographical area so while a crusade in all but name is going on in one area that doesn't mean other areas can't have fantasy races living in harmony.

GoT is a much better example of the theme I'm going for - in contrast to Tolkien I love GRRM's characters (even the bad ones). In that vein there will be collaborating orcs attacking their own kind, humans who want to help the orcs, etc, because that shows that individuals have their own motivations.

Yeah in fairness I just went guns blazing into the wastelands without really reading up on it, but I figured that wastelands mean anarchy and lawlessness, and who doesn't love a good wild west yarn?

 

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1 hour ago, mccoyed said:

The classification or taxonomy of fairytale and mythological beings is fairly difficult and popular culture makes it even worse. It's especially hard in societies that are a hodgepodge of different root myths, of which the British Isles are a grand example.

Elves are sorta god-like beings of "divine light" in Norse Mythology so it's fair to say they are a pretty straight lift. Dwarves are more difficult since different translations and storytellers came up with different versions and origins. Sometimes "Svartalfheim" is considered the realm of dwarves, or dark elves, or neither. That's just an example. Dwarves as craftspeople is definitely from Norse myth, though what exactly "dwarves" are supposed to be is subject to debate. Tolkien basically used them as a stand-in for Scotsmen much the same way that Hobbits are a stand-in for pastoral English country folk which Tolkien somewhat idealized.

Orcs, I think, were Tolkien's for the most part. They are also a mixture of different mythological monsters and creatures, though, and the word "orcs" comes from "orcneas" in Beowulf.

At the end of the day, his stuff is messy and Tolkien was an expert, merging the Norse constructions with other fairytale creatures and beings from Welsh, Irish, and other Celtic lore as well. I think "elves" as explicitly diminutive is commonly considered a construction that came later, like Santa Claus as we know him now, to sell cookies and coca cola. But that depends on whether you think the term "elf" applies to this or that creature from this or that mythic tradition. Or what even comprises a mythic tradition when so few "original" sources exist. Or what you think the etymology of "elf" even is.

 

Tolkien is, I believe, from my rather extensive readings of the peripheral works of his (and his son's) corpus, the originator of the plurals "Elves" and "Dwarves"; "elfs" and "dwarfs" (and "elfin" rather than "Elven" or "Elvish") was the proper terminology of his day, and he fought his editors to change it to imply a distinction from the earlier beings, while still using the words and some of the related concepts. Hence the Disney film is Snow White and the Seven DwarfsAelf, the Anglo-Saxon root that gives us our modern elf originally denotes the exact same thing as fairy, and would have been construed by many in Tolkien's day as referring to a diminutive being who frequented the woods, much like we think of today with fairies and pixies (Tinker Bell, e.g.); but Tolkien was drawing out deeper Faerie, a world of deep magic that only touched our own in the liminal spaces (river banks, edges of meadows, dawn/dusk, for example) and was inhabited by races and beings decidedly NOT human, nor even typically friendly, even when fair and beautiful in appearance; a world inherently attractive but unsuitable for mortal humans to even visit, let alone stay, without direst consequences. Tolkien hated fairy stories that emphasized cute, small, harmless beings of trivial magic, and wished to lend a sense of gravitas to a world that he considered vitally important to poetry and literature in general. There is a lovely volume of his works entitled Tales from the Perilous Realm, which is a collection of short stories and poems of his that relate to Faerie, the Perilous Realm. Elves, in Middle Earth, are certainly not gods or any such thing; instead the Valar and Maiar fill that role; among the former number Morgoth, Manwe, Varda, Mandos, Ulme, many others (a sort of Olympian 12), and among the latter are Sauron, Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and the Balrogs. Elves instead are meant to represent the better side of humanity, while the Men of his story represent the worse. 

Sorry. Nerd-vomited there...

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Henjin_Quilones said:

Tolkien is, I believe, from my rather extensive readings of the peripheral works of his (and his son's) corpus, the originator of the plurals "Elves" and "Dwarves"; "elfs" and "dwarfs" (and "elfin" rather than "Elven" or "Elvish") was the proper terminology of his day, and he fought his editors to change it to imply a distinction from the earlier beings, while still using the words and some of the related concepts. Hence the Disney film is Snow White and the Seven DwarfsAelf, the Anglo-Saxon root that gives us our modern elf originally denotes the exact same thing as fairy, and would have been construed by many in Tolkien's day as referring to a diminutive being who frequented the woods, much like we think of today with fairies and pixies (Tinker Bell, e.g.); but Tolkien was drawing out deeper Faerie, a world of deep magic that only touched our own in the liminal spaces (river banks, edges of meadows, dawn/dusk, for example) and was inhabited by races and beings decidedly NOT human, nor even typically friendly, even when fair and beautiful in appearance; a world inherently attractive but unsuitable for mortal humans to even visit, let alone stay, without direst consequences. Tolkien hated fairy stories that emphasized cute, small, harmless beings of trivial magic, and wished to lend a sense of gravitas to a world that he considered vitally important to poetry and literature in general. There is a lovely volume of his works entitled Tales from the Perilous Realm, which is a collection of short stories and poems of his that relate to Faerie, the Perilous Realm. Elves, in Middle Earth, are certainly not gods or any such thing; instead the Valar and Maiar fill that role; among the former number Morgoth, Manwe, Varda, Mandos, Ulme, many others (a sort of Olympian 12), and among the latter are Sauron, Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and the Balrogs. Elves instead are meant to represent the better side of humanity, while the Men of his story represent the worse. 

Sorry. Nerd-vomited there...

Nah, that's all good stuff. Especially the linguistic use of "ves" as being credited to Tolkien since I wasn't sure about that (but did remember he fought his publishers over something to do with dwarves). Your comment about "deeper faerie" reminds me of pre-Tolkien stuff like The King of Elfland's Daughter (love that book). I will say that Elves in Middle Earth are supernatural beings roughly similar to the similarly "not gods" denizens of Alfheim (Ljosalfar) in Norse mythology. The word "aelf" probably has its origins in Old Norse "alfar" or "alfur". This is where Tolkien gets his "elves", so it's a common misunderstanding that he was the originator of the idea of elves as relatively human-like (in terms of stature) super-beings. Having said that, we don't know much about the Norse concepts of elves and there is disagreement, for instance, about whether "dark elves" are actually a thing. Googling it will give you all kinds of bad results cribbed from pop culture, further complicating the issue.

Tolkien wasn't big on taking credit for stuff he used (particular Beowulf, from which he borrowed rather liberally), but his fanbase occasionally has a tendency to do it for him. That's probably more a product of people overvaluing originality, though.

Edited by mccoyed

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2 hours ago, Rogue Angel said:

- Place little value on individual life, or embrace self-sacrifice.

Just to jump in, I think that is a very noble, a rather lost, and an impressive trait, and, for instance, it is what made the English beat the war lords of India time and again, proving that it's not (just) a (what is considered) savage attribute. 

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1 minute ago, W Navarre said:

Just to jump in, I think that is a very noble, a rather lost, and an impressive trait, and, for instance, it is what made the English beat the war lords of India time and again, proving that it's not (just) a (what is considered) savage attribute. 

I may be misinterpreting, but this was in reference to what can be viewed as evil, not savage, even though I mentioned how some can view others as "savages".  Sacrificing the weak to save the strong can be viewed as 'evil' especially in modern-day society. 

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11 minutes ago, Rogue Angel said:

I may be misinterpreting, but this was in reference to what can be viewed as evil, not savage, even though I mentioned how some can view others as "savages".  Sacrificing the weak to save the strong can be viewed as 'evil' especially in modern-day society. 

Yeah, I was just taking my own ideas from yours, not opposed to yours... I knew you were more likely talking about having little value for other peoples lives, which is a selfish idea of course, I'm talking about the same general concept but in a new direction: being brave enough to not value your own life when compared to a cause. And yeah, you were talking about evil but mentioned savage too, so I figured I'd mention that :classic: .

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Could be an interesting ethical question to consider in a story/build: when, if ever, is it okay to trade the lives of some people for the lives of others?

An interesting side-note is something I don't see discussed often, but a version of that question is essentially the thematic focus of Avengers: Infinity War.

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17 hours ago, Andrew Spader said:

This then is not so much a disagreement with Tolkien as you rejecting the idea that the West is a force for good...

Not to get back on this part of the conversation, but it relates to the larger conversation about Fantasy races in Guilds of Historica.

The West has been a force for both good and evil, depending on which particular events you look at.  And while I absolutely appreciate that the West has merits, I also value the merits and ideals of other cultures that have populated this Earth.  This is why I enjoy more nuanced characters (Game of Thrones doing a much better job than Tolkien in this regard) rather than blanket statements about Fantasy races.  For every 'Evil' race in a setting, I always imagine a 'Good' character.  And vice-versa.

14 hours ago, Basiliscus said:

I appreciate a storyline largely mirroring events like the crusades and the American old west will be darker than the GoH norm but I just can't read/write stories any other way. For me what makes stories interesting is the characters, and everyone has their own desires which motivate them. Sometimes they do good and sometimes they do evil. I don't think they are universally applicable to entire groups of people. That's how I see the world anyway.

I can appreciate some darkness, myself.  I'm looking forward to seeing how your story develops.

14 hours ago, Rogue Angel said:

GoT is great because it does a much better job of portraying how the "good guys" are never universally good, and do bad things, and likewise the "bad guys" are never entirely bad.  There are good people and bad people, but it is still all in shades of grey (other than the Mountain-that-Rides and Ramsey Bolton)

You make a lot of great points in this post, but I had to respond here.  When I was reading about how the bad guys are never entirely bad, I already clicked 'Quote' to bring up Ramsay Bolton, so I'm glad you mentioned him.  Nothing wrong with a few characters that are entirely good or evil, but when you apply that to entire races it becomes a problem.

As for my own storytelling, I am looking to create a diverse cast of characters from all races and walks of life.  I have many ideas, but unfortunately the bulk of my LEGO is in storage.  And since I'm busy shopping for a new place to live, it will have to stay there for a while.  I may try a few vignettes to introduce more of my characters, though.

Edited by x105Black
Apparently, it's spelled 'Ramsay'

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1 hour ago, x105Black said:

As for my own storytelling, I am looking to create a diverse cast of characters from all races and walks of life.  I have many ideas, but unfortunately the bulk of my LEGO is in storage.  And since I'm busy shopping for a new place to live, it will have to stay there for a while.  I may try a few vignettes to introduce more of my characters, though.

Do it :wink: !  I'm enjoying all the families from Varlyrio a lot, need more though! 

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5 hours ago, x105Black said:

As for my own storytelling, I am looking to create a diverse cast of characters from all races and walks of life.  I have many ideas, but unfortunately the bulk of my LEGO is in storage.  And since I'm busy shopping for a new place to live, it will have to stay there for a while.  I may try a few vignettes to introduce more of my characters, though.

 

4 hours ago, W Navarre said:

Do it :wink: !  I'm enjoying all the families from Varlyrio a lot, need more though! 

We will be establishing family ranks after the end of Challenge II.  This will be determined by free builds, Challenge Entries and Family members portrayed.  As mentioned previously, if your builds portray your family engaging in their 'Trade', it will help you win that position (if it is available).  Make sure to post you families and Challenge entries by the end of the month!  (the next family rank assessment will be after Ch III or Ch IV).

If you don't have a sigfig posted yet (@Andrew Spader) AND at least a free build or Challenge entry ( @W Navarre) you will NOT be eligible to have your family ranked.  (Andrew - you may have posted your sigfig, but I don't remember it)

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47 minutes ago, Rogue Angel said:

 

We will be establishing family ranks after the end of Challenge II.  This will be determined by free builds, Challenge Entries and Family members portrayed.  As mentioned previously, if your builds portray your family engaging in their 'Trade', it will help you win that position (if it is available).  Make sure to post you families and Challenge entries by the end of the month!  (the next family rank assessment will be after Ch III or Ch IV).

If you don't have a sigfig posted yet (@Andrew Spader) AND at least a free build or Challenge entry ( @W Navarre) you will NOT be eligible to have your family ranked.  (Andrew - you may have posted your sigfig, but I don't remember it)

Can families earn positions not related to their trade? For example, the Conzagas are wine merchants, but can they earn the Minister of War position if I build a lot of military themed builds?

The reason I ask is that it's a bit limiting only being able to build wine related builds, I've already built a vineyard (Conzaga Manor) and tavern (Murder at the Golden Flag Inn) so there's limited things left. Most of the intrigue does not necessarily need to be related to wine, but instead is related to power and politics.

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4 minutes ago, Basiliscus said:

Can families earn positions not related to their trade? For example, the Conzagas are wine merchants, but can they earn the Minister of War position if I build a lot of military themed builds?

The reason I ask is that it's a bit limiting only being able to build wine related builds, I've already built a vineyard (Conzaga Manor) and tavern (Murder at the Golden Flag Inn) so there's limited things left. Most of the intrigue does not necessarily need to be related to wine, but instead is related to power and politics.

Burning or poisoning a rivals vines? Or raiding their wine cellar and smashing their finest vintages perhaps? 

Or organisong a nice civilized wine tasting session for noble families? 

Loading a ship with finest vintages? Or hiring pirates to sink a rival vessel bearings inferiors avalonian wines?

I can think of a few good wine related options there.

 

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