A to Z Challenge — E is for Elf

The Elf has evolved into a category of beings, as opposed to a specific creature. As with the word human, to get the picture of an individual elf requires more information. Just as there are all kinds of humans or people (it takes all kinds?), there exists many types of elves and elven mixes. Yesterday, I spoke of the drow, or dark elves, just one sub race.

While the original concept of elves was Norse (álfar) or German, modern fantasy literature depicts elves as an almost divine race of beings with human stature and appearance, friendly natures (minus those from the dark side) and pointed ears (a must to my mind). The elves of today are different from traditional elves found in Middle Ages folklore and Victorian era literature.

The long and pointed ears seem to have started with Tolkien noting that the ears of elves were leaf-shaped. The length and shape of their ears depends on the artist, medium, or round-ear in question. I prefer pointed ears, but not the long ones like a donkey might have.

Wood elves are close to nature.

Modern fantasy elves (evolved from D&D or other role-playing media) may be immortal or slow maturing and long living compared to their humanoid cousins. They are also more attractive, smarter, gifted with magical power, and have a sharper sense of reality. Pure-blood elves do not possess facial or body hair. They are seldom portrayed as fat, lazy, or old.

Today, thanks to Tolkien, there are elf languages that have evolved and are often taken seriously and spoken by dedicated role players. Click here to get more information on the Elvish language.

The many types of elves include wood elves, high elves, aquatic elves, light elves, dark elves, sun elves, moon elves, forest elves, and savage elves. Even if you’re not an elf aficionado, you still should get the picture. If you are, you can add to the list.

Elf Legolas Greenleaf (Orlando Bloom), in The Lord of the Rings

Elves are more ancient than humans or other races and flourished in a sort of Golden Age forgotten by other races. The mixing of elves with other races is interesting in that it is a mix of the real world, with all its limitations, and fantasy worlds with its unlimited imagination.

If you discard the elf on the shelf and the comedy movie, Elf, staring Will Farrow, the best known modern elf is probably the archer Legolas Greenleaf, portrayed by Orlando Bloom in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Arguably Tolkien’s best-known elf. Good clips from the movie with great sound.


Cautiously, look both ways in fantasy and reality.
Mind the gaps if you mix the two.

A to Z Challenge — D is for Drow

The Underworld of Drow

I have never played D&D, but I wish I had. When it was popular, my kids played the game. Since writing about these creatures, my daughter has invited me to play D&D with her, her hubby, and the grandkids. I discovered on-line role playing several years ago. That was when I learned how little I knew about elves, and I met my first elf who was a member of a sub-race of elves known as drow.

Of all fantasy creatures, I find elves to be the most interesting. They’re followed by dragons and leprechauns. That is a lot to write about. If we add reports and stories on other humanoids, such as dwarfs and hobbits, a literary subfield within fantasy emerges. Since elf crossbreeding, particularly with humans creates an exponential growth of character possibilities, contemporary story telling became fascinating for both creator and consumer.

If you’re not a fan of D&D or role play (RP), you may assume things about elves regarding stature, intelligence, and friendliness which are likely incorrect. In each case, I was wrong. They’re not little, stupid, and sweet. Admittedly, Santa’s helpers at the North Pole do little to correct the stereotype, but all is fair in fantasy and myth.

Dark, or black elves are from Norse mythology and thought to be the ancestors of the drow. These elves are usually considered to be evil in the inborn, bad seed sense. Yet there is ample evidence for a human-like nature versus nurture conflict and all drow cannot be depended upon to be as wicked as others.

Drow have dark grayish skin. Since they are given to self-decorating, green and even purple colors can also be found. Their hair is naturally white, whitish or yellow, but here again, drow know about hair coloring techniques. Female drow are dominant, being both stronger and slightly larger than males. As with all pure elves, neither sex is capable of beard growth. While eyes are normally red, colors can range. With crossbreeding, even human green or blue eyes are possible. But, if you want to see something spooky; a red eyed, dark-skinned drow can tilt your freak meter.

While drow are unwilling underground creatures, they are most often found by non-drow to be above ground for the obvious reason that subterranean existence for a non-drow creature is as a slave to the drow, if survival is even possible in such a wild, violent place.

Drow fight with anyone, and other drow are never off the hook. That helps to keep their numbers down, since when they do get along well with each other, they are also very prolific producers of offspring.

As with all elves, drow live long lives if they manage to avoid a violent and early death. Again, given all their magic and power, it is their inability to get along that manages to keep the population in check.

Despite what sounds like an evil appearance, drow are attractive elves. This causes surface dwelling races to tolerate drow presence if they behave in a non-drow-like fashion. Surface races of elves and other humanoids have been known to inbreed with drow yielding interesting, yet confusing, results: both good and bad.

Drow are fast, agile, and in their opinion smarter than all other humanoids including other elf groups. The most natural and overwhelming feature of all drow is their phenomenal sense of entitlement. While this can be an annoying and dangerous trait, like so much else regarding drow, it is difficult to tell if it is innate or cultural. Drow culture reinforces all forms of evil within their race beginning at a very young age.

Mind gaps to the world of the drow.
Look both ways as elves are poor drivers.