Here is an update to the previous entry. I chatted with Merlin about the info I wrote (Merlin is Altaia’s creator) and also about Veldan’s history and the motivations of the other two characters…
[19:22] Nekodojo: OK, 2. Can you think of a reason why Veldan’s mentor might want (or need) to live in New Providence and not go home? Is it out of character for an elf to set up shop in NP and live there for a number of years?
[19:23] Merlin: It’s something that happens fairly regularly (by elven standards). My theory is that most elves are pretty xenophobic, but sometimes you get an elf with itchy feet. One who wants to see the rest of the world. To that elf, most of the other races are children, full of passion. They are interesting, but he doesn’t *participate*. He observes and sometimes he’ll find someone or something he likes and subtly affect it.
[19:24] Merlin: I figure that some of the less scrupulous elves could probably start wars just to see how people react, but figure that most elves are good by nature and would prefer to try and help.
[19:25] Nekodojo: OK that makes some sense. The fact that he decides to train Veldan is a bit out of character for an elf. Do you think this is a show of contempt for his fellow elves back home? How serious a transgression is this?
[19:27] Merlin: In this case, I would say that an elf saw an orc who might be redeemable. Since the popular opinion is that orcs are *unredeemable* it’s actually an impressive feat if he can point at one particular orc and say “Look, he chose a different path.”
[19:27] Merlin: It means that he could have, one one level, absolutely despised Veldan, and yet on another level been extremely caring and genuinely interested in his well-being. Not just for growth in power, but for growth as a being.
[19:28] Nekodojo: Do you think an elf might train a human to use their magic? How secretive are they about the knowledge?
[19:30] Merlin: Perhaps. I think the elven nation must have some agreement with the College of Magic, wherein the elves don’t really interfere with humans and magic in general, and the college makes sure that rogue mages are not a threat to the elves. I don’t think any such relationship is formal, but has probably been maintained for a long time.
[19:30] Merlin: As far as the elves are concerned, the college is the most civilized example of human society–after all, they’re the only humans who can get out of those barbaric teenage years =)
[19:31] Merlin: So in general, elves would not teach humans magic. It would most likely be frowned upon to do so, but I doubt it’d result in a scandal unless something happened to get the college to lodge a complaint.
[19:32] Nekodojo: OK, that information certainly helps. It sounds like him training a half-orc is not entirely unheard of, and not a reason to assume he is an exile or outcast.
[19:33] Merlin: Right. It’s more likely that he’s a self-exile.
[19:34] Nekodojo: Another question. He lives with his daughter, and the daughter’s mother is not in the picture. Some possible explanations… 1. her mother is a human and has long since died. 2. her mother is also an elf and died somehow, or 3. the daughter is an orphan adopted by him (possibly unknown to her). Or any other reason you can think of?
[19:37] Merlin: Let’s see. Any of those are easily doable. Elven sexual mores are fairly open, and since reproduction is fairly rare they have little concern about procreation. On the other hand, they’re not especially concerned with sex, in general, which might also explain their slow reproduction. As for other explanations…
[19:38] Merlin: The mother was an elf but doesn’t like the grubby, smelly humans, and so left; or maybe even never went out. Or the mother was a human and couldn’t deal with the ephemeral elf on a long-term basis.
[19:38] Nekodojo: Oh I was also going to ask you about life expectancy of elves, half-elves, compared to humans
[19:39] Merlin: I think my favorite explanation is that the mother was human and is long-dead. It gives the mentor the capability to love, but also gives him trepidation–because the life of a human is fleeting.
[19:39] Merlin: Elves probably live about half a millennia, with the exceptional ones topping about a thousand years. But those are very exceptional.
[19:39] Merlin: Dwarves live for about half of that.
[19:40] Nekodojo: If a half-elf has a shorter lifespan, like closer to human than elf, then the mother could just as easily be half-elf herself
[19:40] Merlin: Humans are expected to live about 50-75 years. Magic can extend their lives theoretically indefinitely, but realistically not more than about 250.
[19:40] Merlin: Yes. a half-elf could have a lifespan anyhwere from human length to elf length.
[19:40] Merlin: It will vary wildly, but is likely to be closer to whichever side the child takes after more.
[19:41] Nekodojo: OK. So the initial estimate I thought of human:80, elf:800 is not far off
[19:42] Merlin: 800 would be exceptional but possible.
[19:42] Merlin: However, even elves age and their body deteriorates, though perhaps not as visibly as humans. So an 800 year old elf is unlikely to get out much.
[19:42] Nekodojo: OK. I will modify slightly to 50-75 human, 500-750 elf
[19:43] Nekodojo: 10x makes the math easier :)
[19:43] Merlin: Sure, that’ll work. It’s probably vastly more common for a human to hit 75 than an elf to hit 750, but the range is good otherwise.
[19:44] Nekodojo: OK.
[19:45] Nekodojo: The names are totally random, I think I had provided a name for his mentor before, but didn’t write it anywhere
[19:46] Merlin: I likely don’t have it written down either. I’m pretty bad at that sort of organization, which is a problem I really should try and fix.
[19:46] Nekodojo: Veldan’s patron/mentor: “Rynris Danard of Loeth As’ilde”
Patron’s daughter: “Elori Kallmos Danard”
[19:47] Nekodojo: I was trying for a vaguely welsh or gaelic sounding name
[19:47] Merlin: Elori could be an elven name. Rynris sounds pretty human to me, as does Danard. Loeth As’ilde is pretty elven sounding. Hm. Actually, Rynris is probably one of those names that could go either way.
[19:47] Merlin: I have some language notes, though I’m not sure I have them on elvish yet.
[19:48] Nekodojo: I like the idea of her being half-elven which neatly explains the mother’s disappearance.
[19:49] Merlin: Yes. It also means the daughter could be a hundred, appear in her twenties, and it’ might be difficult for some people to truly accept that.
[19:49] Merlin: i.e, they might know she’s as old as the oldest human in New Providence, but they don’t treat her that way.
[19:49] Nekodojo: Or he could try to pass her off as a full elf…
[19:49] Merlin: Depends. Was she born in New Providence?
[19:50] Nekodojo: But, if her mother was an important figure of her day, there could be some other story tie-ins there
[19:51] Nekodojo: Not sure whether the mother was local, or whether she was brought in after her birth. I do think that the father would have been in NP for a while (compared to Veldan anyway)
[19:51] Merlin: Because of the harder life, in this world wealthier people are more likely to be attractive. To an elf, probably the middle class would be most attractive–they have enough affluence to keep themselves clean, groomed and well-fed, not have to work themselves into an early grave; but they’re also not so wealthy that they’re basically sedentary.
[19:52] Nekodojo: OK that makes sense. Mother could have been from a merchant family, more than a truly noble family, according to that?
[19:54] Merlin: Yes. Also, a merchant family would dearly love to get close to elves, who have all kinds of interesting things they could possibly trade. And it’s pretty easy for a woman to fall in love with an elf (though the practical human girl might not *stay* in love with the ephemeral elf.)
[19:55] Nekodojo: Doesn’t much matter, she will be dead before the lass really comes of age. If she did bear a child, she probably would be more likely to stay with im
[19:55] Nekodojo: with him I mean
[19:56] Merlin: It matters in the sense that the family of the mother will feel an affinity for the daughter. The daughter may also feel an affinity for the family, though that could be a series of conflicting emotions.
[19:57] Nekodojo: OK, that makes sense
[19:57] Merlin: It could also be a source of motivations and plot points.
[19:59] Nekodojo: How different is elf magic from human magic? Is it possible that Veldan’s gift had something recognizeable about it that marks it as possibly being from an elven ancestor? Or is the gift basically the gift?
[20:00] Merlin: Mechanically there is probably no actual difference. From the perspective of approach there probably is.
[20:01] Merlin: The base mechanic for personal magic is that you harness the energy of the self and use it to create magic. Elves probably approach this from the perspective of harmony, using subtlety. Humans probably tend to use brute force.
[20:01] Merlin: There’s no reason (mechanically) one can’t use the other, but the styles might seem alien to the other.
[20:03] Nekodojo: OK, so if they haven’t been trained the gift is not really marked with a flavor or origin? I was thinking that if Veldan has a distant elf ancestor, that might explain why he was chosen by this guy to be trained. I don’t really need to explain that though, based on what you said earlier.
[20:04] Merlin: Well. Stylistically, I have no problem with the gift promoting one style over the other.
[20:04] Merlin: It’s not something that’d ever be put into a mechanic or on a character sheet, but I do like the idea from a story perspective.
[20:05] Nekodojo: It could just as easily be explained by Veldan being interested in Elven history and elves themselves (being found playing in an elf hangout maybe)
[20:05] Merlin: Theoretically, most humans who have the gift are probably of (distant) elven descent, and just don’t know it.
[20:06] Merlin: If you tell the story from Veldan’s perspective, the type of the gift should seem to be different.
[20:06] Nekodojo: OK that helps. So the college of magic are relative upstarts in the magic business, but they still represent the best of humanity as far as elves are concerned
[20:07] Nekodojo: True, Veldan would probably not know why he was selected, at least at first
[20:08] Merlin: Yes. The college has probably existed for about 2,000 years at most. The elves had formalized magic for thousands of years before that.
[20:13] Nekodojo: OK, that is a good amount of information to go on. I will rework the posted info a bit.