October 2017 Blog Carnival – Superstitions

I’ve not written anything on the Blog Carnival for a while, I finally put pen to paper (well fingers to keyboard but you get the idea) when I read a post on Of Dice and Dragons talking about superstitions in RPG campaign worlds. In the post a challenge was thrown down to write about a superstition in our own campaign world. I’ve just started up my Rose of Westhaven, Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign set in a fantasy world roughly based on Civil War/Tudor England. Lamentations has three non-human races by default: Dwarves, Elves and Halflings, to create a slightly more phobic and close-minded atmosphere I wanted to make these races a little more eerie and inhuman.

The race where this is most obvious at the moment (because a player rolled one as a character) is the Elves, they have bluish skin and bleed a clear liquid that smells like elder-flowers.

When it comes to the Elves in my setting there are a few superstitions that may or may not be true:

  • The Elves themselves believe that–as they become older–their limbs become inflexible and their flesh turns to a supple wood. It begins with the face and spreads throughout the body, Elves do not die but they eventually take root and become a tree. This is in part responsible for the Elves veneration of natural woodlands, such places being a combination of holy shrine and graveyard of their ancestors.

When it comes to other race’s beliefs concerning Elves, as you might imagine, the isolation and rareness of the Elves has lead to some fairly strange superstitions and rumours arising concerning them:

  • Elves are fallen angels cast out of heaven for some transgression against God: This is a–mostly discredited–superstition concerning all type of fey creature, since they do not fit into the classifications of angels or demons specified by the predominant monotheistic religion in Westhaven, it has been proposed by some that they were once angels (hence their beauty) who were twisted and rendered mortal by their fall from heaven.
  • Elves worship a demon in the form of a great tree: No doubt this arose from a misunderstanding of the Elves veneration of their ancient tree-formed ancestors.
  • The only way to kill an Elf is to cut of it’s head and burn it seperate from the body: A superstition that is often bandied about for many different supernatural creatures.
  • Elves cannot enter a home that has horse-shoes nailed about the doors and windows: There are legends that some fey creatures and demons are repelled by horse-shoes and other cold iron objects, it is believed that when Elves were first encountered by humans, some misidentified them as demons and so this superstition arose.
  • Elves steal human children and replace them with Elven babies ensorcelled to resemble humans: It is not known where this superstition comes from but perhaps it arose when some of the original humans tribes chose to emigrate to the neighbouring kingdom of Fada Siar and follow the ways of the Elves.

If you want to find out more about the campaign world for our Westhaven campaign, the player handout doc is here:

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