So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

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Rath Darkblade
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So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Rath Darkblade » Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:53 am

I'm thinking of the low-grade (or not-so-low grade) hostility between dwarves and elves in just about every RPG. ;) I don't understand it.

In the original "fantasy" book, The Hobbit, dwarves and elves weren't hostile to each other. Thorin and Elrond, and their followers, cooperated. Elrond was hospitable, and Thorin shared what he learned about the map to the Lonely Mountain and the key, etc. :) It was only when the dwarves arrived in Mirkwood that they were imprisoned by the wood elves (led by Thranduil), and that was only because a big misunderstanding.

Anyway, the dwarf-elf dynamic is clear in Tolkien: dwarves don't hate elves, and in fact, they have both cooperated over the ages.

Flash forward to later books and computer games, and there's a dwarf-elf rivalry, and even hostility. :| In the "Dragon Age" games, there's banter between dwarves and elves (but most of it is good-natured). But in the "Witcher" games, elves (or at least the Scoi'atel) want to destroy humanity, and humans discriminate against the elves. Dwarves ... I dunno, I haven't figured out the elf-dwarf or human-dwarf dynamic in "The Witcher" yet.

So what's the origin of all this? Why does this always happen? Any ideas? I'm confused. *shrug*
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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Tawmis » Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:15 am

Well, Dragon Age showed a very different world - and purposely so, to make it stand out.
Elves were sometimes used as slaves, were lowly. They didn't have the "Elf Attitude" of "We are the gift of the gods."

In Tolkien, I think he was trying to show that despite our differences, we're all the same, and we can get along, especially in the face of great evil. (Nations coming together, to fight the Nazis, for example)

I think it's a more common place to see friction between elves and dwarves (we even see this in the Lord of the Rings movies), because it's more common place now for people to see our differences rather than our similarities - and fester, whether consciously or subconsciously - our prejudices against one another.

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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by DeadPoolX » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:56 pm

Tawmis wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:15 am
I think it's a more common place to see friction between elves and dwarves (we even see this in the Lord of the Rings movies), because it's more common place now for people to see our differences rather than our similarities - and fester, whether consciously or subconsciously - our prejudices against one another.
In a word, it's tribalism: "my group is superior to your group." It's simplistic, childish, and often very stupid, but it's been a driving force behind many conflicts and atrocities all through human history.
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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Rath Darkblade » Fri Oct 16, 2020 2:44 am

Heh. I know exactly what you mean, DPX - the great "divide and rule". Let's see what differences people have, so we can exploit them, divide them from each other, and make them hate each other. That'll make it easier for us to rule them. ;) It's been done with race, religion, money, colour of skin etc. etc. "What?! They have [insert ABC/XYZ here]?! BOMB THEM!!!" :twisted:

As you say, it's childish and often very stupid.

I'm just curious how the elf-dwarf rivalry thing even got started, because in Tolkien's world, the elves and dwarves cooperated with each other - and Tolkien basically created the modern fantasy genre. Where did it go wrong, I wonder? :| Is it possible to write a fantasy novel nowadays where elves and dwarves live together, work together, etc.?

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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Tawmis » Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:00 pm

Rath Darkblade wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 2:44 am
I'm just curious how the elf-dwarf rivalry thing even got started, because in Tolkien's world, the elves and dwarves cooperated with each other - and Tolkien basically created the modern fantasy genre. Where did it go wrong, I wonder? :| Is it possible to write a fantasy novel nowadays where elves and dwarves live together, work together, etc.?
Tolkien wrote during a time that the world was united against a common enemy.

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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Rath Darkblade » Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:17 pm

Hmm - you mean the Nazis? Not the whole world, surely. :) Hitler's Axis had plenty of allies, willing or unwilling. The Western Allies (led by China, the UK, Russia, and the USA) also had lots of allied countries, former Axis allies that were freed, and undercover agents (like the French Resistance) who helped. :)

The situation in Middle Earth during the War against Sauron was simpler, I think. On the one side was Sauron, the Nazgul, and Saruman, as well as lesser allies (e.g. Rhun); on the other side were the Free Peoples - Gondor, Rohan, the Fellowshiop of Nine Walkers, Radagast (to a lesser extent). All of these were powerful in their own right, but some fell (most famously, Boromir).

So again, I'm wondering: at what stage did dwarves and elves turn against each other?

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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Tawmis » Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:46 pm

Yes, as I was trying to elude "the free people" represented, I believe all the "free people of the world" against the evil (the Nazis and their allies).
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:17 pm
So again, I'm wondering: at what stage did dwarves and elves turn against each other?
It all depends, really. In D&D - Elves and Dwarves get along, by default (except the Duergar and Drow, being the "evil").

But I thought this was interesting since you mentioned Tolkien they were lovey dovey...
Luca Barlassina, Fantasy Writer and Blockchain entrepreneur wrote: Just a little adding. Hostility between elves and dwarves is very ancient.

In fact an other example is shown in “The sons of Hurin ” a Tolkien novel occurring in the First Age, when the human race was very young indeed.

Turin, the main character at a certain point is hosted with his crew in the hidden home of Mïm, the last living being of a ancient bred of dwarves (shorter and thinner than the others), that, Mïm said was hunt down and to genocide by the elves, who wanted to grab their lands in Berieland.

Now, this dwarves sub race is very ancient, totally secondary and probably forgotten in the Age of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (about 7 thousand years later), so it’s improbable that those dwarves are still angry for the treatment of Mïm’ s people (long forgotten even by dwarves).

But is a good example of the conflicts between dwarves and elves (and that not all elves are good).
From: https://www.quora.com/What-originated-t ... -R-Tolkien

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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Rath Darkblade » Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:38 pm

Hmm, interesting. So there are precedents for why the wood elves of Mirkwood are unfriendly to dwarves, and why the elves of Rivendell are not. :) Thanks, Tawm.

Now I'm curious: if Thranduil's people are the wood elves, what kind of elves are Elrond's people? For that matter, what about the elves of Lothlorien - what kind of elves are they? I know that by the events of LOTR, Gimli loves Lothlorien (and especially Galadriel) so much, that he almost refuses to leave it. When Galadriel asks what sort of favour he would ask of her, he only wants a lock of her hair -- which he would then set in amber, as a reminder of better times between teh dwarves and elves. (It's a beautiful scene).

What about the forest of Fangorn -- were there ever elves there?

Sorry for all the questions. I'm just curious. :)

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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Tawmis » Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:29 am

I couldn't begin to answer in regards of Tolkien. Those answered are probably buried in the Lost Tales books and the Simarilian, which I read EONS ago.

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Re: So ... what's the deal between dwarves and elves?

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:30 am

That's all right. I actually managed to find the answers with my google-fu. ;)

The elves of Lothlorien were known as Galadhrim (or tree-people), elves of mixed descent. They were further divided into three groups:

1. Silvan Elves (also called Woodland Elves,"Wood-elves", or East-elves);

2. The Ñoldor (i.e. "those with knowledge", the second clan of the Elves). They are the greatest of the Elves in lore and smithcraft. Among their number was Fëanor, the greatest of their craftsmen. When Melkor stole the Silmarils, Fëanor renamed him Morgoth ("Black Enemy"), and persuaded the Ñoldor to pursue him to Middle-earth and wage war against him. This became the War of the Jewels (aka Wars of Beleriand), which ended with the end of the First Age and the fall of Morgoth.

3. The Sindar (meaning 'Grey People', or 'Grey Elves'), a sub-group of the Eldar who chose to stay in Beleriand and not complete the Great Journey to Valinor. The Half-elven, Elrond and Elros, were partially of Sindarin Elven descent.

(Courtesy of lotr.fandom.com) ;)

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