Posted by: Sean | September 23, 2008

Theme Week Blood Elves: The Dangers of Magical Thinking

Pssst.

Pssssssssst.

Just so you know. I’m not here. I’m on hiatus. Don’t let Jess or Blogatelle know I’m still posting, but you guys know I couldn’t stay away from you. I’m planning on coming back fully as soon as possible anyhow.

So, let’s talk Blood Elves. And how they think. Let’s start by going back in time a lot. Way back in the distant past, there was but one race of elves. They weren’t Night Elves, High Elves or Blood Elves, but only elves. Yet a schism broke out within this race. The elves who would eventually be known as the Kal’dorei adopted principles of druidism, in harmony with the goddess Elune and her wisdom. They outlawed arcane magic as part of this devotion. In response a second group of elves, who would later be known as the Quel’dorei or High Elves, broke away from the main group in devotion to arcane magic. They fled across the seas to the Eastern Kingdoms, where they would form a city made by magic, stomp troll faces, form close alleigances with the humans, and send out a whole buttload of priests for various wars.

Eventually, they would create the Sunwell. A vast, powerful conduit of mystical energy that gave the Quel’dorei unlimited magical power with which to create a paradise. Like Icarus, they soared. Unlike Icarus, they were brought down not by their own considerable pride, but by undead crows who slaughtered them and stole their wings.

That is, Arthas, the future Lich King. He corrupted the Sunwell, murdered scores of the elven people, and left them a shattered, desperate, addicted people. The remnants would nearly all take up the mantle of the Blood Elves, the Sin’dorei.

But for the moment, let’s focus on the Quel’dorei. This is a race defined by magic. Certainly, there is a skill to magic, a need to practice and understand techniques. But it is, at its core, raw power of will translated into results. You can see it in Silvermoon City, with its impossible arches, bridges and designs. It is not a city that bows to such petty things as physics and material science. It obeys a higher order.

Now, imagine the minds of the creatures who designed it. Who mastered magic to such powerful degrees that they could bend the world itself to their will. They did not obey the laws of the nature. Nature obeyed their laws.

Is it any wonder these elves are so arrogant? Any wonder they view the world as their own?

But enough of that. We will not think about the Blood Elves yet. Instead, we will keep thinking about this view of the world. Imagine that you are a High Elf. You want a house, and have land that is yours. Because you are skilled and strong in your magic, you raise your arms and imagine your abode. It is an image of art, your creativity taken form. You see within it rooms and decoration, purpose with design. And then, it is there. It is yours.

So now, great sorcerer, I ask you…

Where the hell did you put your damn plumbing? How did you imagine the piping being made? Did you? No, of course you didn’t. You imagined the purpose and the form and let magic sort out all the details. Just like when you let loose a fireball spell: Are you really imagining the vibrations of hundreds of tiny air molecules increasing their pace until friction ignites the air, using oxygen as an oxidizer and goodness knows what as fuel? No. You’re imagining your foe burning to a crisp under your might.

Because, with apologies to Arthur C. Clarke, magic is not just sufficiently advanced technology. It is another way of being. It is will translated through power into reality. It brings with it tremendous power, and a terrible weakness.

That weakness is magical thinking. A way of viewing the world in which cause and effect do not have to apply.

Let’s not yet think of the Blood Elves. Let’s switch our view now to the gnome, locked away in Gnomeregan, not quite yet besieged by the troggs. She too wants a home, and has purchased a small lot. So she gets to building, probably assisted by friends or hired hands. She draws up blueprints and makes mistakes. She cannot achieve nearly the artistic vision of the Blood Elf, and her house is perhaps as functional, but nowhere near as majestic or wonderful. It takes much longer, and mistakes are made along the way. Unlike the High Elf, who can leap from A to D without bothering about steps B and C, the gnome has to stumble over each and every step. Cause and effect governs every action. Finally, the house is built.

And the gnome immediately thinks of improvements. Maybe if this feature were added, or perhaps if that was made with a different material. Having gone through A, B, C and D, the gnome can further on imagine E, F and G. The High Elf has a lot more trouble with this, because they don’t know the full process. To the High Elf, there are lines of what can and can’t be done, understandings of what is possible and impossible, and this is the way things are. The gnome is constrained more, forced to labor harder, but has an easier time perceiving opportunities beyond what is currently accepted. It’s not that the High Elf can’t reach this point (after all, a Blood Elf can be an engineer), but that they don’t have to, and fewer will. Their society was never built to encourage this kind of thinking.

So now, finally, let us think about the Blood Elves. Take all that arrogance, all that might. And watch it cut down in two by a force so horrible you couldn’t begin to imagine it, and that could not be stopped, so that you are left with nothing but nightmares and an aching hunger that will not go away. Watch even more of your number become enslaved to that hunger, people you knew, and have to cut them down, wondering all the while if you’re doing it for your own safety or just so that the little magic that remains will be yours and not theirs. And finally, look at all of this mess, all of it… and see not only no way out of it, but have no capacity to see that there could be a way out of it. Look around and see this, for all eternity, until finally you die as you were never meant to do.

Let it fester. Let the hopeless, dreadful nihilism of it sink in. Let the cruelty and unfairness of it transform you. Endure the hopelessness until you embrace it. Allow the fear to wash over you until you learn how to pour it back out again.

And that’s who the Blood Elves are.

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Responses

  1. Psst.

    I see you.

  2. That’s impossible. I’m not here.

  3. That was extremely.. inspiring. I liked it a lot.

    Very well put.

  4. It really changed my view of Blood elves.


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