Dungeons and Darkness
Cultural Customs - Elf & Gremlin
In this Fianyarr article I will take a look at the inventive and intelligent gremlins’ customs alongside the customs common to the rather determined and stoic race of elves. Both of these races tend to build rather sprawling and lasting communities that are woven into their environments. For the elves it’s because they sprang from the forests and the jungles which are filled with so many monsters and creatures that safety is never assured and attempting to clear massive chunks of land for more concentrated urban living is a recipe in disaster. For the gremlins it’s because their most famous communities are often built partially underground and when you’re dealing with tonnes of rock and soil you tend to want to ensure the walls remain thick and the sections separate from each other so that one cave in doesn’t kill everyone inside.
The elves maintain a number of sprawling communities built in and around the trees of their homes, often venturing underground beneath the roots that try to claim their homes. Their settlements are always well-guarded as even elves who have settled on the plains have suspicion and fear ingrained in their culture from their years spent in the most heavily assaulted areas on the planet.
• Elves never celebrate the birthday of another elf. Instead they each celebrate their first planting day which occured when they were quite young. Few recall what inspired this custom but most believe it was done because the forest sprites didn’t approve celebrations of another birth of the house-makers so the only way to safely celebrate an elf was to pretend the celebration was about what they had planted.
• Elves maintain a silent vigil for three days and nights following the death of a loved one. After this vigil, none may mention the deceased until three full moons have passed.
• Elves wear colours similar to the local terrain as it provides an easy form of camouflage if they need to flee a battle. Their jewellery is kept simple and must not jangle. Elves who wear noisy jewellery are thought vulgar, though few recall that this is anything more than a statement on fashion.
• Elves normally adorn themselves with some form of tattoo that is reminiscent of a native creatures whose skill / resonance is something the elf admires and would love to possess.
• Elves reveal their love through dozens of small gifts and unasked for assistance. Their courting rituals often begin with the silent placement of food by the beloved. The beloved shows their reciprocation by eating the food, thus beginning the courtship, or if they aren’t interested they simply ignore the food and politely pretend they didn’t see it.
The Gremlins have rather marvellous settlements that branch from both underground to overground with numerous entrances and many traps that are often both practical (to slow down intruders) yet silly and non-lethal (in case a guest triggers them).
• Gremlins will ask you three times if you like a particular invention or design. It is polite to say you do the first time, shrug on the second, and change the subject on the third if you actually don’t like it. If you actually do like it, you say so all three times. To immediately denounce a design as stupid is considered to be rather mean.
• Gremlins think it is good luck to rub a baby’s head when that baby is born to another race. It doesn’t matter which one.
• Gremlins don’t understand overarching hierarchy and instead consider people in terms of specialisations. They find it difficult to conceive of ruling classes who are expected to be ‘above all others’ in all ways. How could a nobleman be better suited to telling a farmer how to farm, after all.
• Gremlins smile when upset, even while crying, to show that their tears are sad tears and not angry ones. The smile is meant to be reassuring.
• Gremlins love to dance. They especially love to watch people dance. Especially uncoordinated people. Foreignors will find themselves asked to dance quite a bit and might be surprised to find the gremlin simply wants to watch rather than to dance with them.