C: So, what are we talking about this week, Ange?
A: Well, I thought it might be time for another of our homebrew discussions, though not about mechanics this time, but some specifics of our weird lore.
C: Right, more like world flavour.
A: Yeah, like the fact that we don’t have dinosaurs in this world—
C: Okay. I’m not going to go there again. Let’s move on to elves.
A: Fine. Well, this is something I’ve only recently introduced to our shared world, and it may slightly mess up some things in your game…? But hey, I just run wild with these things. And my new thing is…I don’t think elves should sleep.
C: Well, that’s actually not your thing, from what I understand. That’s actually Vanilla. Or, at least, it was Vanilla. When we start playing, the Pathfinder rules stated that elves only needed to mediate for four hours.
A: Oh, yeah, sorry. I messed up my big reveal.
C: We haven’t fully stuck to that rule, and nor has Pathfinder. But in our game—as it used to be in canon—elves sleep, or rather don’t quite sleep, the same way that other creatures sleep.
A: As you said, they sort of meditate.
C: Basically yeah, though generally they still have to do it for eight hours for it to count as a long rest.
A: But what I meant to say originally is: I don’t think elves should dream. If they’re not doing sleep properly, they do not get to enjoy dreams!
C: Right, they don’t have a REM cycle if they’re not sleeping.
A: Exactly. I originally thought about this because all of the SJWs apart from Saoirse, the elf, had crazy dreams—she couldn’t make it to my last session so she didn’t get a dream sequence. And I was thinking about it, and I was like, ‘Well actually I want to work it in that she just doesn’t dream’, so while everyone else is like, ‘Yo, we saw the gods in our dreams’, she would just be like, ‘I don’t know what that is.’ But then I thought more about how it fitted in with elves in general and decided I liked it.
C: It also links to your character in our friend Jacques’ campaign—she’s an elf and she doesn’t dream either, right? I guess the setting there is a little different, so—
A: Yes! That was originally part of her backstory, but now I’m thinking that maybe it’s just an elf-thing?
C: I think it’s quite a charming idea. It does pose the immediate question of what happens to half-elves? Have you decided if this is something which affects pure-blood elves and no one else? If you have a drop of anything but elf, do you suddenly sleep—and dream—like a human?
A: Um…I’m still finessing all the details. I’m not sure how to solve the half-elf question.
C: I should stress, I think these are fun questions to work out, rather than negative ‘gotcha’ questions. I actually really like this and, without giving anything away, the way in which elves ‘sleep’ is actually quite important to my plot, and this doesn’t upset anything. They can be impacted by their time meditating, but I like that they wouldn’t have a REM cycle.
A: Awesome! Also, I think in a larger sense it maybe fits into both our plots because the elves are kind of the bad guys in them. Well, that’s really a huge oversimplification—
C: There are elven people in both of our games who are bad dudes.
A: Yes, and there are definitely elves in both our games who are like, ‘We are the ideal race.’ They’re very Calistrian in their views.
C: That’s also not exclusive to our setting. There are a lot of settings where people have turned the Tolkienian elf on its head. Hell, Tolkien turns the Tolkienian elf on its head in the damn Silmarillion.
A: True, but it means that I can imagine some of our elves being like, ‘We don’t dream, unlike lesser beings.’ And also maybe they have a tendency to be less good because dreams are kind of your subconscious being like, ‘Hey, you messed up today, feel bad.’ And they wouldn’t have that reminder to think about their actions.
C: Yeah. Which also adds an interesting little edge onto some of the dream-adjacent elf meditation moments which have occurred in my campaign, with Emer and such.
A: Also, if elves don’t dream, that maybe explains what they do all day—presumably a lot of it is having moral quandaries to make up for a lack of subconscious. That’s part of why you have, like, three-hundred-year-old elves who are still only level 4 Witches, or whatever. It’s because they spent half their life being like, ‘But wait, should I have gone to Sandra’s birthday party?’ It all makes sense.
C: Some of this focus on dreams also stems from the fact that you, Angela, my beloved flatmate, have absolutely batshit insane dreams every single night, which you spur on by eating cheese right before you go to sleep.
A: I do really like dreams.
C: So to you, dreams are an incredibly powerful gateway to the subconscious. Freud would absolutely adore hanging out with you. I have dreams where, like, in my brain I’ll be hungry for Cheetos and then I’ll wake up hungry for Cheetos.
A: I just want to say my latest dream was me, my mother and Liam O’Brien from Critical Role doing crosswords together.
C: That’s pretty good.
A: I don’t know what my subconscious was trying to say there, other than…do crosswords, I guess?
C: With Liam? I mean, who wouldn’t?
A: I feel like I have the gnome point of view about this, which would be like, ‘We eat crazy cheese and party in our crazy dreams!’ while elves are like, ‘What the heck are you doing?’
C: I think this is one of the great advantages of sharing a world with you—you bring things to our world which I wouldn’t have developed myself, but I get to enjoy them and help shape and sculpt our world with you, and that’s wonderful.
A: And I think so much of this is—thank you—like, it’s a slightly minor note, right. A lot of fleshing out the world isn’t in huge, overarching themes, but in the little quirks that we’ve thought about and introduced.
C: A world is more real when it goes beyond one sentence on the wiki—when you explore its details and the logistics of those details. And that’s a fun thing to do with someone who you’re building a world with.
A: Nicely put. So yeah, here is one of our world’s minor details: elves can’t dream.
C: Though of course, even minor details won’t stay minor for long…