J. R. R. Tolkien reinvented the modern elf, transforming the mischievous pixies of English popular culture into fearsome warriors and masters of the magical arts. With The Lord of the Rings, the great English author set a standard for elves that generations of writers, artists, and game designers have followed and expanded upon.
Taking the elf of contemporary fantasy as a starting point, Chris Pramas’ new book Elf Warfare (7/29) delves deeply into the philosophy and practice of elven battle. It’s the perfect sourcebook for gamers and creative types in search of inspiration, or readers eager for an escape into a world of magic and valor. Want to learn how to fight like an elf? Here are five tips we gleaned from this fascinating book.
1. Don’t fight at all.
Elves live for 300 years or more. Humans and orcs rarely make it to 100. Even dwarves don’t live as long as the elves. Wait out a conflict long enough and there’s a good chance it will go away on its own. Use your time studying the thousands of years of military history recorded by elven generals and sages. You’ll probably be able to strike a deal with your enemy’s grandchildren, but if not, you’ll certainly be prepared.
2. Have other people do the fighting for you.
The elves were building mighty empires long before the first humans emerged from their caves. Over the millennia, elves have fostered certain human civilizations, providing weapons, magical training, and education in exchange for military assistance. The faster maturity rate of these so-called “High Men” make them
expendable cannon fodder an dependable source for stalwart and loyal soldiers.
3. Keep your enemy at a distance.
If you have to fight, then never let your enemy close on your front lines. Blacken the sky with thousands of arrows. Thin the enemy’s ranks with snipers in the trees. Send infiltrators into their camps and fortifications to assassinate their leaders. Use ritual magic to poison water supplies, turn fields into fetid swamps, and rot food supplies.
4. Play to your strengths and outmaneuver your opponent.
Elves aren’t very strong, but their natural agility, and tall, slender frames can more than make up for it. Cut larger enemies down to size by wearing flexible, light armor and well-crafted weapons built for finesse and speed. Dance around your opponent while incapacitating him with quick, graceful strikes with spears, fighting knives, and slender, elegant swords.
5. Use your connection to the natural world.
Elves have an innate rapport with the earth. Animals and magical beasts make for unpredictable and ferocious opponents. Use bears, eagles, and war dogs to terrify your enemy and tear apart his ranks. Call upon griffins and other good-aligned creatures to demoralize him. Give him no place to run by weaponizing the landscape itself with nature magic.