So in the beginning when the world was anew, the god Sky gave life to the Elder races of elves, dwarfs, goblins, frells, and nisfelms. In the Age of Dawn, Sky gave magic to the elder races. After they were given magic they were taught by the Dragons of Amadeus to wield magic. However,after during the Age of Twilight, a new god came to be, Aldritch. Then he made the race of men from the dust and given life with his soul. When Aldritch asked Sky to bless his creation with magic Sky denied, for the Age of Dawn has ended and magic has been spread throughout the lands.

But without magic the race of men is inferior to to the elder race and will not be able to fight against them. So how will the race of men be able to spread throughout the land if they are inferior and have no magic?

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    $\begingroup$ I have the impression you are asking us to develop your plot for you. Can you make more clear what is the worldbuilding problem you are trying to solve? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ The way that the humans prevail is going to be the stuff of your story, as Dutch suggests. Here is a similar question that got a few answers before it was closed for the same reasons. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/129273/… $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ In Tolkein's stories the elves were sort of allegorically like angels: mysterious, wise, powerful, but virtuous. They could have conquered men, maybe, but that wasn't their ambition. You can borrow this idea or come up with your own. The most engaging fantasy worlds are those that in some way reflect something about our own world (but not too heavy-handed). $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ @justmika How does magic work in your story? Where does it come from, and how is it directed? $\endgroup$
    – user49466
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ One of the traditional reasons that humans win out against elves is that humans breed faster than rabbits. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 21:54

7 Answers 7

  • Fertility.

The elder races are as a rule long-lived, and dont get a lot of children quickly. Humans are short-lived and require children to keep the race alive. The individual human might not be that much, but if a single elder race needs to go up against 50 or more humans... But its more than a numerical advantage. 50 to 1 odds means that you are an economical might that cannot be trifled with. Mining, food generation, weapons manufacturing, construction. Humans would use their numbers to overcome the advantages that magic offers.

  • technology.

A race like Elves will magic their way through a lot of hardships. Bad crops? Use a spell to make it grow. Humans need to resort to technology. Elves would never invent something as complex as a windmill as their magic would suffice. Humans would make things of increasing complexity and compensate for their "weakness".

  • physical properties.

An elder race can use magic to make their life easier, humans would need either their wits or physical endurance. Usually races like Elves, dwarves and especially dragons that need to fight the square cube law have more raw strength but this also means they are using a muscle type that tires faster. Humans would use their endurance to keep going for longer. In military campaigns this means humans can march farther and fight longer without losing too much strength to fatigue. This again is an economical advantage: an elf can as example perform 4 hours of physical labor (which can include magic rituals) while humans do 7 hours or more depending on what kind of work it is.


You can use the most common reasons used in stories:

  • Humans breed fast. Due to the short lifespan of a human (up to 80 years, while an elf or dwarf can reach thousands or more) they were biologically designed to have more offspring and quicker than the elder races. This gives human a numerical advantage, useful for economy, war and colonizing or protecting their frontiers.
  • Human have faster societies. Again, their lives are shorts but their ambition is even greater than the elder races. Every human wants to be successful in their life, and the whole race wants to show to the elder races that they are also stronger. This leads to fast developing and changing societies, even more, having short lifespan renew ideologies very fast (literary they die quicker) which avoid the stagnant societies developed by eternal or long lifespan races (elders don't die but reuse new ideas, which slow down their societies).
  • Teamwork. Humans are the weakest race, they learned that in a hard way. Humanity can only stand if they work together, and so humans become a very social and cooperative society, not like other races (especially long-lifespan races with prefer loneliness).
  • Creativity and imagination. The lack of magic obligates them to use the power of imagination and think in creative ideas to solve problems. This, in addition to teamwork and their fast societies, where obsolete ideologies die quickly, leads to increasing of technological advancement over time, able to counteract the weakness of no-magic.
  • Technological development. A powerful magician can renew in life a whole crop field or burn into ashes a whole city, but, does a magician is able to automate works with a "magic revolution", make trains, steam engineers, incredible siege machines, huge refineries, advanced machinery, nuclear bombs and a lot more? Technology self-developt itself. Each technology advancement makes faster, cheaper and better the new one, even more, with technology things can be automatized. But elder races take their time learning the secrets of magic (because they think that are useful for them), and the discovery of new spells doesn't make the research of new spells faster nor better, also, spells improve the life quality of magicians and their relatives, technology improve life quality of cities and millions of persons, you don't need to be a mage, engineer or scientist to take advantage of technology, but you need to be a mage to use magic.
  • Jack of all trades. Adaptability. It's quite common to show humans as the base race. For example, dwarfs are described as shorter humans, stronger and braver, but sometimes stubborn. Elves are graceful humans of long life, full of art, refinement and beauty, but lack of initiative, strength (as a society), etc. This always produces disadvantages in those races. Humans, are the most equilibrated race, being its only weakness the lack of magic. These "jack of all trades" are able to adapt in any environment or situation.
  • Humble. Elder protection.. In some stories, humans are shown are a weaker race than every other, a so they are always helped by their elder brothers in this world. They are protected from the orcs by dwarfs, while the elves teach them art and give them weapons, etc.
  • They are not a target. They are very new in this world and so they still not have enemies nor are see as a threat. While the elder races spend times in wars fighting between them for the control of the entire world, humans slightly expand their lands taking control of small but new territories and developing a powerful society.
  • $\begingroup$ Why the downvote? $\endgroup$
    – Ender Look
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 14:53

The traditional answers:

  • Humans are breeding relatively quickly.
  • Humans are capable of teamwork and planning.

They will not be the only ones with these characteristics. Often Orcs breed even more quickly, but they are stupid and impulsive. Dwarves are capable of planning, but they are not breeding fast enough. And Elves are beautiful, smart, magical, and generally awesome, but there are so few of them, and often they cannot be bothered with problems this century. (Either it will solve itself over time, or they'll look into it later.)

On the Elf/Dwarf - Human - Orc scale, humans, are the generalists. I realize that you don't have Orcs on the list, but the advantages and disadvantages of humans vs. Elves remain.

  • $\begingroup$ For the person who downvoted this one: it is good manners to leave a reason why (and considering his and my answer are very similar it would be nice to perhaps improve my answer as well). $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 20:40

Humans are dogs

Elfs have very long and solitary lives, their society has very strict rules for social interaction and even stricter rules for courtship. Even something as a handshake would be seen as improper unless its done between very good and old friends. Two young elves have descended the stairs at the same time? Most improper!

An elf was seen without his gold and diamonds in public? That's scandalous!

That's where the humans come in, they are fast, they are dirt, they are always smiling, and they have very little respect for the elves social rules. And the Elves love them for it.

Humans emotions seems so fascinating for an elf, the intensity of their passions, the ease with which humans will make new friends and even lovers! Can you believe that those two humans have met only this morning and they are already locked in their room?

Elfs can try to appear all high and noble, but they are starved for real contact and the humans can offer that.

The humans would be benefited from their relationship by receiving the elf's magical capabilities and protection.


Humans were superior to other races by the fact they can think creatively. What if in the beginning the other races protected the human race. After a long period human invented military technology (Medieval War Machines). With those inventions they started conquering others and make use of their mages, in the end conquering the land.


I think that humans stand a chance against your elder races for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, I cannot gather more without knowing more about your races, but I can use what I know about humans. The first method has already been mentioned, a fast breeding rate. Humans are known for the fact that they breed like cockroaches. In fact, that has caused many of the problems known today. Like other people have suggested, this creates a powerful numerical advantage. An elf can take on ten people with its magic, but how does it feel about ten thousand. Like other people have said, this also creates economic advantages such as more manpower for projects like mining or farming. Another method would be ruthlessness. Humans are VERY good at killing things. They have created a mass extinction in proportion with the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. They've even driven extinct other species of humans. Also, as other people have mentioned, humans are innovative and can build very good weapons. The final weapon would be a disease. Europeans managed to wipe out many other populations of humans by having resistances to diseases the natives didn't. Maybe the elder races are scared to attack for fear of soldiers contracting deadly diseases. Or maybe one elder race's population could already be decimated because they angered humans and paid the price.


Simple: intermarriage. If you make it so an Elf and a Human cross-breed has the advantages of both species (magic and everything Ender Look suggested), you'll create a new superior race that can act as an intermediary and keep both races in check.

However, then your plot will have to be about how the Half-Elves are kept in check....or aren't.....


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