30
$\begingroup$

In this premise, the drow rule the fae-realm, an alternate dimension existing alongside the material plane. Every year on one night, the drow have an event known as "The Wild Hunt". During this night, they invade the material realm and hunt humans and other races as prey. The elves hunt the lower species for sport, leaving thousands dead in their wake. However, the true purpose of the event is to capture slaves to bring back to their realm for torture. This is necessary to sustain their life force, as tortured victims give off energy which the elves need to consume.

Even though this is treated as a serious event in elven culture, I need to keep the feeling of random, crazy-like flow with the elves, as it is called the wild hunt after all. Therefore, before the invasion, the elves get really, really, REALLY HIGH AND INTOXICATED!! Like, a drunken frat boy taken to eleven over 9000. This it to make the whole thing uncoordinated and spontaneousness, as the elves grab whatever weapons laying by and wreak havoc on the worthless lifeforms.

This presents a problem. A soldier who goes into battle drunk can be a danger to himself and his unit. He can get himself and his allies killed, captured, or worse, as planning and coordination are important in warfare. As the drow are really drunk and high off drugs, they present easy targets for their prey to pick them off or escape. It would ultimately end up as a unsuccessful hunt.

How can I get around this problem while keeping the the concept of the zaniness, chaotic elves intact?

$\endgroup$
  • 37
    $\begingroup$ Note that "eleven over 9000" is a rather small number. (0.001222222..., to be precise.) $\endgroup$ – Dave Sherohman Jun 1 at 14:37
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ These are hunters, not soldiers. It is unfortunately not at all uncommon for human hunters (in the US) to fuel themselves with copious quantities of alcoholic beverages. (Searching for "hunting while drunk" returns over 19 million hits.) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 1 at 17:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What rule of your world are you asking about? I'm having trouble seeing a question if I remove the story from the question. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 1 at 17:44
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Predator part II, The Purge, staring Agent Smith wearing his elf costume. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Jun 2 at 16:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Not-necessarily-sober hunters are also known on the other side of the Atlantic... $\endgroup$ – Martin Bonner Jun 3 at 12:20

13 Answers 13

55
$\begingroup$

The elves have handlers.

teddy on safari

Here is Theodore Roosevelt on safari. He and his buddy there are the great white hunters. Do you see all those other people? Usually they are moved out of the picture but not here. Those are locals who are along to do the work - the beaters, bearers, animal skinners etc. Bringing the hunter to places where there is likely to be prey and then bringing him home along with whatever he has shot. It is dangerous work too, involving first contact with prey animals and possibly saving the hunter from his own stupidity.

That is how the elf hunts work. The elves themselves are the hunters and are out to have a party. Outnumbering the elves are sober non elf assistants. They gently try to steer their drunken charges to places where they are likely to have fun and unlikely to get into trouble. They get them away before the locals show up in force. The assistants might have to themselves take on angry locals if their charges pass out or are outnumbered. I could imagine the handlers bring a large monster or two they release into the area to occupy the local militia while the handlers get the hunters and captives home.

The Drow abuse and mistreat their handlers, but actually put on more of a show of abuse and mistreatment to keep up appearances. Drunk as the lords they are, the elves are not stupid or foolish. They know that capable assistance is the key to coming home alive from this party and they let themselves be managed to some degree.

This interaction would also make a better story - the interaction between drunken Drow will get tired, and the interaction between Drow and prey probably will not involve a lot of talking. But there will be interaction between elves and chaperones which will involve talking and that will carry the narrative.

$\endgroup$
  • 22
    $\begingroup$ “No.. No! Lord Peaseblossom! Please don’t goad the bear, it might... Nevermind.” $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jun 2 at 15:45
  • 19
    $\begingroup$ Great, now I have an image of dark hedonist elves with Alfred-esque human butlers. "You might not wish to use the ballista, sir, as that would likely render the human unable to provide the necessary sustenance. Might I suggest the spiked bolas instead?" $\endgroup$ – Miller86 Jun 3 at 14:20
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @Miller86 Indeed. "Do try to keep in mind this year, sir, that it's Pillage and then Burn." "Very good, sir. Your fearsome display appears to have rendered this scarecrow completely frozen in terror; now, may I suggest we locate the actual humans?" $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jun 4 at 14:51
18
$\begingroup$

Oh this is easy. Who says drugs and alcohol has same effect to the drow. They get unruly and erratic, but they do not suffer in terms of fighting skill. As being far superior to humans, they do not need much of a coordination. Any member of the hunt finding themselves in true danger, they will blend into the shadows and escape.

You can even say they have a subconscious mechanism that will be triggered in a life threatening situation immediately activating flight reflex, which is to turn invisible or jump to their plane of existence.

Another alternative might be that they are simply projections of their original form. If they are killed, they simply wake up in their own plane. Erratic behaviour could simply be the side effect of the spell that projects them to this plane. It might be possible for them to truly pass to the prime material plane with a clear mind, however, they do not choose this for the hunt as it is risky.

$\endgroup$
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ This would have been my answer. Humans have all manner of psychoactive compounds that screw with the mind but do nothing to reaction times. Some of those even make the user more dangerous in a fight. All the elves need is to get absolutely wasted on a compound that has similar properties. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jun 2 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed. See "Scarface" and the "Say hello to my little friend" scene and just before it.... $\endgroup$ – ivanivan Jun 2 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ +1 , all the side effects and hangover also could be after the hunt. $\endgroup$ – Gnudiff Jun 3 at 14:21
15
$\begingroup$

They follow the way of the Berserkir.

(Berserkir - whence we get berserker, berserk.)

Old Norse warriors (presumably mimicking the Elven ways) drawing their power from one of the three sacred sources; the bear, the wolf and the boar would enter a heightened state, a rage when going into battle: becoming the berserkirgangr.

To prepare for this, to make the transition into the state where they can be possessed by their their animal-spirit, they first prepare the magics. The dried skin of a sacred mushroom is ground and made into a broth which the chosen drink - this puts them into a stupor, an insensate, dream-like state.

They awaken, they are in a hyper-adrenalised state, and ready to fight together, hunt alongside their brothers, lollygag or take wenches.

The Old Norse were not privy to the true Elven ways nor the Elvish medicine, but the effect of Amanita Muscaria was much the same as when the Elves would show-up.

it can create a range of different reactions within a group of people.... it could make a person angry, or cause them to be "very jolly or sad, jump about, dance, sing or give way to great fright

As a side note: - It is known that when reindeer eat the mushrooms, if a man drinks their urine, he will experience these effects. Some, coming on mushroom stalks, have eaten the yellow snow, assuming it was made so by reindeer - but maybe it was elves.

$\endgroup$
14
$\begingroup$

Drunken, homicidal mobs can do a lot of damage in real life. It isn't any different for elves.

And, yes, drunken, homicidal elves are very likely to cause serious injury to themselves and to other elves. They don't care! Elves are tough ... very difficult to actually kill. So what if a tenth of the elves on the Wild Hunt have to stay in bed afterwards recovering for a few days or weeks, and maybe one or two actually die. The Wild Hunt is so fun that it's still worth it.

But this is one of the reasons that the powers that be in the fae-realm only have Wild Hunts once a year. If they were much more often, there would always be a large number of incapacitated elves, which would be terribly inconvenient.

$\endgroup$
11
$\begingroup$

The Wild Hunt is like a tornado.

Humans and others are used to these hunts and prepare for them. Like you prepare for a tornado. You don't fight it. You can't fight it. You just have a safe place to run to.

Even so, tornados kill and injure many people when they pass through. They're not organized. Tornado shelters exist (some more effective than others; some taking a more direct hit than others). People get warning before they pass through (at least a couple minutes in most cases). Yet people die in tornados. Regularly.

If you assume that Elves are stronger than the so-called "lower races" they hunt and that they may grab whatever weapons are around, but they grab them from their own realms and they're more powerful than what their victims have, that makes them hard to beat, even if they aren't thinking clearly enough to organize well.

The Wild Hunt is a mob.

To add to that, unlike a tornado, even in their drunken/altered states they will target any person—or group of people—who tries to oppose them. So no one dares. There are too many Elves to try to use explosives or other distance weapons against them. It will just make them mad.

Drunken mobs aren't exactly a new concept. And, really, all mobs have a drunken mentality. They might be high on hatred or their own twisted ideas of how they're the true victims. They might be fueled by racism or misguided revenge. Whatever the case, it's not clear that drugs are that much of an important factor in mob behavior.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Essentially, elven hunters outclass human resistance enough that they don't need any special strategy for the Wild Hunt to be successful. Without ever having had any pressing need to stay sober and well-organised, they simply don't. It's a weakness the humans could exploit, but only if they can overcome the elves inherent advantages enough for that to matter. $\endgroup$ – Ben Jun 4 at 5:49
4
$\begingroup$

Numbers

Firstly, if the Wild Hunt is such a big deal then I would imagine sheer numbers would be enough to overrun most villages and smaller settlements.

Think about what they're taking

You ever seen someone on Methamphetamines? 6 cops can have serious difficulty restraining one person on a lot of meth. Take the right drugs and you will be unphased by a knife through your gut and strong enough to tip a car over. Maybe your elves are high on a very specific cocktail of drugs?

"Successful" Is a subjective term

What actually defines the hunt as successful? Maybe a lot of drow do die. It could be that surviving your first Wild Hunt is a rite of passage. Maybe half the drow that go need serious magic to be healed when they get back.

Animals

Lots of forms of hunting involve animals doing most of the work. Maybe they bring massive beasts that do a lot of the work for them and they bring back badly injured survivors. Maybe they bring something with a paralysing sting and they go 'round collecting people like they're discarded statues.

Tributes

This being a regular event, maybe the world of men use it as an opportunity. Perhaps the drow think they're conquering settlements when actually the only people around are half-starved prisoners who thought being sent out during the Wild Hunt was a good alternative to a life in chains. (Like joining the Night's Watch in GoT). Maybe the cities send out defenceless slaves to lure the drow away from the city?

Influence them

Take some inspiration from the film "The First Purge". Spoilers ahead:

The guys running the purge had professionals around to ensure the purge was a success. Sure, a few people wanted to kill and stuff, but most people just partied or stayed at home. Throw in a few drow who are either of the ruling class or hired by them that act drunk and crazy but are actually completely clear headed and have them be guiding the other elves. Some of the drow decide to head toward a major city? They pick a fight with them and run off on the other direction and by the time the drunks give up chasing them they've forgotten where they were going before. Some humans are more dangerous than expected? They kill soldiers from the treeline with arrows until the drunks get past their defences.

If all else fails

Just don't address it. A lot of people will imagine a reason far better than you would have put in. People love to speculate.

$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

The solution can be something connected to magic and telepathy. I see two possible variations of the theme.

The first is that your elves are latently telepathic and can't communicate mind-to-mind in a normal state. They need psychoactive drugs for that. Looking drunk and drugged, speaking whatever out loud, screaming etc. are just side effects - the main purpose is to open their minds to each other so that they can coordinate subconsciously, swarm-like.

The second variation is that your drow are able to actively communicate telepathically, but their society is so backstabbing that they are afraid to open the contents of their minds to each other. In this case, the intoxication is the guarantee that nobody will remember each other's secrets the next morning.

In both cases I can't quite answer on the questions of leadership and coordination. Possibly, they don't have leaders in this state and decide and coordinate their activity just by a collective agreement. The opposite idea is that there are one or several leaders that either can enter this telepathic mess without psychoactive drugs or are powerful enough that they don't loose critical capacity. If those leaders are able to fish in the minds of their subordinates for information at will during the Wild hunt, it gives them a great leverage. It could explain how there are successful powerful leaders in the backstabbing drow society.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Not all drugs are like being drunk.

For example, Heroin or Cocaine do affect ones emotional state and judgment, but still allow people to function normally. Some drugs like amphetamine can even improve mental abilities. So just because your elves are on a drug which makes them really angry, violent and fearless does not mean they are unable to walk straight.

So should you look for a real world drug which has exactly the effects you want? No. You have a fantasy species which lives in a fantasy world. So fictional drugs are completely plausible. You can just make up a drug which has exactly the effect you want. Willing to kill but still with the hand-eye coordination to do so successfully. A unsatisfiable hate, but still with the mental clarity to tell friend from foe. Enough courage to charge at a shield wall, but still with enough self-preservation instinct to tell when it's pointless.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Drug use in military operations actually isn't very exotic. As one can glean from this (I can only assume "woefully") incomplete list on Wikipedia, stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine are, or have recently been, used by armies around the world to keep soldiers awake and alert. In addition to this, the "Short but Sobering History of Drug Use in Wartime" mentions alcohol, opium, cannabis, mushrooms, and more.

Generally, if Drow aren't too concerned about ethics or long-term performance (or are willing to waive these concerns for the Wild Hunt specifically), there's a wealth of performance-enhancing substances other than stimulants they can employ which have all sorts of nasty side-effects which can serve your narrative. For example, anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone, basically) makes your body build muscles faster; as a side effect, it also tends to turn users into violent psychopaths, which might be desirable during the Hunt. (And in Drow society in general, perhaps?)

Throw amphetamine-like drugs and something like steroids together and you have a bunch of hyper-speeded, strong, and violent psychopaths, but they need some fun!! too, right? MDMA induces euphoria and so it seems like a good start, except that it also increases empathy, but on the other hand, you never know what happens when you start mixing drugs - or perhaps Drow have managed to get rid of that highly undesirable property from it. (On the third hand, it would be kind of interesting if some of the Hunters did end up soft-hearted, feeling sorry for their victims and whatnot.)

Now, the above mix of psychoactives could perhaps be a little bit volatile, especially since the way drugs affect users depends on a lot of variables (and I'd guess the drugs wouldn't exactly be administered in an orderly fashion). The Drow realize this, so they bring extras of all their drugs, just in case they'd take too little of something, or if the effects wear off. But since this is pretty serious business, they don't want to take too much of anything... or rather, they want to be able to fix it if they do. So they bring even more drugs to counteract their other drugs, for example depressants to counteract the stimulants. Feeling shaky from all the uppers? Roll a fat one, have a smoke, calm down for a bit, and you're ready to Hunt again! This practice will obviously cause individual performance to fluctuate during the Hunt, but hopefully there's always someone in a "good" phase, ready to make sure their Hunting buddies don't derail things too much.

This might sound like a lot of preparations - because it is - so they've earned a few pints. And after all, Hunting is thirsty work!


During the Hunt, Hunters are partitioned into groups which operate independently. Upon conclusion of the Hunt, some groups won't return as they've faced disaster (more often than not of their own making), but with groups being independent, those disasters won't propagate affect other groups. (They are also deployed at different locations so if someone for example goes haywire and triggers a volcanic eruption or something, not too many other groups will be affected!)

Most groups do return, though, many enough to call it a success. The skilled (and/or just plain lucky) Hunters are celebrated by the people; the failed Hunters are at best forgotten, but more commonly have their memory dishonored. Although there are some (fortunately very few!) killjoys who propose banning, or at least moderating, drug use during the Hunt... that would really bring down morale, and we can't have that, can we?

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

If they're modeled after the Fair Folk they don't need any kind of intoxicants in order to be completely random and capricious, it goes with the territory. They earned that name because of people's fear of their unpredictable nature, you call them the Fair Folk in hopes that they'll be nice to you. Unfortunately even when they are being nice it's their version of nice not ours, that often doesn't end well for the humans involved.

Have your elves plan the hunt meticulously and then change their minds at the last minute, each individual changing in a different direction of course, and just charge off to do the thing in their own way. Lay some ground work for it of course, have them plan some other community event, like a dynastic wedding perhaps, and then when the time comes have everyone go off on their own tangent instead.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Approaching the problem from another angle, don't have the Elves get drunk and then go on the hunt. Have going on the Hunt cause the drunkenness/euphoric high you're looking for.

On the human plane, some trace element in the atmosphere quickly causes an Elf to get high. Perhaps this is something that's got worse due to industrialisation making current Hunts even more crazy than those in the past, which might cause generational friction back in the Elf world. "In my day, we used to get a decent number of humans without all this nonsense. Now we're lucky if these so called hunters can even scare up a decent meal."

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

This is the wild hunt, they hit your country once every generation and you lose a few hundred people or a village or two. Leave offerings or run and hide and you have a decent chance to survive due to the random and intoxicated nature of the elves. You mostly just lose the elderly, the weak and the witless.

Fight back and kill an elf and the assassins of night will slip through the veil and kill 1000 humans sleeping in their bed for each elf slain.

Fight back in an organised fashion and they will eliminate the leaders of the land and their whole families root and branch.

If the elves do that to a few countries they can crush any form of organised resistance, training people to just run and hide in a very entertaining fashion.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Lots of good stuff, but from a slightly different angle...

What if the Wild Hunt isn't just a thing the Elves do, it's a huge magical ritual that they take part in.

The Hunt Ritual uses intoxicants to break down the mental and magical barriers to allow all of the members to link to the Hunt, contributing their individual power and abilities to the collective. The combined power of the Hunt supports the members, letting them achieve feats well outside their normal limits. When the Hunt rides across a lake it's the power of the Hunt, not the individual riders or their mounts. When they prey is hiding it's the power of the Hunt that locates them... and so on.

In effect the Hunt is a single entity, more akin to a hive than a mob. While the members are still free to act in whatever way best fits their desires, those desires are moulded by the Will of the Hunt. Perhaps that will is derived from the group as a whole or maybe there's a Leader of the Hunt who decides what the Hunt is going to do. Perhaps it's a mixture.

The ritual itself takes days to instantiate the Hunt, increasingly feeding it power as more and more members reach the levels of intoxication necessary to link into the spell. Some of the early members will drop out because of exhaustion, some might overdose or even die. But when the rituals hits its peak the combined power of all of the members comes together to tear open a gateway to the target dimension and the Hunt rides through.

Of course that's what it was like in the good old days. You and a few thousand of your closest friends would get together and summon the Hunt to go marauding over the nearby worlds for the sheer joy of it. Then someone figured that they could use the Hunt for their own ends, perverting the purity of the ritual for grubby material purposes. You still take part, because it's a hell of a rush, but it ain't what it used to be. Sure, it's nice to have a few prisoners to torture after, but it's just not the same as the old Hunt.

(Yes, I read Dresden.)

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.