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TL; DR I want to give my "snow elves" a magical ability to slow down the loss of body heat, which when used would constantly drain their mana and make their other spells weaker. It would be greatly appreciated if someone could offer another perspective so I don't miss anything important, or anything potentially interesting that I could use for building their culture, history, or the plot. If interested, I've typed everything significant I could think of, to limit redundancy.

With this technique, it would take several years to learn how to have even a rudimentary grasp of it, and would start being taught as soon as the children can understand speech. It would be always be consciously turned on or off, and after a fair bit of training and experience, could become a subconscious process like breathing. Every snow elf would be expected to have a grasp of this, with a minority of individuals having a difficult or extremely hard time learning and/or using it.

Regaining mana (not just them, everyone) would require the digestion of food or medicinal herbs/potions, with moving animals providing more mana than plants. Since they'll be living in the north, I don't think they'd grow that many crops anyway, but rather live off large furry animals and fish.

I imagine the constant need for high mana food to would encourage them to eat more meat, especially their fighters. They would split into coastal/waterborne tribes primarily fishing and inland/nomadic tribes primarily hunting, though there of course would be many tribes doing both in good proportion. I guess I could make it that the more southern tribes are more civilized and practice husbandry, raising fish farms or animal herds. Or maybe there are some tribes that mostly try and grow whatever can grow in the far north and be more efficient that way.

I can already guess that this society would follow more eastern philosophies valuing traits like strategy and wisdom, considering the limiting factor during combat. Combat would mostly rely on quickly and powerfully attacking with fire magic before running out of steam, like a blitzkrieg or something. They'd be a serious force in the north, mostly having to deal with invading humans, dwarves and giants, but mostly remaining divided among their clans.

I still think they'd wear warm clothing, though the degree could vary depending on how long an individual could use the technique. Maybe the exposure of skin outside is seen as a flex, to show off how well they can survive the cold.

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    $\begingroup$ How costly is this spell, in terms of mana and food requirements? Good old winter clothing can be a more convenient choice. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Feb 2 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ "eastern philosophies valuing traits like strategy and wisdom" I'm curious as to what you think western philosphies value. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 2 at 21:57
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    $\begingroup$ The critical question is why would anybody use this magic which consumes mana or whatever, instead of simply dressing in suitable clothing for the weather. Clothes have the advantage that they are purely passive device, they don't need to consume energy or mana or anything in order to do their job. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 2 at 21:57
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    $\begingroup$ @James Baxter 25% and 50% "tax" is fairly significant. This would probably means that spell use would be probably limited to short time use, and elves would likely be turning this off during battle. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Feb 2 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ Hello, @JamesBaxter Welcome to WB. I've got some bad news: your question is not really a question. It's a request for conversation. I'm going to recommend the community close it. You've asked for general feedback on a design, not a specific question. In general, most "what impact..." questions get closed as too broad or opinion-based. They don't lead to good solid answers, which is what WB specializes in. If you need ongoing discussion of a storyworld, you'll do better to find a discussion forum rather than a Q&A forum. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 3 at 2:32
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James, you've asked similar questions regarding your snow-elves. In this instance, you seem to be mixing the human body's natural caloric burning to keep the body warm and mixing that with mana consumption to do the same thing. On top of that confusion, your snow-elves also wear "warm clothing" which serves the same purpose of conservation of heat. The act of eating replenishes the body's calories to heat itself, you state the elves eat to replenish their mana.

You need to decide what is it about your snow-elves that is different from any other biological humanoid and how that affects the need for your diversion of mana magic in conjunction with obvious regular methods (food/clothing).

You might consider what about the snow-elf environment would warrant a continuous expenditure of mana energy that they can't get in any other fashion. Concealment, defense, shared burden (as in the mana goes to a community purpose), deity connection, etc. are suggestions you might want to think about.

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Your elves live like seals.

They do not wear warm clothes; in fact they wear scarcely any clothes because they are in the water most of the time. Neither are they fat like most polar mammals - they are skinny and weird, with shaved heads to reduce water resistance. Their heat mana trick allows them to heat their feet and drop through the ice wherever they have to be, and they are spearfishermen par excellence.

Have their mana crops be ocean floor stuff, like sponges or starfish. They dive down and get it.

They live out on the ice, in igloos they make to prevent themselves from being eaten by polar bears in their sleep.

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