I have a middle earth like world, but without magic where all the intelligent races are variations of the human race.

Due to Orc expansion one Elvish city similar to Rivendell becomes too close to the border and most of the Elves start to live it for the safer cities on the interior. The few remaining Elves are forced to hire nearby gnomes to keep the maintenance of the city infrastructure going.

The Elves are taller then average humans ~190 cm, live longer ~120 years and are smarter ~160 IQ. They have lowest fertility rate and they are great fighters.

The Gnomes are much shorter ~90 cm, with shorter lifespan ~35 years and have an IQ ~80 IQ. They have highest fertility rate and they avoid fighting unless cornered or being forced to defend their offspring.

If the initial population of the Elvish city is around 20,000 and only about 1,000 remained will the city be able to function? There's more then enough Gnomes in the surrounding highlands willing to work for the remaining Elves, and Elves have enough treasury to pay them for the foreseeable future.

By function I mean being able to keep at least the most needed businesses open (bakery, blacksmith, fetcher, armorer, grocer etc), maintaining the water & sewage system, and most important of all fixing the defensive walls & towers.

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    $\begingroup$ You may have to define "function" in this context. $\endgroup$ – rek Oct 26 '16 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ This is a really verbose question with a lot of irrelevant data. Please refine (ie. take things out) so people don't mistake what you're asking. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Oct 26 '16 at 19:53

Yes, it could function. Quite a lot of the remaining elves would have to have to act as supervisors to the Gnomes. Assuming for some ingenuity, maintenance procedures could be devised for the Gnomes to follow. The Gnomes may not really understand some for the more complex infrastructure but would be able to maintain it with wrote learning and supervision.

That said, where there were 19k elves, there will be quite a lot more gnomes. Gnome districts will emerge within months and these would be of a much lower quality then anything elvish. While some of the smarter Gnomes may figure out plumbing and how to adapt it, most of the build-up gnome areas will still be poor looking.

If this continues over some decades then class structures will emerge. The Gnomish Gnomes at the bottom who do the simplest work and act in similar manor to how they did living in the mountains. The middle would be the Gnomes who embraced the Elvish way and try to emulate how elves live and act. These would become the supervisors to the other Gnomes. The remaining elves would still be on top of this social order and be the administration and architects of the city.


I don't think the elves would want to keep the whole city functioning.

With 95% of the elves gone, they don't need to keep all the bakeries open -- they only need 5% of the bakeries. Likewise for fletchers and armorers and grocers. The fancy plumbing might be an all-or-nothing thing (ie, either it works for the whole city or it doesn't) but there might be a way to shut some of that off too. There might not be enough students left to support a school (or a university); the elves will just have to cope.

I think what happens is the elves find the nicest 5% of the city and they all move into that. Within that part of the city, everything continues functioning. The rest of the city gets mostly abandoned.

The problem with abandoned buildings is that things move into them. You could get wandering orcs or humans or goblins; you could get bandits; you could get opportunistic forest creatures. So the elves now have a problem involving periodically clearing scavengers out of their abandoned buildings. (And, likewise, they have a problem involving defending their city wall.)

So I think the elves have hired the gnomes specifically as mercenary fighters, to patrol the abandoned city and defend the wall. If that boosts the population significantly, maybe the elves have to open another 5% or 10% of the city for the gnomes. If the city services were designed to be worked by super-genius elf artisans, the gnomes are not going to be able to use them. So either the gnomes move their own crappy people in to provide services, or the elves take on some additional service work as part of the price of having gnomes defend their city. In either case, I don't think the elves are hiring individual gnomes; they're hiring some sort of gnomish mercenary captain, and the captain is assigning his people to work as bakers etc as necessary.

Clearly this is not a sustainable model in the long term. It sounds like the reason the elves are doing this is that they want to have this city standing here to prevent further orcish incursion into their territory. That's a good reason, but why hasn't the elvish government (the Elf-King?) done something about this problem? In the long term, this city should be populated by an elvish army, not by the stubbornest elves who refused to leave their homes.


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