For reasons that aren’t quite clear, I decided to spit-shine the plain text manuscript that WotC makes available of Gazetteer 13: The Shadow Elves. You can read the results for yourself.

Since your mind is likely as boggled by this as mine, here’s a mini-FAQ.

Question: Isn’t D&D a little fey?

Answer:I find the D&D fantasy world that was defined in the late eighties to be interesting. It’s full of empires at war, maps, useless statistics, superfluous rules and ill-conceived refinitions of standard character classes. It also is full the politics and intrigue, which is what really interests me. Over the course of many publications, TSR/Wizards of the Coast expanded and refined this world and on the whole, did an effective job at making this make-believe world engaging.

I wrote a little perl script to add in the HTML paragraph mark and also translate a little of the obvious markup, like the editor comments and italics. The rest, I did manually, especially the TOC. The CSS markup is light and should render reasonably well in older browsers.

It seems that I’m not the only one who remembers this world fondly.

Q: Yeah, but isn’t D&D a bit, you know, fancy?

A: While I agree that the name “shadow elves” is a bit too trite and cliche, their background is less so. Frankly, I had written off this gazetteer until I read the manuscript (after first reading GAZ5: Alfheim).

On the most basic level, these critters are a sort of lost people who long ago used caverns as a sort of fallout shelter from a world cataclysm. They, and their estranged, forrest-dwelling brethen in Alfheim (also refuges), had a brief war in which the shadow elves were forced back into their caves. For gaming purposes, that’s more than enough grist for the scenario mill.

More interestingly, the patron Immortal of the shadow elves is a survivor of storied Blackmoor. This is the first time I’ve read that anyone got out of that Atlantis-like city.

A careful reader of Tolkien will see a LotR and Hobbit influence. In the Gazetteer’s defense, I commend the authors of these works for making their fantasy realms distinct from the source material. It should be noted that many of the realms are based on real human history and places, including ancient Egypt, ancient Arabia, the Steppes of Asia and even pre-European Native American cultures. While I wouldn’t go as far as to call these gazetteers educational, I would say that real historical influences are there if you know what to look for.

As for the suitability of this suppliment for gaming, I cannot say and am not interested enough to find out.

Q: Ok, I don’t think you’re hearing me: D&D is for retardo-gaylords!

A: I guess what motivated me to mark up this document was that the plain ASCII file wasn’t easy enough to read and scan. This isn’t the kind of manuscript one reads from start to finish. It lends itself more to a random access style of scanning, good for when you want to nod off to sleep without getting to involved in a novel.

Q: Say there, Sally Sissypants. What say you to me and a couple of my friends coming over to your house and braining you senseless for a while?

A: I don’t plan to continue working on this GAZ13 page. It will be there for whoever finds it useful. I suspect WotC or their parent company Hasbro will eventually sent me a cease and desist. However, I hope that they would consider merely taking it and posting it on their site. I’m not trying to make money from their intellectual property.

I think that should clear up any confusion you might have.