Borean Elves (T9A Finno-Ugrians)

    This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

    The latest issue of the 9th Scroll is here! You can read all about it in the news.

    Our beta phase is finally over. Download The Ninth Age: Fantasy Battles, 2nd Edition now!

    And on December 24th, Father Chaos brought us... A brand new army book for Daemon Legions!

    • Borean Elves (T9A Finno-Ugrians)


      Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to go full circle where the Aurora Borealis dances across the sky.

      JRR Tolkien, the inventor of the classic historically-based fantasy genre (that Warhammer Fantasy and the Ninth Age are both part of), was profoundly inspired by Finnish folklore and language. The epic of Kalevala (whose 1990s Don Rosa comic adaptation is, by the way, warmly recommended) was an important basis for Tolkien's own tales in Middle Earth, and his Elven languages were in no small part inspired by his studies of Finnish. Let us as such be the first fantasy setting to complete the circle, and introduce northern Elves based on Finno-Ugrians. The working name here will be Borean Elves to get the ball rolling, obviously to be changed for something better.

      The basic concept is a plethora of different Elven tribes, sprinkled across the frigid lands north of Vetia and Augea. By the Ninth Age, these various peoples are the remnants from ancient days of much greater spread, but never great population density. They live sparsely, eking out semi-nomadic lives primarily as hunters, gatherers, fishers and herdsmen, moving like ghosts upon waterways and snow alike. They know these bleak forests and remote tundras and highlands better than anyone living, and they know well both how to avoid outsiders, and how to lay ambushes for intruders. To have the famous White Death (Simo Häyhä) and ski-based Finnish winter warfare during the Second World War (based upon a 16th Century Swedish captain's assault on a Russian marching column during winter) at the back of one's mind is for once not a modern burden for this particular brainstorming, but an aid. Think sisu.


      Tolkien's own tales present us with two elements that may inspire this concept: First, his Avari Elves, who remained in the east of Middle-Earth and expanded across these mortal lands, until humans emerged, grew and gradually displaced the Avari natives. Second, the dead-set exodus of Fingolfin with the majority of the exiled Noldor Elves across the Grinding Ice, or Helcaraxë, in the north. Especially the latter has inspired numerous artists to depict Elves on the ice, see below.

      I have no intention of turning this into a Homebrew army book, though anyone who wish to is of course welcome to do so.

      Now imagine the vast expanses up in the cold north, where water and dark forests aplenty brood, home to hardy wildlife, savage tribes from various races, and not least bleak Elves, glimpsed through morning mist and snowstorms. These are the most silent and sullen Elves in all the wide world, yet they are also the living keepers of an oral culture of beautiful songs, cunning and crafty and handy with skis, boats, knives and sleds alike. They ken the ancient spirits of the harsh woods, and they share these spirits' deadly wish for solitude from a hostile world. Theirs is a cold and wind-blown life, wandering the sparse expanses, yet ancient legends tell of paths not chosen, of civilization rejected, of bonds to the Northern Dwarves broken, and of magical gold and smith's craft cast aside. The corruption of the Wasteland and the roaming followers of the Dark Gods have both taken a heavy toll on these Elves of the north, and likewise they are pressed upon by Orcs, Goblins and Trolls alike, and snorting Beast Herds can be heard stomping in the woods these wayward Sylvan Elves call home.



      Captivity, by Michael Rechlin.

      But these, the original tribes of the northlands, will never lay down their knives and bows, and they will never cease their fight, no matter come what may, for theirs is an unbending will, and theirs is a lethal determination to see their kin and songs live on, flushed with lifeblood, even if all the lakes and forests have to be carpeted thick with the corpses of foes. And as long as their grit and cunning win through, the magical songs of strange Elves will continue to sound among the mists and the snowfalls.

      Such are the Sylvan Elves in the frozen north of the Ninth Age.


      Avari Elves & Related Reference Images, by assorted artists, including Steamey






















      Finnic & Related Reference Images, by assorted artists, including Tuomas Koivurinne


























      Hercalaxë Reference Images, by assorted artists






















































      Kalevala Reference Images, by assorted artists
































































      Ideas, feedback and criticism are of course welcome!

      See also:
      Dwarven Holds of the Copper Mountains (T9A Nabateans)
      Dwarven Holds of the Wrathful Mountains (T9A Inca)
      Polar Dwarves of Remotest Silexia (T9A Inuits)
      Infernal Dwarves of the Torture Valleys (T9A Moche)

      The post was edited 5 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • Something interesting could perhaps be thought of regarding a finnish water spirit called Näkki. Its mainly a vicious creature that is said to drown children who come too close to bodies of water guarded by Näkki, and obviously made up to keep children away from water.

      Some Naiad version of Dryads could be neat in homage to Näkki, with a thematic connection to boggy ponds and pools...
      "You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?" -Death
      Phae's Pointy-Ear Blog: Elves in a Corner
    • Phaeoron wrote:

      Something interesting could perhaps be thought of regarding a finnish water spirit called Näkki. Its mainly a vicious creature that is said to drown children who come too close to bodies of water guarded by Näkki, and obviously made up to keep children away from water.

      Some Naiad version of Dryads could be neat in homage to Näkki, with a thematic connection to boggy ponds and pools...
      In Sweden called Näcken.

      Really like what you have done here.
    • Etheneus wrote:

      Phaeoron wrote:

      Something interesting could perhaps be thought of regarding a finnish water spirit called Näkki. Its mainly a vicious creature that is said to drown children who come too close to bodies of water guarded by Näkki, and obviously made up to keep children away from water.

      Some Naiad version of Dryads could be neat in homage to Näkki, with a thematic connection to boggy ponds and pools...
      In Sweden called Näcken.
      Really like what you have done here.
      In Russian, « rusalka » :tongue:


      @Karak Norn Clansman, Elves, seriously ? :D

      LOVE THE CONCEPT !!
      GHAÂAÂAÂARN ! — The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young
      First T9A player in West Africa
    • Interesting subject.

      What do you reckon is the relationship between Åsklanders and frost elves?

      As a finn myself I naturally have based the idea of my Åskland army more on the kalevala than norse mythology. :)
      All things wargaming. My super entertaining hobby blog where anything wargaming related can happen.

      "I heard a television interviewer once suggest that the use of dice made battlegaming on par with Snakes and Ladders and such like games of change. Well, he was being just stupid, or trying to take a rise out of his guest. It is in fact the imponderable which does give reality to 'Battle' and, as we shall see, does cause the players to make proper allowance for the unlikely or even seemingly impossible, which, as we read, did happen surprisingly frequently in the annals of war."
      -Charles Grant
    • jirga wrote:


      As a finn myself I naturally have based the idea of my Åskland army more on the kalevala than norse mythology. :)
      And you were very wrong ! :largegrin:

      Åsklanders are the evil Swedish colonizers ))))
      Finns are the nice little elves in the beech tree forest.
      GHAÂAÂAÂARN ! — The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young
      First T9A player in West Africa
    • Finns aren't that elf like folk truth to be told. I'd say descendants of giant and troll halfbreeds would be more accurate description. :)
      All things wargaming. My super entertaining hobby blog where anything wargaming related can happen.

      "I heard a television interviewer once suggest that the use of dice made battlegaming on par with Snakes and Ladders and such like games of change. Well, he was being just stupid, or trying to take a rise out of his guest. It is in fact the imponderable which does give reality to 'Battle' and, as we shall see, does cause the players to make proper allowance for the unlikely or even seemingly impossible, which, as we read, did happen surprisingly frequently in the annals of war."
      -Charles Grant
    • As always, well written and posited, Clansman.

      The first thought when scrolling through the images provided, was of the Asklander culture admittedly. I would eagerly see the warmth you (and these linked artists) regard Finnish culture with bestowed upon those... uh... "barbarians" (9th's words, not mine), in order to provide something more than chaos-lite Scandinavians/vikings.

      The second thought was of 9th Age's melding of cultural influences, so that no real world analogues exist as 1-1. Frost/Northern Elves really interest me, as diminished remnants of elfin-kind. Perhaps taking cue from another hardy, mountainous, snow-bound culture would make them separate from a single RL inspiration: Tibet. Whether it be in religion, architecture, or civic structure, is there a way to port the heart concept of the Himalayan people to the northwest of Not!Siberia (the wasteland), to the backbone mountain ranges where the Asklander humans live?

      The development or spark of sisu could be combined with an Eastern religious/mythological reverence for example. Isolated mountain hermitages could be sanctuaries from the asklanders in between migrations. Less Silvan/Druidic oriented, and more about the rarefied mountain heights/Shamanism.
    • @Dopey I disagree with your suggestion.

      We already have one culture almost fully based on Tibet, and that is the Ogre Khans.

      Apart from that, the Finnic people are a huge ethnic group that is usually completely left out from mainstream fantasy, as every fantasy background, from Conan to Lone Wolf, sees « Northmen » as just the Indo-European Germanic vikings.

      However, studies show that the Finnic-Ugric people are among the oldest indigenous peoples of Europe, having been supplanted by Indo-European cultures (genetic studies show that most of the Russian population that consider itself « russky » actually has Finnic genes, pointing at wide-scale cultural assimilation in the Middle Ages). It is thus totally justified to make them elves.

      I think your remark, as well as others, come from a lack of understanding the specificities of the Finnic culture and to confuse them with the Swedes and Russians who overtook them and have exerted a huge influence on their culture.
      A bit as if you'd dismiss Vietnam as being « just another kind of Chinese culture » – of course, 1000 years of colonization has impacted the local culture, but it doesn't mean that its core is widely different and deserves some love.
      The most important being the question « What IF ? » – What if the Finns had never been colonized ? What if the Russian rulers had been ethnic Finnic people talking their language, rather than Viking/Slavic invaders forcing their culture/language/religion on the indigenous Finnic people ?

      In that regard, your proposal of mixing Finnic with Tibetan makes me as sorry as anyone suggesting African culture would not be enough and we'd better mix it with some elements of Maya to make it « cooler ». In short, I would find it offensive.

      I think we should instead delve deep in the roots of Finnic culture, not just taking into account old Finnish religion but also everything from Nenets, Mordvins, Sami, Mari, Khanty, etc. and get out the most outstanding elements of their culture in opposition to the Indo-European, human Åsklanders.
      GHAÂAÂAÂARN ! — The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young
      First T9A player in West Africa

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Ghiznuk ().

    • Images had few pictures of saami people and reindeers are located above arctic circle where saami people live.

      Saami and Finns are two different cultures and shouldn't be mixed as the whole subject has real life ongoing controversies.

      So there are real life counterpart to the subject at hand here.

      Little bit more of history.

      Christian Sweden used crusades as an excuse to gain more land under their influence and launched a crusade to Finland which was still pagan.

      It's mentioned in the Åskland book that Åsklanders have incorporated dark gods over their old pantheon.

      Christianity conquered Scandinavia little by little. Same pattern could be seen with the dark gods.
      Finns weren't part of the Scandinavian culture but had their own gods and beliefs but were eventually turned to Christianity by force.

      In the terms of 9th age I could see the area which is roughly inhabited by Finns in real life as a last larger areas of worshippers of older gods. Relationships with elves is interesting too from this point of view.

      Dark gods worshippers vs. old god worshippers with elves in the mix sounds like a good mixture for a drama. :)
      All things wargaming. My super entertaining hobby blog where anything wargaming related can happen.

      "I heard a television interviewer once suggest that the use of dice made battlegaming on par with Snakes and Ladders and such like games of change. Well, he was being just stupid, or trying to take a rise out of his guest. It is in fact the imponderable which does give reality to 'Battle' and, as we shall see, does cause the players to make proper allowance for the unlikely or even seemingly impossible, which, as we read, did happen surprisingly frequently in the annals of war."
      -Charles Grant
    • Also, don't forget that in the 9th Age Homebrew Universe, those Elvish Finns would also be neighbours of Eastern-Slav Ukray Tsardom (located North of the Makhar Steppe and Wasteland, East of the Sea of Storms).
      Probably their forests would also be in touch with some territories inhabited by what remains of the old Ogre Khanates of the plains.
      GHAÂAÂAÂARN ! — The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young
      First T9A player in West Africa
    • I like the idea of mixing more than one real-life culture into one fantasy culture. We will never be able to represent every real-life culture in T9A, so instead of leaving them out we could at least take influences.

      There is no need to be scientifically correct, this is just fiction. We can mix and match as we see fit. This gives us also the chance to create something new which doesn't exist already in RL
    • Matters of opinions of course but I can't see Finns as elves.

      Elves living in the fictional region that resemble rl location is fine of course.

      Smashing rl cultures together for a fantasy race just for the fun of it doesn't leave a good taste though.

      Because there are rl controversies between Finns and saami people which I have to read every now and again on the news. And I believe same thing happens in Sweden and Norway too.

      I have no personal objection for mashing Scandinavian history to finnish culture and mythology as Finland was part of Swedish Kingdom around 600 years so there's cultural connection to svea mamma. :)

      Saami people on the other hand are very sensitive about their cultural heritage and their language doesn't resemble Scandinavian languages or finnish at all.

      In essence they are exactly how these northern elves was described in the first post. :)
      All things wargaming. My super entertaining hobby blog where anything wargaming related can happen.

      "I heard a television interviewer once suggest that the use of dice made battlegaming on par with Snakes and Ladders and such like games of change. Well, he was being just stupid, or trying to take a rise out of his guest. It is in fact the imponderable which does give reality to 'Battle' and, as we shall see, does cause the players to make proper allowance for the unlikely or even seemingly impossible, which, as we read, did happen surprisingly frequently in the annals of war."
      -Charles Grant
    • What Jurga is trying to tell you is that they don't belong to the same branch of the Uralic family.

      The exemples you are taking are much closer.
      Danish and Dutch (because « Flemish » does not exist as a language, it is as best a group of different dialects and accents of Southern Dutch, but not necessarily closer to each other than the Northern Dutch dialects, and then you get issues like what about Zeeuws, Limburgs and Brabant which are common to Belgium and to the Netherlands, ie. the border between « Flemish » and « Netherlands » is purely political, not linguistic. The official language of Belgium is « Dutch », the same as the Netherlands) are both Germanic languages, yes but the « Germanic languages » group is a sub-sub-sub family of the wider Indo-European family tree.

      What Jurga is saying is that, despite Saami and Finnish being both Uralic languages, they are as close to each other as Danish is from Spanish, or « Flemish » from Latvian.


      Now my proposal was just that we could merge different elements of those different groups, especially the ones whose way of life and culture is similar to the Saami.
      Obviously if Finnic is not, maybe something can be gotten from the Nenets, Komi and Khanty, who all have traditional nomadic livelihoods ? and also have a look at Mari and Udmurt ?
      GHAÂAÂAÂARN ! — The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young
      First T9A player in West Africa