Ever since Tolkein reinvented the elves of old Norse and Saxon myth, elves have been the darlings of every fantasy setting and even many sci-fi settings. It could be argued that the pointy eared pedants from Vulcan of Star Trek fame are space elves for example.
Somehow Rimworld has yet to follow in this tradition (outside of some mods). Perhaps it was considered too cliché? Nevertheless, the Ideology and Biotech expansions furnish us with all the tools we need to recreate elves for Rimworld.
What follows is a sketch of how I would make elves for Rimworld based on classic elf tropes.
We will start with obvious but cosmetic genes to dial into the xenotype editor, thin bodies and of course pointy ears. In the screenshot of the elf xenotype below I missed out “no beards”, but that wants to go in too.
There is a little variation in how world builders concieve elves post-Tolkein. Of the positive attributes, elves are crack shots with a bow, being beautiful and quick on their feet. For these we can use the genes: strong shooting, attractive and fast runners.
Tolkien strongly hinted that elves were capable craftsmen too, for which we can use the genes strong crafting.
To balance out the good we must take also some bad. Elves are usually something of a Mary Sue fantasy race, overpowered in most characteristics. If they ever are portrayed with faults it will be being physically delicate. This is where we take our negatives, so then the genes: slow wound healing, delicate and extra pain.
Finally, we have psychic bonding and dead calm. The former will let us get some romance going early but at the penalty of a crippling mood penalty in the event of a lover perishing. To offset that a bit we have dead calm, which reduces the impact of mental breaks.
The classic conception of Elf culture derived from Tolkein has a pretty heavy emphasis on them being really keen on trees. The key meme for this in Rimworld would be Tree Connection. With this meme they will get more mileage out of Gauranlen trees.
They will also get a plant specialist role and start with the tree sowing tech, but also take heavy mood penalties from cutting trees down. These mood penalties are really awkward in heavily forested biomes, the very biome most associated with elves.
As Tree Connection is a high impact meme, so it is not one you can start with using a Fluid Custom religion. You can of course start with it using a Fixed Custom religion.
If you prefer a Fluid Custom religion, then you can start with the Flesh Purity meme and then add the Tree Connection with a reformation. Flesh Purity lets you have a medical specialist role which is by no means inappropriate for elves.
For more guidance on how to craft a fluid custom religion, see my article How to Reappraise the Lord with a Fluid Ideology.
Since the elf xenotype is tilted towards shooting, it is just as well to go for the melee despised, ranged noble weapon pairing.
A tribal start will get you going with classic elf bowmen and a medieval fantasy vibe. You might want to reset the world factions so that only tribal factions share your world, if you pick this scenario. Elves usually are not the backward ones in the setting.
Elves have been repurposed for science-fiction settings many times, so there is nothing wrong with a more technological start, such as Crash Landed, Rich Explorer or even Mechanitor.
If you like Warhammer 40k and Stellaris, then you may be interested in my formulation of space elves from the former for the latter in this article: Warhammer 40k factions in Stellaris.
As with any custom xenotype, there is a little issue with scenarios with a solitary start such as Rich Explorer, Naked Brutality and Mechanitor. It is pretty hard to breed a pure strain xenotype with only one of the species on the planet.
Certain events might parachute in fellow custom xenotypes but that is my no means guaranteed.
A hit-and-run style of combat is ideal for elves, since they are good at shooting, fast on their feet but not well suited to tanking damage. Advance, shoot, retreat, shoot again.
A delicate physique coupled with the psychic bond genes could result in colony crippling mood penalties following combat engagements if casualties are taken.
So take extra care of combatants with a psychic bond. Although the dead calm gene at least does ensure mental breaks are non-violent.
There we go a guide on how to create elves in Rimworld. What would you do differently?
Discover more of my Rimworld stories and articles by clicking here – Solar Cross’s Rimworld articles.