Known amongst themselves as the Sequemati, Elves have dwelt deep in the forests of Orn since the time of the Dawning. They are renowned for their keen senses, their uncanny grace, and their strong bond with nature.
Elf characters must wear pointed prosthetic ear tips.
Some might consider Elves to be "homebodies", since they identify so closely with the places in which they live, but most Elves also possess a strong sense of wonder. They are involved in the world on a level that some other races find difficult to even perceive. Elves are always present, observing and living each moment.
The Elves value the following traits, and encourage them in their offspring.
- Observation. Elves are always looking and listening. They note small changes in the world around them and often deduce things from tiny clues that others miss. They also quickly learn the value of detachment. Elves are not quick to get involved, but once they do, they can deal with almost any threat.
- Patience. No one knows how long an Elf can live, provided he does not meet with accident or foul play. With the prospect of centuries before them, Elves must learn to be patient. Things are allowed to happen in their own time and the wise Elf becomes comfortable with waiting. Part of the trick of this is to learn to live in the moment. Elves are eternally present, savoring and enjoying the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of every second.
- Grace. Elves tread lightly on the world. They do not want to disturb things as they go along. This applies to their words as well as their feet. Elves tend to be diplomatic. They can afford to take the long view, so they find no value in ruining the moment with hasty or ill-chosen actions.
- Protection. Elves are the protectors of the world. They consider this both their honor and their duty. Other races can count on the Elves to defend their own lands, and they can also be appealed to for aid in combating larger threats to Orn. The protective urge is one of the few things that can stir normally reticent Elves to a fighting fervor.
No race is perfect, these are some of the more common Elven flaws.
- Reticent. Elves are reluctant to get involved in the affairs of other people. This can make them seem unfriendly. But in their eyes it is just common politeness not to intrude where one is not asked.
- Haughty: Elves do have quite a lot of self-regard. And they are a deeply formal people who value titles and ceremony, especially in the larger Elven cities. Many Elves are accused of being supercilious or haughty.
- Reluctant: It can be hard to rouse an elf's enthusiasm for new things. They tend to take their time about tasks and do things their own way. This trait is especially frustrating to Humans and Gnomes and other folks who are constantly trying novel and unique ways of living. Some adventurers say that if you want a thorough critique of your plans, take them to an Elf, and bring a handkerchief.
Elves are one of the oldest races on Orn. They originated at the Dawning, shaped from the living spirit of Orn itself by the Ageless One, Ferithisia. Elves have long believed that they have a unique connection to the world. This claim is hard to dispute, as Elves thrive in the most naturally beautiful but remote and inhospitable regions of Orn.
Due to their extremely long lifespans and loyalty to their homes and families, most Elves can trace their personal ancestry back to the Days of Dawning. Ferithisia, the progenitor and patroness of the Elves, lived among her children until the Age of Ascension. She encouraged her offspring to travel the world, revel in its splendor, and build dwellings in harmony with their surroundings.
Most other races consider Elven cities to be hidden, as they are most frequently found in deep forests, remote mountaintops or secluded valleys; but to another Elf, the sites are logically selected and extremely obvious. Elves build slowly, shaping and perfecting their materials while preserving the natural aesthetics of the original form. Rather than cut a tree down to build a house from its wood, an Elf builder will construct an elevated platform and dwell among the leaves and branches.
Elves have never been particularly warlike, but they will rise to the defense of the lands under their protection. They have been known to form alliances with Dwarves, men, and Ixifar. In the early ages of the world, Elves were more open and outgoing, but since the Shattering and the tragic disappearance of their beloved Ferithisia, they have become increasingly shy and insular.
Elven bloodlines run very deep indeed. Most Elven scholars believe that when Ferithisia created the Elves, she drew their essence from many special places on the new world. Elven bloodlines tend to reveal a fundamental connection to place and Elves of one bloodline are rarely ever truly comfortable in the environment of the others. Elves of mixed bloodline are more adaptable and can possess a mix of bloodline features from their parents.
Forest Elves (Sylvanesti) The most common bloodline. These Elves have pale skin, brown hair and green eyes. Their ears are large and they possess exceptionally good hearing. They tend to be a bit shorter and are more strongly built than their cousins. Sylvanesti like to make their homes in living trees. They are accomplished trackers and hunters, some have an almost completely carnivorous diet. Sylvanesti spellcasters have a talent for plant and animal magic and make excellent druids.
Mountain Elves (Terranesti) These Elves have skin that shades from brown to red to almost grey, depending on the colors of the rocks where they are born. Some Terranesti subtly change hue over the years if they move to an area with differently shaded stone. Their hair is black and their eyes are the shades and hues of precious gems. Terranesti have strong hands and are skilled masons. Mountain Elves like to live high on the sides and tops of mountains. Terranesti love to climb and make skilled rogues.
Valley Elves (Kiladanesti) The rarest of Elven bloodlines, these shy Elves live in hidden valleys and shallow caves. They have pale skin, grey or black hair and grey eyes. They consider themselves to be the protectors of secret places and rare creatures. They are somewhat less hospitable than most of their cousins, but they can be excellent teachers and sources of information to serious seekers after the lore they possess. Many Elven wizards are valley elves.
Water Elves (Aquanesti) These elves are not fully aquatic, but they live close to and spend most of their time in and around the water. Aquanesti tend to be tanned, due to sun exposure, and possess light colored hair and blue or sea green eyes. Some may even have webbed fingers and toes. Aquanesti are generally easygoing, and contemplative. They are, naturally, excellent swimmers and sailors. Many Elven seers are of this bloodline.
Wild Elves (Maenesti) Wild Elves are not a bloodline, per se, but rather a growing tribe of Elves who have been deeply affected by the psychic carnage of the Shattering. These Elves have thrown off the structure of Elven society and have retreated in small groups to the most wild and isolated places they can find. There they live, dwelling upon their losses, savagely repelling "trespassers" and becoming more and more dangerous. Many wild Elf groups are defended by sorcerers and savages.
Most Ornish Elves live in enclaves located throughout Orn in areas of spectacular natural beauty. These range in size from a cluster of a few homes in a forest glade to towering and extensive mountaintop cities carved of stone and crystal. Elven ruins can also be found in some areas overrun by monsters. Some Elves live for many years, even centuries, in the cities of their allies. But all Elves will consider an Elven city their true home and return there whenever they can.
Elves tend to favor a system of hereditary monarchy. Most Elven cities of more than 200 inhabitants are ruled by a Prince or Princess. These monarchs have authority over their subjects and the land and are charged with their protection. Due to the exceptionally long lifespan of Elves, some cities have only ever had one ruler since their founding, but should a Prince die or step down, his responsibilities and titles descend upon his oldest child or another designated heir within the family. If a Prince or Princess dies without an heir, the rulership is usually given to the closest relative of the line who is of age (at least 100 years old). Princes elevate other elves to lordship or knighthood for service and valor. A Prince's Lords, Ladies, Knights and Dames are not given lands, as a Human lord might be, but rather serve as his guards and functionaries. They keep the city running and are responsible for its defense.
Smaller Elven communites are more clan-like and usually consist of a single extended family living together. Many of these communities exist to protect or utilize a specific natural resource (like a mineral spring or clay beds), and so these Elves are often wardens or craftsfolk.
Elves do not war amongst themselves. The world is vast and their numbers are few. They try to maintain good relations where they can. Elves have a long and sometimes turbulent history with the Dwarves, but any remaining disputes between the two races have long faded into obscurity. Elves view humans and their Ixifar and Empyrean offspring to be ambitious and brash, but ultimately good and loyal companions. Elves get along well with the good-natured Gnomes, except when the Gnomes' drive for progress damages the natural world. They enjoy the company of Fairies, tolerating most Fae pranks with surprisingly good humor. Elves find Angori uncouth and tend to avoid them. Goblins are viewed as a nuisance, and Uordeq, especially due to their emergence since the Shattering, are treated with wary distrust.
Elves are deeply tied to the cycles of the world. They have many small celebrations and ceremonies to mark the passing of the seasons, and somewhat more solemn observances triggered by celestial events. These latter ceremonies have been greatly disrupted by the Shattering, adding to the general malaise and unease of Elf-kind.
A young Elf is a rare arrival. Most Elf mothers have three or four children over the entire course of their adult lives. So when an Elf baby is born, the entire community works together to care for and raise it. This is necessary, because young Elves mature rather slowly. An Elf of ten years is the approximately the same height and maturity as a Human child of five. Elves remain in this childlike pre-adult phase for a few decades before going through a brief puberty and becoming fully adult. An adult Elf looks the same for centuries and only the most ancient of Elves show any signs of aging at all.
Because of their exceptionally long lives, Elves take a relaxed approach to love and fidelity. Most are serially monogamous, settling down with one lover for a few decades and then going their separate ways once the passion has faded from the match. There are exceptions to this pattern of course, and Elven Princes do form more formal alliances to perpetuate their line of succession. Truly deep and lasting love is also found among the Elves and several popular ballads sing of fabled Elven lovers of yore.
The life in larger Elven cities often revolves around the Prince's court. The Prince and his Lords and Ladies set the tone for the tastes of their people. Courts vary, but most Princes favor beautiful surroundings, excellent food and wine and lively entertainment. Many of those who have been guests of an Elven prince or princess remember the experience for the rest of their lives.
Should an Elf die, his body is returned to his family. Depending upon the customs of his city it is cleansed, mourned and returned to nature. Sylvanesti bury their dead under the roots of special trees. Terranesti practice air burial, where the remains are fed to birds. Kiladanesti mummify the bodies of their dead and inter them in living caverns where they will be entombed in stone and Aquanesti return their dead to the sea.
Elves get along well with other races who they consider to be respectable, including Empyreans and Ixifar. They often share their forests with Fairies, and so tend to tolerate their antics better than others. Because Dwarves and Gnomes live underground and covet technology, Elves often think of them as misguided, although they bear the mountain folk no special grudge. Rarely, however, will they tolerate the company of Angori, Goblins, or Uordeq, who they consider to be uncivilized at best.
Alone among the mortal races of Orn, the Elves have living memory of the Immortals. Their progenitor, Ferithisia loved her creations and chose to live among them for several ages of the world. Her relationship to her people shaped their culture and government, for she was a benevolent queen to them and they were her loving and loyal subjects. Even after the Ageless Ones withdrew from the world, Ferithisia still looked down on her Sequemati with love from afar.
The Shattering dealt a wrenching blow to the psyche of the Elven race. As Ferithisia faded, they mourned. Their grief was somewhat lightened when one of their own, Loreyza, became the Ascendant of Nature. But the wounds are still quite raw. Elves do not tolerate blasphemy, especially about the lost Immortals.
Immortals of Note
Ferithisia--Is the mother and queen of Elf-kind. She is deeply revered and still mourned. In a few of the most ancient Elven cities are elves who knew her personally. Her last living consort, Hithal Gemkeeper, is revered as a living saint.
Antasia--The Mistress of the Wood is loved for clothing the bare bones of the world in their cloak of green. Her Ascendant, Loreyza, has a large and growing cult among younger Elves. Loreyza is said to have cleansed the White Woods of its corruption following its defilement by the undead army of the lich Valedir.
Espidrel--The Mason of the Mountains is honored by the Elves for his labor in constructing the world.
Banekeril--As almost timeless beings themselves, many Elves respect and follow Banekeril. His philosophies are particularly popular with Elven monks.
Ivelis--As the patron of sailors, Ivelis is honored among the Aquanesti as a protector against Syflare.
Lemesin--The Shining Knight is popular with those elves who guard and protect their lands. Many Elven Princes have a small shrine to him in their households.
Most Elves who are not adventurers are found in the Elven settlements across Orn. Elves do travel to trade and learn or visit friends and family. Parties of Elven soldiers or scouts are also not uncommon in areas where they are allied to other races.
Elves generally find daily life exciting enough, especially considering that most of them live in rather dangerous places. However, some young Elves do feel the call to adventure. This is considered a passing fad by their elders and tolerated with a certain amount of amusement. Most Elven adventurers do eventually return to the ways of their people, indeed the experience and confidence gained from adventuring is sometimes what is needed to nudge a promising Elven youth toward settling down and joining an Elven court, or in some rare cases founding his own settlement.
When an Elf does answer the call to adventure they excel as guides, scouts, and liaisons. Their keen senses, quick reflexes, and knowledge for getting along in the wilderness has been the difference between life and death for many adventuring parties. They often make for amicable companions, as well, except when they are forced to work with those they consider to be distasteful.
"May the sun and stars always light your path."--Traditional Elven farewell
"Wes partha, wes peleon" ("Steady mind, steady hand")--A meditative phrase, also used as an idiom
"Bend like wood or crumble like stone."--Learn to be flexible
"Twig and vine"--A mild Elven oath
"You cling to your beliefs like latchvine"
“Great anger is more destructive than the sword.”
"Keep a fire in your heart and the wind in your step."
"Carry yourself with the grace and strength of the hawk."
"Lowborn"--A slightly derogatory term for a non-noble Elf