Elves (Zyanya Supplement)
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- 1 Types of Elves –
- 1.1 Gray Elf
- 1.2 High Elf
- 1.3 Wild Elf
- 1.4 Wood Elf
- 1.5 Drow Elf
- 1.6 Aquatic Elf
- 1.7 Painted Elf
- 1.8 Snow Elf
- 2 Elven Lifespan
- 3 Elven Family Life
- 4 Elven Outlook
- 5 Elven Society
Types of Elves –
Elves generally resemble humans physically. Although they tend to be shorter and slimmer, they can often successfully disguise themselves as small humans. Without this disguise, however, their true origins are readily apparent. They are betrayed in this respect by their distinctive countenance. Many elves, however, find this is not a problem; they have no wish to be confused or identified with humans in any way. Elves have delicate chiseled features that are typically quite angular and beautiful. There is really no such thing as an elf born ugly; those who have low Charisma were either scarred accidentally or marred magically. However, Charisma is not only an indication of outward beauty. The fact that many elves have average Charisma is a testament to the fact that beauty is not, contrary to popular belief, the only important thing about a person. All elves are very slim, hiding their natural strength under a veil of fragility. Their slight build belies a power seemingly drawn from the earth itself. Looking at them, one would never believe that these creatures were some of the most powerful ever created, or that they very nearly witnessed the birth of the world. Elves saw the rise of other races—the crawl of humanity from the primordial ooze. They are older than many trees and will live to see generations of trees and humans alike. Yet they hide this innate power beneath a delicate exterior; many thus assume they are harmless. One interesting elven characteristic that few are aware of is the elves' lack of canine teeth. Since they sprang full-fledged into the form they now occupy, they skipped the evolution process undergone by so many other races. Thus, although they are omnivores and their teeth are all strong, they have no pointed, canine incisors. Elven skin is usually quite pale. The obvious exceptions are, of course, the drow and the aquatic elves. Even half-elves are rather fair when compared to their human parents. Of course, all elves have pointed ears. This affords them sensitive hearing, and they can hear sounds unheard by human ears. However, the range is not really great enough to make a significant difference; it is only enough for elves to distinguish certain tones, which enables them to pass messages not meant for human ears.
Gray Elves are credited with being masters of abjuration and divination, as well as being the foremost scholars. Their cities are built around great universities and libraries, and the Gray Elves pursue their fields of study with great diligence. Gray Elves are usually willing teachers, though many consider instruction short-lived races to be a waste of time. Gray Elves average 5’8” in height and live approximately 800 years. Gray Elves are at once the most noble and most reclusive of the elves. They have withdrawn from the world after making their mark, which was to ensure that the world was well on the path to goodness. The Gray Elves view themselves as the protectors of good in the world, but they will stir from their magnificent cities to protect the "lesser" races only when they are faced with great evil.
Gray Elves act much like human knights—supercilious and condescending, full of their own importance. They think nothing of speaking their minds, provided that this remains within the bounds of elven decorum. They are often haughty, disdaining contact with most others, including all other elves save Gray Elves.
This subrace garbs themselves in silk tunics of gold, silver, white, or yellow. Over these, they wear cloaks of dark blue or purple. Their dress alone often makes them the most striking of the elves, and their elegant bearing and pure beauty make them almost appear as supernatural creatures. When arming themselves for battle, they don shimmering suits of plate or chain mail, protecting the head with winged helmets. Their weapons, created by master elf crafters, shine brightly under any light. Mounted warriors ride griffons or hippogriffs into battle, swooping down upon their enemies with dreadful perfection.
While not exactly bigoted toward other races, the Gray Elves do believe in the purity of the elven line. They are the least tolerant of other races, and they take pains to ensure that their homelands remain secluded from all—sometimes even other elves. Only the mightiest mages of other races are allowed within their citadels, and these are greeted with suspicion. The Gray Elves are not rabid in their dislike of the shorter-lived races, even acting as tutors to the humans and attempting to teach them to live in true civilization.
Because of their reverence for the sanctity of elven blood, Gray Elves have striven to maintain their original ideals. They consider themselves to be the purest form of all elves. They believe that, since the other elves do not concern themselves with maintaining their purity, their role in the elven world is less than that of the Gray Elves. These elves feel that they are the "true" elves and that others are somehow lesser versions. The Gray Elves staunchly believe this to be true, despite the fact that they are an offshoot of the original high elf line.
Of all elves, Gray Elves rely the most on their intelligence. While other elves are by no means stupid, Gray Elves trust less in physical prowess than they do the mind. Their entire existence is based on developing and discovering new knowledge, and they therefore spend less time on the pleasurable pursuits that occupy other elves' lives. Their mages and philosophers are without peer in the elven world. Even mages of greater power from other races speak of the knowledge of the Gray Elves with no small measure of fascination.
Gray Elves have the most extensive libraries of anyone in the world. Any Gray Elves community of more than 50 years will have a communal library rivaling those of any major city or wizard. Such libraries are open to all elves who wish to better themselves and increase their knowledge. Since the Gray Elves value the constant expansion of their stores of books, many spend their lives in research (either magical or scientific), writing learned treatises.
Because they spend so much time in research, Gray Elves often have little time to spare for physical labor, although this does not preclude craftsmanship. In order to maintain their cities, they must rely on slaves for the upkeep of their realms. Since almost all of these slaves have been brought up in the particular atmosphere of the Gray Elves, they believe that their lot in life is to serve the Gray Elves. Although some do leave, most do not have the spirit to do so. Many are truly happy performing tasks for their masters and would not dream of departing. The stratified society offers them security and comfort.
Gray Elves are not harsh taskmasters, but neither are they forgiving. When a slave fails in a task or performs it poorly, punishment is swift and to the point. Few make the same mistake twice.
Gray Elves society is among the most rigidly defined in any world. They are ruled by a hereditary monarch, always male and generally a mage, who can be succeeded by any of the other members of the House Royal. This is subject to approval by a majority of the House Noble. The ruler must have all decisions ratified by such a majority.
Beneath these two Houses are the Merchant Houses, of which the Guild Houses are a part. The House Protector is equal to the Merchant Houses. Beneath the Merchant Houses are the Servitor Houses. Beneath them are the casteless elves, who have almost no voice in Gray Elves society.
Communicator, Insightful, Spell Hand, Elf Dilettante, Focused Mind, Font of Life, Elflore, Greyhawk Method, Heir of Lendore, Noble Soul, Sagacious Method, Silent Method, Well Read, Favored of the Companions, Knight of Stars, Nimbus of Light, Nymph’s Kiss, Servant of the Heavens, Arcane Schooling, Cosmopolitan, Magic in the Blood, Spellwise, Gift Of Tongues, Theocrat, Research, Honor-Bound, Education, Unquenchable Flame of Life, Blessed
Alchemy Blade, Courtblade – Elven, Dagger, Dart, Double Bow, Glaive, Greatbow – Composite, Guisarme, Javelin, Lajatang, Longbow – Composite, Longsword, Quarterstaff, Ranseur, Rapier, Shortbow – Composite, Sword – Two Bladed, Sword – Short, Sword Cane – Dagger / Rapier, Thinblade – Elvish, Lightblade - Elven
The High Elves are golden or silver of hair (though some do sport other hair colors) and blue or gray of eye. Like all ‘true’ elves, they are pale of skin. High Elves average 5’6” in height and live approximately 700 years. They are skilled wizards, claiming to have invented the schools of enchantment and transmutation. The High Elves get along tolerably with the dwarves, and trade is common. High Elf craftsmanship is famed the world over, and most magical goods are of High Elves make. Craftsmen of the High Elves perfect their skills over the course of their long lives. The most commonly seen of all elves, the high elves are also the most open and friendly. They have no compunction about traveling in the world outside their lands, and they do so much more often than other elves. Since they have the most contact with the non-elven world, they are welcome where other elves may not be. While at first they may seem aloof and arrogant, a glimmer of true self can be learned with a little effort. High elves know the value of friendship and alliance with the other good races of the world. However, they are not always easily befriended. Many High Elves are cautious about trusting the shorter-lived races; quite a few learned to distrust humans and dwarves in their younger days. Thus, although High Elves serve the cause of good, one can never be sure of what the reception from them will be. High Elves are very pale. Though they may spend a great deal of time outdoors, their skin simply doesn't tan, no matter how long they are in the sun. However, their skin is less a corpselike pallor than the color of new cream. Their preferred weapon is the bow, but they are also adept with long and short swords. In battle, they wear their gleaming elven chain mail beneath cloaks "woven of the essence of the magic," which allows them to move silently, strike quickly, and then retreat. High Elves strive to live in harmony with nature, and their cities are as much grown as built, utilizing the natural wonders of the landscape.
Agile, Investigator, Negotiator, Persuasive, Communicator, Insightful, Spell Hand, Open Minded, Elf Dilettante, Focused Mind, Lightfeet, Elflore, Noble Soul, Silent Method, Well Read, Arcane Schooling, Cosmopolitan, Magic in the Blood, Spellwise, Gift Of Tongues, Theocrat, Research, Honor-Bound, Charming, Education
Courtblade – Elven, Dagger, Dart, Double Bow, Glaive, Greatbow – Composite, Guisarme, Halberd, Hammer – Lucerne, Javelin, Lajatang, Longbow – Composite, Longsword, Quarterstaff, Ranseur, Rapier, Shortbow – Composite, Sword – Two Bladed, Sword – Short, Sword Cane – Dagger / Rapier, Thinblade – Elvish, Lightblade - Elven
Red or brown hair, green eyes, and skin that tans and is often tattooed, the wild elves are notably different from ‘true’ elves. Wild elves dwell in primordial forests and shun the trappings of civilization. The Gray Elves often enslave wild elves in an attempt to ‘civilize’ them, and brand those that reject servitude as dark elves. Wild elves average 5’6” in height and live approximately 600 years. Although wild elves are descended from the same stock as the other elves, they are far more primitive than their kin. Their lives are geared toward the simple matter of survival in the woodlands, rather than enjoyment. Yet sylvan elves find that this life, more than anything else, gives them their greatest pleasure. Not for them the sophistication of art and delicate music. They prefer a simpler life. Their music is that of wind through leaves, the howl of wolves, and the cries of birds. Their art—in the form of tattoos—is inspired by the everchanging cycle of seasons. Wild elf clothing is much less gaudy than one would normally expect from an elf. The focus of their clothing is to allow the wearer to blend with the woods easily. A typical outfit is dark brown and green, or tan and russet in fall. Winter finds sylvan elves wearing white leather so that they can hide in snow. Wild elf celebrations involve oak wine, bonfires, dancing to wooden drums, and singing. The carousing is primitive, even savage, but fiercely exciting to them. Their every instinct is aroused, taking them back to the roots of nature. Wild elves are often described as wild and temperamental. This is true to the extent that these elves are a very emotional people. They live with their hearts, not their minds as do the Gray Elves. Whatever they feel, they know it is the right answer. Logic plays little part in their lives, for logic cannot save one from the charging boar or the falling tree. Intuition and strength are all that counts in the wildwood. Wild elves are an independent folk and do not lightly brook intruders into their forests. Anyone who even draws near to a Wild elf encampment (within three miles) will have a constant, unseen escort of at least two Wild elves (possibly more) until the intruder leaves the area. Unless the camp is directly threatened, the Wild elves will usually leave the intruder strictly alone. Often of the time Wild elves will allow trespassers to know that they are being watched. If those encroaching the encampment draw too near and evince hostile intent, the wood elves have no compunctions about utterly destroying them. Wild elves are extraordinarily reclusive. They have no wish to let others expose them or their lifestyle to the harsh scrutiny of the civilized world. Therefore, they may even destroy those who bear the wild elves no particular ill will. They feel this is the only way to ensure their lives and privacy. Although they are of elven descent, wood elves tend toward total neutrality. This is not out of any inherent evil, but only out of a desire to be left alone. They do not care about the proceedings in the outer world; only when such acts impact their realm do the wild elves take interest. Even then, that interest is only in removing the nuisance and in returning to the wildlands as quickly as possible. Other elves break their solitude without suffering potential death. Wild elves associate more often with the animals of the forest than with any other beings. They have giant owls guarding their tent homes or, rarely, giant lynxes. Their isolationist tendencies have corrupted the only racial language they know (Elvish); however, some do learn the languages of various creatures of the forest. Wild elves are definitely the least friendly of all the surface elves, and are known to use poison to defend their lands. Rumors that the Wild elves are cannibals remain unconfirmed.
Alertness, Animal Affinity, Self-Sufficient, Stealthy, Able Sniper, Dreamtelling, Blooded, Jungle Fighter, Raider’s Spirit, Fleet of Foot, Forester, Swift and Silent, Treetopper, Brachiaton, Oral History
Atlatl, Axe – Throwing, Boomerang, Club, Dagger, Duom, Handaxe, Harpoon, Javelin, Kukri, Longbow, Longbow – Composite, Spear, Shortspear, Shortbow – Composite, Scimitar, Sling, Quarterstaff, Sword – Short Broadblade
Wood elves are simply wild elves that dwell in the Sclavini region.
Alertness, Animal Affinity, Self-Sufficient, Stealthy, Able Sniper, Dreamtelling, Blooded, Jungle Fighter, Raider’s Spirit, Fleet of Foot, Forester, Swift and Silent, Treetopper, Brachiaton, Oral History
Atlatl, Axe – Throwing, Boomerang, Club, Dagger, Duom, Handaxe, Harpoon, Javelin, Kukri, Longbow, Longbow – Composite, Spear, Shortspear, Shortbow – Composite, Scimitar, Sling, Quarterstaff, Sword – Short Broadblade
Obsidian of skin, jet of hair, and ebony of eye, the Drow are the elves that long ago turned their back on the light of the Father. They are considered to be masters of evocation. Drow live underground, shunning the daylight. However, Drow can adapt to surface life, and once they do, their eyes turn from ebony to green, blue, violet, or gray. When angry or battle-mad, their eyes glow red. Drow with non-ebony eyes are often killed on sight by other Drow. Drow are extremely matriarchal and have complex familial makeup. A Drow male is expected to obey a ranking Drow female of his clan without hesitation. Drow average 5’0” in height and live approximately 700 years. Drow are typically shorter than other elves, and they retain the Dexterity common to elves. In all other respects, save their height and coloring, drow resemble their aboveground cousins.
Drow craftsmanship is truly a marvel to behold, wrought with strange and intricate designs. There is some debate as to whether or not the Drow were originally High Elves, Gray Elves, Wild Elf, or yet a fourth group altogether. These females wield their tremendous power mercilessly. Using the threat of intense punishment, they keep the males cowed and submissive. They are the top of the social hierarchy; they jealously guard their power against lowly males who might try to take that power away. Since drow females have greater power than males and are physically stronger and more intelligent as well, the drow have a difficult time believing that males can hold power in other societies. Thus, they do not believe that any threat mustered by males could seriously threaten the drow. Despite their evil nature, the society of the drow is rigidly structured and divided. Social strata and classifications are virtually immutable. A drow can advance in her caste, certainly, but cannot advance beyond it. The chaotic nature of the drow is most evident when one seeks advancement—an advancement typically made through death. Drow constantly seek to improve their position in society. If it comes at the expense of another's life, so much the better—that makes one less drow to challenge the newcomer, and it ensures greater security in the new position. Drow have an abiding hatred of all things aboveground, but nothing draws their wrath quite like the good elves. The drow take any chance they can to destroy other elves they encounter. Even the few evil elves aboveground are seen as enemies, and the drow do not hesitate to betray such a one when he or she has served a purpose.
In addition to their spoken language, Drow also have a language made up of silent hand signals.
Agile, Acrobatic, Alertness, Deceitful, Stealthy, Improved Buckler Defense, Night Haunt, Spell Hand, Daredevil Athlete, Sly Fortune, Guerrilla Scout, Guerrilla Warrior, Quick Reconnoiter, Tunnel Fighting, Blooded, Deepseer, Elflore, Expert Dungeoneer, Sagacious Method, Daylight Adaptation, Dreadful Wrath, Fleet of Foot, Knifefighter, Magical Training, Resist Poison, Swift and Silent, Drow Eyes, Elfhunter, Highborn Drow, Hollow
Alchemy Blade, Chain – Drow Scorpion, Chain – Spiked, Claws – Scorpion, Courtblade – Elven, Crossbow – Hand, Dagger, Dagger – Barbed, Dart, Drow Long Knife, Fan – War, Fingerblade, Flail, Gauntlet – Scorpion Claw, Handaxe, Lajatang, Lightblade – Elven, Longsword, Longsword – Mercurial, Mace, Net, Pick, Rapier, Rapier – Quickblade, Razored Armor, Razored Shield, Scimitar, Scimitar – Double, Scourge, Shortbow – Composite, Sickle, Spiked Armor, Spiked Shield, Staff – Three Section, Straight Razor, Sword Cane – Rapier / Dagger, Whip, Whip-Dagger
Although not as frequently encountered as other elf subraces, aquatic elves (also known as sea elves) are actually as common as their landbound brethren. They patrol the deeps of oceans and large inland waters, holding court beneath the waves. Often they are only seen when they frolic with dolphins in kelp beds. Aquatic elves have gill slits much like fish, through which they process oxygen. They can also survive out of water for a short time by breathing. Their skin is typically silver-green, matching the seaweed near their territory. Some possess a bluish tinge to their skin, although this is quite rare. Aquatic elves' hair complements their skin and is also green or blue-green. The overall effect is one that makes them difficult to discern underwater, especially near kelp beds. Because of their coloring, they gain the typical elven ability to camouflage themselves in their natural environment. Although their lives seem spent in frivolous activity, these elves play an important role in the underwater ecology: They serve to keep the seas safer for inhabitants. As do the elves of the forests and the mountains, sea elves keep the devastation of such creatures as sahuagin and ixitxachitl to a minimum. The sahuagin are to the aquatic elves what orcs are to land elves; they are a nuisance and a menace, but now a serious threat. Unfortunately, the sahuagin do not see things this way and often plan wars on the sea elves. These elves dislike sharks intensely. Although a natural part of the ecological cycle, elves dislike any creature that is rapacious and cruel. Additionally, any beast that the sahuagin identify with closely (as they do with sharks) is considered to have few redeeming features. Since sharks relish the taste of sea elf, the elves organize hunts against this menace. Because they fear the strange and terrible monsters that dwell in the sea, the aquatic elves and the dolphins have taken it upon themselves to keep at least some of it safe for those who travel across it. In many realms, no one would travel on the sea otherwise, for the danger would be far too great. Thus, most seaside communities severely punish those who incur the wrath of sea elves. Only the most evil of people encourage the death of sea elves and dolphins. Reprisal for their murder is always swift and brutal; the elves tolerate not the killing of either brethren or friend. Although they may survive on land, aquatic elves prefer not to do so, for it causes them immense pain. They can walk on land for only a few days before weakening and dying. In salt water, the sea elves return to normal within 15 minutes. In fresh water, an elf merely stops getting worse; they do not revert to normal until the elf enters salt water. The time spent in fresh water does not count against time away from the sea, and these elves may dwell in fresh water indefinitely. If they enter the water before their attributes are to decrease again, the water acts as a revitalizing force; the suffering period begins anew when they emerge from water.
Aquatic Shot, Breathing Link, Landwalker, Storm Magic, Sunken Song, Swim-by Attack, Agile, Communicator, Insightful, Spell Hand, Open Minded, Elf Dilettante, Focused Mind, Elflore, Noble Soul, Silent Method, Well Read, Arcane Schooling, Cosmopolitan, Magic in the Blood, Spellwise, Gift Of Tongues, Theocrat, Research, Education, Spirit of the Sea
Crossbow – Aquatic, Dagger, Longbow – Aquatic, Net, Trident, Harpoon, Steel Fins
The Painted Elves are an offshoot of the wild elves. They dwell in a petrified forest that they claim was once their ancestral home. They are fairly isolated and distrust outsiders. They are capable of turning on guests at the slightest provocation. Lands
Alertness, Animal Affinity, Self-Sufficient, Stealthy, Able Sniper, Dreamtelling, Blooded, Jungle Fighter, Raider’s Spirit, Fleet of Foot, Forester, Swift and Silent, Treetopper, Brachiaton, Oral History, Heat Endurance, Sandskimmer, Scorpion’s Resolve
Atlatl, Atlatl Spear, Battlehorn, Eagle’s Claw, Fingerblade, Manople, Scorpion Claws, Fan – Collapsing Crescent, Scimitar, Falchion, Kukri, Great Scimitar, Khopesh, Scorpion tail whip, Thrombash, Crescent Scythe, Double Khopesh, Great Falchion, Boomerang, Desert Throwing Knife, Kylie, Sling
The Snow elves are an offshoot of the gray elves. Their mountaintop cities are made of stone fashioned to look like ice. They have white hair and white or pale blue eyes, and are pale of skin. They rarely leave their protected cities.
Cold Endurance, Cold Focus, Mountaineer, Snowcasting, Storm Magic, Magical Training, Surefooted, Spell Thematics, Arctic Adaptation, Lightfoot, Communicator, Insightful, Spell Hand, Elf Dilettante, Focused Mind, Font of Life, Elflore, Greyhawk Method, Heir of Lendore, Noble Soul, Sagacious Method, Silent Method, Well Read, Arcane Schooling, Magic in the Blood, Spellwise, Research, Honor-Bound, Education, Soul of the North, Driftwalker,
Bone Bow, Glot, Ice Axe, Iuak, Tigerskull Club, Goad, Ritiik, Sugliin, Harpoon, Icechucker, Razor Skipdisk, Longsword, Longbow – Composite, Sling, Quarterstaff, Courtblade – Elven, Dagger, Dart, Javelin, Halberd, Sword – Short.
Elves remain children for approximately 50 years. They grow slowly throughout these years, achieving a height of 4 feet at most. It is during this stage of life that they learn what it means to be an Elf. However, they are still essentially children and continue with their childish ways until they reach adolescence.
At about age 50, elves enter adolescence. Whether male or female makes no difference; both sexes mature at roughly the same time and at the same rate. This is the time of life when elves begin growing, some to a height of 5½ feet or more, although the norm is often approximately 5 feet. The end of this period is also the age at which they are inducted fully into elven society—the age when they must bear the responsibilities of adulthood. It is during adolescence that older elves teach younger ones how to continue finding joy in the years to come without succumbing to the crushing boredom that advanced years often bring.
When elves reach age 85, they are considered adults. They are allowed to make their own way in society, human or otherwise, and are free to make all personal choices. They are also ready to take responsibility for their actions—whether good or bad. Adult elves can now experience life fully, for they are fully grown and are in the prime of life.
At the age of 375, elves reach middle age. They have slowed somewhat and become slightly more vulnerable to disease and age. In trade, they know much more about the world and its workings, having affirmed their connection to the land countless times. Elves of this age have the wisdom to know what their abilities are and the intelligence to not push themselves beyond their means. Almost all elves cease traveling at this point. More than 130 years of one's life devoted to pursuing fleeting treasure and fame is quite enough for most elves. The priests settle in one community, the wizards retire to perform magical research full time, the warriors train others, and thieves establish their own guilds. There are a few elves who never cease the campaigning life. They are likely to remain actively adventuring forever—or until their enemies catch up with them. Often, they have some epic quest or some inner need driving them. These are the elves most often spoken of in legends, for they will not retreat from what they perceive as their duty. They do what they must, not always what they want. They are among the most admired beings on whatever world they exist; their most hated enemies hold them in grudging respect. Decades and even centuries have given these elves a reputation of might and power. Even if these elves have no great ability, that reputation is enough to cow most opponents.
Around the age of 500, the Elf has entered "old age." He still hasn't become visibly old, but he feels the effects of age. He slows his activities, preferring less strenuous ones. Rather than sprint through the forests as he might have as a young elf, he sits in the rays of sunlight and composes songs. He has tapped into the mystic rhythms of the earth and become ever more attuned to its cycles.
Here the Elf, at age 600 or older, begins to show signs of age. Wrinkles start mapping her face. Her physical condition deteriorates still further, but her knowledge and her wisdom continue to grow ever greater. Physically, she can still exert herself, but not nearly as much as a younger Elf. Fortunately, no one expects her to do so. She has earned the right to be called elder, and other elves defer to her wisdom and vast experience. Unlike humans, even the very old elves do not lose much vitality—only endurance. Their willpower grows to phenomenal might, and these elves can force themselves to great deeds if need be. As a rule, venerable elves prefer to lead a relaxed lifestyle, playing music and singing, and listening to others do the same. There is no such thing as a naturally senile Elf.
Elven Family Life
The Elven Bond
Very rarely, an Elf will form a mystical and unbreakable bond with another Elf. Some signify this bonding through the giving of gifts designed to demonstrate one's love. Others merely forge the bond quietly, without any outward signs. Whatever the process through which this bond is formed, the elves involved and their chosen can sense the strong emotions of each other. They feel the joys and sorrows of the other, their triumphs and angers as well. Should distance separate the two in this bond and one pass away, the other can feel the death through the breaking of the bond. This is an even stronger version of the communion ability elves share, for this is a lifelong bond and not lightly broken. For this one person, elves become truly altruistic. Their lives are focused around making their loved one happy, even to the extent of sacrificing their own life. When this bond is broken, whether through betrayal or death of one of the pair, it is a tremendous shock to the other member of the union. Elves can die from the grief caused by such partings. Because they can enact this union only once (or twice, in extremely rare cases) in their lives, elves are very careful about those to whom they attach themselves. Many elves go through life without joining their spirits to another, for many find no mates suitable for or deserving of such an important union. Few elves bestow this gift on humans, for humans are so short-lived that the bond would be all but wasted on them. Still, there are some who consider this a small sacrifice for the love of a particular human. The very number of half-elves attests to this, for although most half-elves aren't children of this union, there are enough who are. The blink of an elf's eye spells an end to these ties, but the love they gain lasts for the rest of their life.
There are no serious troubles between members of separate generations, as is often the case with humans, but the variations in views held between elf generations are huge. Indeed, because of the unique nonaging physiology of elves, one of the few ways to tell between young and old elves is the difference in personality. Of course, this is still not a clearly defining test, for elves have as varied personalities as humans. The personality of younger elves is characterized by curiosity, a strong streak of individualism, and a willingness to learn. They are just getting used to their long lives. Young elves are often found wandering into places where few would expect an elf to be. These are the elves who make friends with humans and the short-lived races, for they have not yet realized the speed of years for humans. Older elves, on the other hand, lean toward isolation and quiet enjoyment of the world. Few, if any, elves of more advanced age leave the elf lands, for they have seen enough of the world to last their lifetime. While they don't become entirely inactive, their activities are of a contemplative nature, rather than the more boisterous activities of young elves. This difference in outlook creates a generational gap, but the older elves do not attempt to restrict the youths. They remember all too well their wilder, younger days and have no wish to repress that which they valued themselves. Because elves are so closely connected to their own pasts, they never wonder at the motives of youth. The reverie helps older elves remember the excitement and passion of youth and the need to be independent and explore the world.
Celebration of Birth
Births are always times of great joy. Following a 12 month pregnancy, elf women are glad to celebrate the lightening of their burden. They happily join in the festivities honoring their newborn. Such celebrations typically last several days and conclude with the naming of the infant. Children are given a private name by their parents and then given a public name. The secret name is known only to the elf, his or her parents, and the priest presiding over the ceremony. While knowing the name gives no power over an elf, it is a sign of love and respect when an elf reveals his or her true name.
Passage to Adulthood
Rites of adulthood are common in many cultures, and that of the elves is no exception. When elves reach the age of 45, they are considered young adults, with all the freedoms and responsibilities that entails. Elf families hold a ceremony to formally announce the young elf's passage into adulthood. New adults are given gifts—most often adventuring gear if they are so inclined. The older elves regale the family with tales of their pursuits, and they wish luck upon those who follow their steps.
Celebration of Marriage
Marriage is an occasion for great joy among elves, for the union symbolizes the continuation of the elf race. Those who disrupt this ceremony to kill the betrothed earn the wrath of the elves forevermore, and they will hunt such marauders and their kin for eternity. Marriage is a rarer occurrence for elves than the short-lived races, and there are few things so dangerous as to profane the sanctity of this ritual. Sometimes weddings occur to seal treaties and for other diplomatic purposes, but more often it is through love that elves achieve a state of marriage. Marriage between elves lasts until one partner dies. Elves rarely take a new partner after the death of a mate. Their vows bind more than honor; they bind the spirit and heart of each to the other. By taking this step, many elves give up some measure of their individualism. Often, only the most ardent and devout lovers choose the path of marriage; others prefer a less formal arrangement. In a true elven marriage of love, vows tie the spirits of the loved ones together, allowing them access to the other's inner self. This is a form of the elven ability communion. Wedded elves become fully aware of their partner's needs and emotions, allowing them to anticipate and fulfill these needs. They are not aware of the other's exact thoughts. Because elves relive their past through the reverie, the circumstances attracting one elf to another are always fresh. Thus, elves seldom fall out of love. Only the gravest of tragedies and disloyalties can tear an elf couple apart. Although they might have disagreements and even fights, they continue to love each other. But elves can grow tired of a partner, even when they are joined spiritually and have become more intimate than any non-elf could suspect. Elves reignite the spark of passion and love through absence. For stretches of time, one partner in an elven marriage will live apart; this allows both elves to gain time to themselves so that they might grow as individuals. When the two rejoin, they shower complete love and affection upon the other. Elves also tend to spend time away from their loved ones in order to make their time together that much more precious. After all, there are fewer sure ways to grow bored of a person than to spend hundreds of years with him or her. Time alone allows them to think on the relationship and to experience new things to share with their mates, thus keeping the marriage fresh and vital.
The key to understanding the elven mind is comprehending the years an elf must fill. Most races do not (and cannot) understand the perspective hundreds of years of life lend an elf. This incredible lifespan often gives the elf a terrible, driving ambition. Paradoxically, it can also give elves a lackadaisical attitude. Above all, elves are patient. They have years to complete any task, and they don't mind the wait. After all, they have created many ways to wile away time. They find impatience to be an especially amusing vice possessed by the other races. If the need for haste is urgent, however, elves can move faster and more decisively than most of the other races. Elves tend to be very clever and devious, having had years to practice their skills and hone their minds. Their conversation and their games possess many degrees of subtlety, most of which goes unheeded by non-elves. Elves delight in paradox and humor, for it is through these attributes that they express themselves most fully. These two qualities allow them to communicate with one another and affords great verbal play as elves try to outwit each other. Although elves are primarily happy folk, they are capable of great emotions of a much darker nature. An angry elf is a terrible foe. An elf bent on vengeance is even worse. As mentioned, elves have an inexhaustible store of patience. They can wait for years before exacting revenge—after their prey has been lulled into a false sense of security. Or they can hunt their enemies over the years, never faltering or slowing in the pursuit of their quarry. Their lifespan gives elves a unique perspective on life than most other races can't share. Elves don't worry about not experiencing enough in their lives; rather, they look for the next new thing to excite their curiosity and enthusiasm. This lifespan also means that elves develop an attitude and a character that is uniquely their own. No one can tell exactly how their years will affect each individual elf. Typically, elves begin their lives as carefree, fun-loving spirits. As they grow older, most of them become slightly more cautious, yet still retain the warmth and vitality necessary for elves to fully enjoy their lives. Still, some of them start life with a more serious attitude, believing (despite the advice of their elders) that their time is too short to be spent frittering it away on such foolishness as dancing and singing. As these elves grow older, they often become obsessed with finding a meaning to everything, seeking the fundamental truths of existence. Some few realize that their years are enough for both truth and fun. Most, however, continue on in a somewhat joyless existence, spending their years associating exclusively with sages and elder beings. Eventually, they lock themselves away from true life. In seeking the "truth," they lose the meaning and purpose of that which they value most: their lives. Most elves, as has been noted, are more interested in living life fully. They can begin several projects within the span of a year, such as writing songs, creating works of art, learning swordplay, and so forth. They think nothing of setting aside each project when something more interesting comes along. After all, with centuries at one's disposal, taking a decade or two on a task is nothing to worry about. If they lose interest in the product in the intervening time, they can always ignite interest by reliving it through the reverie. Obviously, elves see no need to hurry themselves through anything. If their short-lived friends legitimately need something quickly, elves will rush to fill that need. If left to their own devices, however, elves will take a much longer time than might otherwise be appreciated by a human. Elf lives simply aren't short enough to worry about haste. But elves are far from lazy. They are almost constantly active during daytime, engaged in some project or another. If they want to spend a day lying on a grassy hillside watching birds or just relaxing, who complains? Elves do have a clearly defined sense of ownership. Treasured items, such as magic or fine weaponry, sculpture or favored instruments, are definitely the property of their owners. Thievery of such items is highly frowned upon. Most elf thieves take their skills to the cities of humans or to the underground, where they may be put to use by adventuring parties. Elves caught stealing the treasures of other elves are cast away for half a century—preferably to learn proper loyalty to one's race. Some consider elves to be totally emotional creatures, driven by the whim of the moment. Others see them only as coldly calculating creatures who do nothing without first considering the benefit to themselves. Neither of these is really true. Elves are often seen as distant and self-serving creatures, probably because of their legendary haughtiness. Once one can get past their exterior, they find that elves are a freely emotional, intuitive people. On the other hand, elves do not let their emotions rule their lives. They have a finely developed logical system and use it daily. Since it is a logic that is based on their long lives and the elven mindset, it can freely incorporate all aspects of elven life. Logic naturally includes feelings. Humans and dwarves cannot seem to grasp that emotion is an important part of one's life, to be cut off only at risk of losing one's personality. Those who live solely by the word of heartless logic ignore fully half of their lives, to their detriment. Or so say the elves. Although elves fear very little in this world, those things that they do fear they regard with utmost terror. They conceal their fears from the other races, not wishing to appear weak before them. Also, they wish to appear invincible to such petty things as fear, for to do so might expose a weakness to enemies. Elves hate and fear undead. They see them not only as perversions of nature, but also as nearly immortal foes to be dreaded and loathed. Since undead can live even longer than elves, these creatures are a serious threat to the elven way of life. Their plans can span centuries, their machinations of purest evil. Elves therefore often become hunters of the undead. The elves have set themselves as the natural adversaries of undead. The undead are a blemish on the face of the world, an otherworldly perversion of the life force. Elves, embodying the life force, find the undead far more repugnant than most ordinary people do. (To become an undead elf is, to elves, truly a fate worse than death.) The elves' ability to hunt the undead is impressive, especially in older elves. Many adventuring elves have gained the experience necessary to fight monsters, and they bring this wealth of knowledge with them when they begin hunting undead. Elves somehow seem able to sense the very foulness in the air when undead are present, and this leads them to their prey. Elves are never necromancers (either mage or priest), except for those who have turned to evil. These elves resemble the drow in attitude and, as such, do not mind the foulness and corruption associated with the undead. The only time an elf associates their name with necromancy is when they study necromancers' tomes for clues about those they seek.
All elves have the inborn ability to share their experiences, their feelings, and their lives with those elves they love or trust implicitly. This sharing, called communion, can only be undertaken by fully willing elves. It does not work with half-elves, nor does it function when one of those participating has even the slightest reservation. This includes those under the influence of charm-related spells, for they hold qualms deep in their hearts, even if told they do not. When the participants have sufficiently calmed and retreated from the rigors of the world, they lightly touch palm to palm, finger to finger. They open their minds to the others, freely and completely joining together; if even a tiny reservation remains, the bond fails. During communion, the elves explore all the facets of the others' personality—the loves, hatreds, hopes, and fears. While in this trance, communing elves are totally vulnerable to anything that might happen to them physically or even mentally
Yet another difference between elves and the other humanoids of the worlds they share is that elves do not sleep in the typical sense, though they can enter that state if they desire. Instead, they gain their rest through a process known as the reverie. The reverie is akin to sleep, yet is very much unlike it. When elves enter this state, they vividly relive past memories, those both pleasant and painful. Like the dreaming of humans, elves have no control over which memories rise to the fore when they relinquish their bodies to the reverie. Occasionally, elves do actually dream, but this is not a frequent occurrence and mostly occurs only when they truly sleep.
Elves earn their livelihoods through whatever craft pleases them most. Often, this will be something that is beneficial to the entire community. Sometimes the goods are traded with humans for manmade wares but, more often than not, the items remain within the elf community. Since elves need not be concerned with money to the extent humans are, their home lives are rarely marked with worry about when the next meal is coming. As long as they produce something of value for their community (and probably even if they did not), the other elves will support them. Giving something as ephemeral as humor or laughter to brighten the days of others would be reward enough for the easygoing elves. The High Elves often follow several trades in their lifetimes, moving on to another each time they feel they’ve mastered one. Gray Elves will research many subjects, and it’s not unusual for a Gray Elves to reach great power in one school of magic, only to start over as a beginner in a different school at a later time.
Elves have no end of festivals to lighten the weight of passing years. They create many occasions to celebrate life—so many, in fact, that other races have sometimes concluded that elves do nothing but engage in revelry. Of course, this isn't true, but they do have a disproportionate number of celebrations—particularly when compared to dwarves.