|As the elves of Andurin would have it, when the world was created and the mortal races given dominion over the land that was due to them, they were the First, the eldest race that walkeed the lands of the Jewel of Sul. That is far from the truth, as their are older, and elder races far above them, but none alive that walk the living lands above or the dark, sunless lands below. Nevertheless, the elves and their elf-kin are among the races of old in living memory, and their history, traditions, magic and lore reflect that. [Note from Stan: At the end of this section and all other sections of the atlas, you will find game information reflecting the various races -- in this case, elves and elfkin -- which you can use to create your character.]
In order to truly comprehend the elves of Andurin, it is necessary to return to the single most traumatic event in all of elven history: that of the breach between elves, and the creation of the ilythiiri, or the dark elves. Called drow by other races such as humans, the word "drow" is in fact a corruption of the ancient elven word "dhaerow", or "followers of darkness". The dark elven term "ilythiiri" is in itself, a corruption of the star elven word "il-i'thiera" or "fallen ones", and is perhaps a more accurate term. Regardless of whatever terminology the drow or their foes call them, the meaning leaves no room for doubt as to what the word refers to.
Many are unsure when this Event first occured, but all of the stories and legends agree on
more or less the same set of occurences: that, like many benign and malign things that have occurred in the history of Andurin, the cause of this Event was magic. The laws of the elves, or the Quen'eli are three: harm or unmake no living thing with the sole intention to harm, for what it is a worldly Law that what can be made can also be unmade; it is forbidden, amongst the People, to wage war amongst themselves, for the first step to destruction lies along the path of dissent; and to every action there is a season, so therefore take no action that does not come out of turn, and think nothing without first meditation on the proper course of events.
So it was, that in the beginning, all of the Quen'eli were forbidden to practice those arts, by extension of the first Law, that led to death and destruction. While the Art of magic was not wholly exempt from this Law, neither was it fully forbidden. Only the schools of necromancy and conjuration were forbidden, along with the skill of artifice-magic. Generally, elven mages and wizards preferred those spells and glamours that were subtle and did the work that was required of them -- but that also were restrained in application, and brought no undue attention on the part of the caster. The path to power was a slow and hard one, but a road that when trod to the full extent of one's capability, brought much respect amongst the People for success amongst its hardships.
So this state of events continued, until one day, an apprentice wizard, or other student of the arcane who was both weak in power and weak in spirit, was tainted or visited by a spirit who served Gorgauth, and who promised a quick path to personal glory if only this elf would open her mind to the practice of the dark arts. Initially refusing, she was tempted and seduced to the path of the dark, giving in at first a piece of her will, and then gradually, of her entire being until she was fully a part of the Dark. As her power increased, she brought more elves to see her view of things, until such time came that there was a clear split in the midst of what once there was a unified people in body and in spirit. On one side were those Quen'eli who favored the paths of Light and life; on the other were those Ilyth'alin who trod the paths of Dark and death. While the Quen'eli still overwhelmed the Ilyth'alin in number, the breach was painful to bear, and war began between the two sides.
This conflict would last for centuries until such time as the People drove their dark cousins deep into the earth, to live forevermore in the sunless lands below. It was during this time of internecine warfare that the elven wizardress fully succumbed to her dark mistress and entered the nether realm. At that moment, the corruption of the ilythiiri was complete, and the wizardress was returned to Andurin, reincarnated as the first priestess of her new goddess, Lolth. Lolth, in the tongue of darkness, whose name meant "order-in-chaos", emerged into the open, and took her place as goddess over her people, and began to lead the former Quen'eli along their new path of Destiny.
In the beginning, when Andurin and Sul were created, each was meant to be a reflection of the other -- Andurin as the world of mortals, and Sul, as the plane of the gods. The Power who created each plane then instituted a partial closure of access to and from other planes and other worlds, setting the conjoined planes of Andurin and Sul in their own separate sphere of existence. It was and is possible to gain access to a nexus of planes such as the City of Sigil, or the Outlands, but the means to do so are not widely known. Due to this metaphysically closed system, the gods of Andurin enjoyed an almost total dominion over their followers and the mortal inhabitants of Andurin. For example, a celestial law of Sul maintains that the strength of a god or goddess can be measured in the number and strength of that god or goddess' followers -- since there were restrictions on access to the Outlands from either Andurin or Sul, a follower of a god not native to Sul much less a god not native to the conjoined planes would not long survive.
An Event that occurred in the celestial realm often had ramifications on the mortal realm, although the degree of reflection depended on the intensity and importance of the Event. One such Event was the imrpisonment of the god Illaenth by the gods Solnor and Gorgauth. How this Event came to pass has never been satisfactorily answered by sages and clerics -- how a god of infinite good and a god of infinite evil could work together in such a fashion, that is. Nevertheless, when this Event occurred, it marred the perfect symmetry of the Immortal realm, and opened a hairline crack in the boundary which set off the plane of Sul from the rest of the Outer Planes.
Approximately two thousand years before the Devastation, there existed a rogue elven sorcerer by the name of Ithyak Taravael, who aspired to the heights of magic and power. When he had reached the summit of his magical prowess, he found that he could progress no further without becoming a lich for he was close to the limit of his natural life. Undeath was a distasteful process, which he felt was beneath him. An alternate path, though yet none the less dangerous, was heretofore unthinkable yet almost possible -- that of godhood, and only if he managed to steal it by some (as yet) undiscovered means.
Ithyak delved into tomes of ancient lore, ancient by elven standards that is, for humans had not yet managed to rise to the level of civilization that was theirs to come, for some time. Prolonging his own life through the use of magickal elixirs would have to be an acceptable stopgap until such time as he could utilize a better form of magicka. In one particularly decrepit tome that was on the verge of falling apart, he hit upon a solution that seemed to appeal to his dilemma: construct a gate that when opened, would pierce the ether surrounding the plane on which Andurin resided, and provide a means of escape whereby he could escape to another plane or world if he needed to. What Ithyak had not counted on, was that this particular tome of power was a book dedicated to a nameless evil that surpassed even the evil that was personified in the god Gorgauth. The evil that resided in this tome was a shard of evil that belonged to an entity called the Shadow, or the Dark One. It suited the Shadow that the mortals of this world thought of the "Shadow" or the "Dark One" as a creature of Gorgauth. So much the better if it could mask itself as an evil other than itself. So it was with this tome, for by this time, Ithyak had crossed over to madness, although he himself did not know it.
Ithyak threw himself into his studies and research with renewed vigor. His studies required him to delve into magicka that exacted a high price for continuing his research -- a price payable in the currency of lives and spirits. He exiled himself from the rest of his community in an effort to maintain his secrecy, for it would not do to be discovered and his grand plan to fall to ruin. At last it came time for him to activate the Gate, and in doing so, in his moment of triumph, he achieved his moment of despair -- for when the Gate was activated, the hairline crack widened and allowed more of the Shadow to enter the twin realms -- but not enough for it to fully manifest in Andurin.
At that moment, the Dark One possessed the hapless elven sorcerer and cast out his spirit into the Void. It had managed to accomplish part of its plan -- to enter the world of Andurin, a world that it had long ago spied in the endless sea of Reality, in the gray wastes of the Void -- a world that was inaccesible to it and others, due to the celestial laws which surrounded and permeated the realm -- a world that was full of souls and spirits and magick, and ripe for plunder if only it could manifest in its entirety -- a world that was to be used in its eternal battle against the Dragon Reborn. Yet, when it had entered Andurin, it exhausted most of its power in the act of manifesting and possessing the sorcerer. It needed to wait, and time to plan, to think, to explore this strange new world, to familiarize itself with this new reality. The Shadow exulted, for this world was one that did not know of its nature, and did not have within its boundary, a form of its main foe, the Dragon Reborn. And so, Ithyak disappeared from the realm of mortals, to lie in wait and increase in power, and to spread the seed of the Shadow in the minds, hearts and bodies of all who lay in its path.
However, all things in reality are in balance. Within two hundred years of the Shadow's emergence into the twin realms of Sul and Andurin, henceforth called Sularin, the elves of Naranduil and Telluria first came into contact with a handful of wizards who called themselves the Aes Sedai. These "wizards" for there is not a word that better describes them, though it does not apply to them, were humans who practiced a magic that was strange and unusual in that they did not manipulate the Pattern as other mages on Andurin. The Aes Sedai were also adept at politics and social interaction; they did not despoil the land, and made no attempt at plunder or exploitation, actions that the elves were quick to take notice of, for this is what distinguished the Aes Sedai from the human civilizations that were fledgling infants at that time. These strange wizards quickly established themselves in Andurin, although there numbers were small. It would be some time before the Aes Sedai could become a potent enough force such that they could act independently without the need to act as advisors or as syncophants to those in power. In the meantime, the group managed to check the actions of the Shadow while remaining in the background -- neither the Dark One nor the Aes Sedai wished to bring undue attention to themselves. This shadow war has gone mostly unnoticed throughout Andurin's history, surfacing only at certain intervals, usually when the conflict overlaps with the actions of Sularin's native inhabitants. For instance, the Devastation was caused, not only by the act of an attempted binding of a relic of Odion to an imprisoned Abyssal lord, but also because the artifice-mage who attempted the binding (and purposefully miscast the binding ritual) was possessed by the influence of the Shadow. The destruction of the city-state of Nord'athaq by the Aes Sedai was caused by a wildmagic tempest, which was a side effect of the destruction of a Gate that the Dark One had opened at the city's center.
Among the noble creatures created by the goddess Elantir were the pure elves, or the Solos'alin. Inclined always to help nature thrive, they nurtured and spread the trees and plants created by the aents until more vast forests and grasslands spread across D'Arinad than ever before. The once-hostile place was turned into a green paradise. There was only one problem, unlike the dragons and balrogs, elves were not immortal and they hadn't the power to give birth to creatures as wise and noble as themselves. However, they were still gifted with some small piece of the powers of manifestation possessed by their creator.
Thousands of lesser elves were created in the image of these children of Elantir, and thousands more sprang from these, by more conventional means. These elves became a contesting power to the orcs that had ruled the vast stretches of Naranduil for so long. They took up residence in the woods that covered nearly half of the land in those days. Empires were formed under the wise guidance of the elves. In the peak of these empires, humans were trained as warriors to regain from the orcs control of the great plains. A pax elva of sorts was created, as they subjugated the peoples of Naranduil under their unquestioned power. When the death of their millennium-old creators came to pass, an era of peaceful elven dominance, about seven hundred years long, came to an end.
The dividing point of the elves relied on a simple difference in schools of thought. The hint of two "kinds" of elves had been present, though unnoticed for a few centuries, in the unified elven state. Now, these differences flared up with a vengeance. One group of elves had spent its time mastering the arts and magics of the pure elves, and they had managed to convince themselves that they had grown to match them, just as the student at sometime will surpass the teacher. This idea was cursed as blasphemy in the cliques honoring the memory of their departed leaders. Many of these new "dawn" elves were cast out of their communities, but this served not to break the movement. These were viewed to many as martyrs that recognized the winds of change, and those that ended them were blind to what elves were truly capable of. On the opposite side of this schism, were those who saw clearly the place of elves in the world. They sought only what was their destiny, and they knew that they were simply an equal part in the nature of the living world that surrounded them. These were the green elves, who feared the presumptions of the trouble makers would ignite the anger of the gods. All elves fell into a civil war, in a time which was to be remarked as one of the bloodiest in the history of Andurin.
Not all elves were felled by other elves, however, for this was a time when the lesser orcs, and even men, saw their opportunity to gain a foothold in Naranduil. Their tribes, though independent, managed to devastate the elves that had spread to the plains and burn vast tracks of forest. This pushed the elves into tighter quarters and left them to sort out their problems in seclusion. What came of this was the creation of various de facto tribes of three or four large families that had good relations before the elven state came toppling down. Soon, these tribes converged into several larger tribes, all the while being careful to keep their ranks pure. That is, the two kinds of elves were never by this system to be under the same leader. Eventually, as with all maturing governments, politics began to show itself.
The dawn elves and green elves could not avoid or kill each other forever, and soon, nervous diplomatic relations began. A council of sixteen was formed. Eight leaders of the most influential tribes on both sides were to meet whenever necessary, to in theory promote the good of elves as a whole. This panel became a hotbed of intrigue, both from within and without, for council members soon became the wielders of power throughout what was left of the elven territories. Amidst the seemingly peaceful relations of the time, the dawn elves were secretly building an army, with designs upon absolute control of the council. At the head of this army, they put Aelou'da, one of the brightest and best among the young dawn elves. He was energetic and passionate about the preservation of his people, and saw force as the only way to restore unity and break the already aging currents of hate which kept the elves weak.
He tore apart any resistance in record time, take a mere quarter cycle to bring the whole of Naranduil's elves under his control. It is rumored that he made use of hidden dark forces to as the means to his most favorable end. His zeal, and his new ties to the darkness dashed the hopes of a new elven peace. He set up for himself a seventeenth chair on the council, and ruled with an iron fist over the other sixteen. He taught his army secret magics and dark arts which suppressed the resistance of foes of his leadership. After he had established his absolute rule, he decreed that for the good of elven kind, they would pay homage to the balroki, which had agreed to offer their protection from the orcs that daily ravaged the borders of their great woods to the north and the men that advanced with swords and arrows to the south.
This is when the whole of elvenkind realized that with Aelou'da was borne a new school of thought, and a new kind of elf: the shadow elf. Being Children of the Shadow, all but Aelou'da's armies rose up against him, and forced him and his kind into exile. They took up residence under the supposed protection of their balroki allies, and henceforth had never again been sighted. From shame, the tribe of Aelou'da, which had brought his power, exiled itself. They built ships and braved the waves, eventually to settle on the lonely islands of Ilsyndyl.
The remainder of the elves withdrew to scattered forests throughout Naranduil, allowing themselves to be forgotten as they hid in the dwindling woods. The Chamber of the Council was moved to the heart of the sacred Forest of Divinities. It became a dome of woven trees guarded day and night by the three tribes of green elves that live in the area. The seventeenth seat was left empty from that time onward. It served both as a symbol of hope that one day elves would again return to glory, and as a reminder of perilous road to this shining dream by which they traveled.
Elves believe themselves to be the first race that set foot in Andurin. Most sages and scholars agree with this, but there is a whole school of thought that believe that the dwarves were first (and the dwarves concur with this).
It is believed that Eracuril Mar-Caelum, the coral elven Aspect of Tharnak, created a world of all water for his/her people, but that when Aranris El-Macil dropped his burning sword, Ardor Stella, into that mass ocean while battling Teneraél Undol (Lolth), the heat of the sword evaporated the waters revealing mountains that became the islands of modern Andurin. These tales are debatable, but it is certain that the beginning of the First Age of Andurin's history is marked by the arrival of the elves to Andurin (from where no one knows). The era this followed is referred to as Aquor by elves and all religions argue as to what happened during that time.
During the First Age, the political system governing the star elves was developed. It was during this time that elvenkind saw the creation of the ilythiiri, leading to the First War of the Black Trees. It was as a result of this war that the drow were forced into the deep lands. This age is considered to have been 10,000 years long. The last of the Eldar, Geled-Treead who was king at that time, was killed during this war at the foot of the Tree of the Sky by Arkania Darkdream, a dark elven priestess of Teneraél Undol.
During the early part of the Second Age, the drow returned and awoke the evil drakes that had been asleep since the time before. The drakes wreaked havoc until the elven druids of Lalven Tathothaun, the green elven Aspect of Elantir, awoke the good and neutral dragons, balancing the situation. The elven druids then went across the sea to Amrun Portila (the green elven name for Arvandor), never to return and took with them the worship of Lalven, whose power has not been felt on Naranduil since (much to the chagrin of the green elves). During this war, Glorfindel Estelenoth I, slew the evil crimson drake Rantra, and in retaliation, her mate Karak burned city of Arandanor and slew Glorfindel's wife. Furthermore, according to elven legend, this was also the year that the elves of the surface brought their war against the ilythi'iri to a triumphant if bittersweet conclusion, when Elantir sacrificed her mortal form to help preserve and protect the land from the corrupting taint of Lolth. The sacrifice of the elven godhead provided sufficient impetus for the elven races to set aside their differences and work towards a common goal for all; in the wake of her death, all of the elven high mages received enough power to weave a mighty and complex magic, one that has never been equalled in all the realms of mortals - a spell, that when completed, partially banned Lolth from accessing the mortal plane for all time.
In the later part of the Second Age, the elves began to make contact with other races, which led to many battles against orcs (the Second Age is considered the age of dwarves) and to the first Great Wandering [note from Stan: this is the Wandering spoken of in the tale of Aelou'da], which led to the scattering of elves throughout Naranduil. There were many other minor wanderings and another Great Wandering in the Third Age -- most notably, in the year following the Devastation.
In the Third Age was the infamous incident at the Tree of the Sky where an elf brought a human to see this sacred living artifact, which led to elves spilling each others blood right there at its roots. This angered the Ara-Cemnari and led to a number of consequences that elves do not ever speak of; to this day the only other race allowed to view the tree are halflings (and half-elves).
The elven stellar year is approximately 1110 days long (or three solar years). It is not divided up into months or weeks, though many elves keep track of the lunar cycle as well.
One of the things that often frustrates the less long-lived races about how elves keep track of time, is their habit of setting an event for a particular elven year without pin-pointing when-thus things like weddings or parties or holy celebrations can happen anytime during a three year period, often taking their time to prepare for such things. Only elves that have dealings with other races or that study history and time as a specialty know these divisions of time well.
Politics and Government
The structure of each of the elfdoms of Synnoria, Quenaris and Feandoril is more or less, with some variation, the same. The main structure, in star elven for example, O tamanai ad o amedhynel de o hilys, literally, "The Brotherhood of the Forest-Dwellers" is a loose organization of individual settlements with a surprisingly low-key central government. On the local level, settlements and city-states are broken down along clan lines, with a single clan acting as the governing body for the settlement. This is usually the clan which originally pioneered the settlement or village, but control can change over time as the fortunes of one clan or another wax and wane. All the other clans in the settlement send representatives to the house of the leading clan, to see to it that their views and concerns are known to the leaders. Of course, this arrangement can be far from harmonious, with interclan rivalries and infighting, but cooperation -- either grudging or willing -- is usually the rule.
The national level resembles the local level, only on a larger scale. At the top is the royal clan, as expressed in the King and Queen. The rulers are surrounded by the royal family and a body of advisors, including the Archpriest of Lindelona and the local High Priest of Maire.
However, the royal clan does not rule in isolation. They are surrounded by the Court, a body of representatives. Each settlement that has two or more clans selects an individual to go to the court. The Court is not a parliament or congress in the human sense but rather, in the words of one human observer, "just a bunch of people in a big room, all talking and arguing." The royal family rules by fiat, able to make laws at will, but the individual settlements, in the persons of their representatives, are always consulted first and a consensus determined. The king and queen rarely make an "official" move that is not approved of by at least a goodly number of the city-states.
A city-state is not required to participate in the Court, and a representative may walk out (or be withdrawn) at any time to express disagreement with a new policy or law. Such a move is seen as a vote of "no-faith" and is in theory considered to weaken any remaining consensus; the settlement is essentially seceding from the Confederation because of how strongly they disagree.
However, at any given time, at least one city-state or other settlement is in secession, over one issue or another. Little concern is given until at least two representatives withdraw from the Court for a given reason.
Elves and dwarves have a long history of animosity for each other. While this has never led to open racial war between the two races, in the past there have been many battles and diplomatic incidents between the two. Elves tend to see dwarves as a dour and stubborn lot that take no enjoyment out of life and do not know how to appreciate the wonders of the world around them, because they spend too much time holed up in caves drooling over their gold and mithral. Dwarves see elves as hasty, unreliable, lazy children that have never learned the value of a good day's work or a love for what lasts, like stone. Despite this, there have been a few incidents in story and song of individual elves and dwarves forming strong bonds of friendship that could never be broken.
Elves view halflings as delightful little children, that require elves to care for them. Elves feel the closest kinship to halflings and take great joy in halfling behavior and love of food and drink and rarely understand the resentment that halflings can sometimes feel toward these big folk.
Gnomes are a queer folk to elves. Since gnomes are long-lived (usually dying of old age at the same time that an elf gets his calling) elves can relate to them in their way of looking at the world, but gnomes are too mechanically minded for elves and since elves do not favor illusion magic (on the most part) in terms of their love of magic these races do not see eye to eye.
Elves see humans as the most imperfect of the non-evil races. They are short-lived, impatient and have no appreciation of life or art on the whole. Humans puzzle elves because they are just as likely to be great heroic defenders of the good as they are to be vile cruel perpetrators of evil, but most likely are common unthinking folk that care for little besides procreating and minding their own business. There is an elven saying, "Humankind holds all the flaws of the other races and none of the virtues." Often elves (particualrly dawn elves) feel that humans do not pay them proper respect, because they believe that humans should hold them in awe. Elves hate the evil humanoid races; of these they hate orcs particularly. Orcs are the great species enemy of elves (ilythiiri are a secret shame) that were created by Gorgauth in mockery of elves. Elves also seek to destroy goblinkind, ogres and the like and tend to have no mercy on them.
The modern elven spoken language is thought to be the origin of both human and halfling spoken languages, though those have been greatly changed over the millennia. Modern elvish itself has its roots in a prime elvish language which is thought to be the same language spoken by all elves (including ilythiiri) at one time. Modern elvish sub-races have their own dialects of elvish, but all can understand each other with varying difficulty. Among the dialects, that of the coral elves is probably the most difficult to comprehend.
The elvish written language is very complex, and while sentence structure is traditionally written from left to right, elven vowels are actually small accent markings made over the letters that follow them. In addition, signs and warning are always written from top to bottom on a scroll or banner. There is no written letter to letter equivalent of elvish to common as there is between the latter and dwarvish runes, making the elvish written language more difficult to learn. In addition, it has a musical (and/or alliterative) quality such as in the following ending expression: Cieladorn banar en saniel Geled-Treead or "...by the foot of The Tree of the Sky, bathed in blood of Geled-Treead".
There are five major sub-races of elves in Andurin. These are the: Thon'elal or star (high) elves; Sinth'elal or dawn (grey) elves; Irith'elal or green (sylvan) elves, Quan'athel or coral (sea) elves, and the Feyth'alen (ilythi'ri or drow). Star elves are the tallest of the four branches and the most closely related to the first generation of elves which all elves track their lineage from. This first generation of elves are often called the Eldar in common (or in elvish Solos'alen) and are said to have had the blood of the Ara-Cemnari flowing directly in their veins. Star elves that are closely related to this lineage tend to be taller and some noble star elves have been known to top six feet. These tall elves tend to shock outsiders who still believe the old stereotype of short little elves. Star elves tend to have light brown to blonde hair and green or blue eyes and have a thin, yet wiry, frame.
Grey elves are less populous than star elves. This sub-race of elves tends to see itself as the product of positive change in elven heritage. They tend to isolate themselves even from other races of elves and are more concerned with philosophical or artistic pursuits than the direct love of nature displayed by the other elven races. Grey elves are the shortest of the four major sub-races (though they are rarely shorter than coral elves) and have golden to silvery hair and a very white pallor which is sometimes described as ashen or translucent. They have large grey or golden eyes and it is said that their lineage is mixed with faerie stock, thus their striking otherworldly appearance.
Green elves are the broadest and strongest of these elves. They have dark brown to green hair and have dark complexions that range from tree bark brown to a dirty yellow. On occasion they can reach heights matching that of the star elves of Eldar stock. Green elves live the most primitive lifestyles of these elves and shy away from contact with urban life of any kind. They tend to live in mobile units that wander around a specific territory.
Coral elves are very short and are noted by their small gills on their necks. They can breathe water and air equally well but begin to waste away after one full hour not immersed in water. They have green to coral colored skin and thick seaweed like hair that runs in shades from dark green to light green to blackish-purple. They have webbed hands and feet.
There are other sub-races of elves that will only be touched upon in passing. The avar'elel (wingéd elves) are thought to be completely extinct now. These elves were taller and thinner than star elves and had large feathered wings which allowed them to fly. None have been seen since The Second War of the Black Trees.
Ghost elves (il-Ruene) are elves who dedicate their lives to the continuance of goals that were not completed upon passing into the spirit world (death). A common term for them is "revenant", but this term falls short of describing their existence. Il-Ruene cannot easily be turned, are not susceptible to magicka which normally affects undead, and range in alignment from lawful good to chaotic evil. (note from Stan: elven PCs cannot become il-Ruene)
Shadow elves are called novo-thas'alen which literally means "children of the shadow moon". This formal name is still used by sages and scholars, but typically they are not spoken of. These evil elves now dwell deep in the Sunless Land (the underrealms) and it is not known if they even exist anymore. They are often used as a story to frighten children into going to sleep (of course, elves would never do this, feeling that the danger presented by that of the ilythi'ri and the elves of the Shadow is still very much present and real.
There is the isolated strain of star/green elf breeding found only on the Isle of Feandoril called The Children of Arborius (or in elvish, Arbas'elel). This wild off-shoot of elves are dangerously isolationist and have been known to kill intruders first and ask questions later. They do not trust half-elves or humans.
Two other sub-races of elf are not really sub-races. These are half-elves and coral half-elves. Half-elves are the product of an elven and human parentage and share the features of both races. Coral half-elves are fully elven, but come from surface elf and aquatic elf ancestry. Finally there are the fabled gold elves of which there are no tales of among elves, but who exist in the stories of sailors who return from the Sea of Endless Stars. Sometimes called "demon-elves" they are said to have furry golden skin and short tails. The truth of this legend has never been proven and remains to be seen.
Elven culture is a highly developed rich tradition of beliefs and customs that has not changed much throughout the great length of elven history. The long-lives of elves gives them a great appreciation of life and of living it to the fullest. Elves typically believe in doing what they enjoy above anything else and do not hold to the usual held notions of responsibility and duty as other races do. This is not to say that elves as a race are completely unreliable, but rather that they choose what to give their life and service with great care, rarely letting any one thing rule their life entirely. It is for that reason that elves learn many skills and trades throughout their life. That is why it is rare, for example, for elven adventurers to be purely wizards or warrior, but to mix their skills to their own advantage.
Elves love story and song and pay great heed to their racial history. They keep the names of their heroes close to their hearts and as elves live so long often they might have known the heroes from their youth. The lifespan of these beings leads to their well-rounded nature. They spend a great deal of their youth training in swordsmanship and archery, but also spend an equal amount of time laughing, dancing, frolicking and appreciating art or basking in nature.
Elven youths tend to experiment a great deal with sex, and the low birthrate among elves allows this kind of play to come with little chance of unwanted offspring. This tendency tends to die down a bit as the elf ages, but generally speaking elves tend to be more sexually free-thinking than other races.
In adulthood, the low birthrate (perhaps to make up for their long lives), makes a pregnancy is a cause for great celebration in an elven family. Many gifts are given to expecting mothers and even elves that do not know the mother will give her a gift of silver for the baby. Twins are extremely rare in elven society and depending on the time when they are born are considered a good or bad omen.
Elves do believe in and practice marriage, but have a very open attitude to love. It is not uncommon for elves of the same sex to marry and it has even been known for three elves that love each other greatly to all marry each other. These types of relationships are openly accepted in elven culture, but since this is most often misunderstood by other races, elves tend to think of themselves as superior in that way. An old elven saying is, "Humans do not live long enough to learn the intricacies of love." This arrogance is also a great part of elven culture.
Elves tend to view their ways and beliefs as superior to those of other races not only because the centuries they have had to develop their ways, but because of their inherent belief in the perfection of the elven race. Dawn elves are most often guilty of bringing up the fact that elves were born directly of the blood of their gods and how their near immortality makes them better.
The long elven lifespan and their connection with their own history gives them a unique view of time. Elves can exercise the greatest patience at times, despite their flightiness and have been known to be nearly stubborn (though elves would say this was purely a dwarven trait) in their unwavering attitude about an issue once they have made up their mind. Of course for an elf or group of elves to make up their minds might take decades. This elven view on time also leads to elves not being very good at setting definite dates for events. Precision in time is not considered a strong necessity. Elves do not really sleep in the usual meaning of the word. Elves do not dream, rather they relive the past through a process called reverie. While in this state they are just as unaware of their surroundings as if asleep, and with their eyes open they see the images of their lives and the lives of their ancestors. On occasions elves have been known to have visions of the future during reverie. Elves revere this nocturnal escape very highly and become very anxious when they lack sleep. In addition because of their poor constitutions elves tend to need more sleep (or reverie) than the average human.
Wine, dance and exotic cuisine are highly regarded by elves and elven wine is some the best (and most expensive) wine available in Andurin. Each autumn, when the time has come to pick and crush the grapes and apricots (for elves love apricot wine) for their wine, they have great festivals. It is often during these festivals that older elves choose to go across the sea.
Elves love magic and many of them tend to study it to some extent during their lives. They make great wizards as they tend to have a natural affinity for the manipulation of magical forces. Elves do not fear magic, only the use of magic for evil, and see it as an everyday normality. The elven race as a whole are a good people that feel compassion for all living things (elves above all others, however). The worst tragedy in the world to an elf is one of their kind who has turned to evil. In such a case the elf in question is banished out of the elven lands, never to return upon pain of death.
Elves do not really have a word for "god" in their language. They view their gods as their ancestors; the progenitors of their race, which embody a perfection to be emulated and revered. Of course, this kind of relationship to beings that are for all intents and purposes divinities is incomprehensible to most other races.
The elven gods are collectively called the Ara-Cemnari and are led by Aranris El-Macil. Aranris El-Macil embodies the elven ideal and is seen as equally male and female and neither at the same time. It was from his/her blood when Ashronk (the orc Aspect of Martreus) wounded him/her that the elven race arose. This first generation of elves are called the Eldar (or Solos'alen). Note that Lolth is not considered a part of the elven pantheon. There are several other elven gods and they are thought of as a council of elders that lead the elven race as a whole and have the elven interest in mind. Each god has its own priesthood that are allied in the protection and guidance of elfdom. Elves worship their gods through songs and poetry and balance their solemn rituals with joyous festivals. Non-elves are rarely allowed to take part in these elven ceremonies.
Elves are considered immortal. If they are not killed violently or by disease they do not die. Instead upon reaching several centuries of life they have an overwhelming desire to travel across the sea to what they call Arvandor. This is the elven equivalent of death and a great ceremony and feast is held for the elder elf before he boards the ship that will bring him there. This mysterious place, Arvandor, is spoken of as if it really existed in this realm, but is considered the elven equivalent of afterlife. Elves that die by violence or accident are considered to be in great danger by elven custom and religious belief. The elven spirit cannot rest and make its way to Arvandor if its owner's body is not buried in elven ground. It is believed that in that case the elf's spirit is doomed to wander the material world forever, unseen and unable to affect the world, but able to see all that goes on around him. Note that this is a separate condition from those of the il-Ruene.
The elven pantheon is collectively known as The Ara-Cemnari, which roughly translates into “Those who were sown.” There is no real elven word or concept of god or godhood in elven worship, instead elven religion is more a form of ancestor worship. That is to say, that the elven gods are seen as the progenitors of the elven race, and all elves are descendants of the Solos'alen. It is for this reason that none of these beings are referred to by their own people as gods, but instead by the titles they have.
Aranris El-Macil (King/Queen of the Star Sword) - First Among Elves (star elven Aspect of Elantra)
Aranris El-Macil is described an androgynous elf nearly 9 feet tall, with bone white skin and golden brown hair. He/She is always depicted in silver chain mail, and wielding a glowing long sword, and sometimes a long bow with ivory white arrows. Aranris El-Macil’s sword is called Ardor Stella, and is said to be made of a piece of a star. According to legend, it was with this sword that he/she poked out the right eye of Ashronk, the Orc-God.
Aranris El-Macil is the embodiment of the elven ideal. He/She is considered to have no equal in swordplay, to be a great artist, musician and craftsman. He/She is also a sentinel against the tide of evil, and responsible for casting the ilythiiri from among the elven people, and exiling their perverse goddess, Tenerael Undol.
Aranris El-Macil is considered to be the High King of the elven people, a leader by example, who watches the doings of his/her progeny very closely. It is said he/she gives omens to those who wander away from the elven path or who are about to face some grave danger to the elven people in the form of falling stars, broken swords or ice frozen in strange shapes.
Arenehara Arenesin (Sand of the Dawn, Sand of the Evening) - Keeper of Time & Lore (star elven Aspect Tammara)
Arenhara Arensin is depicted as a tall elf with porcelain white skin, large unblinking eyes and a bald head. He/She is androgynous as some other members of the Ara-Cemnari also are - being equally male and female. He/She is also depicted wielding a crystal mace.
Arenehara Arenesin is said to be the keeper of time and longevity, and patron of thoughtfulness and philosophy - Patron of elven ability to examine a problem or facet of live for centuries, to see it from every angle, dissect and put it back together until it is understood. However, he/she also shares dominion with Ciriacil Nodelathael, over things that can never be understood. In some legends Ciriacil Nodelathael is said to have been born of Arenehara Arenesin, but while she is patron of travel, Arenehara Arenesin is a thinker and not a doer. It is Arenehara Arenesin’s place to know and absorb as much knowledge as he/she can for the Ara-Cemnari and to advise his/her brethren.
Ciriacil Nodelathael (Herald of the Sea of Dreams)- Mistress of Dreams (star elven Aspect of Oneiros)
Ciriacil Nodelathael is said to have been born of Arenehara Arenesin, but is still of the generation of the Ara-Cemnari not the Miaorimprimistani. She is depicted as a elven woman of typical elven height with lavender skin, deep purple hair and powder blue eyes. She is also said to have black finger nails. In tales she is dressed in elven chain mail and wields a short sword and is never seen without a bow.
It is said that it was Ciriacil Nodelathael that taught the elven race the craft of building ships and how to navigate based on the stars. It is said it is her influence that taints elven life with wanderlust, and she herself has traveled the prime material plane in the guise of a normal elf to experience the world.
However, as much as Ciriacil Nodelathael enjoys life, she is the patron of death and ending - which for elves really means new beginnings. She is also giver of prophecy and omen because she cannot resist trying to guide her people along the proper trail in the world. She is foremost patron among the dawn elves, who are gifted astrologers looking to the stars and planets for guidance.
Eracuril Mar-Caelum (Sea always speaks) - Lord of the Sea Elves (coral elven Aspect of Tharnak)
Eracuril Mar-Caelum is depicted in one of two forms - as an androgynous aquatic elf, with blue skin, seaweed hair and a shirt made of golden scales - his/her eyes are said to shine like black pearls. The other form is that of a golden dolphin.
Eracuril Mar-Caelum is said to be the equal of Aranris El-Macil, and one of the original creators. According to elven legend, it was Eracuril Mar-Caelum who made what would become Andurin, and that the first race of the Solos'alin were actually coral elves. He/She is the embodiment of the coral elf ideal, quiet and playful, and it is said he/she taught coral elves how to hunt and build underwater. Eracuril Mar-Caelum is also a paragon of good, fighting against the evil influence of the Shark-God of the Sahuagin, who are to coral elves, what ilythiiri are to surface elves.
Coral elves tend to believe that Eracuril Mar-Caelum takes a more active role in the world, and can be found swimming the oceans of Andurin at times.
Lalven Tathothaun (Trees in All Directions) - Lost Maker of the Wood Elves (green elven Aspect of Elantra)
Lalven Tathothaun was the patron of what were referred to as the elven druids. She retreated from Andurin and withdrew her power from her followers near the end of the Second War of the Black Trees, after they took part in a ceremony to allow the drakes of the Aquor to return to this world, in attempt to drive off the ilythi'ri for good.
Lalven Tathothaun is depicted in two forms, either as a huge tree that dwarfs even Cieladorn -The Tree of the Sky, whose roots mingle with the roots of all trees in the world, or as a tall muscular elf with green black hair and skin that appeared like tree bark, wielding a spear, who’s head shone like a star.
Lalven always kept his own council and his power rivaled that of Aranris El-Macil, making choices regarding his people and the world and carrying them out on his own.
Nandaro Silonis (Shining Changing Harp) - Mischief Maker (star elven Aspect of Llyndeiras)
Nandaro Silonis is the ultimate example of typical elven flightiness. He is the embodiment of all that is ephemeral, fanciful and reckless about elves according to stereotype. He is depicted as a short green skinned elf, always wearing a feathered cap, and many random objects hanging fastened from his belt. In fact, a elven saying referring to a large collection of objects that have no particular relation to each other as a “Nandaro Silonis’ Belt”.
Nandaro Silonis Ilesere is a very male figure in contrast with the typical androgynous ideal of elven religion. In fact, in many tales of Nandaro Silonis he is depicted as raunchy and lustful. Nandaro Silonis is unpredictable, fickle and wily, the patron of schemers and tricksters. He is also generally not hurtful with his mayhem unless it is to those that deserve it. In the battles against evil, despite his unpredictability in all other things, Nandaro Silonis is always firmly on the side of the Ara-Cemnari.
Nandaro Silonis is also a thief, who is mistrusted not only by other gods, but by his fellow members of the Ara-Cemnari. It is said in both gnomish and elven legend that Garl Glittergold and Nandaro Silonis once had a long-running contest of thievery, until Nandaro Silonis stole something that even Garl felt should not be taken even in jest. The object itself often changes with the telling of the tale.
Nandaro Silonis is also patron of the faerie folk, and is revered by them. It is said that Nandaro Silonis created them in an attempt to make his own version of elves like his Ara-Cemnari companions.
Pelindos Nataríon (Arrow Born of the Forest) - Master of the Hunt (green elven Aspect of Elantra)
Pelindos Nataríon is depicted a tall, muscular and brown-skinned elf with hair of green and gold. He is said to wear armor made of the bark of ancient trees that is resistant as stone and as supple as a leaf. While he is most often described as male in common conversation and popular tales, like most of the Ara-Cemnari, he can appears male or female, or the androgynous ideal. Known for his excellent swordsmanship, his two blades Thuron (a long sword) and Tulin (a short sword), which mean "eagle" and "swallow", are said to be able to take the forms of those two birds. Pelindor Nataríon is also second only to Aranris El-Macil in archery. In many tales he takes the forms of animals to punish those who exploit the bounty of the wood.
Pelindor Nataríon has become the surrogate patron of emulation for the green elves since the disappearance of Lalven Tathothaun (see Lalven Tathothaun-Lost Maker of the Green Elves) in the Second Age. Some green elves even go so far to say that it was Pelindor, not Lalven who created them.
It was however Pelindor who is said to have named all the animals, giving them two names, the secret one being known only to him, allowing him to call them to his aid at any time.
Pennatamil Verisa (Feathered mother of the moving air) - Bringer of Rains (dawn elven Aspect of Tevesh)
Pennatamil Verisa is depicted a tall elven woman dressed in feathers, which are sometimes shown as actually being a part of her. She has sharp bird-like features and large eyes. Pennatamil Verisa, while revered by all good elves, has a very small devoted following, which is supplemented by the fact that some Aaracokraa also worship her.
Pennatamil Verisa is the rain-bringer, thought of in some respects as a fertility goddess of bounty, but also tempestuous and following her own council. She also described as being eternally melancholy due to the legends of bad circumstances she has found herself in. It is because of this that Pennatamil Verisa is also patron of those elves who have a hard time accepting their long lives and grow melancholy - and of half-elves.
These bad circumstances include the perhaps total destruction by the drow of the avariel, the race of wingéd elves she created at the beginning of time. This tale is all the sadder because according to legend Tenerael Undol was once very close to Pennatamil Verisa (sometimes referred to as her sister). Also according to legend Pennatamil Verisa has had a doomed relationship with a human god, Shu (Zayul Aspect of Martreus), that was not approved either by the rest of the Ara-Cemnari or the gods of the Zayul pantheon. It is because of this that Pennatamil Verisa is patron of half-elves - and occasionally of elves in relationships with humans.
Teneraél Undol (Dark betrayer beneath the hill) - Queen of the Dark Elves (Lolth; ilythiiri Aspect of Gorgauth; note that Teneraél's inclusion is here only for the sake of completeness)
Emerging from the Void soon after Aranris El-Macil, Teneraél Undol is thought to have first created the feelings of jealousy, bitterness and hatred. The darkness that balanced the light that was the first among elves, she did her part to undo the kindness and curiosity of her kindred, and lead them to evil ends. This attitude, however, developed over time and at first she was as much loved and a part of Ara-Cemnari as any of the others - being known then by a different name which is no longer spoken aloud. When Ciriacil Nodelathael brought the examples of elf-kind that Eracuril Mar-Caelum had given life to before the rest of the Ara-Cemnari, Teneraél Undol grew jealous of the races made by the other gods, and possessed a dawn elf wizardress, who would eventually lead her brethren into civil war, and ultimately, away from their kind as the progenitors of a new sub-race of elves, the ilythi'ri. As the ilythi'ri's patron goddess, she has come to make them sharp of wit and skill and craft, but weak of heart and will so that she can easily sway them to whatever whim and use she has for them.
When Teneraél Undol turned against the rest of the Ara-Cemnari is not known, but sages speculate that she hid her true face from the rest of her kin, presenting only a light-filled soul while nurturing a dark and insatiable jealousy that knew no boundaries. In doing so, she turned her first disciples against the other elves, and those that would not turn were slain.
As the eons passed she became more and more twisted and evil, taking animals from the forests of Lalven Tathothaun and Pelindor Nataríon and changing them into fell beasts and monstrous spiders to do her bidding and aid her people.
Teneraél Undol is depicted as a tall elven woman with jet black skin and silver hair, and eyes. She is also sometimes described as turning into a monstrously huge spider with the torso and head of a female ilythiiri.
Terraénil Summaliré (Love binds over all things) (star elven Aspect of Almaril)
Terraénil Summaliré is depicted as a very tall elven woman of incredible beauty, with soft creamy skin that seems to glow, in a translucent gown of soft green, wearing a garland of flowers in her gold hair. She is never depicted with a weapon.
Terraénil Summaliré’s personality is depicted as being the very embodiment of love itself, gentle, caring, kind, but sometimes seemingly cruel in the fickleness of her mood, or in her firm manner at times. It is said Terraénil Summaliré watches elvenkind through a fountain of crystal clear waters and can atone all wrongs unconditionally.
Terraénil Summaliré teaches that love is an extension of the soul with which one being can embrace another and without which two beings can never really reach and understand each other. While Terraénil Summaliré oversees elven love, her doctrine teaches that in the end, true love cannot and should not be denied for any reason, least of all race - for this reason many half-elves, or elves in relationships with humans especially revere her.
Legends tell of Terraénil Summaliré debating at length with Tenerael Undol before the latter’s fall from the grace of Ara-Cemnari about the value of love. However, Terraénil Summaliré also battled against Tenerael Undol physically when the spider-goddess attempted to usurp and corrupt her dominion over her fountain.
Note that the following are different rules from those in the PH, and only applicable to my campaign. All other rules regarding elves in the PH apply if not indicated below.
- +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution. Star elves are graceful, but frail.
- Star elves are immune to enchantment/charm spells of 0 level.
- In addition, star elves gain a +2 racial bonus to saves against enchantment spells and effects, and are allowed a save against those enchantment spells or effects that normally do not allow a save. PC elves of any other sub-race receive a +1 bonus instead.
- Low Light Vision: PC elves (irrespective of sub-race EXCEPT for coral elves) can see twice as far as humans in moonlight, torchlight, starlight and similar conditions of poor visibility.
- All star elves are proficient in either short sword or long sword, and one type of the following bows (short, long or composite), no matter what their character class.
- Star elves gain a +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search and Spot checks. Anytime a star elf passes within 10 feet of a secret or concealed door she is allowed a Search check as if actively looking. PC elves of any other sub-race receive a +1 bonus instead, unless otherwise indicated.
- Reverie: PC elves (regardless of sub-race) do not sleep as other races do, but enter a dream-like state called reverie where they relive the events of their long lives, and sometimes those of their ancestors, and prophetically the events of the future. For all intents and purposes, an elf in reverie is an unaware as a sleeping human, and it is as vital to their health (if not more so) than sleep is to other races.
- PC elves (regardless of sub-race) automatically begin with two free ranks in the spoken elven language of their choice and one rank in the common tongue of their choice.
- Favored Class: Wizard or Fighter. A multi-classed high elf may not count any fighter or wizard levels when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty (determining this upon character creation).
- Allowed Classes: Bard, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Wizard.
- Starting Age: 110 + 4d6 years.
- Height: 4’ 10" + 2d6 inches (average: 5’ 5"). Note: Star elves of noble blood have a height of 5’ 8" + 1d6 inches (average: 5‘ 11").
- Weight: 85 lbs. + what was rolled on the 2d6 above for height multiplied by 1d6 (average: 110 lbs.). Note: High Elves of noble blood have a weight of 110 lbs + what was rolled on the on the 1d6 above for height multiplied by 1d8 (average: 125 lbs.)
- +2 Dexterity, -2 Charisma. Coral elves live a sheltered and foreign life, which makes it difficult for others to relate to them, but move with great grace both above and below the water.
- Coral elves do not have low light vision, instead they have a version of Tremorsense that only works underwater. This allows them to detect objects and creatures to a range of 360 feet by their movement in the water and the currents around them.
- Coral elves can breathe water and air equally well, having gill slits in their neck for the breathing of the former. They can stand the pressure of depths of water up to 700 feet without suffering negative effects.
- Coral elves are acclimated to life in sea water, and so are required to refresh themselves in it. For every full hour out of sea water an aquatic elf loses one point from each of her physical attributes (STRENGTH, DEXTERITY and CONSTITUTION). If her Strength or Dexterity reaches 0 the aquatic elf is helpless. She collapses and cannot move of her own volition. If her Constitution drops to 0, she dies. For each hour spent in sea water, one point in each attribute is regained.
- Coral elves gain a +6 racial bonus to swim checks. In addition, their base swimming speed is 35 feet.
- Coral elves, because of their highly developed sense of hearing gain a +3 racial bonus to Listen Checks.
- Coral elves do not gain bonuses to Spot or Search checks. Nor do they gain any extra abilities to discover secret or concealed doors.
- Coral elves do not gain automatic proficiencies in any weapons.
- Favored Class: Fighter. A multi-classed aquatic elf does not count any fighter levels when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty.
- Allowed Classes: Bard, Druid, Fighter, Paladin, Priest, Psionicist, Rogue, Sorcerer, Wizard.
- Starting Age: 110 + 4d6 years.
- Height: 4’ 5" + 2d6 inches (average 5’ 0")
- Weight: 85 lbs. + what was rolled on the 2d6 above for height multiplied by 1d3 (average 102).
- +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Strength, -2 Constitution. Graceful and learned, dawn elves are still frail, and do not take the time and effort to develop their physical prowess.
- Favored Class: Bard or Wizard. A multi-classed dawn elf may count any bard or wizard levels when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty (determining this upon character creation).
- Whenever they gain a level, dawn elven arcane spellcasters automatically receive one spell of their choice from either the common or uncommon spell lists (see Part 9 for more details).
- Dawn elven spellcasters automatically receive one bonus general or metamagic feat of their choice (at character creation).
- Dawn elves automatically receive 2 ranks in the following skills of their choice (at character creation): Alchemy, Appraise, Concentration, Decipher Script, Heal, Knowledge, Search and Use Magic Device.
- Allowed Classes: Bard, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard.
- Starting Age: 120 + 6d6 years.
- Height: 4’ 5" + 2d6 inches (average 5’ 0")
- Weight: 85 lbs. + what was rolled on the 2d6 above for height multiplied by 1d3 (average 102).
- +1 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution, -1 Charisma. Green elves are strong and graceful, but have the typical elven endurance, with a xenophobic outlook.
- All green elves are proficient in half spear or short spear and short bow (this replaces those weapons listed under star elf).
- Green elves gain a +1 racial bonus on Listen, Search and Spot checks. Anytime a green elf passes within 10 feet of a secret or
concealed door, he or she is allowed a Search check as if actively
- Green elves gain a +2 racial bonus to Climb, Hide and Move Silently checks when in a natural environment.
- Green elves automatically receive 2 bonus ranks in the following skills of their choice (determined at character creation): Animal Empathy, Handle Animal, Heal, Read Lips, Swim, Tumble or Wilderness Lore.
- Green elves automatically receive Tracking as a bonus feat (at character creation).
- Favored Class: Fighter or Ranger. A multi-classed wood elf may not count any fighter or ranger levels when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty (determining this upon character creation).
- Allowed Classes: Bard, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard.
- Starting Age: 90 + 3d10 years.
- Height: 4’ 10" + 2d8 inches (average: 5’ 7")
- Weight: 110 lbs. + what was rolled on the 2d8 above for height multiplied by 1d6 (average: 145 lbs.).