"The Elves of the forests are an artistic people, one only has to look at their masks to know that. Their family marks tells of a lineage, other marks tell you what the individual does for a living, or did. When you first go into the forests, there is one rule - Do not mess with the masks."
"I can't say much to describe how a Forest Elf looks different from the Nomadic Elves or the High Elves that isn't the first thing everyone else notes - the white hair, the masks, the fact no one wear robes or skirts. But if one where to look at the masks, they have gorgeous red eyes, the color of blood and garnets to stare out of their masks with."
"If we take off our masks, the Faceless Fae will eat your face! Being faceless is like ... it's like worse than dead!"Individuals have attributed Farobia, the Green Goddess as the patron Goddess of the Forest Elves, due to the duality nature of the values held by them. Farobia, being a goddess of courage of fear, is believed to represent the strength and fragility of the art and the spiderwebing architecture, and known threats and safeties of the forest, with the unknown friends and dangers of the underbrush.
Language and DialectsForest Elves have a dialect of the Elven language, and parts have converted over into Common as well.
"Bare-faced" - Someone not (currently, or ever) wearing a mask.
"Blank" - Someone whose mask is without family marks, a polite way to refer to someone who had been disowned or exiled.
"Face-Theft" - The crime of impersonating another by wearing their mask when it is not the Festival of Masks, it is punishable by rendering the perpetrator Markless, and if they were a Grasslander, they will be executed if they ever return to the forests.
"Glitter hair" - Slang for High Elves, who wear metal and jewel based ornaments.
"Grasslander" - Anyone who was not from the forests.
"Walker" - Slang for Nomadic Elves who travel through Tormyra.
"Markless" - The less polite term for a Blank, generally used to specifically describe those who were exiled or disowned for serious crimes.
"Masked Grass" - Derogatory term for someone from outside the forests wearing a mask, intended to call out people who just wear a mask to wear one. This term is an insult to anyone adopted by Forest Elves, or claimed as kin.
"New Mask" - New term used to describe individuals adopted by Forest Elves, or claimed as kin.
Forest Elven SignAs the Forest Elves wear masks, facial expressions for communicating ideas are erased, and the Forest Elves utilize other means of expressing emotions and impact. This usually means exaggerated vocal pitches and hand motions. Loud noises, however, are not always wanted in the forests, depending on what the individual was doing, such as hunting, and the Forest Elves have a sign language with phrases everyone learns, and phrases people only learn based on their trade.
Hands over one's mask, palms facing the face - "A Faceless has lost their mask." or "Protect your face"
Palms down, a swift horizontal slashing action - "Don't." Placement of where the hand is adds context.
Hand starting at the upper part of the mask - "Don't look."
Hand starting at the lower part of the mask -"Don't speak" or "Don't eat."
Palm facing out, fingers extended, a pushing motion and then a point in a direction - "Stop, go that way to find shelter."
GarmentsVery few Forest Elves wear robes, dresses, and skirts. Most garments are worn with the intention to allow full motion, as well as the ability to climb, as many of the towns use ladders and pulley-lifts in the forests.
"The origin of the masks seems to tie back to folklore of Faceless Fae losing their own mask-faces and rampaging to recover them. According to the lore, unfortunates who cross the path of a rampaging Faceless were found faceless. From the descriptions of the stories and warnings from elders in the cities, those faceless victims were not mangled, but looked as if every feature of their face was erased - eyes, nose, scars."The Forest Elves wear masks carrying the merged family marks of their parents and marks indicating their occupation and their occupational history. Upon birth or adoption, a blank mask is marked with the combined marks of the parents. If an adult is adopted as being close enough to be kin, the adult will add the fused mark of the Forest Elf who has declared the adult to be their kin, and then crafts a mark to represent their original lineage.
The masks are panted and/or carved into patterns reflecting how the individual wished to be perceived as well as what they do and have done for a living.
When one outgrows their mask, they craft a new mask and refine the marks of the old one. The process of crafting one's own mask is taken on as a personal experience with greater meaning as one ages.
Upon death, the individual is cremated at night on a pyre wearing a mask with only their family and spousal marks. Their ornate and ceremonial mask is usually held in a place of honor for the family.
Mask VariantsWhile most who live in Tormyra wear masks in the Festival of Masks, the Forest Elves celebrate the Festival by wearing more ornate masks than their everyday masks, and those who are close to each other may trade masks for the day.
War masks are intended to strike fear in their enemies, and inspire courage for their allies, and may have a set of painted eyes in homage to Farobia, the Green Goddess, or designs based on her sacred animals.
Most Forest elves have a mask of everyday use, Festival of Mask use, and formal ceremonial use. Very few make war masks unless they serve in the military branches for the Kingdom of Tormyra.
Local LawTaking a person's mask from them is seen as a rude action, and a death threat against the person whose mask was stolen.
Impersonating another person by wearing their mask when it is not the Festival of Masks, is a crime known as "Face-Theft," and is traditionally punishable by removing the perpetrator's family marks from their masks, or banning the Grasslander from the forests under pain of death should they return.
Should either be comitted by a Grasslander child, the punishment is transfered onto the adults who were responsible for the child.
An individual who is adopted is considered, legally, to be a Forest Elf, even if they are not of elven blood. As an adopted Forest Elf, the individual would be tasked with creating a mask of their own with their adopted family's marks, and would be subject to Forest Elf law.
FoodMost food Forest Elves traditionally have made are foods one could eat without cutlery, while their drinks were usually served with the expectation everyone carried their own straws. Eating is often a social activity, and so the masks would be pulled away from the face or adjusted when eating, without being removed.
Cities and Architecture
"When describing the forest cities, I'd almost think of spiders and how every part of their web is built to keep itself balanced without putting too much strain on the nexus."
"Don't nail into that tree, not with those nails, you'll kill it. Metalworks usually clash with everything else here anyway, except with the pulleys."Towns and cities are generally built into the forest, with ladders and pulley-lifts to go between levels of the cities. Bridges are built between the buildings, though tend to be styled after wooden spider webs. Due to the towns and cities depending on the trees to keep them above ground, the trees are not carved into, as cutting out and into a tree's bark would kill it and reduce the stability of the structure.
Buildings are built with a tree at their corners, and through the use of a combination of sod, ropes, and balance, a structure's floor is built, often branching to nearby trees for support. The center-most point of a building is generally kept as a support-nexus than as a stable surface to allow for floor repairs to be made.
TechnologyWhile High Elves tend to work with metal and stone, and the Nomadic Elves with bone and ink, the Forest Elves generally work with rope and wood to craft their marvels. Many who have lived their lives in cities like look at the forest cities as primitive dwellings, often ignoring the engineering behind the methods used to keep the structures off the underbrush and the heights reached by such structures.
"Metal is fine and well, but it is not a commodity easily acquired in the forest, so we generally forge metal into tools rather than art. Wood is easier to break, which makes it a finer art - how skilled are you at shaping wood into whatever form you can coax from the whorls and rings, right at the cusp of breaking, yet holding strong all the same?"
"Is that why others might view your people as dishonest?"
"You ask as if we're two different peoples. Why would anyone think you are dishonest?"
"I suppose wearing these hairpins don't make people comfortable when we can enchant them, and not tell anyone what enchantments we wear."
"The changing ink, the masks, the jewels, they all hide and strengthen us, don't they? Perhaps it's not that people distrust we who live in the forest, they distrust themselves and look for reasons to distrust everyone else."
In the history of Tormyra, the Forest Elves gave the world a recurring hero born as The Three return. The fate of the most recent has not been recorded as having ended in the previous cycle. It is believed certain figures, heroes or villains, are reborn when Tormyra needs them most. The figures from the Forest have had their masks preserved and stored in the Hall of Heroes where each potential who is believed to be an incarnation of the past is tested.
Myths and Legends
Forest Elven base Ethnicities
Names that appear to be evocative of birds, bugs, trees.
Names that tend to be evocative of the wind, beasts, plants.
Names ending with the letter "u" forming a voiced part of the syllable, and names evocative of snakes, small mammals, and abstract concepts.
Family names tend to be poetic, and based on the abstract elemental concepts as well as physical ones.