Alfen Ancestors Species in Expedition Demeter | World Anvil

Alfen Ancestors


"How old is this place?" Geary asked, his eyes following the precise cuts of stone. The temple was perfectly, uncomfortably symmetrical. Even the walls appeared unphased by the natural settling of the earth beneath its foundation. Every piece of stone that went into the temple's construction was carved with calculated complexity. Dattiny noticed the lack of curvature, how angular the geometry was, stepping lightly across the floor. The floor made them dizzy if they stared to long, paved with perfect hexagonal stones. The stones were packed so tightly, fit together so perfectly, that the lines between each stone was almost undetectable.
"It predates Ozlith., so at least a thousand years," she replied, "Alfen in origin."
"Elven ruins? How can you tell?" Geary asked, turning to an empty hall with high ceilings and strange glowing green symbols lining massisve pillars.
"The symmetry," she said, "The Alfen despise asymmetry. Look at these pillars, each carved in a single massive slab of stone. The old elves were said to build cities by carving into mountains."

They came upon a chamber that made then feel small. The glowing symbols on the wall were brighter here. Lining the room, from the floor to the highest point of the temple many hundred of meters up, were crystalline spheres, each several meters high, and with a strange silhouette inside. Geary turned his attention to the center if the chamber, where a mass of crystal formations butter from a much larger sphere. He stepped forward to get a closer look...
The Alfen of yore were a far cry from their decedents. The elves today are civil, and their eldritch nature is muffled in comparison. The ancestors were taller, almost devoid of emotion, and their genetic meddling gave the individual a wide assortment of unique biological qualities. Their value in symmetry is reflected all around them. Their buildings were measured perfectly. Their bodies were carefully altered to match and their arcane mastery pushed well beyond that of the other races to the point where it drove most of their technological invention.   Alfen ancestors are nothing more than remnants of what the race once was. Millennia have passed since their empire fell, and they managed to survive. This didn't happen by luck or force of will. The ancestors that walk the world today are the product of machinations set in motion before the empire fell. They were preserved in Tombshrines, kept alive until the time was right... and some are starting to wake up.  

A Ripe Old Age

Ancestors are exceptionally rare, and only found in Alfen ruins unless they happen to make their shrines fully operational. In the past 200 years, only two ruins were explored. The first explored was a Tombshrine in Estoya called Yeseresey, which rested in The Harrows. The ruins were damaged beyond repair, the alfen within having died some time before.   In The Freeholds, another ruin was explored. It was also a tombshrine named Roylyor, and it activated during the exploration. Their were no survivors and within a few months, the ancestors within poured out, leaving a trail of death in their wake as the tombshrine hovered across the battlefield. If matchlock weapons weren't in use, the alfen could have taken the entire region.

Arcane Genetics

The Alfen practiced a rather liberal manipulation of their gene pool through their mastery of magic. The Alfen knew more of The Arcane and the World of Magic than anyone else, even the gods were unable to rival their skill. They had deep connections to arcane laws that are now lost to time.

This manipulation is why there are so many radically different species of the Alfen. It is said there were hundreds of them, each designed for a specific task in the empire. Eventually they created The Hive Elves, who rebelled. The hive elves are now extinct, but no one really understands how the empire and the hive elves wiped each other out.

The genetic tampering was more than experiments on others. They often altered themselves with their power, adding a great many distinct features that made each Alfen unique among the race.

An Eldritch Race

The Alfen have a unique heritage. They are the creation of The Gentry. The Gentry were long gone by the time the Alfen dominated the world, but this heritage made them a horrific sight for the only races that lived at the time. They were a far cry from their descendants. Ancestors are tall, around 8-10 feet. They are thin and have elongated limbs with dense bone and thick skin. Their ears are finely pointed, their skin, hair and, eyes coming in a variety of colors.

They have perfectly symmetrical rows of sharpened teeth on the too and bottom of their jaw that often makes a smile appear sinister, if not just plain evil. The problem is, the Alfen are physically incapable of being sinister or evil. They have no emotion, no empathy save for the concerning for their own race. The Alfen are known for their perfect symmetry. Looking at them for too long, or even staring at their architecture, can cause headaches and more severe discomfort as the brain desperately tries to seek out nature's imperfections.

The Ancestors were (and still are) remarkably xenophobic. They refer to the other races, particularly Humans as children of dust, mud, and stone. This is peculiar, as the humans, children of dust, didn't exist until well after their empire fell...


Fun fact: Fire and Wheels

According to legend, the Alfen were so magically gifted that they completely bypassed the invention of the wheel, and never discovered fire. During the war against the awoke. The alfen are notably fascinated by both. They express a frightful fascination of fire, and are just baffled by the wheel.
When the tombshrine activated in The Freeholds, the Alfen marveled at the Wagons their enemy used. It's one of the few times other races have received a compliment from an ancestor, though it was still referred to as "quaint" which is a word he Alfen language uses as a direct insult.


Alfen Ruins

Alfen ruins are rare and are scattered across the world. They come in many shapes and sizes, usually considered purpose of ground by locals, especially if those locals are elves. Delving into the ruins can be highly rewarding. Their are artifacts if power, ancient arcane technology, and so much lost culture and history kept within, but it comes at a high risk. Awakening these ruins can lead to all out war in the region.

The only benefit the people of the world have is that the Alfen are barren and cannot reproduce. They are capable of cloning, however, and if they are not stopped quickly, they can spread at an exponential rate. They are also prone to outbursts upon hearing that the empire no longer exists, lashing out at anyone who delivers the news.
It is also possible to stumble upon a ruin that is already been awakened. Each ruin is set to activate at different times. It is possible that some of these ruins are currently building up their strength. Listed below are the many different kinds of ruins. It can only be speculated what each type of ruin is used for by the prevailing theories are listed under each one.


Alfen tombshrines are thought to be monuments, graves, or a kind of vault. The deepest parts of the complex contain crystalline chambers, and in each is an Alfen, suspended in time. Both ruins explored were tombshrines, and each had a single individual displayed in the most elaborate of the crystal chambers. This being became known as the gene sage, and seems to have been an important figure in their society. If the gene Sage wakes up the entire complex activates. The complex begins with those closest to the gene Sage, referred to as Gene Scholars, and then spreads out to honor guard (Matrirtam), warriors (Progeny), and slaves (servivres).

Alfen Cities

The ancestors had numerous cities that dropped to the ground, slowly crumbling as they made its long decent. There are only four currently known to exist, though only to those who live near them. One of them lies scattered about Waiversea and the Waiversea hills. Another exists in the far north of The Freeholds. The third is in Lartasia, and the last is said to exist in The Infernum.

These cities have never given an indication of life. They are incredibly old, but very well-preserved in most areas. Despite this there are still some buildings that are nearly the greatest of the point of crumbling to dust. Some have endured erosion from a wet climate for so long, the building looks like a standard rock formation you would find anywhere, and only those who are particularly perceptive will see it as more.

These cities are shattered into pieces in those pieces have been scattered across miles and miles of land. Finding a single building does not mean you have found the city nor does it mean you will find any other pieces. A single City is thought to have been about 2-8 square miles in total size.


Those who traveled along the coast of Estoya may be able to witness a strange phenomena. The stories began with sailors who would travel along the scatter coastal settlement. The story involves a colored light, the color depends on where you are. This light shoots like a beacon across The Weir Ocean, flashing as it moves in a circular pattern around some unknown central point. Those who have ventured out never returned, but the source is obvious.

There are many incomplete stories that the present day Alfen have pieced together that speak of a lighthouse, or many lighthouses depending on the story. The lighthouse seems to have many purposes which also depends on the story.

some stories say it is a preventative measure that protects the borders of what once was the Empire's territory. Others claim that it is a vault protecting the most powerful weapons the ancestors ever created. There's another story that claims that the lighthouses are a prison, or did the word mean throne?

Gm Notes: Eldritch Dawn

During the game, if your players happen to find themselves in one of these ruins, it is possible that an ancestor is around. The real goal for them is an emergent event called Eldritch Dawn, which can heavily effect the direction the game takes if the characters fail. The goal is to get the players into a tombshrine when or shortly after it activates. They do not activate randomly, and are activated at a very specific point in time. While you can activate it at anytime you want, patience can be very rewarding.   Your players are walking down the corridor with all of these Crystal Chambers surrounding them with the ancestors inside them, of course they are gonna wake up! The players are not stupid... but it isn't clear WHEN they will wake up. The absolute best case scenario is for your players to simply kill everyone, one by one or wake the Gene Sage, and kill him while he is weak to cause a chain reaction that will kill them all. This of course brings about controversial conversations on genocide... but apart from that, imagine your players walking through this complex and nothing happens. They get this powerful loot without having to fight for it and learned some valuable lore... but nothing happens. Then, however many sessions later, the scouts of the expedition report activity in the shrine or strange lights flicker on as they just exit the shrine or make it back to the expedition. Thus begins Eldrich Dawn.

Root dialect

One of the many problems that arise when studying the ancestors is the pacing together of their language. It is the root dialect of all Elven languages, but did not spread or evolve naturally. A common theory is that each Elven species we're getting an artificial language created by the Ancestors, which evolved erratically over a long period of time.

These languages are always eerily similar, but have so many variables and distinct differences that tracing them to the language of the ancestors is near impossible. The language to the ancestors can only be guessed at and on the few occasions where someone had the opportunity to communicate, it proved sufficient.

However, the otherworldly nature of the ancestors makes it impossible to fully understand the subtext of what is being spoken. The only thing that is fully understood about this language is its focus on symmetry.

What's in a name?

The language of the ancestors places a high value on names. Anything that can be classified as a proper noun will be a palindrome. This is not only reflected in the pronunciation of the language but also in its writing. In fact, every written word in the language of the ancestors is a palindrome.

This is yet another reason why the language is often difficult to decipher. Unique diacritical marks and grammatical symbols are found attached to every word with no indication of its meeting. There are some cases of seemingly professional or formal writing where the entire work of writing is one massive palindrome.

Theories abound for what the text says or why it is the way that it is compared to other writing, but many, particularly those who practice Bardic Lore, believe it to be an attempt at art. This is because these massive palindromes are only ever found in prominent locations within full view of anyone in the vicinity such as major walls, pedestals, ceilings and floors.

The Symmetrical Logic

The elves of today are the product of many generations mingling the genetic code between species of the Alfen. The Alfen had a strange religion based on strict geometric sequences and a worship of perfect symmetry. The physical description of the ancestors varies, but symmetry is always the goal.

It all depends on their modifications, as well as what kind of species they are. Low elves were often grotesque until adopting the focus on symmetry that the High elves were known for. It is possible to find some unsettling ancestors that look more like monsters than anything else.

Alfen Ancestor Statblock

Alfen Ancestor

Alfen Ancestor
Theme: body horror/cosmic horror Rating range: 11-15
Recommended allocation:
Body12 +1
Mind: 13 +3
Social:11 +0
Finesse : 14 +2
Soul:15 +4
Hp: 40
Actions: 1 per player minus two, minimum of two, or two actions and a bonus action from table below.
Speed: 60
Def: 2
Composure: 18
SP: 40
  • Attack: Alfen Ancestors use finesse based weapons of any weapon class, mimics weapons class. The ancestor can also take 1 if the following modifications as its genetic mutation.

  • Cast: Alfen ancestors can cast their own version of any single spell.

Ancestral Terror

When the ancestor reaches 50% and then 25% health, it uses one of the following abilities immediately as a bonus action, even if it not the ancestors turn or in the middle of a players turn.

Terror table (note: before using, make sure you understand the rules for terror found here)

Terror Actions Description
Snare Ancestor attacks with one if its genetic mutations and seeks to not only harm, but root the target. Must make a body or finesse check with TR:13. If it fails, target is rooted and can it move for one turn, and takes 5 damage. If it succeeds, target takes 1 damage. The ancestor must use this on the last character that dealt damage to it.
Past Life The Ancestor seeks to burrow in the minds of those around it, giving them horrible visions of the empires fall. All those in 15 foot radius make a composure roll. If it succeeds, nothing happens. If it fails the target is in terror and gains 3IN (see terror rules)
Awaken can only be used at 25% health, must be in a Tombshrine. The Ancestor seeks to wake another ancestor, and will make two movement rolls if need be to reach the nearest crystalline chamber. It must make a mind roll TR:17 to succeed. If it fails, the ancestor it seeks to wake dies brutally as the process catastrophically fails and the liquid in the chamber gets cloudy with the white blood and chunks of flesh float steadily to the bottom. If it succeeds, the awoken ancestor is a servires/progeny.
Terror Actions Description
1 Huge Bat Wings. Fly speed equal to Movement speed.
2 Has Hooves
3 Hook Fingernails (fishhook) Nails as sharp as any sword 6 damage claw attack per hit with 2 atk, but cannot hold weapons.
4 Two additional arms with hands that resemble the claw of a Crab or scorpion.
5 3-5 black/white tendrils are grafted to the Ancestor's back. They can each be used for a simple attack dealing 1 damage.
6 Neck Frill similar to that of a frog or iguana that Can inflate to intimidate on a TR 10
7 Sterile stench that cleans the air around the ancestor. smells like a hospital, and immune to poisonous attacks and pestilence.
8 Heat vision from snakelike eyes that makes it nearly impossible to hide
TR 18
19 Hinged Head with an Enormous toothy grin, ear to ear.
Bite for 2 atk dealing 3 damage
10 Third Eye or many eyes lining its face, perfectly symmetrical.
11 Horns of any shape and size.
12 each hand has a mouth that can psychically link to any one it bits. The mouth has needle like teeth and bites anything the ancestor grabs. the ancestor while have no mouth, instead, these speak for it, and know any language.
13 Unstable particles make up the matter of the ancestor. body parts are easily dismembered, but immediately burst into flame and white blood, dealing 3 damage to anyone caught in a 5 foot radius of the limb.
14 Acid blood that will melt through anything. deals 3 damage per turn if covered.
TR: 13 for any player who deals damage.
15 blood is like glue as it coagulates, sticking anyone who deals damage to the spot unless they make a finesse roll, TR: 16
16 Contains a swarm of strange stinging insects in its arms. The arms have atrophied and the insects fly in and out of the many rotted sections of the arm. Ancestor can control them. 2 actions, 2 atk, 1 dmg per hit. Can only be killed by fire.
17 The Ancestor bleeds fine, stark white crystals that cause a strange, deadly white moss to grow wherever it lands. 2dmg per turn if in contact within 5ft
18 Ancestor constantly gives off an arcane mist that is radioactive. The mist deals 1 + 1 damage per turn exposed.
19 Metaphysical skin that is immune to all magic.
20 The ancestor is in fact, two ancestors conjoined together in some horrific way.


These two variants are considered easy enemies, with half HP and SP, a range of 6-10, no modifiers, and halted stats across the board. They do not have modifications or bonus actions.


These ancestors are considered Elite normal enemies and serve as the honor guard for the Gene Sage. They have the same sheet as the base version but take an additional genetic mutation.

Seed Scholar:

Seed scholars can only be found in Alfen Ruins and are considered elite hard enemies with a range of 14-18 and + 1 to all modifiers. They may take two genetic modifications and gain a bonus action each turn to use one of them. Everything else is the same.

Gene sage:

Gene sages can only be found in Tombshrines, and is considered a unique antagonist. It must always have a name, and must use a palindrome for that name (see common names below) It must be killed in 4 rounds or the entire shrine begins to activate. On round five, and each round after, the sage takes a free action at the start of his turn to awaken an ancestor. This ancestor is weakened for 2 rounds and can be killed with one hit.

The sage has 5 genetic mutations total and two gain bonus actions each turn. the sage has 70HP total, and 60SP total. It is also intelligent enough to strategically target enemies. It will respond if spoken to in an elven dialect, but a mind roll or soul roll (whichever is higher) is needed to understand the response. Every response will have one mistranslated word unless a crit is rolled.
Alfen, Ancestor, Eldritch Dawn

Articles under Alfen Ancestors

Cover image: by Joe Grabenstetter


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