Snow Elf Ethnicity in Istralar | World Anvil

Snow Elf

They thought us mad for staying against all the odds.
  Those few elves that chose to settle in the icy wastes of Iskaldhal have never found themselves living particularly comfortably. The northern continent is especially hostile, and even at the height of elven power, they were only able to establish small holds and countries - to the disdain of their eastern cousins.   But living in such harsh conditions forced upon them certain biological adaptions, training them to deal with the endless winter nights and brutal colds. Whilst snow elves retain their typical grace, they have long since altered their magical abilities to instead protect them from the elements and allow them to see in terrible conditions. This fast adaption to their new climate surprised elven scholars in their new homeland of Galasthin, as elven bodies had not previously demonstrated sensitivity to extreme temperatures nor ability to adapt so quickly.  

Brief History

After the Kingdom of the Galasthin Elves was first established, small groups of elven emissaries began travelling the world and conquering what they found. In Valathe, this led to the rise of the elven empire that would eventually collapse into Ilendras and its surrounds. Galasthin would forever hold onto its land, but the Tulaant Steppe would halt much of its progress south and allow the native inhabitants time to regroup and reclaim what is now the region surrounding Yulan Sheng. Upon Takawaoku and Iskaldhal, however, there was already strong hostile resistance to their settling.   The elven emissaries sent to Iskaldhal were stubborn, however. Too stubborn to give up, they eked out an existence in the miserable wastelands and mountains for millennia, steadily adapting and forming settlements. At times, these bordered on nations. But whenever they found footholds, they would inevitably lose them. The events of the Arcane War almost fully depleted their number, as many were already embracing the arcane as a method of power. The remaining snow elves would form the Isyrei, relying almost entirely on the guidance of their divine leaders to survive. In the time that their relatives were gone, they learnt to work the land's hard stone and minerals through experimentation and tentative alliance with other groups.   When the others returned after the Worldrend, things changed. The Witch-Tribes soon found dominance across the continent despite the defiance of Gildómar and other native groups that were not so strongly affected by the disappearance of their arcane users. The Isyrei were joined by colleagues that had long since changed, and wasted no time in embracing them. Though the tribe split into multiple, they were still heavily allied, and banded together against attacks.   It was only within the past half-millennium that the Elsrei fell. They had been considered the strongest tribe in regards to magical strength, bearing a number of arcane casters that far exceeded most nations. The exact nature of their curse is unknown, but unless a method of reversing and restoring the fallen members can be found, they will forever stalk the halls of Jäätta in their current condition.  
...they were right.

Naming Traditions

Feminine names

Hyldanir, Syriel, Eirlys, Uldarys, Fyrissel

Masculine names

Taenion, Ulsuiren, Faldanir, Arthares, Kyssiran.

Family names

Recognising their lack of presence in Galasthin, the snow elves have abandoned Galasthin's strict name hierarchy in favour of allowing new members to choose a family name when they first join the tribe. These are typically derived from local flora or fauna, or significant events that have occurred (such as the slaying of a frost giant or completion of a divine quest).


Major language groups and dialects

Elven is the dominant language of the snow elves, mostly unchanged from the dialect used in Galasthin. Very little has changed of the elven language over the past few millennia, and it is suspected that Elven hasn't changed all that much from its original off-world form since the race's arrival.

Common Dress code

Coats made of special silks harvested from ice spiders and lined with warm furs are preferred, so as to both protect from the cold and maintain the level of ethereal beauty expected from their kin. Underneath, garments of carefully-weaved cloth and smooth leather are worn. Those who require armour shape it elegantly from their region's minerals, most common of which is iron, and augment it with leather accessories and straps. Communication with their kin in other regions allows the snow elven tribes to obtain stranger materials than many on Iskaldhal, but this is rare and usually reserved for those in higher positions.


Beauty Ideals

Unlike their original brethren, snow elves have a much more varied standard of beauty. Asymmetry is appreciated as otherworldly and strange, and height matters little. They tend to value adaption to the world they live in more heavily than they do physical appearance, and count personality as one of the most important facets of another person.

Gender Ideals

Gender is fluid and immaterial to many elves regardless of ethnicity. This has not changed in snow elven society, which does bring them into conflict with certain human groups who believe the opposite. Curiously, a certain female-dominant human country is one of the few human-based Iskaldhan societies that agrees with them in regards to gender fluidity. This that has led to the rise of snow half-elves as many men originally of Halsgard end up at various tribes begging for pity, having been rejected from other settlements due to their lack of talents.

Major organizations

The Elsrei are known as the fallen. Despite having once been powerful arcane casters and skilled workers of mithral, the tribe was unable to avoid the allure of Jäätta. They are not gone, but they may as well be - their current state prevents them from true function and instead drives them close to the brink of mindless insanity.

The Isyrei are currently travelling through the base of the northern mountains. Of the snow elven tribes, they are the most accomplished with stone masonry and woodwork.

The Nisrei have remained on a mountain they have named Mt Firanthul for the past near-century, refusing much contact with outsiders. The current theory, gleaned from contact with the Isyrei, is that they are working on constructing a permanent snow elven settlement that extends safely beneath the ground.

The Querei are generally held to be the most accomplished of the snow elven tribes. They currently control the only elf gate left on Iskaldhal, located within the Tower of Sathelis.

Parent Race
Common Language
Number of Distinct Groups
4 known
Encompassed species
Related Organizations
Languages spoken
Species | Oct 20, 2023

A foreign species of tall, angular, magic-infused humanoids.

Cover image: Istralar Generic Header by Hanhula (ft. photos from Phil Botha, Jonny McKenna, and Luca Bravo)


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