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Elves

The Wise Folk

Immortal masters of the arcane, the elves brought the secrets of magic to men, dwarfs, and halfling-folk, after having spent millennia traveling the universe as inter-dimensional nomads – not even they know from where they first came. Once rulers of the world, they were done in by their own hubris, and exist today in small number in the Free Kingdoms, with most having been killed during the Elveswar. Many elves have since rejected the old ways of the Empire, but their legacy will be forever tainted by the influence of the Elder Gods of the Void. Most sapient species come to, at some point in their lives, the realization that they will someday die. But elves, as immortal beings, rarely suffer this pang -- until they realize that probability dictates that they will eventually be killed by violence or disease. As a result, the elves generally lack the same understanding of morality as the shorter-lived races. Their longevity bring wisdom, but are not those who have violence invited upon them more willing to invite violence on others?

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

  • Examples of male names include: Adrastos, Caedros, Deimos, Diomedes, Erevos, Galinden, Ivellios, Lamlis, Mentor, Mindartis, Paelios, Quarion, Sovellis, Tharivol, Venniel, and Xanthos.
  • Examples of female names include: Ariadne, Astrea, Dara, Elama, Gaias, Ismene, Jarisiel, Kiirith, Laelia, Mialee, Naivara, Quelenna, Sariel, Savara, Therastra, Vadania, and Vesara.

Major Organizations

Since the fall of Alphos, the elves no longer rule any political bodies. The survivors of the Elveswar have congregated in the cities of men, where they attempt to keep a reasonably low profile. They avoid rural areas, where folk are more suspicious of outsiders. Loyalists to the old Empire still live in and around the Forest of Veils.

Beauty Ideals

  • Elves are renowned for their fair and symmetrical features; their standards of beauty exclude relations with non-elves.
  • Attractive features, for both males and females, include being of slight build, having fair skin, and straightened hair, unmarred by sweat. Strong-looking builds or skin touched by the sun indicate a life of toil, suggesting a lowly status to the elves.
  • Cleanliness and hygiene are of great import to the elves, being that disease is one of the few things that can cut the elven life short. For the average elf, pestilence is their greatest fear. Elves tend to be clean and shiny. That's why.

Courtship Ideals

  • Elves mate to have children, but because 20 years of upbringing is so little time to an elf, they rarely mate for life.
  • Elven children are typically raised by a single parent, but have a network of support from other elves.
  • Elves do not marry, and they court fairly indiscriminately.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

  • The elves have spoken Elven for millennia; it is a storied written language associated with historical and artistic texts, as well as the study of magic. It has barely evolved since its inception.
  • The word "elf" in the Common tongue comes from the name of Alphos. The humans heard them referring to themselves as Alphosians, and became known as "alphs." Alphos became "elfs", which phonetically evolved into "elves." Thus, an elf is an elf.

Common Etiquette Rules

  • Elves are often characterized as cold, aloof, and distant; their etiquette is defined by their lack of understanding of conventional morality.
  • The fact that they are immortal has prevented them from appreciating life as deeply as mortal creatures do, and as a result, their culture does not demand any kind of universal decency. No one is entitled to empathy, kindness, or well-wishing. Their respect can only be earned through deed, and one can only expect to earn an elf's goodwill by extending his own first.
  • Without an inherent moral compass, elves make decisions purely using their logic and weighing the potential consequences. Elves find displays of emotion, especially in crisis, distasteful. The sins related to excesses of emotion, such as anger and lust, are considered the worst in elf-culture.

Common Taboos

  • Many Wise Folk hold fast to the tradition that only elves should learn magic. There is little they can do about humans teaching humans the arcane arts, but an elf wizard teaching a non-elf magic is cause for concern.
  • Moreover, magic has traditionally been restricted to elves of high birth. A lower-class elf learning magic is only slightly better than a human, dwarf, or halfling.

History

Even the Wise Folk themselves have forgotten the plane of existence from where they originated. They have been travelling the universe since their inception using their deep understanding of the Void. They came to the Free Kingdoms from the Court of Fey, where it would seem that the elves adopted many of their physical features, and their resistance to faerie-magic.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Elves hold little esteem for other races, who lack their mastery of magic and the seemingly endless base of knowledge granted by their immortality. They find their cultures primitive, and due to the constant worrying of death, the elves see mortal races as boring, worrisome, and unpleasant. They roll their eyes at the dwarfs' pride in their kingdoms (it's just a bunch of rocks), and find the halflings lazy and uninteresting. Human are rash, and orcs are a lot of uncultured brutes. Goblins are naturally the elves' mortal enemies, although they also reserve a special disdain for half-elves, who they see as bastards disguised as elves, but with none of the qualities that set the Wise Folk apart from "lesser" mortals.

Lifespan
Elves mature around 20 years of age, but stop aging entirely around 50 years. Unless their life is claimed by violence or sickness, elves are immortal.
Average Height
Elves stand around 6', and are slightly taller than humans, on average. Women tend to be shorter to men.
Average Weight
Elves are naturally lithe and thin; they weigh around 150 pounds, and are rarely much heavier than 180 pounds.
Related Ethnicities
Legends & Lore: Elves and Death: Suicide is considered quite dignified in elf-culture. Some elves fulfill everything they set out to do, while others become deeply depressed at the prospect of witnessing every war, plague, and famine the world has to offer, or they otherwise grow so bored that they don't feel a need to keep living. For an immortal species, suicide replaces dying in one's sleep as the most poignant end to a life well lived. It makes sense, when you consider their only options are this, or to die because of some plague or gangrenous wound. Magical death rituals are popular among elven nobility, and the wealthy can even afford to pay assassins to kill them humanely. During the time of Alphos, the Wizard-Emperors and Patricians of the Immortal Council were fond of public, ceremonial suicides. The most fantastic option is for an elf to venture out into the world, seeking an exciting death in combat or at the hands of some great danger (although many elves consider this dreadfully orc-like). Other elves find the whole death-seeking affair to be a waste of immortality, and instead try to take advantage of the fact and learn and experience literally everything the universe has to offer, moving as fast or slow as they like -- after all, they have all the time in the world.

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