The Book of Elves

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Introduction

Elves. The very word evokes the ancient kingdoms of magic and the white towers that rise up soaring against the sky. Fell-handed warriors and mages of old, and ancient dwellers in the northlands. Enemies of the goblins, the orcs, and the other Youngest Races that crawl or worm through the earth, the elves are nevertheless strange and mysterious to us. Sere and tall, distant and celestial, they are a race apart from Men and we may never understand them fully.

And yet; I served the Seastone Chair in Vesimä for many years as a genealogist and worked to uncover the lost histories of the elvish people for my patrons. In that time, I daresay I learned a good many things. Like my predecessor, Davon d’Arle, who wrote the inestimable volume, The Book of Dwarves, I have decided to collect here all of my knowledge of the elvish peoples and present it for future scholars to study.

Within these pages you will find the most detailed description of Elvish society ever attempted; with the eyes of an outsider, I have watched the elves from afar, and here I present to you my findings.

-Antomen syn Bokeva, Chief Scholar of Vesimä

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Creation of the Elves

In the beginning there was the earth, the sky, and the water. Above it was Edellä, the land of the Gods, and below it was the Underworld, empty and dark. The World-Tree, which the elves call Asca and men called Irminsul, grew with roots long and deep and branches straight and slender. From its uppermost boughs there sprang a stream or a well (the anonymous ballad called the Maara Avenan speaks to this portion of the elvish creation myth) and from that well there was given to the Gods (the Elähon in modern elvish) the gift of immortal life.

Then there was great strife in Edellä between Noronë and Lumiä, the two most powerful of the Gods because he would not bend to her will and make the things she desired. Yet, in that time the other Gods made many things and chief amongst those for the elves were Anunë, Tulä, and Seniä. These three are the most worshiped Gods amongst all the pantheon (other than Noronë, but that is only because her cult is ascendant in Tailimisä). Seniä and Tulä made the trees and the grasses and the animals of the earth, and Seniä herself made the Dish of the Moon, which the elves favor far above the sun for its beauty. There is a common elvish saying that the sun blinds, but the moon embraces and they love the night-time and the silvery light.

Now, Anunë loved Tulä from afar during all this work; he saw, in the Dish of the Moon, a great beauty and he went to Seniä and asked her what it was made of. She told him that it was silver, a metal, made by Eirun the lord of earth. So Anunë spoke then to Eirun (who himself had designs on another God – see the Book of Dwarves, Chapter one) and was given the secret of silver. Then, he made a brooch of silver shaped like a leaf, for Tulä loved the growing things she’d made. He gave it to her, and they both wept with joy, for they were in love. The tears fell off the brooch and into the waters of life, and made their way down to the middle world, Arunë. And where they touched the dirt they sprang forth into the very first elves, silver of skin and brilliant of eyes.

These elves raised their voices in song to of their maker, Anunë Lord of Winds, and his wife, Tulä the Mistress of Spring and Summer. They dwelled in the North in peace until the coming of the orcs and the goblins and the other creatures made by the Mud Gods in the Third Age. They were led by a Hierophant (Gwydereon in modern elvish) named Imdré Who Strode. Imdré was the high priest of Anunë and in peace he led the elves to settle a kingdom in the North.

His sons were called Tursas and Sirion; Sirion was the first elf to die, even before his father, and it is also said amongst the elves that he was the very first poet. Tursas became Hierophant after his father, and was Hierophant still when the First Men came up from the south; but that is another story.

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Subraces

Much like the other Created Races, the elves all spring from one common stock. The so-called “subraces” of elves that have evolved over the course of history all came from the people of Imdré the First in the Second Age. The elves were first divided by Imdré the Younger, also called the Betrayer, son of Tursas the Wise. In those days, orcs and goblins raided the kingdom of Tailimisiä and killed many fair elves; but when the First Men came up from the south, they made an alliance with the elves of the forest.

Together the first men and the elves went to war in what has become known as the War of the Chain, for at the very end of the war the elves chained Lumiä in the north, imprisoning him for many Ages to come as they believed (and to this day believe) him responsible for the deeds of the Youngest Races. Whether or not this is true, no one can now say.

But there were those elves, even in that time, that did not like men. Prince Imdré the Younger was amongst this group who, when the men and elves went to war together, harbored a deep hatred in his heart of this strange new people. For men brought with them the secrets of magic, and of building in stone and raising towers, and Tursas and many others were quite taken with these new things. But Imdré and many amongst the elves thought that they should hew to their own ways, and not trouble with men. When the War of the Chain was over, Imdré and many of his followers left the kingdom of Tailimisiä and forsook their kin – these became the Refusers. Those who did not wish violence upon men or their cousins yet still did not wish to dwell in stone houses followed another charismatic leader, the cleric Kivinë who worshiped the Moon, and they became the Wood Elves.

The final division amongst the elves, however, between the Wind and Silver elves, did not occur until much later. After the first men taught the elves the secret of magic, there were those who wished to devote themselves wholly to its perfection (and indeed, it is said that the elves have refined the art far beyond the measure of human talent) and a caste of scholars arose that lived in the land called Sylvasil; these were the Oronnos, who would become the Silver Elves of Oronë; they are not sundered from their kin, and still hold traffic with the Wind Elves.

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Wind Elves

GAME STATISTICS: Wind elves retain most of the powers presented in the PHB. However, rather than receiving a +1 bonus to-hit for longswords and longbows, they may instead select a single sword of their choice (generally the scimitar) to receive a +1 bonus to-hit when using. In addition, they automatically learn every elvish dialect as part of their youthful training in the paidea.

The Wind Elves are those who hew to the decisions of Tarsus the Wise; they are those who learned to build towers and bridges from men, and also who learned magic. Like all things the elves set their hands to, the arts of architecture and magic have been improved a thousand-fold from the teachings they were given. Wind elves are generally quite lusty, moved by strong emotions from extreme to extreme. When a wind elf feels grief, it is often very sharp and near and he may be moved to compose a poem or write a song. Likewise, when a wind elf is angry the very sky may seem to darken at his rage.

The wind elves are a tall people, standing somewhat taller than their cousins of the wood, and on average as tall as (or slightly taller) than men. They have pale flesh, and their hair tends towards lighter colors: silvers, yellows, reds, and auburns. Male wind elves may grow beards sometime after their four-hundredth year, indicating great age and venerability. They are fond of instruments and song as well as history; elvish scholars have written the most comprehensive histories of the past ages, eclipsed only by Orvius Kavalson’s unfinished masterwork, the Grand History.

They are a fierce people when roused to anger, but generally wind elves are quite patient. While their emotions are quite strong, it takes a long while for them to shift from state to state; thus, wind elves may be prey to long periods of melancholy or unexplainable happiness. Their laughter rings like fountain-water and, while they may grow fat like any other race, their people have a tendency to thinness that is almost severe.

Wind elves are also fond of craftsmanship, mostly desirous of things that emulate natural beauty. Clasps fashioned like flowers, swords like curving blades of grass, shields like fallen leaves; all of these things are common amongst the wind elves. They have a great respect for the beauty of handcrafted materials though they often come to harsh words with dwarves, seeing the stark lines of dwarven handiwork as blunt and unlovely. Of course, this is not always the case, and many an elvish noble has patronized a dwarvish artisan in ages past.

Wind elves find the other strains of their race generally distasteful (save for the silver elves). They often view wood elves as uncivilized and barbaric and refusers as downright evil. They consider themselves alone to be “true” elves, even going so far as to exclude silver elves from that right.

Wind elves are quite proud of their culture, and all wind elves growing up anywhere are taught a strict corpus of material. This is known as the paidea, and many elvish scholars find employ teaching the children of noblemen the elvish classics. This (along with the Silver Road, which is described in further detail below in the section on elvish magics) is one of the reasons that the far-flung kingdoms of the wind elves in the north are all so culturally homogeneous. Indeed, the paidea is so important that noble-elves consider it their duty to have the lower classes educated as well, and even an elven farmer can recite the ancient poetry of Sirion.

The wind elves suffered greatly at the end of the Eighth Age from a disease called the Bleeding Plague which, though it struck all races, did not strike all equally. The wind elves were hurt the worst by it, and there was a great deal of violence and bloodshed due to the spread of the disease. The inheritance of that dark and anarchic period are the spell-wards placed along the borders of most wind elvish lands. These wards are designed to fool travelers and many men have sought out elvish kingdoms only to find themselves doubling back on paths they thought they’d crossed hours before; these wards confound and befuddle the unwary, keeping the elves safe. Of course, the wards must be periodically renewed, and in the Tenth Age they are only active in times of war. The other legacy of the Plague is the ruination of several elvish kingdoms and the absorption of many homeless and rootless wind elves into the wood elf population.

The wind elves are by far the most numerous of the elvish subraces, and they control the most important political structures of all the northern elves.

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Silver Elves

GAME STATISTICS: While they retain the ability to sense secret doors and shrug off charm spells, Silver Elves get none of the other elvish benefits. Instead, whenever they cast wizard spells they calculate all effects as though they were one level higher.

When at last Aasentameri went to the Isle, she was succeeded by her own son as hierophant and lord, master of the devotions of Anune as well as lord over Ylvasmetsa. He was named Kivinen, which is the Stone, and strong as stone was he. It was in his rule that the power of Hierophant was challenged at last, in which Sidabrina broke free of the control of Ylvasmetsa. For the Oronnos of Sylvasil did not see in the house of Merivenye anything noble or strong — “They are sailors,” the Oronnos would say, “While we are the elder-wise, the magic-strong, the greatest of all the elves.” So war erupted in the Searing Hills and the Oronnos fielded armies of sorcery to claim the seat of the Hierophant. But in the end, Kivenen would not yield, and the Oronnos did not win the leadership of all Ylvasmetsa; instead, Kivenen gave them the authority to govern themselves, and ever after Sylvasil was not part of the Greatwood, but a kingdom of its own, with a mighty wizard-lord ruling from the tower of Nostorin.

That passage is from the Grand History and it describes the failed bid of the Oronnos to claim the throne of the Greatwood in the Third Age. The Oronnos became known as the silver elves who lived in the land of Sylvasil before its destruction. Today, the last silver elves live in Oronë, the islands on the Inner Sea. Many of them fled the fall of Sylvasil with the coming of the dragons (a topic much-discussed in elvish lore and the subject of the song known as the Ballad of Sylvasil Eldispellion) and escaped to the Oronëian isles.

Silver elves were always interested in the study of magic much more than their kin. While the wind elves do devote attention to it, it is but one of the many arts they treasure. For the silver elves, magical lore is the paramount knowledge, and all things pale before it. They are known as silver elves because they have not lost the silvery sheen to their skin that all elves were said to have, once upon a time, when they first emerged from the waters.

In addition to their silvery skin, these elves have eyes of strange and unsettling colors. Scholars have suggested it is their long study of magic which has affected them so, but it may be that the families of the Oronnos were prone to these traits before they became known as the silver elves. Amber, shining gray, deep reds, purple, and seastone green are all potential iris-colors. Their hair runs to darker colors than the wind elves; coppery colors, as though they were all made of metals.

Silver elves are extremely reclusive, even more so than the wind elves. They were not affected by the Bleeding Plague because they have placed a leaguer around Oronë forbidding any to land there without their permission. During the War of Necromancy in the Ninth Age it is said they repelled an invasion by the Necromancer and destroyed one of his gigantic and horrifying Death Titans. The skeletal remains of that giant can still be seen in the bay of the lead island of Oronë today, the tip of its helm and massive skull standing vigil just above the water.

The storehouses of lore and history in Oronë are rumored to be beyond compare, the most complete and best in all the world. Wizards clamor to journey to the silver islands, but only a scant few are chosen each year as worthy to spend time there. The silver isles have no Silver Road to link them with any other elvish land, and thus the silver elves have grown distant and estranged from their cousins the wind elves.

It is said that the silver elves are quite slow to laugh or smile, and that they speak in subdued tones. They wear shapeless unrevealing robes and garments of practical utility spun from Ralashar silks. They do not make music as the wind elves do, nor do they worship at evensong. The only music the silver elves truly enjoy is the sound of the chimes ringing over the islands when the wind blows, for there are hundreds of metal tubes that depend from the rooflines of the silver elvish libraries and lorehouses, each of which has a small clapper that allows it to ring in the breeze.

They have as little truck with outsiders as possible, and rarely (if ever) do they leave the silver isles. A restlessness may come upon a few in a century, but it is rare to see one abroad.

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Wood Elves

GAME STATISTICS: Wood elves retain the normal benefits of elves presented in the PHB.

The wood elves are seen by many as reclusive barbarians. In some sense, this is true; wood elven society is semi-nomadic and organized in a tribal hierarchy. They generally are ruled by a charismatic leader (sometimes called a Warden). However, there is more to the wood elf than this.

They are shorter than their wind and silver elven kin, standing around five feet tall at the tallest. They are darker of skin – chestnut or mahogany. Their hair is generally black or brown as well, and their eyes range the darker gamut. Wood elves grow their facial hair earlier than wind or silver elves, tending towards long drooping mustaches or chin-beards, though the majority are cleanshaven. Wood elves differ in temperament from tribe to tribe, running the gamut from the friendly to the extremely xenophobic. No matter their disposition, however, wood elves cannot abide the exploitation of the natural environment. To this end they have a strong distaste for woodsmen and trappers who make a living off of the forests.

Wood elves are exceptionally keen of eye, and in addition to their famed bows they are also masters of poultices and herblore. Few wood elves become wizards, but those that do make excellent alchemists.

While some tribes wander within a certain area semiannually, there are also those that do not wander but rather live in a certain grove or clearing. Wood elves do stick to the forests, rarely venturing outside of them en mass. They share a belief in the sanctity and intelligence of all living things; they do not mine, nor do they cut down trees, but rather they trade with outsiders for their weapons, most frequently with superior-acting wind elf merchants. As such they tend to use wind elven weapons (though they do make their own leather armor).

Most wood elven settlements are situated around a central tree of great age; it is said that their elders can speak with trees and stones. In my experience, wood elves often have their homes built around particularly sleepy tree-ents. It is also possible that the presence of the wood elves awakens these trees; there are many legends among the elves of the wood about how their ancestors awoke the first treants in the early Third Age.

Since most wood elven societies do not have a learning of metalwork or mining, most wood elvish garments are made from local materials. Leathers and roughspun tunics are the norm. Wood elves also tend to worship Aloran and Senia rather than the other gods (who are more commonly worshiped by the wind and silver elves).

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Refusers

The Refusers, the followers of Prince Imdre, are more like the wood elves than the other elf-kin, but still are quite different from all of them. They left the elvish homelands in the north and went to find a place where they could continue their lives as though men had never come from out of the southern jungles. In this Age, however, the Refusers are bandits, brigands, and pirates. They are reavers and murderers who see in all the other peoples of the north something to be exploited.

They have some physical similarities with their wind elf cousins, though they have long ago taken up the habit of extensive bodily modification-piercings and various “improvements” lend them a fearsome look on the battlefield. They are of middling height, as tall as men, and tend to have lighter hair colors. As a people they do not build cities or write histories. Rather, they have fortified encampments, and consider themselves to be always at war. The magics they developed they learned from dragons in the Fourth and Fifth Ages, and it is cruder and more violent than the sorceries known by the other races. However, wizards remain extremely rare amongst their ranks.

The reavers come on tides of darkness, and leave before sunup. They are notorious slavers, always seeking a profit from the suffering of the “lesser races”, and they have been known to sell slaves in the Free Cities or Essad, restraining their violence long enough to put to port and unload their cargo.

Little more can be said of this violent people, for they will suffer no outsiders among their ranks and would rather fight to the death than be captured.

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Life as an Elf

Living within an elvish society is quite different from, say, living in the court at Miles. Elves do not stand on ceremony and are extremely free with their emotions. Those are the only constants amongst the various subraces of elf. The wind and wood elves share little more than that in lifestyle; having lived with both, I can make clear the variations between them.

Wind elves of all social classes have more leisure time than do men. The fields are blessed with the gifts of Tula, and they seem to blossom more freely in the elvish lands and yield more fruit. Likewise, skilled elvish hands can finish jobs much more quickly than mannish artisans. However, I believe the greatest difference between wind elf and mannish society is that all wind elves feel entitled to time of their own. This time is usually used singing or composing poetry, or even simply making things with their hands. Wind elves do not believe in sacrificing today for tomorrow, and as such will rarely work to exhaustion – a point of contention between elves and dwarves (or rock gnomes).

Calendrical and time-marking rites are also very important to the wind elves. Every night at dusk the clerics of Anune sing the Evensong; every week there is a minor marketing day and every month there is a major marketing day at a town center. These customs are as old as the elvish kingdoms themselves. Additionally, the wind elves celebrate twelve yearly festivals, one a month, each serving a different calendrical purpose.

These are: Whiteblossom (5th Thaw) which celebrates the returning of the trees and flowers and is dedicated to Tula, Woodharrow (8th Greening) which celebrates the return of Tula from the underworld, and Springsorrow (5th Sowing) which reminds the wind elves that all things must grow and change and die; Springsorrow is usually celebrated by the recitation of home-made poetry and is formally dedicated to Anunye. In summer there is the Summer-feast (15th Festing) which is also celebrated by men, the Field of Swords (15th Swording) in which martial prowess is honored, and the Lamp Festival (1st Furrow) to honor the passage of the sun’s longest hours. The Autumn rite of Fireleaves (22nd Hording) is a minor harvest festival with the major one, Harvestide (also known as Lammastide and Barleywend by men) (10th Reaping) taking precedence in this season. Closing the autumn is the Longing Hour (12th Longing) which is a quiet and solemn occasion. The three winter rites are the Darkling (1st Darkling), Dwindling (1st Colding), and Weeping (1st Yearning) all of which honor the dead.

Silver elves hold no festivals or celebrations; they do not farm or do labor with their hands. Every silver elf who lives on Orone engages in the study of magic or history (or a similar scholarly pursuit). The merchants who supply food and other materials to the islands are contracted out by the silver elves; the only handiwork a silver elf will ever undertake is the repair or construction of one of the libraries or lorehouses. Silver elves barely sleep, even compared to other elves, and may spend days without it reading or lost walking in the past as described by some ancient tome.

Wood elves do not celebrate these rites, nor do they write or record anything. For a wood elf community, the primary means of remembrance is “speaking to the trees.” This is something done by wood elf priests, who claim to be able to understand the tongue of the stones and the trees and many other natural things. Day to day life for a wood elf revolves around hunting and trapping as well as long hours of manual labor: ropemaking, leatherworking, etc.

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Elvish Religion

“The Font of joy is the bosom of the Maker. Silver blessings descend from the Lord of Winds, and all good things spring from him. Go forth, children of the Wind, and sing the song that gladdens.”

Song of the Four Winds, Anuneiän Holy Text, 3rd Age

Many believe that the wind elves are so-called because they revere the Anuniä, their creator, above all other gods. This is not strictly true, however. Wind elf religion is just as varied and strange as the religious amalgamations of the other races. What really defines the Wind Elf culture is that they have retained (or at least tried to retain) the ancient modes of worship and social structure of the old elvish thearchy of the Greatwood. The various elvish kingdoms of the north retain different elements from the ancient thearchy. Most of all, however, the elvish kingdoms of the north share a common cultural descendance.

In many of the northern kingdoms, Anuneiä is in fact the chief god. This is not true primarily in the powerful and ancient land of Tailimisä, which is ironic as it is the most direct descendant of the Greatwood civilization.

Worship in a wind elf context

The religious life an average wind elf differs greatly from the religious life of a common man living in the North. While most men (and many dwarves) do not interact with religion in a formal way on a set day-to-day basis, wind elven clerics sing daily prayers, the Intoners singing from the eight major Anuneiän texts of song. Yet many elves do not worship Anuniä as their prime god.

The other great competing wind elvish temple is that of Noronë which has faded in the past few hundred years. Noronën elves still attend the infrequent service of Anuniä, but Noronë demands a much different type of devotion. While Anuniën services consist of a series of Intoners singing the Eight Songs of Joy along with the congregation, Noronën worship takes place only once a month (like dwarvish devotion) on a day dedicated to the sun, at noon, whereas Anuniän worship generally is performed at dusk. Interestingly, this is what gives the time of day its name: Evensong.

While elves do not practice ancestor-veneration in the way the dwarves do, they do feel a strong connection to their past. This can be seen in the many statues and crypts of the dead that adorn wind elvish cities, oftentimes interspersed throughout the homes of the living.

Of course, there is an entire pantheon of gods that the wind elves worship; these include Tulä, Anunë, Calëron, and others. The physical temples of these deities vary greatly depending on the priorities of the relevant god. There is not space here to explore the attitudes of each nor to examine their cults in great detail. In brief, they are as follows:

Akanian, the Silent One. The cult of Akanian is small but important. They minister to the bereaved and deal with the bodies of the dead who have gone west. Akanian appears most often as a pale elf with a cloak and a high silver helm but it is said that he does not leave the place of the elven dead, the Isle in the West, where they ascend to Edellä.

Aloran, the Watcher.

Anunë, the Wind Lord.

Calëron, the Smith.

Kavalian, Lady of the Waters.

Lumiä, the Apostate.

Noronë, the Daystar.

Sarwé, the Weaver.

Seniä, the Green Mother.

Talifer, the Foolhardy.

Tulä, the Spring Maiden.

Of course, not included in this list are the three Shadow Gods: Fyrash, Runeiä, and Seäd. These are gods that the wind elves do not like to recognize publicly, as their worship is seen as something of a stain on the good name of the elvish communities. Be that as it may, worship of them is not quite outlawed and they have small but flourishing cults in most major wind elven lands.

Worship in a silver elf context

The silver elves maintain secretive Lumiän temples, which outsiders are generally not granted permission to participate in. There are four religiously dedicated lorehouses, which are like silver-elf noble families, though they are not related to birth but rather by adoption. These lorehouses each present a different branch of the Lumiän cult on the isles, and are described below.

Worship in a wood elf context

The wood elves do not worship in the same way that wind elves do. Their expressions of religious devotion are much more communal; rather than relying on the prayers of the cults, wood elves pray in large groups and aloud. Most wood elven communities worship a single god together while each individual elf therein may hold a personal, or patron, god. The most common community god of the wood elves is Aloran followed closely by Seniä.

As long as a wood elf joins in the public prayer ceremonies (usually held by a tribe chief, elder, or cleric) they are allowed to worship in private however they like. Organized cults within wood elven society are rare if not altogether unheard of. Those that have been introduced by the wind elves have very rarely taken hold. Rather, wood elves worship tribe by tribe and display curious few differences canon by canon; the wood elves hold that this is because the gods will not be gainsayed, and that, for example, each tribe who worships Aloran is inspired by that god to worship him in the correct way.

Worship in a refuser context

I truly cannot elaborate this section, as I have never been to a refuser settlement nor gotten close enough to a live refuser to question them. In the absence of other sources one can only speculate on how the refusers worship — undoubtedly, they have a priesthood and something resembling cults as such elves have been spotted aboard refuser ships or in raiding parties striking villages. Beyond that, there is nothing that can be said.

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Noble Houses

Wind elf nobility

Wind elven society has been shaped by the great noble houses that rule their lands. The power of the noble houses is more absolute and secure in most wind elvish kingdoms than even those of Opria or Golnia. Complex politics dominate the lives of many of these houses, which own utterly massive estates. The first of those noble houses was the Imdrenen, scions of one of the first elves, Lord Imdré Who Strode.

Wind elvish noble houses are a curious thing; they are resilient enough to withstand the wearing of the centuries but it is also not unheard of for new ones to be created – much unlike the mannish nobility who must trace their descent back to some common ancestor to be afforded that title or else win in war. Yet it is one of the greatest powers of the elvish kings and thearchs to grant the titles of nobility to their servants and raise them to that status; perhaps this is due to the eventual decay of the great houses. New blood is often needed to invigorate them, and so many lands that have fallen into disuse are often made as gifts to loyal and close advisers.

There are no wind elf noble houses that span more than one kingdom or land, either; while such things may be true of the mannish nobility, particularly in the old lands of the Avarine Empires, the elves have developed strict laws preventing such things occurring, for such would be a power too great for any of the mighty elvish houses.

Due to the varying nature of each of the wind elf kingdoms, it is impossible to give a general overview of how these houses interact with the local power structures. The few things that can be said are that they are extremely wealthy and powerful and act as patrons for arts and more scholarly pursuits. Each of the great noble houses also holds sway over a great deal of land, administering it and overseeing the towns and cities within their domains. Yet, somehow, elvish common folk retain more rights than do any mannish ones; the smallfolk of the elvish lands are not bound to remain in one place (though they may be subject to their lord’s justice).

The following are titles used by the wind elves to designate their nobility:

Gwydereon – This title is reserved for the Hierophant of Tailimisia. It designates the priest-king of the elvish homeland. The current Hierophant is Kelatulë Elimä, the high priest of the Daystar.

Brenneon – This title designates an elvish king. The Brennan are rulers of the elvish kingdoms other than Tailimisia.

Tywys – A title reserved for the heir apparent of an elvish kingdom. The Tywys need not be from the same family as the local Brenneon if the nobles of the kingdom support an heir other than the one from the Brenneon’s house.

Tywyn – An elf lord, and head of a noble house. The feminine version of this title is Tywynne.

Glwys-lân – This title means “holy one” but is used for clerics of all kinds. The opposite title, anfad-lân, is used for a priest of an enemy; this means something like “unholy one.”

Wind elf heraldry

Unlike mannish heraldry, wind elves tend to blazon extremely complex crests that are almost paintings. Male heraldry is displayed in a long circular oval and female heraldry in a lozenge-shape; these are much more elongated than the normal heraldic field of mannish lands and peoples mostly due to the fact that elves prefer longer shields that cover more of the overall body.

Silver elf nobility

The silver elves do not have a hereditary nobility; they all have grand stylings such as “Lord Magister” or “Prince,” which seems to depend on the position of that elf within the lorehouse that he is allied to. Indeed, instead of powerful noble families, the silver elves have a series of major Lore-houses which are non-kinship groups related to where that elf studied on the silver isles. These lorehouses exist in a state of competition with one another for resources, though Oronë is ruled by a joint council of all the loremasters of each library or house. There are six major silver elf lorehouses, being:

The Cove: The islands belonging to the Cove are some of the most hospitable in the inner sea. The cove controls shipyards and bays, and the small but potent fleet of the silver elves is under the command of Cove sailors. Generally, this fleet is hired out to the other lorehouses to go abroad and trade for books and other items of greater necessity. The Cove is one of the most important lorehouses on the isles.

The Deep Library: This lorehouse, also called simply the deep, commands a single large island in the center of the silver isles. It’s libraries are the most well-stocked and its scholars the most well-versed in arcane lores. The Deep wizards are known throughout the north as the greatest masters of magic ever to walk the earth.

The Rook: this lorehouse sits on a high spur of rock above the sea, and is one of the least powerful of the lorehouses politically, though it is said that the small library there is filled with strange and obscure lore unavailable anywhere else.

The Sapphire Tile: This lorehouse is one of the more important and powerful in the isles. So named because of the blue-plated roofs on that island, the House of the Sapphire (as it is commonly shortened) controls a vast number of libraries and small outlying islands and acts as the gateway to the rest of the isles. Foreign, non elvish, ships are only permitted to dock on the Sapphire Isles.

The Silver Chime: Responsible for the creation and maintenance of the silver chimes (as well as all other metalwork on the isles) this house is underestimated in importance, for the entirity of the isles requires the metal from the workshops here. The Silver Chime also houses libraries dedicated to metalcrafting lore as well as the history of dwarves.

The White Lamp: Serving as a lighthouse and beacon for the rest of the isles, the Island of the White Lamp bears a soaring tower with a sea-light perched at its peak. The White Lamp is a minor player amongst the politics of the isles.

There are also lorehouses devoted solely to the worship of Lumiä and the study of magic in his name: these are the Jade, the Veridian, the Celadon, and the Emerald Lorehouses. These four make up a small archipelago of islands. Were it not for the cults that inhabit them, they would be relatively minor. As it is, they seem to have a say that is disproportionate to their stature within Oronë.

The Celadon Lorehouse: The cult of the Celadonian lorehouse studies astrology and divines the meaning of omens and signs. Celadon Seers are said to be gifted with portents of future-sight. They wear masks unique to their cult, which have brilliant silver markings around the eyes. The Celadon Lorehouse is also renowned for its observation dome, in which the loremasters calculate the passage of the stars.

The Emerald Lorehouse: The Emerald Lorehouse focuses on the properties of stones to produce magical effects. This makes the Emerald Loreseekers some of the most skilled magical jewelers in elfdom. Their workshops dominate the Lorehouse, the books of the Emerald Lorehouse being almost an afterthought.

The Jade Lorehouse: The Jade Lorehouse focuses on the harmonies of magic, and the path of tonal progression as it relates to the powers of magic. The Jade Lorehouse trains its Loreseekers in musical knowledge; some believe this is tied to the power the bardic college of the Spellsingers seems to share.

The Veridian Lorehouse: The Veridian Lorehouse focuses the attentions on of its cult on the study and control of magical power itself, as a latent energy that persists throughout the world. The Veridian is the youngest of the Lorehouses, boasting only several millenia after the Aellonian concept of the Dragon’s Breath became widely known.

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Magic

Magic has been important to the elves since they first learned it from the men of the southlands in the Second Age. It has represented a defining factor of the silver and wind elves, as distinct from the refusers and even the wood elves (who, while they do have magic and study it do not do so in nearly as systematic or comprehensive a manner). Indeed, the love of magic has formed the core of many elvish societies, and it is present even today. We can see this in the legacy of the Silver Road which still functions even after thousands upon thousands of years, unmarred save by the hands of elves themselves when times were dangerous.

Elvish magic is strongly associated with mysticism and mystery and, while elves did not invent the notion of the secluded wizard, they certainly adopted it. Elven wizards tend to be more reclusive than the sometimes urbane mages that live amongst men. Rarely is an elvish mage found living in a city amongst other elves, but rather in towers adorned with gems and white and tall and thin.

The greatest achievement of elvish magic is the silver road, which links all elven communities of the north.

The Silver Road

Cultural homogeneity has always been one of the hallmarks of elvish lands. The great classics of elvish history are taught in much the same manner in Silversong forest as on the plains of Highstone. This is due to the ease of travel between elvish lands; the Silver Road is a network of wizard’s circles large enough to transport between 200 and 500 people at a time.

The physical manifestation of the Silver Road appears as a large circular area paved with flags set away from any major settlements (lest an invading army use it). The exterior flagstones are inscribed with sindabras-runes that give each circle a unique set of Mäidic names.

When a wizard stands in a Silver Circle and speaks the ancient (and secret) spells of transport, the entire circle springs to life, bringing all within to the named mate that the wizard calls upon.

Since the time of the Wars of Necromancy, the Silver Circles on the Oronëan isles have been completely effaced to prevent their use. However, there are still many operative silver circles in distant and ruined lands in which elves no longer dwell.

Wardstones

Another elvish creation, wardstones were first widely used during the anarchy of the bleeding plague. Many elvish kingdoms are surrounded by wardstones along their borders to prevent trespassers from finding their way within. These small and unassuming stone boundary-markers bear Mäidic inscriptions on them that, when active, confuses travelers. Anyone attempting to pass through a region where warding magic has been called upon will find themselves wandering in circles or lost in deep drifts of fog, eventually coming back to a place that leads away from the protected territory.

The creation of wardstones is a particular specialty of elvish abjurers who sometimes surround their own towers with such devices.

Kivenin

The kivenin, or elfstones, are enchanted gemstones that have been treated with some special words and methods to prepare them. While there are few kivenin that are not incorporated into some larger magical item, almost all enchanted things made by elvish wizards bear them. The favorite gemstones of the elves is sapphire and thus elves often bear sapphire inset armor or swords.

Kivenin can be enchanted in a dizzying variety of ways, from simple spells of light that make them glow (much like dwarf lanterns) to more arcane and dazzling effects. The particular powers of kivenin are hard to deduce, for their creation is complex and their use occult.

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Immortality

Elven bodies, being originally made of silver and the very essence of life, do not decay or become corrupted as do the bodies of men. Neither does the union of soul and body become more tenuous as time goes on. For this reason, elves do not simply pass away. They may be killed by disease or in battle, but old age never takes them.

However, the elvish mind is not so immune. Immortal and changeless in a world where change is the only constant, elves are beset by the grief of witnessing transience. There is a great body of elvish elegiac poetry that deals with the mutability of the world and the ethereal nature of all things.

Elves possess the gift of separating their soul from their mortal body at will; they may leave their housing and journey into the west at any time they desire. This gift allows them to escape the grief of the world before it overcomes their reason and turns them into lunatics lost in the past, or worse.

It is a general rule that elves go west to the Isle of the Stair some time around their five hundreth year. In the early days of the world they were longer of life, and indeed some elves have lived for far more than five hundred years of this world. However, it seems to be an unwritten rule that the longer an elf waits to go west, the greater the chance of melancholic madness.

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Worldview

The worldview of the Silver and Wind elves is somewhat similar, while that of Wood and Refusers are both widely divergent. Therefore, they shall be here dealt with in three groups. Silver and Wind elves both revel in their years, as well as fear the passage of time as it eventually erodes all of their works. With lifespans as long as they are and generally introspective culture, the wind and silver elves tend towards melancholia or extreme fiery passion-they are poor at maintaining a balance between their emotions. Young elves generally experience life with more of the fire in them, while older elves live tinged with sadness.

Wind elves see the world as a place to live in, but also a place against which they are set in opposition. The world is impermanent and while the greatest of elvish philosophers may have been able to reconcile themselves with the changeable nature of reality, most elves fight against this fact throughout their lives, attempting to establish things of ethereal permanency; Wind elves see the most permanent of all things not as stone or blade or conquest, but rather in creations of beauty which can live on by experience through their children. This has led the two most valued things in elvish society to be art and history, which both may remain long after the towers and walls have crumbled. Silver elves have much the same attitude, though they seek to study magic instead. Through their continuing mastery of the arcane arts, they may aspire to create a semi-permanency.

Of course, that is not to say that individuals and sometimes whole societies do not strive against the changeable nature of the world. It is not uncommon for a noble family to enact powerful magics on the tombs of their ancestors or their own houses in order to preserve them against the ravages of time. While other races may seek immortal life, elves already have this blessing (and curse). Instead, they seek not to preserve themselves, but rather to preserve their works and their surroundings.

As far as Wood Elves are concerned, they have managed to retain a much different attitude about the mutable nature of the world. They are unconcerned with things such as politics and permanency. Instead, they live to see things change and grow, to blossom and then in their time die. Wind and silver elves may see this view as perverse or counter to natural urges of preservation, but wood elves will say that they simply echo the very heart of nature itself, Anunë.

Wood elves worship the earth itself, and frequently their priests, generally of the Druidic Order speak with the very trees and stones. To the Dosä, the land is itself a person, as are each of the plants that grow and the rocks that sit in the earth. They are very attached to the regions in which they live, though that is not to say that Wood Elves never travel. New lands have new characters and many elves journey to see and experience the great variety of the world.

Refusers cannot be classified with their other elvish cousins. In their eyes, the world has shut them out and exists only as a treasure-trove for them to raid and take slaves. They tend to live on small islands are in unexplored coastal lands, assaulting the peoples around them but tending towards primarily human targets.

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Crafts

Craftsmanship is an important part of elvish culture. Calëron the Smith is also known as the Craftsman, and artisans are given great honor in elvish societies. The Wind Elves dedicated themselves to various crafts, producing master-artisans who can challenge even the fine work of the dwarves. Dedication to a craft is considered to be a noble pursuit, and the elvish kings (the Brenneon) as well as noble lords (Tywen) sponsor many hundreds of artists and craftsmen each, giving them ample free time to create what they will. Elvish artwork is introspective and thoughtful. All crafts are considered an extension of artwork; this means that even the most modest of elvish blade has a fine balance and is forged to look at least somewhat like something else. Elves are fond of blades that look like leaves or blades of grass. Shields are fashioned after leaves as well, and

Wood elves, however, have few craftsmen and make little in the ways of crafts. Metalworkers are rare amongst them, and mines even rarer (nearly nonexistent). Wind elves often trade with the wood elves, selling them weapons and other goods in exchange for herb, wood, and the various alchemical substances wood elves brew. The crafts wood elves DO practice include carving (bone, wood, and other substances), herb lore and the arts of poison, and leather-making. Some tribes do practice basic stonework to make statues, but they never use it to build homes.

Refusers build ships and make cruel barbed weapons, but I have never seen a Refuser craft that was not meant to injure or kill.

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Poetry

Wind elvish poetry descends from the Anunëian poetry known as the Eight Songs of Joy. These have provided the template for poems and poetry since the beginning of elvish history. Poetry comprises a significant portion of elvish time and effort; most wind elves write poetry at some point in their lives with their free time. However, most elves who write poetry do it purely for themselves or a circle of their friends. They generally do not share it with the world. This is because songmakers, historians, playwrights, and poets of all kinds are some of the most revered members of elvish society.

Music and poetry are integral to all aspects of elvish life. The nobility often have various petty players to entertain them, and most occasions of any numbers whatsoever are accompanied by musicians or poets. However, these are only the petty harpists and lyre-players of Elvenkind. Those who aspire to write histories (many of which are set to music or are meant to be read accompanied by music) or compose songs and poems of new and lasting potency are generally highly regarded and sometimes even granted nobility for their efforts.

Poetry and music are also woven throughout elvish history–the art of spell-singing, codified and mastered by the Spellsingers of Iiriem, is an ancient elvish practice. When man first taught them magic, it was Feanwé who learned it. However, over the long years he taught the art to those who would become the Oronnos as well as the master-singers and the harpists of his home, who had learned their art from the giants.

Thus, bardic magics have been passed down from the earliest of elvish times. This tendency has spilled over into human cultures as well, which produced the bardic schools and colleges as well as the notion of the wandering troubadour, learned in magic as well as song. For more on elvish spellsinging, see the Spellsinger Kit presented below.

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Architecture

Wind and Silver elves share many architectural elements in their cities. They differentiated many centuries ago, however, and silver elvish buildings have followed a different evolution of forms. While wind elves prefer slender buildings with open awnings and porticos, the silver tend towards long low buildings with overhanging eaves in the style of silver elvish libraries, taking the place of most of the tower buildings that wind elves prefer (though there are undoubtedly some silver elven towers, particularly where the islands require lighthouses to ward off ships).

Of course, not every wind elvish building is a tower or adorned with towers. But those which are not, tend to follow the pattern of wide eaves and slender archways. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that the wind elvish style of building is descended from the Milean villas found on the southern coasts of the Trade Sea. Of course, it has since deviated considerably from that form. Wind elves prefer to build with colored stone (or, in many places, with heavy red brick and then sheath those structures in tinted marbles). A recent architectural innovation has adorned buildings built within the last seventy years with external hooks so that lanterns may depend from them, shedding light on the inner courtyards and streets of elvish cities.

Noble holdings are, of course, the ultimate expression of elvish architecture. Elves have different ideas of land-use than men, of course; they do not attempt to pack many people into a single area, but rather they allow their towns and cities to meander almost like pleasure-gardens over vast spaces. If this is true of elvish cities, then the lands of a noble house are a microcosm of their urban centers. Noble houses may own many hundreds of acres of land, buildings scattered throughout. When a house is in its upswing or Yncodi, all of those buildings spread over the region will be in good repair. However, during a noble house’s Sy’ndod (or falling period) some or all of those buildings will be in poor repair or even in full collapse.

Wind elves also tend to embellish their architecture with natural forms. Minor architectural details are sometimes fashioned like leaves, ivy, or animals. The most renowned architects in the wind elvish nations have also, in recent centuries (particularly since the elvish renaissance) designed buildings which are cunningly rendered after a natural creation; for example, a large manor designed in form and function as a flower with wings like petals spreading out from its center.

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Elves and the Sea

Elves have had a relationship with the sea since before the coming of Man. In the dark days of Lord Imdre Gwydereon (the Elder, not the Betrayer), when the north was ravaged by the spawn of the Felnumen, the elves inhabited the forest of Ylvasmetsa, which became known in later years as the Greatwood and its companion-land, Sylvasil.

The first elvish settlements were by the sea, in fact. The cities in Vesmia and Tailimisia on the water are built upon the oldest resting-places of the elves before they knew how to hew stone or build towers. Sidabrinia and Vesimia are what remain of the two great deepwater kingdoms of the elves; Elvish sailors long ago explored the coasts of Arune from the ports in those two lands.

While not all elves are enamoured of the sea, those who are have become consumate sailors and explorers. In the early ages, elves founded colonies far and wide from those deepwater kingdoms. During the elvish renaissance of the Ninth Age they resumed those colonizing activies as their people were in a resurgence. However, with the coming of the Bleeding Plague and the devastation of the elvish populations, the shipyards once again fell silent.

It is only now, over five hundred years after the sword-stroke of the plague smote elvendom, that the Moon Fleet of Vesimia and the Cloud Fleet of Sidabrinia have begun to sail far abroad to strange lands again. It is said that elvish mariners have seen places the likes of which most men cannot imagine-far Mughar, Diaojiong, and the dark side of the world.

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Other Races

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Elves at War

Wind elvish nations do not go to war in feudal levies as the Milean nations of the north do. Rather, elvish noble houses support standing forces that are supported as private militias. Elvish armies are composed of specially provided warrior-nobles; elvish armies are, in this sense, made up entirely of what a Milean would recognize as knights. However, these militias are necessarily small. They are supplemented in times of great strife by drafting up members of the noble’s household. It is for this reason that wind elves are all trained in the use of a sword (generally a scimitar). They are required to fill out the ranks of noble households. During times of war, each noble offers up command of their own house to their Brenneon.

Elvish knights are not all mounted warriors. Some are swordsmen, others train with polearms. Mounted elvish warriors prefer the use of the longspear to the mannish lance. Elves generally wear chain mail or scale mail; only the most highly trained of elvish warriors ever wears plate mail due to the restrictions it presents in mobility. Elvish fighting forces are generally quite fleet of foot, and tend to move with extreme rapidness. Wind elves have long since developed a fighting style based on the way they fought in the wood. That is, elvish forces tend to strike quickly and melt into the surrounding countryside to resupply and strike again. Two elvish armies fighting is more similar to vipers dueling or men in a knife-fight than to iron-clad knights charging into each other.

While elvish armies do indeed engage in large-scale battles, the maneuvering between them is almost as important (if not, perhaps, more so). Feinting and repositioning is an integral part of elvish tactics, both wind and wood. Great wind elf generals will sight their enemy many times before finally choosing to make a decisive engagement.

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Elvish Cities

Cities of the wind elves (the only elves who truly build cities) are quite different from those of men or dwarves. They do not pack their populations into small areas and build layer upon layer up like the Mileans or down like the dwarves. Instead, wind elves build their cities over many miles. They have very little civic planning other than that the old center of the city is generally the location of the settlement’s important temples upon an open green. However, most of an elvish city can be considered a “green,” as they incorporate large stretches of meadow or flowering field into the same places where they raise their buildings.

Tombs, as well, can be found interspersed throughout dwellings for elves take great pains to bury their dead and remember their ancestors in elegant architecture. Wide boulevards generally provide the traffic of the city with easy-to-traverse paths, but the smaller lanes of elvish towns tend to meander this way and that. Walking through a city of elves is somewhat similar, in a sense, to walking through a garden.

Of course, older elvish cities are less open than those formed in later ages. The capitals of the ancient kingdoms, for example, exhibit much less free space than places that were founded later. As time goes on, the green spaces shrink under the weight of tall elvish towers and courtyard-homes. Yet, there is a certain amount of free space that elves will not live without. Even the most ancient cities would rather spread than completely cover the land.

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Elvish Diet

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Elvish Drinks

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Clothing

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Music

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Character Creation

Elf Kits

Bladedancer

(warrior kit)

Bladedancers represent a special group of elves who train with bladed weapons. While all elves (as a timeless race) can achieve amazing heights of prowess with their swords, an elvish Bladedancer dedicates a good portion of their live to meditating on the various “stances” of the blade. These elves eschew armor and prefer to let their weapons do the work of defending them.

Requirements: Dex 17, Wis 12

Weapon Proficiencies: Any bladed weapon, most often scimitar and/or bladed polearms. Bladedancers avoid ranged weapons. Bladedancers may specialize in their primary weapon just as a non-kitted fighter may.

Bonus NWPs: One-weapon fighting style, tumbling.

Recommended NWPs:

Special Benefits: Bladedancers are able to engage in a complicated series of pre-planned maneuvers known as stances which they train for days and link together during battle. The higher their concentration, the faster they move and the more dangerous their battle-tactics. This reflects itself in an increasing bonus to-hit and damage as they fight. For every round a bladedancer is not hit in combat his focus increases, granting a 1 to-hit bonus and a +.5 damage bonus (thus, every two rounds, the damage bonus increases). These bonuses may reach a maximum of +5/3 respectively.

In the third round of the trance, the dancer’s weapon speed decreases by 1 point. In the fifth round, this increases to 2 points, giving a scimitar a speed of 4 in the hands of a fully concentrating bladedancer.

If the bladedancer is struck, his concentration is shattered and he must begin anew.

Special Hinderances: Bladedancers may not perform this ability while wearing any type of armor, and for this reason they do not spend time learning how to properly move in armor of any kind. In addition, they will never use ranged weapons nor can they use blunt weapons with any level of skill.

Wealth Options: A bladedancer starts with 5d4x10gp as per a warrior.

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New Equipment

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The Book of Elves

Abridged History of the 10th Age Idabrius