The Nightmare Before the Dream
The elves are an ancient species of humanoids. They’re all but immortal and thus slow to make decisions. Elves tend to be aloof in the eyes of the other races, especially so to humans. Their ponderous nature is often misconstrued to be emotionless disinterest. In reality, the elven race is quite empathetic, caring and concerned.
Over the millennia, elves have taken it upon themselves to guard the lands of the younger species, even those they have warred with (such as the orcs and the roden). Indeed, the elves were the main proponents of the founding of the Order Cerberus and continue to offer talented and skilled members of their race as participants.
History & Society:
Though the elves are loath to talk about it, they’re a fractured race. Long before humans evolved beyond drawing deer on cave walls, two factions within the elves fought for control of the race’s hearts, minds and culture.
One faction, the traditionalists, believed in harmony with the natural world. They endeavored to retain balance amongst the earth and its various species of animals and plants as they always had. This faction thought the elves should act as caretakers and keepers of peace, with as little overt involvement as possible. The elves’ abilities and talents were to be used as tools to mend the unnatural wounds of the earth and to stave off the forces of chaotic destruction, such as dragons and orcs.
Their opposition, the fey, did not radically disagree, however their methods were directly contrasting. The faction believed that the elves were superior to the other races in every possible way. They had produced unimaginable works of art, music and poetry. Their sciences were second to none and most importantly, through their unequaled empathetic connection to everything around them, discovered a method to tap into the source of every powerfully magical ability spread throughout all of creation. The method of finding this power within themselves (and eventually others) was called sourcery. In the hands of one of the elven sourcerers, almost nothing was impossible. Indeed, the strongest of fey sourcerers rivaled even the most powerful dragons. But this power had its price.
Sourcery drew upon the elves’ own very strong emotions. Practicing sourcery over the infinite lifespan of an elf sapped the user of their emotional attachment to the world around them. The potential for the naturally concerned and caring race to be reduced to apathetic husks that cared for and about nothing around them was quite high. The fey accepted this possibility as necessary, while the traditionalists interpreted it as profane and unnatural.
The two factions warred with each other, first with words and eventually with weapons. The elves were splintered and those that clung to tradition, despite wielding powerful magics of their own, couldn’t hope to win against the ruthless prowess of the fey. The traditionalists fled the elven home lands, retreating into the forests of Sorand to carry on their practices, even if on a lesser scale.
The fey seized control of the elven lands and began enforcing their rule on the world. Centuries passed and the fey retained control of Norand and Sorand both. The dragons were chased to the secluded corners of the continents in great wars that cost both sides dearly, while the orcs submitted after years of harsh abuse and forced servitude. However, as the traditionalists had anticipated, sourcery began to take its toll. More and more elven sourcerers woke from their slumbers in states of pure apathy. They were disconnected, uncaring and emotionless. Most of all, they were dangerous. It was quite common for these “husks” as they were called to settle even the most minor disputes with reckless displays of brutality, never batting an eye at the indiscriminate pain they caused.
Husks were hunted by the other fey and gathered into great and powerful prisons to be studied and, hopefully cured. Unfortunately the remedy was a long time coming. In that span, the elves lost control over much of what they had previously oversaw. The orcs fled north to Norand while the dwarves descended deeper into their mountain homes, burying themselves from the sight of the few fey caretakers that they didn’t overwhelm.
After years of exhausting experimentation, a fey by the name of Lemenius El’soriin discovered a way to sap the emotions, identities and memories of the non-fey that could tap the source. The fey determined that it was these particular aspects of beings that actually powered one’s abilities. Lemenius reasoned that he could use these feelings to fill the voids left within the husks.
At first, these efforts were extremely taxing to those non-fey being drained and would usually result in inducement of a vegetative state, or just as often, death. The fey refined the practice over the following centuries however, and eventually were able to leave their victims alive and in an indefinite state of sleep. In this state the fey could slowly leech their prey’s thoughts and emotions to retain their own. The fey could keep one being alive for years. However, even with their increased skill and aptitude, all of the fey’s victims would perish eventually.
Fey society quickly transformed. The need to preserve elven identities and prevent the creation of husks suddenly became lost in the social implications of owning large stocks of the lesser races’ sourcerers. These pantries, as they were called, were a status symbol amongst the fey. Those with the largest supplies were considered wealthy elites. They threw lavish parties centered on the action of draining their stocks. Furthermore, the process of feeding quickly became an addiction. The fey began having to feed more often and in larger quantities or feel the approach of apathy. Vast quantities of the fey soon began focusing solely on their desire and need to feed.
As a result of these cultural changes, fey society began to falter. The ruling elite, formerly of the mind to protect and govern all other races, lost their will to do anything more than fill and feed off of their pantries. Those fey that couldn’t maintain a healthy supply of sourcerers wasted away, doomed to roam the lands as husks until they were either killed or laid low by their infinite hunger.
It was at this moment that the traditionalists returned from centuries of hiding. They had watched their brethren transform from tyrannical leaders to terrifying addicts in the span of centuries. When the fey were at their weakest, the traditionalists struck.
The war was quick and brutal. The elves spared no mercy for the fey, which had shamed their race, marring their practices and disgracing their reputation. It is said that some fey, those that could pull themselves from their addiction long enough to take notice of the world around them, fled but to where nobody knows. The elves deny the fey completely and have even gone as far as to name their kin as another race altogether, much like the orcs. Indeed, only a handful of dwarven historians know the truth. Human researches who have taken it upon themselves to research the fey almost always abruptly cease their actions, those who don’t usually disappear altogether.
Since the fall of the fey, the elves have returned to their societal role as guardians. Elven cities are few and far between, but their lands are extensive. Elves do not guard their borders like the kingdoms of other races. They openly welcome all visitors who cause no harm to their territory or people, but retribution for aggression is swift and decisive. Most importantly, the elves have banned the use of sourcery amongst their people. Those elves that choose to violate this tenet are ruthlessly hunted and executed without remorse.
Elves are peerless warriors, though they maintain only a very small peacekeeping force. Those elves that wish to pursue mastery of martial skills are often encouraged to join the Order Cerberus, or the Fey Guard – an organization unheard of outside of elven society bent on guarding against the use of sourcery and the possible return of the fey.
Elven member of the Fey Guard
The elves are ruled by a council of etharchs (of which there are only three currently), the eldest of which is known as a Potentate. The Potentate’s voice means no more than any of the other etharchs’, unless dealing with a matter of foreign policy. Only the Potentate can issue declarations regarding other kingdoms or races, including the pronouncement of trade embargoes and war.
Elves spend a great deal of time pursuing perfection through art, the written word and above all, music. The average elf is an accomplished artist and usually has mastery over a particular aspect, be it instrument, painting, or poetry. Elves tend to be kind, thoughtful and fond of conversation. They make excellent diplomats and every existing kingdom houses at least a handful of elven arbitrators.
Religion is extremely important in elven society. The names of their gods are many, but all share a singular origin – The Creator. In the minds of the elves, once The Creator was betrayed and killed by Vermin his essence was shattered into fragments. So strong was The Creator’s connection to life that these shards grew into conscious beings infused with the deity’s divine power. There are 20 gods in the elven pantheon representing all aspects of life, death, good and evil. Elven faith is spread evenly amongst their deities, with no god being revered more than another. In the minds of the elves, all gods have their place, even those that represent ruin. To temper their darker desires, elven clerics will devote themselves to one god for only 50 to 100 years before they move on to fill themselves with a different brand of faith.
The elves had much explaining to do to the races that held kingdoms during the fey dominion. However, being such gifted speakers and negotiators, mending even those strained relationships was accomplished in relatively quick time. The elves promised to withdraw from the lands of the other races and pushed for the establishment of the Order Cerberus. After a time, the dwarves agreed to the Order’s founding and a mutual protection plan was put into place.
Now, the elves remain on good terms with all but the orcs, who view their cousins as cruel and abusive. Most orcs believe the elves abandoned them during the conquering of their kingdom, completely disregarding the fact the it was their own race who was subsisting on human slave labor. That being said, the two races rarely attack each other on sight, rather they both opt to go their own way. Particularly aggressive and angry orcs have been known to ambush elven diplomats and arbitrators traveling through human lands, taking great joy in spilling elven blood.
Humans and elves get along extremely well, in no small part because of the efforts of Constance Blythe. Through shrewd negotiations Constance convinced the elves to reopen the Gift – a magical bridge connecting the northern continent of Norand to its southern sister, Sorand. The Gift had long ago been constructed by the fey as a means to quickly travel between the two landmasses. During the fey’s downfall it was left to rot. The elven traditionalists saw no reason to further interfere with those races carving out their own niches in the north, so let the Gift lie in ruin. With the Gift’s reopening, human trade has reached the distant lands of the dwarves and the elves. Though not largely represented in the dwarven and elven kingdoms, humans have begun to migrate south – always curious to see new lands, new people and new treasures.
- Ability Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Constitution
- Size: Medium
- Special Rules:
Normal Speed: Base speed 30 feet
Low-Light Vision: Can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light
Elven Immunities: Immune to magic sleep effects and get +2 bonus to saving throws against enchantment spells and effects
Elven Magic: +2 bonus to caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance, +2 bonus to Spellcraft skill checks made to identify properties of magical items
Sourcery Aversion: Elves cannot ever choose to take levels of the Sourcerer class
Keen Senses: +2 bonus to Perception skill checks
Weapon Familiarity: Proficient with longbows, longswords, rapiers and shortbows, treat weapons with the word “elven” in name as martial weapons
Languages: Begin speaking Elven and Common, high intelligence allows Elves to choose to speak Draconic, Orc, Roden, and Dwarven