A graceful people descended from the elusive Fey and ruled by reason over emotion.
The Elven Hierarchy first came to the New World at almost the same time as the first Vaslish settlers, but it was much quieter about the new discovery. Finding the western side of the continent of Cartas, as opposed to the then Vaslish east, they began expansion rapidly eastward, meeting what eventually became the Democratic Monarchy of Cartas in the middle, at the Shernat Mountains. Continuing their expansion into the New World, the elves, or æven, colonized a number of islands in the Fierdan Sea to the southwest of Cartas, and today continue to maintain a vast empire.
A Divided Society
The Highborn Elves of the Elven Hierarchy, although having no inherent societal advantage, are descended from the prosperous families of the Prætor, the northmost Elven province; they have transformed their economic status into a classist one. Seen typically as “lesser” by these Highborns, the Desert Elves of the southern province, Zaijor, the Aquatic Elves of the eastern province, Habeléor, and the Forest Elves of the western province, Valdìor, face different challenges in assimilating into the higher ranks of the Hierarchy. Completely excluded from the Hierarchy are the Pale Elves of the Lower World, who exist in their own society away from the other elves. The Pale Elves, who have developed a form of albinism from living underground for millennia, are a rarity on the surface, and are discriminated against by the majority of societies for being “cave-dwelling anarchist heathens,” although this is far from the truth.
Elven culture varies greatly from region to region, and this is even more true of the colonies. The Highborn Elves tend toward Lawful natures, but by no means have a tendency toward good or evil; the most vile and wicked Highborn Elves can infiltrate the Hierarchy to use it for their own misdeeds as easily as the most virtuous and good can ascend the ranks for justice. Desert Elves require a level of lenience in their existence, as resources are few and far between in the desert regions, and government influence weak; they tend toward neutrality, valuing more the ability to make moral decisions of one’s own conviction than because of law. The Aquatic Elves and Forest Elves, believed to be more closely related than the other elves, share much of their culture. These elves tend toward Good, but have no inherent lawful or chaotic tendencies; strong community bonds within these societies create a social structure that frowns heavily on malevolent action, and repeated or grave offenses may even be punished with banishment.
Elegant and Respectable
Although they differ much in physiology based on their heritage, all elves share an elegant and respectable nature that makes them unmistakable. Standing well over six feet tall on average, and elf’s slender, tall body can be both imposing and inviting.
One Race, Many Religions
Highborn Elves most subscribe to a religion they call Veliité, meaning First Truth or Life Truth; the religion deals with concepts of selflessness, unity, and rebirth, and also contains classic Elven mythology and astrology. Desert Elves tend to worship the Dune Walkers, mysterious creatures of the desert that are said to bring good fortune and rations to the virtuous; some Desert Elves consider these beings to be omnipotent and omnipresent, appearing only to the virtuous in a form they can recognize, and some believe them to be mortal creatures with uncanny knowledge of arcane or divine magic. Forest and Aquatic Elves typically worship the spirits of nature, believing other fey creatures to be the embodiment of magic that the elves were created from; these elves will almost never fight Fey, unless no other option shows itself. A great number of Dark Elves are atheistic, favoring the knowledge of science and technology; some worship the other Elven deities.
There’s Always Something More
Elves become adventurers for many reasons, but most commonly to acquire new knowledge or education, or to gather powerful resources for their home community. Some elves may leave home to escape the confines of their culture. Regardless, elves will typically become adventurers during their youth, as old age often creates inflexibility in Elven temperament, but those who begin adventuring at older ages are not unheard of.
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution
Speed: An elf’s base land speed is 30 feet.
Elven Weapon Familiarity: All elves are familiar with all bows, longswords, and rapiers, and treat any weapon with the word “Elven” in its name as a Martial Weapon.
Sub-race: An elf must choose a sub-race.
The most commonly encountered breed of elf in the Colonies, Highborn Elves of the Elven Hierarchy, or Sa’ævèn (lit. “Upper Elves”), are prototypical: powerful arcane casters, typically established members of high society, and generally well-composed. Highborn Elves, at times, have a militaristic dedication to military and political tradition that seeps into their personalities, their educations, and their lifestyles.
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Intelligence
Urbanite: Highborn Elves gain advantage on Diplomacy checks made to gather information and Sense Motive checks made to get a hunch about a social situation.
Elven Magic: Highborn Elves gain advantage on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance. They also gain advantage on Spellcraft checks made to identify the properties of magic items.
Dirty Work, Clean Hands: High Elves detest getting themselves roughed up and dirty, and gain a advantage on any roll made to convince others to act on their behalf in physically demanding situations.
Low-Light Vision: Highborn Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Languages: Highborn Elves begin play speaking Vaslish and Elven. Highborn Elves with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want as a bonus language (except secret languages, such as Druidic).
The Desert Elves, or Zaīji’kie’ævèn (lit. Elves of Zaiji), are most commonly found in the harsh deserts of the southern Hierarchy, living in large, nomadic communities or cities with high walls to keep the dune sands from overtaking the city streets. These communities have often few formal rules and regulations, making them fine homes for scavengers and peddlers. Although technically ruled by the Elven Hierarchy, a majority of Desert Elves in these communities disregard the Hierarchy in favor of independence in gathering resources and taking care of their families. Stratification in this region is much more prevalent, and thus Desert Elves are more likely to be of very rich descent or very poor descent than in the middle class.
The Desert Elves are associated with the deity Zaiji for many reasons; Zaiji is an Elven mythological bird of prey, often portrayed as a very large vulture or feathered dragon. According to legend, Zaiji was banished to live in the desert and became so desperate for food that he killed and ate the goddess Irawei, the wife of his friend and deity Rassen. Enraged, Rassen crossed the desert to confront Zaiji, slaying him. Zaiji was then reborn as Priharé, the Phoenix, closing the circle of the constellations and rebirth that fuel Véliité. The Desert Elves first left the North to form a new nation, but eventually joined the Elven Hierarchy. In this sense, the ancient Elven Supremacy banished the first Desert Elves, and they were “reborn” as the second Elven nation to join the Elven Hierarchy.
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Wisdom
Desert Runner: Desert Elves gain advantage on Constitution checks and Fortitude saves to avoid fatigue and exhaustion, as well as any other ill effects from running, forced marches, starvation, thirst, and hot or cold environments.
Scavenger: Desert Elves gain advantage on Appraise and Perception checks to find hidden objects (including traps and secret doors), determine whether food is spoiled, or identify a potion by taste.
Carried by the Winds: Desert Elves receive Run as a bonus feat and a +2 racial bonus on initiative checks.
Low-Light Vision: Desert Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Languages: Desert Elves begin play speaking Vaslish, Elven, and Dunespeak. A Desert Elf with a high Intelligence score may select from the following bonus languages: Dwarven, Falah, Halfling, Low Elven, Mortesh, Torvish, and Vaslish.
Forest Elves, or Vàl’dì’ævèn (lit. Free Elves) live in tree villages in the densely wooded areas of the western Elven Hierarchy, ultimately answering to the Hierarchy and participating in its traditions, but maintaining their own way of living in the wild. These elves are typically great hunters and great orators, as oral storytelling and debate both encompass a large part of their forest tradition. Forest Elf communities are typically communistic in nature, using money or capital only as a collective—for example, it is given to youths who set out on adventures or errands for the community, or to envoys to other communities for bargaining. Personal belongings are limited to family heirlooms or objects crafted during rites of passage.
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Charisma
Eternal Hope: Forest Elves gain advantage on saving throws against fear and despair effects. Also, once per day, after a natural roll of 1 on a d20 roll, members of this race may reroll and use the second result.
Silver Tongued: Forest Elves gain a +2 bonus on Diplomacy and Bluff checks against hostile creatures, and advantage on Diplomacy and Bluff checks against neutral and friendly creatures. In addition, when they use Diplomacy to shift a creature’s attitude, they can do so up to three steps up rather than just two.
Natural-born Climbers: Forest Elves have a climb speed of 20 feet, and gain a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks. They never need to make a Climb check except in unfavorable circumstances, like being fired upon or climbing a slippery surface.
Low-Light Vision: Forest Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Languages: Forest Elves begin play speaking Vaslish and Elven. A Forest Elf with a high Intelligence score may select from the following bonus languages: Dunespeak, Dwarven, Elderfey, Falah, Galish, Low Elven, and Nadesian.
The Aquatic Elves, or Habèn’dì’ævèn (lit. Water Elves), live in the lakes and swamps of the eastern Elven Hierarchy. Their culture closely resembles their close cousins’, the Forest Elves’, culture, placing a strong emphasis on communal goals and property, as well as oral tradition. However, the Habèn’dì’ævèn chose to settle near waters rather than in the forests, and developed around the waters they made their homes. Due to their remote, inaccessible nature, the Aquatic Elves are less connected to the rest of the Elven Hierarchy, and it is rare to see an Aquatic Elf as an officer or soldier of the Hierarchy.
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Wisdom
Agile Fighters: Aquatic Elves gain Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat at first level.
Deepsight: Aquatic Elves are specially adapted to the lightless depths of the oceans, but not to air-filled environments. They can see in the dark up to 120 feet while underwater, but do not gain this benefit out of water.
Born of the Sea: Aquatic Elves have a swim speed of 40 feet and gain the +8 racial bonus on Swim checks that a swim speed normally grants. They never need to make a swim check, except in unfavorable conditions, such as swimming against a powerful current or while under fire. They have also grown a set of gills along their necks, and can breathe both air and water.
Thirsty: Aquatic Elves have a higher need for water consumption than other races, and take disadvantage on checks to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration. They also require one and a half times as much water as other races to survive in conditions of scarcity.
Languages: Aquatic Elves begin play speaking Vaslish and Elven. An Aquatic Elf with a high Intelligence score may select from the following bonus languages: Celestial, Dwarven, Elderfey, Gnomish, Infernal, Low Elven, Nadesian.
The Pale Elves, or Garvali’dà’Fævèn (lit. Garvali’s Children) live in the dark depths of the Lower World, where they are kept from sunlight and other cultures. Although it is unsure how these elves came to live in the Lower World (though myth offers its explanation), most prefer the Lower World to the Upper World, and choose to stay. Despite being reclusive, it is not uncommon to see these elves walking on the surface. Though sometimes alternatively referred to as Dark Elves, the Garvali’dà’Fævèn are truly, most often, pale-skinned, white-eyed, and white haired. Those Pale Elves that spend much time above ground may begin to develop darker skin tones, freckles, and pale red hair, often appearing as deformed, stretched Halflings; many would argue, however, that they are the most beautiful race of all, once exposed to some sunshine. The laissez-faire environment of the Lower World cities and societies causes many Pale Elves to venture out to gather unique goods for sale or to seek camaraderie that is uncommon among the Pale Elves. Although not inherently misanthropic, Pale Elves are typically seen as cold and calculating. Due to their complete inaccessibility to most, Pale Elves do not belong to the Elven Hierarchy at all, and therefore are treated as foreigners when they surface in their own homeland.
The Pale Elves are associated with the mythical Garvali the Gravekeeper, a figure in Elven mythology that is said to have convinced Enéra the Snake to seduce and kill Altéji the Protector, who instilled great jealousy and rage in Garvali. After Enéra killed Altéji, Garvali buried his corpse in the darkest depths of the Lower World, so that he might never be mourned. When Altéji’s husband, Saven, discovered Altéji’s fate, he fought Garvali and sealed him within the Lower World forever; for this reason, Saven is often referred to as Saven the Avenger and the Pale Elves of the Lower World are referred to as Garvali’s children.
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Intelligence
Shadowborn: Pale Elves are naturally apt and blending into the shadows, and gain advantage on Stealth checks. In total darkness, once per day Pale Elves may reroll either of their Stealth check die and take the best result.
Fleet-Footed: Pale Elves receive Run as a bonus feat and a +2 racial bonus on initiative checks.
Garvali’s Curse: Pale Elves are alive, but react to positive and negative energy as if they were undead—positive energy harms them, while negative energy heals them. They gain a +2 bonus to Intimidate checks made against other sub-races of elves.
Darkvision: Pale Elves can see perfectly in darkness up to 120 feet.
Languages: Pale Elves begin play speaking Vaslish and Low Elven. A Pale Elf with a high Intelligence score may select from the following bonus languages: Dwarven, Elderfey, Elven, Galish, Mortesh, Nadesian, Torvish, and Vaslish.