Claws of the Dragon
Our great queen’s bright, terrible beauty shines like a beacon. Her whole court reflects that beauty, and reflects the choices made by the elves of Blood Wood. I think we must soon choose again, this time for ourselves. I think we should choose a different path.
—The Elementalist Furnithann in a letter to his friend, the Nethermancer Mestoph
Most of Barsaive’s elves felt cultural loyalty to the Court of Wyrm Wood before the Scourge, though its self-inflicted corruption has made most of them turn away from the queen and the ways of the court. Most elven settlements, usually located in remote areas and forests, govern themselves today and either preserve pre-Scourge elven culture or enter an exchange with their non-elf neighbors. Many elves that left Wyrm Wood when Queen Alachia rejected Theran Protection went to live in Barsaive’s major cities. After the Scourge, many were among the first to leave the cities to form small communities in the wilds.
Elves revere the beauty of nature and welcome living in open environs, leaving non-elf communities to live with friends or family in a more natural community a couple of times per year. Many who stick to elven traditions follow the Wheel of Life, a series of five spiritual paths that enables the elf to achieve self-reflection and perfection.
Elves grow to an average height of 6 feet 3 inches, and weigh an average 150 pounds. Elven facial features appear completely symmetrical, often flawless, and many of the other races of Barsaive find elves attractive. Elven skin color varies wildly by tribe and region, but the most common are pure white, pink, tan, brown, and midnight black. Elves with skin of a pale green or iridescent, pearly color called cetharel exist, but remain rare. Elves produce sparse body hair, but grow luxuriant facial and head hair, often in uncommon colors. In addition to white, blond, brown, and black, naturally occurring violet, blue, and even metallic colors have been seen.
Elves have elongated, sharply pointed ears and move with unmatched grace, but the slight build that makes that gracefulness possible also makes them vulnerable to injury. They have long legs for their height. Elves reach physical maturity in their twenties, and enjoy a natural life span of three hundred years. Some records show individuals living up to four hundred years. Legends speak of some elves rumored to live even longer.
Elves give their primary loyalty to their family, rather than the tribe or nation, and consider blood ties the most binding relationship of their lives. Before the Scourge, the Court at Wyrm Wood stood as the center of elf culture. Since the Scourge, and the corruption of Wyrm Wood, this loyalty has generally been replaced by a sorrow for what has been lost.
Elves establish and live in small communities, and elven cities generally consist of a loose confederation of villages grouped into neighborhoods. Elves may also live in human or dwarf settlements, but prefer living in wilderness areas and constructing dwellings and other structures from living plants, integrating their community with the surrounding natural world. Elves find underground settings uncomfortable, and may experience a kind of claustrophobia in human or dwarf settlements if unable to visit a wilderness area two or three times a year.
Starting Attribute Values:
DEX 12, STR 10, TOU 8, PER 11, WIL 11, CHA 11
Movement Rate: 7 • Karma Modifier: 4
Elves possess the following racial ability: Low-Light Vision
Special Rules and Other Considerations
The Names of elven infants often represent an aspect of their lineage, and are chosen by the parents. Elves commonly undergo the Ritual of Passage at the age of twenty, during which they choose their own Names.
Aeraias, Beshar, Caluath, Dremnin, Eirdeth, Eytherian, Fithvael, Gaelin, Hareth, Iathi, Jaren, Kermanthil, Luevia, Maralan, Nai’ara, Noarethal, Pyrail, Rhyvain, Siluath, Tiathar, Tyrnea, Uthwyn, Vilmir, Yalathael, Zydan
The Journey and the Wheel
The elves hold a unique spiritual belief they call the Journey and the Wheel, which states that as an elf ages, his spirit must Follow five Paths before ascending into the metaplanes. Most elves believe in the growth process represented by the Journey and the Wheel, although since the Scourge, fewer observe all of the traditions associated with these beliefs.
If a player chooses for his elven character to Follow the Paths, he must also choose the view he embraces, that of the Sa’mistishsa (strict Followers), or that of the Dae’mistishsa (loose Followers). This distinction makes an important difference in the growth and advancement of the character.
Those who embrace the view of the strict Followers believe that as an elf ages and travels along the Paths, he must follow a new Discipline on each Path.
When a character who follows this view chooses a new Discipline as he moves onto the next Path, he must abandon the talents and skills of his old Discipline and all the ranks and advantages it conveyed and begin again with the new Discipline. The experience of the old Discipline still exists as part of the character’s knowledge and background, but until he reaches the Path of Lords, it remains unavailable to him.
In this case, the player may create a First Circle elven character and choose to place him on a Path further along the Wheel, such as the Path of the Traveler or the Sage. In this case, the player may completely flesh out the Disciplines the character would have followed while journeying on earlier Paths so that all those talents and skills become available when the character reaches the Path of Lords.
When a character begins his journey on the Path of Lords, he may once again use the talents and skills of his previous Disciplines at the same Circles and ranks as when he changed Paths and can continue to increase the ranks of those talents and skills as normal.
Elves who embrace the spiritual view of the loose Followers suffer no game restrictions, but we do suggest a consideration for roleplaying these characters. As the character travels on each new Path, his view of the world should change slightly to reflect the focus of his current Path. For example: an elven Elementalist who follows the Path of Warriors would certainly act differently than one who follows the Path of Sages.
In addition to allowing the player to stretch his roleplaying abilities, this adjustment in world view makes it plausible for the character to change the way he treats his fellow adventurers and alter his role in the group.