The elves are an ancient and powerful people, whose years are long and whose passions run deep. They form tight communities but mingle freely with other humanoids, always welcome yet never at home. Elves favor things of natural and simple beauty and are famed for their poetry, dance, song, lore, and magical arts. When danger threatens their homes, however, they reveal a stern martial side, demonstrating skill with sword, bow, magic, and battle strategy. No one knows how long elves have lived on Norn, but the long-lived elves say they can trace their lineage back to prehistoric times, when Io first bound the primordial elements together to create the world. The elves’ innate magical talents, their capricious, haughty demeanor, and their long, pointed ears suggest that they are descended from the ancient fae, the fairy race said to have created magic.
Taking the Long View
Elves are more often amused than excited, and more likely to be curious than greedy. With such a long life span, they keep a broad perspective on events, remaining aloof and unfazed by petty happenstance. When pursuing a goal, however, whether adventuring on a mission or learning a new skill or art, elves can be focused and relentless. They are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. They reply to petty insults with disdain and to serious insults with vengeance.
Slender and Graceful
Elves are about the same height as humans, though they vary more widely. They range from under 5 feet tall to just over 6 feet, but they are slender, weighing only 100 to 145 pounds. Males are about as tall as and only marginally heavier than females. Elves tend to be pale-skinned and dark-haired, with deep-green eyes. They have no facial or body hair. With their unearthly grace and fine features, elves appear hauntingly beautiful to humans and members of many other races. They prefer simple, comfortable clothes, especially in pastel blues and greens, and they enjoy simple yet elegant jewelry. An elf reaches adulthood at about 110 years of age and can live to be more than 700 years old. An elf and a human of twenty years likely have a similar set of basic skills, but the elf, with all her endless years, is likely to spend the next ninety years learning swordplay, bowmanship, how to sing, and most importantly, the endless niceties of elven society. Any elf who is not passingly familiar in all the arts by the time she reaches maturity is a poor elf indeed. High elves are almost universally pale skinned, while wood elves’ skin tone ranges from porcelain-white to the reddish-brown hue of cedar bark.
Proud but not Cold
Elves have high expectations and do not hide that fact. They consider humans rather unrefined, halflings a bit staid, and dwarves not at all fun. They are suspicious of the Dragonborn, a race who has all the raucous, headstrong, and otherwise undesirable traits of humanity, but with a trace of the grace and nobility of their draconic ancestors. Wood elves nurse a searing hatred for orcs, who recently conquered their forest homeland of Ardennes. High elves view orcs as filthy savages, but bear no inherent malice towards them. While they can be haughty, elves are generally pleasant and gracious even to those who fall short of their standards (a category that encompasses just about everybody who’s not an elf).
The high elves were the first people to master arcane magic, and many spells used today originated with elf wizards of old. They benefit still from the magical mastery achieved so long ago, and nearly every high elf knows something of magic. High elves tend to be guarded and aloof, more serious and focused than their woodland kin. However, high elves are rare in Grandévere, mostly found in the duchy of Aurvandil. Although high elves of noble lineage claim that their ancestors lived in grand crystal palaces on the mountaintops, high elves in Aurvandil can be seen performing magic tricks on street corners or even sweating in the fields as farmhands. The high elves retreated to the mountaintops when the Du’un Empire invaded their homeland in Y147, hoping to last out the war. When it became clear that further inaction would inevitably lead to their destruction, they chose to forge two powerful blades and secretly meet with the Liberation Army. These blades, Mystletainn and Tyrfing were wielded by Hod and Baldur when they confronted the Du’un emperor. The high elves’ innate magical talent make them some of the best mages in Norn. High elves are almost uniformly pale-skinned, but are known to have outrageous hair colors that individuate them. These hair colors range from the deepest raven black and hair of shining gold or silver to the deep blue of the ocean or the emerald green of the forests.
Where high elves are serious and civilized, wood elves are anything but. Free spirits, capricious and whimsical, wood elves lack the innate magic enjoyed by high elves, but they have an uncanny ability to move undetected through the wilderness. In Grandévere, most wood elves live in the west of the kingdom, usually alone in hermitages or as solitary trackers in small rural towns. Legend tells that thousands of wood elves were slaughtered when the Du’un Empire set the forests of Ardennes ablaze in their war of conquest. Centuries passed, but the wood elves did not forget what they had lost. When word came of the formation of a Liberation Army in far-off Scythia, hundreds of elves responded to the call. After the fall of the Empire, their leader Ulir helped the elves to restore their forest home to its former glory. Today, the wood elves face a similar plight. Though the elves ruled the forest wisely for many glorious centuries, fifty years ago, their cities were sacked by a mighty army of orcs. The elves that did not flee to Grandévere and Praetoria vanished into the mystic heart of the forest. These Grandéveran elves harbor an intense resentment towards orcs, but the elven community is too fractured to mount a solid offensive against these invaders. Wood elves’ attunement to nature makes them excellent rangers and druids.
The text of this page has primarily been derived from the D&D Next playtesting packet, with some alterations, for enjoyment purposes only.