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Wood Elves

Wood Elves, fantasy, fairytale, elve-1481590.jpg

Wood elves are reclusive and frugal. Also going by the name of sylvan elves, they live in harmony with nature, building their villages in a way that respects their environment and blends seamlessly without resorting to magic. Sylvan elves feel the call of the wild much more strongly than others, answering with mundane talent and adaptation and pushing magic aside. While they too are reluctant to allow any stranger in their lands, they are not as vicious as the wild elves, merely watching the trespassers from afar and taking action only when they get too close to their village. Even then, their tactic is to scare or persuade intruders into changing their course, not outright slaying them.

The Quintessential Elf

Author Alejandro Melchor
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2002

Society

Wood elf society is a step between the high elves’ loose kingdoms and the grugach’s tribal structure. They organise in clans lead by the strongest and wisest among them, with permanent villages they close down when the season indicates that they must roam their woods in search of sustenance. It is the leader’s duty to keep the clan fed and protected, and anyone may challenge him to a test of strength and wits if he does not fulfil this responsibility.

The sylvan elves eschew the fineries of civilised life and enjoy greatly the thrill of the hunt, believing that the hardships of Survival build character and give them their strength. In their eyes, the civilised elves have abandoned this way of life and become weak as a result. They are a passionate people, who follow their hearts instead of their heads, trusting their instincts and intuition, because they are the best tools for Survival in the primal forests.

Player Character Information

Wood elf characters have the following characteristics:

  • Personality: Sylvan elves are intense in thought and demeanour, with a straight connection between their heart, mind and body. They always say what they really think about something and do not hesitate to act when they know they are doing the right thing. They would rather ask forgiveness than ask permission.
  • Physical Description: A wood elf is generally more muscular than any other elf. Standing as tall as other elves, the increased musculature makes them appear shorter. As newborns, their skin is as fair as the normal tone of the race, but they tan soon into a light milky brown. Their hair comes in intense blonds and reds, echoing the fire in their spirits. They dress in shades of browns and greens in order to blend with their surroundings and the tattoos on their skin are as much art pieces and status symbols as they are camouflage. Their movements are powerful and deliberate. Sylvan elves have slightly shorter lifespans than high elves, and the hardships of Survival make sure that only the strongest reach old and venerable age.
  • Relations: Wood elves consider their privacy a sacred thing and protect it at all costs. They sometimes trade with wild elves as they coincide in many ways, but keep the contact to a minimum. They welcome other elves with suspicion, not hiding their contempt for the grey elves’ frailty and sophistication or the high elves’ frivolity. They hate drow with a passion only second to that of the high elves.
  • Alignment: Sylvan elves are Survivalists, trusting the Wisdom of nature and following instinct over ideals. They do not care for the promises of law or chaos, and stand neutral in the moral quandary of good and evil.
  • Wood Elf Lands: Thick forests and jungles hide the wood elves’ tents and huts, and they prefer it that way, as only those savvy in forest travel have any hope of coming near. They patrol their territories silently and unnoticed, letting strangers go about their way as long as they do not get too close, at which point the sylvan elves start issuing a warning that, if not heeded or addressed, leads to death.
  • Religion: The wood elves see the work of the Allfather and his children in everything around them. They celebrate many festivals at solstices and equinoxes, praising their deities’ work in the natural world and asking for protection. Worship is informal, with druids commanding the same respect as clerics.
  • Language: Like wild elves, isolation has affected their speech into a dialect of Elvish that other elves have difficulty understanding, with no written practice among them.
  • Adventurers: Sylvan elves are more likely to strike out on their own than grugach, but they make sure to return home often and enjoy the life of a hunter, free from the complications of the outside world. They join other elves and, with time and effort, may learn to trust companions from other races.

Racial Traits

Wood elves have the same traits as high elves with the following differences.

Relics & Rituals: Excalibur

© 2004 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. Distributed for Sword and Sorcery Studios by White Wolf Publishing, Inc.

By Evan Jamieson, Lizard, Aaron Rosenberg, Christina Stiles and Relics & Rituals: Excalibur team

“One can say both good and bad about wood elves, as little is known and much is feared about them. They are simply fey creatures of great grace but little understanding for the ‘lesser’ races of mortals.”

Passage from The Secret Lives of the Forest Folk by Seer Givlich

The wood elves sidhe followed their grey elf cousins to the mortal world, but they remain truer to their fae nature. Known as ‘forest fae,’ most wood elves seldom leave their homelands. Any wood elves who do pass through human lands do so largely unmolested, not out of love for their kind, but out of fear for their reputed skill with spells and potions.

Wood elves don’t speak much to outsiders about their history, but some tell of how the first wood elves weren’t welcomed by the grey elves and had to fend for themselves in the mortal world, engendering bitter resentment still felt by both sides today. Unable to return home, the wood elves decided to dedicate themselves to increasing the magic of the mortal world until it is the same as Tir Na n’Og. Today the wood elves have succeeded increasing the level of magic in their own lands, but have done little elsewhere.

Personality:

Wood elves are friendly to people they respect, but gaining that respect usually hinges on one’s appearance or level of magical skill. A handsome knight or powerful druid is given courtesy and deference, while wood elves treat lower-ranked squires or assistants with a polite but curt demeanor. Most commoners find the wood elves haughty and distant, but nobles and other high-ranking people have fewer problems. It’s not uncommon for a known wood elves leader to be invited to watch a tournament, or for a lord to ask a wood elf for counsel during troubled times. Wood elves enjoy being the center of attention in a group, but quickly grow bored if the group doesn’t have interesting conversation. Unlike the grey elves, who seldom wed out-side their own race, wood elves often marry members of other races, though these marriages almost never last. Marriages that end badly are often fodder for stories of spite and revenge.

Wood elves strive to experience beauty and make things beautiful around them. They perceive the most beauty in living things but do have a keen sense of aesthetics in art, dance and clothing; to them, the mortal world is an unfinished work that, with the help of their magic, could bloom into a paradise. However, not everyone shares the wood elves sense of aesthetics and opinions about the world, and the wood elves are contemptuous of any who object to their goals. The forest fae can easily turn on people who were once their friends and lovers. Bards tell popular tales of revenge by jilted lovers and of wood elves using scandal to destroy the reputation of a knight. wood elves aren’t above manipulating people they lose respect for. Knights, druids and others have been used as unknowing pawns by the wood elves in various plots and schemes.

Those few who stay on a wood elves’s good side find her to be honest, trustworthy and willing to make great sacrifices. The basis for these extremes in wood elves behavior is that they view life in terms of good and bad with scant middle ground; they have little respect for fence-sitters. To a wood elves being in the middle shows a lack of commitment, which means that the person cannot be trusted.

Wood elves participate in archery contests and competitions involving tests of balance and agility, but don’t generally compete in tournaments involving sword fighting and jousting. Wood elves seldom use longswords in combat, preferring short swords or other light weapons like maces, and short and long spears. wood elves also use short, long and composite bows but consider crossbows unwieldy and cumbersome. Some do carry heavy maces or flails, but like the crossbow, many wood elves find these weapons are too heavy for them to use effectively.

Physical Description

Unlike the grey elves, wood elves have changed little since coming to the mortal world. Both males and females range from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet tall and weigh between 80 and 150 pounds. If anything, wood elves are more exotic-looking than even other fae races. Wood elves like to accent their features with bright colors and soft clothing that shifts with their movements. Males and females of other races often blush at the clothing wood elves wear at tournaments, and then go and copy the look. While not as heavy as men of other races, the fine features of male wood elves extend to their having well-defined, if slight, muscle tone.

Wood elves wear only leaf, leather and hide armor,and on rare occasions studded leather. This is because iron is more dangerous to wood elves than to other fae. Wearing iron armor for even a few minutes causes debilitating damage that takes along time to heal. wood elves still have very long life spans, even by fae standards. The average wood elves can live to be well over 800 years old.

Relations

Wood elves tend to judge individuals by their actions, but even then wood elves associate with some races more than others. Wood elves prefer the company of Halflings and other fae races, though they can coexist fairly well with humans when it suits their purposes. They tolerate the presence of half elves but often in a condescending way.

Wood elves have the most difficulty dealing with their grey elf relatives. The animosity between the two runs deep; the wood elves feel their grey elf brothers have abandoned them and their racial heritage. Wood elves also dislike dwarves, whom they blame for filling the world with the iron that is anathema to them. Curiously, wood elves tend to be more tolerant of hobgoblins and half-orcs than other races and even let the half-breeds live on wood elves lands.

One thing that complicates relations between wood elves and other races is that wood elves often meddle in the affairs of other communities. It’s not uncommon for wood elves to insinuate themselves into situations that aren’t their concern. Wood elves are involved in several conflicts between other races during the reign of the High King, which often spawns resentment for their interference. Conversely, the forest elves seldom allow outsiders into their lands. Wood elves usually only allow passage only to individuals or small groups on specific errands. Even with permission, outsiders travelin the wood elves areas at their own risk, and the forest fae take no responsibility trouble strangers may encounter. Bards spread tales of humans and other races journeying through wood elves lands and either coming back changed or not at all. Other stories tell of trespassers and others who have severely broken wood elves law falling prey to a ritual the wood elves call “anaraf helfa”, or the Wild Hunt.

Wood elves hold solstice festivals and may invite important people from surrounding communities to attend. wood elves rulers use these festivals to learn of events in other areas and deal with problems that may have arisen during the previous season. Most festivals last for a few days, with plenty of food, wine and entertainment. Unlike tournaments, solstice festivals have very little in the way of martial competitions. Instead the entertainment consists of dancing, singing and watching or taking part in plays and pageants.

Alignment

Change and adaptation are the two aspects of nature that wood elves admire most strongly. The wood elves philosophy tends toward the chaotic side of things, and many wood elves fully embrace their role as agents of change. Most wood elves believe in the common good and that an individual’s actions should benefit everyone. Although most wood elves have good intentions, they live in a world where change often is unwelcome. Some become jaded and angry when others reject their attempts to effect changes. Wood elves can sometimes let their lack of respect for less magically-inclined races turn into outright scorn and disregard those races’ opinions entirely. Wood elves have no particular bent toward good or evil.

Wood elves Lands

Of all the known areas in the world, the lands of the wood elves have created the most mystery and stories. Wood elves believe that farming and other changes to the land reduce its magical strength. They therefore try to minimize the amount of physical change; wood elf communities tend to be both small and well hidden. Each community is run either by a single enchantress or by a druid, while councils of druids or arcane spellcasters called cyngors run larger groups. Many wood elves communities have existed for centuries and have gradually increased the magic level in their lands. Very old wood elves communities have even grown strong enough to create portals to Tir Nan Og. These wood elves are often associated with stories of dying mortals being brought to the Faerie to be healed.

Many wood elves lands have a notable population of fae and magical beasts. Depending on the community and its outlook, a wood elves settlement may have allies among benevolent fae, or with their crueler kin. Fairies, alven, buckawns, adh-sidhe, pixies, cat sidhe, cú sídhe, unicorns and blodeuwedds are potential allies for some wood elves townships. While these communities try to stay on good terms with other races, problems still arise. Some fae living in wood elves lands take children of cruel or uncaring parents and give them to other families or even the wood elves to raise.

Those communities that are more self-centered or outright evil reside in dense old growth or pine forests, or swamps where the tree canopy is thick enough to block out the sun. Bands of goblins, worgs and bugbears call these dark forests home and cause trouble for surrounding communities. ogres and even hobgoblin black knights inhabit in these very old or powerful dark forests and swamps. In addition to humanoid monsters, other creatures like black dogs, will-o-wisps and assassin vines dwell in these swamps and near dark forests. Robber knights often live in abandoned buildings and castles near the edges of dark forests as hideouts, paying part of their loot to the wood elves as tribute.

Trade with wood elves is very limited, mainly because they produce little beyond their own needs. The only products that wood elves do produce for trade are potions, colored cloth and what mortals call fae wine. wood elves also don’t sell potions or magic items to just anyone; the buyer must be of high status or have a very convincing reason for the purchase. wood elf mages and druids also trade spells and magic items and instruct people of other races in the magical arts, but they are very particular about the pupils they are willing to teach. Any who want to become students must be both highly talented and attractive.

Religion

Wood elves have a penchant for pantheism, worshipping a number of gods who each manifest different aspects of the natural world that the forest elves love so dearly. Their druids rarely revere one god over others, preferring to honor each deity in turn.

Wood elves are devoted worshippers of Cernunnos. They also pay respect to the trinity of Brigit (maiden) and Danu (mother), and Morigann the (crone). Many also worship Arianrod, the fae goddess of love and desire, and Aengus, the god of beauty and perfection of form. wood elves of more evil intent follow gods like Arawn. While the wood elves worship their own gods, they have also allowed humanity and other mortal races to worship them as gods. Many tales refer to wood elves as minor deities such as riverspirits and forest gods.

Languages

Like other elves, most wood elves speak Sylvan and the Common tongue of humans. They preserve a great many languages from their days in Tir Na n’ Og, many of which are important for communicating with the magical entities with whom they prefer to deal.

Names

Wood elves prefer names that are easy for others to remember and pronounce; they like to make a lasting impression. Many wood elves also like to take names that others find mysterious and alluring.

  • Male Names: Ariorn, Brandach, Cathmir, Ceregos, Goewin, Ibrech, Lemminkaen, Mador, Patrice, Valmath
  • Female Names: Amerine, Belphessa, Caelia, Faun, Fuamach, Laethis, Llonwyn, Mawen, Nimwe, Ythrial

Adventurers

Wood elves interest in the world and events outside their holdings makes adventuring a natural activity for many forest fae. Those wood elves who have attained skill as mages or druids also use adventuring to look for places to establish their own communities. While most wood elves try to aid others in their travels, some aren’t above using their abilities for personal gain by becoming mercenaries or hiring on with groups for a period of time.

  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, – 2 Constitution, – 2 Wisdom: Wood elves are graceful and compelling creatures, radiating fae glamour. However, they are not as hardy as races better adapted to the mortal world, and they lack a sense of discipline.
  • Medium: Wood elves are Medium creatures, and gain no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Wood elves base speed is 40 feet.
  • Low-Light Vision: Wood elves can see twice as far as a human in low-light situations such as starlight, moonlight and torchlight. They can also still perceive color and detail under these conditions.
  • Severe Iron Allergy: Wood elves lose one point of Constitution every round they wear armor of iron or steel, or when otherwise in contact with a comparable amount of iron or steel. The Constitution loss is temporary ability damage, and returns at the rate of one point per day.
  • Immune to magic sleep and charm spells and effects.
  • +1 racial bonus on saving throws against magical effects and spells.
  • +2 racial bonus to Listen, Hide and Spot checks.
  • Spell-Like Abilities: A wood elves sidhe with a Charisma score of at least 10 has the following spell-like abilities:
  • 1/day: dancing lights, daze, faerie fire, ghost sound, pass without trace
  • (CL 1st; save DC 10 + wood elves’s Charisma modifier + spell level).
  • Weapon Proficiency: wood elves gain the Martial Weapon Proficiency feat with shortsword, spear, Light Mace and flail, as well as short and long bows (and composite versions of each).
  • Automatic Languages: Sylvan and Common.
  • Bonus Languages: Aquan, Auran, Dwarven, Goblin, Ignan, Terran.
  • Favored Class: Sorcerer. The magic of Tir na n’ Og still flows strongly in the wood elves veins, and many of the forest sidhe have at least a small measure of innate magical talent.
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