The elves are woodland folk, and there are few forests near Marchion. The steppes to the west are devoid of trees, as are the mountains to the north and south. Thus, the elves who live in Marchion form an isolated enclave of their race. As a result, their customs and behaviour have altered somewhat, to be more like those of the races around them.
All elves are beautiful. This is not merely true by the standards of other races; the elves agree. They have fine features, and move gracefully. Differences in Charisma manifest in the way that beauty comes across: elves with low Charisma tend to appear cold and forbidding, or predatory and threatening. High Charisma, on the other hand, often translates into sex appeal or admiration.
Elven men and women look very similar to one another. Neither sex has any body hair, and the difference in voice pitch is much smaller than among humans, with greater individual variation. It is impossible to determine an elf's sex from his or her voice, even for another elf. Male elves tend to be slender, and female elves are never voluptuous, so that the differences between their bodies are very subtle. Elves suffer no penalty to their Disguise rolls if attempting to disguise themselves as members of the opposite sex.
There are three sub-races of elf present in Marchion, the brown, blue, and green elves. The sub-races are named for the basic colour of their skin pigment, although there are other differences between them. If two members of different sub-races have children, the children invariably belong to the mother's sub-race.
The brown elves have the same sort of colouring as humans, and throughout the race their colouring covers the whole human range. The group who settled in Marchion, however, have pale skin. There are a few exceptions, but not a significant number. About 700 of Marchion's elves are brown elves.
The blue elves are noted for the striking contrast between their skin colour and their hair and eye colour. Those in Marchion have alabaster-white skin, and hair and eyes which are black with a blue lustre. There is another group within the sub-race, with white hair and eyes and blue-black skin, but none of its members currently live in the city. The two groups breed true, and offspring of a dark skinned blue elf and a light skinned blue elf take after the mother, just as for the offspring of mixed sub-race pairs. About 200 of Marchion's elves are blue elves.
The green elves have the least variety of colouring. Without exception, their skin is a pale green, the colour of young leaves, their hair is a deep green, darker and more glossy than holly, and their eyes are a vivid and brilliant emerald. The remaining 100 of Marchion's elves are green elves.
There are no tensions between the elven sub-races, and never have been.
Height (men and women): 4' 5" + 2d6"
Weight (men and women): 80lb. , x(1d4) lb.
Age: Adult: 110, Middle Age: 175, Old: 263, Venerable: 350, Maximum: +4d%.
Elven psychology has three fundamental features: a love of freedom, a strong sense of personal responsibility, and a small number of very strong particular attitudes.
The love of freedom extends to physical, mental, and social barriers, and to other people. Elves find it much harder to watch imprisonment or restriction than violence, and few elven hunters will use traps. Elven parents would rather beat their children than confine them to the house, and the children feel the same way. In wider society, elves let other people get on with whatever they are doing, as long as it does not interfere with their own activities.
Personal responsibility means that elves keep their promises and try to make good any harm that they have caused. ('Harm', here, means anything that the elf thinks is bad. Killing enemies need not count as harm.) It also means that they try to get themselves out of any difficulties, rather than waiting for help. Elves have little tendency to blame others for things, and a strong tendency to blame themselves.
Finally, elves do not form particular attachments easily. Elves have more or less the same attitude to everyone, no matter who or what they are. Even if someone does something particularly good or bad for the elf, this rarely has any effect, although it is not absolutely forgotten. Repeated and significant actions, cultural education, or particularly spectacular acts can create a particular attitude, and the attitude so created is both very strong and very enduring. Just as elves are not moved from their normal attitudes by petty insults, so they are not moved from the stronger attitudes by minor things. The friendship or enmity of an elf is hard to lose.
Most elves have a friendly and helpful attitude to everyone, as part of their race's tendency to chaotic good behaviour. There are, however, surly elves who respond badly to everyone. An elf's default attitude does not influence the likelihood of different sorts of strong attachment; most elves are as inclined to hate as to love, and the surly elves are as inclined to love as to hate.
Almost all elves are bisexual, and are not attracted primarily by physical appearance. It is believed that this is because elven men and women look more or less the same, and are all beautiful. Whatever the reason, it means that elves are attracted to members of other races as often as to members of their own. They are only fertile with humans, but it is not unusual for elves to have lovers from all the races, even half-orcs. The least common pairing, in fact, is elves and dwarfs, because the dwarfs do not tend to find the elves sexually appealing. Dwarfs still find them beautiful, but in the way they find fine pieces of jewellery beautiful.
Further, elves do not mark sex off from other activities. For the overwhelming majority of elves, it is simply something that is fun to do with other people. It has no deeper emotional implications than any other form of entertainment. This can really confuse, and hurt, humans; dwarfs would be even more at risk if they were more inclined to get involved with elves. An elf can be a caring and considerate lover one day, and then leave forever the next, simply because she does not regard the relationship as that important. Elves who have lived among other races, such as those in Marchion, are aware of this problem, and try to avoid hurting people, but the differences in psychology mean that they do not always succeed. Similarly, all of Marchion's elves know that the other races prefer sex to be a private activity, a belief which is not shared by most elven communities.
Housing and Material Things
Elves have a much greater range of physical comfort than the other races. Although they take damage from extreme conditions in the same way, they are comfortable almost until the point when they take an injury. On the other hand, they find ugliness physically unpleasant, just as other races react to excessive heat, or rough clothing. Elven homes, then, tend to be beautifully decorated, but physically uncomfortable. Those who do not know elves well tend to think of them as ascetic aesthetes for this reason. For example, elven clothes made for elves are always beautiful, but other races find that they scratch, or dig into the body, or are otherwise uncomfortable, even if they are the right size.
Elven homes are almost never on the ground. Ideally, they are located in the branches of trees, but at the least they are located on the upper floors of buildings. This seems to be a basic, non-rational preference of the race.
Elves have a very causal attitude to most physical possessions, both their own and other people's. They have no qualms about picking up and using, or keeping, things that are lying around, and no problems when other people do the same to their things. Even gifts from someone the elf loves have no particular value to the elf, as they are not, after all, the person loved.
This is not to say that elves are careless with their property, or that they casually wander off with anything that is not nailed down. It is just that if an elf lost the sword which had been handed down in his family for generations, he would be no more annoyed than if he had acquired it ten minutes previously, and if he had no need for a sword at that point, it would not bother him at all.
On the other hand, elves respect other people's living quarters and carried items far more strongly than humans. An elf would no more think of entering someone's house uninvited than of burning it down (and, of course, some elves think of both). Thus, possessions inside your home or in your pockets are sacrosanct, but not because they are possessions.
Magical possessions are the big exception. Elves are at least as possessive of their magical items as humans are of valuable heirlooms. Gifts between lovers always carry at least a minor enchantment, so that the recipient will value the gift and not leave it lying around somewhere.
Elves cannot sleep. Elven legends say that, millennia ago, the elves killed the first god of sleep, and in revenge his successor denied them her blessings. Whatever the reasons, elves cannot sleep in the way that other races do. They still need physical and mental rest, however. Physical rest is easy, and elves need about eight hours of that per day, on average. Mental rest can only be gained by the use of certain meditation exercises, which all elves learn as children. (There are things that parents do with babies which have the same effect.) Elves need to perform these meditations for about four hours every day, and this is the rest required to regain spells. The meditation does not have to be continuous, but it is less effective if it is not, rather like a broken night's sleep for humans.
Elves love magic, particularly the arcane variety. Wizards are very common among them, as are bards. Sorcerers are a little rarer, but not much, and other elves regard them as blessed by Merianath. As far as anyone can tell, this preference is racial, not cultural.
Forests are the most beautiful scenery, in elven eyes. Trees make them feel calm and at home, and even the enclosure found in a deep, old forest gives them nothing but a sense of safety. Their low-light vision helps with this, of course. Elves do not necessarily feel that they have to guard the forests, and may even cut them down, but all of them recognise their beauty.
Mutaka, the goddess of forests, is unsurprisingly popular with elves, as are Merianath Thousand-Eyes and Herath. Dancing Cloud and Shaskal Torin are also worshipped by many elves. Mercer and Grandin are simply alien to the elven way of thinking, and many elves find Plianna's dictates to be positively unpleasant.
Elven languages have many things in common. They are all beautiful to listen to, and very hard for members of any other race to learn properly. There are several reasons for this.
First, elven tongues have intricate grammars. Word order is extremely fluid, so words must carry markers to show which part of speech they are. In addition, elven languages distinguish more tenses, moods, voices, cases, and numbers than other tongues. For example, every elven language has singular, plural, dual, and collective numbers for nouns. Dual number means that there are exactly two, while collective means that there are many things but that they form a single entity of some sort or other. Similarly, all elven tenses come in at least finite, infinite, bounded past and bounded future forms. Finite means that the action was begun and finished during the time in question - 'he closed the door'. Infinite means that it neither began nor ended in that time - 'he was closing the door'. Bounded past means that it began during that time but continued after, while bounded future means that it finished during that time but started before. Most languages have more numbers or tense forms than these, as well.
Second, all elven languages are tonal, with the pitch difference between consecutive syllables making a difference to the meaning. There are always several options with the same meaning, and the melody produced always reflects the emotional import of the sentence.
Third, all elven languages are rhythmic, so that the length of the syllables affects the meaning. Again, there are always several options with the same meaning, and the final rhythm conveys the speaker's attitude to the content of the sentence and the circumstances of utterance.
Fourth, elven words can undergo many sound changes, to ensure that sentences always sound beautiful. There are rules for this, so that the identity of the word is no more ambiguous than in human languages, but there are, again, usually several options in a single sentence.
Finally, elven languages tend to have large vocabularies.
The cumulative effect of these linguistic features is that it is very hard to write prose in elven. Almost anything that is grammatically correct comes out as poetry, and usually as song. Elven composers are renowned for their ability to choose just the right permissible tone sequences and rhythms to make a longer piece hang together as a whole, rather than for their ability to come up with catchy tunes. Indeed, there is a particular elven phrase that many humans know, because the tune it creates is very memorable indeed. It means 'It is starting to rain and the door is still closing (and this is annoying) [and I am concerned for the welfare of you, my guests, and am seeking permission to interrupt the conversation]', where () indicates the tonal content and  the rhythmic content. There are, of course, other ways to say this, and most elves use those other ways.
Elven scripts are very beautiful, and generally combine an alphabet and an ideographic script. Tone and rhythm are indicated by the way in which the characters are drawn, but sound changes in a word are not indicated in the ideographic script. As a result, elven script is hard for non-elves to learn.
Elves are not all good. It is possible for an elf to form a strong hatred of a particular person or group, and then she is relentless. These enmities usually form between elves and the savage races, because the latter are more likely to provoke it, but other targets are possible.
Brown elves are standard elves, with all the normal game effects.
Blue Elves have the following differences from standard elves.
- +4 Intelligence, -2 Strength, -2 Constitution. This replaces the standard ability modifiers.
- Ambidextrous. All blue elves have the ambidextrous feat. This replaces the free weapon proficiencies gained by standard elves.
- Magical Aptitude. Treat a blue elf's abilities as two points higher when calculating the number of bonus spells gained.
Green Elves have the following differences from standard elves.
- +4 Dexterity, -2 Strength, -2 Constitution. This replaces the standard ability modifiers.
- Base speed 40 feet. Green Elves are fast.
- +2 racial bonus on Initiative. Did I mention that they were fast? This replaces the standard proficiency with either longsword or rapier. Green elves retain the automatic proficiency with shortbow, composite shortbow, longbow, and composite longbow.
- +2 racial bonus on Climb checks. This replaces the standard bonus to Search checks and the ability to notice secret doors.
- Favoured Class: Fighter.