The Forest Elves

Ced

Mountain Bum
Retired Staff
#1
The Forest Elves

Deities - Theodra and Shalherana
Location - The Forests of the Eastern Continent
Tribes - They are inclined to form tribes with those of like mindedness in nature
Friends - Caparii and other Forest folk



“Elves who gained a loving, almost excessive passion for forests and nature, these elves are generally found living in tribal, nomadic, hunter-gatherer, communist societies. They live off the land and with the land. They take great pleasure in their connection with nature and want for little.” -Fitz
Physiology

“This graceful race has the envy of humans for as long as they have interacted.
Supernaturally beautiful with high cheekbones and flawless skin, high metabolism and ideal
proportions make these Sylvan creatures seem almost otherworldly.” -Fitz

Build: They share mostly the same physical features as the Silver Elves. Slightly shorter, with a noticeable robustness (comparatively) around the shoulders and legs. The generations of hunting and gathering have made their mark. That being said, they retain superiority in height and slimness over Humans.

Hair/Eyes/Voice: Brown haired, often grey or green eyed, the Elves appear to have grown from the forest itself. They hold themselves with a loping grace, their steps always light, their eyes furtive and quick, their voices gentle, their exclamations light and flowing.

Skin: Another difference between the Forest Elves and their ethereal cousins, is that unlike the milky white complexion of the Silver Elves or greyness of the Moors, the Forest varieties have more of a darker or sun-kissed glow from their lives spent in the wild. This is not just an environmentally based phenomenon; throughout the ages. Generations of Elves who choose to live a life outdoors have gradually developed slightly darker skin, passing on this trait to their descendants, who only strengthen it with their equally wild lifestyle.

Hearing: It is true that Elven hearing is rivaled only by that of the endangered Greylings and Nakam. They develop this between their 8th and 10th year, which is a sacred time for Forest Elves (check religious beliefs). Their hearing usually serves them well until death, remaining keen and perceptive from the age at which they develop it.

Eyesight: Their eyesight is another story. Elves see just as well as humans, but in the last half-century of their life their vision begins to dwindle. It is not unheard of for many elderly Forest Elves to go completely blind in the years leading to their death. This 50 or so years is respectfully named ‘the twilight path’, or hîlandrai dó le àrmin in the Elvish tongue. It has become a common saying used to chide younger Elves for acting unwisely, or without forethought; “You’ve been taking a stroll down the twilight path, you clumsy fool!”

Lifespan: A Forest Elf’s natural lifespan can range anywhere between 290 and 330 years. Being the most physically exercised sub-race, they possess a vitality and fitness that lasts their body a long while. It is however, rare for a Forest Elf to reach the age of 280. The reasons for this lie within their lifestyle. As a Forest Elf ages and slows, their everyday life does not. Many die from hunting or climbing accidents, others simply of exhaustion. They are not forced to keep up their daily routine, rather, it is not within a Forest Elf to cut themselves slack where others work hard. Their selflessness for the community lasts until death.

Pregnancy: Fertility rates amongst Elves of all sub-cultures seem to be very low. Either that, or the Elves do not have the same desire to... procreate, as Humans or Dwarves or any other race does. Perhaps the Gods noted the Elves’ long lives, and decided a ‘handicap’ was necessary, in order to prevent them from overpopulating. Many Elven couples are simply unable to bear children, but when a female does fall pregnant it is great cause for celebration, not only for the child’s rarity, but for the new life and growth, things that the Forest Elves cherish. Gestation cycle is listed on the Official Elven Lore page.


Temperament
“Elves tend to take a much longer view than their shorter lived neighbors.
They tend to seem lazy or unambitious to humans and dwarves but really they feel they
have all the time they need to pursue what they want so why rush it?” -Fitz

While it is true that Elves take a more ‘relaxed‘ view towards the passage of time, the Forest Elves differ slightly in their attitudes towards life, being the more spritely and energetic of the three sub-cultures. A common philosophy is to see life and everything within it as an opportunity, that a day spent doing nothing is a day wasted. One of many, in their long lives, but a waste all the same.

Forest Elves take an almost childish delight in nature and all things green, and are heavily connected to the trees around which they live, both mentally and physically dependent. As such they are highly protective of the woodland realms and will guard them with their life if needs be. Their affinity and love for nature defines their being and shapes their lives; they cannot be without it.

They are the cheeriest of the Elven sub-cultures, boasting neither the superior intellect of the Silver Elves nor the vicious war-readiness of the Corrupted Elves, but instead possessing a passion for hunting, and an overwhelming love for things that grow. They lead lives based on the importance of love, truth, honesty and equality; family values.

A human might find a Forest Elf to be charming, excitable, inquisitive, and occasionally childish, yet also very wise (with subjects varying as you’d expect). They all have a natural explorer’s curiosity for the unknown, with the adult members of the species tempering this curiosity with caution. As such, there have been a few Elves known to leave their communities and family for the enticing nature of the wide, unknown world past the trees. More often than not, they return within the year.

Forest Elves are an inner-racially social species, and a wooded lifestyle is intrinsic to their emotional and psychological wellbeing, therefore it would be highly unlikely for a Forest Elf to be able to live happily in stone-built human cities or cold climates, for example.

To generalize, the nature-loving Forest Elves of Altera love their family and friends fiercely and loyally, live a mostly peaceful lifestyle if they can help it, and believe that ‘home is where the heart is’.


Society

“...these elves are generally found living in tribal,
nomadic, hunter-gatherer, communist societies...” -Fitz

Habitat: Deep within the largest forests and jungles of Altera, hidden by leagues of mossy trunks and thick undergrowth, the Forest Elves make their homes. In the seclusion of the woods, great trees rise from the earth with trunks and gnarled branches breaking the canopy of their brothers and sisters to tower into the sky. As far back as anyone remembers, the Forest Elves have used trees as their homes, calling them the Eldnarí, meaning father-tree in the Elven tongue. They build shelters in the branches, on the trunk, under the gnarled roots, even inside the tree itself, while being careful not to overcrowd the plant.

However- in the Eastern Continent, the Eldnarí trees were not as grown as they once were. Instead- the Forest Elves took to building tree houses, huts and tribal homes in forests and jungles so that they may continue to be closer to nature and their once familiar homesteads. They call these Groves and settlements their own Eldnarí.

Observers have noted that the relationship between the forests and the Elves can become symbiotic, as the trees seem to flourish from their proximity to the spritely race as they are more inclined to tend to them than to stone structures of humans and dwarves. Once the collection of trees reaches past one, the settlement is called a Grove.

Social Hierarchy: While it may seem odd- There isn’t one. There are those who are better suited for hunting, so they hunt. There are those with a talent for cooking, and they cook. There are those who can- You get the idea. While no Elf is forced into a lifestyle (‘occupation’ is too organized a term for it) that they wish to have no part in, development of a talent or set of natural abilities is generally encouraged, especially if it can be used and implemented within the society.

The vast majority of Forest Elves learn to hunt from an early age, as food is a necessity, and it is a common belief that everyone should have the ability to feed themselves, should the occasion demand it.

As long as a job is beneficial to the collection of Elves they live among, nothing is regarded with distaste or disdain; a farmer is just as ‘noble’ as a scribe, with just as important a voice within the community.

Clothing: Animal pelts and skins, dried and beaten and worn about the shoulders in cold weather. The more expansive, larger and advanced communities refine the pelts into leather clothing for protection when hunting, and spinners weave rough, green-dyed wool garments for comfort and warmth, the wool gathered from herds of goats that graze among the giant trunks. Hemp, when harvested, is mostly used for cordage in building, but is also often fashioned into clothing, creating a coarse, ‘bobbly’ cloth that wears long and lasts a young Forest Elf a good few years.

There is little difference in the way of social class when it comes to clothing, probably because there isn’t really a social class. You can usually tell what a Forest Elf does by the clothes they wear, though it can be confusing as they all seem to be very fond of greens and browns, indeed, most of their wardrobe revolves around that.

After many products were introduced, it is not unheard of for a Forest Elf to be seen sporting a light silken dress. They are not a vain sub-culture, but they usually appreciate aesthetically pleasing things.

Music: The Elves’ abstract view on life stretches to the race’s music and art. The Forest Elves began the development of their music culture with pipes, fashioning pan-flutes out of bark and breathing lightly over the openings to create a hollow, ‘moaning’ sound from the wood. As the instruments progressed, so did the music. Pan-flutes were joined over the generations by whistles, wood-pipes and piccolos, and the four wood-wrought breeds of instrument created a cacophony like birdsong backed by a breeze.

Indeed, throughout Forest Elven music history, the instruments used and the music played all seemed to be created with the intention of mimicking the sounds of nature. When harps were developed much later on, the style they were played in was a lot more freeform, unstructured and fickle, pairing with the pipes, adding streams and rivers to the birdsong.

Music also has a religious significance, as they believe it draws them closer to the world natural around them, and therefore closer to Shalherana (more information in religious beliefs).

Art: Showing a Forest Elf a piece of art would most likely confuse them. They might consider the use of painted canvas a waste, and would probably see a sketched drawing as a very bad mimic of reality. While there are many Forest Elves that enjoy the practice of drawing and painting, they generally tend to recognize it’s relative uselessness as a skill, and thus regard it as an acceptable waste of time.

The sub-race’s art forms that do exist are so abstract and otherworldly (literally), that any meaning they might have been created with would most likely be lost on non-Elven eyes. Splashes of light and persuasions of darker colours tend to dominate the paintings, and if a Forest Elf were to take to sculpting, they would most likely grow the Alteran equivalent of a bonsai tree.

Food: Forest Elves work with the woods they live in, and while they farm and have been known to buy produce from Human and even Dwarven settlements, the majority of their meals are based around meats (pork, venison, mutton, quail, pheasant, etc), herbs, vegetables, fungi, seeds and nuts. Fruit is also in abundance, but is more often taken as a light snack.

Agriculture: The smaller villages and collections of Elves live mostly off the forest around them, eating meats and foraged fruit and vegetables. As such the most agriculture they would knowingly cultivate would be an apple core they tossed away a few decades ago, only to pick the fruit from the tree that grew where it fell.

The more advanced settlements might use small farms to guarantee more regularity in food harvest; planting makeshift orchards, small rows of vegetables, maybe even the start of cattle farms. They would certainly own a cow or two for milk.

Religious beliefs: The second most commonly worshiped deity amongst the Forest Elves is Shalherana, the Goddess of life, growth and nature. They believe it is her who gives the trees their growth in which they live, and young Forest Elves are brought up with an appreciation for her in everyday life.

The most important deity, especially in the more tribal communities, is Theodra, Goddess of hunting. This is an obvious choice as without her blessing, one of the Elves’ primary sources of food would be soured with misfortune. She is often praised before each hunt, and thanked after each hunt, as well as before a meal where hunted game is served.

The 8th, 9th and 10th years of an young Elf’s life are seen as a very important time, as it is when they develop their race’s acute hearing. This is the sense that aids the Elves most while out in the woods, and it is therefore the time of the Elf’s first hunt. When the boy or girl’s hearing is deemed perceptive enough, they embark on a hunting trip with their family and friends, and are often gone for days in the woods. When they return, the spoils of the hunt are shared amongst the people in a great feast and celebration.

This rite of passage is not a test to see how much the youngster can kill, but rather a celebration of learning and tradition.

Views on magic: Magic is observed in two views- as a wonder and as destructive. They are an inherent race in tune with nature, and while the majority of them do not practice the art of magic, they consider the trees and forests as a natural, magical, part of the world filled with spirits and living kind. For Forest Elves, the existence of their grand trees is a blessing, as well as the sights and sounds of the forest around, as they are gifts from the Gods. The lighter, magical arts of alchemy, enchanting and healing are ones they respect- those that are natural. However, destructive magic is frowned upon as it is prone to ruining the essence of the forests and its lively-hood.

Social attitudes towards the arcane arts are rather odd, when compared to other races. They do not see magic as being wholly different from a learned skill; they believe that it is not something that the divine 'unlock' in you, but purely a skill that some happen to be talented in, and others are not. They would welcome magic within their communities as a highly useful ability, but strictly and vehemently exile (or worse) those who would use it to cause harm.

Male names: Nylas, Cédaar, Tantara, Araüka
Female names: Maírin, Eala, Aliciá, Tarindrella


Politics

Self-governance: Among the smaller settlements there are no formal leaders. The people recognize the attributes of wiseness and experience, and tend to reward them with jobs of greater responsibility.

Everybody listens to each other, and when the important decisions need to be made, a solution is sought that benefits as many people as possible.

If there exist larger Groves, a more organised, democratic system tends to grow. There are small councils that deal with the day to day issues of running a community, and large meetings are held with any who wish to have a say when more important matters arise. These councils tend to be made up of members of the Grove that have done the most for community, in terms of growth, safety, knowledge and general happiness.

Inter-Grove relations: If there are more than one Grove, they would contact each other regularly, trading stories and songs and goods. They barter for information about the forest and trade pelts for food, tools for twine, etc. It is rare, but they also occasionally hunt together. For the most part, Forest Elves treat other Forest Elves as kindred spirits enjoying the same life as they. Elves are usually not possessive over land, or specific Eldnarí forests, rather they admire and appreciate, and praise their fellow Elves’ luck on finding beautiful places to call home. It is not like a Forest Elf to take that which does not belong to them.

Inter-racial relations: Friendliness tempered with caution is the generally universal attitude towards other races. They understand that reputation should not make a man judge an entire group of people, but they also know there is truth behind every stereotype. Peaceful visitors that journey to the settlements and Groves are treated with careful hospitality, and hostile behavior is rewarded likewise. While members of other races are welcome to stay overnight in a Grove, no non-Elf has ever slept in Eldnarí tree, as it would be sacrilegious (with the exception of Elf-friends).

They make no distinction between other races except perhaps the Caparii, with which they share many of the great forests of Altera, and tend to regard fondly.


War

Battle-etiquette: While the Forest Elves may seem vigorous in their love of hunting, when it comes to war, they rarely strike first. They are quite content to be left alone and leave alone those outside their wooded borders, but should other races encroach and endanger the safety of their homes, they will do all in their power to rid this danger from the woods.

Settlements: The smaller, less advanced settlements employ bone and polished stone curved hunting knives, as well as rudimentary flat-bows (a simplified design of the longbow) and flint arrowheads, bound by twine to the shaft with assorted poultry-feather fletching. Simple sling shots are also fairly common.

Blow pipes are not uncommon, fashioned from wood, the needle darts dipped in toxins made from saps and plant extract.

Groves: The weaponry tends to keep within those brackets, simply becoming higher quality as Groves grow. Iron and poorly-refined steel traded by Humans and Dwarves replace the bone and stone knives as well as the arrowheads. As expected, the Forest Elf bowyers are some of the greatest in Altera, crafting the most well-balanced bows and the straightest arrows.

Tactics: In the field, the Forest Elves predominantly employ guerrilla warfare, hiding in the undergrowth and the branches waiting for the best moment to strike, at which point a rain of arrows and darts would come from the branches high above, while any men left alive from the deluge would have their throats slit by the Elves stalking along the forest floor. If they feel they are outmatched, the Elves will not hesitate to retreat, disappearing into the trees and leaving pitfalls, snares, and other traps for pursuers to get caught up in.


History

Many disconnected and nomadic tribes did not survive the Final Exodus. Those that made it through were a decimated population. If it weren’t for the ‘gift’ of the Eldnarí, they might have been wiped out entirely in the Northern Kingdoms. However, that too- was lost in to the undead migration consuming the land. The Eastern Continent now houses forests of different wild life, good for hunting and forming new bonds. While their numbers are much fewer, and tribes are less-known, they grow steadily, filling the verdant forests of Altera once more.


Credit:
Written by Ced, with thanks to JasonK94
Edited by Solus 7/30/18
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