[What follows is the transcription of an Iron Scale Record Cylinder excavated from chambers below The Capital in 859 AS. The transcript has been sealed by Inquisitorial mandate]
Of all the lower species we have collected, the elves have proven to be the most useful, and the most malleable. Our initial conquests of this world resulted in the capture of “wood” elves who display great longevity and a refined physicality. Probing revealed a latent capacity for magic along with an unprecedented mutability of form. In only a handful of generations I was able to generate a number of variant species and was even able to cross breed them with other species to create half breeds. Sadly this was only effective with elf-elf and elf-human crossings. All other attempts failed to create viable offspring and were terminated.
Two Elven variants have proven particularly useful for our purposes and I have initiated a large scale breeding program to increase the stock of “Bright” and “Dark” elves. I apologize for the poetic naming convention but my mate proved most insistent and claims that the convention will increase their value on the open market.
-Instigator K’Rath Redscale, The Great Corrupter of Flesh
The Elves of The Known World are a highly varied race who can be found in every nation. The common folk, and most elves, don’t know their history nor their origins. Many organizations work tirelessly to keep this so.
Wood Elves live in every nation and can be found in noble houses, merchant stalls, and the poorest of common folk. The bonds of family are strong among Wood Elves and most majority Elven settlements organize along clannish lines. Wood Elves are as likely to travel in nomadic bands as they are to create permanent settlements but by long tradition many tend towards the wilder places in the world. This sets them apart from other races but, for the most part, they are well respected and can move through social strata easier than the other races. Only in the Caliphate do Wood Elves face a kind of discrimination as their Bright Elven kin often see them as uneducated rubes instead of sophisticated equals.
The Bright Elves are less numerous than Wood Elves but are encountered in every urban environment where the comforts of civilization and culture draw them as easily as bees to flowers. Bright Elven families are highly structured things with a dizzying degree of complexity in regards to one’s place in the hierarchy and how one’s blood is linked to another family’s line. The Bright have an innate capacity for arcane magics and most families have at least one wizard or sorcerer in each generation. Because of this culture of status Bright Elves gravitate to noble pursuits and specialize in a form of intrigue that can extend over hundreds of years. The Caliphate is effectively run by the Bright who have monopolized the nobility of that nation to such an extent that non-elves have little to no say in anything important. Raw magical power, beauty, and unique craftsmanship are all considered valuable to Bright Elves as a whole. Any who would look to curry favor with them would be well advised to pursue the arts and magics.
It is believed that The Known World is somewhere on the order of 80% water yet the oceans themselves remain largely unknown. Even to the mighty Iron Scale Empire proved reluctant to delve into those dark places. The common folk certainly fear the Fish Men who raid coastal settlements and every sailor has tales of monstrous things that attack lone ships from the unfathomable depths. For generations it was assumed that, beyond monstrous creatures and fish, no sentient creatures made the oceans their home. In the last hundred years, however, that idea has been changing. The Sea Elves are foundling creatures. These children of the sea can be found floating on the ocean’s surface, often severely injured, and always without memory of where they came from. Since most of them were found by agents of The Iron Ships it is usually that nation that Sea Elves call home. Regardless of what might exist below the waves these aquatic elves show the same adaptability as their non-aquatic cousins and seem to suffer no ill effects if they are out of the water for extended periods of time. What they lack in innate magics they make up for with enhanced strength and speed making them formidable and deadly warriors.
- As standard Elf racial package plus the following:
- In addition to the standard +2 to Dexterity of elves Sea Elves are powerful swimmers and gain a +1 to Strength as well.
- Aquatic: Gills provide water breathing, webbed hands and feet provide a Swim Speed of 40’, and Sea Elves have Advantage on Athletics checks to swim.
- Watery Weapons: Sea Elves are proficient with Spear, Javelin, Trident, and Net
The Dark, The Night Breed, Drow. The Evil Ones are mythic creatures. They exist only in story and song. They were sociopathic monsters created by the Iron Scale to assassinate their enemies in the black pits of night. It is assumed that such beasts no longer exist in The Known World. They must surely have been purged when the Iron Scale fell a thousand years ago. Nothing so heinous could continue to survive without their patron’s tender ministrations.
Few of the races are capable of interbreeding but it seems that the malleability of elves extends far deeper than many are comfortable admitting. All the Elven races are capable of creating offspring with humans, though the resulting child may be a full blooded elf, a full human, or something in between. These Half-Elves share physical and magical traits with both parents but often face difficulties getting accepted by the rest of their families. Though it is rarely talked about, sometimes, two hearts from different Elven races become entwined. When this happens any resulting offspring have an equal chance of being a full blooded member of either parent’s bloodline instead of a mix of the two.
Players can Play as Wood, Bright, or Sea Elves. Drow are exclusively antagonists though that is purely up to the DM. That’s not to say that Drow are actually evil or that any of the other Elven races are good.