Gazetteer – 03a08 – Elves
Elves are the first born. They are the combination of soul and body fused together as one. When an elf dies, there is no soul that lives on forever. That said, if an elf doesn’t die then the elf lives forever. These immortals are the shepherds of the earth. Their power comes through understanding of the works of the God of All. These powers are called otheris. These otheris help shape what the elf becomes. There are water otheris, fire otheris, arrow otheris, love otheris, vengeance otheris, etc.
The elven search for knowledge was as the God of All intended. She wanted second opinions, company, friends, to help her understand her desire to create the story of the world. In the early days, she would walk among the elves and spend much time with them discussing, debating, and sharing. She did not want to stand out from the others so she took on the form of an elf and named herself Cora. In this form she wanted heightened senses to touch, taste, see, smell, and hear all that she had created. She made the elves to match. The last of these senses, hearing, is what prompted the race’s most distinctive feature – pointy ears. Their design is such that they can hear a fly land on a leaf 100 feet away.
She also took a lover. His name was Räyädis. His otheri was passion and he burned with a fire that both excited and scared Cora. She bore a son with Räyädis and they named him, Correlon. The fusion of her divine power and his passion created an elf that was too driven to remain in just one world, just one plane of existence, so Correlon left. He is often worshipped in worlds beyond, but in this world, the great Correlon Larethian is mostly forgotten.
As for Räyädis’s passion, she realized it needed a direction, an adversary to provide a challenge, and with it validation. A validation that told him what he was doing was worthy and purposeful. So she created dragons, the first villains. These greedy creatures sought to covet wealth and information and not share it with others – the most selfish of races – the antithesis of elves.
Dragons started as a fairly innocuous race of avian people, much like the Tengu. Cora thought they would just be rivals of the elves and they would compete in art, knowledge, and prowess. But so great was the enmity between the two races and so selfish were the dragons that they hungered for all that the elves had; competition was not enough. Open warfare broke out. But even war and conquest was not enough for the dragons, they craved even more, so they began to eat the elves in hopes that they would absorb the elves’ knowledge and power. This evil changed them into things monstrous in appearance.
Cora found her new creations ugly and terrible. She watched in horror as they grew more powerful than her elves in battle. Their tough hides made them nearly indestructible. Their rows of teeth murdered elves by the hundreds. Cora surrendered her pride and went once again to her friend, Mith, for help. She asked the Star Forger if he could help her first born. He nodded without quarrel.
He told her he would introduce mithvein into the world, the metal he used to make his own tools with which he forged the stars. Weapons could be made from it that could pierce a dragon’s hide and armor could be made that could repel a dragon’s teeth. The problem is that it would require something as hot as a star to forge. Cora frowned because she realized that was impossible, the heat of a star would lay waste to the lands she had created to nurture her first born.
Mith informed her that there are many stages of a star, and a star is lit with elemental fire. Using small portals to the elemental plane of fire and patience, your children’s smiths will be able to make weapons and armor with it. Satisfied, Cora endorsed this plan and went about teaching elven smiths how to work mithvein into weapons and armor.
Mith realized what an advantage this wondrous metal would be for the first born, but it would be even more of an advantage to his dwarven creations. Since the metal is what he used to craft the first dwarves, there was a special link between the dwarves and mithvein. Dwarves had a racial advantage to finding the metal more easily than other races. He withheld this information from Cora and began pouring veins of mithvein into mountain ranges of the world. With the dwarves knack for finding the metal, they became useful to the elves. For the first time the two races began to trade with each other. Cora frowned upon this at first, but the effectiveness of the metal in the war against the dragons soon made Cora forget Mith’s duplicity. Unbeknownst to Cora or Mith, a side effect of this link was that it could drive dwarves mad with desire for it. This madness would have dire effects in ages to come.
But in Second Age, the Age of Dragons, the dwarves and elves allied together to fight this monstrous foe. The dwarves found the metal and gave it to the elven smiths. The elves made great armor and even greater weapons — the best of which they gave to their king, Räyädis. With these weapons, he won many great victories over his enemy. So great became his power that he threatened to destroy the entire race of dragons. Cora approved of this annihilation. She wanted the world to return to the Eden she had first envisioned, but then Iho the Black came of age.
Iho’s otheri was one of poison. His skin was as black as ink and his hair fell to his shoulders like strands of spider silk. He thought Cora was a hypocrite, but loathed Räyädis even more. He spoke ill of the king saying he betrayed his otheri (a vicious insult to an elf), saying that with the mithvein armor and weapons he no longer fought with passion, and essentially had become a coward relying on gifts and trinkets instead of what his elf rune had given him. He called Räyädis Drelf, part dragon, part elf. This insult Räyädis could not ignore. He challenged Iho to a duel of honor.
“How can it be a duel of honor when you have the God of All ready to heal any wound you might take?”
“She will not heal me. She will not have to,” Räyädis said.
“I do not believe you,” Iho said.
“Do not heal me. Not even if I fall,” Räyädis said looking at Cora.
“Räyädis, no.” Cora said.
“By my honor, I will not heal you,” Cora said.
“Not even if I fall.”
“Not even if you fall. But please, Räyädis, don’t fall.”
Iho laughed at him saying, “Of course he won’t with all his glittering mithvein. Who can harm the chosen one?”
“I do not need mithvein to defend my honor. I did not become king through nepotism. I will face you with whatever weapon you choose made from whatever metal.”
Iho thought for a moment and said, “The metal I choose is quicksilver. And the weapon…”
“What weapon can be made from quicksilver?” Räyädis scoffed.
Iho smiled and produced a bowl of quicksilver. He then dipped the blade of his dagger into the mixture. He offered the bowl to Räyädis, but he refused. He had no issue with Iho using a blade laced with quicksilver, but he would just use his own steel dagger to fight with.
“As you wish,” Iho replied and demanded a forge be brought out so he could heat his dagger so that the quicksilver would bind to the blade. His wish was granted and Iho set to work on heating his blade.
Within seconds, Räyädis began to feel dizzy. The other elves present began to cough and spasm. The air filled with mercuric cyanide, a deadly poison, which first induced a shaking paralysis. Iho lifted his dagger calmly and flicked it through Räyädis’s eye as he stood shaking and helpless. He died instantly.
Cora stood horrified. She ran to Räyädis and healed him going back on her word.
“I knew it,” Iho scoffed. “Your word means nothing.”
Räyädis’s eyes opened and he knew that he had died. He shook his head at Cora telling her to let him go. Mith appeared beside her and advised her that Räyädis would not return as himself even if he did accept her divine gift of new life. His dishonored soul would darken him into something lesser than himself – much lesser — like a dragon – or worse.
Räyädis stabbed himself with his own dagger this time and died again as Cora watched on through rivers of tears.
“Räyädis is gone, he is forever gone.” She said in stunned disbelief. She then looked up rashly, “And so shall I be.”
And The God of All left the world never to return.
Though Iho had won that day, he was not respected. The elves that survived his treachery banished him from their kingdom.
With the death of Räyädis, the passion for the war against the dragons ended. The dragons retreated to lairs in the east and the elves settled in the lush green lands of the west. There was a long age of peace. The peace lasted until the Age of Titans.
The elves of the World of Atlas are inspired by Tolkien’s interpretation. As for stats, they adhere closely to those provided in the Pathfinder core rulebook.
There are differences described here.
Elves bodies are much like humans: red blood, hearts, lungs, digestive tracks, etc. They don’t sleep, however. Sleep is a required condition for those whose souls and bodies are different. The body needs rest, while the soul remains awake in dreams. That said, they do need to rest and will lay down often with their eyes closed for hours on a time. They are fully aware of their surroundings in this state.
Every elf has the option of choosing an otheri except for dark elves. Dark elves will be described in their own section someday, but have a nearly non-existent presence within Wheland. An otheri is a magical power that comes through understanding. It takes a long time to master and can ultimately be very powerful. Tamduin’s rune otheri is one of the most powerful of any of the elves. With it, she has complete command of all the runes. Non-dark elves rarely become spellcasters aside from their otheris. Channeling divine power isn’t even possible due to their fusion of body and soul. Channeling requires a divine spirit entering the body and assuming the control of the caster briefly.
Otheris, rune powers, and spellcasting are described in detail in the Magic of the World of Atlas section.
When an elf truly dies, it is oblivion. There is a period of time when a dead elf can be mended and brought back from the dead. Each day an elf lies dead, he must make a will 10 roll. The level of the elf’s otheri is also added to the roll. Each day that passes adds 1 to the DC of the roll. A ceremony where the full hit points of an elf must be cured all at once raises an elf. This healing can come from a heal spell, a heal potion, or similar magic. Multiple healers casting heal spells that total the elf’s hit points at one time also works.
There are no elven undead per se, but some otheris enable an elf to assume undead forms. Also, banshees are elven maidens gripped with such trauma or sadness that they let their physical forms go, but retain their spirits. These creatures are much like undead except that the elf has never died. Instead, she has let her physical form fade from existence. Remember, a dead elf means a dead soul — oblivion.