Elves are ageless but mortal descendants of the Ald, the most varied and mysterious of the elder races. Exiled to Fartherall after losing a war, the Ald — who were actually a cluster of connected peoples rather than a single race — the Ald discovered to their dismay that their children born in this new world did not inherit their immortality or full magical faculties. The elves are the offspring of the leadership cast of the exiled Ald, a lost people known alternately as the Seelie, Sidhe, or Tuatha.
Enigmatic to an extreme, elves are austere beings of measured thought, rarely moved by passion as opposed to reason. They prefer to remain withdrawn from world affairs. Seldom seen by their neighbor races, they are the undisputed — well, seldom disputed — masters of the parts of the world often dismissed as wilderness. Most elves seem to carry a shroud of quiet melancholy wherever they go, the legacy of their lost immortality, nostalgic for a place they’ve never been and lonesome for company of beings they’ve never known. This internal sadness deepens into a sense of personal tragedy as the years and centuries roll on, until the time of their thousandth birthday, when elves simply vanish: in the blink of an eye, and usually in private. Where they go, no one knows; or at least, none are telling.
Elves reach maturity at forty years of age, though their peers often still consider them immature until well into their second century of life. During this 150 or so years period of time, elven “adolescence” between the ages of 40 and 160, an elf is liable to try her hand at several hundred different pursuits, giving serious consideration to the dozen or so that they enjoy before settling in to spend the next hundred or so years mastering the two or three for which they develop a passion.
This self-focused nature and learned politeness has impacted their language over the years, and this idiosyncrasy carries over to their use of any of the “lesser tongues,” as they refer to non-Elvish or Aldic languages. An elf is more likely to say “I think you should see this”, or “I wonder if you heard that” than “Come look at this”, or “Did you hear that?”, as the first is too demanding, and the second places the focus on the listener without any reference to the speaker.
Elves live in the fringes of the world, in cities shaped to resemble the wilderness that surrounds them. It is entirely possible to walk past, or even through, an elven settlement without knowing it’s there. The fact that elves make their cities so difficult to find in the deepest forest has led many to believe that they worship nature as a religion. This is a misconception. While it is true that they appreciate the beauty and power of nature, it is still mostly a means to the end of keeping them safe and preserving their traditions.
Elves are often lithe and stand bit shorter than an average human of the same gender. Their eyes, if examined closely enough, can be observed as rather hawk-like. This feature combines with their pointed ears to lend them an air of wildness that is often belied by their soft voices, and only adds to the natural intrigue and mystery. Elves have no body hair; only males can grow facial hair, but not until their fifth century of life.
Elves and elfmaids reach an ageless state at about their two hundredth year. In human terms, they appear somewhere between 35 and 45, but show no other signs of aging — no wrinkles, no gray hairs, no darkening of teeth or freckles or liver spots. They will remain in this ageless state until they die, or vanish after a millenium of life. Elves who have suffered extreme hardship or disease can appear older than this ageless state, but should they be given sufficient time to recover, they will return to it and remain their until their death or disappearance.
Preservation of the race is a strong motivating factor in elven civilization. Pride does play a part in this to be sure, but as with most things elven, emotional motivation is a distant second to pragmatism. Elves breed very slowly, to the point where hundreds of years will separate siblings. Taken along with their ageless nature, this makes each elven life lost a deep tragedy. There are never, and never have been, enough elves. They have been in decline since the last of the Ald vanished.
Outsiders are very seldom welcome to visit an elven city, though those who stumble upon a particularly open and receptive community may be lucky enough to be shown to a visitor’s lodge set specifically aside for wayward travelers. After a night of rest, the visitors will be given directions to the nearest road and hurried on their way as briskly as etiquette will allow (barring dangerously inclement weather, of course).
Anyone who finds an especially unwelcoming community is liable to be turned away at arrow-point, or worse.
All manner of food is grown year-round in magically maintained elven gardens, making elves with a taste for druidic magic especially prized. This perpetual state of plenty means that the sky’s the limit for what profession an elf can pursue. A cobbler’s younger son may easily rise to become captain of the guard while the elder continues the family trade, and there would be no feeling of animosity between them for the difference in station.
Exceptions to this are elves who are determined by the elders to possess some special destiny. These few are groomed from a young age with the intention of preparing them for whatever trials await in pursuit of that destiny, which often creates a feeling of some resentment in the destined. However, once they complete the special task ahead of them, they are welcomed back into society, and are both helped and encouraged to make up for the time they lost in pursuing other careers.
An elven artisan in their later years is apt to turn out fewer pieces as they grow more preoccupied with the mysterious melancholy that tugs ever more at them, but what they do produce is said to be the finest in all the world. At the height of his ability, an elven smith can turn out weapons superior even to dwarven standards.
Elven society is ruled by a council of elders, the number of which varies. No decision is reached without complete unanimity, though if any member of the council should begin behaving in a way that flies in the face of reason, the remaining elders can vote them unfit to sit the council — again, requiring total unanimity.
Elves mostly keep other races at arm’s length, and generally prove true the old adage about good fences making good neighbors. They are baffled by the intractable nature of the dwarves, and younger elves might not be able to hide their disgust in such a rigid existence so far removed from the sun. They appreciate the halflings, and sometimes import victuals raised or grown by the small folk, insisting that you can taste the variety — less universally wonderful than what the elves create, but more exciting when an exceptional spice or vegetable jumps out.
They like humans that allow them to interact on their own terms, which is to say short encounters that get to the point and end with both parties coming away satisfied with the deal. Elves appreciate that humans admire their craftsmanship and looks, but are very leery of becoming too friendly with them in light of the incident that brought the miracle of the arcane to humanity. Nevertheless, over the past few hundred years they have recognized the great power and promise inherent in humans, and so they’ve begun sending ambassadors from time to time to make sure that the relationship remains amicable.
A further complicating factor in their relationship with humans is the fact that they awaken elves’ amorousness. Elven ardor is often dormant; it is not a daily, or necessarily even yearly sensation for elves to feel. It is assumed by non elves to be an inborn form of population control; if elves mated with the same frequency and vigor as their shorter-lived neighbors, they would quickly overpopulate given an elfmaid’s several centuries of childbearing years. When elves are among themselves, they may only mate once every decade or so. Something about humans, however, kicks these dormant instincts into gear. This doesn’t cause elves to lose control, by any means, but proximity to humans does bring a flood of unwelcome emotion that an unprepared elf may find difficult to handle.
Elves find gnomes, another Ald legacy race, endearing but exhausting. Elves are sometimes even moved to positively emotional outbursts when their little cousins’ perpetual zeal becomes too much to bear (a consequence, so the gnomes claim, of their progenitors being subservient to the Sidhe). All the same, gnomes are the only race with a standing exception to the elven rule of “no outsiders”. Elves will sometimes exchange goods and services with gnomish merchants, and will welcome and shelter an entire town of gnomes during times of war.
On the surface, elves appear to have no use for orcs, and do their best to avoid them. While elves dislike orcs and consider them brutes, they also feel no small amount of guilt for their lot in life. Had the Ald and Ord not warred and crippled one another in the Age of Wonder, the Ord who were left behind never would have been taken underground and warped into the orcs. The elves feel partially responsible, and it weighs on their conscience, although they would never admit to such a thing.
Alignment and Religion
Their aloof nature leads most elves toward neutrality with no emphasis on either law or chaos. They put the well-being and preservation of their own kind before all other concerns, and are seldom moved to act rashly.
View all pages in the JourneyQuest World Bible.
This page is considered Canon. Edits are locked to showrunners and authorized users.