The ardor that humanity stirs in the otherwise placid elves is a point of unending discomfort and embarrassment for the children of the Ald. While an elven couple may produce only one or two children over the course of a few centuries, an elf/human couple could theoretically give birth once every two years.
Unfortunately, these children are doomed to a maddeningly difficult and often traumatic childhood, followed by a lonely adulthood that (eventually) leads into an old age where their ageless, fey-touched soul must watch their flawed flesh age and decay. If they are raised among humans, half-elves watch their parents perish and their siblings and friends reach middle age by the time they themselves have only hit puberty. Their minds mature much more quickly than their physical bodies, the result being adult minds in prepubescents, and decades of infuriating condescension from well-meaning human adults.
Half-elves raised by elves grow so quickly they outpace their peers in all things. They’ll become accomplished bards by the time their childhood friends have outgrown their first nursery rhymes. Even into adulthood, full elves are liable to treat half-elves with overt displays of pity or false favoritism. Sometimes this is born of the same shameful lust that first spawned them, and the half-elf will become the guilty pleasure of several (if not dozens) of amorous elves over the course of their lives. While this can be pleasurable and fun at first, it eventually dawns on the young adult that they’re seen as nothing more than an exotic curiosity, and none of their “lovers” care enough to commit their ageless hearts to the mortal, doomed half-elf.
Many elves are attracted to humans, but none of them are willing to discuss that attraction openly. A tactic for masking their shame is to react with scandalized shock whenever evidence of human/elven coupling cannot be ignored. This “humaphobia” is all-pervasive. Sadly, half-elves who know and were raised by both their parents are all but unheard of. The human parent will die before the half-elf is physically mature, but long after the child has the mind of an adult; and the elven parent is likely eventually to distance him or herself from the societal shame of a half-breed offspring. The life of a half-elf is fraught with trauma, loneliness, and feelings of estrangement, and few remain in their native homes for long.
To the untrained eye, half-elves can appear indistinguishable from elves to all but elves and gnomes. Elves think half-elves — who they refer to as “half-humans” or “halfmen” — look more human than elven, what with their stouter limbs and slightly more rounded features. Oddly, gnomes often confuse half-elves for humans or elves; the source of this confusion is unknown. Physically, half-elves blend the best aspects of elven grace with human strength, and are often considered quite attractive. This innate beauty is often at odds with their defensive and gruff personalities.
Half-elven society hardly exists at all, though over the past few centuries this has slowly been changing. A small sect of half-elves has begun pooling the resources its members have collected as adventures; these half-elves have contracted dwarves to begin work on a fortress-city called Nativity, deep in the Afterlands, where only half-elves will be granted citizenship. If they are square pegs trying to fit into a round hole, they intend to smash the board until the square peg damn well fits. This new home will give the race the focal point the Forty Founders believes they need to begin growing as a species, with the end goal being to reach a point where they become a properly sustainable race under their own power and authority.
This dream has quite a few hurdles to overcome. First and foremost is the learned distrust half-elves hold toward most anyone else, including other half-elves. The idea that the fortress-city ought to be built was agreed on unanimously when the Forty signed their contract with the dwarves, but beyond “We should have a place of our own”, the Forty have been unable to agree on much at all. None want to be subservient to the others, and none want to be made emperor or empress, for fear the others might try to usurp them. It’s as if a settlement founded by a bunch of distrustful loners isn’t the best basis for a society. At this point it seems most likely that the Forty will form some sort a non-representative council to determine all matters of state, and vote on how best to manage the replacement process once the city begins to run on its own.
Prospective citizens of Nativity have spread far and wide to spread word of their brave new home to others of their race. All half-elves are welcome, but the Forty have decided that any scouts who return with other half-elves will be granted a bounty in their new currency (whatever it might be) in proportion to the number of new citizens with which they return. So far nobody has tried to force anyone to join, though whether a particularly enterprising half-elf decides to use coercive measures in the future is anyone’s guess.
Another stated goal of the Forty is to come up with a different name for their race than “half-elves,” because they see that term as an indictment, a measure of incompleteness that serves as a reminder that they don’t belong. Many names have been bandied about, but the one with the most sticking power so far has been “ava” (both singular and plural).
Imperfect as it may be, Nativity is a first and bold statement by the bastard grandchildren of the Ald that they are ready to come into their own, and are no longer willing to be marginalized or abandoned (in actuality or by perception) by the cultures of their parents. Openly mocking this dream is a fast way to halt any bickering half-elves may be doing amongst themselves, so they can focus their energy on delivering a blistering tongue lashing (or regular lashing) on the fool who’d make light of their ill-defined dream.
As individuals, half-elves are a dour lot that expects the worst from people, as that’s the kind of treatment they’ve received. Half-elves in the company of others often exhibit narcissistic and vain personalities, but this is usually a mask worn over deep sense of self-loathing. They would be more open toward the other sentient races of Fartherall if their personal experiences didn’t tend towards the emotionally brutal.
Some half-elves revere their elven ancestors in a sad and unintentional parody of the adoration that full elves hold for the Ald. These poor souls do all they can to live in service to elfkind, and tend to elicit responses from elves ranging from pity to scorn. They may be taken as lovers many times during their lives, but rarely will a lasting relationship form. Taking a half-elf as a mate isn’t quite as embarrassing as repeating the mistake that caused the half-elf in the first place, but it’s still more than a little uncouth.
Many other half-elves can’t stand purebloods, and resent their powers and senses of their full blooded relatives. They view the erudite Aldspawn as arrogant, and look at themselves as a glimpse into a future that the elves are understandably terrified of, as it doesn’t include them. They take most every opportunity to deride elven tradition and culture, and some have gone so far as to take direct action — arson and murder — to speed along the death of the old ways. These half-elves try to seek out others of their own kind and begin halfblood families, and look forward to the day when their children or grandchildren will be the ones living in luxury while the pure elves are left wandering a world that’s forgotten them.
On the other side of their blood, the human side, emotions are often just as polarized. Some half-elves adore the expansionist and industrial humans. Their fast lives intrigue them, and once they reach maturity they are often well positioned to build and act upon far-reaching plans that the shorter-lived humans may not have the patience for. Their human neighbors often find half-elves attractive, and many a duel has been fought for the affection of a comely half-elf, which is fine by them most of the time; being wanted is something all half-elves crave.
Unsurprisingly, about as many half-elves as love humanity hate it, seeing it as wasteful, grasping, and devoid of real soul or culture. They’re ashamed of their human blood, and go out of their way to excoriate humans on their wasteful and stupid ways at every available opportunity. They see humanity’s rejection of their wisdom as corroborating evidence of humankind’s stupidity.
Halflings are probably more likely than anyone to treat a half-elf with non-judgmental openness and kindness, and this stirs up a maelstrom of conflicting emotions in a half-elf. Deep gratitude mingles with contempt that such a small and weak race would offer a half-elf friendship. Racial arrogance keeps half-elves from openly admitting how awful it is to be all alone, and to their credit, halflings have come to understand this. In the interest of helping the half-elf keep her pride, a halfling community will usually invent some job that only the half-elf can do, and keep them around as long as they care to share company. Half-elves love halflings.
They aren’t so crazy about gnomes, though. Gnomish bravado and their fierce devotion to their kin reminds half-elves all too keenly of their own displacement from elven society. Gnomes are liable to mistake a half-elf for either human or elf, and have a hard time keeping it straight in their head, sometimes even mistaking the same individual for both races during the same day.
Dwarves are fine, and often preferable company if company must be kept. Dwarves keep to themselves, turn out interesting products, respect contracts, and don’t ask questions. A half-elf is liable to appreciate how most dwarves treat them exactly the same as any other potential customer, neither slamming their shutters nor offering pity-sales. Darrow, however, half-elves find absolutely exhausting. A half-elf traveling long-term in the company of a half-dwarf will likely grow somewhat cheerful as his wineskin grows lighter.
Orcs are a favorite target, because both halves of a half-elf’s dual nature agree that the violent greenskins are damaging to what is right with the world, and should be driven away from civilized areas or crushed outright. Interestingly enough, half-elves are defensive of and inclined toward friendship with half-orcs, who they see as kindred spirits. All the same, they begrudge a half-orc the fortune that their low blood should be brought higher by humanity while their own fey heritage was brought low by the same blood.
Ogres are beasts at best and toys at worst. A half-elf who deals with ogres will do so only on his own terms, and that usually means manipulating the ogre pride into some situation where they’ll be turned on his rivals, often under the guise of being a turncoat from an elven settlement… which has sometimes been the case, and resulted in the destruction of elven enclaves where the half-elf in question felt slighted one time too many.
Alignment and Religion
Being so cut off from any proper friends or family causes many half-elves to grow insular and cold as they discover at a young age that they’ll need to look out for themselves. Most half-elves are Neutral or Neutral Evil, and the anger in their hearts drives them toward an affinity for The Furnace.