Elves of the Wood
Elves in the Realms
The elven struggle for dominance in the Realms has lasted since the Oldest War (one which they argue continues to this day), the elven revolution and eradication of dragons. To this day, elves revile all things tainted with draconic blood. And while these ancient foes share a particular enmity, both share a mutual respect for one another – both parties abide by a truce drawn by treaties from a lost age. In the case of the elf, they merely must invoke the name of their divine protector – Corellon Larethian.
Even outside their ancestral war with the dragons, the elven histories are steeped in war. Having long since mastered the preservative arts associated with the fabled Elf Stones, the elves have been far more successful in preserving records of their conflicts. Where human memory and history has failed, elven memory has persevered. As such, the remaining free-kingdoms have cultivated a healthy distrust of humanity. Most of these small, disparately aligned, nation-states are found on the frontiers of the Empire. While the human-centric Empire does not openly persecute the elves, the two races have long since become too culturally opposed to coexist comfortably. Although, within its borders, elven worship of ‘pagan’ gods is still tolerated by the Imperials. However this behavior is often seen as sacrilege by the zealous anyways.
Due to (a now ancient) cultural and religious shift in elven communities, the dwindling elven people withdrew from their ancient cities. Leaving their palatial homes to crumble and succumb to the March of Ages. While able, the elven communities will defend these Holy Ruins from intrusion until their numbers are too few. The Kingdom of the Whisperwood elves is one such weakened community, their fabled City of the Moon has long since become infested with foul creatures.
The Whisperwood elves are an elective monarchy. The Holy Queen serves as both the head of state, and as highest ranking priest of Sehanine Moonbow in the kingdom. There are nine electors (3 sets of 3) who are chosen from the elite of their respective organizations: Three high-priestesses of Sehanine Moonbow, three druids / priests of Rallathil, and three archmages of the academy – Root. The queen serves for life, or until she finds a suitable heir so she may abdicate.
The Whisperwood elves are currently ruled by Lady Asharya Whisperleaves.
Elven stoicism is central to understanding elven culture. One most always, at least appear to be calm. Part-and-parcel to this belief is the classic aloof, and in-control appearance exuded by most elves, irregardless of the situation. Betraying emotion in elven society is mortifying for the individual at fault. As such elves are schooled from a young age to repress, or rather, control their emotions. For instance, laughter in the streets of an elven settlement would provoke thinly-veiled looks of outrage from its inhabitants.
Despite the resulting oppressiveness of such control, the elves certainly appear to have mastered their worse impulses. Elven ethics is unapologetically utilitarian, with individuals forfeiting their rights when faced with the needs of the many. This accompanies their ascetic beliefs towards personality and luxury too, seeing decadence as a betrayal. Only the arts, natural or otherwise, remain as the solitary good of the elves – who in their self-imposed exile from civilization have continued to master the arts of magic, music, and craft. The elves of this age are fascinated by experience, and strive to uncover the mysteries of the world through their ascetic explorations of the intricacies of magic and nature. In short, the elves seek the Root of Knowledge.
There are four pursuits revered above all others in elven society. The first is the pursuit of the ancient caste-nobles of the Old Kingdom – Wizardry, the Art. The eight noble lines of the Old Kingdom survive today, and their descendants are devoted to the arcane research started by their ancestors. The second pursuit is that of the druid. The intricacies of nature are infinite in their revelatory power, druids are typically considered the wisest of elven ‘philosophers’. Indeed, they often are called ‘natural philosophers’ in many circles. The third pursuit is that of the faithful. This life is accompanied in part by the meditative life of the druid, but tempered by the scholarly pursuits of wizardry. The fourth pursuit is that of the artist. The artist seeks enlightenment through the expression of their own experience. As such the grounds of the artist is the indulgence of the senses, from which follows a Dionysian-philosophy of inspiration.
This fourth pursuit hints at the darker side of the elven consciousness. Their histories are steeped in bloody war, and this is no coincidence. Through their countless struggles elves have become increasingly blood-thirsty. This lead to some of the darkest days of the elves’ collective histories, but they emerged stronger for their struggles. The ascetic revolution at the start of this age has lead the elves to recapture the meditative practices of their ancestors.
While being exceedingly rare, if an elf should lose their composure for any reason they can spiral into a Rage. This berserk-like effect can come over an individual suddenly, or occur over drawn-out period, either way the result is the same. The elf descends into an uncontrollable rage. In this madness, an elf cannot be reasoned with until calmed. If enemies or hostile presences are near, the elf attempts to destroy the presence. Lacking distinct hostile presences, the elf will direct their anger at the nearest living humanoid creature.
Faith – The Seldarine
The two predominate deities of worship in the elven pantheon are Sehanine Moonbow and Rillifane Rallathil, a greater goddess and god of the Seldarine. The previous patron god of the elves, the Protector- Corellon Larethian, is still given a place of high honor in elven theology. However, the worship of their Creator-God has diminished over the millennia, as the elves have re-embraced the more ‘primordial’ principles associated with Sehanine and Rallathil. (Other than this change in hierarchy, the elven pantheon is largely unchanged from the Forgottem Realms one found here.)
Relations with Backwater
The standard Backwater peasant won’t know of the forest kingdom of Whisperwood. The elven kingdom, while not too distant, is not yet close enough to enter the sphere of influence of such a minor human settlement. Knowledgeable residents of Backwater will know of the elves of Whisperwood, but have little information outside of folktales and rumor.
The men and women eking out existence in the Backwater Hinterlands may come across groups of elven hunters once-in-a-blue-moon. But these rangers prefer to move unseen through inhabited lands, avoiding unnecessary contact with ‘outsiders’ as much as possible. Although breaking this unspoken forbearance on communication is not infrequent when deemed necessary, by the elves.
Shalelu Andosana, ‘Goblin Biologist’, hails from Whisperwood.