Head Hunters of Eberron
Elves of Khorvaire
Living among short-lived, ever-changing races such as humans and halflings, the elves of the Five Nations have learned to identify themselves more by nation and culture than by race. With a blend of the long-lived perspective common to other elves and the quick, adaptable nature of other races, these elves are equally capable of long-term planning and quick, decisive action. The elves of the Five Nations do not have the numbers or national unity of those form the nations of Valenar or Aerenal, yet they are the elves most commonly encountered by other races. Almost all these elves put their national identity above their racial identity; for example, an elf from Breland has more in common (at least in terms of social and philosophical views) with other citizens of Breland than he does with the elves from Aerenal or Valenar. Elves associated with either of the elf dragonmarked houses, however, identify themselves first as members of the house rather thtan as citizens of a particular nation or members of a specific community.
Physical Description: Although generally taller than humans, elves possess a graceful, fragile physique that is accentuated by their long, pointed ears. Their eyes are wide and almond-shaped, and filled with large, vibrantly colored pupils. While elven clothing often plays off the beauty of the natural world, those elves that live in cities tend to bedeck themselves in the latest fashion.
Relations: As stated above, the elves of Khorvaire associate themselves with their nation, guild, or dragonmarked house before they identify as the “elves of Khorvaire.” They have no friends or enemies as a race, instead falling back on their associations with other races – and with each other – based on these modern identities. An elf of the Eldeen Reaches, for example, finds nothing odd about associating with humans, gnolls, and orcs alike. This same elf might harbor a deep-rooted grudge against another elf from Aundair.
Lands: Khorvaire has no elven homeland, and the elves of Khorvaire are themselves the forgotten descendants of explorers from Aerenal. Most of the elves that call Khorvaire their home have no ties to their ancestral homeland, as distant from it as the humans of Khorvaire are from their own cradle of life, Sarlona. Instead, the Khorvaire elves look to the nation of their birth or the enclaves of their dragonmarked house as their homeland.
Dragonmarks: More so than any other breed of elf, Khorvaire elves bear the Dragonmark of Shadow. Those with the mark can find acceptance in either House Phiarlan or House Thuranni, both of which use the power of their mark to monopolize the entertainment and criminal markets.
Religion: The elves of Khorvaire are almost as diverse as its humans, and take up many of the same faiths as humans do. Khorvaire elves do not have a unifying faith of their own, and may be counted among the faithful of the Sovereign Host, the Dark Six, the Blood of Vol, and many other religions.
Language: The elves of Khorvaire maintain their native tongue in addition to Common. Many also pick up the languages that are used most often in their home, while others (particularly those in service to a dragonmarked house or guild) prefer to study exotic tongues for diplomatic missions.
Adventurers: With keen sense, long lives, and a deadly talent for archery, elves make interesting, powerful characters. Whether bearing the Mark of Shadow in service of House Phiarlan or House Thuranni or perfecting arcane magic after centuries of study, the elves of the Five Nations are among Khorvaire’s most powerful and intriguing individuals. Having lived along the shorter-lived races for several generations, the elves of Khorvaire have taken on many of the mannerisms and behaviors of their national cultures. Compared the far-seeing elves of Aerenal, Khorvaire elves are impulsive and adventurous. Displaying more of their national culture than their racial norms, the elves of Khorvaire look favorably on adventurers and others who achieve greatness. Even though they have lost much of their ancestor-worshiping traditions, the elves of hte Five Nations still see great deeds as important parts of their faith and believe that today’s adventurers remain true to their race’s spirit and courage.
Elves of Aerenal
Undying soldiers move through jungles filled with ancient power, zealous elves strive to be worthy of joining their vliant ancetors, and the cities of Aerenal gather might unmatched in the outside world. Even the migh dragons of Argonessen must guess at the long-reaching plans of Aerenals Undying Court, and only the elves have ever stood against the combined might of the dragon legions. Aerenal is a land of magical forests and jungles, and the land itself resonates with powerful necromantic energy. Although it holds natural resources in abundance, including the sole sources of many magical timbers such as bronzewood and densewood, Aerenal’s true strength is the abundant flow of necromantic power that gave rise to the undying soldiers that protect the realm and the undying councilors that guide it. Statistics for undying soldiers and undying councilers can be found in chapter 10. The presence of these powerful soldiers and advisers has protected Aerenal from even the strength of the dragons, allowing Aerenal’s culture to flourish for generation after elf generation.
Elves have lived on the continent for more than twenty-six thousand years. For most of that time, the Undying Court has ruled with a benign and guiding hand. With a long-reaching perspective rivaling that of the greatest dragons, the Undying Court carefully directs the elves of Aerenal through machinations that might takes thousands of years to unfold. The Sibling Kings, the traditional living rulers of Aerenal, rule over the daily affairs of the elves while the Undying Court shapes the destiny of the race.
Physical Description: See above.
Relations: Most of the elves in Aerenal give little thought to the outside world, focusing instead on the goals of their isolated family groups and their families’ roles in the far-reaching plans of the undying. While this makes much of Aerenal isolationist and impenetrable to outsiders, small parts of the elf nation deal directly with the outside world. Though the port city of Pylas Talaer the elves sell their magical timber and worked wooden goods to members of other races. Because of this commerce, a the fact that the elves of Aerenal have held their island continent for ten times the length of living memory, outsiders almost universally view the elves with a healty mix of awe and indifference. All this is changing, though, as the young elves of Tairnadal continue to migrate to the kingdom of Valenar and practice policies of aggressive expansion.
Lands: Magical forests tower over much of the island continent of Aerenal, resonating with the mystical energies of the land. Filled with soarwood, livewood, and other magical timbers, the forests of Aerenl ripple with necromantic energy, hiding many of the elves’ ancient secrets. Unlike the restless tribes of the younger, more aggressive elf nation of Valenar, the elves of Aerenal build great cities made of enchanted wood and magical power. Even the smaller single-family estates of Aerenal are things of beauty, housing as many as three thousand elves and a small contingent of undying warriors. While the great cities of Aerenal attract the attention of the outside world, these smaller settlements hold the heart of the elf race. Few outsiders are permitted beyond the port city of Pylas Talaer.
Dragonmarks: Like other elves, Aerenal elves can manifest the Dragonmark of Shadow. Few ever do, the honor mostly reserved for their cousins from Khorvaire. As both the Dragonmarked Houses of Phiarlin and Thuranni, those houses based on the Mark of Shadow, are powers of Khorvaire politics, neither has a significant presence on the island of Aerenal. For this reason, many Aerenal elves who do find themselves manifesting the Mark migrate to Khorvaire in search of a greater sense of camaraderie.
Religion: Religion in Aerenal begins and ends with ancestor worship, made an ever-present facet of Aerenal’s culture throuh the presence of the undying. These ancient creatures, the spirits of great heroes and wise loremasters, are undead-like creatures filled with positive energy from the plane of Irian, the Eternal Day. Some of these creatures have been walking among the elves of Aerenal since the first days of their settlement on he island continent, and their godlike power serves both as the inspiration for elven veneration and protection for the kingdom itself. The elves live their beliefs by remaining devoted their families, believing that this devotion continues to sustain and strengthen the spirits of the undying.
Language: The elves of Aerenal speak Elven,and most speak Common and Draconic as well. The elves of Aerenal are often reserved in their speech, concealing their emotions and true intentions behind stoic masks. With the prespective of a long-lived race guided by undying ancestors, the elves of Aerenal choose their word as carefully as they form their opinions.
Adventurers: Aereni adventurers usually leave the confines of their home, traveling through distant lands to work the will of the Undying Court or seeking to emulate the deeds of their ancestors. Many elf aspire to the fame and power necessary to eventually take a place among the undying guardians of the elf race. With a longer-reaching perspective than any other adventuring race, the elves of Aerenal are cautious at most times but exceptionally bold and resourceful when forced to act. They are also courageous, in part because of their heroic nature and because they view death as a benign process along the path to ascension. The aereni are not foolhardy or death-seekers, though, and they understand that next step in their journey should not be sought out lest their impatience pollute the purity of their final rest.
Elves of Valenar
Warriors seemingly born in the saddle, the elves of Valenar have taken the first steps along their epic quest to reclaim the lands of their ancestors. Although Valenar elves do not differ physically from the elves of Aerenal, their young culture and newborn aggression make them a race unto themselves in the eyes of the other nations of Khorvaire. Many of Valenar’s forty-five war clans vie for attention and prestige within the kingdom, but this competition is hardly noticeable in light of the elves’ continued aggression against neighboring countries. Welcomed into Valenar to help with agricultural and administrative tasks, the half-elves of House Lyrander have a great deal of sway within the country, as do the Keepers of the Past, the most prominent religious group in Valenar.
Physical Description: See above.
Relations: The other races view the Valenar elves as dangerous aggressors, and few doubt that the elves of Valenar will soon go on the offensive again. Although respected for their peerless cavalry troops, the elves of Valenar receive an indifferent reaction at best from members of other races. While this problem is pronounced for any large group of elves, few see one elf as a threat. Those elves traveling in the company of other races still have an easy time traveling through other cultures peacefully. Lands near the borders of Valenar are rightfully suspicious of military activity, however; this makes any sort of social interaction more difficult for elves in these regions.
Lands: The elves of Valenar declared their sovereignty at the end of the Last War, claiming a large portion of southern Cyre. As the fractured nations of Khorvaire struggle to recover from the war that ripped the kingdom of Galifar apart, the elves of Valenar gather their strength and prepare to strike out again. The lands they hold include many ruins from the Last War and other more ancient sites from the Age of Monsters, when elves first settled the lands that are now Valenar.
The war clans of the Valenar remain in near-constant motion unless assigned to guard a specific area by the high king. These roaming clans move throughout the kingdom, launching raids when near the border of the Talenta Plains or Q’barra and moving south during the foaling seasons. Other than the city of Taer Valaestas where High King Vadallia keeps his seat, there are few settlements of any size within Valenar. Small clusters of ranches form the bulk of stationary residences within the kingdom.
Dragonmarks: Valenar elves can also manifest the Mark of Shadow, and do so much more commonly than their Aerenal cousins – though their numbers still do not quite compare to those of Khrovaire elves with the mark. Unlike other elves, however, the valenar elves who manifest the Mark rarely join either of the elven dragonmarked houses. The elves of this nation are fanatically loyal to Valenar and the ideal that it represents – a modern homeland for the elves, where they can carve their own fate out of the world instead of being subjugated to the will of other creatures removed from the plights of their lives. Far more commonly, a Valenar elf that manifests the Mark of Shadow will enter an almost religious convent among his or her own people, learning to master the mark in order to apply its power to the benefit of Valenar.
Religion: The Keepers of the Past, the priesthood of the Valenar elves, maintain the memory of the great elf heroes of Xen’drik. Keepers travel with war clans to ensure they honor the great ancestors of the elves. The Keepers share increasing concern over a rapidly growing warrior cult. This cult, known as the Dalan Rae, brings the idea of ancestor worship to a fanatical extreme. Its warriors, known as the Dalan Rael (or the “near dead”), believe that death in battle is but the last step to assuming the true form of a warrior, an undying spirit. These fanatical warriors seek an early death at the hands of a powerful foe, for in their eyes such a death ensures their return as powerful spirit warriors. The cult hopes to build a host of such spirit warriors.
Language: Valenar elves speak Elven, but they are much more aggressive and straightforward in conversation than other elves, even on simple topics. They do not favor extended metaphors, and they prefer to stay direct and keep to any point at hand.
Adventurers: Paragons of battle and honor, Valenar elf adventurers carry on the spirit of those mighty elves who smashed the giants of Xen’drik. Valenar grows in power each passing season, and its warriors number among the mightiest in the world. Riding forth from Valenar on steeds unmatched by those of any other peoples, the warriors of Valenar are the living heirs of their great ancestry. Their warriors often travel and adventure for a decade or more in search of persona glory. Other Valenar elves, particularly clerics affiliated with the Keepers of the Past, search for relics from the elves’ ancient struggle against the Empire of Dhakaan, ruins of lost elf settlements, or even relics from ancient Xen’drik and the elves’ time there. These elves are deeply devoted to the ancestor-worship so important to their people, and many travel to Aerenal to visit the City of the Dead and speak directly to the most honored ancestors of that ancient land.
Valenar elves see adventuring as a necessary and glorious part of the warrior tradition. Emulating their ancestors of old, adventuring elves seek out great foes to defeat, thus bringing honor to themselves and to their people. In keeping with their proud martial nature, Valenar elves have not only embraced the scimitar of their Aereni ancestors, but also have further developed the weapon into a form all its own; the Valenar double scimitar, an elegant and lethal variation that they have learned to wield to great effect.
Elf Racial Traits
+2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, –2 Constitution: Elves are nimble, both in body and mind, but their form is frail.
Medium: Elves are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Normal Speed: Elves have a base speed of 30 feet.
Low-Light Vision: Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Elven Immunities: Elves are immune to magic sleep effects and get a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells and effects.
Elven Magic: Elves receive a +2 racial bonus on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance. In addition, elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Spellcraft skill checks made to identify the properties of magic items.
Keen Senses: Elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception skill checks.
Weapon Familiarity: Elves are proficient with longbows (including composite longbows), longswords, rapiers, and shortbows (including composite shortbows), and treat any weapon with the word “elven” in its name as a martial weapon.