((I decided to share this with the general public. Differently from the works previously posted in here, both by others and by me, this are no exact source quotes. However, this is based on all the sources on elves (except for drow) that I have, both cannon and not. Things that are based on sources that, to my knowledge, aren't cannon, will be pointed out in text. My personal thoughts, musings, and extrapolations based on the information will be pointed out as well.
Please do not post in this thread, if you wish to discuss it's contents either make another thread for it or PM me))
A year, although the most sensible measure of time for humans (and most other races) is far too quick for the long-lived elves. Young adventurers, other elves that live among humans, and farmers follow the N'Tel'Quess year-based calendars. But as an elf grows older, this idea feels more like following passage of time by counting months.
In the elven historical records, the passage of time is counted in four-year-long periods that start and end upon Shieldmeet (called Cinnaelos'Cor - "The Day of Corellon's Peace"). These four year periods are called Pyesigen ("Four Snows") or Aeloulaev (When Peaces Meet").
Furthermore, elves also have the concept of a "Rysar", that is used to imply a span of important time, generation, or a reign of a specific ruler. Each elven civilisation, realm or empire, counts their own rysars.
Based by the examples in the book and online, I've calculated current time to be the: 2nd Rysar of Evermeet, 16th Aeloulaev/Pyesigen of Queen Amlauril Moonflower.
(N'Tel'Quess) Marking of the years
Although the months themselves are standardized, the system for dating varies from realm to realm (called "This and that" Reckoning), numbered from an even of great political or religious significance. The result is a hodgepodge of overlapping numbers taht serve to confuse the ortinary person and frustrate the sage. So, nobody except historians use year numbering.
Instead, across the realms, years (called "winters") are referred to by name, each name being consistent across the Realms. Peaopel refer to all events by the name of the years, and they are taught the order of the years from early childhood.
The naming of the years is not random, but neither does it cesessarily commemorate any great event or occurrence. Instead they are based on predictions written down under the name of "The Roll of Years" by the Lost Sage Augathra the Mad with additions of Alaundo the Seer. The roll is a long one, predicting more than a thousands of years. Its a rare year that doesn't somehow connect with its name.
Alaundo The Seer, also called The Wise and of Candlekeep arrived in Candlekeep during the Year of Clining Death (75 DR). He was the last worshiper of Savras, to whom he revealed only visions that would come true. Upon his death, his citadel at Candlekeep became a haven of both veneration of his prophecies and the accumulation of all knowledge. The prophecies vary from unimportant ("A golden unicorn shal travel unmolsted through the length of Watrdeep") to major ("While birds shal vanish from the North, and great evil shall die and be reborn" - thought to prophesice the Time of Troubles). Today the acolytes of the keep continue to chant the remaining prophecies, which grow shorter over the centuries as they coe true and are discarded.
Augathra the Mad is also known as "The Lost Sage". In -700 DR, while she was contributing to the Roll of Years, she started having dark visions. It is during that time that she also produced "The Book of the Black", containing horrifying prophecies. Tornmented by these dark chronologies, Augatrha began wandering the worls, slowly driven insane.
After countless lifetimes of serving as a living conduit for times yet to come and suffering the taint of the Black Chronology woven between the years by Shar, she thought to end her existence. Unfortunatelly, she discovered that simply comitting suicide wouldn't liberate her from the burden. It is unknown to most what has become of her.
Both Alaunda o the Seer and Augathra the Mad, built their prophecies upon the works of earlier diviners. One of such diviners is mentioned in their works as the "T Source", who is also known as the Terraseer of Netheril.
This enigmatic human archmage appared first in Netheril in -3654 DR. Very little has been known about this individual and he seemed to relish in his myseteriousness. He always appeared when a problem arose and soon disappeared once the dilemma was resolved. He made himself available to the archwizards of Netheril to provide guidance and teach them greater magic. He disappeared for centuries at a time, and returned unchanged. To the people of Netheril he was called merely the Terrasseer, watcher of all thtt transpired on the earth, but the learned among the archwizards knew his name - Arithndol. Few believed that he was an actual human.
Among his achievements, prophecies, and teaching are translations from many of the Nether Scrolls, the exploration of the Sword Coast, the occupation of the Old Owl Well, and the warning of the impending doom at the hands of Karsus. He was last seen in the enclave of Karsus in -345 DR, six years before the fall. He stated that the goddess Mystryl was about to face her greatest challenge - one that could alter the perception of magic for all times. After that he was never seen again, but the tragedy of Karsus' Folly and Netheril's Fall overshadowed this.
Arthindol was the actual name of the Terrasseer, but what the Netherese didn't know is that he is a sarrukh lich from ancient Isstossfefil - a sarrukh empire that dominated the Anauroch basin long before the rise of Netheril. Isstossfefil was ruled by a group of sarrukh liches from their capitol in Oreme. They took turns that lasted for few hundred years, and then rested in deep slumber while awaiting their turn. At first, Arthindol only observed the burgeoninghuman settlements. However, later he got involved and gave it further hints and guidance in what he thought as of his grand "Netherese Experiment". In this manner, he hoped to cultuvate new forms of magic that might enable the sarrukh to defeat the phaerimms once and for all. Weather he thinks it a success or disaster, he has not been seen since.
Dalereckoning is taken from the year that humans were first permited by the Elven Court to settle in the more open regions of the forest. Raising of the Standing Stone, which ratifies the Dales Compact, marks it as Hammer 1st of year 1 DR. This calendar is the first time that elves reconsiled their ages-old calendar with. In some texts, primarily those which do no thave direct ties to Dales history, Dalereckoning is called Freeman's Reckoning (FR). This is teh calendar which most others are compared to. All dates on FRC use Dalereckoning as its standard.
The founding of the Dalelands long preceded the creation of any of the existing Dales by hundreds of years, and the year numbering system known as Dalereckoning is actually a commemoration of humankind being given permission to settle in the lands north and west of the Inneer Sea. Most of the current Dales are relative newcomers, the older Dales having been abandoned, destroyed, or overrun long ago.
In those ancient days, when Suzail and Chondathan (now called Saerloon) were just small coastal trading posts, the elves who ruled this forest entertained a request from settles from the East, refugees and farmers from far-off Impiltur and Damara. This request was to farm and settle the borders of the great forest Cormanthor, in particular the rich delves and dales along the rivers Arkhen and Ashaba. These newcomeers did not wish to lumber or clear the inhabited forest, but only to settle on the rich terrritories on its edges, and unlike some other settlers (early Sembia comes to mind) were willing to ask permission. The lrods of the Elven Court granted that request in return for aid from these new Dalelanders against outside aggression, both monstrous (orcs and golbins from the lands of Thar) and human (the rising powers in Cormy rand Sembia). In commemoration of this pact, humans and elves raised the Standing Stone that is now seen where the Moonsea Ride reaches Rauthavyr's Road, the road from Essembra to Hillsfar. It is from the date of the raising of this stone that Dalereckoning is counted.
The Standing Stone itself is a huge plinth of glossy grey rock, incised with mysterious elven runes which wind about its base in a series fo bands. The stone itself is about twenty feet in height and has some major enchangment on it. It cannot be defaced or marred, for stans or cuts heal on its surface.
After the Fall of Rystal Wood, the Coronal of Eltagrim, became determined to prevent a similar fate from befalling Cormanthyr. He saw naught but strife on all sides for the elves and other good races, and felt sadess because of their refusal to cooperate and band together. The realm of Cormyr, once an elven colony claimed from Thauglrorimorgorus the Black Doom (the Purple Dragon of Cormyr) in the Year of Good Hunting (-205 DR), by Lord of Scepters Iliphar Nelnuever of House Amaratharr, grew into a human realm in less time than an elf's eyeblink. Teh goblinoids had firmly established themselves in the Stonelands for all time, merely because the army of Cormanthyr couldn't lowr itself into allying with the all-too-human Purple Dragons of Cormyr to prevent it. The orcs and other menaces loomed in teh peaks above and between the races. A solution needed to be found to prevent the elves from losing more ground from the other races, good and evil alike.
Ignoring the protests from the stuborn nobles of Cormanthor, he summoned the leaders of the human tribes dwelling in small villages at the edges of Cormanthor. After a year of deliberations, the elves and the humans forged an alliace - the famous Dale Compact. This agreement promised peace and friendship between the humans and the elves. The Dalesmen were the first humans in more than a millennia to witness elven High Magic, as the elves raised the Standing Stone with the Ritual of Quamaniith. The pact lies carved at the base of the stone:
"While there is even one Tel'Quessir within the forest, the men of the Dales may settle the Cleared Lands around us. This stone and the Pact of Peace between our People shall crumble if ever the Dalesmen willingly reduce the woods or invade the lands claimed by the Tel'Quessir."
As the elven woods receded uner the axes, old Dales perished and new ones came into being along he borders of the woods. And many elf has wondered why the Standing Stone still stands. Among the Dales, the folk adopted a number of the elven practices to provide them settling areas without clearing the land of living treas. In accordance with the elves, dead trees were chopped and harvested, while seedlings that might grow in that place were transplanted elsewhere to allow for a clearing to form. The only true reduction fo the woods have been performed by other human agents (in particular Sembians) who have had little love of The People. When the Sembians forced the road throgh to Hillsfar, the elves responded by routing the road to pass at the base fo the stone, ironically pointint out that not all people need to deal at the point of a sword.
Quamaniith, "The Vow Tangible" is a High Magic ritual that creates a solid stone object that both records and makes a promis solid. Should either party knowingly and willingly break the pledge, the object shatteters. The size of the physical symbol, called a vowstone/oathstone, is relative to the numbers of people it encompasses (the High Mages are not involed in the vow only in the binding of it).
The Standing Stone is the major example of a vowstone, its size (20 feet in height) relative to the two groups of people (Dalesmen and elves of Cormanthyr) involved in the vow through the three human representatives and the Coronal.
Cormyr Reckoning (CR)
This reckoning derives from the foundation of House Obarskyrin The year of Opening Doors (26 DR), the dynasty that still rules this land. The gap from the Dalereckoning has caused many a learned sage to slam their heads violently against their desk. Timelines of the old days often use DR as designator, but place the founding of Cormyr at 1 DR, instead of 26 DR.
Although on one hand, it would appear that FRC should be using Cormyr Reckoning as it's base, it would be too confusing, as all published material is using Dalereckoning for the sake of convenience.
Calendar of Harptos
Named after its inventor, the long-dead wizard Harptos of Kaalinth, this is the most widely used and recognized calendar in Faerûn. It's so well known that few ever call it by name, since this is the only calendar they know. It has been in use around 200 years longer than the Dale Reckoning itself.
A year is 365 days long and is divided into 12 months. Because the world of Toril has a single moon and its followers which orbits the planet for around 30 days - this is the length of the month. The missing 5 days are added in between the months, and are considered special occasions and mark the seasons or changes of the seasons. Because the moon, Selûne, makes 48 equal revolutions every four years, once every four years a leap year is retained. The leap day that is added, enables the lunar cycles and the calendar to stay in synchronization. For social convenience that day is used as the basis for long-term agreements and contracts. Although celebrated by elves for many centuries, the Shieldmeet has only been adopted into the Calendar of Haprtos in the Year of the Fallen Fury (20 DR) and renamed from Cinnaelos'Cor to Shieldmeet.
The span of 200 years from beginning of the calendar to adoption of Shieldmeet, is in my opinion, a good explenation of the discrepancy between the equinoxes and solstices from some of the special celebration days; a discrepancy that produces differences in elven and human seasonal celebrations. It doesn't explain though, why the human and elven Shieldmeet is the same day.
Each month consists of three ten-day periods, that are known as eves, tendays, weeks, domen, hyrar or rides (which is the most commonly used term in Cormyr and Dalelands). The common Faerûnian phrase "a week to ten days" means the same as "six of one, a half-dozen of the other".
The individual weekdays don't have names and are instead referred to by the number (from first-day to tenth-day).
Annual Holiday: Midwinter
The Claw of Winter, or the Claws of the Cold
The Clow of the Sunsets
The Clow of the Storms
Annual holiday: Greengrass
The Time of Flowers
Annual holiday: Midsummer
Annual holiday: Highharvestide
Annual holiday: The Feast of the Moon
The Drawing Down
The Hours of the Day
Similarly to the Earth, the Faerûnian day is 24 hours long and the lenght of days and nights follow seasonal changes the same way it does here.
For the common man, there is no reason to measure anything shorter than a day with precision. The common division of a day are dawn, morning, highsun (noon), afternoon, dusk, sunset, evening, midnight, moondark (night's heart), and night's end. There exist differences in naming convensions, causing confusions among travelers into foreign lands. The length of these periods varies both regionally, and personally, from 1 to 4 hours, so one man's late afternoon can be another's early dusk.
In large cities, temple bells toll to mark the hours, and each hour is a "bell" - counting from the hour after midnight or noon and numbering 1 to 12. Highsun (noon) and midnight are both referred to as "12 bells". Especially the churches of Gond (with their mechanical contraptions) and Lathander (sundials) are concerned with precise time.
"Sandglasses" (hourglasses of various sizes) are starting to slowly appear. Sundials and waterclocks do exist outside of temples, but so far they are considered more of curiosities for nobles than practically useable items.
Elves love nature and beauty around them. It's a total enigma to N'Tel'Quess friends of an elf, that the same individual can concentrate on a project or task at hand for months if not years at a time with such dedication that she only stops to eat, and it's the only thing she cares to talk about when not working on it; is the same person that can drop whatever she is doing to admire a single flower (which by the way she can do with almost the same dedication).
This tendency can make entire elven communities to stop their current activity (if practical to do so) to admire the setting or rising sun. And while not an actual ritual per se, any N'Tel'Quess not familiar with this side among elves can be fooled into believing that it is.
Elven grooming is almost legendary. They are one of the cleanest races, if not actually the cleanest one. Elves allot time each day to take care of themselves and thier bodies (that must last for many centuries). The daily bath is for some a possibility for social interaction, or if one so chooses, for meditation. The hair is especially well treated - clean, brushed to a sheen and styled in imaginary ways - an activity that for some takes on a ritualistic property.
Marking of Time
This is a daily ritual performed by followers of Labelas Enoreth to mark the passage of each day. As the sun sets they gather in small groves or near his temples and utter prayers, including those for the daily spells. After that they reci all that they have leared in the past day to be recorded by the lorekeepers of Arvandor.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Lateu'quor - Forest Communion of the Crescent Moon
This celebration is of particular import for Corellon's faithful, who gather in softly moonlit glades to celebrate the gifts of their deity, the greatest one being creativity. The praises are offered though music, song, dance and offering of multitude of beautiful works. While most of the items are kept on display within Corellon's shrines and temples, the true works of art are sometimes brought to Arandor so that they can be appreciated by the elven spirits that dwell thee among the Seldarine.
Occasionally, the celebration spontaneauusly results in a magical ceremony guided by the god himself. Sometimes, the lanscape is reshaped, and the site is thereafter considered sacret. At other times, the communal magic coalesces into an item of unearthly beauty. Such items are then enchanted by Corellon's senior most preists and priestess', adn are thereafter consdiered holy relics of the faith. These items are usually a sword, long bow, set of cloak and boots, suit of elven mail, or a musical instrument.
The Full Moon
The Sehanine's faithful celebrate this day beneath the light of the full moon through personal meditation and collective entrance into communal trance. On occasion, Sehanine manifests through her assembled worshipers, knitting together their spirits in a true communion of minds and souls. Such holy days are concluded with a joyous freeform dance that lasts until the first rays of dawn.
Midgnight Gambol is held by the followers of Erevan in a sylvan glade, location of which is changed each time and is held as a secret. Anyone who manages to, in whatever way, discover the location, is welcome to join in the festivities. The regulars at these are usually informed by word of mouth.
The celebration includes sacrifice of "borrowed" objects, dancing, wine-drinking, tale-telling, and endless pranks.
Mischief-loving fey of the Seelie Court, particularly sprites and pixies, often join in the festivities.
Secrets of the Heart
This is the greatest festival of Hanali. This holy day is celebrated through a revel beneath the light of the full moon. The innter beatufy of the celebrantis visibly manifests as a rosy gow in their cheeks and eyes for days thereafter.
Offerings of objects of great beauty are made, some of which are swept into Arvandor while others are returned to be shared among Lady Goldheart's followers. It is no tuncommon for artists to unveil their latest work at such holy day.
True to the name of the holy day, those romantically involved who participate, are said to experience the full bloom of their affection, which allows them to evaluate the strength of their feelings. This is also the day when young lovers pledge their troth to each other, either secretly or publically), for doing so is said to invite Halai's favor.
Nameless celebration of Solonor
The Keen-Eye's faithful gather together during the night to give thanks to Solonor for the skills he has taughtt them and the bounty he provides. The followes of this no-nonsense deity don't celebrate through parties or revels, instead rare hunting trophies, that cannot otherwise be employed, are sacrificed. After that, unbroken and unsharpened arrows engraved with the symbol of the deity are fired into the sky to poke holes in the foliage above and allow the light of the Great Archer's teachings to shine down upon them. These arrows are never fired in a direction that would cause them to fall when they might hurt someone, including straight up.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Spring represents a time of fertility among the elves, who spend this season engaged in the pursuit of romance and song. This is the time of year when most couples bond in marriage or announce that they are promised.
Preceded by an extended period of fasting, this is a joyful festival of new life celebrated by Rillifane's followers in a large grove of oak trees deep in the heart of the forest. This ritual honors The Leaflord's bounty and reminds his followers of the natural cycle of life that playes out beneath the boughs.
The Budding is celebrated through a ritual hunt of an ancient and noble deer, from which the venison serves to break the fast of the leaflord's faithful. The celebraton then proceeds with dance and song.
The Dance of Swirling Winds
This festival is held to celebrate the changing seasons and to honor Aedrie Faenya. No matter where the Winged Mother's followers gather, the winds are always strong. Celebrants offer beautiful feathers and join in an aerial ballet danced to the music of wind instruments played by some of the participants.
Those who lack wings or amgical means of flight may ride the winds as a gift of the goddess herself. They are usually tethered by long ropes to others who can command their own aerial movement.
Once the dance breaks up, however, the wind dancers, as they are known, are swept across the forest caopy for miles in a breathtaking flight before setting gently in sylvan glade not too far from their homes.
Springtide, Spring Revel, Ethele'Mele, Sheelala or Tuile'Eostra
The celebrations begin during the evening with the priest solemnly chanting intonations to Corellon Larethian while they light candles. The gathered elves watch in reverent silence until the prayers end. Then the crowd erupts in boisteorus cries of thanks and praise, directed at all the Seldarine, particularly Hanali Celanil, the goddess of love. This "worship service" soon involves wine, song, and romance than the actual worship of the gods and continues on into the night and ends only when the last worshiper has collapsed from exhaustion or winds his or her unsteady way home.
Elves spend the week around the equinox involved in nothing but merriment and the other neighboring elven communities and sylvan creatures are invited to participate. During the festivities many elves celebrate the crafts they have practiced and the skill they have honed during the winter months. A large area is set up to buy, sell, or simply display their creations. Events during the festival include singing, dancing, storytelling, archery and swordplay competitions, wine tasting, and demonstrations of new innovations in magic spells and items.
All important decisions and actions are postponed until the week is over.
Faerieluck, Senek'Tama or Edhelie'Marth
On this day, Tarsakh 1st [the sources say "early spring", but many translate this to "April Fool's"] the elves celebrate with their cousin followers of the Seelie Court - the pixies, leprechauns, fauns, and so forth. Too often elves forget their kinship with these other races, and this festival reminds them all of their relationship. It is a day spent in practical jokes and merriment, and participants try to demonstrate their cleverness at the expense of another. Even the normally-reserved Sun Elves frolick and cavorte with others in a manner that even the most free-spirited Moon Elf would have found shocking. The games are never acromonious, as they draw to a close long before any irreparable damage can be done to one's pride. It's not unusual that the celebrants end up battered and bruised for several days thereafter. Soe say that the elves' laughter lasts all year round from the fun they have on this day.
According to the Calendar of Harptos, Greengrass is the official beginning of Spring. For the humans, this is a day of peace, relaxation and rejoycing. Clerics, nobles and wealthy folk prepare for this day during the winter by growing flowers in inner rooms of keeps and temples. Even if snow still covers the ground, they make a point of bringing out the flowers, that are then blessed and distributed among the people. The flowers are worn or cast upon the ground as bright offerings to the deities who sumon the summer, to bring rich growth in the season ahead.
In some places people wear green in some garb. While some merely wear ribbons on armor or sashes around htier waists, the nobility create lavish fashion.
Arrow Meet and Arrow Sunder
The elves in a local militia gather for two days of training and competition. On the first day, they divide into teams and hold a capture-the-flag wargame, using blunt arrows that sting but deliver only nonlethal damage. The first game ends at dusk. Participants then form new teams mixing the victors and the losers, and hold a second game that lasts from dusk to dawn.
On the second day, individual achievement is celebrated by an extremely competitive archery tournament, the second night ends with a festival taht recognises the achievements of the victors.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Seven Days of Corellon, Agelong, Faradome, Sar'Maren
This is the celebration of the creation of elves. While temples of Corellon see this as a religious holiday, it's observed by all elves. This day celebrates the legendary long battle of the Elf Father versus Gruumsh and his final triumph. The day serves to remind the elves of the presence of their enemies and is seen as the perfect excuse to go orc-hunting. On the night of the hunt, elves nick themselves with obsidian daggers and lt their blood flow into the earth, simulating the bloodletting that made their existence possible. They then swoop down from their homes and kill as many orcs as they can find during the night, keeping the warrior's drea of completely dominating them alive.
On this night, The Queen Amlauril Moonflower visits The Sacred Oak on Evermeet, that is said to have come from Arvandor itself; the Green Elves claim that it was the first tree on Evermeet. She reaffirms her dedication to the gods and assures her people that the island still remains free and independent.
(This day would be best placed on Midsummer Night, considering that Cinnealos'Cor seems like a logical continuation of this celebration. The sources both place it at Summer Solstice and at Midsummer. However those that use the word Midsummer are not Forgotten Realms, thus pointing towards our interpretation of the word "Midsummer", which on Earth is the same day as the Summer Solstice.
This is why I earlier (in the "Passage of Time") mensioned the discrepancy between old elven calendar and adjusting to Calendar of Harptos that for a long time didn't incorporate a Leap Day).
Midsummer (Night) or Long Night
Among humans, this is the time of feasting, music and love. In a ceremony performed in sone lands, unwed maidens are set free in the woods and "hunted" by their would be suitors throughout the nght. Betrothals are traditionally made upon this night. It is very rare for the weather to be bad during this night - such is considered a very bad omen, usually thought to foretell famine or plague or other extremely ill fortune.
In some places people wear red in some garb. While some merely wear ribbons on armor or sashes around htier waists, the nobility create lavish fashion.
The Leap Day
Once every four years this leap day is added to the Faerûnian calendar immediately following the Midsummer night.
For humans, the Shieldmeet is a day of open council between the people and their rulers. It is a day for making or renewing pacts, oaths, and agreements. It is also a day for proving oneself. Those not seeking advancement treat the elit's tournaents, duels, and trials of magical prowess as welcome additions of the holiday's theatrical and musical entertainments.
The different regions of Faerûn have planned festivals raging from the somber to the outrageous.
In some places people wear purple in some garb. While some merely wear ribbons on armor or sashes around htier waists, the nobility create lavish fashion.
Cinnealos'Cor, The Day of Corellon's Peace
This is the holiest day for Corellon. On this day the elves celebrate those who have gone on to Arvandor during the intervening years, finding peace with Corellon.
On this day, traditionally, the Coronal's or Queen's (or whomever is the local leader) Gala dominates the settlement.
In some places even those far away from the Cormanthyr empire of old, particularly the Moon Elves, commemorate the raising of the Standing Stone (see the "Passage of Time"), to remind the elves of the agreements reached between elves and humans.
The elven communities who have borrowed from the human festivities, even the more secluded ones, become more open for celebrants, suppliants, and diplomats alike.
The Melding of the Three, The Unification of the Three
This is the only holy day that celebrates Angharradh. On this day, those who believe in Angharradh celebrate her three aspects (the goddesses Sehanine, Hanali and Aerdrie) and their unification taht ahve led to centuries of peace in Arvandor and elven realms in Faerûn. In addition to singing great hymns to the Triune Goddess, Angharradh's faithful often assemble to invoke great feats of cooperative magic on this day.
Some elf communities celebrate their young by reversing age-dependent roles. The children are given free rein to do as they please and be in charge. This holiday allows children an opportunity to experiment with leadership roles or to simply relax and be silly. it's a day of experimentation and fun.
Nameless celebration of Solonor
During this day, the Keen-Eye's faithful meet and compete in great archery contests.
Arrow Meet and Arrow Sunder
See the description in "Spring"
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
The Transformation marks the arrival of autumn and the vibrant hues that bedeck the canopies of the Leaflord around this time. The Wood Elves and elves of other subraces who seek a form of spiritual rebirth or a major change in their lives gather to hold a fey dance in a large grove of oak trees deep in the hearts of great forests. They celebrate Rillifane's eternal promise that the trees will bloom again and that life is a process of continual renewal.
Yavebia, Spirits Raising, Jaliss'Ishtel
This ritual is especially important to those who have died. Yavebia honours them and Sehanine Moonbow by taking to the caves and graveyards and seeking out and destroying the undead. Retrieval of lost lore and knowledge is also looked highly upon during this day.
Fallrite, Lanta'Eostra, Harvestfest
As Springrite is to birth, so is Fallrite to death. This is a weeklong period when elves contemplate the spirits of their ancestors, the passage to Arvandor, and the immediacy of death even in a nearly immortal lifetime. The shrines and memorials are visited, sometimes in solemn processions with singing, chanting and burning incense in memory fo the fallen.
Unlike some races, elved do not hide behind merriment to avoid facing death, because they feel that death is merely a passing on to a different stage of life. The most important duties fo the year and the most dificult decisions are reached during Fallrie. The elf leaders tranditionally sit in judgement at thsi time of year to hear any capital cases.
Among humans this holiday heralds the coming of fall and the harvest. It is a feast that often continues for the length of the entire harvest, so taht there is always food for those coming in from the fields. This day also marks a time for journeys. Emisarries, pilgrims, adventurers, and everyone else eager to make speed traditionally leave on their journeys the following day - before the worst of the mud clogs teh bracks and the rain freezes into snow.
In some places people wear blue in some garb. While some merely wear ribbons on armor or sashes around htier waists, the nobility create lavish fashion.
Arrow Meet and Arrow Sunder
See the description in "Spring"
Time of War
Among humans, often but not always, wars are fought after the harvest in done, continuing as late as the weather permits. The bulk of the fighting takes place in the month of Uktar and the ironic practicality of the Feast of the Moon is readily apparent.
The Feast of the Moon Human Celebration
Among humans this holiday is the last great festival fo the year. It marks arrival of winter, and in so it is the day when ancestors and dead are honored. Graves are blessed and the Ritual of Remembrance is performed. Stories of ancestors' exploits mix with the legends of deities until it's hard to tell one from the other. And peaople dream of treasure and lost cities underground.
In some places people wear silver in some garb. While some merely wear ribbons on armor or sashes around htier waists, the nobility create lavish fashion.
Mystic Rites of the Luminous Cloud, Ol Ahnvae Sehanine, On Sehanine's Night.
Similar in many ways to the monthly Lunar Hollwoing, these rites are notable for the visible manifestation of the Lady of Dreams whereby the assembled worshipers are transformed into shimmering, silvery light that lifts up and darts across the havens. During such mystical flights across the sky, the sacred mysteries of the Mystic Seer are revealed to the participants, with each participant learning secrets appropriate to his current level of spiritual development. The ceremony concludes when the nimbus of light returns to the earth and the forms fo Senanine's worshipers coalesce.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Yeartide, the Elven New Year, Yenearsira, Tath'Neleutha
Yeartide marks the end of the death that autumn brings and the first day of Winterfest. On this day, the elves believe the earth is purified while she lies underneath ther blanket of snow. Even in those regions where the sun doesn't rise and the snow lies eternally across the land, the winter solstice is seen as the changing of the old year into the new - a day of rebirth.
Elves celebrate Yeartide in company of each otehr or alone with quiet discussion and meditation on the year past and on things to come. They regard the human practice of ushering in the new year with feasting and drinking senslessly barbaric - the mark of people unable to truly understand the passing of time.
This celebration honors Labelas enoreth's effort in bringing longevity to all elves, as he is truly "Father Time".
This holiday is actually a holiday lasting from 3 to 12 days and begins with it's first day being Yeartide. Although yeartide itself is a day of meditation and sobreity the following days of Winterfest are spent in joyful celebration and merriment. Teh giving of gifts is common, as are various parties and gathering.
High Festival of Winter
This is the way human nobles and monarchs greet the halfway point of winter. It's a feat where, traditionally, they plan the year ahead, make or renew alliances or send gifts of goodwill.
In some places people wear lavish fasion in white.
The human common folk enjoy this day a bit less than the nobles. It's noted mainly as the halfway point of wors of the cold, with hard times still to come.
In some places people wear ribbons on armor or sashes around their waists.
In Memory of Dark Court Slaughter
This holy day is observed by the cult of Shevarash in remembrance of infamy during which drow armies boiled from the Undardark and killed almost everyone attending a meeting between elves and dwarves to renew their alliance. Sheverash's family was among the casualties of this raid. But each adherent of the Black Arrow's faith is stressed to think of his/her own losses as well. Those who wish to join the ranks of the clergy are inducted into the faith and vows of unceasinf vengeance are shouted into the night. In honor of their god's original vow, each new priest swears to never again laugh or smile until the Spider Queen and the other dark gods of the drow are slain and their followers are destroyed.
Nearly 6,000 years ago, circa -4400 DR, an army of duergar and drow poured forth from the Underdark and overran both the dwarven realm of Sarphil on the southern shore of the Moonsea and the Elven Court at the heart of the great forest of Arcorar. At that time Elven Court was neutral ground for all the forest's clans and races, a place where all elves were peers and peace presided over all assemblies. Established after the Crown Wars as a place of judgement against the Vyshaan lords of Aryvandaar, the Elven Court remained a destination for religious pilgrimages up until the founding of Cormanthyr. The Dark Court Slaughter was the fis time in history that the Elven Court heard the clash of weapons.
After two-millenia of peace between the dwarves of Sarphil and the elves of Arcoar, the first inklings of trouble began to surface from below. Both elven scouts of Jhyrennstar and dwarven miners of Sarphil were found dead, not by accident but by murder. The mysterious deaths continued for decades with no answers, though many rumors frayed dwarf and elf tempers aliek as each chose to accuse the other of wrongdoings. Still, Elven Court's and Sarphil's clan leaers met at Midwinter Night in the Hall of Ages to reestablish their alliance. This is when the evil struck.
Hordes of drow and duergar, the evil Underdark cousins of both races, flooded out of previously unnoticed tunnels and swarmed into Elven Court. They established variosu warzones about the city but concentrated on the Hall of Ages. The start of the fray showed the forced matched evenly, but when the second wave of dark elves and dwarves came up from the depths, the forces of good faltered. The meager forces assembled were easily overhwelmed, especially since the elves and dwarves set aside their weapons at Elven Cort. More than thirty clans of dwarves and elves lost their leaders in the slaughter. The dark elves had learned many potent and malignant magics during their exile and their resistance to elven spells helped turn the tide in their favor. They summoned spiders and deepspawn and other hideous monsters into the Elven Court, ensuring mass destruction. the overwhelming drow conjured magic that kept the city cloaked in inky blackness during the day, allowing the skirmishes to stetch for days.
As the drow and duergar kept erupting from down below, the dwarves fought holding actions in the tunnels, and many brave dwarves died by collapsing the tunnels upon themselves and their foes. As the tunnels began clsoing with increasing frequency, two-thirds of the drow and duergar abandoned their attacks on the elven settlement and fled down the tunnels that led to Sarphil. Trusting that his elven allies could handle the remaining invaders above, Sarphil's King Dauringogh and 44 dwarves (including two of his four sons) chased the dark invaders to Sarphil, where they found Sarphil's warriors dead and routed. Despite days of fighting and knowledge of his homeland, King Dauringogh (hereafter called "the Doomed") found himself and his people inundated with the evil Underdark races' most malevolent warriors and wizards. Within the month of Midwitner, Daruingogh and hsi remaining dwarves fled north, abandoning Sarphil.
The Dark Court Slaughter claimed the lives of countless elves and dwarves, including most of the assembled leaders of the Fair Folk and the Stout Folk. There were no more than 30 dwarf and 15 elf survivors of the feast. Sarphil fell, and it was split into two occupied realms for the drow and duergar. Elven court was despoiled and ruined. The elves had seen their city of law towrn own in less than thriee days' chaos, though it was interesting to note that none of the monsters (the primary destroyse of the city of Elven Court) visited destruction on the temples, just the secular buildings. While most of the Seldarine temples were collapsed by disintegrations pells on the support columns, the Creator's House received special treatment: The inside fo the temple was reshaped by drow wizards and priests into a massive stone web. The center of the web acted as a gate which brought droves of spiders. This desecration of the holies tplace in Elven Court made the elves despair and abandon the city. Not surprisingly, the drow did not occupy Elven Court, but fled after a few tendays' terrorizing the survivors and neighbors of Elven Court. Now the elves knew their enemy, but it would take both races centuries to heal and recup their losses before breaking again into open warfare.
Among the fallen were the family and friend of the archer-guard Shevarash, once a carefree hunter of the Elven Court. In an anger-tinged prayer to Corellon, Shevarash vowed to become the Seldarine's hand against the drow to extract revenge for the loss of his family. The grief-stricken warrior swore a grim oath neither to laugh nor smile until the drow goddess Lolth and her foul followers were destroyed.
Day of Heart, Re en'Cormea
This day, 14th of Alturiak is taken for elves to honor those they love or hold dear to their hearts. By doing so they also honor Hanali Celanil by sharing the love she gave to all elves.
(This is of course the Valentine's day. This doesn't exist in any cannon books I have, but it can be readily found described online while googling on other elven celebrations.)
Arrow Meet and Arrow Sunder
See the description in "Spring"
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
The Aquatic Elven clerics of Deep Sashelas hold rites at especially high tides, known as High Flow. Offerings of precious natural items from the sea and great works of art are made during these ceremoies, and his acolytes hold water dances that involve swimming in prescribed, complex patterns with dolphins and singing songs of prais of the lord of the Undersea and his creaetion, reminiscent of the crashing of waves upon the shore. The High Flow is a joyous celebration emphasizing beauty, creativity, and artistry.
The Aquatic Elven clerics of Deep Sashelas hold rites at especially low tides, known as Deep Ebb. The ceremony is very similar in form to that of High Flow, the difference being that the Deep Ebb is a grim, martial ceremony emphasizing the remembrance of those who are lost and vigilance against the ever present threat of their enemies.
Sehanine's and Corellon's faithful celebrate a wide variety of holy days, most of which are tied to postion of various heavenly bodies and other astronomical events. Other than those already described, such celebrations occur once per decade, every few decades, once per century, or even once per millenium.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
In D&D each race has an "adulthood age", which is used for random generation of game starting ages. After that there are several other life stages, which simulate aging ad thus the ability scores are supposed to change. That age in elves is 110 and 15 in humans (I think the game might require 18, I don't remember but I always choose that for the sake of propriety).
The biggest confusion between the different editions where it comes to elven lifestages is what the age of 110 represents, and what are the pre-adulthood ages. Here's a table for comparison:
Human, 3E for comparison
1 to 10 years
11 to 14 years
15 years (ig I think 18)
Moon Elf, 2E
1 to 74 years
Moon Elf, 3E
1 year (DM #279)
1 to 49 years (DM #279)
50 years (DM #279)
110 years (PHB)
100 years (DM #279)
Moon Elf, 3.5E
9 months (Races of the Wild)
1 to 10 years (Races of the Wild)
Ca 11 to 20 years (Races of the Wild)
20 years, but 110 for adventuring (Races of the Wild)
Ages over adulthood were used for ability adjustments based on aging effects
- Middle Age: -1 to Str, Con and Dex, +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha. - Old Age.: Additional -2 to Str, Con, and Dex, +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha. - Venerable Age: Additional -3 to Str, Con, and Dex, +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha
Due to confusion and discrepancy between the versions I have to make a choice.
I choose the 3.5E version with a good explenation from Dragon Magazine #279 on what happens after an elf becomes grown, but before he's considered "adult". The biggest argument I have is that it is difficult for a race considered to be wise because they live for so very long, to be at the same time race that does everything at slower pace, including being in diapers for at least a decade! And if a 110 year old is comparable to a 15 (or even 18) year old human, then it is even more difficult to take the "wise agelessness" seriously. It doesn't feel like a wise race, but as a race of individuals with a serious intellectual disability going on.
A pregnant elf is expected to limit her acitivites as much as necessary to ensure the birth of a healthy child.
The elven fetus gestates for approximately nine months, just as humans and other similarly sized creatures do. During pregnancy, while in reverie, the mother develops a bond with the developing child; a bond somewhat similar to a communion. At some time between the fifth and sixth month, the child's budding consciousness reveals itself to the mother. Over the coming months, she gradually begins to sense what kind of person her child will become. She selects a name for the growing baby, which it recognizes and accepts. The name is kept secret until the moment of birth.
This provides a practical difference between half-elves with an elven mother and those without. Half-elves born of a human are met with higher pitty than those born of an elf, more because of this reason, than that they were raised in a human community.
The twin principles of individuality and unselfishness ring through every significant event in an elf's life, starting with his birth.
Elves, who strive always for harmony with nature's pattern, celebrate birth as the beginning of a new cycle of life. Because children are not common among elves (or at least far fewer than human children), each new life is precious to the community and no event is holier. Thus, everyone pitches in to care for the expectant mother and her child after the child's birth.
Births are always times of great joy and a cause of great celebration. The village turns out in profusion, setting aside the day's work to celebrate with the infant's parents.
Elven mothers do everything they can to deliver the babies in the community where they themselves were born. This custom of returning breaths new life into an elven settlement, reconnecting it to the forces of renewal that keep the world turning. A mother who was herself born away from an elven community will return, if at all possible, to the village where she was raised, or failing that, to the birthplace of one of her parents. In emergencies, any elven community will do. Where none is available, birth int he wilderness is preferable to one among other races.
The birth experience serves as the climax of great communial celebration. Every member of the community encircles the mother-to-be, joyously singing the ancient chants handed down to them by Angharradh, or Hanali Celanil. Both women and men, young and old, attend the ceremony and witness the miracle of being. They behold it with neither shame nor revulsion. Elves recoil at the suggestion that births are somehow unclean, or that they should be kept hidden from the world. Elven births are easier on their mothers than those of other races; they suffer little pain. (This is not true when the baby is only half-elven; these births can be agonizing and dangeorus.)
The elf women happily join in the festivities honoring their newborn. Such celebrations typically last several days and conclude with the naming of the infant, since the name is kept secret until the moment of birth. Children are given a private name by their parents and then given a public name. The secret name is known only to the elf, his or her parents, and the priest presiding over the ceremony. While knowing the name gives no power over an elf, it is a sign of love and respect when an elf reveals his or her true name.
Children are always acknowledged by both parents (weather they are wed or not) and welcomed by the community in a celebration. Half-elf children are often welcomed with as much joy as full elves. And every member of the community swears to lend the best of his or her knowledge and spirits to the new child.
Gifts and wishes are often bestowed upon an elf child at birth by family and close friends of the parents. Such presents usually have a lasting impression on the elf, for favors given to an infant are far from ordinary. One child was given the ability to speak to dragons; she later used this gift to great advantage when she averted a war between her village and a nest of green dragons living nearby. Another child was giften with always knowing when someone lied to him.
It is considered a great honor if a priest of Labelas attends a birth, as it is a sign that the child will live a long and fruitful life. Such visitations always occur at the firrst sunset after the birth and involve casting a bless spell on the infact as prayers to Labelas are exlaimed to the heavens. A priest of the Lifegiver does not perform such a ceremony unless she or he receives a vision in advance from the god giving such instructions.
Elves almost always retain vivid memories of the moment just after they emerge into the world, when they are held up for the community to see. They remember the special song their new neighbors sing to them. When the time comes for an elf to attend her first birthing, she finds she knows the song without having been taught it.
The You and the We
Elves revel in a dual nature. Their love of paradox makes them seem mysterious to other races, but elves do not see themselves as mysterious or exotic; it is the world of people who want things to be one way or another that puzzles them.
The main paradox elves embrace is the idea they call "The You and the We". Outsiders must understand it before they can truly know the elven mind. Young elves learn it in the cradle. It tells them that they must balance their duties to thesmelves with their obligations to the community. An elf's duty to herself is to always strive to explore her own identity, to pursue experience, and to delve into the depths of her own soul. His obligation to the community is to live in partnership with others and to support their quests for inner knowledge. These two things are not contradictory. Without a community to clothe, feed, and comfort her, an elf can't enjoy the physical security she needs to pursue her inner quest. Without knowledge of her own spirit, the elf has nothing of true value to contribute to her community.
Elves care very little for structured society, preferring instead to focus on the needs of the individual. There is nothing so important to elves as the feelings and the needs of the individual. This doesn't mean that one individual's needs outweigh those of the rest of the elves. Instead, the majority of elven society and law is geared so that the right of each elf is to become as happy as he or she may need to be. Elves don't interfere in the lives of other elves unless there are other elves who would be harmed by inaction. All elves are believed capable of dealing with their own problems. Although other elves may be curious about a certain elf's choices, they will not intervene in the action. Free will is all-important to the elf mind. Still, there are few atypical elves who are so purely selfish as to reap the love and understanding of their fellows without returning any love. A typical elf in an elf community puts the needs of others before his or hers, recognizing that without these others, life means less.
While elves are strongly individualistic creatures, they also have a strong sense of duty toward their kindred. Just as the human ranger believs in furthering the cause of his people even while avoiding most of them in the wilderness, so too do elves. They know that all their fellows are essential for a balanced life, and so they look out for their people as a whole as well as individually. To master the principle of "The You and the We", an elf must make herself truly individucalistic, but without a trace of selfishness.
The lack of greed that most elves display stem from their self-sufficiency as well as their respect for other beings and the natural world. Taught from birth that their communities must be sustainable, they take only what they need for their personal livelihood and projects. All elves have the same rights to support themselves, and taking more than one's share interferes with that right. In the same manner, elves replant trees that have been cut and ensure that the resources their communities use are continually renewed and replenished. To do otherwise would be to doom their own race as well as others, and elves have little patience with other races that cannot see this particular truth.
Emotions and Logic
Some consider elves to be totally emotional creatures, driven by the whim of the moment. Others see them only as coldly calculating creatures who do nothing without first considering the benefit to themselves. Neither of these is really true. Elves are often seen as distant and self-serving creatures, probably because of their legendary haughtness. Once one can get past their exterior, they find that elves are a freely emotional, intuitive people.
On the other hand, elves do not let their emotions rule their lives. They have a finely developed logical system and use it daily. Since it is a logic that is based on their long lives and the elven mindset, it can freely incorporate all aspects of elven life. Logic naturally includes feelings. Humans and dwarves cannot seem to grasp that emotion is an important part of one's life, to be cut off only at risk of losing one's personality. Those who live solely by the word of heartless logic ignore truly half of their lives, to their detriment. Or so say the elves.
Although elves fear very little in this world, those things that they do fear they regard with utmost terror. They conceal their fears from the other races, not wishing to apear weak before them. Also, they wish to appear invincible to such petty things as fear, for to do so might expose a weakness to enemies.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
An elf's memories of childhood (the next ten or so years) are rarely so clear. Childhood is a time of play and exploration, all carried out under the watchful eyes of the community's adults, who are keenly aware of the hazards lurking in even the most tranquil natural setting. Although elves value direct experience over second-hand learning, there are certaint hings that can only be taught. Children learn to look for danger before exploring, to recite the names of the thosuand elven gods and spirits, and to imitate their elders in the making of crafts, clothing, and hunting implements. Although the child learns to recognize and acompany his mother and father, other family disctinctions are unimportant. Chldren, already in pursuit of their individuality, are allowed to form bonds to the adults to whom they feel most attuned.
Parents usually jointly raise the youngster for the first few years, wether they are married or not. Thereafer, the child becomes the resonsibility of the whole community. The child lives in the home of one or the other parent (whichever wishes to provide for the child with a home) but is free to play with other elf children and visit with other adults to her heart's content. Every member of a community swears, during the birthing ceremony, to lend the best of his or her knowledge and spirits to the new child. Members of the community take turns watching over the children at play and ensuring thier safety. Any adult may teach or discipline any child, and everyone in the community knows who ever child's parents are. It is during this stage of life that the elves learn what it means to be an elf. If a child grows up to be selfish, dulled to beautry, or unamusing, the entire community has failed. If a child succumbs to the forest's dangers, all share the tragedy of a life taken before its time.
Although there are some slight differences in outlook between elven men and women, these are tendencies, not enforced rules to which children are expected to adhere. A child is neither pressed into learning family trade or adopting its artistic traditions. In elven culture, lines are meant to be blurred, and distinctions are but a thing of temporary convenience.
Elf children grow almost as swiftly as human children do. A 10-year odl elf boy and a 10-year-old human boy are nearly the same size and have similar mentaland emotional maturity. The elf will be slighter than his human playmate. He is also quite likely to be more patient, observant, and self-sufficient, simply due to the influence of growing up in an elf houseghold. However, they are still essentially children and continue with their childish ways until they reach adolescence.
As much as elves delight in testing boundaries and confounding definitions, even they must admit that some generalizations can be made about the roles of men and women in their society.
Both men and women frequently take up professions of hunters and warriors. However, some male elves are seized by wanderlust and seek their true selves by exploring the adventures and dangers of the wider world. Female elven fighters, on the other hand, sometimes feel a need to stay closer to home to guard the ones they love. As a result, they often become the foresters, guards, or militia of their communities. The need to seek an epiphany (see later) overrules all else, though, and no elf hesitates to pursue any course her heart tells her to follow.
Both men and women are equally as likely to play a musical instrument in elven society. However, men tend to prefer the vocal arts and wind instruments, and women have a slight tendency to pick up percussion or stringed instruments. A mixed quartet of eveln bards is said to be capable of bringing a god to tears.
Both genders are equally represented among the priesthood and the ranks of arcane spellcasters. All elves love magic and feel it in their bones like perhaps no other race.
In terms of the less violent crafts, many elven men enjoy woodcarving, pottery, and crafts that require shaping material with thir bare hands. Elven women, on the other hand, lean toward crafts such as painting, weaving, and other crafts that require an active imagination and gentle, creative touch. In general, though, elves love the feeling of bringing a new shape to something that nature has created. They find great joy in turning the mundane into the magical and the normal into the brilliant, and any effort to work in harmony with nature is a noble one.
It bears repeating, though, that elves are much less likely to follow the unwritten rules of their societies than are the members of any other race. Every community boasts its share of wolfish, wandeirng female hunters and homebound, peaceable male weavers.
Elf children grow almsot as swiftly as human children to age 15 or so. About the age of 11, elves enter adolescence, the onset of puberty, with its wrenching emotions and romantic urges. Whether male or female makes no difference; both sexes mature at roughly the same time and at the same rate.
All elves learn the use of the bow and the sword while still young so that they can help to defend their ancestral lands from invaders of any kind. Such training commences for both males and females at about 15 years of age. Many elves go on to other, less combat oriented professions after completing their initial weapons training, but some take up the path of the warrior, using their natural agility and cunning to defend their homelands. Such elves may patrol the perimeters of their lands in loose warbands or serve within an informal militia in their towns. An elf warrior with some experience under his belt may rise to leadership of the local militia and provide weapons training for younger elves. A few choose to take their talents on the road upon reaching adulthood by becoming adventurers.
During adolescence, parents foster him or her out to a succession of older relatives until he or she reaches maturity. This practice provides training for the child in a variety of areas and allows the parents to return to the pursuits of their own interests. It also encourages young elves to develop their own sense of self and a degree of personal independence.
It is during adolescence that older elves teach younger ones how to continue finding joy in the years to come without succumbing to the crushing boredom that advanced years often bring.
Those elves who are not prepared for the prospect of centuries stretching before them may fail to manage the weight of those years. Instead, such elves (not to mention other beings given such longevity) often come to a terrible end if forced to live those hunreds of years. The most common example of this misfortune is an elf who grows up in a human community. Such elves do not let the years slide past as do other elves; instead, they try to cram as much living as possible into as short a time as possible – as do their human teachers. These elves don't learn the true value of relaxation and merriment, and these are often the elves who become insane or suicidal.
Of course, this isn't true of all no-elf-raised elves, or even many of them. Most elves have an instinctive grasp of the way the should live so that they can enjoy the entirety of their lives.
Adolescent elves are expected to slowly take on the duties of mutual support and protecion that keep a community together. Males and females alike must master the basics of combat, especially with the bow. They must learn to keep themselves at constant attention during a long watch – not an easy task for an easily-distracted, questing young mind. Adolescents take part in the community's foraging, farming, and hunting activities. During this time, they must also learn to make useful and beautiful things.
Other races generally consider the sexual freedom of elves shocking, fickle, and endlessly fascinating. The folk tales and rumors they repeat are much more scandalous and colorful than what really goes on. To an elf, sexual expression is just one item on a long list of experiences anyone should explore in the course of forging an identity. Experimentation with a range of partners is no more or less odd than tasting the juice of a dozen berries, following the path of plume-seeds as winds carry them through the woods, or learning the secret names of the forest's animals. Still, a young elf's exploration of love and lust should be as complete as any other quest he or she embarks upon.
Elves hold no double standards in their games of coupling and uncoupling. Males and females are both encouraged to fully express their physical yearnings. Young females can blithely pursue their infatuations because the low feritlity rate of their long-lived species makes pregnancy unlikely. Children born out of wedlock face no special prejudice in an elven community.
Young elves seem fickle to other races because they are able to move from one partner to the next without suffering the pangs of separation or unrequitted love. Casual liaisons are a common and accepted part of social interaction. An elf might have partnered in the past with a large number of contemporaries in his or her community and feels no lingering feelings of shame or awkwardness in their presence. They might fondly recall the joys of an old rendezvous, but give it no more weight than they would the recollections of a delightful shared meal or a satisfying day of rock climbing.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Between Adolescence and Adulthood, Time of Discovery, Beryn Fin
Humans finish their "filling out" and full adult growth by about age 20, but elves take a little longer, rarely reaching their full height and weight before age 25. After that, elves remain virtually timeless, decade after decade. Not even another elf can tell at a glance wehther an elf is 25, 50, or 100 years of age. A few minutes' conversation quickly dispels the mystery, of course; elves gain experience, grace, emotional maturity, patience, and wisdom throughout these ageless decades. Even so, some elves are remarkably poised for their age, and some elven romances tell the tale of grieving elf os 150 years of age discovering life and joy again in a new lover of only 25 or 30 who carries himself or herself like an elf of 100.
Though elves reach physical maturity at 25, marriage almost never occur at such a young age and very few elves become parents until much later in life. In practice, elves less than 100 years old are considered too young for marriage and are strongly disocuraged from considering such a permanent arrangement until they've had a few more decades of experience to understand themselves.
The eighty-year span between adolescence and full adulthood is the most important in shaping an elf's character and determining his spiritual path. Elves call this the beryn fin, or "time of discovery", the time of a powerful mystical awakening.
During this period, the young elf continues to be fostered out to older relatives, either in he same community or another. The relative is one who has the time and energy to teach the youngster an advanced craft. Before coming of age, the young elf has been fostered with several relatives, learning different skills and family lore from each. It's not uncommon for elves to repeat this procedure of foestering and studeing for the first hundred years of their lives. However, in particularly threatening times, the need for warriors may lead to elf youths taking on adult responsibilities almost as quickly as humans do.
The end of this period is also the age at which they are inducted fully into elven society – the age when they must bear the responsibilities of adulthood.
Both pleasure and responsibility are less important than the young elf's spiritual progess. Elves do not draw a line between the everyday world ant the realms of the gods. Although everyone knows that Corellon Larethian and his pantheon dwell in a lush and verdant quadrant of the outer planes, their presence also permeates the Prime Material Plane. The spiritual touch of Corellon Larethian can be found in any place where elves live in harmony with nature. An elf does not simply listen to a priest tell him about his god; he goes into the wilderness to seek his presence, to feel the deity's breath upon his skin, and to hear the words of wisdom he whispers in his worshipers' ears. Young elves are encouraged to spend hours in solitude out in the wild until they encounter Larethian's spirit.
The moment of epiphany, when an elf's inner senses open up and his entire being is flooded with an awareness of the divine, is the pivotal moment in any elf's life. He does not describe it to anyone, even to his closest love or his own children, except in the vaguest terms. It is hard, then to reliably say much about this instant of supreme mystery. Each elf seems to experience it differently. Despite the imaginings of certain non-elven scholars, who picture the event as a grand vision of a glowing avatar of Corellon Larethian appearing to the quester, the moment is a profoundly subtle. The elf might come to know his patron deity by seeing an especially sublime pattern traced in the veins of a crumbling leaf, or in the knowledge of imminent power found in the disturbed air that precedes a thunderstorm.
An elf spends his years of beryn fin in spiritual preparation for this moment, receiving tantalizing hints and premonitions of its true significance. It usually occurs between the elf's 100th and 110th year. Some elves, especially those whose births were accomanied by asupicious signs and portents, might experience it as soon as age seventy-five. These individuals often go on to become great priests or priestesses, or mighty heroes. A few unlucky souls find that epiphany eluds them, usually because they're trying too hard to force the moment to occur. Most, after priestly counseling, experience the awakening no more than a decade or two late. A rare few never taste it. Growing bitter and frustrated with the loving pity they receive from thei friends and neighbors, the malawain, or "unawakened", often choose self-exile, leaving the world of elves to settle in foreign cities or wander as rootless adventurers. Malawain rarely admit their status, even to those who couldn't care less about elven spiritual development.
Still, some of them start life with a more serious attitude, believing (despite the advice of their elders) that their time is too short to be spent frittering it away on such foolishness as dancing and singing. As these elves grow older, they often become obsessed with finding a meaning to everything, seeking the fundamental truths of existence. Some few realize that their years are enough for both truth and fun. Most, however, continue on in a somewhat joyless existence, spending their years associatig exclusively with sages and elder beings. Eventually, they lock themselves away from true life. In seeking the "truth", they lose the meaning and purpose of that which they value most: their lives.
When an elf experiences the Awakening, she is transformed. She declares herself an adult, marking her newfound individuality by selecting a new name for herself. She has become an equal of any adult int he community.
Religion is a deeply personal aspect of an elf's life. All elves hear the legends of the gods when they are young, and all are exposed to clerics and rituals from an early age. What these traditions mean to an individual elf varies with his own experience and mind-set.
Organzied religious services occur only on holidays and for special events such as weddings and funerals. Most individuals go to temples whenever the mood strikes them, which may be more or less frequently depending on the individual. Most temples offer little in the way of education, except in the tenets of a particular religion, since elves can gain their education from almost anyone in the community. Offerings to the church are voluntary, but most temples and shrines have an embarrasment of riches in the form of services and artworks donated by grateful members of the community. Indeed, many elf artisans look upon creating a work to decorate a temple as the pinnacle of their endeavors.
Clerics of each temple are pesent for all major festival days in an elf community. Although their blessings are part of the ceremonies, these acts are recognized as the clerics' personal contributions more than religious necessisties. Elven wedings usually include a celric of Hanali Celanil or Corellon Larethian who joins the couple. A proper elven funeral requires the presence of a cleric of Sehanine Moonbow or Corellon Larethian to dispose ot the remains and to comfort the mourners with assurances that the departed has gone to join Corellon ahd the other elven deities.
There are no serious troubles between members of separate generations, as it is often the case with humans, but the variations in views held between elf generations are huge.
Elves do not feel the effects of age as humans know them. After an elf has grown to maturity, her features cease to change or, at least, change very slowly. There is very little difference betwen the way a 30-year-old elf and a 300-year-old elf appear. Only at venerable age do elves begin to show their years, yet they still appear younger than most humans do at age 50. Indeed, because of the unique nonaging physiology of elves, one of the few ways to tell between young and old elves is the difference in personality. Of course, this is still not a clearly defining test, for elves have as varied personalities as humans. The lifespan means that elves develop an attitude and a character that is uniquely their own. No one can tell exactly how their years will affect each individual elf. The only way to tell between young and old is the degree of exuberance, sptontaneity, and enthusiasm each exhibit. Typically, elves begin their lives as carefree, fun-loving spirits. As they grow older, most of them become slightly more cautious, yet still retain the warmth and vitality necessary for elves to fully enjoy their lives.
The personality of younger elves is characterized by curiosity, a strong streak of individualism, and a willingness to learn. They are just getting used to their long lives. Young elves are often found wandering into places where few would expect an elf to be. These are the elves who make friends with humans and the short-lived races, for they have not yet realized the speed of years for humans.
Older elves, on the other hand, lean toward isolation and quiet enjoyment of the world. They are less likely to charge off to do great deeds rashly, preferring instead to think the matter through a bit more. While they don't become entirely inactive, their activities are of a contemplative nature, rather than the more boisterous activities of young elves.
Younger elves, on the other hand, have not yet discovered the value of patience. They dash hither and yon in an effort to squeeze the most from life, realizing but not quite understanding that they have hundreds more years in which to do so.
This differene in outlook creatures a generational gap, but the older elves do not attempt to restrict the youths. They remember all too well their wilder, younger days and have no wish to repress that which they valued thesmelves. Because elves are so closely connected ot their own pasts, they never wonder at the motives of youth. The reverie helps older elves remember the excitement and passion of youth and the need to be independent and explore the world.
Elves live long enough to see the changes the world has to offer – to see things humans regard as permanent deteriorate into dust. One generation of elves can see the rise and fall of a mighty human empire, the birth and death of a forest, the gradual eroding of a mountain dramatically during th time an elf spends on the world. This gives them a far broader range of values than humans are usually capable of understanding.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Rites of adulthood are common in many cultures, and that of the elves is no exception.
When an elf has experienced the Awakening (see Epiphanies above), which is sometime between the age of 100 and 110, she is transformed. She declares herself an adult, marking the newfound individuality by selecting a new name for herself.
Elf families hold a ceremony to formally announce the elf's passage into adulthood. The priests of Solonor sometimes preside over them, especially in less "civilized" groups of elves. In that case the "rite of passge" usually involves some kind of hunt, an insttitution that is considered sacred by many wood and wild elven communities and tribes.
Upon coming of age, a young elf is typically offered a choice of homes by parents and those who fostered her. She may choose among these offers or build her own dwelling right away. Most, however, choose to dwell with an older relative for some time or go out adventuring for a few years.
New adults are given gifts – for example adventuring gear if they are so inclined. The older elves regale the family with tales of their pursuits, and they wish luck upon those who follow their steps. If the new adult isn't inclined toward the adventuring life, they are given tools of their chosen trade.
The elf's relatives and neighbors might be slow to adopt the elf's newly-chosen name. Elves, for whom a decade is like the blinking of an eye, take a while to adjust their impressions of others to match new circumstances. Elderly, doting relatives are especially prone to use an elf's child-name as a term of endearment. Some individuals accept this; others bristle.
When elves are considered adults, they are allowed to make their own way in society, human or otherwise, and are free to make all personal choices. They are also ready to take responsibility for their actions – whether good or bad. Adult elves can now experience life fully, for they are in the prime of life and it is time for then to work with other elves to make a life full of happiness and joy. They have become an equal of any adult in the community, with all the freedoms and responsibilities that entails.
This is the age when many elves begin adventuring. Free of the constraints of earlier stages and free to follow their own guidance, they relinquish their role in society for a time. They yearn to satisfy their boundless curiosity about the universe.
At least one in two hundred elves but not more than one-fourth the adult population spends part of her life as a wandering adventurer in search of exotic experience; almost none of them devote more than a century or two to such pursuits, usually only a few decades at most. Those who take up the sword and the bow to campaign in the outerlands often feel some driving need. Most – although curious about the world – find enough joy and beauty right where they are. An elf who leaves the many of her fellows to delve through muck-encrusted dungeons with surly dwarves and impetuous humans is, by definition, an eccentric. Fortnuately, elves celebrate individuality and treat returned adventurers with excited curiosity, not contempt or fear. They are not ostracized by their fellows for the wish to experience more; indeed, those who stay at home may feel a little wistfulness that they have chosen to rmeain behind.
This is, unfortunately, also the age when many of these adventuring elves die. Having had no true experience of the world outside their homelands, they are usually unprepared for what lies beyond the fields they know.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Upon reaching adulthood, elves continue their sexual exploration. Eventually, though, each discovers that his heart has developed a capacity for lasting and exclusive love. Like most other important things in their lives, elves describe this in mystical terms. They believe that a person's spiritual progress is uknowingly intertwined with that of another. This soul-mate is called thiramin.
Elves idealize the concept of romantic love as much as humans do, if not more so. Songs, stories, and poems are dedicated to this powerful emotion in every generation. Nevertheless, to elves, love is more frightening than it is to humans because loving another enough to share one's whole life means giving up a measure of the independence that elves so value. Thus, although the concept of love fascinates the ever-curious elves, most are in no particular hurry to find and embrace it for themselves. Courtships between elf couples are generally long, often lasting for decades before the partners commit to marriage.
Paradoxically, elves often find it easier to commit to long-term romantic relationships with humans than with other elves. The fifty years or so that such a union might last before the death of the human partner is nothing more than a pleasant interlude for the elf – no more than the time it might take to produce an artistic masterpiece or learn a new craft. Remaining focused on a single parnter for that amount of time is relatively easy for an elf and allows him a greater understanding of the lives and thought processes of shorter-lived races.
A marriage between elves, however, is a centuries-long commitment that is never undertaken ligthly. Light flirtations and even long-term dalliances between elves are more common than actual marriages. Children produced from such informal arrangements bear no stigma because new life is welcome in almost any elf community, whatever the relationship thar produced it.
Though elves reach physical maturity at 25, marriages almost never occur at such a young age. In practice, elves less than 100 years old are considered too young for marriag and are strongly discouraged from considering such a permanent arrangement until they've had a few more decades of experience to understand themselves. No parental or clan consent is required for courtships; an adult elf is free to associate with anyone who accepts his attention even someone of another race. Elves almost never have arranged marriages because such a concept is diametrically oppoed ot thier ideal of individual freedom.
Though elves rarely fall out of love with one antoher and almost never remarry after the death of a spouse, they often do spend time away from one antoher as a means of refreshing the relationship. Such "vacations" from one antoher keep a marriage fresh and vital by allowing each partner to grow independently of the other.
Thiramin, True Love, Soul Mate
Upon meeting his thiramin, an elf's heart fills with passion and certainty. Ninety-nine times out of hundred, the other party is felled by the same feeling of eternal devotion. (Though rare, an unrequited feeling of thiramin is always disastrous, bringing centuries of wrenching heartbreak. Sufferers often commit suicide or succumb to the temptations of evil.) Elves almost always feel thiramin for people from other communities, sometimes at the first sight. Intermarriage between communities strengthen the bonds of communication between settlements, allowing them to quickly band together againt the armies of evil that march across the land.
Perhaps five couples out of hundred form when elves who have known each other since childhood suddenly look upon one another and fall into a state of thiramin. When this happens, it is almost always the case that the two elves have previously treated each other as bitter rivals.
Thiramin, generally considered to be a perfect love, can also be considered a curse. In normal romances, the couple will take time to become friends as they grow as lovers, slowly getting to know one another through continued effort. In thiramin, however, the couples can experience the certainty long before they have become friends, and in some stories, before they know each other's names or have even spoken. It is entirely possible for people considered otherwise incompatible to experience thiramin and grow to both despise each other with a passion to rival their love. In some stories, although very unlikely (possibly mirroring the elven fear as well as fascination of it) thiramin can even break a marriage.
The certainty of thiramin is never allowed to interfere with the experience of a long and protracted courtship. Where adolescents will hop into the hay with one another on the slightest provocation, a couple swayed by thiramin might highten their moment of extasy by delaing it for decades or even centuries.
The Custom of the Flower of Desire
((Found online, could be an old Sun-Elf tradition that isn't that practiced today)) This custom works particularly well for elves who feel a certain delicacy about approaching the object of their affections.
When a male or female elf desires another elf of their acquaintance, the suitor customarily shows that desire by wearing a single flower pinned to the clothing or tucked into the hair. He or she wears the flower until it withers, or until the object of desire responds to it in some way. By custom, those who know the wearer of the flower must each determine if they are the desired one. The wearer of the flower need not state his preference. Persistent suitors frequently replace the flower with a new blossom once it has wilted; if the suitor leaves the withered flower in place, that act indicates a love that goes beyond desire.
Spring is the time of fertility among the elves, so this is the time of year when most couples bond in marriage or announce that they are promised. Often the lovers pledge their troth to each other during the full moon celebrations to Hanali Celanil, called Secrets of the Heart, either publically or in secret.
On Evermeet, there is a Sacred Oak, said to have come from Arvandor itself and is said to be the first tree on Evermeet. Lovers often come here at night to make secret vows, witnessed by only the tree and the Seldarine. In other places of the world, especially old and venerated trees are used in similar manner.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Spring that represents time of fertility among the elves, is the time when most couples bond in marriage.
Marriage is an occasion for great joy among elves, for the union symbolizes the continuation of the elf race. Those who disrupt this ceremony to kill the betrothed earn the wrath of the elves forevermore, and they will hunt such marauders and thier kin for eternity. Marriage is a rarer occurence for elves than the short-lived races, and there are a few things do dangerous as to profane to sanctity of this ritual. Sometimes weddings occur to seal treaties and for other diplomatic purposes, but more often it is through love that elves achieve a state of marriage.
An elven marriage ceremony can take many forms, typically formal, although it can be as informal as the lovers like. Though it is often a rtitual celebrated before the entire community, it can consist simply of two elves speaking the words that bind them with no witnesses except the trees and the grass. Most elven weddings are officiated by a priest of whatever deity the couple deems appropriate (most often Hanali Celanil, but sometimes Corellon Larethian). The two elves write and speak their own vows, and the piest uses their own words to seal the union. The priests themselves serve no purpose at the ceremony other than as witnesses, the act recognized as the cleric's personal contribution more than religious necessity. Dowries are not usually exchanged unless the marriage is of consideerable political import, though gifts to the newly wedded couple from the community are common.
Formal elven wedding ceremonies are stately and beautiful, often lasting for weeks. Poetry recitations, muscial performances, and teatrical events all retale the great love stories of elven lore. None-elves often find the protracted dignity of these occasions unbearable. The wild debauchery that begins after the husband and sife have retired to the nupital bed might surprise them.
Sometimes, the High Magic ritual of Quamaniith ("The Vow Tangible") is invoked during the wedding. (For Quamaniith, see "The Passage of Time/Dale Reckoning" further up). For this to work, additional time is spent in the ritual than standard and either of the representatives needs to have artistic skill. Then the vowstone can manifest as a figurine or statue rather than a formless rock with inscriptions. In this case the vowstone is called Aestar'Khol ("Marriage Stone").
In some cases, especially with thiramin, their vows bind more than honor; they bind the spirit and heart of each other. By taking this step, many elves give up some measure of their individualism. See "The Elven Bond" below for more.
Marriage between elves lasts until one partner dies. (There has been only one known divorce in the last three thousand years, and that was between two extremely opinionated sun elves). Because elves relive their past through the reverie, the circumstances attracting one elf to antoher are always fresh. Thus, elves seldom fall out of love. Only the gravest of tragedies and disloyalties can tear an elf couple apart. Although they might have disagreements and even fights, they continue to love each other.
Though elves rarely fall out of love with one another and almost never remarry after the death of a spouse, they often do spend time away from one antoher as a means of refreshing the relationship. Such "vacations" from one antoher keep a marriage fresh and vital by allowing each partner to grow independently of the other.
The Elven Bond, Lifebond, Soulbond, Leutha'Tala
((Note that this is forbidden on FRC, possibly allowed for a specific couple if dms are petitioned))
Very rarely, an elf will form a mystical and unbreakable bond with another being, whether elf, human, dwarf, or otherwise. Some signify this bonding through the giving of gifts designed to demonstrate one's love. Others merely forge the bond quietly, without any outward signs. Some do this during a wedding ceremony, where the exchange of vows amounts to an exchange of life essence that forever bonds one to the other. Often High Magic ritual U'Aestar'Kess is performed.
Whatever the process through which his bond is formed, the elves involved and thier chosen can sense the strong emotions of each other. They feel the joys and sorrows of the other, their triumphs and angers as well. This bond allows them to anticipate and fulfill each other's needs, but they are not aware of each other's exact thoughts. Should distance separate the two in this bond and one pass away, the other can feel the death through the breaking of the bond. This is an even stronger version of the communion ability elves share, for this is a lifelong bond and not lightly taken.
For this one person, elves become truly altruistic. Their lives are focused around making thier loved one happy, even to the extent of sacrificing thier own life. When this bond is broken, wether through betrayal or death of one of the pair, it is a tremendous shock to the other member of the union. Elves can die from the grief caused by such partings. If they survive, elves rarely take a new partner after the death of their soulmate.
Because they can enact this union only once (or twice, in extremely rare cases) in their lives, elves are very careful about those to whom they attach themselves. Many elves go through life without joining their spirits to another, for many find no mates suitable for one deserving of such an important union.
Few elves bestow this gift on humans, for humans are so short-lived that the bond would be all but wasted on them. Still, there are some who consider this a small sacrifice for the love of a particular human. The very number of half-elves attests to this, for altough most half-elves aren't children of this union, there are enough who are. The blink of an elf's eye spells an end to these ties, but the love they gain lasts for the rest of thier life.
This is known as the True Elven Marriage of love, and the couple are known as Soul Mates or Soul Bonded. By some elven communities, this is considered to be the only recongizable form of marriage. Only the most ardent and devout thiramin choose this path of marriage; others pefer the other type, or less formal arrangements.
Though they prefer to stay close together (with their own definition on what "close together" entails), bonded couples are capable of spending long periods of time apart. The feeling of connection they have for one another makes a missing partner feel close at hand, even when she is far away.
U'Aestar'Kess, "One Heart, One Mind, One Breath"
This ritual provides a creature and an elf with a mental link, not unlike the one shared among elves in communion. This link is permanently forged. Most often, this ritual is used as a marriage rite, forging a bond between spouses, though it is not limited to pairs of elves. An animal mount and rider might form an empathic link that allows them to interact far more closely than two creatures (two elves, or animal and elf, or other pairings) normally could.
The link between the two creatures is permanent, and allows the linked elf or elves to ignore the Call to Arvandor for greater periods of time due to the communal nature of the link. The two creatures are partners, friends, lovers, or kindred in all but form; each knows when the other is in danger and will stop at little to render aid. This passive link is always semi-empathic, but with intense concentration, it can become telepathic, allowing mind-to-mind communication. While all rituals are assumed to have elf targets, this union could easily be formed for all races, linking dwarves or humans with elves. An elf can be placed in u'aestar'kess with a maximum of two beings in his or her lifetime, most often a spouse and a beast-mount such as a dragon.
Usually, mariage between elves lasts until one partner dies. (There has been only one known divorce in the last three thousand years and that was between two extremely opinionated sun elves). Because elves relive their past through reverie, the circumsntances attracting one elf to another is always fresh. Although they might have disagreements and even fights, they continue to love each other. And because of this, elves seldom remarry after the death of a spouse.
Though elves rarely fall out of love with one another, the condition of thiramin can sometimes vanish. Again, the feeling of sudden disconnection is almost always mutual. The end of thiramin can almost never be traced to a specific cause, like a fight or an incident of infidelity. Instead, it is seen as an indication that the partners' spiritual paths have diverged, and that Corellon Larethian's divine plans for them call for their parting. The evaporation of love is accepted with mournful resignation. The couple quietly breaks up their household, relying on community leaders to spread the sad news. One partner usually leaves the community in search of his or her new destiny. An elf doesn't usually feel hate or bitterness towards an ex-partner, but still suffers a sense of loss and pain while in his or her presence.
Thiramin can sometimes be broken by outside forces. A ritual known to certain covens of evil clerics can sever the bond between husband and wife. It requires the capture of a personal item co-owned by the targets. Adventurous friends of the sundered couple can break the spell, and reknit the bonds of marriage, by recovering the item and destroying the priest's ritual implements. The unhappy mates normally don't assist in this, ans they lose all desire to reform the relationship.
Divorce between two Soulbonded elves is more or less impossible. When this bond is broken, wether through betrayal or death of one of the pair, it is a tremendous shock to the other member of the union. Elves can die from the grief caused by such partings. If they survive, elves rarely take a new partner.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Though an elf reaches mental and physical maturity at the age fo 25, very few elves become parents until much later in life. Elves rarely feel that they're ready to settle down and begin families before they're at elast 100 years old, and most stop having children soon after reaching the age of 200, even though the elven women remain fertile to approximately their 550th birthday. Elf children are not as numerous as one might expect, given the length of an elf's child-rearing years, because elve sare less fertile than humans and other shorter-lived races. A typical human couple might have one to four children ovr the course of a decade, but an elf couple migth take fifty years to have the same number of children.
Elves have a gestation period of approsimately nine months, just as humans and other similarly sized creatures do. Once a child is born, his or her parents usually raise the younger for the first few years, and then foster him or her out to a succession of older relatives until he or she reaches maturity. This practice provides trianing for the child in a variety of areas and allows the parents to return to the pursuits of their own interests. It also encourages young elves to develop their own sense of self and a degree of personal independence.
Elves have been known to produce children with beings of other races. Most of these are the offspring of a union between elves and humans. Elf feamles sometimes find themselves drawn to human men for a brief while, and human women cannot resist the charms of certain elf males. The child of these unions is usually born and reared in the civilization of its mother; elf males rarely want humans in their lands, and most elf females don't want to bear a child outside the elven realms, nor to abandon it to humans.
While elves may dally with members of other races, there is usually no offspring from such unions. Something in the natures of the races involved makes such a child distinctly improbable. Only with the aid of strong magicks or unforeseen coincidences has there been any result from these dalliances.
Apart from the physical differences, elves find most other races unapealing in appearance. Dwarves have thier beards, and halflings are too small. While elves may get along with these races, they do not, for the ost part, seek to grow any closer than good friends would.
Thus, while elves may be physically interfertile with other races, they generally choose not to be. While there are many half-elves in existence, most of those known are of human descent. One or two half-elf/half-dwarven have cropped up in legends, but little remains of what their abilities were like or what the circumstances of their births were.
Visitors to elf communities are often bewildered about the apparent lack of family life. Therefore, outsiders often mistakenly believe that elves have little love for family, friends, and community because they may leave home for years at a time to follow their own desires. In truth, elves love their families as much as humans or dwarves, do; they simply do not feel the need to spend all their time with their relatives. After all, in a life that lasts hundreds of years, there's plenty of time for family and other interests as well.
Wedded elf couples usually establish a joint home, though some also maintain individual residences to which they can retreat whenever they want some distance from their spouses. Unwedded couples sometimes establish joint homes, but they more often continue to maintain their own houses and cohabit in one or the other.
Because of their close association with multiple family members, elves tend to develop strong bonds with their families, though their independent nature prevents them from feeling physically tied to one person or place. Elves often travel for long periods during their adult lives, then return with tales to tell their loved ones. Such "vacations" from one another keep a marriage fresh and vital, and married couples often spend time away from one antoher as a means of refreshing the relationship. Though the absent elves are missed, their families know they will return eventually, if no misfortune befalls them, to share more time with them. Indeed, when an elf who has been absent from his community for an extended period decides to return home, little can stand in his way, and the joy of his loved ones upon his reutrn is boundless indeed. Celebrations extending for weeks often surround the return of a long-absent member of the community. The stories shared serve to enrich the understanding and the lore of the entire community.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Elves are blessed with extraordinarily long life spans and a graceful, easy aging process that features none of the ravages of disease, infirmity, or atrophy that plague other folk. Time does not even begin to touch an elf until she passes a century and a half in age. For two full human lifetimes, sometimes three, she remains in the bloom of youth, he features virtually indistinguishable from those of a 20-year old elf girl.
Elves do eventually age, but their aging takes a form not seen in other races. Their faces remain unlined, their hair remains ngrayed, and their skin remains smooth and strong, but middle-aged elves begin to develop a sort of etheralness or otherwordly quality, as their spirits burn brighter and stronger than their bodies can endure. In the course of their lifetimes, elves undergo a living transformation from beings of flesh and blood to beings of spirit ad light, for lack of a better description.
At the age of 175, elves reach middle age. They have slowed somewhat and become slightly more vulnerable to disease and age. Physical strength, quickness, and hardiness slowly fade (elve lose and gain ability score points, just like other races), but elves suffer no pain, difficulty, or sickness in their aging. Even though their bodies grow weaker, they enjoy good health and physical beauty until the moment of death.
However, there is very little difference in how they appear. In trade, they know much more about the world and its workings, having affirmed thier connection to the land countless times. Elves of this age have the wisdom to know what their abilities are and the intelligence to not push themselves beyond thir means.
Many elves cease adventuring at this point. More than 60 years of one's life devoted to pursuing fleeting treasure and fame is quite enough for most elves.
There are a few elves who never cease the camapigning life. They are likely to remain actively adventuring forever – or until their enemies catch up with them. Often, they have some epic quest or some inner need driving them. These are the elves most often spoken of in legends, for they will not retreat from what they perceive as their duty. They do what they must, not always what they want. They are among the most admired beings; their most hated enemies hold them in grudging respect. Decades and even ceturies have givent hese elves a reputation of might and power. Even if these elves have no great ability, that reputation is enough to cow most opponents.
Even though elven women remain fertile to approximately their 550th birthday, most elves stop having children soon afte reaching the age of 200.
Around the age of 260, the elf has entered "old age". He still hasn't become visibly old, but he feels the effects of age. He slows his activities, preferring less trenuous ones. Rather than sprint through the forests as he might have as a young elf, he sits in the rays of sunlight and composes songs. He has tapped into the mystic rythms of the earth and become ever more attuned to its cycles.
Few elves continue adventuring upon reaching old age. Their bodies and minds evolve into something more suited for a quiet, contemplative life. Still, their bodies do not appear any different than they did 100 years before, and thier skills are sitll as sharp as they ever were. There is a slight slowing in their limbs, but that is all.
Here the elf, at age 350 or older, begins to show signs of age. Wrinkles start mapping her face, yet they still appear younger than most humans do at age 50 and elven women are fertile to approximately their 550th birthday.
While others may be deceived by the apparent youthfulness of an aged elf, the elf herself is not. An elf swordswoman does not spend her last decades trying to be the fighter she was in her youth instead, as her physicality erodes, she leaves her warrior duties for younger and more vigorous elves and moves on to different roles and responsibilities – often instructing those who follow in her footsteps, or perhaps taking up an artistic pursuit.
Her physical condition deteriorates still further, but her knowledge and her wisdom continue to grow ever greater. Physically, she can still exert herself, but not nearly as much as a young elf. Fortunately, no one expects her to do so. She has earned the right to be called elder, and other elves defer to her wisdom and vast experience. Elderly elves are honored by all, and any disrespect to any older elf is considered a serious breach of etiquette.
Unlike humans, even the very old elves do not lose much vitality – only endurance. Their willpower grows to phenomenal might, and these elves can force themselves to great deeds if need be. As a rule, venerable elves prefer to lead a relaxed lifestyle, playing music and singing, and listening to others do the same.
Elderly elves often retire to their own estates within the community after having lived long and full lives. Most retain their ties with family and friends until the end. Free of the ravages of age, elderly elves remain perfectly self-sufficient until the very end of their days. Because elves retain their mental capacity throughout their lives, elderly elves are considered storehouses of knowledge. Many dictate their memoirs to younger elves to preserve them for posterity. There is no such thing as a naturally senile elf.
Beginning around an elf's six hundredth year, her blood begins to slow, her thoughts start to cloud, and her bones grow tired. Elves train themselves all their lives to accept death as an integral part of nature's cycle. Even so, they usually find it hard to adjust to the dimming of their senses, which makes it harder for them to experience pleasure. An elf's declining years are often melancholy ones. She might spend them composing her mamoirs in epic vrse, hoping that her descendants will memmorize and repeat them for generations to come. She might retreat to a hermitage or isolated cave to contemplate the nature of existence. A very few misguided souls turn to blackest sorcery to extend their lives, becoming liches. But most surround themselves with their fellow villagers, trying to impart the wistom they've gained and take heart in the laughter of children.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Though elves live extremely long lives compared with most other humanoids, they are not immortal. The length of their lives often surpasses even the ancient trees, although the elves typically leave the lands known to humans before reaching 600 years. Some have been known to stay for as long as 750 years, but very few remain after that time. The siren call of the unknown beckons to them, and they leave the world in the capable hands of their successors.
Elves do not court death and indeed try to avoid encoutnering it prematurely, but they do not especially fear the end. Rather, they accept death as a natural part of the life cycle. Their deep respect for nature ensures that most do not pursue unnatural means of preserving life (such as becoming a lich) when their bodies begin to fail.
Elves don't die the way other mortal races do; in fact, elves only rarely suffer true death. Those that do are mourned for months, for their spirits can never travel to Arvandor, nor return to nourish the earth once again. Their children are cherished in hopes that they will carry on the works of thier parents, provided the parents did not die dishonorably. However, if they are lucky, there are ways to retrieve their spirits.
If the elf is completely unlucky, his spirit has been fully erradicated. There are only a few ways that elves can suffer this fate. The attacks of certain undead, dying in an unnatural place, and other extraordinary circumstances. The only way to recover these elves is through magicks no less powerful than a wish.
"Passing West", Transcendance
Aside from the nigh-laughable theories on why elves pass on, there are no clear answers about the end of an elf's life. Or at least, none the elves are willing to share publicly. Suffice to say, when an elf reaches his maximum age determined when initially created, he "Passes West", a popular term among the elves that means very little to N'Tel'Quess. Sometimes, it can mean a literal affirmation of going west to the elven safehaven of Evermeet, but not all elves "Pass West."
A few elves embark on a final journey when they feel that the end is near. Such elves often go planewalking in search of the fabled elf homeland of Arvandor, the home plane of Corellon Larethian, the Creator of the elves. Most live out their final years in their own homes in the company of family and friends. Death in combat is considered honorable if the fight was for a high principle, but such a death is never sought. Elves do not share the dwarves goal of dying with their boots on; instead, they prefer to depart the world in peace and comfort.
When the time comes for an elf to leave the ordinary lands of mortals and pass on to Arvandor, it is common for the individual elf to spend several days in vivid daydreams and waking reverie. Exactly when this happens is unknown to any elf, even to Sehanine's own priests. It is usually obvious to other elves when one of the Tel'Quessir is undergoing this change, but two marker events are definitive indicating that the Trascendence has begun. First, Sehanine sends the elf a vision where she or he msut go to begin this journey from the world (and guides him by intuition subsequently). Second, within the lens of the elf's eye appears a telltale opaque milky crescent, the moonbow of Sehanine's honorific name. When the time comes for an elf great in wisdom and accomplishment to depart, an accompanying full moon may display the moonbow as an event in nature. On rare occasions at such a time, other elves join with the one about to depart in a shared trance state, sharing memories and knowledge in a direct telepathic communion known as the Circle of Transcendence. In some elven cultures this departure is a physical one, that is the elf walks off alone into the wilderness and his or her body is never found. In other societies, the elf's spirit departs its material body, leaving behind a lifeless husk.
True Death (Suicide, Accidental or Violent Death)
If an elf suffers a fatal accident or is murdered, she cannot re-enter the grand cycle, that mystical rythm that hurtles the earth. Instead, her body lies cold and useless wherever the physical death occurred, her spirit cast out and swallowed by the nameless void surrounding her. Therefore, although death in combat is considered honorable if the fight was for a high principle, such a death is never sought.
Elves fear violation of their spirits and their free will, for these are essential in entering Arvandor. Any creture that feeds on the lifeforce of another is zealously avoided (or slain, if the means are available) by elves, for these cratures are among the few who can inflict true oblivion upon an elf. Even those elves who live under the shadow of evil find no kinship in these creatures.
The bodies of those who have died the true death are sometimes burned. This prevents the undead life force from occupying the body. Elf villages have learned from experience that an unwhole spirit is worse than an undead one.
If her body is returned to the land of her birth, the story is another matter. Only then can the elf's death once again have meaning, for there her physical form can contribute to the well-being of her world, nourishing the plants and animals of her birthland. Her spirit is free to enter Arvandor and partake in its glories.
Ceremony of Recovery
In cases of violent or accidental death where the spirit is not utterly destroyed, Sehanine's priests can serve in the stead of the departed spirit in the ritual of Transcendance. A Ceremony of Recovery involves one or more days of meditation and mystic communion with the natural and spiritual worlds. If successful, the priest channels the lost spirit through his or her own link with Sehanine, enabling the spirit to transcend to Arvandor.
During such ceremonies, after contacting the lost spirit, Sehanine's priests display the characteristic moonbow in the lens of their eyes, but such manifestations of the Lady of Dreams vanish immediately upon the ritual's conclusion.
Elves and Undead
Elves don't really fear death, but if closeted away from nature, that fear is likely to surround them. When they encounter a spirit-destroying creature (such as a tanar'ri or a wraith), they suffer mortality pangs of the worst kind, fearing as desperately for their lives as any human would. Elves fear violation of thier spirit and thier free will, for these are essential in entering Arvandor. Any creture that feeds on the lifeforce of another is zealously avoided (or slain, if the means are available) by elves, for these cratures are among the few who can inflict true oblivion upon an elf. Even those elves who live under the shadow of evil find no kinship in these creatures.
If the elf is completely unlucky, his spirit has been completely erradicated. There are only a few ways that elves can suffer the fate of being completely erradicated. The attacks of certain undead, dying in an unnatural place, and other extraordinary circumstances. The only way to recover these elves is through magicks no less powerful than a wish.
Elves hate and fear undead. They see them not only as perversion of nature, but also as nearly immortal foes to be dreaded and loathed. Since undead can live even longer than elves, these creatures are a serious threat to the elven way of life. Their plans can span centuries, their machiantions of purest evil.
Elves therefore often become hunters of undead. The elves have set themselves as the natural adversaries of undead. The undead are a blemish on the face of the world, an otherwordly perversion of the life force. Elves, embodying the life force, find the undead, and the negative energy, far more repugnant than most ordinary people do. (To become an undead elf is, to elves, truly a fate worse than death.) Only good- or neutral-aligned liches may even hope to escape elven hatred, and these are feared.
The elves' ability to hunt the undead is impressive, especially in older elves. Many adventuring elves have gained the experience necessary to fight monsters, and they bring this wealth of knowledge with them when they begin hunting undead. Elves somehow seem able to sense the very foulness in the air when undead are present, and this leads them to their prey. Although this ability is not easily applied in game terms, the DM could be more lenient in allowing elves to find undead. Undead lairs are such rank holes of un-nature that elf senses are acutely aware of the evil aura left by these foul beasts.
Elves are never necromancers (either mage or priest), except for those who have turned to evil. These elves resemble the drow in attitude and, as such, do not mind the foulness and corruption associated with the undead. The only time an elf associates their name with necromancy is when they study necromancers' tomes for clues about those they seek.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Elven funeral rites vary from community to community and from individual to individual, reflecting the nature of the departed spirit. Some elves hold that after death, their spirits go to forever dwell in a verdant paraise with the kin of Corellon Larethian. Others believe in eternal cycle of reincarnation, in which their spirits return to earth just as an evaporated puddle eventually falls as rain. The true answer remains for each seeker to find herself.
Since most elves pass on the Arvandor, their passing is not mourned for long. Although it is unlikely that they will return to the earth in the same form as they had assumed before or even with the same personality, their spirit continues on. As such, death rituals are more often celebration that the elf has achieved the joys of Arvandor. While the elf may be missed for a while, others know their companion has passed on to something better.
In either case, if the body remains, the method of disposal varies as well. In most elf communities, funerals are simple ceremonies designed to speed the soul on its way and reunite the body with the natural world. When an elf dies, his family and friends annoint his body with precious oils and dress it in the deceased's favorite clothing. They often clip locks of the dead elf's hair to keep as personal mementoes of the loved one. The body is placed on a bier atop a tall tree and left open to the sky for a single night. Mourners may pay their respects during this time, and those close to the deceased usually sing the elven mourning song.
Elven songs of grief are often acapella wordless melodies. Those listening to such songs who are non-elves will find themselves in tears before the elves are halfway through, for the anguish expressed in the lilting voices of the elves transcends the human experience of heartfelt pain. Those who hear the elven mourning rituals are never quite the same, returning to the present sadder and somehow wiser. The sorrow that the songs epxress often haunts the listeners for the rest of their lives.
Should an elf die in a situation where displaying the body to the sky is impractical and no cleric is present to take care of the remains, the body is simply wrapped in clean linen and buried. The grave is marked so that the remains can be retrieved and cared for properly at some later time.
The following morning, a cleric of Sehanine Moonbow or Corellon Larethian performs a celebratory ceremony to make the deceased's departure of this world for the next and to comfort the mourners with assurances that the departed has gone to join Corellon and the othr elven deities. Some commmunities gather with great pomp to watch the body be interred in the ground, with examples of the late elf's artistry and passions didplayed speakers expounding on the merits of the deceased. Others bury the body with disptch; they regard it as a mere husk from which the life force has departed. After ridding of the shell, they celebrate the spirit of the elf who once resided there.
Still other elves believe that burning is the only way to truly rid the spirit of its earthly ties; not only does it free the spirit for Arvandor, it prevents anyone from using the body for nefarious purposes. And in some communities, the ritual culminates in the casting of a "Dust to Dust" spell, which disspates the corpse to the winds, circumventing the need for a tomb, and speeding the process fo reuniting the body of the deceased with the natural world. It is not unusual that burial customs are based on practicality. Where the soil is lush, bodies are buried to nourish the land, repaying it for a lifetime's bounty. Where the ground is hard, they are cremated or turned to dust, their ashes sent on the winds for one fina, unpredictable journey.
Each burial is typically related to the nature of the elf, so that the burial is personalized and the point made that the spirit has left the body. Afterwards the community often holds poetry ridings, art shows, and other cultural events in honor of the deceased. In general, though, sun elves bury their dead in honored tombes, wild elves bury their dead in secret, wood elves burn their dead or turn to dust, while moon elves opt to either method, depending on the wishes and status of the deceased.
No matter how the remains are handled, loved ones create a shrine in memory of the dead elf in the ensuing months. The site is always some natural place – a tree hollow, a small cavern, or a quiet spot beside a rushing stream. Each member of the community who wishes to do so creates a piece of art – a small statue, a jewelry design, a poem, or some other artistic remembrance – and places it in the shrine. Particularly famous elves are often commemmorated in murals or other artwork in the community at large, as well.
Elven cultures that bury the bodies of the fallen with great ceremony leave the most durable archeological evidence of their funeral rites, and thus the practice of interring the bodies of elven dead in formal tombs is less widespread than commonly perceived. Of all the elven subraces resident in Faerun, the remains of gold elves, and to a lesser extent moon elves, are most commonly interred with burial vaults, but that practices is by no means universal within those subraces, nor is it restrictd to them alone. Elven tombs are typically hewn from bedrocks and warded by powerful magic. Whereas the Stout Folk typically trust in mechanical traps to esnure teh sanctitiy fo their fallen kin, the Fair Folk weave protective mantles into the construction of tombs and eschew false tombs and extended gauntlets fo traps. The Luminous Cloud is said to gather elven tombs to her bosom, and most are cloaked in enduring illusions designed to obfuscate their location and to mistled grave robbers who would ivolate the sanctity of teh elves interred within.
The tombs are typically subdivided ino three chambers, each of which is of circular or rectangular shape with ean arching dome-shaped or semicylindrical ceiling, respectively. The first such chamber represents the world from whcih the elf has departed and is domianted by carvings of the natural world including plants and animals from sylvan ettings. Commonly a pool of crystaline water, enspelled os as to prevent evaporation ro stagnation, is set in the center of the first chamber. The second chamber is dominated by as tone bier on which rests the body of the fallen elf. The Fair Folk rarely place their dead within a sarcophagus unless the body is badly mauled, as they feel to do so restricts the freedom of the spirit in Arvandor. The walls of the second chamber are adorned with examples of the fallen elf's gifts, and the celing is carved with a depiction of the heavens as they wer at the time of th elf's death. (By analyzing such records, sages are sometimes able to date the age of a particular elven tomb.) The third chamber represents Arvandor, the destination of the elf's spiritl. The walls of the chamber are carved with depictions of the Seldarine (as the pantheon is perceived in the culture that created the tomb). The ceiling is carved with a stylized depiction of a crescent moon within a full moon, symbolizing the combined role of Corellon and Sehanine (or Angharradh) in overseeing the passage of the spirit to Arvandor. The third chamber is othrwise empty, but all who enter are overhwelmed with a feeling of great peace. This is not a magical effect but a collective manifestation of the Seldarine.
Violent action or thought is impossible within the third chamber of an elven tomb. Items of magic and other riches are rarey entombed within an elven tomb when they could be better used by those elves who have not yet journeyed to Arvandor. Nevertheless, ancient elven tombs are sometimes filled wiht artifacts of elven artistry, including examples of magical items or spells developed by the elf interred within the tomb.
Sometimes the elves of a single house are interred within the same crypt. In such cases the first chamber may be shared by the individual tombs, with the second and third chamber housing the body of the fallen and representing the destination of the spirit.
Graves of Cormanthyr
Warrior elves of Cormanthyr who died in battle were typically laid to rest in th Vale of Lost Voices. The ceremony for each warrior varied. Usually the warrior's deeds were recited during the journey through the forest, concluding as the procession reached the appointed burial place. Depending on the influence of the family, special areas were reserved for members of each clan. The burial rites for each type of elf – gold, moon, or green -during the time of Cormanthyr were different.
Members of the Ar'Tel'Quessir were commonly entombed in mausoleums crafted of marble or some other stone. In the yeas following the opening of Myth Drannor, some gold elves moved their mausoleums underground to hide them from grave robbers. If a member of the warrior's clan was a powerful wizard or High Mage, the tomb is warded with spells.
The honored Ar'Tel'Quessir dead were entombed in their full warrior regalia, though powerful weapons were usually passed down to other members of the clan. Each member of the late warior's clan placed something into the tomb wiht the slain elf. This was done so that a piece of each family member accompanied the deceased in his afterlife travels.
Fallen Teu'Tel'Quessir warriors taken to the Vale of the Lost voices were always buried in clearings or glens, allowing them to gaze upon the night sky. Entire families occupy one glen, with the most prominent clans being resrved for rare hilltops found in the vale.
These elves were buried in fine silken robes adorned with elegant jewelry and precious gems. Their graves were deep, and evidence of the burial was covered with spells that quickly regrowed the grass and plants that were uprooted. Only members of the family present knew exactly where a fallen warrior was buried.
There are two types of graves for Sy'Tel'Quessir warriors, depending on the elf's deeds. Warriors of great renown were buried deep in the forest, with magical acorns (enchanted by a druid of Rillfane) placed on their chests. Within one year such an acorn grew into a small sapling, marking the grave of the warrior and at the same time masking it from defiliers.Less notable warriors – but warriors nonetheless – were placed inside trees by druids of Rillifane. Using a long forgotten version of teh spell tree, the druids merged the remains of the warrior with a non-oak tree. Only druids of Rillifane were merged with oak trees. All Sy'Tel'Quessir elves put to rest in the vale were naked, leaving the world in the same way they were born. No Sy'Tel'Quessir grave has ever been found by thieves.
There are further fates for elves beyond death, far more than are ever available for other races. For those who's life is near end, or has ended but choose not to pass west, the elves can choose four separate fates beyond death, offered by the graces of the elven High Mages.
Elves who choose a path of Realms-bound duty beyond death can be turned into baelnorn, and these undead defenders unswervingly protect their clan and its holdings for centuries. The majority of baelnorn were spellcasters, and they maintain their mental and magical abilities in this state, though exceptions occur.
Elves could also beseech priests of Corellon or Labelas to become Revered Ones, elven spirit warriors who march at the bequest of Corellon to defend elven nations under attack; while they reside in the Oneness of Arvandor, these spirit warriors are rarely at rest, and a warrior must be devoted to warcraft, as it will be his role for eternity.
More nature-oriented elves who wish to continue an active role in the forest beyond their normal lifespan have two options, though both end their elven nature. Female elves can become transformed into dryads or nymphs, and they are forever tied to the sites close to where the transforming ritual occurs. If a penitent elf (of any sex or subrace) is buried beneath the roots of a tree with the blessings of a particular High Magic or druidic ritual, he or she becomes a treant and a voice of of the people.
These choices are allowed and considered only on rare occasions, when a clan or settlement has need of defenders beyond the norm. Even if an elf truly wants to become a baelnorn for his clan's benefit, the Coronal, Lord/Lady, the High Mages, and the elders of the particular clan must all be of one mind to allow this sacrifice to be made. To the surprise of some elves, these transformations have ocurred a few times in the past millennias at the will of the Seldarine, so there may be baelnorn or other defenders about the world of which none are aware.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
The seeking of self, or time of looking within, is a time of extreme introspection, evaluation and self-criticism, a day during which a person is supposed to see who and what they are, whey they have been in the last year, and where they are going in the future. Most elves who observe this ritual will go into a self-imposed trance usually lasting 25 or so hours. Many have come out of such trances, totally changed in personality and lifestyle.
The Blood Oath
Elves are not always peaceful folk. If they or their friends have been greviously insulted or injured, they swear the sacred oath of vendetta – a ceremony carried out in the darkest hour before dawn. When they swear this terrible promise, they forsake all other pastimes to seek retribution. Elves understand this oath and will release the avenging elf from his or her tasks.
The avenging elvees hunt down the offender to exact some form of vengeance, be it emrely a sncere apology for an insult or something more severe. Typically, a time fo service given to the injured elf is enough to satisfy this oath. However, there are occasions when nothing less than death will satisfy the demand of the blood oath.
All elves have the inborn ability to share their experiences, their feelings, and their lives with those elves they love or trust implicitly. This sharing, called communion, can only be undertaken by fully willing elves. it does not work with half-elves, nor does it function when one of those participating has even the slightest reservation. This includes those under the influence of charm-related spells, for they hold qualms deep in their hearts, even if told they do not.
Communion requires all elves involved (to a maximum of four) to be in a state of total relaxation. They must be in a place of peace, preferably where teh world is not likely to intrude with its troubles and its cares. A natural surrounding works best fr this operation.
Communion requires the participating elves to be totally serene, thinking only of the others in this most intimate bond. (Thus, communion is not an effective method of relaying messages of any urgency.) All the elves must free themselves of judgments and prejudices about the others, which may take soem time. Indeed, some communions have been known to take a forthnight or more merely in preparation for the bonding.
When the participants have sufficiently calmed and retreated from the rigors of the world, they lightly touch palm to palm, finger to finger. They open their minds to the others, freely and completely joining together; if even a tiny reservation remains, the bond fails. During communion, the elves explore all the facets of the toehrs' personality - the loves, hatreds, hopes, and fears.
While in this trance, communing elves are totally vulnerable to anything that might happen to them physically, for they cannot defend themselves against any attacks while communing. Mentally, they are even more vulnerable to attack, saving at -4 against most mental attacks, for their minds are totally unguarded.
Interestingly enough, the very act of communion offers a protection of sorts. Those in communion are defended against being spied upon, either mentally or physically; this defense takes the form of an invisible barrier surrounding the communing elves. It is speculated that the elves are so enrapt with each other that they project a mental shield that keeps discovery to a minimum. Of course, this offers no protection against an attack from someone who know of the time and whereabouts of a communion.
The benefit of communion is not only that elves learn the most secret facets of the others. Because of the sharing, they also become intimately acquainted with others' habits, fighting styles, and ways of thinking. For the day immediately following communion, the bonded elves can fight in perfect harmony, one's weapon following through where another left an opening. If fighting side by side against common foes, they gain a +2 to hit and a -1 to AC for the next day only, and only if they work togehter. All the elves must ahve at least one partner from the communion at their sides if this bonus is to be brought into play.
Communion can only be effected once a week. Those who try it more often with the same partners find themselves sharing with essences that are essentially themselves, for those who have participated together have shared enough of their spirits that there is little difference between them. Furthermore, communion tends to be somewhat draining even while it invigorates. Bonding so totally is simply too much of a drain on one's psyche to be attempted lightly and frequently. Communion works best when the participants have something to learn or gain from one another.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles
Clerics of each temple are present for all major festival days in an elf community; in fact, organized religious services occur only on holidays and for special events as weddings and funerals. Although the clerical blessings are part of the ceremonies, these acts are recognized as the cleric's personal contribution more than religious necessities.
Elegantly cut robes and gowns are favored by elves attending ceremonial functions. Such garb lends itself well to unusual styles and colors as well as adornment. It is often cut to reveal chest, legs, or midriff. For ceremonial purposes, elves sometimes use more delicate footgear than in their daily lives. Leather soles secured to the bottom of the feet with long leather thongs laced up the clalf are often sued as light footgear for dancing and other pursuits requiring only minimal protection. Shoes carved in fantastic designs from crystal or other precious substances are occasionally used by elf nobles during affairs of state. However, all elven clothing, whether for important ceremonies or daily wear, is styled for ease of use and movement.
Painting the skin with henna and other washable dyes is relatively common, more common than tattooes. Elves often create elaborate and artistic designs on their skin for the sheer joy of doing so, though some decorate themselves with designs chosen for particular purposes, such as weddings, funerals, adventures, or other life-altering events.
Gold elf religious ceremonies and processions are long, drawn out, and - to most other races and elves - deadly dull. Exuberance in the form of loud voices, merry songs, or joyful worship is considered shockingly inapprorpiate, and quiet chanting or solemn intonation is the order of the day when Sun elves join together in worship.
The Moon elves are every bit as debout as their Sun cousins, but their methods of worship vary greatly. Generally, Silver elf worship is exuberant, joyful, loud, and more often than not, simply an excuse for more revelry.
Drinking, feasting, and reveling are all part of the Moon elf psyche. For example, during a celebration, the Moon Elves have stamina exceeding a crew of hardened buccaneers, an can carry on long into the night and well into the day beyond, singing,d ancing, drinking, flirting outrageosly. Given the conventional wisdom about the frail elven constitution, it is amazing to watch a circle of Silver elves, male and female, hosting their tankards singing "The Elf Maids and the Orc Lord" (a song whose contents cannot be, in the interest of politeness, divulged), their feet resting on the bodies of the already passed out sailors.
Although they are grim and hostile around outsiders, within the tribe the Green Elves are pleasant and outgoing in a manner reminiscent of the Gold elves. Their feasts are events of great joy, with singing, dancing, and all manner of merry-making. Religious ceremonies involve exuberant songs and earty prayers to the gods. On important festival days such as Sprintide and Fallrite, Green elves invite neighboring elven subraces and sylvan creatures to participate. Such celebrations can last for days and involve great revelry and uninhibited behavior.
Copper Elven ceremonies are a cross between Moon Elven and Wild Elven.
The Queen's Feast (Sun Elven)
It took quite some time for me to truly appreciate the depths of the Gold elf mind. To outsiders, they might seem to be quiet, serious, and utterly devoid of humor. But probing deeper, it becomes clear that their character and temperament are far more complex.
Soon after my adoption as an elf-friend, I attended a feast given in honor of one of Queen Amlauril's generals, lady Mylaela Durothil, and ancient elf who had apparently participated in a significant battle many centuries ago. Once more, I was staggered by elven longevity and by the fact that I stood in the presence of one who was old before my most distant ancesotrs were young.
As a newly-appointed Sha'Quessir, I was something of a curoisity. I was astonished to note that most of the hostility that I and my crew had previously experienced had evaporated and been transformed into curiosity and a tentative, if cautious, friendliness.
More than anything else, I noted the reserve and quiet nature of the guests, most of whom were Gold elves. Held in one of Amlauril's banquet halls, this simple feast offered far more pomp and glory than any human ceremony I have attended. All were dressed in glittering finery, in shades of dark gray, green, and blue, with occasional splashes of yellow and red. Many warriors were in attendance, wearing glittering mail or mirror-finished elven plate, a form of armor that I was unaware even existed. Dining in such armor must have presented quite a challenge, but the elves did so without apparent discomfort.
Conversation was quiet and unemotional. My limited mastery of the elven language enabled me to pick up a few comments, and even to hold an intelligent conversation, but the many subtleties of tone, meter, nuances, gesture, and expression, all of which seemed an inherent part of the spoken language, were beyond my ability to understand.
At last, the queen herself rose and introduced some of her prominent guests. Finally she indicated me, and told of how I had come to be here and how she had given me my current status. She announced that she had heard I had some accomplshment as a singer of songs. Would I be so kind as to favor the assembly with a performance?
To say that I was embarrased would be a seirous understatement. I realized that to deny the queen would be a serious breach of etiquette. So, taking up a proffered mandolin, I did my best to pluck out and sing the "Ballad of Jarsali and the Treant", a song that I knew had elven origins. The audience clapped quietly, then returned to their meal.
I reflected that I had not impressed them. And why should I? Their minstrels are famed throughout the world, wandering the land with enchanted instruments and spinning tales and songs learned over a lifetime twenty tiems longer than my own. I sighed quietly, and finished my meal.
The next day, while walking alone in one of the palace's many gardens, I was surprised to see the Lady Mylaela herself approaching me. I greeted her politely, and she immediately fixed me with a deep, pentrating gaze.
"I want to thank you for your performance", she said. "I have never heard the tale of Jarsali told in such a moving fashion."
Further astounded, I mumbled my thanks, saying that I was only a second rate singer.
"Never!" she said sharply, in a voice far stronger than any I had heard the night before. "You made the tale live for me, and no one who gives me such joy could ever be considered second rate. I gve you my gratitude, elf-friend."
With that, she leaned over and softly kissed my cheek. As she turned away, I could see the tracks of tears gleaming on her face in the sunglith. After she left, I stood in silence for a long time.
-- Carreigh Macumail, Captain of the Mist-Walker.
Servants of the Queen (Moon Elves)
In one case, I had spent several hours drinking and singing with a band of Silver elves in a manor house deep within the forests fo Evermeet. The house, home to Lord Lysanthir Ahmaquissar, was a typical elven cosntruction. It was made of magically modified trees, bent and reshaped to form a multi-level mansion with many rooms, a rich, leafy roof, and faced crsytal windows with a veiw of the clear, cold waters of lake Naquashila. Lord Lysanthir and his staff joined in our revels, and soon the gathering had lost all semblance of order.
We sang, we danced, we drank potent elven wine and feasted indiscriminately from Lysanthir's larder. Even the normally-reserved Aerilaya grew loquacious, flirting with Lysanthir's twin cousins, and regaling us with tales of the antics that forced her to flee the mainland. I, myself, was flattered to have caught the eye of an attractive female elf warrior who seemed intrigued by the novelty of my beard and, in her words, my "charming barbarity".
The evening progressed in thsi fashion for some time, until at last the sun peeked through the trees, revealing the Ahmaquissar manse in a state of extreme disarray, with small groups still carrying on drinking and singing amid the chaos.
I was ready to make for a soft bed to sleep off my excesses. I swore to myself that later I would help Lord Lysanthir's staff clean up the mess. But to my astonishment the rumpled form of Lord Lysanthir himself arose from behind a table, with a look of surprisingly sober determination in his eyes.
He snapped his fingers sharply. "Summon a priest", he barked. "Prepare our arms and armor!"
This suden change caught me completely off-guard, and I became frightened.
I hastened to the nobleman's side and spoke to him even as a pair of footmen helped him to change his wrinkled and stained tunic for an arming-coat. I asked if anything was wrong.
"Not at all", he replied curtly. "My warriors and I are to stand guard at the palace today. Oh, gods, my head is splitting apart! Where is my priest?"
Lord Lysanthir continued to arm and complain of his throbbing head until the household priest arrived and began casting spells to heal the assembled warriors of their vairous hangover symptoms. Within the hour, their silver scale shining in the morning sun, their griffon banners ripping in teh breeze, Lord Lysanthir and his warriors set out for the palace, their moon-horses marching smartly in step, winding down the crystal-road like a scene from ancient legend.
As they departed, I decided that bed could wait until later and I set to the task of cleaning the mansion. As I did so, I reflected on the complete change in Lord Lysanthir's character. Last night he was drinking and reveling with the best of us, with no apparent thought for the next moment, let alone the next day. But this morning, with the eternal sun shining down upon the scene of his debauchery, my friend became a loyal nobleman, serving his qeen, gamely disposing of his fatigue and weariness, donning armor and sword, and marching off to do his duty.
This incident, more than any other, brought to me the true depth of Silver elf nature, and left me forever impressed with the strength, tolerance and loyalty of the Teu'Tel'Quessir.
-- Carreigh Macumail, Captain of the Mist-Walker.
Totem Spirit (Wild Elves)
Even mys tatus as Sha'Quessir did not bring me a warm welcome. At best, Aerilaya's tribe was cooly polite and did little to include me in activities and social functions. Finally, after hearing the story of my friendship with Aerilaya and my deep friendship with the elves, the tribal patriarch, an ancient elf named Kamana, invited me to the men's lodge for a formal ceremony of inclusion.
There I was informed that, as an official human friend to the tribe, I would have to be marked with my totem animal. With no small amount of apprehension, I accompanied the men to a ritual sweat-lodge, where I was told my totem would appear to me.
The sweat-lodge was a low, dome-shaped structure hung with hides. Inside, a small fire was built in the center, heating the hut to an almost intolerable degree. The fire was hot and the small amount of smoke escaped through a hole in the roof. I sat upon several soft, warm furs that encircled by lower body, causing me to sweat profusely.
In this lodge I sat for what seemed like hours, feeling the oppresisve heat, trying desperately to stay conscious, as the Wild elves around me talked and joked with each other as if the roasting we were getting were the most natural thing in the world.
Eventually the constant heat and dryness was too much for me, and I slipped quietly to the floor. I dreamed then of cool water, crashing surf, and a gracedul sea otter diving in and out of the blue waves, gazing at me with wide, peaceful eyes.
When I awoke, I lay outside the lodge in te cool air. I head a soft wind rushing through the trees above and a wonderful sense of peace and understanding ocvercame me. Kamana's face than appeared above me and he asked what I had seen.
I told him of my dream and of the otter. He seemed impressed. The sea otter is a very old and significant sprit and is associated closely with the Alu'Tel'Quessir, whom the Green elves respect greatly.
My ordeal was not yet over. The following day, I was awakened before dawn and taken to the hut of the tribe's druid. While Aerilaya and several other tibe members looked on, my shoulder was painfully tattooed with the graceful, stylized image of a sea otter. After this, the tribe seemed to view me quite differently and I have been well-treated by the Green elves I have encountered since (as long as I removed my shirt first).
-- Carreigh Macumail, Captain of the Mist-Walker.
Rite of Spring (Wood Elves)
Of all the festivals I've been to over the years, none compares to the elven Rite of Spring, which celebrates the return of spring. I am a ranger and a lover of the forest, but I am only human. Being human – no matter how close to nature – I did not expect the honor of being invited to witness one of the finest elven festivals known to mortal man. Perhaps my years of service to the good of the forest earned me the goodwill of the elf lords.
As I traveled to the designated meeing place, I heard the sounds of elven laughter shimmering through the woods. The light of a huge bonfire shone through the night, guiding revelers to their destination. When I arrived at the feasting site, many of the elves were already well into the celebrations. My host, one Alarrain Mistraveler, guided me to my place and bade me enjoy the festivities. The mead and elfwine, or feywine as they call it, flowed freely even before the meal properly began.
I cannot do justice to the food by describing it. Suffice to say that normal human food is forever ruined for me, for I shall never again taste anything as heavenly as that which was served to me those years ago. Although some elves tried to make conversation with me, I could not return the compliment. I was as dumbstruck as a miser in a gold mine. I had never known that such perfection as was around me could exist.
After the meal came the dancing and the singing. Although I admit I was giddy from the elfwine, I can reliably swear that no mortal will ever be able to duplicate the beauty I saw and heard that night. The graceful forms of the elves twisted in a huge celebratory dance around the bonfire to the tune of elf musicians harmonizing with the wind, the sky, and the stars. The last thing I remember is being dragged into the dancing circle and losing myself to the wilderness.
I awoke in the morning covered with dew. Although I would swear I was in the same place as the celebrations held the night previous, I found no sign that there was anyone in that clearing that night save me.
-- Eirik Leafwalker, human ranger.
Player of: Ariean The Clanless, Warden of Hullack, Many Titles