The Ruins of Amidia
The Elves of Espar are a very ancient and tradition-bound race. Hailing from the northern Frostlands, elves are acutely aware of the power of the forces of nature, and so strive to live in the most harmonious way possible with the natural world around them. Because of this philosophy, elves have little in the way of possessions and artifacts. Those items which must be crafted, such as tools, weapons, and armor, are done so expertly, and with the intention that they will be used and passed down for many generations. Craftspeople are highly regarded in Elven culture.
Material Culture and Architecture
Elves do not like to create things which cannot be unmade or reused after their purpose has been served, and this extends even to their homes. Elven buildings and complexes are generally ‘shaped’, meaning they have been created out of living wood or stone using magical means that do not harm the original ground or trees. This can make spotting Elven settlements very difficult for those not familiar with the area they are in.
The possessions of Elves are almost always practical. The most highly valued items are those which are both ideally crafted for their purpose and aesthetically pleasing. Most objects are created from wood or other plant materials. Stone, shell, and bone items are also often seen. Metal is rare, but highly prized. Clothing is made from fur, leather, and barkcloth; woven cloth is an impractical luxury most cannot afford.
The felling of live trees is an especially ritualized occasion, requiring the presence of a religious authority and several other members of the community. When a tree is felled or an animal killed, all of its components are used. If the person responsible for the killing cannot make use of something, it is their duty to distribute the remaining portions to others who can use them effectively.
The giving, receiving, and distribution of material objects is a complicated matter in Elven culture, requiring much forethought in its planning. Craftspeople are especially honored or insulted at the order of giving – the finest crafters are offered extra materials first, thus giving them a more honorable position in society.
Rank is very important to the smooth functioning of Elven society, though it may not always appear so to outsiders. Those with specialized positions in society – leaders, crafters, shapers, and priests – have a higher ranking due to their abilities. For others, rank is a function of the amount of honor showed to you publicly by others.
Elves worship Alor, the Giver of Life or the Wellspring. Alor is believed to inhabit and animate all creatures and elements of the earth – the elvish word for ‘soul’ is ‘neralor’, meaning ‘fragment of Alor’. Alor is in a constant state of battle against Sul, the Ruler of the Void. In the most conservative circles of Elven society, it is only acceptable to recognize the existence of Alor and Sul, but most Elves also acknowledge ‘emanations’ or ‘aspects’ of Alor. These emanations are usually addressed as specialized aspects of Alor pertaining to individual domains or activities, such as weather, birthing, or hunting. Small shrines and altars to these emanations can be found scattered across the Frostlands, even in the more conservative city of Lamaranor.
Magic is seen as an extension of the power of Alor in the world. Shapers, those skilled persons able to master the complex art of shaping living trees and stone to make usable items and shelters, are the most revered of all magic users. Healers are specialized casters who train specifically to use magic to deal with the complexities of living bodies. Priests fulfill mostly a ceremonial role in traditional society, but many of them have limited magic use abilities due to their training and dedication to one of the emanations of Alor. Elves are wary of the magic users of other races, believing most of them to be drawing upon the power of Sul.
Player Character Information
Magic-using Elves would choose their class name using the following categories, depending on their preference and backstories:
Shapers: Druids and nature-domain taking Clerics. Healers: Clerics of appropriate domain; fallen Healers may be necromancers. Priests: All Divine and Arcane spellcasters, as well as non-Shaper druids. Arcane spellcasters must use Domain Wizard mechanic from Unearthed Arcana, pg. 57 (domain negotiable).
Bard and Ranger magics are not recognized officially in Elven society.