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Elves

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OriginsEdit

While it would be hard to believe from observing the stationary nature of most elven communities today, elves were actually the first group of humanoids to migrate as far as Europe. In the temperate and boreal forests, their primate ancestors re-adapted to an arboreal lifestyle, while also learning to carefully read the weather of this new, harsher land. By the time humans arrived, elves were already firmly entrenched in Europe, but the two groups largely desired different lands to live in, and so early conflict was minimal.

Modern-Day DistributionEdit

Elves are found almost everywhere humans and epesi are, though of course sanctuaries are built far from large cities and industrialized areas.

Along with humans and epesi, elves crossed the land bridge into the Americas. While they did not fare well in North America for reasons unknown, in the Yucatan Peninsula and further south they flourished. Their natural intuitions and long lives gave them a level of prestige in many societies, and elves often formed much or all of the priestly caste in Native American cultures in this region. Even today, they tend to be set somewhat apart, unable to shake a reputation as witch doctors and shamans whether or not an individual elf has ever studied magic in any form.

SanctuariesEdit

By far the most common elven lifestyle in Eurasia and Africa, Sanctuaries are isolated, self-sufficient communities of elves often placed far from any other humanoid settlement. They may trade for a few luxuries, but almost never allow themselves to have to trade for necessities (and, truth be told, rarely export food or clothing as well), and contact with the outside world as a whole is limited. The technology level in a Sanctuary does vary somewhat from place to place, but none use the latest devices, and very few will even use clockwork or gunpowder. However, unlike a human or dwarven settlement, every single Sanctuary has at least one spellcaster living there, which is what allows the elves to survive in the modern era with so little technology.

Communication NetworkEdit

Moreover, this omnipresence of spellcasters is key to a secret rarely revealed to non-elves, even by those who have left their Sanctuary. The armies of other races are occasionally confounded by elven reinforcements arriving from a completely unexpected direction, or finding similar technology or art in Sanctuaries that would seem to have no contact with each other. A magical communication network has been in existence for hundreds of years, possibly even thousands, using spellcasters as living conduits for the messages. Despite their apparent isolation, every Sanctuary is in communication with at least the Sanctuaries in the same region, and often even some hundreds of miles away. Moreover, even Sanctuaries thousands of miles apart can, through a series of connections, eventually exchange ideas and information. While a Sanctuary in Siberia might never directly speak to one in Southern Africa, they are both tied to the same grapevine, and if one absolutely needed to send a message to the other, it would get there eventually. Occasionally, rival or hostile Sanctuaries may attempt to break the chain between their enemies, but there is almost always a work-around path, although it may be a less efficient one.

Year AbroadEdit

For one year in their young adulthood, every elf from a Sanctuary is required to leave home and explore the world. For that year, the young man or woman is not even permitted to visit their home community, though sometimes they do spend time at another Sanctuary. Others choose to spend the year in isolation in the woods or mountains, often developing a deep connection to the natural world even by elven standards. Most often by far, however, this year is spent exploring the communities of dwarves, humans, and gnomes, learning about their cultures, lifestyles, and technologies. For their part, the other races often treat these young elves as exotic curiosities, with young humans in particular known for their attempts to seduce the visitors. Gnomes tend to just be happy to have an interesting guest, and are known among elves as generous hosts, if a bit odd. Some elves never return from this year, either settling down in a non-elven community (most often large human cities) or choosing to spend their entire lives traveling. However, the vast majority find the outside world strange, uncomfortable, and startling, not to mention polluted, cold, and corrupted, and return to their original Sanctuary homes.

TravelersEdit

Elven wanderers come from one of three sources. Some are simply born on the road, and never know anything else. Others discover a joy of traveling or of new lands and novelty in general during their year away from the Sanctuary, and take up the lifestyle. These elves often find that they enjoy the freedom of being outside of the frankly staid Sanctuaries, but also cannot handle the pollution and cramped spaces of the modern city. More often, however, wanderers are those elves who have left a Sanctuary at some time other than their properly appointed period of travel. Wanderers may be young elves who quickly chafe under the authority and isolation of the Sanctuary, leaving even before they are old enough for the year of exploration; those caught up in a shameful affair with a human, shunned by their community; criminals (and accused innocents) fleeing justice; or older elves who have spent their whole lives trying to fit into the proper structure of a Sanctuary, but finally snap one day, packing up all of their belongings and heading off to the open road.

IntegrationEdit

At various points throughout the world, elves have integrated into human society for one reason or another. Most often this is an individual elf or a family, rather than a whole group of immigrants, but every major city has built up a number of these cultural adopters over time. Less often, an elf will find comfort in a gnomish community and settle there. Such elves usually adopt their parent culture in full, and can hardly be told apart from any other citizen (in human cultures, anyway) except by their facial features and slender builds. (Integrated elves may receive a bonus to any skill of their choice, and may choose [Any] bonus feat, but are otherwise mechanically the same. Keep in mind that means they lose access to Arcantric Accuracy at 1st level).

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