Elanthian Races & Cultures
Halflings are the smallest of the mortal races in Elanthia, tending to be short and rotund. They have large feet endowed with luxuriant hair and often travel barefoot. They have an insatiable capacity for enjoying the simple pleasures of life, such as good food (mostly tarts), drink and companionship. They also have an inquisitive manner that frequently lands them in awkward situations, though their clever minds usually hatch some sort of plan to get them out of trouble.
They are very agile and move about well. They have a cast-iron constitution, but lack physical strength making them better at spell casting than hand-to-hand combat. This is not to say that a halfling will make a poor warrior. One of the most famous halflings in Elanthian history is a warrior named Talbot Dabbings, who saved Wehnimer's Landing from the Krolvin by slaying their leader over 150 years ago.
Although Halflings are most known for their peaceful, agrarian societies, not all Halflings are so content to stay at home, and many find interests other than farming.
Famous Halflings: Talbot Dabbings, Thurfel Morpholik and the Council of Ten
Did you know? Halflings are meticulous about grooming their foot hair, often making sure every strand is tidy and clean.
The Mhoragian Halfing originated from the most northerly region of the steppes of eastern Elanthian continent. In general, these Halflings are hunter/gatherers and live nomadic lifestyles.
The Brughan Halflings originally crossed the steppes and settled around the shores of a large, freshwater lake they called Khesta 'Dahl (the name meaning Sister of the Mists). These Halflings tend to specialize in hunting and fishing as well as limited farming.
The Malghava Halflings settled along the northern border of the forests, in an area of emerald, rolling hills and plains alternating with thick, deciduous forests that they called the Shirelands. They lived a predominately settled, agrarian lifestyle.
The Paradis Halflings split off from the original three groups following the Despana wars, and migrated around the tip of the DragonSpine Mountains, eventually settling in the Icemule Trace region. The name translates roughly as 'the Homeless'.
All Elves, though similar to mortal men, differ in a number of important ways. They are lithe and agile, with little body hair, fine features and unmarred skin. Elves are much more resistant than men to the ravages of time and disease. They are able to withstand a greater range of temperature extremes, and their senses are extremely keen. Because of their extended lifespans, they suffer from a natural lack of discipline.
Tall and slender, those of pure elven blood tend to have fair to tanned skin, sandy hair and light eyes. Far more numerous than their cousins the dark and half-elves, the elves' varied talents include a dedication to scholarship, unparalleled architectural and construction skills, a love of forestry, fine metalworking and production of unique glaesware and textiles.
Elves tend to be quite haughty and consider themselves far superior to all other races, especially humans. They prefer to spend time with their own kind and often insult the "lesser" races, rarely passing up a chance to remind non-elves of their supremacy. Most elves have a proclivity towards magic and many prefer to use it over muscle in battle. Historically, the most powerful mages and sorcerers have been of elven decent.
Famous Elves: Korthyr Faendryl, Aradhul Vaalor, Zishra Nalfein, Sharyth Ardenai, Bhoreas Ashrim, Callisto Loenthra, Linsandrych Illistim, Taki Rassien
Did you know? Some believe elves to be virtually immortal and claim that never has an elf died of old age.
The Elven Empire was centered on the Seven Cities, each built by and named for one of the seven noble houses. Each of these lines had risen to leadership of the Elven peoples. Even today, most Elves swear varying degrees of allegiance to one or the other.
Only five houses remain of true elves. House of Ashrim was lost at sea. House of Faendryl, once leaders among the elves, was cast out and its members eventually became dark elves.
The remaining Elven Houses are:
House of Vaalor (The Elves of Ta'Vaalor)
Ta'Vaalor, the work of the great Aradhul Vaalor, is more a fortress than a city. The Vaalor have always produced the finest warriors of the Elven race. All Vaalor, male and female, enter the military at a young age, serving for some hundred years. Perhaps because of this, they are the haughtiest of the Elves. They had little tolerance for the lesser peoples of the lands, especially mixed-breeds. They have never suffered the Elven culture or bloodlines to be tainted by others. During the height of the Elven Empire, they chafed under the leadership of the Faendryl, believing the high seat should be theirs.
House of Nalfein (The Elves of Ta'Nalfein)
The line of Zishra Nalfein founded Ta'Nalfein, which has always been a center of Elven politics. The Nalfein are fairly adept at everything, but they have always been the masters of stealth, whether in the field or the council chambers. Their politics are particularly ruthless, as they let little stand between themselves and their desires. The Nalfein are also apt to take up the life of a wandering merchant, traveling the world to trade in both goods and information.
House of Ardenai (The Elves of Ta'Ardenai)
Sharyth Ardenai was the matriarch of Ta'Ardenai, and her line remained closest of the houses to their roots in the deep forests. Though they dwell in towns and cities, they retain a love for the land exceeded only by the Sylvankind. They tend to be less haughty than members of the other houses, and have less of an imperial bent. They are typically appointed as emissaries to other races. They are, however, capable warriors at need. All Ardenai grow up to revere the hunt, and few can match their bow-masters.
House of Loenthra (The Elves of Ta'Loenthra)
Callisto Loenthra's house is one of craftsman, artists, poets and bards. Ta'Loenthra is generally acknowledged as the center of Elven culture. Though some do leave the Elven lands to ply their trades as merchants or wandering bards, most Loenthra consider the lesser races too barbaric for their company. An old Loenthra saying describes performing to an unappreciative audience as "casting pearls before Dwarves."
House of Illistim (The Elves of Ta'Illistim)
Linsandrych Illistim, the greatest scholar in Elven history, founded Ta'Illistim. His house has continued that tradition, and none can match the knowledge of the Illistim Masters of Lore. They are also extremely adept at the working of magical rituals, and the greatest artifacts produced by the Elves came from the House of Illistim's laboratories. Though many Illistim choose a life of seclusion and study, some others travel the world in search of knowledge, both old and new.
The hardiest of the races of Elanthia, they are short (usually under 4'6"), stocky and ruddy faced. They have dark, deep-set eyes with dark, wiry hair. Their beards are often long and elaborately braided, and are matters of great pride. Some dwarven females are bearded, some are not. Dwarves have a natural resistance to certain forms of elemental magic. Dwarves are neither agile nor quick of feet. Dwarves are well-known for their mining, though they keep their gold, silver, mithril and other mines hidden underground.
Before the Undead War, the dwarves lived in an empire, the capital city of which was called Kalaza. Dwarven soldiers returned from Kalaza and brought the red rot, which wiped out more than half of the population. Since that day, each clan has lived on their own, paying no attention to the political affairs of the outside world.
Famous Dwarves: Khazi Khazar, Ghorsa Borthuum
Did you know? Kalaza was hidden after the Undead War, barricaded and hidden
by the dwarves that survived the plague. It is said that only dwarves now
know its location.
Similar to the Elves and Humans, the Dwarves also founded an empire, though one more limited in scope. They did not challenge the other races control of the land, for the Dwarves were more interested in what was underneath it. They made their home in the mountains. There, they found gold, silver, mithril and other materials. The vast underground cities of the Dwarves were, however, little known to other races, for the Dwarves allowed few to enter and see their riches.
The Dwarves were split into many clans, each dwelling in a range of hills or mountains. Ruling over all was the line of Khazi Khazar, who founded the greatest of the Dwarven holdings, the city of Kalaza. His line served as the Dwarven Overking for thousands of years. Little is known of most of these years, as the Dwarves do not offer their history freely. Most of this history, however, involves their never-ending war with the other mountain-dwellers, the orcs. The Dwarves have been battling orcs, and their larger thralls, the trolls, for generations.
The Khanshael began as enslaved dwarves to the Dhe'nar elves. However, after
service to the elves over thousands of years, the line between master and
servant has blurred. These days, in times of war, dark dwarves have been
seen fighting along side the Dhe'nar. Nothing is as frightening to a war
force as a field full of dark dwarves with heavy hammers in hand.
All in all, the dark dwarves are one of the few examples of a sub-culture that has risen, through its own talents and productivity, from the class of slave to that of valued merchant class. In Dhe'nar society, to harm a dark Dwarven artisan is an offense punishable by death. To the Dhe'nar, these are a protected people who serve them. In return for that service the Dhe'nar protect and shelter them.
Other Dwarven Clans
* Town is not underground.
Half-Elf Cultures (Lack of)
The progeny of human and elf parents, half-elves are often looked down upon by both races due to the immense dislike the elves and humans have for each other. They tend to look more like humans, but with slightly pointed ears and sharper facial features. Half-elves are lucky in that they acquire the agility and dexterity of their elven parents and the strength and stamina of their human parents, giving them the best of both worlds.
Half-elves are often loners and usually are wary of strangers. They face constant hostility as they are caught between two conflicting cultures with a history of animosity towards each other. As a result of this, they are bitter and suspicious, but they make excellent allies if one can gain their trust.
Famous Half-Elves: Baron Lerep Hochstib
Did you know? Raids, war and other barbarous events gave rise to most of the half-elf population in Elanthia.
Half-elves are simply the result of the union between an Elf and a Human and have no unique cultural alliances beyond those of their parents. They are treated with some disdain by Humans, however, and quite a bit of distaste by Elves (both light and dark) since they are not of pure Elven blood. They'd certainly have better familial prospects in the Human Empire, as most Elves wouldn't have much to do with a Half-elf.
Those Half-elves who are lucky enough to be born outside both of the Human and Elven Empires may enjoy a childhood with more dignity, however, it is important to remember that there are generally no more than one consecutive generation of Half-elves in a family. (Half-elves in Elanthia are rare and if, for instance, a Half-elf joins with a Human, their offspring would be three quarters Human and one quarter Elf. Such a child would probably be considered a human.) There is little opportunity for the development of a true Half-elven culture. Instead, most live as a pariah within the Human or Elven cultures.
Players of Half-elves may choose for their character to be a pariah of any of the Human cultures, as well as any of the Elven Houses (including Faendryl.)
Humans are of average stature, between 5'5 and 6', are rather stocky and show a wide range of variation in hair, skin and eye color. They tend to be somewhat rustic appearing, the men often sporting a beard or mustache. The women tend to be sturdy and good-natured.
Before the rise of the humans after the Age of Chaos, they lived a nomadic life and barely survived in the infertile wastelands they were "allowed" by the Elves to inhabit. The rise of the Turamzzyrian Empire gave humans nearly as much land and control as the Elves had in the height of their Empire.
Famous Humans: Aramur Forean, Empress Mynal'lyanna, Rone Wehnimer, Emperor Immuros Kestrel, Emperor Perrinor Rysus
Did you know? Humans were the only race to fight on both sides of the Undead
The Human cultures are as diverse as those of any other race, though perhaps they fall more completely along geographical and political lines than any other. While all Human groups are agrarian in nature, many are known for specialization in various crafts (shipbuilding, weaving, art, books, armoring and weapon-smithing, gem-cutting, mining, woodcutting, etc.) In general, the resources available in each location played a large part in each culture's specialization.
The Tehir Tribes
The Tehir are a nomadic people of a tribal culture that dwell within the Sea of Fire, a great desert within the Turamzzyrian Empire, where they have adapted to the extremely harsh environment.
The Tehir are constantly fighting with the Turamzzyrian Empire over the copper mines found within the Sea of Fire. The Tehir hit-and-run tactics coupled with the harsh environment make them a difficult enemy for the empire to defeat. On the other hand, the Tehir are unable to drive the outlanders from the mines, and often their raids are ineffective against the well-guarded imperial caravans.
Other Human Cultures
Dark Elf Cultures
Dark Elves can be distinguished by their sharper features and usually dark brown or black skin color. This anomaly with Dark Elven skin can be attributed to the mana foci in Rhoska-tor where they were exiled to after the Undead War. They became bitter and resentful of their fair elven counterparts. They felt that their expulsion was more the result of political opportunism than anything else. Even today, Dark Elves are commonly shunned by their fairer brethren in the Elven Nations.
They possess a great love of knowledge and learning, possibly only outmatched by their fairer Illistim brothers. Dark Elves are said to have mastered both spiritual and elemental magic as no other race ever could. Also, Dark Elves are recognized for their striking architecture as the impressive palaces and estates of Ta'Faendryl can demonstrate.
Famous Dark Elves: Daephron Illian, Rythwier Faendryl (father of Chesylcha), Tahlad Faendryl
Did you know? Often times experiments performed by dark-elven mothers can cause their child to have a lighter pigmentation, accounting for the dozens of light-skinned dark elves living in Elanthia today.
Closely related to the Elves, both of the Dark Elven cultures were permanently affected by long periods of exile in the terrible lands of Rhoska-Tor.
House of Faendryl
(The Elves of New Ta'Faendryl)
Once the leaders of the Elves, the Faendryl were cast out of the Elven Empire at the end of the Undead War, for crimes the Elves were unwilling to forgive. Ever the leaders in terms of their mastery over magic, the Faendryl had dabbled in demon summoning. All the Elven houses were appalled at the spells the Faendryl had unleashed. They expressed their outrage by exiling the Faendryl to Rhoska-Tor.
Slowly, the Faendryl began to change. Their features became even finer and sharper. Those living in the deepest caverns, those closest to the ruins of Maelshyve, found their skin darkening to a brown or black.
It was some time later that the Faendryl Elves returned from their exile and founded New Ta'Faendryl. However, they would never again be a part of the great Elven Empire.
First splitting off from the rest of the elves before the formal creation of the Elven Empire and Elven Houses, the Dhe'nar spent generations exiled in Rhoska-Tor. Much like the Faendryl who came to Rhoska-Tor after them, their features and physical stature were forever changed.
The Dhe'nar are a race committed to perfection in all its forms; be it of the mind, the body, or the Family. The honing of a keen mind and intellect is the first goal of all Dhe'nari training, and perfection of the physical is just as important. Above all, however, is the overarching need to bring the Family to new heights, to demand the most from its members, and to insure that strength and rigor is rewarded, rather than punished.
Be advised, the Dhe'nar as a whole have taken conceit to a new level. They are viewed as self-centered egotists who have little compassion for the thoughts, rights or feelings of other cultures and races. Even the Khanshael, with whom they have developed a close relationship, are little more than slaves in their society. These views are likely to make a Dhe'nar unpopular wherever he travels in the company of persons outside of his own culture.
Dhe'nar also have very high expectations for those of their own kind. Members of their Family who fail to meet these expectations may be treated in a very harsh manner, expelled from the Family or murdered.
Giantmen are tall (sometimes over 7'), well built and physically strong. They have dark brown or coal black hair, light complexions and a range of eye shades. They are great warriors and builders and their intuition matches their physical prowess. They are not, however, especially quick or agile.
Most giants lived a semi-nomadic life, traveling from place to place seasonally, following the wild animal herd migrations. Giantmen have a lust for warfare and were more often than not at war with one clan or another. Their wars were not sought to destroy other clans, but to gain glory and respect among each other. After the odd Dwarven-Giantman War 2,000 years ago, they became solid allies with the dwarves, a union that is closer than ever to this day.
Famous Giantmen: Kirem, Baklarin, Tormala Issimir, Aemarlantea, Fahnamor Araime, Rajin Maeramil, Samarak the Grim, Eahnimaki, Kantoran, Mishka, Fasthr k'Tafali, Hymirth Gertigson
Did you know? Some say giantmen were created by the Arkati to become their servants, though others believe they were created by crossbreeding humans with frost giants.
The Giantkin developed a tribal society in the northern lands. These semi-nomadic tribes followed their herds' migrations, spending all but the winter season in warfare with each other. For there is nothing a Giantman likes more than battle. These were, fortunately, limited wars. The tribes sought to best each other, seeking glory and joy, not to destroy other tribes.
Some Giantkin have always traveled the world, generally in search of a good fight. Many have made a life as a mercenary, and they can be found wherever there is the clash of steel and the cry of the battle-horn.
Strong, enduring, and proud, the Bear Clan produces only the finest warriors. It is rumored their rites of initiation are almost inhumane. They typically offer only warrior as a life pursuit, but a few others have been known to slip through the ranks for training to become rangers. Only warriors, with the occasional rogue or ranger, will be acknowledged as Bear Clan members.
It is widely believed that this band was formed shortly after the Battle of Maelshyve, in reaction to the dark events wrought there. The Hammer clan is a small clan is made up of primarily of Giantkin who manipulate the energies, as well as a few magic-using rogues and warriors. Their outlook on life is mostly grim, believing Despana and her horrors will once again plunge Elanthia into a second Age of Chaos. Several of the clan's members are plagued by horrific visions, while others believe they are cursed in one manner or another.
The Sun Clan is one mostly of elemental worship. They do not particularly have one class more than another... they all simply come together to revere the elements and celestial bodies. Many prefer sun worship, and hold sunrise rituals to this effect. Others in the clan, though, often follow the elements of fire, water, or earth. A few even call to the moons and stars for guidance and support. The members of this clan realize it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, and are therefore extremely tolerant.
Wind Runner Clan
The Wind Runner Clan really only worship one thing - the freedom a person has to do something. This clan, mostly rangers, places that gift above all else. Obviously, this leads to certain problems with people like the Krolvin and the Dhe'nar. They have always been at the forefront of any slaving activity, mercilessly punishing any that attempt to follow those ways.
Vaikalimara Clan, an all-female clan, doesn't associate much with other people, including other Giantkin. It is believed that they are the handmaidens to one of the Arkati, to one of the remaining drakes, and to other various unseen powers. It's also believed that they are very likely all insane.
The Artic Clan is likely the most secluded of the known Clans. They reside up in the center of the DragonSpine Mountains, northeast of Icemule Trace by roughly a month's travel. Not much is known about this clan, save that the members are very in tune with nature, some to the point of being able to alter it. Many of the members choose not to speak, but if they do it is in quiet, deep tones.
This somewhat broody clan is most well known for its scouts and rogues. The mental image of a Giantkin sneaking anywhere may be difficult, but you probably wouldn't be able to see a hiding member of this clan in an open field until they tapped you on the shoulder. This clan is most often employed in the quiet garnering of information and setting ambushes.
For the most part, this clan has become sedentary, passing over their need to roam for a pouch full of silver and a warm hearth at night. They are the merchants of the clans, and are well known for their shrewd practices (and strong-arm tactics, in the case of loan repayment). When the taking of a city or the building of one involves Giantkin, the run of the place is often assisted by an Issimir upon completion. Issimir who still feel the need to roam often become mercenaries of one kind or another.
Long ago, as the elves moved from the forests to build their Seven Cities, some remained and became what are now Sylvans. Sylvankind are extremely rare outside of the forest, as few ever leave their wooded homes. Females are the most numerous, though males are not unheard of. They are slight and lithe, with pale complexions, sandy hair and light eyes. Sylvans move about the woodlands and hills virtually undetected, often garbed in forest green or brown.
Sylvans make their home high up in the trees, often building massive tree-cities hanging from the branches. These cities in the tree tops not only provide safety to the Sylvans, but also an incredible view of their treasured woodland surroundings. Some of these cities have hundreds, even thousands, of rooms where they have been hidden from the outside world for centuries.
Famous Sylvans: None
Did you know? Though Sylvans consider themselves to be a beautiful race, they are the most humble of all elven races.
Sylvankind spring from the same roots as the Elves, but they chose a different path. As the Elves moved from their forests to build the Seven Cities, some stayed behind. These are the Sylvans. The Sylvankind care little for the world outside their forests. For them, the forests are the world. They retain a love and closeness to the land that approaches unity.
Having a hierophant governing system, it is natural that the Sylvans would utilize a diplomatic system to designate divisions, or groups, among their populace. Their "D'ahranals" can be compared to Guilds elsewhere.
It should be noted that many Sylvans not only are great archers and warriors, but fine artisans and civic leaders as well. The decision of which D'ahranal a child is invited to join falls to the child and his/her patron. Generally, the child will join the D'ahranal of her patron, and in fact the patron is found based on the child's foremost interest. However, as a child grows, interests sometimes change; in that case, the Patron (pronounced pae-TRON) helps the youth choose the appropriate D'ahranal and usually also finds a mature guide within it to direct the youth's development. On a youth's 'coming of age' day, a ceremony is held to induct them into their new D'ahranal. They remain a part of it for the rest of their life, and the membership bonds are held to be as important as that of family.
There are four known D'ahranals:
Kytawa (KEE-ta-wa) D'ahranal
This is a group of Sylvans whose talents suit them for leadership or public service roles. Most of the population's leaders, called Councilors, are numbered among this group, however the governing body does number some Artisans among them as well, mostly in an Advisory role. The symbol of this group is a pelican.
Fresiawn (FREE-si-awn) D'ahranal
This is a group that includes architects, artisans, craftsmen, musicians and artists, as well as cooks, brewers and anything that pertains to the creation of something. At the top of this group are those associated with Arts & Sciences, a calling much esteemed among the Sylvans. Their symbol is a doe.
Tyesteron (ty-ESS-ter-on) D'ahranal
This group includes all those who specialize in physical and magical martial arts. It includes the great number of superb archers among the Sylvans, as well as warriors and magic-users. The group serves as protectors of the homeland as well as hunters who bring in game to feed the tree-cities. They are known for the mithril or silver linked belt and armband they wear, rather than a particular symbol. Additionally, the archers among the group form a subgroup called Ki'Tyesterons (pronounced KEE), and will have the image of an arrow incised upon the armband. This group might also wear other arrow-themed ornaments. It is not uncommon for a particularly gifted weapon/armor maker or fletcher to be made an honorary Tyesteron, even though the artisan is also a member of the Fresiawns.
Lassaran (LAS-sa-ran) D'ahranal
The last group is really a conglomerate group of all three of the others. The main distinction of these Sylvans is that they have gone against normal tendencies and left the Homeland, to wander the world among other races, beyond the protection of the great trees. The symbol of these Sylvans is a hawk.
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