Alewelian High Elves:

The Elves of Alewelia tend to be a bit insufferable. With their long lives to accumulate skills and build, they were among the first races to become truly civilized – planting mana-focusing Dairilin Oaks on magical nexi to serve as prototypical Towers Of Wizardry, focusing the mana of those nexi into the first city wards, and constructing safe treetop villages while most other races were still wandering hunter-gatherers or living in caves. In the dawn of time, those first villages were the wonders of the world – a lead that has been maintained across the millennia partly because those prototypical settlements were already occupying many of the best magical nexi and partly because the elves have become symbiotic with the city wards they created.

When foolish meddling with the dark powers triggered an Undead Apocalypse – the Nightfall War of legend – those villages became living fortresses. By the time that war drew to an end… many races were extinct, many others had been reduced to a handful of survivors, and most of the surviving, non-elven, settlements were tiny, isolated, places – hidden in deep caravans, huddled on tiny veiled islands, or perched on isolated crags. But many of the elves, their settlements, and their territories, survived. With their long-hoarded pre-war skills – almost forgotten by the shorter-lived races due to the exigencies of war – the elves rebuilt and set the pattern of the Empire to come. Other races – most notably the halflings and gnomes – were absorbed into the empire, while the short-lived (if highly adaptable and fast-breeding) humans made up much of the population base.

The elves still have an affinity for the great forests and the magic of the land, and so ensure that the cities boast green spaces, rooftop gardens, and a certain amount of nature – but the High Elves of the Empire are urban elves, the sophisticated inhabitants of the most ancient cities on the disk, at home among the marble and crystal towers of antiquity. They KNOW that they are the keepers of elder lore, wise, and experienced, rich in coins, influence, and imperial connections. They stand upon the shoulders of ancient giants and know that much of the world is ordered according to their desires. They are smug – and, however irritating that is, it is not entirely unjustified.

Alewelian High Elf Racial Template (31 CP / +0 ECL):

● Rooted In The World: All living beings hold a core of wyld energy, of potential and growth. In elves, that spark burns hot – but it’s energy passes back out into the world. A population of High Elves helps sustain nearby magical nodes and the great wards they empower, even if all the nearby wyld has been fully tamed. 1d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted / Offers no Natural Magic, maximum of 1 Mana, only to (automatically) feed the local magical nexus (2 CP).
● Local Traditions: The Elves have had many centuries to develop a wide variety of Racial Package Deals, offering far more than the usual one to three choices (3 CP).
● The Green Depths: The lives of the Elves are tied to the long, slow, life of the forests, which the years touch lightly. Immunity to age (uncommon /minor/minor, 2 CP). Elves can expect to live for many centuries.
● The Wind In The Branches: Elves are slender, gracile, precise, and swift – but not especially muscular. Attribute Shift: +2 Dex, -2 Str (6 CP)
● The Stochastic Wild: Occult Sense (Select One), Specialized / the “user” s little or no control, the GM decides when something comes up. An elf might have strange visions, or occasionally overhear people a hundred miles away who are talking about them, or sense when puppies are in danger, or be alerted when demons are nearby, or have an intuitive ability to navigate, or any of a thousand other things. For good or ill, however, this sense is fixed at birth, and cannot be changed (3 CP).
● Speaks Elven (1 CP). It doesn’t matter if they’ve ever actually learned it or not, all elves who are old enough to speak both speak and read the ancient language of the Elves.
● The Light Of Ancient Days: Innate Enchantment (Up to 9500 GP Value, 10 CP)

● Extended Childhood: +2 Competence Bonus to All Skills (SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only x.4 only affects six skills in total that the user took an interest in during his or her extended childhood = 448 GP.
● Falling Star Style: Patterns of Attack and Defense, laid down across the ages, become as powerful as any ritual. The ancient weapons of the Elves are the One-Handed Sword and the Bow – with which they gain the grace of a thousand generations. (Personal Haste, SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Only to add +1 Attack at full BAB when making a Full Attack with Bows and One-Handed Swords = 1120 GP.
● Grace Of Dawn: Enhance Attribute (+2 Dexterity, SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only = 1120 GP
● Heritage Of Dairilin: Patterns give strength to magic – and the patterns of the great city wards of Alewilia have been linked to the elves for millenia. Each elf in a city adds – just a bit – to the power of the City Wards. (500 GP worth of value added to the local Ward Major, x.8/only works on Wards built on Magical Nexi x.8 Abundant Magic = 320 GP).
● Inner Stillness The mind of an elf is old well-established, and so is difficult to bend. (Sidestep (+3 Competence Bonus on Saves Versus Enchantment spells and effects) SL1/2 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only = 560 GP).
● Legacy Of Nightfall. With vigilance through the night all-important during the Nightfall War, Alewilian Elves learned to enter a trancelike state that allowed them to remain vigilant through the night while gaining the full benefits of a nights rest. Keep Watch (SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.5 (One Target Only) x.8 (User Only) = 640 GP).
● Master Builders: Across the ages the Elves have been the architects of the world, the first temples and structures were theirs – and to the elves the patterns of such things have long become familiar. If they examine a structure, or even move through it attentively, they have an excellent chance to detect hidden doors and passages, slanted floors, hidden rooms and compartments, and – for that matter – areas in need of repair or likely to fail. They’re also good at designing and building structures. (Detect Architecture, +5 Insight Bonus to relevant checks, may “take 5″ passively when merely walking by an architectural feature. SL1 x CL1 x Unlimited-Use Use-Activated .-8 Abundant Magic = 1600 GP).
● Natural Affinity: Cloaked in the forces of nature, Elves are unaffected by normal environmental extremes of heat and cold, (Endure Elements, SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.2 (1/Day) x.7 (Personal Only) = 224 GP).
● Song Of The World’s Youth: Embrace The Wild (Variant: Low-Light Vision, Sensitivity to Wyld Energies (this sort of includes nature and magic, even if only vaguely) (allows analysis with appropriate skill checks) instead of a choice of Scent or Blindsense, and +2 to Spot and Listen. SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.8 Abundant Magic = 1600 GP)
● The Magic Of Eld: The supple strength of wood, the mighty sinews of beasts, the flight of birds, the cutting edge of stone or metal… The strength of the Bow is old, OLD, magic. The power that struck down the beasts that would devour friends and family, that brought food, that repelled enemies, that brought down birds and the fleetest of prey. But it is the magic of wood at it’s core, the ancient heritage of the elves. Weapon Mastery (+3 Competence Bonus to BAB with Elven Longbows, SL1/2 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only = 560 GP.
● Touch Of Kings: Elves have a knack with herbal magic, using it to soothe small problems. (Polypurpose Panacea, SL1 x CL1 x1800 GP Unlimited-Use Command Word Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.6 3 Uses/Day x.8 Requires Heal +5 or better and various healing herbs = 691 GP.
● Wakeful Meditation: The High Elves cannot be forced to sleep; such effects will result in nothing more than a momentary blink or yawn. (Dawn (SL1/2 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only x.7 does not affect nonlethal damage = 560 GP.
● Net Total: 9275 GP

● Ward Channeler: Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to add up to 3225 GP worth of “City Magic Items” and / or the ability to sense Nature and/or Magic to their Innate Enchantments (3 CP).
● The Inward Fire: Immunity / Stacking limits when combining racial innate enchantment effects with external effects (Common, Minor, Trivial (only covers L0 and L1 effects), 2 CP).
● Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, only protects the basic racial abilities not the “city magic items”, 4 CP).
● Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover initial racial abilities, 1 CP).
● Racial Disadvantages:

● Accursed / Susceptible to Wild Corruption. The elves constant channeling of magical energy is useful for fueling Wards, but inherently renders them vulnerable to wyd corruption, suffering a -3 penalty on any rolls needed to resist such difficulties (-3 CP).
● Blocked: Unlike human characters, Elves cannot spend CP to expand on or otherwise improve their racial template abilities. Their pattern is set, and they are what they are. (-3 CP).

Alewelian High Elves are an atrocity of power for a +0 ECL race – in large part due to that natural-law immunity that bypasses stacking limits. That kind of thing is potentially game-breaking. It’s included here because – unless there’s some major advantage to playing with a preset race – pretty much every player is going to go for that “design your own Birthright” option. Why take a standard race when you can have 31 CP precisely tailored to the kind of character you wish to build? Ergo, these elves have hefty slice of cheese built in to make them more attractive to play.

High Elf Cultural Package Deals:

Elven Cultural Package Deals are generally fixed within any one area – but there are a lot of areas. Some elven clans train with swords or bows, others have minor spells that everyone knows (making some classes, spell activation items, and options more common there), and some even have things like an affinity towards economic combat or a mystic art – but that is rare. Others provide particular skills or specific knowledges – whether survival or local laws (having such elves about may cause really annoying legal situations for those that have not been trained for decades in how the laws work). For good or ill, however, such local package deals are quite inflexible, and only shifts on a scale of decades or centuries. Thus elven cultural packages cannot provide open cultural “slots” or adaptability.

In any case, elven cultural package deals normally include at least 3 CP worth of social elements Common elements in such packages include:

● Privileges, Favors, and Contacts (3 CP Base, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only applies in those few cities supporting a particular cultural package (1 CP)). This may mean a good position in the local caste structure, being allowed to carry weapons openly, membership in an important club, church, or similar group, priority access to healing magic, an excellent lifestyle, being able to get favors from the local government, having an “in” with the local thieves guild, or being able to borrow occasional magical items for a bit. ,
● Specific Knowledges: A detailed knowledge of the local laws, or legends, or etiquette, or justifications for elven elitism, how to use the feathers of the local magical birds to make Feather Talismans on the cheap,
● Access to an Occult Skill (3 CP). Some elven cultures preserve weird alien skills, allowing youngsters to learn them with little trouble – and often turning the local social structure upside down since all the local elves have access to telepathic abilities (powered by temporary reductions in the skill) or some other weird discipline.
● Weapon Proficiencies Simple Weapons (Specialized, only as a Prerequisite, 1 CP) plus either some type of one-handed sword or longbows (In either case Corrupted / items manufactured by elves only, 2 CP). Alternatively, “Proficient with Elven Cultural Weapons, 3 CP)

The disadvantages of a particular elven cultural package deal rarely need quantifying; they tend towards excessively formal, etiquette-driven, and somewhat oppressive social structures, fairly blatant elitism, centuries-old grudges and feuds between houses, castes, rigid social roles, bizarre dependencies (these are very rare, and – oddly enough – usually result in very exotic eye colorations), and the occasional weird obsession with magical gems.

And according the the archeologists…

Unsurprisingly, the Elven account of “the beginning” stresses their own central importance and natural superiority as well as being told entirely from their point of view. That doesn’t make it true even if it IS pretty polished. Most of the non-elven archeologists and historians focused on deep history agree that the reality is somewhat different:

  • No one really knows much about “the beginning”. They do know that there are ruins everywhere because various disc-wide catastrophes have wiped out or nearly wiped out prosperous civilizations at least six times before. The last time – the uprising of the undead now remembered as the Nightfall War – was some 4105 years ago. Before that it was something to do with dragons. Before THAT… maybe it was elementals? There are a few old inscriptions that might match that.
  • The lengths of the prior cycles aren’t all known, but the shortest one known was 4124 years and the longest was 7958 years – so the end could (in theory) come at any time. Still, it might not come for thousands of years yet even if there is a real “cycle” of some sort. There is a lot of social pressure to NOT do anything that might set one off another cataclysm though, since it is generally believed that the last major disaster was the result of someone experimenting on undead to mutate wyld shades so they could bypass wards against the wyld – and only a few cultists are looking forward to another.
  • The elves do do exceptionally well with City Wards, did come through the Nightfall War in fairly good shape, and are indeed extremely well adapted to keeping cities functional, which has let them maintain that early lead through this cycle. Not surprisingly, however, most of the other major races ALSO claim to have been first, with humans even having a few bits of evidence to point to.
  • The disc is smaller than is recorded in some of the old records. It is suspected that the edges went unstable and calved off when the Wyld advanced towards the center during the Nightfall War. Civilized goblins and several other races appeared out of the wyld in recorded history – even though they were on record in the previous age. There is some speculation that they were fringe dwellers then, and various tribes have simply migrated back to the disc after their homes split off – but others speculate that some types of nodes just tend to throw them up or perhaps that they only survived in REALLY isolated enclaves. Nobody really knows. .

While there are already more than enough races running around in d20, the Alewelian races are excellent examples of tying races into the setting – something that most games, using generic races for generic settings, tend to miss out on. 

2 Responses

  1. Great to see another article so soon after the last one! Here’s hoping this is the start of a return to more frequent updates!

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