One of the common races that competes with Humans are Elves. The Elves are found in many of the forested areas of the world. Some of the communities welcome outside interaction, and others keep deep into the wilderness and maintain an isolationist viewpoint.
This can be seen in the towns of Drawnquill and Firness along the Northern Stretch of the Great Trade Route. Drawnquill is a forest community that human and halfing travelers visit occasionally, while Firness is not even marked on any human map.
The culture of the Elves is one of that reflects the love of their lands and also their chaotic good nature, respecting every creature’s right to existence and the opportunity to live a good life. While many themes are reflected in elven society, those of magic and nature predominate. Elven unity with life and nature is stressed to the point where the very boundary between elves and their environment is blurred. This can be seen clearly in the Elven Pantheon.
The Complete Book of Elves outlines in detail the physical and mental attributes of the Elf race. Some of the main points are outlined here (This is by no means a complete listing of what makes elves so unique. Complete detail can be found in The Complete Book of Elves)
All High Elves have the same general behaviors and beliefs, as outlined here.
All Elves possess the following innate abilities:
Elven Aging Stages of Life
Elves have the longest known lifespans in the known worlds. 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 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 range. The face of the earth can change dramatically during the time an elf spends on the world. This gives them a far broader range of values than humans are usually capable of understanding.
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 between the way a 100-year old elf and a 400-year old elf appear. The only way to tell between young and old is the degree of exuberance, spontaneity, and enthusiasm each exhibit. Only at venerable age do elves begin to show their years, yet they still appear younger than most humans do at age 50. An elf that is an adventurer will be 100 +5d6 years old.
Older elves are less likely to charge off to do great deeds rashly, preferring instead to think the matter through a bit more. 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.
Elves go through several stages of life, including childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age, and venerable age. Once elves have tired of the world, usually by their 600th year, they pass on to a place called Arvanaith. Because this final rite of life is such an important part of the elven way, Chapter Seven is devoted entirely to Arvanaith and the passing on of elves.
Table 4 below shows the ages at which elf subraces fall into the stages of life categories described in this chapter. The table is also useful to calculate any changes to abilities due to the effects of age. Please note that this table varies slightly from Table 12: Aging Effects (found on page 24 of the Player's Handbook) in order to represent the variances between the elf subraces and other races. That table noted that the maximum ability scores an elf could have is 18. New maximums for each subrace are given in Chapter Ten; these are initial maximum ability scores and do not reflect the bonus age bestows on Intelligence and Wisdom. Because all elves live such long lives, they have the opportunity to increase these two attributes to 20, purely by observing life. This adjustment is regardless of subrace.
ELF SUBRACES BY CATEGORIES OF AGE
1Full normal abilities
2-1 Str, -1 Con, +1 Int, +1 Wis
3-1 Str, -1 Con, +1 Wis
4-2 Str, -2 Dex, -2 Con; +2 Int, +2 Wis
Note: Modifiers to abilities are cumulative per age category. For example, the total ability adjustments to a grey elf of venerable age would be as follows: -4 Str, -2 Dex, -4 Con, +3 Int, and +4 Wis. However, elves' Intelligence and Wisdom abilities can never be increased beyond 20, except by magical means. Likewise, all their abilities can never deteriorate below certain minimums, again except by magical means. Minimum statistics for all elf subraces are as follows: Strength 3, Dexterity 6, Constitution 7, Intelligence 8, Wisdom 3, and Charisma 8.
Elves remain children for approximately 65 to 75 years. They grow slowly throughout these years, achieving a height of 4 feet at most. It is during this stage of life that they learn what it means to be an elf. They learn the basics of archery and swordplay. However, they are still essentially children and continue with their childish ways until they reach adolescence.
At about age 75, elves enter adolescence. Whether male or female makes no difference; both sexes mature at roughly the same time and at the same rate. This is the time of life when elves begin growing, some to a height of 5½ feet or more, although the norm is often approximately 5 feet.
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. 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 were not prepared for the prospect of centuries stretching before them may fail to manage the weight of those years. Indeed, such elves (not to mention other beings given such longevity) often come to a terrible end if forced to live those hundreds 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 non elf-raised elves, or even many of them. Most elves have an instinctive grasp of the way they should live so that they can enjoy the entirety of their lives.
When elves reach age 110, they 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 fully grown and are in the prime of life.
This is the age when many elves begin adventuring. Free of the constraints of childhood 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.
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.
Less than one-fourth the adult population of elves goes adventuring. Most-although curious about the world-find enough joy and beauty right where they are. Those who take up the sword and the bow to campaign in the outerlands often feel some driving need. 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 remain behind.
At the age of 175, elves reach middle age. They have slowed somewhat and become slightly more vulnerable to disease and age. In trade, they know much more about the world and its workings, having affirmed their 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 their 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. The priests settle in one community, the wizards retire to perform magical research full time, the warriors train others, and thieves establish their own guilds.
There are a few elves who never cease the campaigning 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 on whatever world they exist; their most hated enemies hold them in grudging respect. Decades and even centuries have given these elves a reputation of might and power. Even if these elves have no great ability, that reputation is enough to cow most opponents.
Around the age of 250, 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 strenuous 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 rhythms 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 their skills are still 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. 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 younger 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.
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. There is no such thing as a naturally senile elf.
Old Age and the Afterlife
There are those who consider the elves to be virtually immortal. While they can die through accident or violence, no one has ever seen an elf die of "old age." That is because no truly old elves remain in the world known to humans; "old" elves have left the world and journeyed on to a place called Arvanaith. At about age 550 years old, elves feel an irresistible urge to make one last journey. An elf can defy this urge only marginally more than a man can defy death when it comes.
Elves have no true homeland where they are the dominant civilization. Instead they have larger wild areas on the outskirts of human civilizations where their settlements are.
In the Wildlands:
In the Great Mountains
City of Firness
High Elves in the Bindbole Wood
High Elves in the Lorien Woods