7/6/12

Rehashing Fantasy Species: Elves

It's not that I don't understand why most people hate generic fantasy elves - I hate them too. The whole 'beautiful nature-loving people who are in all ways superior to you' is obnoxious. But I'm a sucker for ninja-species, so rehabilitating elves is something of a compulsion. 

(Edit: 07/13 - some minor rebalancing and reorganization.)

Elves:

Elves are the alpha-predators of the deep woods; nocturnal carnivores who live in small nomadic tribes. Their cultural ethos and raiding practices put them at odds with more settled species. Human myths and rumors paint elves as predatory sociopaths, and there is some truth to this view. Ruthlessness comes easily to these sentient pack hunters.  

Physical description:
Elves resemble slender humans with more angular features and unusually large eyes. They are a little shorter than humans, with minimal external differences between genders. In the wild, elves wear simple clothing from hides and woven fiber. Their hunting gear incorporates local vegetation for camouflage, and decorative clothing often includes bones or hair from their most impressive kills.

Culture:
Elven tribes each claim a loosely defined territory where they hunt and make camp. When food is plentiful, they may come together for companionship and to trade the few goods that they make. In lean times, elves defend their territory aggressively, and entire tribes can be driven off or wiped out by larger neighbors.

Elven spirituality is centered around ancestor spirits who the elves pay respect to in return for fortune and guidance. Elves cremate their honored dead, and grind their bones to make the war paint that they use to decorate their bodies and their weapons before raiding.

There are rumors of elven tribes that practice ritual cannibalism, but these have not been widely confirmed. An urban variation of this myth is that there are secret enclaves of elves - escaped slaves, criminals, and other undesirables - who live in large cities and feed on humans.  

Psychology:
Elves feel and think with a ruthless singularity of purpose. They are not an introspective people, and are seldom troubled by doubt or second-guessing. They are pragmatic by nature and tend to focus on the most effective way to get the result they want. 

Individually, Elves usually feel intense loyalty to those within their tribe. However, they have no cultural sense of universal rights or empathy for people outside of their group and cannot be trusted to honor agreements with strangers. In civilized lands, the lucky ones manage to create their own 'tribe' of people close to them. The others usually end up as criminals or slaves.

Unlike most other sentient species, Elves do not smile to indicate pleasure. When they do bear their teeth, it is meant as a threat.     

Advantages
(Mechanics given are for modified nWOD, this was not designed to be balanced against vanilla humans. If that balance is desired, remove the advantages marked with an asterisk)

Night Vision - Elves can see nearly as well in dim moonlight as humans can in daylight, and suffer no perception penalties for darkness unless the environment is truly lightless. They have worse color vision than humans and they find bright lights (full sunlight, a bullseye lantern, etc) uncomfortable, but neither of these factors are enough to cause penalties under most circumstances. 

*Swift of Body and Mind - Choose between +1 to Dexterity or Wits.

Natural Athletes - Generations of selection for the best hunters has given Elves an inherant amount of grace and speed. Athletics rolls are made with the 9-again quality.

*Born to the Hunt - Elves gain a bonus die in weaponry and a free specialty in one hunting weapon (bow, spear, dagger, club, etc). It should be noted that the Elves in the wild do not work metal, so iron and steel weapons are rare.  

Disadvantages
Predatory Nature - Something about the smell and body language of elves makes prey animals and domesticated dogs uneasy. Elves suffer a -3 to any checks that require positive responses from such animals. This includes riding checks on horses.

Bad Reputation - Other species that deal with Elves are well aware of their personality quirks. Elves do not gain 10-again on any social rolls with members of other species, unless the other person is totally unfamiliar with elves, or the person in question knows this particular elf personally (and likes them).



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