Two blogs which I respect and enjoy the hell out of had some semi-recent posts about elves that got me thinking about how the pointy-ears fit into my own setting. Adam Muszkiewicz of Dispatches from Kickassistan detailed a bit more of the history of elves in his Ur-Hadad setting, and I love his twist on the “elves leaving this world” concept: the elves already left a long time ago (a lot of them at least), and then came back (relatively) recently. Tom Fitzgerald of Middenmurk mused beautifully about elves in general before detailing several evocative types of elf. Really great stuff that inspired me; check it out.
In deep forests and forgotten valleys lie places where the border between the world of men and the realm of the elves is weak; around these hidden paths the Fair Folk have established footholds of dominion in the lands of mortals. This is not to imply that the intent of elves is sinister, nor is it certain that their will is benign. The minds of elves are not easily understood, being alien in thought as they are in birth.
While all elves ultimately owe allegiance to Oberon, the King of Elfland and First Among the Lords Unending, each is also sworn to the court of a lesser lord, the princes and princesses of the Unending Reign. More than mere allegiance, elves have distinct physical and metaphysical characteristics dependent on the court from which they hail. Different courts tend to also be associated with certain natural features in the world of men, and the paths between worlds near those features will often lead to the domain of a particular Lord Unending.
The very first elves to cross over into the mortal world did so in ancient eons, when mighty forces were still shaping reality itself. The wood-watchers of Prince Fyonheil’s court became fast friends to the servants of the Great Bear, so much so that they too marched to war when the Great Bear’s wrath stirred and brought about the First Ruination.
The lore keepers of Prince Arcanus also dwelt in the world in those early days and some shared the secrets of magic with the first men to practice the art of wizardry. Even the prince himself crossed into this realm, establishing a great citadel on the large moon that bore his name. The Court of Arcanus took little interest in most affairs of the world; the elves’ looked instead to other worlds that lie yet beyond the mortal realm, for despite their ancient and strange magics, it is impossible to summon entities of other realms into the land of elves. By way of the land of men, however, many an elf established allegiance with godlings and demons of all sort. And once brought into the world of men, such beings can follow the paths to Elfland with a guide to show the way.
The experiments of the Court of Arcanus surely played some role in the onset of the Second Ruination, for all elves fled from the world in those days, and the gate from the lunar citadel to Elfland was destroyed behind them, shattering the moon.
Elves remained apart from the mortal world for countless millennia until the Sixth Ruination, the Maelstrom of the Chaos Lords, opened many new paths into the elven realms. Drawn forth by the surging magics of the last Ruination, elves from all manner of courts entered the world of men and have remained here in the centuries since — a mere blink of an eye by their accounting of time.
Elf Characters: The elf class remains unchanged from the DCC RPG rulebook, though the physical appearance of an elf varies based on which court they come from. 0-level elf characters already have infravision, heightened senses, and iron sensitivity per the rules; in addition, they know and are able to cast one of their 1st level spells based on their court. For example, all elves from the Court of Arcanus know and can cast Read Magic at 0-level, while those from the Court of Fyonheil know Animal Summoning. This counts as one of the 3 spells the elf knows at 1st level, it is not a bonus spell.
Also, regardless of occupation, all elves begin play with either mithril scale mail or a mithril short sword; this is in place of the rule in the book that allows them to purchase the items at regular price once at 1st-level. Elves do not begin with any coins or randomly determined equipment.