Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Races: Half Elves


“Care to repeat that, friend? Because if you said what I think you did, you should know that I’m no frailblood- my da romanced a REAL elf, and I know how to fight just like one. Care to test me? I need a few more ears for my necklace. Well, that’s unfortunate. Be sure to call upon me any time you want to walk along the path of the ancients.”

Eosh 'Drassilborn, a wizard bluffing his way out of a fight

The first half-elves were born not long after the Divine War, conceived during short, passionate encounters between humans who were lost in the Yggdrasil and true elven guides who fell into something close to love. Due to differences in fertility cycles, this rarely resulted in pregnancy, but on occasion, a child showing the best features of both races was born to a surprised mother. The mothers usually raised these children alone, as both the human and true elven communities took a dim view of illegitimacy and racial infidelity. The children would likewise have a hard time fitting into their respective societies. A half-elf raised among true elves lacked their dexterity and proved inquisitive and loud, while a half-elf brought up among humans was a daily reminder of the horrors of the alien forest they stumbled through on their way to freedom and ostracized as a result. Still, these unfortunates were left to their own devices, as they were also indicative of things their adoptive society lacked- logical thought among elves and effortless grace among humans- and their exotic appeal soon rivaled their unsavory origins. They grew comfortable in their place on the fringe of society, but the Divine War created a new wrinkle: half-elves born of the intermingling of humans and common elves.

Although to half-elves the differences between the two sub-races are as clear as night and day, they look identical to dwarves, halflings and even their human and elven parents. This lack of distinction often drags half-elves from the fringes of society into the spotlight without a loss in disdain. Is the half-elf in question a barely-contained savage or a dragon-worshipping magic user? Whatever the answer to that question, true elves and many humans view their bastards with thinly veiled disgust, although their feelings are sometimes softer if they have sired one of these “accidents” themselves. Halflings and dwarves judge the individual half elf, believing the human blood in them may make up for the other half of their ancestry. Half-orcs and half-dragons are more willing to give half-elves the benefit of the doubt as they share in the stigma that is the birthright of the Third Races. Regular familial love only seems to come from common elf parents, who eagerly protect their child from the unpleasant realities of life for as long as they can.

Half-elves, regardless of heritage, resemble petite humans with slightly pointed ears and almond-shaped eyes. Their hair and skin coloration favor the human component of their conceptual union, while their movements and body language have an elven fluidity that make them a wonder to behold even while performing the most mundane tasks. Unlike elves (and even a few humans), males are capable of growing silky facial hair. Half-elves of both sexes build muscle slightly faster than humans can, which lends them a toned, impressive physique.

Hotheaded, competitive, and stubborn, half-elves seek acceptance the least out of the Third Races. This is not to say they are loners- they prize true friendship as much as any. However, a lifetime of scorn and neglect causes half elves to look down upon casual acquaintances and those who find value in such relationships. Most half-elves have some kind of wall put up around them to protect their true selves, be it one of hostility, modesty, or impetuousness. Penetrating this wall is rarely enough to earn a half-elf’s friendship, although it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Naming Conventions:
Most half-elves use the naming conventions of the culture they grow up in, although it is not uncommon for the rebellious to abandon that name and choose one from their complementary heritage. These secondary names are often exaggerated, confused or mispronounced by the half-elf, which can cause embarrassment when in the company of their more distant kin.

Half-elves have a reputation for willfulness and decisive action that makes neutrality on either axis rare.

Half-elves are determined to walk their own path in the world, whether they seek to achieve acceptance through fame or anonymity through fear. The first class they gain a level in is considered their preferred class.

As described in the PHB, except as follows:

Half-elves are usually acerbic until they get to know someone better. They gain a +2 bonus to Intimidation and Sense Motive checks as opposed to Gather Information and Diplomacy checks.

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