Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Melnibonean Elves

Recently, I've been reading Michael Moorcock's The Weird of the White Wolf, a novella collecting four short stories staring the antihero Elric of Melnibone. This is actually the first work of Moorcock's I've ever read and I'm enjoying it so far.

However, as I read the novella, I find myself wanting to flavor the elves in my D&D/Pathfinder campaigns after the Melniboneans. While I'm sure I'm not the first person to have this idea, I still feel like its a cool idea and I think it gives the rather boring elves an interesting take. However, I might change a few things to make the race a little more "player friendly".

So, here's my take on Melnibonean Elves.

Long ago, the elves were once a nomadic race who traveled across the different planes of existence with their draconic companions. For reasons that remain unknown to their descendants, these primordial elves decided to remain on the Material Plane instead of continuing their travels and settled on a small island off the coast of a large continent. Within a few centuries, the small settlements that dotted the island banded together and the first elven kingdom was forged.

Due to their natural command of magic and dragon allies, this small kingdom quickly became a mighty empire and the elves held dominion over most of the known world. Most of the "lesser races" bowed down to their new overlords. However, there were a few who tried to fight back and were ultimately decimated by the empire's superior forces and the few remaining survivors were forced into submission. The Empire of the Elves remained in power for thousands of years.

Sadly, as time passed, the elves slowly grew callous and apathetic to the happenings of the outside world. As the race slowly withdrew back to its ancestral homeland and gave into to its own excesses, their powerful empire began to crumble. All that remains of that once great civilization is their original island kingdom.

Now, the elves are a rare sight outside of their island kingdom and their unique appearance makes them easily stand out in most crowds. The elves are generally taller than humans and possess a graceful, fragile physique that is accentuated by their long, pointed ears. They have slanted eyes that are usually crimson in color and they typically wear their hair long. All elves are albino, possessing snow white skin and hair.

Due to the nature of their culture, the elves can be uncaring at best and downright cruel at worse. Elves tend to focus on themselves first and foremost and have a bad habit of looking down on the "lesser races" (almost every race that isn't an elf), seeing them as less sophisticated and not worthy of respect. A lot of people like to compare the elves to cats, seeing how both creatures can be so uncaring and occasionally derive pleasure from the suffering of others.

Most elves found outside their island kingdom are either adventurers seeking a life of excitement and new experiences or the rare diplomat sent to bargain with the nobles of lesser kingdoms. These elves tend to be belong to the Fighter, the Magus, the Rogue, the Sorcerer, and the Wizard classes. When multiclassing, elves generally choose a class with the ability to cast arcane spells if they possess levels in a non spellcasting class.

((I left some stuff, like the name of their island kingdom and the continent, vague so others could adapt these elves to their own campaign worlds without a lot of effort. Also, with the exception of the preferred classes part, I tried to remain agnostic with the rules so you can adapt them to your rules system of choice.))