dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
[personal profile] dorchadas
A while ago, I wrote up a description of elves for a science-fantasy RPG setting I'm working on. I liked them, but they were based on elves as creatures of Faerie and didn't really have anything science-fiction about them at all, so now I went back and changed them a lot and I think they fit a lot better:

The elves have always been a people apart. Before the coming of the Mist, the elves were united by the Elven Court of the Elder Wood, the center of elven civilization. There the Queen ruled, advised by the oldest of her people and the spirits of the forest. Even the far-flung communities in other forests paid homage to the Elven Court, their bonds aided by the Emerald Roads that facilitated travel from elven community to community.

The Mist ended that forever. As it washed over the Elder Wood, the elves made a choice. Some of them gave themselves fully to the rule of the forest spirits, forsaking such technology as they used and following the dictates of their shamans. Others saw the changes that the Mist wrought in those creatures it touched and determined to learn from them. They studied the Changed, using all their magic to form bastions among the woods to hold the Mist at bay, and developed the art of fleshcrafting. The former are known as the wild elves, and the latter as the mist elves.

There are rumors of a third group, who fled underground to avoid the Mist rather than ascending to the heights. It is said that the Mist changed them as they fled, that they worship spirits of fungus and spider and unclean things, and that they have tunnels under the surviving lands and raid the surface for slaves. But theses are merely rumors.

Physical Description: Generally taller than humans, elves possess a graceful, slender physique seemingly made of bark, vines and foliage. They vary greatly in appearance, as wild as nature itself. They encompass the colors of all plant life, tending towards shades of green and brown. Their hair grows leaves and branches. The older they are, the more growths they have, sometimes becoming long twisted vines that hang to their waist or longer. Their flesh is wooden, smooth when they are young and furrowing more and more as they grow older until it resembles the gnarled bark of an ancient tree. Their eyes vary from virgin wood green, morning sun gold, rich brown earth, to deep sky blue, but always a solid color with neither pupil nor iris visible.

The wild elves live in the forests and frequently dress in animal skins or clothing of bark and leaves, whereas mist elves wear suits designed to keep off the mist and work with fleshcrafted creatures, or the symbiotic armor given to their warriors.

Society: Where the elves were once unified, now there is a great division among them. The wild elves are ruled by shamans who speak to the forest spirits and look up to the warriors who practice supernatural martial arts learned from the spirits of the animals around them. The mist elves delve ever deeper into the arts of fleshwarping in the hope of discovering the secret of adaptation to the Mist without losing themselves to it.

There are still some similarities, however. Both cultures have a deep-seated appreciation for artistry and craftsmanship, and whether it’s a carved wooden chair or a piece of living furniture, an elven artisan will always work to their utmost and take pride in their work. Magic is held is high esteem, and the lifeshapers of the mist elves and spiritspeakers of the wild elves are some of the most honored members of their communities.

Relations: Others were always suspicious of the elves because of their insularity, and their new behavior has not changed that. It is the wild elves who are the most well-thought-of, because while they are savage and unpredictable, at least their powers are understandable. Wild elves get along especially well with grippli and sesheyans, who share their wilderness homes. Whatever it is that the mist elves are doing in their living strongholds makes the other races nervous, and their appearance, swathed entirely in robes or with visible symbiotic grafts attached to their bodies, does not allay that concern. There are some elves who live in the patchwork human cities that sprang up after the Mist came, but they are often not entirely trusted there, even after long years of residence.

And here's a picture I found on the internet that's a pretty good visual inspiration:

I didn't rigorously calculate this, but it's about 20 RP by the Advanced Race Guide rules.

  • +2 Dexterity, -2 Charisma: Elves are agile, but their connection to the forest leaves them alien to other races. In addition, wild elves receive +2 Wisdom, and mist elves receive +2 Intelligence.
  • Medium Size: Elves are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Normal Speed: Elves have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Type: Elves are sapient plants with the elf subtype. As sapient plant creature, elves have a +4 racial bonus to resist to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms), as well as immunity to paralysis, sleep effects, and stunning and, as plants, elves breathe and eat, but do not require sleep.
  • Low-Light Vision: Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
  • Treespeaker: Elves may speak with plants at will.
  • Fire Vulnerability: Elves take an additional 50% damage from fire-based effects.
  • Barkskin: Elves gain a +2 natural armor bonus due to their hard wooden skin.
  • Poison Resistance: Elves are completely immune to ingested poisons and gain a +2 bonus to saves against contact poison.
  • Wooden Passage: Elves may pass through areas of obstructing or dangerous terrain such as thorns, brambles, thick growth, and so on at up to half their movement rate without suffering any ill effects. Magically manipulated terrain affects them normally.
  • Forest Stalker: Perception and Stealth are always class skills for elves, and if they are already class skills, they gain a +2 racial bonus to Perception and Stealth checks. This bonus to Stealth rises to +4 in forests.
  • Starting Languages: Elves speak Elven.
They were inspired by the Briarborn, with some tweaks to fit the theme.

Since I've been successfully running a fantasy game using Exalted 2.5e mechanics for a year-and-a-half now, I know it works very well. So here are the stats for these elves using Revlid's Mutation and Genesis Revisions.
Elves: Cost 5 bonus points. Mutations: Forest Camouflage (2 pts), Forest Native (1 pt), Natural Armor (2L/2B) (2 pts), Night Vision (2 pts), Poison Resistance: +2 (2 pts), Speak with Plants (2 pts), Vulnerability: Fire (-4 pts)
I had to make a few adjustments. There's no easy way using Revlid's mutation system to make elves immune to poisons the same way, so I just gave them a broad-spectrum bonus. Similarly, I had to adapt the mutation for talking to animals to talking to plants. Fire vulnerability is much worse in Exalted because it raises all fire damage to Aggravated, which can't be easily healed with magic. Forest Native gives them a bonus to navigate through forests, like the "Wooden Passage" advantage above. Letting elves not sleep in Exalted messes up Willpower recovery, since it's explicitly regained through sleep, so it's not in there.

Maybe someday, I'll actually be able to run this.
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