The long-lived elves are children of the natural world, similar in many superficial ways to fey creatures, though with key differences. While fey are truly linked to the flora and fauna of their homes, existing as the nearly immortal voices and guardians of the wilderness, elves are instead mortals who are in tune with the natural world around them. Elves seek to live in balance with the wild and understand it better than most other mortals. Some of this understanding is mystical, but an equal part comes from the elves’ long lifespans, which in turn gives them long-ranging outlooks. Elves can expect to remain active in the same locale for centuries. By necessity, they must learn to maintain sustainable lifestyles, and this is most easily done when they work with nature, rather than attempting to bend it to their will. However, their links to nature are not entirely driven by pragmatism. Elves’ bodies slowly change over time, taking on a physical representation of their mental and spiritual states, and those who dwell in a region for a long period of time find themselves physically adapting to match their surroundings, most noticeably taking on coloration that reflects the local environment.
Elves value their privacy and traditions, and while they are often slow to make friends at both the personal and national levels, once an outsider is accepted as a comrade, the resulting alliances can last for generations. Elves take great joy in forging alliances with races that share or exceed their long lifetimes, and often work to befriend dragons, outsiders, and fey. Those elves who spend their lives among the short-lived races, on the other hand, often develop a skewed perception of mortality and become morose, the result of watching wave after wave of companions age and die before their eyes.
Physical Description: Generally taller than humans, elves possess a graceful, slender physique that is accentuated by their long, pointed ears. It is a mistake, however, to consider them weak or feeble, as the thin limbs of an elf can contain surprising power. Their eyes are wide and almond-shaped, and filled with large, vibrantly colored pupils. The coloration of elves as a whole varies wildly, and is much more diverse than that of human populations. However, as their coloration often matches their surroundings, the elves of a single community may appear quite similar. Forest-dwelling elves often have variations of green, brown, and tan in their hair, eye, and even skin tones.
While elven clothing often plays off the beauty of the natural world, those elves who live in cities tend to bedeck themselves in the latest fashions. Where city-dwelling elves encounter other urbanites, the elves are often fashion trendsetters.
Society: Many elves feel a bond with nature and strive to live in harmony with the natural world. Although, like most, elves prefer bountiful lands where resources are plentiful, when driven to live in harsher climates, they work hard to protect and shepherd the region’s bounty, and learn how to maximize the benefit they receive from what little can be harvested. When they can carve out a sustainable, reliable life in deserts and wastelands, they take pride as a society in the accomplishment. While this can make them excellent guides to outsiders they befriend who must travel through such lands, their disdain of those who have not learned to live off the scant land as they have makes such friends rare.
Elves have an innate gift for craftsmanship and artistry, especially when working in wood, bone, ivory, or leather. Most, however, find manipulating earth and stone to be distasteful, and prefer to avoid forging, stonework, and pottery. When such work must be done within a community, a few elves may find themselves drawn to it, but regardless of their craftsmanship, such “dirt-wrights” are generally seen by other elves as being a bit off. In the most insular of elven societies, they may even be treated as lower class.
Elves also have an appreciation for the written word, magic, and painstaking research. Their naturally keen minds and senses, combined with their inborn patience, make them particularly suited to wizardry. Arcane research and accomplishment are seen as both practical goals, in line with being a soldier or architect, and artistic endeavors as great as poetry or sculpture. Within elven society, wizards are held in extremely high regard as masters of an art both powerful and aesthetically valued. Other spellcasters are not disdained, but do not gain the praise lavished upon elven wizards.
Relations: Elves are prone to dismissing other races, writing them off as rash and impulsive, yet on an individual level, they are excellent judges of character. In many cases an elf will come to value a specific member of another race, seeing that individual as deserving and respectable, while still dismissing the race as a whole. If called on this behavior, the elf often doesn’t understand why his “special friend” is upset the elf has noticed the friend is “so much better than the rest of his kind.” Even elves who see such prejudice for what it is must constantly watch themselves to prevent such views from coloring their thinking.
Elves are not foolish enough, however, to dismiss all aspects of other races and cultures. An elf might not want a dwarf neighbor, but would be the first to acknowledge dwarves’ skill at smithing and their tenacity in facing orc threats. Elves regard gnomes as strange (and sometimes dangerous) curiosities, but regard their magical talent as being worthy of praise and respect. Halflings are often viewed with a measure of pity, for these small folk seem to the elves to be adrift, without a traditional home. Elves are fascinated with humans, who seem to live in a few short years as full a life as an elf manages in centuries. In fact, many elves become infatuated with humans, as evidenced by the number of half-elves in the world. Elves have difficulty accepting crossbreeds of any sort, however, and usually disown such offspring. They similarly regard half-orcs with distrust and suspicion, assuming they possess the worst aspects of orc and human personalities.
Alignment and Religion: Elves are emotional and capricious, yet value kindness and beauty. Most elves are chaotic good, wishing all creatures to be safe and happy, but unwilling to sacrifice personal freedom or choice to accomplish such goals. They prefer deities who share their love of the mystic qualities of the world.
Adventurers: Many elves embark on adventures out of a desire to explore the world, leaving their secluded realms to reclaim forgotten elven magic or search out lost kingdoms established millennia ago by their ancestors. This need to see a wider world is accepted by their societies as a natural part of becoming mature and experienced individuals. Such elves are expected to return in some few decades and take up lives in their homelands once more, enriched both in treasure and in worldview. For those elves raised among humans, however, life within their homes—watching friends and family swiftly age and die—is often stifling, and the ephemeral and unfettered life of an adventurer holds a natural appeal. Elves generally eschew melee because of their relative frailty, preferring instead to engage enemies at range. Most see combat as unpleasant even when needful, and prefer it be done as quickly as possible, preferably without getting close enough to smell their foes. This preference for making war at a distance, coupled with their natural accuracy and grasp of the arcane, encourages elves to pursue classes such as wizards and rangers.
Male Names: Caladrel, Heldalel, Lanliss, Meirdrarel, Seldlon, Talathel, Variel, Zordlon.
Female Names: Amrunelara, Dardlara, Faunra, Jathal, Merisiel, Oparal, Soumral, Tessara, Yalandlara.
- Ability Score Racial Traits: Elves are nimble, both in body and mind, but their form is frail. They gain +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, and –2 Constitution.
- Size: Elves are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Type: Elves are Humanoids with the elf subtype.
- Base Speed: Elves have a base speed of 30 feet.
- Languages: Elves begin play speaking Common and Elven. Elves with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Celestial, Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, and Sylvan. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.
- Elven Immunities: Elves are immune to magic sleep effects and gain a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells and effects.
- Elven Magic: Elves receive a +2 racial bonus on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance. In addition, elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Spellcraft skill checks made to identify the properties of magic items.
- Weapon Familiarity: Elves are proficient with longbows (including composite longbows), longswords, rapiers, and shortbows (including composite shortbows), and treat any weapon with the word “elven” in its name as a martial weapon.
- Low-Light Vision: Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
The following alternate racial traits may be selected in place of one or more of the standard racial traits above. Consult your GM before selecting any of these new options.
- Arcane Focus: Some elven families have such long traditions of producing wizards (and other arcane spellcasters) that they raise their children with the assumption each is destined to be a powerful magic-user, with little need for mundane concerns such as skill with weapons. Elves with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on concentration checks made to cast arcane spells defensively. This racial trait replaces weapon familiarity.
- Darkvision: Though uncommon, some groups of elves are born with darkvision, rather than low-light vision. In many cases this is taken as a sign of a drow in the elf’s ancestry, and can lead to persecution within the elf’s home community. Elves with this racial trait gain darkvision with a range of 60 feet, but also gain sensitivity to light and are dazzled in areas of bright light or within the radius of a daylight spell. This racial trait replaces low-light vision.
- Desert Runner: Some elves thrive in the deepest deserts, forever roaming across burned and parched lands. Elves with this racial trait receive a +4 racial bonus on Constitution checks and Fortitude saves to avoid fatigue, exhaustion, or ill effects from running, forced marches, starvation, thirst, or hot or cold environments. This racial trait replaces elven magic.
- Dreamspeaker: A few elves have the ability to tap into the power of sleep, dreams, and prescient reverie. Elves with this racial trait add +1 to the saving throw DCs of spells of the divination school and sleep effects they cast. In addition, elves with Charisma scores of 15 or higher may use dream once per day as a spell-like ability (caster level is equal to the elf’s character level). This racial trait replaces elven immunities.
- Elemental Resistance: Elves who dwell in the most extreme environments, from arctic wastelands to volcanic plains, develop natural resistance to the dangers of their homelands over the course of a few generations. Elves with this racial trait gain elemental resistance 5 to acid, cold, electricity, or fire. This choice is made at character creation, and once made it cannot be changed. This racial trait replaces elven immunities.
- Envoy: Elves often have trouble relating to neighbors of other races, especially those with much shorter lifespans. As a result, some are trained in minor magics that are particularly useful when dealing with non-elves. Elves with this racial trait and an Intelligence score of 11 or higher gain the following spell-like abilities once per day: comprehend languages, detect magic, detect poison, and read magic. The caster level for these effects is equal to the elf’s level. This racial trait replaces elven magic.
- Eternal Grudge: Some elves grow up in secluded, isolationist communities where generations-old slights and quarrels linger as eternal blood feuds. Elves with this racial trait receive a +1 bonus on attack rolls against humanoids of the dwarf and orc subtypes because of special training against these hated foes. This racial trait replaces elven magic.
- Fleet-Footed: While all elves are naturally lithe and agile, some also are naturally speedy and have a strong desire to rush into situations rather than worrying about looking ahead. Elves with this racial trait receive Run as a bonus feat and a +2 racial bonus on initiative checks. This racial trait replaces keen senses and weapon familiarity.
- Lightbringer: Many elves revere the sun, moon, and stars, but some are literally infused with the radiant power of the heavens. Elves with this racial trait are immune to light-based blindness and dazzle effects, and are treated as one level higher when determining the effects of any light-based spell or effect they cast (including spell-like and supernatural abilities). Elves with Intelligence scores of 10 or higher may use light at will as a spell-like ability. This racial trait replaces the elven immunities and elven magic racial traits.
- Silent Hunter: Elves are renowned for their subtlety and skill. Elves with this racial trait reduce the penalty for using Stealth while moving by 5 and can make Stealth checks while running at a –20 penalty (this number includes the penalty reduction from this racial trait). This racial trait replaces elven magic.
- Spirit of the Waters: Some elves have adapted to life in tune with the sea or along the reedy depths of wild rivers and lakes. They gain a +4 racial bonus on Swim checks, can always take 10 while swimming, and may choose Aquan as a bonus language. They are proficient with longspear, trident, and net. This racial trait replaces elven magic and weapon familiarity.
- Urbanite: Elves who live in cities for more than a century can grow to know the ebb and flow of social situations just as their forest-dwelling cousins know the rules of the wild. Elves with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy checks made to gather information and Sense Motive checks made to get a hunch about a social situation. This racial trait replaces keen senses.
- Woodcraft: Elves know the deep secrets of the wild like no others, especially secrets of the forests. Elves with this racial trait gain a +1 racial bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks. In forest terrain, these bonuses improve to +2. This racial trait replaces elven magic.
You can combine various alternate racial traits above to create subraces or variant races, such as the following:
- Arctic Elf: These elves were born and raised in the frozen lands of the far north or south, and have dealt with freezing deserts, nights that last for weeks, and the horrors that roam the cold terrain. These elves have the darkvision, desert erunner, and elemental resistance alternate racial traits.
- Dusk Elf: Rather than being tied to the terrain around them, some elves are linked to the night itself. Though not tied to demon worship and evil as drow are, these elves are similarly attuned to the magical concepts of darkness and shadow. These elves have the arcane focus, darkvision, dreamspeaker, and silent hunter alternate racial traits.
- Savage Elf: In lands where every day is a constant struggle to survive and the niceties of civilization are rare, elves adapt to depend on swift strikes and lifelong vigilance to keep their families alive. These elves have the eternal grudge and fleet-footed alternate racial traits.
- Tower Elf: Some elven institutions of magical learning date back centuries, and entire clans of elves have lived for generations as caretakers, students, and instructors of these self-sufficient schools of wizardry. These elves have the arcane focus and urbanite alternate racial traits.
The following favored class options are available to all characters of this race who have the listed favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the favored class reward.
- Alchemist: Add one extract formula from the alchemist’s list to his formula book. This formula must be at least one level lower than the highest-level formula the alchemist can create.
- Barbarian: Add +1 to the barbarian’s base speed. In combat this option has no effect unless the barbarian has selected it five times (or another increment of five). This bonus stacks with the barbarian’s fast movement feature and applies under the same conditions as that feature.
- Bard: Add +1 to the bard’s CMD when resisting a disarm or sunder attempt.
- Cavalier: Add +1 hit point to the cavalier’s mount. If the cavalier ever replaces his mount, the new mount gains these bonus hit points.
- Cleric: Select one domain power granted at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the cleric’s Wisdom modifier. The cleric adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that domain power.
- Druid: Add +1/3 to the druid’s natural armor bonus when using wild shape.
- Fighter: Add +1 to the Fighter’s CMD when resisting a disarm or sunder attempt.
- Gunslinger: Add +1/3 on critical hit confirmation rolls made with firearms (maximum bonus of +5). This bonus does not stack with Critical Focus.
- Inquisitor: Add one spell known from the inquisitor’s spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest-level spell the inquisitor can cast.
- Monk: Add +1 to the monk’s base speed. In combat this option has no effect unless the monk has selected it five times (or another increment of five). This bonus stacks with the monk’s fast movement class feature and applies under the same conditions as that feature.
- Oracle: Add +1/2 to the oracle’s level for the purpose of determining the effects of one revelation.
- Paladin: Add +1/2 hit point to the paladin’s lay on hands ability (whether using it to heal or harm).
- Ranger: Choose a weapon from the following list: longbow, longsword, rapier, shortbow, short sword, or any weapon with “elven” in its name. Add +1/2 on critical hit confirmation rolls made while using that weapon (maximum bonus of +4). This bonus does not stack with Critical Focus.
- Rogue: Add +1 to the number of times per day the rogue can cast a cantrip or 1st-level spell gained from the minor magic or major magic talent. The number of times this bonus is selected for the major magic talent cannot exceed the number of times it is selected for the minor magic talent. The rogue must possess the associated rogue talent to select these options.
- Sorcerer: Select one bloodline power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the sorcerer’s Charisma modifier. The sorcerer adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that bloodline power.
- Witch: Add one spell from the witch spell list to the witch’s familiar. This spell must be at least one level lower than the highest-level spell she can cast. If the witch ever replaces her familiar, the new familiar knows these bonus spells.
- Wizard: Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.