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Elves, sometimes called sylvan elves to distinguish them from the eladrin who are also commonly called elves, are a long lived race of the Tel-quessir found most commonly in forests, shrublands, and other wildernesses.
In comparison with their close kin the eladrin or “high elves” the true elves have a closer affinity for the natural world over civilization and have more or less abandoned the eladrin focus on magic as a whole. From time to time the elves have organized strong nations, though with far less frequency than eladrin, in some cases adopting even a nomadic lifestyle.
Almost all elves worship the Seldarine, otherwise known as elven pantheon and the elves are generally, though not always, good in nature.
Standing at average between 5'4" and 6'0" ft. and weighing in between 130 and 170 lbs usually, true elves are a naturally slender and athletic race. Elves have a similar range of complexions to humans, with wood elves typically coppery or pale skinned and wild elves having darker pigmentations. Often, elven hair is dark, either brown or black, with copper red or blond hair also found amongst wood elves., although orange or even green hues are not completely unheard of. Elven eyes are commonly brown, hazel, or an emerald green. Elves, like their cousins the eladrin and drow, are fair and beautiful, handsome, and have pointed ears and no body hair except eyebrows, eyelashes and hair.
Elves mature at roughly the same rate as humans, though they are not usually considered past adolescence until they reach 110 years of age. Unlike humans, elves do not age dramatically as their lifespan comes to a close with the most obvious changes being a change in hair color, alternatively graying or darkening. Most elves remain healthy and full of life up until their death, which, if age-related, is usually between two and nine centuries.
Elves have a number of abilities that set them apart from other humanoid races. Like their kin the eladrin, elves are agile, dexterous creatures. However, elves can move slightly faster than their eladrin kin and can move swiftly through even the roughest terrain. Elves are also more preternaturally aware of their surroundings than eladrin, as well as possessing better common sense. This aids elves in many ways, allowing elves both a high degree of perceptiveness that they can lend partially to allies. Additionally, elves are extremely accurate in their attacks, having a degree of precision that is unusual for other humanoids.
Many elves do not sleep but find their rest in a meditative state called “reverie” which is as restful as true sleep but leaves them aware of their surroundings. This is similar to an eladrin’s ability to trance.
Elves commonly possess strong but swiftly passing passions, moved easily to laughter, anger, or misery and as quickly calmed. Elves are known for their impulsive behavior and as a result many races see them as flighty or impetuous. However, elves are not as flaky as others may interpret them to be, and are typically responsible in spite of their almost whimsical nature. Partially due to their long lifespan (though not entirely since many long-lived races act differently) elves have difficulty taking some matters as seriously as other races, but when threats they recognize do arise, elves are strong friends and allies to those whom they feel loyalty towards.
Elves make strong and uplifting friends. Most elves love simple joys such as dancing, singing, footraces, or contests of skill. Elves find a natural aversion to that which they see as uninteresting tasks and are fun-loving by nature. However, despite how unpleasant some things such as war can be elves can become grimly serious if a threat to their friends, family, or livelihood makes such actions necessary.
The elves branched away from the eladrin in a long forgotten age, and no one is exactly sure which race came first, though most scholars believe the eladrin did. Of the Tel-quessir, those who would become the elves were the first to arrive on the then united worlds of Abeir-Toril. At that time there were only the green elves, known as the Sy-tel-quessir in their own language.
Millennia passed and the fey ancestors of the elves and eladrin together ruled over much of Toril in relative peace until -12000 DR when the eladrin nation of Aryvandaar invaded the dark elf and green elf nation of Miyeritar, starting the first of five Crown Wars which, in total lasted for 3000 years.
The green elves suffered many defeats in the Crown Wars and by the end of the conflict had lost all of their former territory. Driven into the wilderness the green elves gradually changed over generations, the gap between them and eladrin widening until they became a distinct race. This change caused the elves to lose their talent for the arcane and grow even closer in their connections to the wilderness, becoming as much a part of the landscape as the wild beasts with whom they shared it.
The green elves who remained in isolation became the wild elves and lost their taste for civilization and nation-building, becoming nomadic wanderers. It was also around this time that the first of the wood elves or Or-tel-quessir emerged, when some of the wild elves migrated into the lands of the eladrin and bred with their kin race, creating a new hybrid culture.
The wood elves, unlike the wild elves, continued to build civilizations, though on a smaller scale than the eladrin. In the eastern High Forest the wood elves founded the kingdom of Earlann, a contemporary and ally of Netheril. However, when Earlann fell the wood elves too abandoned the concept of nation-building, leaving it to the other races.
Elves as a whole ignored the Retreat to Evermeet, though some followed their eladrin brethren to the land across the Trackless Sea. Most elves remained in Faerûn, embracing the world around them rather than rejecting it, though a few tribes of wild elves also chose to withdraw from the world, hiding in remote places of the world like the Chondalwood in order to evade the notice of the other races.
Elves are usually found in small tribes throughout the forests of Toril as well as windswept plains and mountain vales. The elves, as a whole, prefer these secluded places of nature to the cities and nations of the civilized world, living in harmony with their natural surroundings. Cautious and cunning warriors, particularly of the bow, elves secure these homelands through guile and tactics.
There are at least two different sub-races of elves:
Copper-skinned or tanned elves who guard over their native forests.
Feral, reclusive elves who scorn civilization and its trappings, preferring a wild existence close to nature.