Elf

Despite the fact that elves are among the most common of Golarion's humanoid races, they are a people in decline. Their culture peaked thousands of years ago, and they have been unable to repopulate the many places they once called home.[1]

Appearance

An elf is a tall, slender humanoid, usually taller but lighter than their human counterparts. Elves tend to be more frail than humans, though their natural lifespan is measured in centuries. Elves tend to be elegant, in both appearance and movement, possessed of an almost supernatural grace. Their coloration varies far less than humans', with most elves being quite pale and fair skinned, though almost none possess freckles, or blemishes. Elves tend to have bright green or dark blue, ranging to nearly black, eyes. The irises of the elven race are far larger than those of other humanoids, often making it seem like they have little or no white in their eyes. This trait can often make elves seem alien and unreadable to humans and dwarves. Their hair, which is typically naturally straight and healthy, usually ranges through the normal spectrum of fair hair, though some possess pure colorless white hair. Neither elven males nor females go bald, and indeed they show little in the way of discernible signs of aging. They have long ears, which point backwards, angling upwards slightly to end usually parallel to the crown of the head.

There isn't as much sexual dimorphism in elves as in other humanoids. Males tend to be taller and broader, though rarely broader than a human male. They tend to be naturally lean and fit, with inhumanly good metabolisms. Males do not grow facial hair, or indeed much body hair. Many have at least shoulder-length hair.

Female elves are slender and willowy, considered beautiful by most. They are almost as tall as human males, though lighter of frame and weight than most human females. Their faces tend to be austere and beautiful, with high cheekbones and delicate symmetrical features.

Elves maintain an otherworldly beauty, and whether found in their magnificent wilderness communities or cosmopolitan civilizations, are often well-dressed and even glamorous.

History

Departure from Golarion

The history of the elves is an ancient one, and their civilization on Golarion reached its peak long before their human cousins attained their own greatness. The two races were in near constant conflict as human barbarians stretched their reach to grasp ever more of the world. The elves knew that they must ultimately cede much of the world to humans and as their numbers dwindled, the race turned its attention away from Golarion and focused on exploring the other nearby planets, traveling across vast distances through a series of interplanetary gates created in antiquity. Perhaps suspecting that the Earthfall was nigh, the elves departed Golarion through these gates to their mysterious legendary homeland of Sovyrian where they remained in isolation for thousands of years.

The Elves' Return

In 2632 AR, elves began their return from Sovyrian, somehow sensing that their old human enemies had grown out of their barbaric origins and that the two races could share the world. Many of the elves' ancient holdings were reclaimed, causing tumult with human warlords who did not recognize their claims of ownership on these lands. Beneath the Varisian city of Celwynvian in the Meiriani Forest the elves discovered something which so disturbed them, they abandoned the city, collapsing the tunnels beneath is in the process. Many of these elves traveled across Avistan to the ancient kingdom of Kyonin, while others sailed west to the island chains off the Varisian coast, where they raised the Mordant Spire on the edge of the known world.

Society & Culture

Religion

Although elves will worship any deity that strikes their fancy, the large majority worship the goddesses Calistria and Desna, and to a lesser extent, Nethys. They tend to have a less formal relationship with the divine, seeing the gods as general inspiration, and are not tied down with the particulars of dogma. Other gods worshiped by the fair folk include Findeladlara, the goddess of art and architecture, Ketephys, god of the hunt, and Yuelral the Wise. These last three are deities particular to the elven pantheon, and are not worshiped by other races.

The Brightness

Elves believe that their current life is but one in a series, and that upon death they are reincarnated as another creature. Their ultimate goal is to be reborn as a natural creature of the wild. In pursuit of this they believe that they must find or follow the Brightness, signs and portents which lead them to live a life leading them to their higher destiny.

The Forlorn

While elves can be found not only in their own communities such as the Mordant Spire and Kyonin, but throughout the world, there are distinct differences in those elves that have been raised among their kind and those who live primarily among other races. Life among shorter-lived races grounds elves to the world in a way that is foreign to their more isolated kin, and the resulting melancholy outlook on life has earned these elves as "Forlorn". They are generally pitied and looked down upon by the general elf population, believing them to be emotionally scarred. A large portion of adventuring elves find themselves among this group.

Ethnic Groups

Like humans, elves are divided into different ethnic groups across Golarion. Most are physically very similar to the common elves of Kyonin, but some depart radically from their ancestral stock.

* Aquatic elves: These elves have adapted to life underwater, with gills and webbed fingers. They live in cities on the ocean floor.
* Desert elves: The desert elves of Osirion possess tanned skin.
* Gray elves: The elves of the Mordant Spire. Gray elves are arrogant and standoffish, even to other elves. They see themselves as the keepers of the secrets of lost Azlant and wish to prevent another cataclysm like Earthfall.
* Snow elves: These pale-skinned elves live among the mountains of the Crown of the World. They are gruff toward outsiders and respect shows of force.
* Wild elves: The elves of the Mwangi Expanse. These primitive elves remained on Golarion when the others fled to Sovyrian. The largest tribe of Mwangi elves is the Ekujae.

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