“Three Ages and three-hundred of your generations ago the Lord of Blades, High Prince of the Great House of the Sword, passed on the blade of his father, the athamae of our House, to his bastard half-elven son. Whether it was out of despair or out of anger we do not know but since then we have been leaderless, abandoned by our brethren in the Golden Woods and scorned by our kin in the Great Vale. Unwilling to join our sundered kin in the Shadowlands, we have made our way in the Mortal Realms, for we are the Elves of Twilight, the wardancers, the bladesingers, the Grey Elves. We are the Broken Swords who fight in the darkness when all hope is lost.”
– Neysylkentarien, Noted Duelist and Rogue
The Grey Elves are the most commonly encountered of the Fae within the Mortal Realms aside from the Gnomes. A proud and passionate people, they still resent their second-hand status in Elvish society due to the loss of their House’s athamea but aren’t yet willing to give up and swear fealty to the High Lord of the Shadowlands in response to it. But after a triple handful of elven generations, they have become something less and more than what they once were. Pragmatic, they have created their own enclaves, own kingdoms, and own society in the Mortal Realms and have ended up becoming a mediator between their kin in Faerie and the Shadowlands. It is not uncommon for children to be fostered with either set of kin, though all things being equal, at this point the Grey Elves get along better with their equally pragmatic cousins in the Shadowlands, the Sh’Achtar – and their cousins in the Golden Woods generally consider them of the same lost or corrupted ilk.
Statistic Modifiers: +1 Dexterity, -1 Constitution
Languages: High Elven, The Dark Tongue, Trollish, Kens, Fingerspeech, One Human Language
Size, Speed, and Appearance: Grey Elves stand 4′ 5″ tall, +2d6, and Weigh 75 lbs (x1d4) lbs.. This makes Medium in Size and have a Speed of 30. Grey Elves are generally slim in build, and somewhat light complected (though some are quite dusky in tone). Their hair tends to blacks and dark browns, while their eyes are often green or grey. Through intermarriages with their kin there are occasional blonde and white-haired Grey Elves, as well as silver and violet-eyed ones – red hair, as always, is very, very rare but is considered less of an ill-omen among the Grey Elves than among any of their kin.
Common Dress: Grey Elves have the name because they often seem to prefer hues of grey and silver compared to the yellow-golds of the High Elves or the Green and Browns of the Wood Elves. Deeper or darker jewel tones in reds, greens, and blues are also enjoyed. They also exist between the strict utilitarianism of Wood Elven garb (in leathers and strong fabrics) and the often florid or ornate (or minimalist) clothing of the High Elves in silks and gossamers. In truth they range across the whole spectrum as their needs manifest – but pants, boots, and tunics of various sorts in combination with cloaks or mantles are the most common dress, and reflect a mainly urban or travelers needs. Ritual or court garb is generally robes of some sort, while casual wear is often far more “casual” than human norms allow for when it comes to nudity. Tattoos are far more common than with High Elves, about on par with Wood Elves, and piercings are uncommon but not unheard of. Jewelry is quite common, though slightly less common than with High Elves – the focus on weapon grips keeps fingers free of rings.
Lifespan: Grey Elves are young adults at age 100, considered mature adults at around age 175, and can live up to 1600 years of age. They generally begin play at 90 + 5d6 years of age.
Common Culture: The Grey Elves are a distinct people who sit between their kin in the Elven Court of Faerie and their Kin in the Ebion Court of the Shadowlands. Despite this they have made a place for themselves in the Mortal Realms, side-by-side with humans, with the half-elves, with Elven kin, even with Sh’dai and others, refusing to go quietly into the night. A passionate people, who often feel their losses keenly and prize loyalty highly, the Grey Elves often live lives “on the edge” as adventurers, rogues, warriors – it is the rare Grey Elf that dies in bed of old age, or rarer yet finds their way to the depths of Faerie. They retain the spontaneity of their Elven kin, but have lost much of the rigid stratification of Elven society. Many Grey Elves lead lives of violence, punctuated by passionate love affairs (or visa-versa), and yearn for a place to call their own – be it a noble title and lands, a thieves guild, or a mercenary company.
Common Backgrounds: The Entertainer, Criminal, Guilded Artisan, Harlot, Noble, and Ordinary Person Backgrounds are the most appropriate for Grey Elves.
Naming Conventions: Like so much else in the Faerie language, Elvish names are fluid and beautiful. Grey Elves have a complicated naming process, much of which is not shared with non-Elves simply because the nuances are often not understood. Given names are made up of several elements and can be quite long, nine or ten syllables is quite common. Surnames and septs are important, as is the relationship to birthright, noble house, though since the rise of the Shadarin they have no Great House of the Elven Court. All of this is described in the following lineal taxonomy, usually presented as a single word:
<Given Name>”<Surname>ʑ(“el”)<Birth Sign>ℓ(not discernable to human ear)<Gens>
With the younger races, Grey Elves will commonly use a shortened version of their Given Name (two or three syllables) and either the Surname or less often their Sept or Noble House. Grey Elves wishing for anonymity with others, Elven or otherwise, will use one of two gens, “Fae’lia” (“Elves of Twilight”) or “Elturin” (Follower of the Stars), as a surname (or a loose translation or one or the two combined for non-Elvish speakers) – though it is considered as rude to not clarify ones actual name if asked as it is to ask for that clarification in the first place. Rank is denoted if needed or desired by various prefixes with varying cases to each Surname, Gens, Sept, and Noble House.
Common Alignments: Commonly Neutral Good, Lawful Neutral, and True Neutral, Grey Elves are uncommonly Lawful Good or Lawful Evil, more uncommonly Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Chaotic Evil. They are rarely Neutral Evil.
Common Religions: Grey Elves invariably follow the same philosophical path or personal spirituality as the rest of their kin, Liavikor or “Ruling Passion” combined with a healthy appreciation of their living ancestors, the Elvandar though they have much less contact with them due to their residence outside of Faerie. That said, Grey Elves are increasingly following the example of their kin the sh’achtar and making various and sundry pacts with powerful spirits and beings outside of the traditional purview of the Fae.
Common Character Classes: Preferred — Fighters, Rogues, Wizards; Common — Bard, Monk, Warlock; Uncommon — Cleric (E’lin), Paladin (Vengeance), Sorcerer (Elven Scion); Rare — Druid, Ranger; Very Rare — Barbarian.
Common Professions: Mercenarys, Spellblades and Battlemages, Rogues of all sorts, Duelists, Tantrics and Courtesans. Grey Elves tend to avoid common trades, but have been known to work as “Fingersmiths” – any skilled profession that involves high levels of manual dexterity like jewelers, locksmiths, clockwork engineers, etc. In general though any trade that does not involve some sort of skill-at-arms is considered somewhat déclassé if it does not involve magery or magic.
Darkvision: Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, Elves have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. Under the light of the stars, they can see perfectly normally, in other conditions they can see in dim light up to 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it was dim light. They cannot discern color in darkness though, only shades of grey.
Keen Senses: Proficiency in the Perception Skill.
Contemplative Artisans: Grey Elves are also artisans that can rival the best of any other race save in one aspect, they are contemplative by nature and producing work takes them five times as long (and often longer, it is not unheard of for a elven fletcher to take a year or more to create a single arrow, working on it “as inspired”) and it also takes them five times the cost. Similarly, it takes them five times as long and cost to learn new tool sets, instruments, etc.
The Dream of Faerie: Elves have Advantage against being charmed and magic cannot put them asleep. Instead of sleep Elves meditate deeply, remaining semi-conscious, for four hours a day. While in this Trance, Elves dream after a fashion, such dreams are mental exercises that have become reflexive after years of practice. After resting this way Elves gain the same benefit as Humans does from 8 hours of sleep.
Elven Birthright: Grey Elves are all born under one of nine birthsigns, each of which gives a boon of a different Cantrip which may be used at will as any other Cantrip. Some elves are known to have different boons, but these are the most common for the various birthsigns.
- Istaria (Spirit) – Guidance – These elves are known to be insightful.
- Firia (Fire) – Produce Flame – These elves are known for being passionate.
- Teria (Earth) – Blade Ward – These elves are known for being dependable.
- Avaria (Air) – Mage Hand – These elves are known for their curiosity.
- Isharia (Water) – Mending – These elves are known for their patience.
- Liaria (Light) – Spare the Dying – These elves are known for their compassion.
- Varia (Darkness) – Chill Touch – These elves are known for their perseverance.
- Lia (Order) – Message – These elves are known for their honor.
- Rania (Chaos) – Resistance – These elves are known for their spontaneity.
Fae Magic: Grey Elves remain deeply magical, they all have two Cantrips, Prestidigitation and True Strike. Unlike other elves they must use material components for their spells (commonly having analogs for wands as part of rings or other jewelry). At 3rd level they may cast Wrathful Strike once per day and at 5th level they may cast Magic Weapon once per day as well. For spellcasters these spells are also always considered memorized and may also be cast using regular spell slots – and are always cast as if at the highest level of effect that the spellcaster can produce.
Born of Faerie: Grey Elves are so deeply imbued with the magic of Faerie that they may also wear Ultra Light, Light, and Medium non-metallic armors and cast spells, or enchanted metallic armors.
Elven Weapon Training: Grey Elves are all trained in the use of Longknife, Shortsword, and Longsword.
Wardancers and Bladesingers: The Grey Elves are masters of fighting with two weapons. They gain a bonus of +1 to AC when wielding a separate melee weapon in either hand. Grey Elves can also draw or store two one-handed weapons when they would normally only be able to draw or store one.
Special Vulnerabilities: Grey Elves suffer from the usual stigma and fears of the Faerie Folk as other elves and are often the first target in any hostilities. Due to their ties to Faerie, Grey Elves are Vulnerable to Cold Iron. Wounds made by Cold-Iron are considered Poisoned and cannot be easily healed. If bound or chained, or otherwise constrained by Cold Iron they are unable to take a Long Rest, and are considered Poisoned.
Psionics: Rapport with other Elves, and those with Elven blood – including many Sh’dai, much to their disdain.
Death: Upon death, the spirit of an Elf goes deeply into the Realm of Faerie where they wait to be reincarnated. They may not be Raised or Resurrected, only True Resurrection (and Revivify) works. If Reincarnated they invariably come back as an Elf.