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D&D 3E
Worlds with major elven kingdoms 
26th-Dec-2007 11:25 pm
Grinning Revi!  ^_^
I've been rereading Lost Empires of Faerun while coing campaign planning, and I idly started reading the section on the Crown Wars and got drawn into it. To me at least it's a fascinating history and a fascinating vision of the development of the elves politically and socially. The idea of powerful elf kingdoms like Aryvandaar, Illefarn, Shantel Othreier, and so on, and later on Cormanthyr, really appeals to me, and yet you don't really see this kind of thing in campaign settings too often. In the Faerun setting, the elven realms as such have all but disappeared by what is canonically considered "the present day." The same seems to be true for other campaign settings; Greyhawk is by all accounts a very humanocentric world, with elves (and for that matter all the non-human humanoids) being comparatively uncommon if not rare. I have no idea how Dragonlance manages this, although Eberron seems to have given the elves a fair deal of play, from what I've heard of it.

Can anyone tell me if they have set their games in a world (whether FR, Greyhawk, homebrew, or something else completely) where the elves were still relatively powerful, and had their own countries and how it worked out? For those of you who have done homebrews, how have you managed this kind of question? Are elves wanderers without countries, rulers of realms, or both?
27th-Dec-2007 09:08 am (UTC)
I've got elves, that are native to woodlands, ice north, underground, and the "high" elves. They have communities of varying power with distinct power structures. In my world there is a half-elf who is king of the human lands, also sorta of king/steward of the halfling lands, and, because his mother was a high elf princess, a sort of duke of the elf lands. So the three races are much more interrelated than they would be were it not for the half-elf king. The elves mostly keep to themselves but there are enough wandering/adventuring/find-there-own-way-through-trade-and-entertainment elves in the non-elf lands that the elf presence is common enough. There are numerous villages that are almost all human, but the major human cities are maybe 30-40% otherkin with lots of dwarves, elves, halflings, and to a lesser extent orcs, goblins, etc.
27th-Dec-2007 09:46 am (UTC)
I ran a game advanced from the "commonly-held present day" in which after the elves went to the west, other explorers decided to explore the seas there and found that the elves had already set up shop. It was a pirate game in which the elves(grey elves) had a totalitarian control over the seas, shipping, and all other aspects the the players had to sail through. But it was far from the typical sylvan setting.
27th-Dec-2007 10:06 am (UTC)
The last campaign I ran had one group of elves as the masters of a crumbling, decaying empire and another group leading a young, burgeoning democracy (having been on the losing side of a civil war in the empire and wandering off in exile to found their own nation). The story of the campaign revolved around the elves of the empire selling out to dark powers in order to regain their former glory, while the elven-led melting-pot nation fought against them. The campaign didn't last very long, but in the end I planned for the elves to to be decimated by the conflict, causing those few who survived to remove themselves from the world they nearly destroyed with their arrogance.
27th-Dec-2007 02:08 pm (UTC)
In my world, there are two elven kingdoms in the local area: The Wood Elves have very little political power and generally keep to themselves; Sea elves on the other hand are a major political power, controlling a huge chunk of local trade.

There's also a major elven empire, ruling over other races with an iron fist, but they're off-map so far. I suspect that a future adventure might involve ending their tyranny.
27th-Dec-2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
I run a game loosely based on the legends of King Arthur. I have elves, dwarves, gnomes, and the like. The lands of Britain and Europe are ruled by humans. However, there is a separate realm running parallel to our own reality ruled by the elves, who are almost godlike in their power. They are at war with the hobgoblins, twisted elves who rule the Unseelie Court. They also once ruled an empire on the land of Britain before they were driven to their current home by the arrival of the firbolgs, Milesians, and later humankind. Yes, much of the world is humanocentric, but the elves exert much influence from their own realm in the Kingdom of Faerie, or Sidhe. They dabble in political machinations, and their greatest triumph in this regard is yet to come: placing Arthur on the throne of Britain. They are constantly sending agents to influence affairs in Britain because they still have interests there despite having been driven to Sidhe. I'd say it works out quite well. Any time I have a player who wants to play an elf, I inform that player of his "secret mission," and things get really interesting really fast.
27th-Dec-2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
In Dragonlance (at least the original novels and modules), the elven kingdoms are perfectly alive and kicking.

I once ran a game where all the players were elves, working within an elvish kingdom--I remember I had set up a kind of village society (perfect for low-level characters), and they were journeying through the endless forest looking for adventurers and stuff. That game didn't last long though: We tended to switch games pretty regularly in those days.

My last game had elves as a race who were at war with the human invaders--there was all kinds of animosity between the races. The elves has a kingdom which the PCs visited briefly. It worked just fine--basically it was like a human kingdom, but in a forest.
27th-Dec-2007 06:27 pm (UTC)
In my homebrew, the elves have a decent sized nation, but tend to keep to themselves within it to avoid being drawn into the chaos and violence they see in the rest of the world.
27th-Dec-2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
I run a Kalamar campaign (it's become my realm of choice now) and while Tellene is fairly humanocentric, the Elves do have established realms and borders. Even the Dark Elves (who have a very will written and non-cliche history) have their dealings within and without their realm.
27th-Dec-2007 09:30 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I'll have to take a closer look at Eberron. What was it about the dark elves there that was well-written and non-cliche? (I'm something of a drow fan, even though the dark elf emo thing can get tiresome, even when it's well played.)
28th-Dec-2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
Well, first of the history goes into how one of the evil gods got a Twilight Elf noble to start a war with her kin that led to an Exodus that led what became the Drow underground. Kalamar has a "shared" pantheon, so Elves and Men can worship the same diety -- they just use different names -- so there's no Lolth. The influence is subtle and she slowly changes the society over the course of millenia to make the Drow insular to the point of xenophobia. Then there's a civil war among the Drow and the remaining Twilight Elves that ends with the death of the second Empress and drives the Dark Elves deeper beneath the earth.

In the end, the Drow, while still Chaotic and Evil, broke away from the god that brought them there, and are slightly more liberal. This includes the inclusion of more Neutral gods into society and some establishing of trade with the surface world.

It's kind of like China just after Nixon visited it.

But I think what really makes the Kalamar Drow (and the sourcebook about them) non-cliche is that they're not just evil for evil's sake. You get to see just how it all goes down and where the Drow *may* be going in the future.

The book is called "Blood & Shadows" by Kenzer and Company. I don't think it's available on their site any more since the D&D 3.X licensing expired, but if you can grab a copy just to leaf through it, sit down and give it a read.
28th-Dec-2007 11:12 pm (UTC)
Hah... I just realized you weren't talking about Eberron. I thought to myself, "Huh, Kalamar, that sounds like the name of an Eberron country..." Interesting stuff. I'll have to see if I can still scrounge up some of those old Kalamar books. Otherwise, I might have to start buying Hackmaster products. :D
29th-Dec-2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
I was never a big fan of Eberron. Plus there's the fact that the "winner" of the "realm contest" has done several freelance projects for WotC prior to that. I would have thought that such involvement would have disqualified Baker.

But with Kalamar -- if you can get the Campaign Guide (oop) and the Atlas (also oop) and the Player's Guide to the Sovereign Lands (available as PDF). You'll have MORE than enough info for a campaign. That said when 5th ed Hackmaster comes out Kalamar will be the setting. :)
27th-Dec-2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
i tend to run heavily-modified Scarred Lands from SSS. There are three "nations" of elves -- High (Forsaken), Wood, and Dark Elves. Each has a functioning culture, a homeland, and influences on the world around them. There are also the two different half-elf communities -- the Traveler Elves and the Metis -- who have their own social roles, society, and place in the world.
27th-Dec-2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, and in the world I play in on Tuesdays, the Elves are a very insular kingdom with closed borders.
28th-Dec-2007 10:19 am (UTC)
I guess elf personality lends itself to "insular... with closed borders," doesn't it? Whether established campaign or custom made, most elf societies seem to go that way.
28th-Dec-2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
Most of it has to do with the human invasion from another dimension, as well as the fact that Lycanthropy is A) running rampant and unchecked through the world, and B) extremely fatal to demihumans.
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