Roses of Britain
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity; +2 Intelligence or +2 Wisdom
Speed: 7 squares
Languages: English, Elven
Skill Bonuses: +2 Nature, +2 Perception
Elven Weapon Proficiency: See Player’s Handbook pg. 40 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 260.
Fey Origin: See Player’s Handbook pg. 40 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 260.
Group Awareness: See Player’s Handbook pg. 40 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 260.
Wild Step: See Player’s Handbook pg. 40 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 260.
Elven Accuracy: See Player’s Handbook pg. 40 or Heroes of the Fallen Lands pg. 260.
It is believed that the eladrin, elves, and drow all descend from an ancestral fey race known as the Youthful Ones. (See Eladrin for a more detailed description of the early history of all three races.) When Earth and Faerie began to drift apart, the Youthful Ones that had survived the treachery of the drow differed on the best course for their race’s survival. The eladrin chose to remain in the Feywild, but the elves settled on Earth, finding refuge in the primeval forests of the ancient world. Among the gnarled trunks and beneath the verdant canopies, they concealed their peaceful enclaves from the prying eyes of other races. Forsaking their ancestor’s knowledge of arcane power, the elves embraced a deeper understanding of the world’s primal currents, allowing them to preserve a whisper of their connection to the Feywild.
Elven enclaves first appeared in Albion nearly ten thousand years ago, when vast forests of oak, beech, and ash still covered the landscape. These dense and trackless wilds were mysterious to other races, but they provided a welcoming home for the elves. Proud and protective of their privacy, the elves were wary in their dealings with the other races of ancient Albion. The halflings eventually proved to be amicable allies and lucrative trading partners, but relations between elves and humans were always uneasy. Bloody skirmishes would erupt wherever Albion’s humans—lured by plentiful game and timber—encroached too deeply or too rapidly into the elves’ wooded dominions. Meanwhile, the elves reserved their most bitter enmity for the the orcs, who routinely marauded down from the forlorn hill country in search of plunder, setting flame to the sacred groves and trampling everything in their path.
Elven fortunes in Albion began a long, gradual decline about six thousand years ago, as human populations burgeoned and the widespread clearing of the island’s primordial forests commenced. Despite their fierce guardianship of their territory, the elves found themselves in a position of retreat and retrenchment against the vastly more numerous humans. Eventually, the elves reached a fragile peace with the Brythonic hero-king Llud in first century B.C., in spite of his reputation as a mighty warrior and a restless builder of cities. When Llud was forced to seal the rebellious Dragon Tyrant Ddraig Goch in the Underdark, the king discovered that he could no longer rely upon his throne’s traditional dragon allies. Freshly vulnerable, Llud sued for peace with the elves, swearing that his bloodline would honor their race’s ancestral claims to Britain’s forests, an oath he affirmed when he ascended to godhood.
For thirteen centuries, the human and elves maintained a guarded and respectful distance from one another, an arrangement that weathered the rule of both Roman generals and Saxon barons. However, this era of accord shattered in 1283 upon the execution of of Dafydd ap Gruffydd, last of Llud’s descendents, by the dreaded English king Edward I the Longshanks. In the following centuries, the Christian kings of England clashed repeatedly with the elves, even as the War of the Roses rent the Kingdom asunder. The ascension of Henry Tudor to the throne gave English elves hope that a modest peace with the humans would return. The king, after all, boasted a trace of Llud’s blood in his veins, and had relied on his pedigree to restore the Crown’s control of England’s dragonkind. Unfortunately, Henry has proven just as grasping as his predecessors, and just as willing to disregard elven concerns when it suits his ambitions.
Place in the World
England’s elves have been embroiled in a cold war with the kingdom’s human monarchs for over two hundred years, a state of affairs that has markedly eroded the meager goodwill that once existed between the races. Elves tend to mistrust the aggressive and covetous ways of humans, and they view it as their race’s duty to jealously protect the remaining forests of England. However, the situation is more complex in practice, and humankind’s unstoppable encroachment on the wild and sacred places has resulted in rifts within elven society. Many elves pragmatically acknowledge that they are outnumbered by the humans, and that fealty to the English king is an unwelcome but necessary concession for their race’s survival and prosperity. Indeed, many of King Henry’s royal foresters are elves who have sworn an oath of loyalty to the Crown, and who use their positions to ensure the preservation of their beloved woods. Meanwhile, other elves have vowed to defy the reach of King Henry to their dying breath. They dwell as outlaws in the deepest wilds, conducting raids on lumber camps, mining outposts, and the hunting estates of the nobility. The outlook of most elves lies somewhere between these two poles, for while they value the freedom of the untamed wilderness, they are reluctant to engage in open, armed rebellion.
The population of elves in England has been diminishing for millennia, just as the kingdom’s ancient forests have declined under an onslaught of human axes. However, the elves remain a widespread race within the Kingdom, particularly in the less rugged regions of the south. Compared to the sprawling, bustling settlements of humankind, the forest enclaves of the elves are small and unobtrusive, often secreted away in lush clearings or perched high among the treetops. Elves generally prefer the harmony and seclusion of the wild to the civilized world beyond, but they are also a curious and adventurous race, and therefore a familiar sight in settlements that lie near forests. Human attitudes towards the elves are conflicted and contradictory. Most humans hold the race’s affinity for archery and woodcraft in high esteem, yet view them as a rebellious and sensual people, relics of a pagan past that have no place in an ordered Christendom. The Kingdom’s human authorities regard even small bands of armed elves as a threat, but solitary members of the race can usually travel through settled areas without attracting undue attention to themselves.
The majority of elves follow the path of the druid, ranger, or seeker, all of which suit their natural agility and sensitivity to the natural world. They also excel as avengers, although the single-minded zeal demanded of the class is not a common trait among either pagan or Christian elves. Other classes that elves favor include the cleric, invoker, rogue, and shaman. The majority of elves are pagans who worship the one of Mabinogi, most commonly Llud, who is still revered for his role as an honorable peacemaker and a heroic guardian of Britain. However, Christian elves are not unheard of in England, particularly among those members of the race who venture beyond their enclaves and into civilized areas. Worship of Jesus or St. Nicholas is most common among such Christian elves.