Roses of Britain
Ability Scores: +2 Constitution; +2 Wisdom or +2 Charisma
Speed: 6 squares
Languages: English, Elven, choice of one other
Skill Bonuses: +2 Diplomacy, +2 Insight
Dual Heritage: See Player’s Handbook pg. 42 or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 252.
Group Diplomacy: See Player’s Handbook pg. 42 or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 252.
Knack for Success: See Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 252.
After the elves departed the Feywild to settle on Earth, it was a foregone conclusion that their race would eventually come into contact with humans, no matter how carefully they concealed themselves in their forest enclaves. (See Eladrin for a more detailed description of the early history of the elves.) From the time that the elves first appeared in Albion nearly ten thousand years ago, their relationship with the island’s humans was characterized by wariness and sporadic conflict. However, amidst the broken pledges and the endless disputes over game and timber, a few elves and humans were drawn to one another out of awe, admiration, and, eventually, longing. The ambition, earnestness, and boundless adaptability of the humans caught the eye of elves that were dissatisfied with their race’s traditional way of life. Meanwhile, humans who mastered their dread of the untamed wilderness were drawn to the elves’ primal allure and deep fondness for the pleasures of life.
Half-elves were the predictable product of such rare but passionate human-elf pairings. The first half-elves to appear in Albion established a place for themselves that would be the norm for members of their race for millennia. Not fully belonging to the culture of either parent, yet possessing a bold streak of natural charisma, most half-elves fell naturally into the role of the leader, conciliator, peacemaker, or envoy. Blessed with an uncanny ability to win the confidence of others, half-elves often found themselves at the center momentous events, even as their natural restlessness spurred them to perpetually seek out fresh allies and challenges.
Unlike the elves, the ever-adaptable half-elves were not drastically affected by the clearing of Albion’s forests to make way for humankind’s burgeoning numbers. The fortunes of the half-elves rose and fell over the millennia, arguably reaching their peak from the first century B.C. through thirteenth century A.D., when Britain’s elves maintained an oath-sworn peace with the Brythonic and Welsh kings of old. It was during this era that traces of fey blood trickled into the pedigrees of the ancient nobility, as many half-elves married into powerful human households. The House of Tudor itself is whispered to bear fey heritage through such half-elven ancestors. While King Henry’s assumption of the Crown has not restored the former era of human-elven peace, the half-elves have fared better than their full-blooded elven kin under his rule.
Place in the World
Oddly enough, more than two centuries of chilly relations between England’s humans and elves appears to have enhanced the standing of half-elves in English society. The enduring tension between the two races has resulted in an environment where half-elves are regularly called upon to act as emissaries and mediators. Nobles, bishops, and affluent merchants in woodland areas rely upon half-elves to contend with local elves on their behalf, and the elves in turn expect their half-blood kin to represent their interests among the humans. Many half-elves willingly serve as go-betweens in human-elven affairs, but others prefer to steer clear of the racial, political, and sectarian pitfalls in such dealings. Members of the race tend to be too independent to be flattered or shamed into resolving conflicts when they have no clear stake in the outcome.
Despite the slow, steady curdling of elven and human goodwill in the present era, half-elven births in the Kingdom of England do not seem to have diminished by any significant measure. As might be expected, half-elves are normally found in areas where humans and elves are most likely to encounter one another, such as along the margins of great forests, especially in the less rugged southern country of the Kingdom. Members of the race do not build their own settlements, but instead blend into the fabric of the local human or elven population. The rare half-elf with a deep affinity for their fey blood usually dwells among elves in a secluded forest enclave. However, most English half-elves are drawn to the bustle of town and city life, where they can most easily encounter a diversity of people, sights, and wares. This longing for novel experiences also lures half-elves to some unusual and treacherous locales. Many adventurers have been astonished to encounter a half-elf dwelling on a remote island or lonely mountaintop, thriving under conditions that a human would not tolerate.
English humans are generally accepting of half-elves, having grown accustomed to the presence of such half-bloods over thousands of years. Half-elves seem closer to their own race than to the mysterious and feral elves, and few humans who encounter a half-elf can deny their effortless charm. Many English are admiring and envious of the natural robustness and youthful vigor that half-elves boast, and members of the race are highly prized as officers for armies, ships, and religious orders. Nonetheless, there remains a stubborn fringe of nobles and clergy who are mistrustful of half-elves, regarding them as a latent heathen threat to Christendom.
The greatest half-elf heroes are typically bards or warlocks, although members of the race also excel as paladins and sorcerers. Most English half-elves are at least nominally Christian in the present era. Members of the race long ago recognized that the worship of Jesus and His Saints was the path of least resistance in a human-dominated kingdom so tightly entwined with the Christian church. Most half-elves who follow a particular Christian saint venerate Mary the Blessed Virgin or St. Nicholas. Those half-elves that move frequently between the worlds of humans and the elves are known to worship the pagan Mabinogi as secondary patrons, the better to smooth relations with their elven kin. Naturally, such heretical beliefs are kept well-hidden.