Brief History
Elvish oral histories speak of a time when all elves lived together in a distant land, in harmony with nature and themselves. Discord supposedly arose when the ancient elves began splitting into factions: one believed that elvenkind was inherently evil, and strove to contain this evil nature with laws and a structured society, while the other held that elves were inherently good and trusted them to act on their instincts without recourse to law and organization.

There may be a germ of truth in this, as it does explain the difference between the two major groups of elves, the light and the dark. The names arose because of minor differences in skin tone, though the genetic differences between the two groups are nil. Both existed in the oral histories of the other, despite immense geographical isolation: the first recorded meeting between light and dark elves took place only in recent times.

“Light” elves
As early as the third century of the recorded era, advanced elvish civilizations had begun to arise on the western seaboard of the major continent. Beginning as a series of petty kingdoms, over the course of centuries the various elvish principalities were united under a single king. While the dynasties in power changed relatively frequently, a light elvish king remained on the throne until the very recent era of revolutions.

However, increasing dogmatism and a rigid hierarchy eventually led this sophisticated civilization to stagnate. While the light elvish kingdom was the most technologically advanced in the world at one point, by the dawn of the modern era it was weak and suffered invasion and strife on an unprecedented scale. Only recently has progress been made in forging the light elves into a modern nation state.

“Dark” elves
While a number of powerful dark elven kingdoms rose and fell on the minor continent, they never approached the size or complexity of the light elves’. By and large, most of the dark elves lived in small groups, widely scattered, living as hunters, gatherers, or farmers.

This lack of centralized states left the dark elves vulnerable to conquest from abroad, and following the reestablishment of contact between the major and minor continents, they were largely subjugated by human and dwarvish conquerors. The elves were decimated in battle, and their numbers have remained low ever since, largely supplanted by settlers from the major continent.

Biological Sketch
Elves, like humans, range considerably in height, though they are generally of slender build. While strong, they lack the constitution of humans, dwarves, and orcs and must make up for their disadvantage in strength through their lithe nature and rigorous training. Skin tone ranges are similar to those of humans, with light elves tending toward lighter colors and dark elves toward a tanner complexion.

Elves have slow and difficult pregnancies; gestation lasts fourteen to eighteen months on average, and there is a refraction period of 2-4 years before another pregnancy is possible. Elvish children also mature very slowly, typically reaching adulthood at thirty to thirty-five years. Their slow metabolism gives elves significant resistance to poison and environmental toxins, however, and also greatly increases their lifespan, which is two hundred years on average. No upper limit is known; exceptionally hardy elves have been known to live over a thousand years, though documentation is difficult to come by.

Cultural Notes
Elvish cultures are often collectivist, focusing on the good of the group over that of the individual. Many dark elves lack personal names, substituting some earned deed or distinction instead. Both “light” and “dark” elvish cultures tend toward xenophobia and isolation, and while they have never been known to enslave or conquer other races (preferring suzerainty), many elvish cultures still hold them in low esteem.

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