From: Chris Anderson
Subject: Re: The Haughtiness of Elves [LONG]
One good example deserves another... here's the attitudes from my campaign. Note: I do not consider elves to be evil either, and I use a modified Birthright Elf for the dominant strain in Celene. I also use the "Vecna destroyed the Elven Cities" concept from Tamerlain's timeline.
The Gravediggers Campaign
You're an Elf. First-born of the world. Your ancestors were here when the Dragons and Titans battled for dominance. In times more ancient than memory, your predecessors fought to make the Flanaess safe for all Elves, and in doing so, for all civilized peoples.
You're 300 years old. Barely into your adult years. In your great-grandparent's time (over 1500 years ago) the Flanaess was the cradle of Elven civilization, with glittering cities scattered across the continent, and enjoying a long period of peace and prosperity. The hateful Drow had been put down long before in the Chaos Wars, and the many other Good races in the Flanaess enjoyed the fruits of the Elven civilization. In this time, Celene was a rather rural, backwards place of great natural beauty, but little culture or learning. Of no comparison to the great cities of the Elves.
Then came Vecna.
Originally tutored by the Elves in the Arts, this hateful human had turned on his benefactors and warred against the People. As powerful as Elven Magic was, it could not withstand the viciousness and raw aptitude that Vecna brought to the Arts. He delved into areas which no Elven Mage of Power would dare. He bought Power with unspeakable acts, and made pacts with Forces that should never be thought of or named, much less summoned and bargained with.
City after City fell. Cities which had taken millenia of effort by hundreds or thousands of Elves -- each one designed to be more beautiful and grand than any other. Ground to dust under the unrelenting force of Vecna's power. Treasures which had taken millenia to create were destroyed in moments by savages too barbaric to even understand what they were destroying. Children who had known nothing but joy and delight for all of their lives were raped and tortured by Vecna's soldiers and then sold into slavery and abuse for the price of a loaf of bread.
It went on and on. Every Elven city or nation who dared to oppose Vecna, to avenge themselves, were ground into dust. No Elven House or family in all the Flanaess was unaffected, save for the unspeakable Drow.
And Celene. The Elves of Celene had withdrawn into the fastnesses of their forest and hidden from the might of Vecna. No challenge did they offer, no vengeance did they take. They were fugitives in their own land. At first this was considered a treasonous act by the other Kingdoms of the Elves -- cowardice in the extreme. Yet in the end, Celene survived and the others did not. Across the Flanaess, the only Elves who survived were those who did not go openly into battle, or who fled battle to hide.
Vecna eventually passed. During the same time, came the rampaging Suloise.
Their wandering Houses did not match the power of Vecna, but the Elves were broken and wandering as well. The Suloise killed and destroyed what they found, and the Elves hid again. Only Celene maintained its borders -- militantly watched this time. When the Twin Cataclysm's flared, most Elves heaved a sigh of relief that one more threat had been eliminated. Celene watched and waited.
The Oeridians came, and this time the Elves of the Flanaess were forced to treat with them. With humans. The same race which had caused so much woe. Thankfully, the Oeridians proved to be much more reasonable than the Suloise. The Kingdom of Aerdy was born, and slowly the Elves slipped back from their dens and hiding places to form small communities and mix with the humans.
Celene did not. They had no desire to mix with humans, whether or not they were better or worse than Vecna or the Suloise. If a Vecna could happen once, it could happen again. Humans were not to be trusted or mixed with. Certainly they were never to be allowed in Celene.
Time passed, and a younger generation came to power. They had been raised on the tales of Vecna and seen the effects on their families. Yet at the same time, they had seen for themselves humans living in peace with Elves and other demi-humans in other areas of the Flanaess. Their feelings were mixed. Most felt that humans were not to be trusted or mixed with. A minority felt that they should be exterminated. Another minority thought that Celene should deal with the humans in trade and politics. They were few, though.
More time passed, and the second generation past Vecna came of age. The Hateful Wars occurred. If humans did not help with the threat of the Pomarj, at least they did not fight on the side of the Goblinoids. Again Celene defended it's borders, and again the foe was thrown back. To the West, the Ulek States were rising and were providing an object lesson in Elven and Human accord. Tales of High Folk filtered in, where humans and Elves lived peacefully together.
Yet there were those who still lived that had seen the horror of Vecna personally. And their children who had heard the tales of Vecna and seen the Suloise. Celene was the last precious jewel of Elven civilization left in the Flanaess. It would be criminal to risk it so soon after it was threatened. And to mix with humans? The destroyers of so many Elven kindred? That would be betrayal in the extreme of all those who died and suffered in the Wars Against Vecna. No! The borders would remain closed.
This is the state of affairs as of 579CY in my campaign. The borders are closed to human entry. However, there is a growing sentiment among some of the population that there should be more contact with humanity -- even to the extent of humans living within the borders. The vast majority of Elves believe in isolation from humanity, and there is a strong vocal minority that agitate towards more extreme measures as an act of vengeance against the race that spawned Vecna.
The Lady Yolande believes that Celene will not be able to isolate itself from the rest of the Flanaess for too much longer, as Elves reckon time. Yet, as Elves reckon time, that may be for several centuries longer. The factions jockey for position of influence in the Elven Court, and "the human question" is not yet settled.