The Dark Elves, Those Below, Those Who Have Turned to Evil, The Accursed. These are the names given by surfacers to the obsidian-skinned elves who dwell in cities hidden in the Deep. Mysterious, elegant, dark and deadly, they are feared and hated by all the races of Layonara. They are masters of magic and treachery, trusted by none, not even each other.
When Dark Elves come to the surface to raid, they come at night, and every child of Layonara has heard the whispered tales of the Dark Ones even before they have been officially warned of Those Below.
Ages past, Dark Elves were already known to be a proud and warlike race, attacking their neighbors for power and wealth, or other, more insidious gains. However, after The Betrayal by the other Elven Clans around the year -2311, they were led below ground by a Dark Elven hero, Baraeon Ca'duz. With the help of Pyrtechon, Baraeon taught his people to thrive in their new subterranean home, the Deep.
Their warlike nature had not changed after The Descent, and it did not take them long to start to establish their own territories in the vast reaches of the Deep, often capturing settlements of other species and enslaving them in the process. However, they also fought among themselves for control of their new found realm, and as no Dark Elf trusts another, this led to the numerous independent city-states where most Dark Elves dwell today.
The Dark Elf deities, Vierdri'ira and Baraeon Ca'duz continuously strive to prove themselves better than the other. This is reflected in the personality of the Dark Elves as well. Females think they are better than males, and vice versa.
Dark Elves enjoy magic, especially releasing its power. They also love sculptures or other crafted items (especially well-made lethal weapons). They also admire physical beauty; Dark Elves are proud of their physique and do not hesitate to show it. This has also led to the custom of slaying all newborns with physical deficiencies.
Dark Elves are always in search of more personal power. Therefore, they do not trust other Dark Elves. Instead, they strive to weaken or eliminate their rivals to gain a greater advantage. This is not just the case between cities, but also in the politics of the various noble Houses inside a certain city, or even within a House itself. It is this internal strife between the Dark Elves themselves which keeps the surface races safer than they would be if the Dark Elves were united. On the occasions some Dark Elf cities did unite, they wreaked great destruction, as the capture of the human city of Westgate in the year -103 and the destruction of Port Hempstead in 834 can attest to. If all the Houses of a single city were to unite for one purpose, they could bring cities like Hlint and Haven to their knees.
Dark Elves also do not trust other races. They accept none as superior to theirs, although they may admit some races, such as Illithid or Deep Dwarves, are almost equals. Treaties with these races are usually born through hard bargaining and mutual-gain agreements. Dark Elves will negotiate with other (lesser) species, but will break such agreements at the moment they are no longer beneficial. To the Dark Elves, bargains with lesser races are not considered to be binding. Most races have learned by now that they should be prepared for treachery when, not if, it comes.
Dark Elves are a lot like surface elves, they tend to be lithe, slim, and graceful in their build, movements and appearance. The most striking thing that sets them apart from the surface elves is their obsidian skin. Also, females tend to be bigger and stronger than males. Because of this females tend to be the better fighter, but males tend to be the better mage.
The second thing that sets them apart from surface elves is their eyes. Dark Elf eyes are usually red, but green, brown, or black eyes are not uncommon. When angered or upset, all Dark Elf eyes tend to turn redder.
Thirdly, most Dark Elves have white hair, tending a bit towards yellow for females and towards gray for males as they get older. Occasionally, a Dark Elf can have silver or copper-hued hair.
Dark Elves can generally live as long as surface Elves can, and they do not show their age until about their 600th year.
Relations with Dark Elves:
Dark Elf cities are ruled by a council of noble Houses, the Talthara. Every city has its First Patriarch and its First Matriarch, who preside over the Talthara (but not necessarily comply with its wishes). The Patriarch is always a cleric of Baraeon Ca'duz, and the Matriarch is always a cleric of Vierdri'ira. They need not be from the same House, although every House strives to occupy both positions for ultimate supremacy.
Each House also has its Matriarch and Patriarch, who together rule a House. However, because of the gender struggles inherent in Dark Elf society, it is unlikely that a House occupies both First positions on the Talthara, since a strong House Matriarch does not often condone a strong Patriarch in her own House.
Two other powerful positions in a Dark Elf city are those of Archmage and Warmistress.
Since males are more adept at magic, the Archmage is always a male. The Warmistress is always female, since females tend to be of bigger build. The Archmage and Warmisstress are the most important advisors to the First Matriarch and First Patriarch. In general, the House who provides a First Matriarch or First Patriarch will also try to control one of these positions. Of course, the other Houses are not likely to just allow this to happen.
The Houses continually vie for supremacy in the Talthara, as well as for wealth and power. This struggle for power is also apparent between Dark Elf cities. Plans to increase Dark Elf power and influence are usually made by Houses who are already in excellent position, and who have nothing to lose in the plan.
The surface world is hardly aware of the nature of Dark Elven society.
The exact number and location of Dark Elven cities is subject to speculation. Even the Dark Elves themselves likely do not know exactly how many cities there are, due to the vastness of the Deep and its ever changing caves and corridors.
Relations with other races:
Most dealings between Dark Elf cities and surfacers involve the slave trade. Dark Elves usually have goblinoid slaves, such as goblins, orcs and hobgoblins. Kobolds are considered too small, agile and independent to make good slaves. Human slaves are valued, but considered dangerous if they are trained fighters or magic-users. Slaves who are adept at crafting are valued highly, but most do not last long in the the Deep.
With regard to other races, dwarves, humans, and of course the darthir (a word meaning both Surface Elf as well as Traitor in Dark Elf language) are traditional Dark Elf enemies on the surface. As far as other Deep races go, Illithid and Deep Dwarf are traded with but never trusted or befriended, and there is no race a Dark Elf enjoys killing so much as a Deep Gnome.
The vast majority of Dark Elves are evil. There are a few neutral or good Dark Elves, but these almost never survive past childhood in the twisted, cruel society of Dark Elven cities.
All PC Dark Elves must be submitted as one of the following alignments: True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil. The lone exception to this rule is if a Dark Elf is submitted as a cleric of Az'atta, in which case they may submit with a Good alignment.
Dark Elven Lands:
Dark Elf cities can be found throughout the Deep. A few locations are known, but there are probably more. Rumor has it that there is a city made of good Dark Elves, refugees from their vicious society, but that may be a myth.
Vierdri'ira and Baraeon Ca'duz (those who fail The Test are killed or transformed), see also the entries for both deities). Little is known or disclosed about this Test until the time of taking it comes upon the individual dark elf. It is suspected that those so tested are examined directly by one of the deities in order to ensure there's no possibility of betrayal. One dark elf who did take the Test was later forced to become a surface dweller and has spoken a little of his ordeal. If his words are any indication, the Test delves into the deepest fears, and the most closely held secrets, of the individual. That which most affects the psyche of any given dark elf belongs to the dark elf deities to use as they wish.
Before the treachery of Az'atta, the Dark Elven deities did not yet make a distinction on being a purely male or female faith. However, after being betrayed by Az'atta, Baraeon had his male followers expel or kill all of his female clerics as act of vengeance for Az'atta's betrayal.This then led to Vierdri'ira expelling all her male followers, who then turned to Baraeon Ca'duz, further polarizing Dark Elf society.
Dark Elves have their own language, also known as "Deep"?, which does not resemble the language spoken by the Surface Elves except in eloquence and musical inflection. All Dark Elves also learn "The Silent Language",? a kind of "hand code" as detailed as spoken language. The Silent Language is used to communicate when silence is needed. This language, which requires a lot of tutoring, is a requirement before any Dark Elf is allowed to accompany a raiding party.
Then there is the third, almost archaic language of "High Deep." This language is known and used only by the high clergy.
Player character Dark Elves will not be given the ability to speak languages other than Common, Elven or Dark Elven, unless they are clearly defined in the character submission biography. Player character Dark Elves will also know the Silent Language, but there is currently no in-game equivalent of this. Clerics following Vierdri'ira or Bareaon Ca'duz will know High Deep, but there is no in-game equivalent of this either.
Player characters must have a minimum intelligence of 12 to be fluent in another language.
- Dark Elven
- The Silent Language
- Other Languages:
- Deep Dwarven
- High Deep (cleric only, for rituals)
Dark Elves are named at birth by their mothers. Like their Elven cousins, Dark Elves prefer names that flow off the tongue; however, their names tend to have a harsher sound to them. Names reflect and represent the race's attitudes and philosophies and usually consist of a prefix and one or more suffixes.
Female Names: Zaraun (Zar meaning shadow, aun meaning dancer/player), Jyslin (Jys meaning hard/steel/unyielding, lin meaning arm/armor/commander).
Male names: Quillyn (Quil meaning mighty, lyn meaning assassin/killer)
Dark Elves do not often leave their cities by themselves to adventure. However, sometimes they are cast out (if they somehow avoid being simply killed) and make their way through the Deep, and sometimes even to the surface.
- Dark elf is a subrace, please see the subrace system page for more information about subraces.
- Use the Elf NWN standard race for character creation.
- NWN syntax entered into Subrace Field:
- Racial Qualities: