Complete Book of Elves by ProfessorCirno
Let me tell you about my elven fanfictionOriginal SA post Complete Book of Elves: Let me tell you about my elven fanfiction
This picture is a sign of things to come. And a sign of things not to come.
We start off the introduction with some fucking awesome artwork of an elf who's just going to ruin your day. Days. All the days. This is something relatively common in the book actually - there's a good number of pictures of elven warriors about to wreck your ass, far more then there are picture of dandy fancy foppish elves, which I greatly appreciate. This picture is also lying because this book as some very clear ideas on what elves are and are not, and this picture sits in the latter.
We also hit our first problem in the book. Ok, you know how books and chapters love to open up with some first person perspective fluff?
We do not deign to acknowledge the slanderous propaganda spread by the stunted humans who call themselves dwarves. The little miners have always had a rather, shall we say, biased outlook on history and the true workings of reality. They call themselves the finest creatures to grace the worlds with bodies like that, we suppose one would have to have an active fantasy life.
For those graced with true vision, Elves comprise the finest race in all the worlds. We are that which other races aspire to be: Our longevity, our beauty, and our craftsmanship are all the stuff of legends. Certainly, each of these attributes can be recreated in some fashion by the lesser races, but theirs is an artifice of face and form and creation never as fine as those that come naturally to us.
Our lives are long and filled with happiness, for we recognize the impermanence of all things, excepting ourselves. Indeed, we do not suffer death as do the mortals. Only through violence, accident, or disease do we die at all.
Although we vanish from the ken of mortal knowledge after hundreds of years of existence in this plane, you may rest assured that we continue on elsewhere. Even those who perish on the battlefield do not truly die, but instead become part of the earth's cycle of growth and rebirth. Our spirits linger on, for we are intimately tied to the world and its core. Indeed, we are the integral part of that core.
We would turn now to other matters, for to continue on in this vein would, no doubt, lead you to believe that we are boasting of elven prowess. We do not boast. Anyone who has seen even the slightest fraction of elven ability knows the truth of what we say within these pages.
Yes, we are a proud race, but do we not have just cause? Are we not Elves—creatures of most wondrous might? Simply understand that we are what we are and that nothing you can do will change us—then may we become good friends. But beware: We are a complex race, and the workings of our lives will ever be a mystery to you, our dreams foreign from yours. You will never truly understand us, no matter how you try.
Enigmatic and powerful, elves have dominated the fantasy landscape for years. Although their civilizations and powers have always been a mystery to those who travel in the realms of fantasy, their influence is undeniably strong. Abandoned cities, lost technology, forgotten lore . . . all these things and more lie within the mystique of the elves. Their land, their culture, and their philosophy remain cryptic mysteries to those not blessed with the love of elves.
No longer. With The Complete Book of Elves, many of the elves' mysteries are open for perusal. But take care with the information gleaned; some secrets of the elven way of life still remain hidden—knowledge forever forsworn from non-elves. Be forewarned: The pieces of fact and fiction learned within can, if incorrectly applied, spell destruction for those who misuse this knowledge.
See the problem? Only 3/4ths of that was in character . And you aren't supposed to be disagreeing with that character, either. This book adamantly believes that our elven overlords are flat out better then us in every single way.
Get used to hearing about how much better elven things are. It's pretty much this books theme .
After the introduction we get a short overview of a few books that could be used alongside this one to help shape your elves and oh fuck you, not again already.
PHBR1, The Complete Fighter's Handbook, offers several character kits that work very well for elves (such as the Swashbuckler and the Cavalier), suiting elf temperaments and preferences. Other kits are less elven, but still offer interesting role-playing aspects. Still others, such as the Berserker and Beast-Rider, should be used only by savage elves or those who have no connection to elven life.
The Complete Fighter contributes important fighting styles and offers more weapon proficiency rules. These can be especially useful to the elf PC, allowing him or her to demonstrate absolute mastery of a weapon. Furthermore, the section on combat rules adds an interesting flavor to a campaign.
PHBR2, The Complete Thief's Handbook, is handy for those who wish to play elf thieves. The search for knowledge and intriguing new items often leads elves to a life of crime, although this is often just a phase through which they pass . However, many of them find a natural talent for thievery; as such, The Complete Thief can provide suggestions on how to best deal with that thief. Whether the elf rogue is simply a street thief or one who leads such a life as a demonstration of the impermanence of physical things to the shorter-lived races , there are myriad ideas for the player in this book.
So that badass elf barbarian with the spear the book opened up with? Guess what! Not an elf! Not a true elf, at least. And elves don't have any thieves because they have literally transcended past the need to own physical things and merely wish to impart this wisdom to the lesser races. Fuck you, CBoE.
That said, I DID mention I would point out the good things CBoE does, and it does two things I like right off the bat. First off, the book talks about houserules a bit, and I rather like what it has to say.
Remember, there are no right or wrong rules—whatever fits the style of the campaign is acceptable. As long as each rule is reasonable, appropriate, and fair, any additional house rules the DM cares to impose are permissible. If the players do not like these new rules, they have the option of discussing them with the DM or choosing another campaign. On no account should players or DMs try to force their views regarding optional rules down another's throat—regardless of how appropriate that action may seem to be.
See this? This is a good and actually pretty fucking healthy way to talk about houserules. They should be reasonable, appropriate, and fair. The players, if they don't like them, should first talk to the DM . Houserules don't exist for anyone - and it explicitly includes the DM in this - to shove optional rules down another's throat if they don't want it. Especially for the time it came out, this was a really permissive way of looking at the DM/Player relationship in the wake of "I'm the DM, fuck you" attitudes.
The second thing comes from the last bit of the introduction. It's some usual stuff - the book is meant for AD&D2e, not AD&D 1e. It uses the "optional" proficiency rules a lot, and I use sarcasm quotes because I dunno of anyone who didn't use them. And after that?
Lastly, since elves make no distinction between male and female, the personal pronouns in this book alternate between genders. Not all examples will be only of "he" or "him"; some will consist of only "she" or "her."
This isn't taken out of context. It's just a short blurb going "Oh hey we're gonna use both genders as examples, just a heads up." Sure I think it's laughably silly that they start with "BECAUSE ELVES ARE SO EGALITARIAN..." because, come on. But it's pretty nice that they mostly no-bullshit just tell you upfront that pronouns will be mixed, and they do it without some bizarre political screed mixed in, looking at you Ctech.
See, it's not all bad.
Just most of it.
But, come: The elves are waiting.
I took that 'Tree huggin' daisy munchers' review as a personal insultOriginal SA post
The Aberrant posted:
You mentioned that the author later apologized for the Bladesinger kit, why is that? My second edition days were pretty short and I never saw many kits or alternate classes even.
We'll get there, don't worry. Which reminds me...
Complete Book of Elves: "I took that 'Tree huggin' daisy munchers' review as a personal insult"
Chapter 1: The Creation of Elves. Subtitle: Elves are literally gods.
As with all chapters we again open with first person fluff, this time describing the creation of the world.
First, there was nothing. Then, the big bang occurs, only instead of reality, it creates gods (no really, the gods spring fully formed from the "primordial turmoil"). While all the gods are equally powerful and come together to create the worlds, some gods are wiser, more intelligent, and more beautiful then others.
You can probably guess which gods those were.
The Seldarine (the "Brothers and Sisters of the Wood," and this is kinda funny because the woods do not yet exist ) form their alliance, being the wisest of all gods. While the other gods squabbled and quarreled and did nothing, the Selarine made the lands lush, green, and beautiful, and made the bodies of what would be the first sentient life, the elves. They are crafted with thought and care and are granted extraordinary beauty and wisdom, and intelligence and grace and a lot of other stuff.
Those other gods - the shitty, non-elven ones - grew jealous ("black with jealousy," in fact) and tried making their own proto-races. But they were non-elven shit gods, so their races were also shitty, not that the shitty gods cared. Most of them were monsters. Some weren't but were still dumb and useless. Man held "a glimmer of potential" but still wasn't an elf.
Again, I feel the need to remind you that we are meant to emphasize and agree with the first person narrative.
From there, the chapter starts properly. Except, once again, it's hard to tell you aren't still in the first person narrative with how much it talks up the elves. We're told that the elves believe THEIR religion is the correct one, and that this is totally true. And that all the other histories are tainted. Also orcs are dumb and live in dank, smoky caves, and dwarves are a bunch of dumb braggarts (the book goes out of it's way to note this; I have no idea why). Then we hit even more italicized first person perspective. This book really likes to shove a lot of ELVEN MYTH AND LEGEND at us. But don't worry - we're at least told it isn't an impartial retelling. But that it's still correct anyways.
The story goes, Gruumsh saw the Seldarine and elves as an abomination, and ran over to crush them all. Some of the gods were good and pure and allied with the elves, and others were ugly and evil and joined the orcs. This started the Godswar , and event so amazing that I'm pretty sure this is the only book that mentions it. Eventually the other gods decided this was a pain in the ass and stopped, until only Corellon and Gruumsh were left. Correlon was about to lose, until the moon itself cried for him, giving him the strength to stab out Gruumsh's eye, which is admittingly pretty hardcore except for the "moon crying" stuff, since any ol' bard can do that. Gruumsh ran away into the netherworld and made the orcs.
The Seldarine were like, shit yeah, we won. But they're elves so there was a lot more apostrophies. They gathered all the moon tears and all of Corellon's blood and shoved it into the elf bodies, then gave them a bit of godhood. The other gods saw this and tried to give their various races life, but "alas, all other races were but sad imitations of the Elves."
The first person perspective ends and the book comes back in to tell us, no, that's all totally true. It even gives us a picture of a tree that's meant to prove it's correct.
Get fucking used to tree imagery
Why, what's the elf war you asked? Well, time for another first person narrative!
So the GODSWAR has ended. The elves are all happy and together and have neverending peace and harmony amongst each others. But then, that most dreaded of thing: a difference of opinions! Elves start to think about the other races. Some of them lust for power, some can't bear to live inside a city, and some want to bar all outsiders to keep out their taint. While "evil flourished in this atmosphere of distrust and dissent," the Spider Queen Lolth gains a foothold in some of their hearts. This is the first time she's mentioned, so I guess she was just...hanging out and chillin' like you do, before this. What's up, not much, bein' the Spider Queen. She lets them use her to gain power and influence at the cost of THEIR SOOOOOOOULS!
Eventually those elves got tired of being held back by the losers who weren't diving into forbidden arts and dark magic, and decides to just start murdering fuckers. The other elves couldn't mount a defence, but were...somehow...still prepared! Because they totally saw this coming. This is called the ELFWAR. Lolth's elves take the name Drow and are about to win, until the other elf gods decide this is bullshit and enter the ring. Corellon fights with Lolth and wins, the drow follow their goddess into the underdark, and Corellon curses them by making them black.
Then once all the drow were gone the elf gods just...leave. No, really. They just abandon the elves and hang out on their cool godplane. Assholes.
This is all really important, the book tells us, because it's how all the elves divided themselves. The grey elves went ot the mountains, the sylvan elves (the best elves) went to the woods in order to own, and the high elves stayed in the cities. A bunch of other inconsequential elves did things like live in the ocean, or in the clouds, or in places where it's cold. In time the grey elves became more "aloof" (read: fascist), the wood elves became more "wild" (read: magnificent assholes ), and the city elves also become explorers and "nomads." Those nomads are the "high elves" and are where the elf PCs come from. They meet a bunch of other races and get along with most everyone except the dwarves, who hate each other for no given reason.
Speaking of which, humans! Did you know humans regard elves as gods? YEAH. DIDN'T KNOW THAT BIT. They totally do though. The elves are figures out of myth and heald in awe and glory. Some humans are evil and attack the elves to try and claim their forests, and some are super evil and take advantage of the innocent and pure elven trust to slay and destroy them. Most elves got scared at this and returned to "the fabled Elflands." What are mystic and incredible Elflands? You will never find out .
This chapter ends with a note that the elves, as amazing as they are, see the humans as a threat, and we're supposed to take their side. No. This fails miserably. All it does is make the humans sound really awesome. So far we're through chapter 1 and I hate elves more then I ever did previously.
The elves are a proud people. They see the ubridled thirsts in the human race; that, coupled with their amazing fecundity, make them a serious threat to all that the elves originally accomplished. The elves watch the humans, and there is fear in their hearts.
it is not for the faint of roleplaying.Original SA post Complete Book of Elves: "it is not for the faint of roleplaying."
Chapter 2a: Variations on a Theme. Subtitle: Mermaids, fascists nerds, and assholes, oh my!
Another chapter, another bit of first person dialogue! This time it comes from an elven seer who wonders why the non-elven races are so full of bigotry and hate! Why, the elves never judge a person by the tone of their skin or their gender. And all elves love each other, which puts you humans to shame; I mean you're just different skin colors, whereas one elf will live in forests and another has gills . The drow? Why, as easy as it might be to judge them because they're all black ( NO REALLY ) we don't because we know some drow can be good, just as some high elves can be evil. Really we're clearly the only civilized species around.
Remember this. It will become a million times more hilarious soon.
The book kicks in with talking about how there's elves in fucking every single setting, and if that wasn't enough there's like thirty variations of elves in every fucking setting. Some have wondered if their affinity with these worlds means there's some elemental nature to their being, but since elves have been residents longer then humans, human sages are inaccurate and dumb. Elves also have an innate curiosity that drives them to explore their world. They're also apparently psychic since "If an elf accurately reports her experiences, other elves can understand that world intuitively."
Not that it stops elves from being locusts. Even after a place has been experienced and reported, that just makes elves even more curious to go see it. And see everything else along the way. This means that "the elf race as a whole is likely to have heard of any given location on any of the worlds they inhabit." So they're omniscient I guess???
Now it's time to talk about each of the "types" of elves. Don't worry, we're warned that the descriptions are only tendencies, and thus not all grey elves are "snobs" (fascists) and not all drow elves are evil personified. We also get average heights and weights. Nothing too out of the ordinary there - wood elves are tall and hefty, sea elves are short and weedy, most elven males are bigger and heftier then the women, except for drow, who have tall, muscular women - actually far heavier then any other type of elf, save male wood elves.
It does not mention wood elves in their bit about "not all elves are the same!" That is because all wood elves ARE magnificent assholes. Genetically.
(Wood elves own)
That drow is one handsome looking bloke
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPECIES THERE IS!
There's not too much to say about aquatic elves. They live under the sea, obviously, and have blue skin and green hair to blend in with kelp beds. They're described as being both irreverent and playful and of being INCREDIBLE ECO_WARRIORS that ensure the evil non-green creatures keep their destruction to a low. They also hate sharks because sharks are apparently "rapacious and cruel," so who the fuck knows what constitutes as a proper living creature to be nurtured and what doesn't. In their defense, we're told that sharks find sea elves delicious , carrying the proud tradition of awesome races loving to devour elves that the Kreen gifted us with.
Also apparently they're super best buds with dolphins? Look, it was the early 90's. Dolphins were a big deal for White America, and elves are nothing if not Magical White People. They also love hippocampi. WHO KNOWS. Beyond that, sea elves feel incredible pain and even loose attribute points if they stay out of salt water too long. Read: You will never make a sea elf PC. It's not a biggie, they're sorta boring anyways. There's a sea elf king or queen but everyone ignores them because they live in a magical living coral commune utopia.
First thing that's dissapointing: we learn nothing about their grooming habits. Look at the moustache on that dude above.
Dark Elves or Drow are super super evil. We mostly get a retelling of the ELF WARS story. Drow thought that might was way cooler then justice and started learning forbidden...things. The other elves thought this was a bit unsettling and held an intervention. The Drow slaughtered everyone at the intervention and decided it was way rad to murder other elves. The drow lost, they got cursed, and took on black skin and white hair and red eyes as a graaaaave warning to all that they were completely evil.
I mean there isn't really anything new here. They're drow. Women have power and are clerics, men are stuck as slaves, swordsmen, and wizards. Lolth or Lloth or however you spell it is crazy and evil. They're chaotic evil yet their society is incredibly structured and rigid. Nothing that breaks new ground.
Grey elves are nerdy fascists. There, I said it.
They're meant to be the sort of "haughty wizards" of the elves. They live out on their own and mostly try to ignore the non-elven races, seeing them as filthy, and even prefer not to deal with other elves. They're also the most beautiful and the most finely dressed, and have amazing magical armies and incredibly arms and armor and have trained griffons and hippogriffs and yadda, yadda, yadda.
Oh, and they believe in racial purity and eugenics. Wait, what?
Yes, grey elves are so haughty that they believe the blood line must remain pure . Non-elves aren't welcome. At all. And most non-grey elves aren't welcome either. They're terrified the lesser races will corrupt them. They are the only true elves.
After that bizarre bit, we go into how the grey elves are simultaniously a bunch of fuckin' nerds and yet are also masters at literally everything. They are the best elven mages. They are the smartest mages, ever, period. They tend not to become specialist wizards but that's ok, they're better then most specialist wizards at their specialty . They are the best crafters in the world. Seriously, it flat out says that even the dwarves are a sad second best. They're the best enchanters. In fact all "Elven" items come from them. They have the best libraries in the world. Communal grey elf libraries of even rural cities - not that grey elves have rural cities, they only have magnificent metropolises - rival those of any major human metropolis or powerful wizard. They also keep brainwashed slaves and god dammit we're back to the fascism.
...Yeah. "In order to maintain their cities, they must rely on 'lesser' elves for the upkeep of their realms. Since almost all of these servant elves have been brought up in the particular atmosphere of the grey elves, they believe their lot in life is to serve the grey elves. Although some do leave, most do not have the spirit to do so. Many are truly happy performing tasks for their masters and would not dream of departing. The stratified society offers them security and comfort."
Did you think I was joking about them being fascists?
Their society is unsurprisingly the most rigidly defined in "any world." SUCK IT, ANY WORLD. They have a hereditary monarchy, beneath which is a House Noble, beneath which are the Merchant Houses, beneath with are the Servitor Houses, beneath which are the slaves. Sorry, "cast-less elves, who have almost no voice in grey elf society." So, slaves.
On the bright side, we're not meant to emphasize with them. Other elves think they're so serious and arrogant that they're *gasp* almost human . And they see the "servanthood" thing for what it really is. In fact their slavery is so abbhorant it's almost *gasp* dwarven .
These are your PCs. They're friendly, like to travel, enjoy adventure, etc. They seem "aloof or arrogant" at first, but know the value of friendship and magic. They're also white people to the max - there's two types of high elves, and for the most common, their skin never tans and remains a beautiful cream color, their hair is blonde, their eyes are blue, and oh my god they're not white people, they're a magical aryan master race . The other type of high elf has brown hair, green eyes, and apparently this makes them strange and mysterious. They're also often treated differently from other high elves simply because of their appearance, and you remember that first person perspective opening to this? Between this and the grey elves, it's starting to stink pretty bad.
High elves love light pastel clothes rather then super fancy golden ones like the grey elves, are your standard bow-and-longsword style warriors, wear elven chain mail and forest-y elven cloaks, and befriend giant eagles fuck you this is just blatently ripping off now. They also hate horses, but when you consider most elven horses probably come from wood elves, that makes a lot of sense. Their homes are enchanted, their lands are always places of blissful goodness, and humans wait what?
"The realms of high elves are fabled in the lands of men, and the highest aspiration of many a human is to slip into the arms of death while basking in the serenity of the elf lands."
...OK. SO. MOVING ON. High elves don't put much value on "society" despite having just told us that their society is wonderful and pure and serene. They have royalty but nobody really pays attention to it because they're always chilled out, and at this point the name high elf is becoming rather pertinent. They love nature and never take more then they need, always give back, and constantly replenish the forests and plains.
"As such they are often regarded by other good-aligned races as the highest epitome of goodness "
Back to them living life forever in 420 smoke weed every day, high elves have few cares or worries, live lives of idyllic splendor, and are in perfect harmony with nature. Literally, nature just gravitates to them . Game and good soil and fine harvests just "happen" in high elf communities, constantly.
If grey elves are the nerdy city folk then wood elves are the happy woodland primitives. Hey, the book's words, not mine. They don't really do that whole "art" and "fine music" thing, sticking with listening to the sound of nature and giving themselves badass tattoos.
Wood elves are also the most violent elves, one of the reasons they own so hard. They're big and swole compared to their cousins, focus on simple and easy to use clothing that blends in with the woods, and have a grand festival every five years that's less simple folk smiling and laughing and more rivers of oak wine, dancing through bonfires, picking fist fights for no reason other then to prove you can, and probably other standardized fertility ritual style celebrations. It doesn't say it's a fertility festival, but we know, CBoE. We know.
Sylvan elves are apparently "wild and temperamental," as well as "very emotional." They don't really do the whole thinking thing, seeing as how they're the opposites to the grey elves. Logic won't save you from a charging boar or a falling tree, nerd, you need instinct and intuition. The one thing they do share with grey elves is their dislike for intruders. If you're in a wood elf forest, even if you're another elf, chances are you have some unseen escorts making sure you don't start shit. Apparently twenty-five percent of the time wood elves let trespassers know they're being watched, presumably because it's hilarious to watch the trespassers freak out.
On the other hand, if you do try to start shit, they will destroy you. The book outright says - the wood elves have no compunctions about utterly destroying you . They're the most reclusive type of elf, and want nothing to do with the outside world. This reclusiveness means they're neutral aligned rather then good. They're also way chill with animals, except for sentient humanoid ones, whom they hate and want to leave. Lastly, they - hold on a minute.
"Wood elves are probably the least friendly of all the surface elves. They are certainly not as outgoing as high elves, nor are they as adventurous as aquatic elves. While grey elves are quire arrogant, they will at least not casually kill intruders ."
Get the fuck out of my forest.
Not much on half-elves other then how much other elves love to shit on them. If a half-elf breeds back with an elf, they're still considered half-elven. Which is better then if they get it on with a non-elf - at that point they are considered entirely non-elven and thus just a strange brand of filthy unwanted human. They tend to be introverted, sullen, and embittered, because everyone hates them. Some elves are more accepting then others. Grey elves unsurprisingly want them all dead . Most tend to be half high-elven, since the other elves want nothing to do with humans; though exceptions exist, the book advises DMs not to give, say, aquatic half-elves the ability to breath underwater, and just stick to normal half elf stats for those.
Half-elves tend to make their own communities since everyone hates them. We are told that "unfortunately" half-elves are soured on both elves and humans. I'm not sure why this is an unfortunately thing since the book just got done telling us that both races hate the fuck out them. Seems natural that would sour you a bit. Humans see half-elves as thieves and careless adventurers, and whoops they're usually rape babies. Elves see them as "inferior mongrels" and we're told that elven moms won't even treat them like children, jesus christ, elves .
I'm splitting chapter 2 here because it's already long. Next time, we look at the elves of other settings, and we also learn where all elves come from. I'll give you a hint: the subtitle is going to be FUCK YOU CREATIONISM!
The Complete Book of Elves is not Forgotten Realms canon. We know that Abeir-Toril was not settled by 'Nomadic High Elves' who 'evolved' into Sun Elves, Moon Elves, Wood Elves, Drow, Aquatic Elves (or Avariel, Lythari, and Star Elves, which aren't even mentioned by said source)Original SA post Complete Book of Elves: "The Complete Book of Elves is not Forgotten Realms canon. We know that Abeir-Toril was not settled by 'Nomadic High Elves' who 'evolved' into Sun Elves, Moon Elves, Wood Elves, Drow, Aquatic Elves (or Avariel, Lythari, and Star Elves, which aren't even mentioned by said source)"
Chapter 2b: FUCK YOU, CREATIONISM!
Charles Elven Darwin
You remember those nomad high elves that make up the PCs? It turns out they didn't just explore all the other lands - they (somehow???) migrated across the worlds. All of them. Literally every elf comes from a common high-elven ancestor. It doesn't matter what the world is. That means all the stuff about elves I've listed here isn't just a part of one setting, it's ALL THE SETTINGS.
If this seems like it makes no sense, it doesn't. It blatantly disregards the lore of every single setting .
I'm not really familiar with Al-Qadim so I can't say what's good or bad about the write up here. We're told that racial differences aren't really a big thing in the setting, so elves take any number of different types of jobs, even ones that could be considered "dwarven."
But it's not CBoE without some fapping to knife-ears, so we also learn that elves make up most of the judiciary system due to their incredible wisdom, and that elven sages are praised and make up most of the teachers in the universities.
Most of this bit is actually fairly close enough to Dark Sun elves. Apparently those nomadic high elves that ended up on Athas (...ssssssomehow? Seeing as how Athas is completely blocked off from all other worlds? CBoE!) evolved and adapted to living there. On the other hand it is extra sure to tell us that they aren't REALLY evil, they just have to act that way because of Athas! They're really good elves at heart, don't blame them! Really, the biggest problem here is simply the bizarre origin story of "nomadic high elves" somehow getting into Athas and then literally evolving into Athasian elves.
This section has the most hilarious beginning.
"Although analogous to the history of elves to the history of elves in the AD&D world, it is not exactly the same. Indeed, some misinformed historians argue that these elves are not related to the elf explorers mentioned earlier in this chapter. This theory seems highly implausible after reading the history of elves on this world."
Literally right off the bat, "Fuck you, Dragonlance lore is wrong, this book is right."
Again, I don't know too much about Dragonlance - I read a bunch of the novels a few eons ago when I was a teenager and that's about it - but it mostly just looks like an overview of the history. Except now there's a snippet at the beginning of all the elves evolving from NOMADIC HIGH ELVES, I cannot get over how dumb that is.
This is the part of the book that gets a bit controversial . See, CBoE has been treading on various types of thin ice throughout the book, and indeed will continue to do so. But here they tread on the thinnest of ice: Realmslore . A horrifying behemoth that devours all in it's path and nitpicks it to the finest atomic detail.
Perhaps humerously, there actually isn't much here that strays from actual REALMSLORE. It talks about five of the many types of elves - what a coincidence, it's the five that match up perfectly with the five types of elves listed in this book - and gives a bit of info about them and talks about Evermeet and all that shit. So what's the biggy? Well, REALMSLORE dictates that the elves were separate groups that settled in at different times. Nitpicky? Maybe. But it's REALMSLORE. Nitpicking is why it exists.
The Greyhawk bit is hilarious because, though 2e didn't have a like, official "core" world, it was basically Greyhawk, which means the Greyhawk section could begin and end with "Literally just these elves."
It doesn't though, and talks about Oerth having two other species of elves then the given five - grugach and valley elves. Then, in a sudden and bizarre fit of hubris, it talks about how these two species means Oerth cannot be the true elven homeland . What the fuck is the true elven homeland? You will never find out. It was apparently lost in the shadows or destroyed in the ELFWAR or, well, nobody knows.
Hint: because it was made up in this book and only this book, and never appears again, anywhere else.
Still, after pointing out that the elves of Oerth are literally more "pure" then all other elves, it goes into the two new species. And let me tell you, they are...boring. Just really boring. The "grugach" are just sylvan/wood elves that are bigger assholes and murder everything that comes into their forests. The valley elves are just...elves. Oh, they serve a dude called "The Mage." I dunno Greyhawk, is he a big deal? There's nothing about them that seems to set them apart from any other high elf other then this servitude. Whatever.
Lots of paragraphs about how miserable Ravenloft is. Rather then being native, these elves were dragged in along with Lord Soth, since they're the ones that fucked up everything. Their forests are grim and lifeless, and Soth frequently goes around murdering elves because fuck them. Then they come back to life because, you know, domain of dread. Also the humans hate and fear elves and frequently lynch them. Good times.
For the first time in the book, it admits that elves aren't actually the best wizards since they have a level cap. However, this...for some reason? Makes the ELVEN IMPERIAL NAVY the strongest force in space. Giff? Illithids? Beholders? Humans? Nope, elves. Suck it, other races, this book sets it straight!
After interjecting the nomadic high elves (how the fuck did this one work; they migrated into space? ) were totally around, and apparently developed cloaking technology (Spelljammer fans, is this a thing?), it talks a bit about the ELVEN IMPERIAL NAVY and the scattered elven worlds, and how elf spelljammers typically like to be subtle and quiet in their assistance rather then make themselves well known. It also presents a ~*~mystery~*~ because nobody seems to know what the elven homeworld is. It gives two ideas - first, that the elves keep their beautiful and pristine homeworld secret because all the other races fucked up theirs, and second, that elves are all tragic loners because they accidentally blew up their homeworld I guess.
"This, the critics claim, is the elven shame, and they hide the planet because they don't wish it known that they weren't always as insufferably perfect as they are now."
Not "acts perfect," but "The elves are now perfect, but once were not, oh no!"
Then some more elven wank. The ELVEN IMPERIAL ARMY is given as the only reason space travel is relatively safe for good-aligned folk. They destroyed the entirety of goblinoid and orcish fleets. Like, for good; the book says they will never rise again . They also act as SPACE POLICE. Unfortunately, this makes spelljamming elves seem like big dicks, but guys, don't worry, the book wants you to know that they only seem arrogant and haughty, they're still beautiful elves on the inside. Also elven ships are organically grown and are the most beautiful and functional spelljamming ships in existance. And it mostly ends with a sad, tragic note about the spelljammer elves - their inability to change means their empire is starting to fall. Did I say fall? I mean even out. That's the grand tragedy - that elves no longer reign supreme.
"The elves see their 'empire' crumbling around their point ears. They have become just another spacefaring race rather than the feared power they had been for so long."
That is why i say it's a good book for NPC purpose (if you consider elves = people that should be above normal heroes, with time - a lot of time-).Original SA post Complete Book of Elves: "That is why i say it's a good book for NPC purpose (if you consider elves = people that should be above normal heroes, with time - a lot of time-). "
Chapter 3a: Physical Attributes. Subtitle: Wherein we add random increases to elven power for no given reason.
It goes without saying that the first person narrative bit is entirely about how elves are better then everyone else. This time from a ranger! It's kinda cliche; elves are more in tune with the world and more sensitive but never want to reign over the world, ignoring the fact that grey elves totally do. And of course they're super amazing at swordplay and using a bow and don't need to sleep and blah blah blah. Let get into the book itself (where we will be told the same thing).
So, elves! Physically! They are like small, thin humans, enough so that they could disguise themselves as such, but they do not, because pretending to be a human is dumb and for losers. They are also beautiful. ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL. ALWAYS.
There is really no such thing as an elf born ugly; those who have low Charisma were either scarred accidentally or marred magically
ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL. Also, despite being very slim, they're still super powerful. Indeed, they're some of the most powerful creatures ever created, and has seen "the crawl of humanity from the primordial ooze," which is weird because I didn't expect a treatise on evolution from my nerdbook. Anyways, they are super powerful and older then the trees themselves but hide this "innate power" beneath a "delicate exterior" so others assume they are harmless. Speaking of evolution, elves apparently lack canine teeth, because they were literally created by God(s) unlike all the other races which, I guess, evolved? Even though the fluff earlier said all the races were made by the gods? Who the fuck knows.
Elves are pretty much all white. Even half-elves are pale compared to their human parents. They have their stereotypical pointed ears which gives them sensitive hearing, which, incidentally, lets elves literally whisper in a tone they can hear but others cannot. I was unaware they had this power! They have it now.
Before we get to all the cool magical stuff elves can just innately do, we're reminded that, although they are literally better then every other race, they don't see other races as "inferior," why, they simply rejoice in how unique and blessed they are! By the way, these cool magical things elves innately do? A lot of comes from this book . So now we're going to talk about the magical abilities elves have always had, starting now. Oh, and don't confuse this for the optional mechanical rules that get introduced later - not only are these things elves I guess have always been able to do? They are also things that all elves do, period , non-optionally.
The first new ability elves get, this is that strange psychic thing I mentioned a few updates back, where they can share basically everything about themselves with another elf that they love or trust. It's elves only, too - not even half-elves can do it, and it only works on willing elves. It requires all involved elves (up to a max of four) be in a state of complete relaxation and serenity, thinking only about each other in a setting without any interruptions, without judgement or prejudice. When they reach this state, they touch their hands and MIIIIINDMEEEEEELD!
Mechanically speaking this gives them a -4 penalty to all mental saves while in this state, but they can't be scryed on or overheard, and...I guess, made invisible? It says they can't be spied on physically, and that it creates an invisible barrier, so...who the fuck knows. Beyond that, this communion is so incredibly personal and amazing, that for the next 24 hours all bonded elves can fight in perfect harmony. When fighting side by side against common foes, they gain +2 to hit and -1 to AC (remember, in 2e, negative AC is good). Communion can only happen once per week, for vague fluff reasons.
This is one of the abilities elves already had, so that's a relief, at least.
All elves except Aquatic and Drow have infravision for up to 60'. This only works in "less then starlight" light conditions. And indeed, we even have a vague nerf to elves! If they are exposed to bright light while using their infravision, they take -2 to all actions for 1d4 rounds while their eyes adjust! Aquatic elves have "aquatic vision" instea, for up to 360'. It's described as not keying off of heat or cold, but rather "the movements of water currents" and is flatly just called "sonar." SONAR EYES.
Drow, in their need to show up all the other elves, get infravision 120' instea of 60', and their infravision is so intense that their eyes actually radiate heat, which sounds like it should hurt. On the other hand, if you thought their magnificent facial hair wasn't enough...
Someone viewing a drow through infravision sees two burning eyes atop a normally glowing torso
So apparently, whenever elves are discounted, despite several bits in the book previously mentioning how elves like to be taken for weak - in this fucking chapter, even - they can show off "manifestation" whenever someone looks down on them.
I'll be blunt: manifestation is literally a shonen anime power.
The elf suddenly has an imposing presence, making them seem far larger and more "there" then they actually are. This is something that occurs in every single shonen anime ever. Oh, and as a nice side jab, it's said that they love to use this against impressible humans to keep the credulous ones at a distance and to ensure the humans do not underestimate elves. Nice.
Of course, this isn't an illusion. This is the elves "connection with the land," and them showing this off. This does mean it can only work in the Prime Material, and while in a natural or elven-shaped environment. It can also only be used on either an elf's home world, or after they've lived on that world for 50 years, at which point he loses the ability to do it in his original home world.
Manifestation doesn't actually do anything, is the thing. It's advised you give a +3 to reaction checks (and -3 for enemies) and draw attention to the elf, but that's about it. The book even states that, aside from impressing people, the power is useless. Oh, and elves are all immune to it, of course, but they "admire the timing if particularly noteworthy."
This is the second ability elves already had - their whole "we don't actually sleep" bit. Rather then fall asleep, they enter a state called "the reverie" in which they vividly relive past memories, which they have no control over. They never dream in reverie, only when they actually sleep, even though we were just told they don't sleep. Ok. Oh and their dreams are sometimes prophetic, but not always, so I'm not sure what the point of that is. All their dreams (YOU JUST TOLD US ELVES DON'T SLEEP) are highly symbolic.
The reverie accounts for why elves are always so chilled out and high, because if you had to constantly relive your memories, you would spend all your days following the School of Snoop, too. It also makes those few "truly noble" elves who do the hard things in life I guess extra important, since this means they make a grave and truly terrible sacrifice of drawing in all the unpleasant memories. This is also apparently why elves are so resistant to sleep spells and charm enchantments.
Resistance to Heat and Cold
Ok this is just bullshit.
So apparently monks are so attuned to the world and it's meteorological cycles that they're flat out resistant slash immune to extremities of temperatures, at least compared to other races. This translates to them being able to ignore temperatures between 100 and 32 degrees. Below and above that they suffer the same penalties as anyone else, but in between elves just don't care.
This is mentioned as to why elves remain Beautiful White People all the time; their resistance to the elements means they can...block...UV radiation? I guess? Man, whatever. On the bright side this doesn't mean elves get to ignore fire or snow. Elves are still just as burnable as anyone else; it's only natural temperatures they're resistant against.
Other Elven Abilities
So, elves are immune to disease. No, yeah. Fuck you, book. I guess elves are immune to disease. Well, "remarkable resistant." It advises you just give elves anywhere between 0% and 50% resistance. That this "won't destroy game balance."
That's utter shit. This is AD&D, where a disease can spell certain, unavoidable death, and where a paladin's immunity was a Big Fucking Deal. And this book just took one of the cool iconic paladin abilities and went, eh, fuck it, all elves get it.
Besides that, it mentions there's some diseases that only effect elves, spoilers they don't exist to my knowledge. Oh, and elves are immune to scarification . Elves are so beautiful that scars on their bodies heal under rapid conditions until they disappear entirely. It doesn't work on actual wounds or healing HP, it's just there to ensure elves are always beautiful. Wait didn't the start of this chapter say that the only ugly elves were scarred ones? Welp!
I'll end this part with a fun taste of what's to come in later chapters.
Elven regeneration doesn't extend to regrowing lost limbs or organs, though we're told that elves are totally the original creators of those magicks. However, elves don't need it, as they are ont he pioneering edge of creating artificial mithril limbs and organs .
Yes, this book will let you create transhuman cybernetic elves.
but if my calculations are accurate JRRTolkien stated that elves that got to the Holy Land were > 7' tall, and those who stayed behind, the further behind they were the shorter they got ... Drow stayed way far behind heheOriginal SA post Complete Book of Elves: "but if my calculations are accurate JRRTolkien stated that elves that got to the Holy Land were > 7' tall, and those who stayed behind, the further behind they were the shorter they got ... Drow stayed way far behind hehe"
Chapter 3a: Physical Attributes. Subtitle: ELF BIOLOGY
Here we reach one of my favorite parts of the book: one of the areas where it doesn't even bother with mechanics, doesn't even bother with flowery words and hypotheticals, and just flat out tells you that elves are superior. Let's go!
Stages of Life
Everyone knows elves are super longed lived - upwards of 600-750 years old before they "leave the lands." This means they see stuff humans regard as permanent "deteriorate into dust." And this gives them a far broader range of values then humans can even COMPREHEEEEND! And they age very gracefully, which is to say not at all. Older elves are wiser and less headstrong then younger elves, which I guess is meant to make you like the older more conservative elves more, but describing younger elves as dashing around to squeeze as much life as they can doesn't make me hate them, it makes me think the older, "more patient" elves are just bags of dicks.
We get a chart of elven ages for each suptype. Like 3e, which I'm guessing most of you are more familiar with, character lose and gain stats as they age; typically they take -4 str, -3 con, -3 dex, +2 int, and +3 wis. Elves, on the other hand, take -4 str, -4 con, -2 dex, +3 int, and +4 wis. Why? Because elves are better then you.
First comes elven childhood, which lasts until they're about 65-75/ They grow slowly up to 4 feet, and learn the basics of archery and swordplay, but are otherwise children for 75 fuckin' years.
Next comes adolescence. Elves mature at the same time regardless of sex, grow out to their full height, and are taught by their elders how to find joy in their horribly long lives and not succumb to boredom. Some elves fail at this and become insane and suicidal as they grow older, which is fucking and should be core, insane older elves seeking death in newer and more exciting ways just to squeeze out a bit of joy. But no, it's the rare uncommon elf that ends up this way.
At roughly 110, elves are considered adults. This is when most start adventuring, and also when most die due to reasons of adventuring. Only 1/4th of elves go out adventuring which is an oddly specific number, but because elves are so accepting and caring they aren't ostracized and are seen as normal, if not a bit daring.
At 175, elves hit middle age, which is when they start to take stat penalties. Most stop adventuring except assumably those fucking awesome hardcore metal elves who need the rush of death to feel alive. Clerics become fulltime community priests, wizards go all out into magical research, warriors start training schools, and thieves establish their own guilds. Most elves that continue adventuring do so from some epic quest or inner need and are the ones most often spoken of in legend. Read: your PCs. They also get a lot of wank:
They do what the must, not always what they want. They are among the most admired beings on whatever world they exist; their most hated enemies hold them in grudging respect. Decades and even centuries have given these elves a reputaiton of might and power. Even if these elves have no great ability, that reputation is enough to cow most opponents
At the ripe old age of 250 (don't elves live to like 600?), elves hit, well, "old age." They all become kindly old grandparents who sit and just enjoy the warmth of the sun or sing old songs from their youth. Then at 350, they hit venerable. This is when they actually look old. Still they act the same as they did when they were in their late 200's, and we're told that elves can literally never become senile, at least not from old age.
Elves exist on delicate foods and wines, especially those that have a "great degree of subtlety." We're also told that heavier foods like beef and coarse bread "distress the elf stomach." I am now imagining an elf being tormented with beef, and it's pretty awesome.
Humans find elven food unsatisfying and small, since elves ("Of course") require less food then humans. Despite rarely hunting or making more food then they can eat in a day, elven food is so incredible that even the finest human chef blushes in shame at his inadequacy.
No, that's what it says.
However small the portions, the food elves do make is such that the finest human chef blushes in shame at his inadequacy. Indeed, many humans who would be gourmet cooks try to procure an apprenticeship among elves. Those who learn the elven techniques have a right to boast of their achievements
Elves tend to be more vegetarian and only eat meat that is carefuly culled from excess animal populations, they never keep herd animals because taking care of them is a joyless burden, and while humans care about "profits" to be had from ranching, elves exist in a blissful commune state. Also raising animals just to kill them is "not nature's way."
As far as drink goes, elves mostly drink sparkling cold mountain spring water, wine, and mead. Mead in particular is called delicate (Whaaaat) and gives them a "pleasant feeling" and can make them drunk with higher quantities, without ever giving them a hangover, jesus fuck you elves. Their FAVORITE drink, on the other hand, is [ feywine , mixed with flower juice, honey, and a "special ingredient." It causes a drunkeness that lasts for days or weeks , except elves can just shut off feywine's effects whenever they want to. Only elves get to do that. And it effects non-elves far more then it does elves, with too much making a human lose themselves for months at a time. So elves just don't let humans drink it, and keep their wonderful magic-wine to themselves, the fuckers.
That's the name of this section. Every so often, elf females find themselves drawn to human men "for a brief while," while human women "cannot resist the charms of certain elf males," which is meant to sound romantic but really just makes them sound like horrifying rapists. Elves also sometimes "dally" with members of other races, but there's pretty much never and kids from this. Elves find most other races unappealing - dwarves have beards, halflings have hairy feet, and both are fat. Elves are explicitly written as NO FATTIES ALLOWED.
The Elven Bond
Elves will very rarely form a "mystical and unbreakable bond" with another being, regardless of their race. Most other people call this "marriage," but I guess elven marriage is so incredibly and spiritual that it has to be seen as something else. For elves, this makes them entirely altruistic, focusing their entire life around making their loved one happy. The couple feels all emotions the other has, even in distance, and if one dies, the other can feel the death through the bond breaking. This can literally cause an elf to die from grief. Elves will rarely do this more then one in their life, with a good number of elves simply never doing it. They almost never do it with humans, since humans are so short lived.
This also...somehow...applies to the earth. If elves are confined or kept away from the land or from other elves for too long, and elf can Ahahahahahaha DIE FROM GRIEF AND LONELINESS. OH BOY. Even if being held near nature or other elves, an elf can lose hope and force their own death . Ahahahahaha! This apparently is an ability that curses torturers and defeats captors, as it allows them to "escape."
This is where the elf masturbation gets really obnoxious.
Elven music is the best music in the world. No, fuck you. Elven music is the best music in the world, ever. All elves are inherently musical, their music always inspires grand emotion, an elves that aren't musical are seen as emotionally stunted. Their music is incredibly complex and beautifully crafted and almost never played around non-elves. That's because it's SO amazing that non-elves who hear it are left with a vague, unsatisfying yearning that can never be filled with anything but more elven music. That's why there's no elven bards - because elf music literally destroys the enjoyment humans find in their own music, and once humans hear elven music, they would never leave the elf cities alone in adoration of their sublime beauty.
Those that have heard elven music all instinctively know that humans must have learned music from the elves. Unfortuantely human music is bit a poor imitation. The greatest - literally, the greatest , the best there ever was and ever will be - amongst human and half-elf bards are those who learned from elves, but can only echo elven music. That's why so many wonderful musicians are unsatisifed with their work - they know it's not elven . Elven songs of grief cause non-elves to fill themselves with tears before the elves are even halfway through, as the anguish expressed in elven lilting voices transcends the human experience of heartfelt pain. Elven mourning rituals leave people dramatically changed, causing them to return to the present sadder and wiser then ever before. The sorrow in these songs haunts the listeners for the rest of their lives.
Then the Complete Book of Elves came out, and, since I *already* loved elves, I expected to be all aflutter with it's awesomeness, only to find it so over-the-top and Mary-Sue-ish that it soured me entirely. It just snappped me right out of that, and did the unthinkable, being such a soppish purple-prose love-letter to elf-wankery that it made me no longer a fan of the subject matter, and actually embarrassed to have liked them.Original SA post Complete Book of Elves: "Then the Complete Book of Elves came out, and, since I *already* loved elves, I expected to be all aflutter with it's awesomeness, only to find it so over-the-top and Mary-Sue-ish that it soured me entirely. It just snappped me right out of that, and did the unthinkable, being such a soppish purple-prose love-letter to elf-wankery that it made me no longer a fan of the subject matter, and actually embarrassed to have liked them."
Chapter 4: Mental Attributes. Subtitle:
I mentioned previously that CBoE (or "the CBoE" if you want to be specific) has about 90% garbage, 5% mediocrity, and 5% amazing.
This first part of this chapter uses up a lot of that last 5%. Let's hit the opening fluff, first.
In the not too distant past, a dwarf bounty hunter made a terrible mistake. While pursuing a fleeing half-elf foe, he came upon an elf hamlet. He wrongly assumed it to be the home of the half-elf culprit. Nothing would satisfy him that this was not the case, and he grew ever more enraged that the elves were "hiding" his rightful prey from him.
In the dwarf's anger and his lust for the reward money, he cruelly slew a woodsman—using the elf's own axe to cleave the widower in two. The elf's four children, who had been playing nearby, froze in fear. Ignoring the grief-stricken children, the ruthless dwarf turned once more to the woods. There he found old tracks made by the fleeing half-elf, and the dwarf set off after his foe again.
Elves being elves, the children were taken in and nurtured as best the hamlet could. Most were eventually fostered away to other villages, for the hamlet couldn't support children whose provider had passed on. Despite being separated, the four children nursed a private longing for vengeance in their hearts. Each trained diligently to understand the ways of the forest and of tracking, learning its subtle nuances that they might avenge their father.
Fifty years passed after the death of their father before the young elves deemed they were ready. They reunited and swore a solemn oath not to rest until they found the slayer of their father. The four then split off, each heading in a direction of the compass. Burned in their minds was the image of the dwarf. They questioned all they came across, and some sought certain magical items. Finally, one of them found a lead and left word for her siblings to follow as soon as possible.
The old dwarf had retired from bounty hunting to live alone in the mountains. The four elves swooped into his house and stole him from his doze by the fire. None ever saw the dwarf again, but his house still stands. Hacked limbs are left on the doorstep every few years—the hacked limbs of an old dwarf. To date, there have been 17 arms and 12 legs.
A ring of regeneration can work wonders in vengeance.
So, the most important aspect of understanding elves is that they live for a really fucking long time. This gives them both an incredible sense of ambition and an equally impressive lackadaisical attitude. Elves are patient. They are perfectly fine with long term plans and plots that span decades, though they can move fast if they have to. Elves are clever and devious. They've had a lot of time on their hands to hone their "games" and acts of subtlety to a fine tune. Elves love paradox and humor. What elves find funny, there's a good chance you might not.
Elves are also very, very vengeful. They are patient. They are ambitious. They are devious and clever. They enjoy their own fey-like brand of "humor."
Occasionally, elves will make a pretense of the hunt and let the person "escape." After the person has taken to flight, the elf is likely to appear at random intervals—a tactic designed to keep fear instilled in the heart of the person. This can make for a life of anxiety for anyone who has earned the wrath of elves, for that person never knows when the elf may strike to claim vengeance. This is one reason that the elves are so feared as foes, for no one wishes to live a paranoid life fearing elven wrath.
Jesus fucking christ.
Unfortunately, from there the awesome tapers off. Because of their long outlook, elves don't really worry about not experiencing "enough;" instead, they look to experience the "new." This is what leads to elves favoring being Chaotic; each elf is affected differently from their years. Most elves start off carefree and fun-loving, then, as they grow older, become more cautious (while still being mostly carefree and fun-loving). A few elves are far more serious and believe life is - even with several hundred years ahead - too short to spend frittering it away on dancing and singing. These are ideally the best elves, but the book tells us NO, THEY ARE THE WORST, because they become obsessed with finding a meaning to everything and live on in a joyless existence, eventually locking themselves away as they lose the meaning and purpose of life.
So fuck nerds I guess.
Elves typically have a few projects going at one time, carelessly abandoning them or pushing them to the side to start a new one, relying on their long age to let them get back to it later. If non-elves need them to step it up they can, but usually they just take the long slow approach. We're told elves are "far from lazy" and are almost constantly active during the daytime. We are then told these activities include lying on a grassy hillside watching birds, so who the fuck knows. Oh, and elves are all anti-materialists who never try to accumulate gold or other treasures. So why are there elf adventurers again? On the other hand, elves apparently do still have a clearly defined sense of ownership when it comes to "treasured items," and there are never any elven thieves in elven villages (because the punishment for thievery is exile for half a century.).
Elves loooove art and culture and all that other dumb shit. They're also apparently TERRIBLE at drawing portraits because they're too busy trying to "capture the inner elf" and never actually learn how to paint . They're amazing at magically preserving things - probably important to have when you live for 700 years - but refuse to share this with any other race. Because they can't properly appreciate it. Fuck elves.
As was already covered, elves aren't too keen on the whole "king" thing. As the archtypical "chaotic" race, elves lean towards being what may as well be a libertarian commune, where every elf has maximum FREEDOM and they never interfere with each others' lives, as all elves are believed capable of dealing with their own problems, WHO IS ELVEN JOHN GALT??? On the other hand this works out because all elves are so wonderful and selfless that they put the needs of others before their own and freely give out whatever is needed. I have no idea how the fuck those two things work together.
So we have something of a problem; elves are presented as being both cold and calculating, and being wild and emotional. The book tries to work this out by saying elves are seen as distant and self-serving because of their haughtiness, but are totally free and emotional and intuitive once you get to know them . They don't let their emotions rule their lives and have logic. But then, this is CBoE, so the use a perfect mix of emotion and logic that none of the other races can truly understand.
Elves hate looking scared because it means they can't look so high and mighty. They tend not to fear a lot of things either. They're afraid of spirit destroying monsters like wraiths or tanar'ri (demons), hate and fear undead because they're both perversions of nature and nearly immortal. In fact, elves really, really fucking hate undead. Elves are never necromancers unless they're evil, and evil elf necromancers may as well be drow. It's advised that DMs just let elves naturally know when undead are nearby, so I guess that's another new ability that they get.
Elves don't have generational differences like humans do. Well, not quite. There's no troubles between members of separate generations. But there are differenecs in how elf generations view things, since one generation is like 50 and the other generation is like 300. Most of this was already covered though; young elves are wanderers and curious and make friends with humans, old elves prefer isolation and rarely leave elf lands.
Next is how elves view other races. Elves don't hate races, because they have an inherent kinship with all living beings that non-elves will never truly understand. Sure, plenty of races hate elves, but elves see them as being beneath them. They only really hate people who defile their forests, and drow. That's because drow are anti-elves who have thrown away all that is sacred to elves and instead have embraced FOULNESS, CORRUPTION, AND DEATH, betraying their heritage and forsaking the light to live with the pure evil of Lolth!
This book is bad at making me not like drow.
Elves tend to appear standoffish, but that's mostly because they don't like making friends with the shorter lived races. They're bad at taking the death of their friends, so they mostly just don't make those friends. Still though, they don't hate them
Despite both elves and dwarves being on the side of goodness, they're the opposites in everything else. Dwarves have a work ethic, elves don't. Dwarves don't feel that happiness is essential, elves do. Dwarves are Lawful, elves are Chaotic. Still, they don't hate each other, and they secretly appreciate the other and know that they make a good complement.
Elves and gnomes get along great, because gnomes are basically short elves. Hell, some elven legends claim gnomes are literally an elf-dwarf crossbreed. Elves do think their digging in the earth obsession a bit too seriously, and gnomes regard elves with some suspicion. That elves return. Still, they're chill.
Elves love halflings, in a horrible, patronizing way. They see halflings as being the children they look like. They also have laughably low standards and stereotypes for halflings and act super impressed if a halfling ever does more then just act like a connoisseur of food and drink. Halflings in return think elves are dicks, but this is CBoE, so they also hold elves in awe and wonder, and "to associate with an elf is all the excitement a halfling needs in his or her life." Elves are also very protective of halflings, because again, they see halflings as literally being children.
Elves are bad at classifying humans. Some humans are friendly, some hold elves in awe, some are unfriendly and bigoted, some are downright hostile. Humans are the most varied species, and elves are uncomfortable that they can't just easily stereotype them. Elves do however find humans to be pretty amazing, since humans accomplish so much and have turned "unlivable" lands into their homes. This also terrifies elves. Despite their constant bickering and war - or maybe because of it - humans more or less dominate the world. They've done in years what took elves centuries. Humans' constantly rising population and expansionism means elves are constantly pushed back further into the forests. In the end, elves are confused and terrified of humans, as it should be