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On Athas, elves have pointed ears and dwell in the wilderness, but comparisons to traditional fantasy elves end there. The elves of Dark Sun are clannish, nomadic desert-dwellers said to be as fast – and as mercurial – as the sirocco.
Elves are tireless wanderers, scouring the desert sands for whatever sustenance and riches they can find. They travel on foot in tribal groups, engaging in thieving and raiding, then disappear in a cloud of dust. Some tribes trade on a more-or-less regular basis with the city-states, but elves are known for their willingness to fleece customers not of their tribe.
Physical Description: Elves are tall and lean beyond what would be possible for humans, but their slim frames hide a deceptive, wiry strength. Both males and females wear their hair long, but facial hair never grows on their pale skin. Their features are deeply etched into their weather-toughened faces, and their skin made rugged by the windblown sands and baking sun of the wilderness. Elves typically dress to survive in the desert environment. Even when at an oases or in the cities, elves tend to prefer their native garb, designed to wrap the wearer against the brutality of the elements.
Personality: An elf would rather live a short, happy life among friends than toil for centuries like a dwarf. Many take a perverse pride in the stereotype that labels them as untrustworthy thieves and bandits. Most are possessed by an incurable wanderlust, always moving on to see what lies beyond the next ridge – or what’s in the poorly guarded caravan approaching from the west.
Society: The dunes and steppes of Athas are home to thousands of tribes of nomadic elves. While each tribe is very different culturally, the elves within them remain a race of long-limbed sprinters given to theft, raiding, and warfare. Elves are all brethren within their own tribe, but regard all outsiders as potential enemies. There is no racial unity among the elves – an elf from outside the tribe is just as much a foe as a human, halfling, or thri-kreen. Acceptance of an outsider by an individual elf can be achieved, but trust will only develop over time. Acceptance of an outsider by an entire tribe is also possible, but rare. It is usually only awarded after some great sacrifice has been made on behalf of the tribe – many outsiders have been accepted posthumously into elven desert tribes.
Relations: It is said that the only thing harder than finding an elf you can trust is finding an elf who trusts you. Elves either ignore or hold in contempt those not in their tribe, especially non-elves. An elf living among other races carefully tests the friendship of would-be allies before letting his guard down.
Alignment: Elves tend strongly toward chaotic alignments. Whether elves are good or evil depends on what’s standing between them and their next drink of water.
Religion: Few elves serve the sorcerer-kings – or anyone else for that matter. Many of the larger tribes have druids that provide a measure of spiritual guidance, and clerics of fire, earth, and air aren’t unheard of either.
Language: Elves of Athas share a common language and can communicate easily with each other, although each tribe has its own distinct dialect. The Elven language is filled with short, clipped words, runs with a rapid staccato pace and is difficult for novices to pick up. Most elves speak Common as well, whether to demand valuables from bandit victims or strike a better deal in a city-state’s bazaar.
Adventurers: Elves often take up adventuring out of wanderlust, but those that persist in adventuring generally do so out of desire for profit, glory, revenge, or out of loyalty to traveling companions who have won their friendship. Some elves can’t resist the temptation to fleece locals as they travel, while others find themselves the target of prejudiced harassment. Adventurers who keep their tribal membership should give their chief periodic choice of the treasure that they have won. Holding out on a chief suggests lack of loyalty to the tribe.
Elf Racial Traits
- +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, –2 Constitution: Elves are nimble, both in body and mind, but their form is frail.
- Medium: Elves are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Wasteland Runners: Elf base land speed is 40 feet.
- Elf-Running: Athasian elves gain Endurance as a bonus feat, as they are accomplished long-distance runners.
- Elven Immunities: Elves are immune to magic sleep effects and get a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells and effects.
- Elven Magic: Elves receive a +2 racial bonus on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance. In addition, elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Spellcraft skill checks made to identify the properties of magic items.
- Keen Senses: Elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception skill checks.
- Low-Light Vision: Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
- Weapon Familiarity: Elves are proficient with longbows (including composite longbows), falchions, rapiers, scimitars, and shortbows (including composite shortbows), and treat any weapon with the word “elven” in its name as a martial weapon.
- Wild Talent: Athasian elves gain the Wild Talent feat.
- Languages: Elves begin play speaking Elven.
- Level Adjustment: +1