Half-elves are like humans. They function almost exactly the same as humans. Cut open an elf and you’ll find a heart and a brain and lungs and guts right where you would a human. A half-elf won’t live any longer than a human, though they might age a bit more gracefully in terms of appearance. The pointy ears and slimmer builds are the most obvious difference, but this cosmetic difference is the root of the cultural divide between elves and humans, and even that divide isn’t as large as it seems. Naturally, elves still tell their children stories, though the details may differ. Stories of heroes, protectors, pilgrims, and villains. The most common boogeymen in elven bedside tales is the Elf-Eaters. Take a wild guess what they’re about. Of course, this is fantasy, so every boogeyman has a 50/50 chance of actually being real.
I just did the coin flip. Bad news for the elves.
Most elves in Mellinered live in western Carandaur, a kingdom of isolated villages fenced in by one continuous redwood forest. the western bits of which have the densest forest and most isolated villages. To the north of their lies Hithuidyr, and in the North of the region lies the biggest city in Mellinered, and its well settled hinterlands. Elves are here, and stories of elf-eaters here are just that: stories. Society prevails. The wilds seem far away from there. Law and order exists, of a sort. But where the two kingdoms meet in the west, the forests thin out and the hills start to roll gently. Here you will find elves. Here, you will also find elf-eaters.
It makes sense that they would be out there. Carandaur was settled primary by the Rusgwaith during the Wave of Beasts, and their culture doesn’t tend towards cannibalism often. The more militaristic Draugwaith were the only Beast Folk to settle Hithuidyr in any number, and even then only in the south. The power of the Aurcaladorrim in Mithlond was too hard to break, even for the most successful of the invasions. So while the northern and coastal regions remain strongly in the hands of Aurcaladorrim stock, the Draugwaith tribes in the south, nestled in hills and forests, grew strange in their isolation. Hithuidyren lumberers do not got there, more due to lack of roads then boogeymen.
“Processed” elves are ubiquitous in their society. Elves are to them what mammoths were to early humans; every part is used. Elf blood goes into the pigment used to make their full body tattoos, as does charred elf guts. Elf skin is used for bedspreads and clothing. You don’t want to know what they use the rest for. And of course, you aren’t a man of the tribe (aegchalur, in Draugwaith tradition) until you’ve eaten an elf and drank its blood.* Smoked elf ears are like lollipops, pickled elf-tongue is caviar, and braised elf eyes the Turkish Delights of the children of the tribe’s mechalur. Jewelry, daggers, and arrowheads made of elfbone are also quite popular, and it would be strange to find one without. They’ve gotten quite good at making the daggers, so they are not only tougher than most bone weapons, they won’t break like other bone weapons.
It’s worth noting here that these people don’t eat exclusively elves. In fact, eating elves is something of a special occasion. If they were having elves even once a day, the entire half-elf population of Carandaur would be dead by now. They grow and herd a bit, but they typically range out into other parts of Hithuidyr to see what they can steal, and to Hithuidyren they are nothing more than common brigands with strange fashion tastes. Most of the tribes only really get stragglers, hunters, or trappers, while actual kidnappings and raids (in addition to being reserved to larger tribes) are rare- though this perceived low frequency could be due to the difficulty news has diffusing out of the region. After all, entire villages in these parts have been known to disappear without any of their neighbors noticing for years.
They use all weapons, but most prefer single bladed battleaxes for their leaders, and handaxes thrown or other wise. Bows and daggers are likewise quite common, as are non-lethal weapons and traps. Of course, they often take to chasing their prey on their mounts, when said quarry is fool enough to enter an area where horse would be usable. They are good at not being found, and they will likely surprise you if you wander into their midst. If the terrain allows, they’ll send a forward group on foot followed by cavalry to pursue those who manage to flee. If not, they’ll just all go at you at once, with minimal guards of their mounts elsewhere.
If you find them and manage to open up peaceful communications (no lean task), they could teach you all about getting around the wilderness, laying traps, riding, and fighting with handaxes and battleaxes. However, you can learn about those in plenty of places. Here’s what you can only learn from them:
Elf-Slaying– Gain +2 to-hit and damage against elves. Every time you personally slay an elf and capture their more confectionery appendages, you receive 1% of the XP required to reach the next level after you return to civilization and spend 50sp per elf slain to prepare/preserve said appendages for eating. Captives taken by the party can be slain for this purpose, but they must be slain immediately upon returning to civilization without being used. Elves are livestock and food, nothing more.
Elf Bane Totems– Gain +2 to-hit and damage when using weapons made of elf-bone, and allows you to craft such during downtime. Refer to point system below. Each elf is worth 40 points, children are half.
- Dagger- 1d6 slashing or 1d4 piercing, X3 critical damage, -8 if being thrown, 8 points (they’re long, okay?), 1000sp and a week.
- Javelin heads- breaks on max damage roll, 4 points each, 500sp and a week for ten.
- Spearhead- breaks on max damage roll, 8 points, 500sp and a week for two.
- Arrowhead- expanded critical range of one, 2 points each, 1000sp and a week for ten.
More skilled bonecrafting shamans of the tribe may well be able to craft stranger bone weapons still, or even give bone edges to larger weapons such as axes. They must be sought out, and will not work for you unless you possess some bone crafting skill- at least 15000sp must have been expended or converted into jewelry.
Elf-Feasting– Requires Elf-slaying. Gain an additional +2 to-hit and damage against all elves. Once per level, you may prepare a ritual wherein you feast upon the still living flesh of an elf captive. The ritual costs 1000 x (your current level)sp and a full weeks time to finish eating him. An elf used for such a ritual must be alive at the start, and must not have been bought- you must hunt the elf yourself. You receive (5+1d4)% of the experience required to reach next level. Roll a disease check to see if you got something from eating a dude almost raw. Unusually for the tribes, this ritual actually wastes the non-edible bits of the elf in question, and as such only the most puissant and well-fed Elf-Eater chieftain will have undertaken it, and know how to teach you in turn.
These talents are normally only available to Draugwaith Shamans, Fighters, Rogues, and Witches. The Elf-Eaters only respect the brutish strength required to survive and thrive in the wilds, so Wizards and Clerics (in addition to pussy-ass city-folk adventurers) must go the extra mile (or go “native”, as it were) to get into good enough graces.
*Some say that more mercenary tribes have taken to breeding elves for the slaughter, but if so, this is thankfully not the norm- Elf-eaters prefer the hunt.
**If a player somehow manages to kill a real elf, just give them 3-5% of the experience needed to level. If they manage to cook them in the Elf-Feasting Ritual, just triple the XP they get. Actual elf-bone might have magical qualities as well.