The World of Orsus
Elves are a mysterious race for most others. They largely keep to themselves on the continent of Laresial and rarely find cause to adventure among other races.
There are subraces of elves. All are slightly different, and most non-elves would have a hard time telling the difference between them.
Largely city-dwelling, some would say that the Gray Elves are the most “civilized” of all elves. By some they are seen as beautiful and regal. However, most would call them stuck up and aloof. Gray Elves see all other elves as beneath them, and all other species below even that. However, Gray Elves are largely responsible for the archaeological and technological advancements of the Elvish people. It is said, that without the Gray Elves, their race would have never left the trees.
The tallest of the elves, most are on par with humans. They tend to have strong jaws and upturned noses, only adding to their stuck-up appearance. They have pale skin and light eyes ranging from a light brown, amber, or lavender, to a blue so white they appear almost blind. Their hair ranges in all metallic colors, from brilliant gold or pale gold, to fine silver or a shining copper. Their dress reflects such colors as well. “Regal” just barely begins to describe them.
High Elves are the most common of elves. They are seen throughout Laresial, somewhat in Tolgar, and are the most likely elves to seek adventure. They can hold any occupation, from lowly farmer to city councilman. They mostly gather in simple villages, but also populate settlements in the woods or even larger cities (though those cities tend hold Gray Elves in positions of authority).
See the PHB for more info.
Wood Elves/Sylvan Elves
Wood Elves are the most in tune with nature, aside from the Wild Elves. Making their homes in and around the forest, Wood Elves are the protectors of the earth and the wild. They’ve been known to make friends with all races, and especially love the fae. While at home in the forest, they are not averse to traveling to the city for trade or adventure, but always with a mind to return home.
Wood Elves appear the most exotic to strangers. Their skin ranges from a milky tan to a deep earthy brown. Their hair is the most interesting of all, varying from a sunflower yellow, sienna brown, or even shades of green. Their clothing is made from well-cured leather, soft cloth woven from fibers, or delicately sewn furs. Their jewelry is simple, but they are known to have a range of piercings around their ears and eyebrows. Everything about the Wood Elves shows off their ties to the earth.
Wild Elves, also called the Grugach, are the most reclusive and barbaric of all elves. Prone to extreme violence when affronted, most other elves tend to avoid their lands. Known only to live in the deepest woods of Laresial, few ever survive to report their location. It is assumed they come from a history of persecution, and must fight to protect that which they believe is theirs. Some claim that they wear trophies of their enemies – usually ears – in strings about their necks.
Reports of their appearance vary, but the Wood Elves are the most known to trade with them. They wear rough leather, heavy fur, or sewn bits of plant fibers. Their skin is almost like wood and they have eyes to match. Some are known to be covered with ritualistic scarring or tattoos. While still as tall as most elves, Wild Elves appear stronger without being any less agile.
Not necessarily a race apart, most Wandering Elves are those who have forsaken a permanent home for the life a a gypsy. Also called The Khilasa, they tend to have a negative reputation in most Gray Elf regions. They are reputed to be willfully ignorant and uneducated at best, or inbred thieves and tricksters at worst. Most wandering elves were born into their lifestyle, but occasionally others will forsake their current lives for the open road. They do not believe in marriage, but see each caravan as a communal family where children are a blessing, and taken care of by all.
They can be found all over Laresial, and once used to roam Tolgar as well.
They tend to have copperish-brown skin and curly brown hair, although their hair is frequently dyed, beaded, or wrapped in cloth. Their eyes vary greatly, from violet to green and blue. They tend to wear bright colors, sashes, and strings of beads.
There are historical accounts of the Dark Elves, (also called Drow) being active during the Dragon Wars. However, its been centuries since any have been seen or recorded. Most likely they disappeared with the last dragons, or were killed off completely.
Other Elvish Races
Elvish folklore is filled with tales of other Elvish races, long lost to time. While the Drow are gone, they have indeed existed at one time. However, the others are myth; reduced to fairy-tales and superstition.
Mist elves are said to walk the boundary between the mortal realm and the realm of magic. Shorter than most elves, with exceedingly long ears, you’d know one if you saw it. It is said they walk about the land clothed only in their own long hair, woven with magic into something more modest. It is said that Mist Elves are the ancestors of all elves today, when elves first came into this plane of existence.
Every race has its myths of sea creatures, and Elves are no different. Sea elves are rumored to be blue-skinned creatures with seafoam green hair. They have webbed fingers and toes to get them around, or in some cases, they have fins on parts of their bodies. Still largely humanoid, they are fiercely loyal to their own and have a strict and rigid society. Any time one of them breaks a law, no matter how slight, they are cast from society.
The Sky Elves are said to be another race lost to time, hunted to extinction for their beautiful downy feathers. Sky elves once lived in a vast region of mountainous islands – mountains that spat fire and smoke. The elves lived among the rocks and the clouds and the edge of the water. They had vast wings to take them from island to island on a whim. Their wings range from snowy owl white to brilliant gold or silver. Some claim their whole bodies were covered with feathers, or they were hairless or had beaks. Always their ears betrayed them as elves, no matter how altered.