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The Imperfect Reflection of Half-Elves
Sep 2, 2022

Ghostfire Gaming: DnD Article by Egg Embry

Half-elves are born into two worlds. They may be warriors, priests, farmhands, minstrels, or mages, or fill many of these roles during their long lives. Yet half-elves very rarely find a true sense of belonging. They frequently travel between the cultures of their two parents, seeing only an imperfect reflection of themselves in each.

Half Elf Paladin Grim Hollow

Artist: Omar Samy

Across the human realms of the Bürach Empire, the Ostoyan Empire to the east, and the southern provinces of Castinella, half-elves are a known quantity. However, they tend to be regionally scattered. Half-elves easily fall into becoming wanderers, visiting an area to work a seasonal profession before traveling on. While half-elves certainly have the inclination to settle down as any folk, there is a common mistrust from their human kindred that often forces them to move on.

Half-elves with strong familial foundations can reach the higher stations of scholars, guard captains, guild masters, high priests, and bankers. Their enhanced lifespan grants them time to perfect their knowledge and skills in such disciplines further than many of their peers.

In contrast, elves see their mixed-race children as emotional, quick tempered semi-humans. The Charneault Kingdom demonstrates that elvish society can live peacefully alongside humans, it’s just that elves prefer humans away from them. Therefore in Charneault, half-elves are given commercial and diplomatic roles between their two great peoples, away from the innermost circles of Tol Leyemil. It is more difficult for a half-elf to hold a high station in elven society than it is in the human societies of foreign lands.

Half-Elven Story Hooks

A Place to Call Home

Avaleous the Silver Hair is a half-elf wizard who has spent much of her latter days on the road. As a traveling mage she plays the part of a performer and conjuror of tricks. Avaleous also provides wise counsel the noble and wealthy. Her rates are reasonable and proportional to her respective clients. In rural lands, she is a familiar and welcome visitor during celebrations. Yet, the local folks Avaleous entertained or helped are happier when she’s gone once her services are concluded.

Recently, Avaleous the Silver Hair found a situation she wasn’t prepared for: she fell in love with another half-elf. There pair would like to marry and begin a family. There’s just one obstacle. Where? What land will take them in? Not just a wizard, but a pair of half-elves, what town will be safe for them and their children? Avaleous and her partner are looking to travel with a group that may be able to ingratiate them to their neighbors in a suitable new home. In exchange for such a service, Avaleous would part with some of her best magic items.

Desperate Prayer

Segar Selvacy de Canvesace took up the faith of her human mother. As a half-elf, it was difficult to climb in the religious hierarchy, but she always knew the love of the Arch Seraphs. Her vocation to practice her faith grew into travelling the realm locating and restoring lost relics. When she found such an artifact buried in an old mausoleum, she was ill prepared when the vile undead guarding the location trapped her inside.

Segar has limited divine power, and the vile denizens that have ensnared her seem tied to the mausoleum and unwilling to vacate it. Segar has fallen into desperate prayer for salvation, hoping the Arch Seraphs guide others of the faith to her before it is too late. Segar thinks not just for her own safety, but to remove a godly artifact from this desecrated place. If followers do come to her rescue, divine rewards await.

Battle of the Bards

Lagathandra is a bard best known for her sad ballads, tales of the isolation and woe she has lived daily as an exiled half-elf. Her songs are quite personal, and the tunes have captured the hearts of folk living throughout The Thousand Rivers.

Lagathandra has caught the jealous ear of elven minstrels who tour the same lands. They are insulted that a semi-human could be said to play more beautiful ballads than they. The bard Michel Shapar is particularly upset, hiring scoundrels to intimidate Lagathandra and break her instruments. The half-elf bard is even afraid she may be ambushed on the road by tipped off bandits, but she refuses to dance to Shapar’s tune. Lagathandra is looking to hire her own muscle. For those that defend her, she promises to immortalize them in a magical ballad.

A Plot of Mistaken Identity

Half-elves are imagined to be as tall and fine haired as elves. Druis Veasaeia is short even for a human with thick hair and lamb chop sideburns, a rarity among the half-elven. His ears are so short that they can be mistaken for rounded at a distance. Druis used these quirks of birth to pass as human for many years of his life.

Castinella Winery Nobleman Grim Hollow

Artist: Marius Bota

He took this a step further when he assumed the identity of a reclusive noble’s son back from travelling abroad. The noble in question is Count Carlos Brevici who owns a large winery estate. Sinking deeper into his lie, Druis (as Carlos’ son) is engaged to a Therpena merchant’s daughter, the merchant believing this will give his daughter a noble title. Now Druis is trapped into playing a dangerous game, with what started as a simple ruse since taking on a life of its own.

Druis loves his betrothed and wants to tell her the truth, but he knows this will put himself and possible her in danger of his father-in-law’s wrath. Even if it was simply discovered Druis was a half-elf, his life could be jeopardized for being seen as a fraud and trickster.

Instead, Druis has hired men with another plan in mind, giving them instructions to assassinate Count Carlos Brevici and leave himself as the man’s only apparent heir. It’s a dark scheme, but the reward would be the lands he claims to represent.

A simple barkeep overheard the Druis’ scheme when the half-elf hired the assassins. Unable to call the law on a noble, the barkeep seeks a party of adventurers to save the Count who did nothing to deserve his fate. Will the adventurers visit justice upon Druis, help the half-elf escape his sticky situation so all can be saved, or offer to replace the assassins and share in Druis’ ill gotten fortune?

A Quest Most Holy

Among the forests and river lands of Caer Neiada within the Charneault Kingdom, many half-elves live at the fringe between the human and elvish worlds. Often, these borderland dwellers find themselves employed as county ambassadors, cultural interpreters, and passive negotiators. They act as a river that runs between the unaligned shores of their relatives.

At a crossroads between human farmland and an elven wood is a small trading hamlet called Sybille le Dormyre. The village is a home for many half-elves to lay their heads.

Charneault Kingdom Picking Berries Woods Forest

Artist: Andreia Ugrai

Yet the elves among the trees resent the human-looking hamlet being so close to their forest, where the villagers have cut down trees to make buildings. The settlement also grows rich on connecting trade, something the humans who have struggled with their crops jealously blame on elven sorcery. Both sides want the half-elves to vacate the area and leave their ill-gotten timber and coin behind.

Galee Ahalthalfeld is Sybille le Dormyre’s leader, a position she has maintained for many years. She feels that the only solution to this problem is a quest undertaken by fellows who have a connection both to the Arch Seraphs and the Spirits of Nature. This group may include a gallant paladin, kind-hearted cleric, patient monk, joyful bard, roaming ranger, wise druid, or other manner of remarkable individuals.

This group of heroes must perform a favor for the Spirits of Nature and a noble feat in service of the Arch Seraphs to prove to both sides that Sybille le Dormyre is sacred and good. The reward for doing so would likely be received during the quest, and itself be evidence of divine and primordial favor.

The Serpent Queen

A half-elven countess would be unheard of among the regal families of Castinella or the Bürach. But in the lands ruled by the Valikan Clans, it is the strongest who inevitably rise to power. Mishka the half-eared is an ambitious Thegn who has already united several small clans in the frosty fringes of Nordenland.

To the northern lords of the Bürach Empire, Thegn Mishka is a troubling threat who has been dubbed the Serpent Queen. Among the leaders of the Valika, she is an upstart who threatens whatever stability currently exists between the clans. Assassins from both sides have been dispatched to stop Mishka before her following grows further. However, the Thegn isn’t a fool and is looking for worthy bodyguards willing to risk their lives for a chance at glory.

Captain of the Sea Horse

Captain Vishelai is a sailor of a fine transport vessel, the wind always favoring his route. Captain Vishelai is a pirate of a feared vessel, the wind fluttering his black flag. Captain Vishelai is a cleric upon a pilgrimage, the winds carrying him where the Arch Seraphs will it. Captain Vishelai is a trader of a merchant rig, the winds ferrying him to coin.

All of this is to say that Dasher Vishelai is many things to many people, a half-elf with many friends and even more enemies. If you have the coin, he will take you where you need to go. If you guard a horde, he will plunder it. If you need safe passage, he will outsail is pursuant enemies who would rather his vessel rested at the bottom of the sea. Dasher Vishelai is many things to you, all of them dangers or opportunities.

A Red Vintage

Elena Vana Hyphson is the owner of Hyphson’s, a winery in the summery warmth of Castinella. Embracing her elven heritage, Elena imports rare vintages from Charneault and learns to ferment her own wines inspired by her ancestors.

Elena’s business requires constant importing and reliable contractors, making her name renowned far from her vineyard. One of her customers has travelled far to order an illegal extravagance from her. Blood.

Elena has refused the order, but the vampire will not be easily denied. Instead, the dark creature is attacking her suppliers, having her merchant ships raided, and killing her customers. Elena is prepared to pay a high prize to capable monster hunters, including some powerful potions fermented in her cellar.

Dancing with Danger

Key Willow might be the tallest half-elf ever at ten inches and seven feet. He embraces his height, entwining his hair into complex braids that seem quite outlandish away from elven lands. His elvish grace makes Key an excellent dancer and famed for performing at galas for the sophisticated elite.

What isn’t known is that while Key enraptures the attention of his host and their guests, the door is left open for his partners to rob the room. Yet folks are starting to catch on to this devious plan, valuables disappearing in Key’s wake one too many times. Key, an expert rogue, now needs protection from the law and safe passage to more distant lands. Meanwhile the city watch are paying good coin for information about Key’s whereabouts or their capture.

Dnd oath breaker Paladin Dark Fantasy

Artist: Tony Foti

The Dark Forest

Candre of the ash wood staff has been murdered in the woods, impaled upon a tree branch. Angry spirits haunt that wood, say the locals. They whisper that the Spirits of Nature distrusted a half-elf. Yet Candre had communed with the fey for decades without incident and taught their community the rites that would keep the forest spirits at peace.

Yet all is not well in the forest, for Candre was not the first half-elf to die in this manner. Each of the bodies was impaled so quickly that there was almost no blood to be found. Panic is starting to grip the community that the Spirits of Nature are angered, or that the Mists have grown dark within the forest. Someone needs to investigate.

If the spirits are to blame, they need to be stopped. However, it may also be the case that a more mundane monster is to blame, including a group of bandits with a particular hatred for half-elves.

 

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