Legends of Belariath

Dark Elves

The Dark Elves (often known as Moriel) live in the hostile depths of the Nethergloom: a place without any light, just the radiation of weird mushrooms and other plants. Their eyes, having once been accustomed to light, can still see just as well as any other elf in the light, however due to mutations and gifts bestowed on them by Kirva, they can see even where there is no light. However direct sunlight or other bright lights will weaken a Dark Elf who is not accustomed to it. A member of this race entering the surface world after living their entire life in the Nethergloom will be very weakened, up to the point where they are no more hard to kill or capture than any nymph. Continuous exposure to sunlight will diminish these effects until they disappear.

Character Creation

Starter Classes: Knight, Bard, Thief, Mage, Cleric, Ranger, Warrior, Healer, Shaman, Artisan, Entertainer, Laymen

Advanced Classes: Warlord, Any Elemental Mage, Seductress, Necromancer, Mist Raider, Paladin, Priest/ess, Warrior Mage

Starting Stats:

STR INT AGI RES STA SPL LFE
Basic Stats 3 3 3 1 5 4 7

Characteristics:

It's been many years since the Moriel split from their surface cousins, millennia infact; however, because of their shared lineage, the Moriel retain the slender and lissome build of any elf, as well as the pointed ears and sharp eyesight of their progenitors. The gift of longevity is also shared, so a Moriel will never appear to age much past adulthood, but are not immune to death. It is at that point that any common features will stop and the true markers of a Gloom born take over.

The Moriel are dark creatures, not only in mind but in general appearance and coloring. Their skin tones will range from deep obsidian, midnight blues; ashen grays to the occasional deep purple, anything lighter will be looked upon by the dark elves as testament to a mixed or corrupted heritage. Due to the nature of the gloom, eye color has become predominately shades of red - though there is the occasional orange, blue or violet. These are bright, piercing eyes, adapted to see in the darkness of their world. Hair color is also primarily bright whites or silvers, with a deviation sometimes occurring into shades of auburn or red. Finally, the average height for any Moriel tends to vary, though between 4'8 and 6'4 tends to be the usual for most Dark Elves.

Behavior:

The origins of the Moriel are important when considering the current outlook and hierarchy of how Moriels work. The influences of their Goddess has made the breed a matriarchal society, the females rule here and are considered superior to both the males of the species and any other surface inhabiting race. In the sub sects of the vast underground caverns in which they live, the Matriarchís rule over Houses, and these Houses in turn rule over the entirety or the vast majority of the cities and lesser Houses within. Those who rule are expected to keep their power through cunning and power; for anything less, and an ambitious and devious Moriel can usurp the reigns by any possible means.

This interaction between Matriarchs and Houses has led the dark breed to become a very devious, very cunning set of morally ambiguous creatures. They abide by an unwritten code of ethic and law, but flow between those laws by any means necessary if it means getting ahead of another. It makes the females arrogant and sexually aggressive, willing to do about anything if it means getting what they want. The constant scheming, backstabbing and topping of a rival more powerful than themselves is taught at a very young age for Moriel females, for to know how to play the game is to ensure the survival of the House and female in question.

Advantages

Elven Advantage:

Eyesight: All Elves essentially came from the same origin, before the great rift and Kin Wars created the three subtypes. It is from this single connection that all elves tend to share some of the same advantages and disadvantages. The first that all elves are gifted with incredibly sharp eyesight that can easily pierce near darkness. They may not be able to see as far as the bird-winged races, but they are given a type of infra-vision that can allow them to maneuver in the dark or in the dead of night, and to see more clearly objects that are farther away.

Moriel Advantage:

Body Language: Centuries of living under the surface, of scheming and learning to fight for their position have put the Moriel race at an advantage when it comes to the fine art of learning their opponent; especially the subtleties of body language and how it might convey the unsaid. While the skill can vary from one dark elf to the next, it essentially allows the Moriel to pick up the nuisances of another Moriel's expression or the position of their body in how it translates to mood. This does not equate to an automatic lie-detector, but allows them to potentially anticipate the reaction of their fellow dark elf or to gauge their own next move based on subtle inflections of the other. This would not necessarily work as successful on someone of a different cultural background or racial appearance, though the technique can be applied, it won't have as much success at accuracy.

OOC - when determining success, the player trying to apply this technique can roll a !r 1d10 die, getting a 1-4 is a successful gauge of mood on another Moriel played character.

If the played character is non-Moriel, the player trying to apply this technique can roll a !r 1d10 die, getting 1-2 is a successful gauge of mood of another non-Moriel race.

This can of course be optional if all parties are consensual in the determination of the technique.

Disadvantages

Elven Disadvantage:

Ear Sensitivity: Blessed as they are with the ability to see far and within the darkness, all elves carry the commonality of slender pointed ears. These lobes have been known to be the not-so hidden g-spot of the race, with the slightest of pressure, both extreme pleasure and extreme pain given to these delicate extremities. Just the right pinch, pull or jab and an elf might be brought to their knees in bliss or in agony, proving to be highly embarrassing to the unlucky elf on an occasion.

Moriel Disadvantage:

Sunlight impaired: The Moriel have been a race diversified from their surface kin for millennia now, with the exception of some, most are born beneath the elaborate caverns and cities that are set aglow by superficial or magical light. When pushed to the surface, sunlight can have a crippling effect on the Moriel, to the point where they can be weakened physically or made sick by it. This effect can lessen as time passes, but even then, direct sunlight or bursts of bright light can still weaken or cause extreme pain to the surface dark elf if they do not take precautions

Combat Modifiers

Disabilities and Their Mechanics
Type: Attack Defense Init
CloPhy RanPhy CloMag RanMag CloPhy RanPhy CloMag RanMag
Sight -30% -90% -30% -100% -30% -30% -30% -30% -50%
Hearing N/A N/A N/A N/A -25% -25% -25% -25% -25%
Speech N/A N/A -100% -100% N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Hands/Arms*** -25% -25% -50% -50% -25% -25% -25% -25% -20%
Legs/Feet*** -25% -10% -25% -N/A -25% -20% -25% -25% -25%
* Attack/Defense Enchantments are not effected, penalties apply to base stats.
* Those temporarily blinded in one eye will receive half penalties for blindness to all attacks.
** All penalties are cumulative.
*** Penalties are cumulative per limb.
* Those temporarily blinded in one eye will receive half penalties for blindness to all attacks.

Society and Taboos

Values

Moriel ethics and values are an interesting study. Dark Elves are a thoroughly evil and treacherous race, yet they have a twisted but strong code of honor. For example Moriel will murder their parents to rise in power without causing much affront in the Nethergloom - but to break one's sworn oath is considered a despicable act.

If such oaths are sworn by a Thilari, or the Minor Deities, or even Kirva, its breaking is absolute taboo, a thing that none will ever forgive, and if one is murdered by a mob, it would still be luck not to be slain by the deity herself. Such an oath is sworn very seldom and with great care therefore, and is used sometimes to solidify extremely important agreements.

There is no law in the Nethergloom, rather a set of unwritten rules, enforced by the priesthood and the Noble houses. Apart from that, the fittest survive, and that is how the Moriel believe it must be. It is any wonder that when one of the Moriel find themselves upon the surface, for whatever reason, the ideal of Might Makes Right is easily taken up as a mantra to their actions?

Despite their dark, harsh nature, Moriel are far from being savages. For the most part they enjoy their comforts and eases when they are not fighting or plotting. In their own twisted way, they are quite civilized, with developed arts and culture, though they might not be in every surfacer's taste, often bearing a distinctively sadistic touch. Yet as much as some like to indulge in these finer pleasures, their hard life and constant strife will always act as a balance and prevent them from becoming decadent.

Sex, Children, and Death

Dark Elves have no reservation whatsoever concerning sex, and they will enjoy it whenever and however they desire. Their interests are more often than not exotic and rough, and the prospect of being a Moriel's bed partner can elicit both fear and anticipation. It is quite usual for higher-ranking Moriel to have a small harem of pleasure slaves to fulfill their carnal desires.

There are no such things as formal marriages in the Nethergloom. Sometimes a Moriel will takes others (of the same or opposite sex) as a mate, but such joinings are usually simply in order to share carnal pleasure, and can be dissolved as easily as they are made.

If a female desires children, she will usually choose a male who seems best suited to her, and cast him out again after he has done his duty, unless she has some other reason to keep him. Few Moriel know who their father is, and in any case that concept has little importance in the Nethergloom; children are raised exclusively by their mother. Their education is conducted collectively, either by the House, or in the case of commoners, by the city's priesthood. Moriel children undergo very rough training, which the weak ones usually do not survive.

Sundered as they are from their former kin and gods, the Moriel are still Elves, and thus do not die from age. But as with all Elves, sometimes very old age will bring a certain weariness upon a Moriel, making him rather despondent--thus not surviving much longer in the dangerous Dark Elven society. Yet it is rather rare for a Moriel even to become that old without being killed.

Dark Elven Taboos

Through out their own existence, all Moriel kind has established a set of unspoken rules that if broken, come with severe punishment to the unfortunate. Even those stricken from their House, in exile, or taken to the surface for their own reasoning are considered beholden to these edicts.

The first is above all else; No Dark Elf will disobey Kirva's direct wishes. Doing so will result in death. Kirva saved her children from certain death and will lead them to one day conquer all surface breeds, to turn oneís back on an oath made in her name or a direct order from the Mother of all Moriel will not end well for the recalcitrant soul.

This goes without saying, but can often be punctuated through fear and force: Matrons are Kirva's chosen and no Dark Elf will disobey them, penalty being death. The role of Matron is believed to be the handpicked of Kirva, to outright go against a Matron or to ignore a direct order is to go against the Goddess herself. Matronís will often obtain their position through lies, careful deceit and manipulation, and often by the point of their sword; it is no guarantee that they will keep the position, but during their tenure the Matronís are second only to Kirva in decree and action.

Dark elven Society is purely Matriarchal, the role of leader passed from one daughter to the next with no deviation to the opposite sex. Males are still considered valuable, but as soldiers, stewards and breeding stock. It is adamantly upheld among all of the breed that no male Moriel will ever be superior to even the lowest female Moriel, not even if the female in question is in Exile.

Dark Elven Entertainment

Dark Elves enjoy the fine arts and other luxuries of civilization, despite their violent nature. Dark Elves appreciate tasteful foods and wines as well as a hot bath, or art, sculptures and even the arts of magic. They will often be the patrons of such arts, skilled librarians and connoisseurs of music and art; as elves, appreciation is in their blood despite their dark and militant behavior.

It is a frightening thing to be the subject of a Morielís ire, even more frightening but equally titillating to be the subject of a Morielís carnal hunger. Dark Elves, being as violent as they are, will usually not stop if they get aroused and find a suitable target. If the target struggles, they will most often just take what they desire against their will. Like a fly in the spiderís web, a struggle only aroused those wicked lusts further, letting them know it will be a succinct experience.

Hierarchy

Hierarchy is very important in Moriel society. Due to the influence of the spider goddess, females have a highly preferred position. They hold most leading positions, and males born beneath a certain rank are looked upon with superiority, and even disdain. Within a House, one's rank is usually decided by how closely one is related to the Matriarch. Between Houses, rank is a more subtle business, obeying complex unwritten laws, but in the end being an interaction between the current status of one's House and one's individual status within it.

There are of course also commoners among the Moriel, but most of them are at least distantly affiliated with one of the Houses, as they would otherwise find it hard to occupy any worthwhile position in the Nethergloom. Yet they are not disregarded by the nobility as in other races. Rather they are seen as loyal followers and worthy kin, potentially able to rise above their current station.

And indeed birth only indicates one's starting point in Moriel society. Any Dark Elf can rise in the ranks, either through skilled politics, military success, or exceptional clerical devotion. A commoner having gained enough distinction in this manner will usually be given the chance to join one of the Houses. It is even possible for males to gain some respect in this manner, in very rare cases even equal treatment... but such a struggle is quite hard.

Besides, the lowest commoner will still be of higher regard than any surfacer--for the Moriel firmly believe in the absolute superiority of those of their blood. Yet there have been some very rare cases in which some Moriel made alliances with some of the stronger and more vicious surfacers. Such events happen very seldom, however, and are frowned upon by most Dark Elves.

That is not to say that the Moriel will not enslave their own kind. Many males suffer that fate in any case, due to their subordinated position, and many females believe that serving is all they were ever created for. Yet there are also females slaves, some fallen to that position through political machinations, a few having willingly chosen that path. They are never owned by males. Some disdain them, seeing them as degenerate weaklings, but others say they were simply born into that place to serve their betters--and those female slaves who accept their lot are usually very skilled, and quite sought after.

On the subject of Moriel half-breeds, opinions differ. The majority considers them just as low as surfacers, or even lower. Others, however, are willing to accord them a little respect if they believe the Moriel blood to be stronger.

Political Structure

Due to the physical properties of the Nethergloom, the Moriel Empire is rather decentralized, consisting of large cities built in the giant caverns linked by broad tunnels. Each city is nominally ruled by a council, but that council is usually dominated by the noble House that resides in the respective city. There are some exceptions however; some cities harbor more than one House, who are usually in conflict to each other, while certain Houses extend their influence to several cities.

Indeed the Houses, and the Matriarchs that rule them, are the main drivers of Moriel politics. Their power and influence varies greatly, and also fluctuates as every House always plots to become more powerful. There is no central authority, but rather a web of complex and ever shifting alliances and pacts. Politics within the Houses are also dominated by scheming and plotting, and often succession is assured by assassination.

In such unstable conditions, it might be surprising that the empire has subsisted as long as it has. But it must be noted that treacherous though they may be, Moriel always clearly realize when something threatens their race as a whole, and are well able to lay aside their plotting for a while until the common threat has been defeated.