In Frost and Snow
A new elven character race: the snow elves

Snow Elves

From Dragon #155


If snow elves have remained virtually unknown in most AD&D campaigns up to this time, it is only because of their extremely secretive natures and purposeful seclusion from society. In most campaigns, however, snow elves can provide the DM with an exciting NPC race and the players (DM willing) with new and challenging player characters.

Chilling appearances

The appearance of the snow elves has perhaps given the other elven races reason to doubt their lineage as being truly pure. They are the shortest lived of the elves, with average lifespans of 750 years (900 being incredibly ancient). Additionally, snow elves are the tallest of the elven races and generally tower above humans. Females occasionally reach 6'4", and it is not unknown for males to have grown to 7'. While very thin, snow elves are extremely wiry and tough individuals. Snow-elf PCs gain one point to both dexterity and constitution, but lose two points of charisma when dealing with all races but their own due to haughtiness and disdain of lowland society. Snow elves have light brown or tan skin, white or pale blond hair, and silver eyes. They strongly favor white clothing and bone jewelry, trading for silver from valley elves.

In addition to the standard elven characteristics of resistance to sleep and charm spells, infravision, moving silently, and detection of secret doors, snow elves have developed several unique adaptations to their hostile environment. All snow elves gain a +1 on their saving throws against any form of cold attack or condition. They also gain +1 to hit with any spear or javelin, but gain no to-hit bonuses with the sword or bow. Snow elves also have the ability to set traps with a 90% chance of success, providing they are in snowy, mountainous regions. Each trap, of any type, does a maximum of 2d6 hp damage per level of the elf who sets it.

Snow elves could best be described as neutral with insufferably arrogant tendencies. With the exception of the valley elves-whom they tolerate and occasionally befriend-snow elves actively dislike all races other than their own, and they go out of their way to make that fact known if given the opportunity. Drow incite a kind of madness in snow elves, and only overwhelming odds will prevent a snow elf from attacking any drow or drow ally.

An icy history

Most closely related to their only ally, the valley elves, snow elves are an aloof people. Accepted by neither elves nor men, they have simply withdrawn from both and carried on their lives. They inhabit the snow-covered Crystalmist Mountains of the WORLD OF GREYHAWKĘ setting, but might be found in similar areas elsewhere in the Flanaess.

The rift between the snow elves and their cousins stems from the same wars that drove the drow underground. The snow elves were deceived into allowing passage (for a large profit) of the drow through a mountain pass they controlled, not knowing-so they claimed-that the drow were serving Lolth and had recently declared war on their cousin elves. While never formally condemned by their relatives, the snow elves have been universally shunned by them ever since. Valley elves, themselves largely disliked by others, tolerate snow elves perhaps because each views the other as sharing a similar plight-neither race is considered "true elves" by their cousins.

Mankind's quarrels with the snow elves also stem from twilit history.

The snow elves were ever taller and more haughty than other elves-or even men-and they sought once to dominate or destroy the men who entered their mountain valleys and homes, earning forever the hatred of the more numerous race.

During their ages of seclusion, snow elves have focused their studies on fields that would aid their survival in the harsh environment in which they are fated to dwell. Thus magic, particularly the magic of cold, has waxed while clerical studies have waned. Druids and rangers have become prominent. All the while, snow elves have become more reclusive and secretive as lowland societies have grown unaware and indifferent. Indeed, the snow elves might be a dying race.

The cold clans

Dwelling in tight-knit, extremely isolationist families or clans of 3-30 members, snow elves are very territorial and hostile toward trespassers. These clans live in small villages consisting of 2-10 dome-shaped huts of woven trees, covered with furs and skins and packed on the outside with snow. Such villages house members of one clan only and lie generally near the center of that clan's territory. Territories average two square miles in size for each member of a clan's village. Communities numbering more than 30 undergo a branching off, wherein two or more family groups pack their belongings in early spring and set out in search of new territory. This prevents overpopulation and starvation in a rugged environment that offers no bountiful harvests for large communities. Such branching off is now a rare event.

Snow elves develop classes as do any other sorts of elves. They may become fighters, rangers, druids, wizards, or thieves. Level limits for snow elves are given in the table herein. By tradition, males are most often found as fighters, rangers, and thieves; females are usually wizards, and either sex may become druids. Fully half of any clan will belong to a character class (the rest are zero-level characters). Those snow elves having a class will be 1st level, usually fighters (if male) or wizards (if female). Half-elves whose elven parents were snow elves are treated as any other sort of half-elf, though they are extremely rare.

Higher-level characters are often encountered in snow-elven clans. For every five snow elves, there will be an additional 2nd-level male ranger, a 2nd-level female wizard, and a 2nd-level druid. With a group of 10, there will also be a 3rd-level male ranger. Groups of 20 will be headed by a 4th-level male ranger, a 3rd-level female wizard, and a 3rd-level druid. The largest groups (25-30) will be led by a 5th-level male ranger (the "father"), a 5th-level female wizard (the "mother"), and a 4th-level druid (the "priest") with a 2nd-level druid understudy. Mixed-class snow elves are uncommon, with a 10% chance per elf of having a second class; classes are mixed as per any other elf, with the druid class being substituted for the cleric.

Snow elves have no ability to work metal-no small surprise as they use but dislike fire-and disdain all metal armor, including studded leather and even elven chain. They prefer to wear leather, skins, or their own special garb. Snow elves are renowned for their ability to manufacture a strong and beautiful type of armor from the hide of the white dragon. Due to their carefully guarded secrets for curing and treating, this armor grants AC 4 while hindering movement no more than elven chain. Only the 7th-level druids are taught the secrets of its crafting, and all armor is manufactured at the shrines. Other snow elves (including any PC) will have no knowledge of the construction process. The higher-level druids at the shrines will always wear this armor, though other snow elves may also: 2nd-level ranger, 15%;

3rd-level ranger, 20%; 4th-level ranger or 3rd-level druid, 30%; 5th-level ranger "father," 75%; any other 5th-level ranger, 45%; and 2nd-level druid, 5%. The valley elves will occasionally own a set of this armor as they are the snow elves' connection to the outside world, giving them metal weapons and tools, and certain alchemical products. Magical suits are known to exist though they are obviously very rare.

Adventurers passing through an area inhabited by snow elves are 35% likely (+10% per day) to encounter traps set by the elves (snares, deadfalls, and triggered avalanches of snow or rock) or to be attacked. Snow elves use hoar foxes (90%) or trained bears (10%; any available sort) as pets and guards.

Half-elves who have snow-elven parents sometimes take up the career of a bard. Though such characters wander widely, they are shunned by snow elves for their human "taint." These bards are almost legendary to other races due to their rarity. They often play an instrument used to some degree by nearly all snow elves. The keras (Keh-rahz) is a large instrument very similar to the alpenhorn used by Swiss shepherds. Keras range in size from 4' to just under 20' and are usually made of wood (although the best are said to be constructed from the tusk of the wooly mammoth) with bone mouthpieces. In their native environment, snow-elven clans often use keras to communicate across vast distances, having developed a complex code for signaling. Some of the largest of these instruments may be found at the shrines and are sounded only in times of great need or grand celebration. The bards use the smaller versions of the keras to play mournful and powerful ballads as majestic and sad as the mountains themselves.

Snow-elven clans, while not at all interdependent, will not hesitate to aid one another in repelling invaders or raiding high-altitude settlements. Clans often come together in spring and fall for various festivals and religious holidays. A snow elf will never turn another of his kind away empty-handed, although the proud snow elf only rarely admits the need of another's assistance.

Though a snow-elf PC will, of course, travel as he likes, a snow-elf NPC will seldom be encountered below the snow line. Occasionally, their clans will dwell for brief periods just below the tree line in the dead of winter. Snow elves will never be encountered in a city, and they go into the foothills or lowlands only on urgent clan business or to raid for food.

Matters of worship

Snow-elven religion centers around their secluded druidic shrines. These holy places, tucked in the wildest and most remote nooks and crannies of the mountains, house elven druids of the highest levels. The shrines are reportedly places of great power, and each is headed by a druid of no less than 11th level, assisted by one 8th-level "assistant," three 7th-level "attendants," four 5th-level "caretakers," and a host of 2-20 lesser druids and servants. Druidic spells cast from these areas are reported to be of double strength and duration. It is also rumored that the shrines gain this special power by being located in areas of "elemental weakness"-a misgiven name, for these houses of worship are centered on fissures between the Prime Material plane and one or more of the various elemental and paraelemental planes, particularly those of Earth, Air, and Ice. The elven druids of the shrines, dwelling as they have in such close proximity to the elements over the ages, have developed heightened powers in summoning and controlling elementals and ara-elementals while near their shrines or homes. This talent applies only to NPC snow elves, because it is a skill gained individually and requires decades (at least) of study and association. Despite the elves' familiarity with fire, this element remains distasteful to even the most powerful snow-elven druids.

The shrines are considered by all snow elves to be extremely holy areas and will be aggressively defended. Most often, these shrines are dedicated to Tarsellis Meunniduin (a lesser elven deity detailed hereafter), though a few are said to honor other gods. Tarsellis Meunniduin is the chief deity of the snow elves. They, in fact, explain away some of their differences to their elven kin as due to their being direct descendants of his (such is the haughtiness of the snow elf). While most scholars of elven lore remain rather skeptical on this point, Tarsellis does not seem displeased with his "children's" dedicated worship.

Tarsellis Meunniduin(god of mountains and wilderness)
Lesser god
ARMOR CLASS: -4
MOVE: 15
HIT POINTS: 290
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 3-30
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Never misses in combat
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to fire, cold, lightning; elemental control
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 75%
SIZE: L(8')
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic neutral
WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: All nonlawful and nonevil rangers, druids, and dwellers in the wilderness (elves)
SYMBOL: Snow-capped mountain
PLANE: Olympus (see below)
PRIEST: 12th-level druid
WARRIOR: 22nd-level ranger
MAGE: 8th-level wizard
ROGUE: 8th-level thief, 12th-level bard

S: 24(+6,+12) I: 19 W: 20 D: 25 C: 25 CH: 19

Tarsellis Meunniduin always appears as a tall, blonde male elf, deeply tanned and clad in luxurious furs. Though he is a legendary hunter, Tarsellis is deeply devoted to the wilds and the creatures that dwell therein. Thus, he spends a great deal of time and energy roaming the wilderness in search of evil creatures and great monsters to slay or drive from his domain.

Tarsellis was once great friends with (and, indeed, was superior to) the elven god Solonor Thelandira, and the two would often hunt together in the days of old. But before the elves yet walked the earth, Tarsellis fell in love with a beautiful but dark goddess named Megwandir. Solonor objected to Tarsellis' romance, not trusting the dark goddess, and the ensuing quarrel has left the two gods bitter ever since.

Tarsellis both hunts and fights with a giant spear that strikes for 3-30 hp damage and never misses. Only he can wield this weapon. Attacks based on heat, cold, wind, lightning and other natural forces have no affect on Tarsellis. Any elemental summoned in his presence can be immediately controlled by him. If pressed, Tarsellis can summon all woodland creatures in a two-mile radius to aid him.

A solitary figure, Tarsellis Meunniduin is considered somewhat of a rustic by the other elven deities. He spends the greater share of his time in the mountains and forests of the Prime Material plane, and his worshipers build temples and shrines to him there. His followers offer him furs of the finest quality and bring live animals of the greatest size as presents to the druids of his temples. Snow elves consider Tarsellis their patron deity.

Above all else, Tarsellis detests drow. If a worshiper of his prays for aid while doing damage to the drow, there is a slight (1%) chance that Tarsellis will send help in one form or another. The reason for this hatred is traceable to his quarrel with Solonor. For the goddess Megwandir-so named before the elves yet walked the earth-has come to be known as Lolth, and no longer dwells with the elven deities. The feelings Tarsellis once felt for Megwandir have become hatred.

Snow Elves: Class Level Limitations
Ability* Druid Fighter Wizard Thief Ranger
16 U 5 11 U 5
17 U 5 11 U 7
18 U 6 12 U 9
18/51 U 6 12 U 10
18/76 U 6 12 U 11
18/91 U 8 12 U 11
18/99 U 9 12 U 12
18/00 U 10 12 U 12
19 U 11 13 U 13
20 U 13 15 U 14
21 U 13 17 U 14
22 U 13 18 U 14

All prime requisite ability scores for any given class must be at least equal to this value in order for the character to achieve the level shown.

 

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