Mon 8 Sep, 2008
Elves call themselves “Prahja” in their own language, and make the distinction of which different tribe of elves they are by adding the name honoring their founder. In this case, the mythic seafarer Virya gave birth to the Prahja-Viryuni.
This elven tribe separated from their brethren when they reached the shores and sailed into the sea. Called ‘sea elves’ by other races, they are often confused with the legends about merfolk and aquatic elves, when in reality they are just excellent sailors. Where the woodstriding Maehvindra elves feel a kinship to the land and its animals, the Viryuni feel the same with the tides and the creatures of the ocean. They have a series of settlements in an archipelago off the eastern coast of the main continent, united in a very loose organization. Viryuni ships are the fastest and most maneuverable to sail the seas and even seem to move by their own accord. As excellent navigators that they are, these elves trade with almost all of the coastal nations, exchanging information as well as merchandise. Some Viryuni are pirates, and it takes another Viryuni to catch them.
Like their Maehvindra cousins, the Viryuni elves are run by a loose matriarchal society hiding behind a more apparent patriarchal rule: on the surface, a chief dictates the everyday lives of his community, but he always heeds the advice of the local council of mystic women, be them witches or shamans, and in most of elven settlements it’s the eldest crone who has the last word on what direction the people will take. Viryuni elves live mostly in their ships, who can join together by ties of kinship and friendship into fleets. Contrary to pupular belief, Viryuni do have lands in a far-off and mostly unkown archipelago.
In addition to a crew’s loyalty to their captain-patriarch and witch-matriarch, they also swear fealty to a central council made from the crones of each fleet, which in turn appoint an admiral-king from any of the active captains. These small nations may then organize together under a High Admiral, but this happens only in times of emergency.
A ship’s crew is like an extended family, with all members expressing a kinship and loyalty that other races reserve to close family. The captain is more than the ship’s owner; he is also the ship’s patriarch, regardless of age. All Viryuni ships carry with them a sea witch or shaman that specializes in talking with the spirits of wind and ocean. The sea witch is, more often than not, the captain’s wife and the ship’s matriarch. The positions of captain and sea witch are hereditary, but can be contested in a ritual challenge.
Landlocked, large communities are ruled by a retired captain and a small council of elder warriors and sea witches in separate courts. The chieftain is in charge of most major decisions for the community, with the two courts handling the day-to-day business. The position of chieftain is never hereditary, but a Viryuni remains in this position until he dies or steps down.
Roving ships fish and trade, bringing their surplus to the communities to complement the algae they grow and food they catch in the sea.
Viryuni elf characters have the following characteristics:
Personality: Viryuni are outgoing and cantankerous. They live their lives to the fullest, enjoying every little breeze and every major storm. They are extremely open-minded, given that they must interact with a great number of races and nations in their travels and trading, and it serves little to offend the people paying one to carry their cargo. Although generally trusting, they are no fools and they smile only outwardly until they are sure they can trust someone.
Physical Description: Elves are slightly shorter and leaner than humans, with thin faces, large, almond-shaped eyes and long and pointed ears as long as their palms extending up and backwards. Females and males are generally the same size, but females are more slender, giving the illusion of being smaller. Both genders wear their hair long, with females preferring to wear it loose or tied up by a couple of braids, while males use ponytails and single braids to keep it in check. Viryuni skin tones are light tan, with hair colors going from white and light blues to deep black and green, and eyes with the colors of the sea: blue and green. Red and purple eyes are uncommon as they are among Maehvindra elves, but they are not unheard of, and elves born with those colors are said to be favored by spirits, time will tell whether this attention is propitious or unfortunate. Both genders dress in very scant clothing, with males favoring trousers and a sash with the occasional vest and females using a variety of skirts and rags, with a simple top covering their chest. Tattoos are not frowned upon, but are not a norm either, for the Viryuni respect the purity of their skin as it is touched by the ocean sun.
Relations: Viryuni are almost as curious as humans, actively seeking contact with others through their travels. They are very respectful of other peoples’ boundaries, but they hold that their vessels are elven territory not subject to outside law, even if the vessel itself will respect that law from the hull outward. Viryuni are the originators of the seafaring culture that mandates courtesy amongst passing ships, including warning of dangers, the obligation to help in shipwrecks and even the unwritten laws of salvage.
Viryuni Lands: Viryuni claim dominion over the Viryaprati Archipelago, a collection of small islands southeast of the Gateway Strait, as well as the decks and holds of their ships. Living a half-nomadic existence, Viryuni are generally believed to have no lands of their own, and only a trusted few outside their race know about Viryaprati. They build small communities along the islands’ coasts but do not consider their collective a kingdom, therefore lacking any central authority. There are times when several chieftains gather into a strong alliance to deal with a common enemy, and the sight of a full Viryuni fleet is enough to deter most invaders.
Elves revere the spirits of nature in many forms, worshipping a small collection of deities in charge of natural phenomena. These deities have not formed a pantheon, but are not bothered by sharing followers, and the elves even worship some Beast Lords. Prahja priesthood consists mostly of witches and shamans, most of them women, and their word is basically law, as neither chief nor captain will give orders that contradict the voices of the spirits of nature, as interpreted by the witch. Males who take on the role of the witch tend to cross-dress but are neither shunned nor rejected. There is a loose hierarchy in the priesthood that depends more on personal power and merit than on actual rules. There is always an elder crone in any group of witches and in crone councils one is elected as the matriarch, but this title is transient and may pass on to different crones from year to year.
Language: Elven is called Prahjani and is written in a long, flowing syllabic script, which assigns the sound of syllables to each symbol. These syllables are put together to represent the sound of the five Prahjani dialects. Prahjav is the common tongue of the Viryuni, while Vinprahjav is the tongue of their sea witches. Vahjan is a secret language shared by all elven mystics, but it has been heard from human shamans’ lips as well, as it is a variation of the spirit tongue.
Names: Elves have only one name, but they slowly build upon it, adding syllables as time goes by. Their given name is represented by one to three of the first syllables; after that they add the first syllable of their mother’s name, then the first syllable of their village or ship’s name. They keep adding particles throughout the centuries after the first syllable of words that represent important events in their lives. It is said that to know the true status of an elf in her society, one must compare the length of her name. Male names always start with a consonant and have two syllables at most, while female names always start with a vowel (‘h’, ‘r’ and ‘y’ are considered vowels in Prahjani) and may reach three syllables.
Male Names: Pratan, Najan, Naron, Bari, Darni, Garu, Jevni, Kelen, Maj, Rej, Pavni.
Female Names: Anan, Ivaini, Hamati, Raivi, Ervati, Yan, Rheja, Arjati, Yahnani, Heli.
Sample Full Names: Pratanvehjaran, Raivinatenrasta, Majvehsontanan.
Adventurers: Most Viryuni adventurers wish to explore on their on rather than being part of a crew. They may continue to sail by changing ships between ports (as Viryuni are always welcome as part of any ship’s crew) or striking inland to see what can be found away from the sea.
Magical Style: The Prahja practice witchcraft, which by other name is the nature and spirit magic practiced by witches and shamans. They are very good at herbalism and natural medicine as well as enacting all sort of religious rituals to call upon the power of the land and sea. All components of Prahja magic are natural and in raw form, so many mages believe them to be savage upstarts rather than powerful heralds of the spirit world.
Martial Arts: Prahja martial arts are graceful and acrobatic, exploiting natural elven grace and relying on agility rather than strength. They favor the use of light and throwing weapons and as little armor as remains prudent. Prahja practice extensively on how to fight in unusual situations: from treetops, mounted on unruly beasts, on riggings or in the middle of a storm at sea.
Game Rules (OGC-d20)
- Medium: As Medium creatures, elves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Elf base land speed is 30 feet.
- Low-Light Vision: An elf can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
- +2 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence.
- +2 racial bonus to Swim, Survival, Use Rope, Search and Spot. Once per day, a Viryuni elf can make a Survival check (DC 15) to predict the weather for the day if he is sailing over a body of water.
- Immunity to magic sleep effects.
- Magical Attunement: Nature and spirit magic. Prahja characters receive a +2 bonus to Sense Motive checks to detect the use of spells found in the shaman and witch spell lists, including spell-like abilities. In addition, Knowledge (nature) is always considered a class skill for them. If a character already has Knowledge (nature) as part of his class skills, he receives a +1 bonus to such checks instead.
- Weapon Proficiency: Viryuni elves receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the rapier, trident, longbow (including composite longbow), shortbow (including composite shortbow) and the net as bonus feats.
- Fate of the Age: As rulers of the Fifth Age, elf characters begin play with 3 fate points.
- Favored Class: Male elves choose either ranger or witch as their favored class at character creation. Female elves choose either witch or shaman. A multiclass elf ‘s ranger (if male), shaman (if female) or witch class (chosen at character creation) does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.
- Automatic Languages: Prahjav, Wavetongue and one other language of the trader’s pidgin family; witches and shamans also know Vinprahjav. Bonus Languages: Any language in the trader’s pidgin, Wuf, Murr, Mob, and Spawnspeech families.