Elves of the Stars

Sailing Under Cloak by Silverblade the Enchanter. Copyright (c) 2014. Used by permission.

The Spelljammer setting is unique among D&D settings in that its elves are a very strong force.  The Imperial Elven Navy (IEN for short) is the dominant force in Known Space.  Their uniquely grown ships are among the most effective craft in the Void (by 2nd Edition rules, anyway) and with such powerful mages at their beck and call, they are fast and deadly spelljammers.

Yet even here there is an implication that the elves might be on the decline.  Why, for instance, do they call themselves the Imperial Elven Navy when there is no real empire to speak of?  Was there one in ancient times now lost to history?  Did the various cataclysms and wars that affected the elves on the major worlds spill out into the skies – or were they sparked there?  The presence of spacefaring drow suggests that there was, indeed, at least some correlation.

Also, the elves of space are not nearly as firmly aligned to the forces of good as they are on the Known Worlds.  During the Unhuman Wars, two great conflicts in which they fought against spacefaring orcs, in the first case for hundreds of years, they engaged in a great many morally grey or even evil actions; from secret super-soldier programs who were then abandoned and exiled once the war was over, which resulted in spirit warriors, bionoids and possibly the insidious insectare; to dropping planet-killing Witchlight Marauders on goblinoid worlds and acts of magical genocide that destroyed planets (such as Borka in Greyspace.)  Their domination of space is at best that of benevolent dictators, and at worst is outright fascist.  Yet they do what they do because they believe they must, and their is honour, dignity and tradition among them as well.

Love them or hate them, the Elves of the Stars are a force to be reckoned with in Spelljammer.  This month, we salute them.

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2 comments on “Elves of the Stars

  1. Strikes me that the lack of a central Elven Empire is so that it can be fit into a campaign setting. In my home campaign, I have a Divine Empress of the Elves. Rumor has it that she is an avatar of Vandria Gilmadrith (goddess of War, guardianship, justice, grief, vigilance, decision).

    • I am sure you are right! In our campaign we played that there *used* to be an elven empire but it broke up in the same kind of interracial strife as the Crown Wars on Toril etc. (and before the Crown Wars on Toril I do believe.) Part of the plot involved recovering an artifact crown to claim the throne for one of the characters, then encouraging large elven nations to swear their allegiance to the Empire – through diplomacy, not conquest – and rebuilding the Imperial Elven Navy after the Second Unhuman War. Though once the Armed Forces, centered on the Navy, were established, they would come to the aid of any friendly nation in trouble, with a very large war machine at their disposal. We did not have the sources for that goddess when we initially did this, so we incorporated her later – but I can certainly see the “Mistress of Forgotten Hope” being in her service! Interestingly, we also used the title “Divine Empress” and came up with an elvish word that meant exactly that. She and her consort were addressed as “Your Worship” rather than “Your Majesty.”

Out with it then!

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