A Complete History of the Elven Imperial Navy: Part 1 – Foundation and Early History

Elven Man-O-War Transparency by Silverblade the EnchanterBy Adam “Night Druid” Miller

Note – Adam has created a very detailed campaign setting. Much of this is based on canon material but much is his own creation. For those who follow the Toy Soldier Saga, I will be using some of this information among my “fanon” but by no means all of it. In particular, my thoughts on the early history of the origins and creation of the Navy are different.

Origins of the Elves (As told by the Myth-Keepers of Lionheart)

In ages long forgotten, when the countless worlds of the Endless Spheres were new, the Seldarine set about shaping those worlds to their liking. They created the first sentient beings, spirits of nature bound by mortal vessels. They created the Minyaeldar, the First Elves. As they took their first steps on their now-mythical homeworld, they were taught the ways of magic by their creators. In time the Seldarine taught them much, and in gratitude the Minyaeldar dedicated their entire civilization to their divine creators.

The creation of the elves did not go unnoticed. Other gods came to know of the elves, and grew jealous. They rushed to create their own races to worship them. Yet none had the patience of the Seldarine. In their haste, their creations were flawed. Most flawed of all were the creations of Gruumsh the One Eye. He and the gods aligned with him created the Morionello Ash’hen, the Black Sons of the One Eye, the orcs. Where the elves were beautiful, the orcs were ugly. Where the elves devoted and loyal, orcs were treacherous, their loyalty bought by treasure or threats. Only in destruction and murder did the orcs excel. Shamed, Gruumsh angrily accused the Seldarine of tricking him, and vowed war upon them.

In the Heavenly realms, Gruumsh marched to the very gates of Arvandor. There he hurled insults upon the Seldarine, and invoked a challenge for one to meet him in a duel. The Seldarine were afraid, for in those days Gruumsh was unmatched in his strength and fighting ability. Only one of the Seldarine, the bravest and strongest of their number, took up his sword to meet Gruumsh on the battlefield. Corellon Larethian. Their battle became legendary, for the Godswar shook the planes with their battle. How long the war lasted, none could say. By the end, Corellon emerged as the leader of the Seldarine, his mate was cast into the Abyss for her treachery, and many deities had perished.

Most importantly, the Godswar scattered the Minyaeldar. Great portals opened before them with magic now forgotten. A Great Elven Diaspora scattered the elves to countless new worlds. On many worlds, they found waiting for them were the Eldar Serkearda, the Elves of the Blood and Earth. The Serkearda were born when the blood of Corellon had mixed with the tears of the Moon and the soil of the Earth. They had sprung up upon the many worlds the two gods had battled. On some worlds, they greeted their Minyaeldar as brothers, and upon others they were greeted as enemies.

As the elves rebuilt their shattered civilization, many Minyaeldar withdrew into remote mountain fortresses and enclaves. They came to be solemn and wise, and became the Gray Elves. Likewise, many Serkearda decided to forsake civilization and withdrew into their forest homes, and became Sylvan Elves, or Wood Elves. But many Minyaeldar and Serkearda did not withdraw, instead choosing to rebuild and intermarry. These became the High Elves.

Foundation

As the elves rebuilt from the Godswar, the titanic magical forces that had allowed the creation of the portals that carried elves to the far reaches of the Endless Spheres faded. Only the most skilled of wizards could tap into that magic, and only at great cost. The elves were separated from one another by the Void between Worlds, and the Ocean of Primordial Chaos that separated the Spheres. The elves were forever scattered.

The Seldarine did not wish for their creations to be forever isolated from one another. At first, they pondered using their power to open the portals once more, to return the elves home. Yet Corellon dissented from this course of action. “Trust in our creations,” he told his fellow deities. “Let us provide the tools to them, and let them decide their own destiny”. So they set into motion a plan that would give the elves the means to reach their brothers and sisters upon distant worlds, and the knowledge of how to use those tools. And when everything was ready, they would call many great elven leaders and heroes together into a great Council to decide their own fate.

The first signs of the Seldarine’s plan unfolded when great, butterfly-like plants descended from the heavens across a hundred worlds, coming to rest in elf-controlled glades and meadows. Fascinated by these marvelous, crystalline plants, the elves studied them through careful observation and divination magic. One by one, they uncovered the secrets of the plants, in particular their ability to fly not only in the sky, but to the stars beyond.

The elves quickly learned the basics of Spelljamming. They crafted sleek craft from the starfly plants gifted to them by the Seldarine. With these craft they embarked on the bold exploration of wildspace, visiting first their moons and then other worlds, and finally the Rainbow Ocean and other spheres. Occasionally they bumped into one another, and rediscovered their lost brothers and sisters. It was sometime during this early period of exploration that the Seldarine, through dream visions, bade elven kings, nobles, and heroes to gather at a specific time to a faraway sphere. A few refused the call, and some were lost along the way. But many more came, bringing together the wisest and strongest of the elven race. When they arrived, avatars of the elven gods were waiting for them, welcoming them to the Council of Lionheart.

The Council of Lionheart was a long affair, a debate that lasted a millennia. Or perhaps it lasted ten millennia, or longer still; none can say, for time moved strangely at the Council. In the end, the Council conceived of a vast spelljamming fleet, commissioned to defend elven homelands, protect their ships, and keep open trade routes so that the elven nations may travel and trade freely with one another. Thus the Elven Imperial Fleet was founded.

Impressed by their vision, Corellon himself presented Ilernil Leafbower, the First Grand Admiral, with three priceless, gemstone-like artifacts. Crafted by Dugalad, the greatest jewel-crafter ever known and one of the last Minyaeldar, these gemstones captured the essences of Hothagar the Lion, Vilyaheru the Falcon, and Rilaure the Stag (all animal companions of Corellon slain by Lolth’s treachery) and infused with the power of Arvandor. With these and other gifts of great power, along with the blessings of the Seldarine, the elves set fourth in their mission.

The Skywar

Just as deliberations ended and the Elven Imperial Fleet took its first steps towards fulfilling its mission, a disaster struck that almost destroyed the fledgling fleet before it took flight. Great armies of the animalist goblin-kin, known by some as the humanoids, marched through still-functioning portals and invaded innumerable elven kingdoms. The island kingdom of Tintageer was merely one of many kingdoms that met its doom at goblin-kin blades.

Despite the devastating initial attacks, the goblin-kin were doomed from the start. Outnumbered and in unfamiliar territory, their armies were quickly isolated and destroyed one by one. The Elven Fleet coordinated with ground forces for the first time, using their ships to secure the high ground and act as mobile fortresses to unleash destructive magic on hapless goblin-kin armies. Within months of the initial invasions, the goblins were routed on Faerie and other elven worlds.

As the elves secured victory on the ground, some small but powerful tribes of goblin-kin escaped destruction. They uncovered the secrets of the magnificent elven ships they had stolen in their raids. Aboard stolen ships and guided by stolen magic, many chiefs and their shamans fled into wildspace to continue the fight.

Fearing what the goblins could do with their stolen ships, the Elven Fleet pursued the fleeing goblins. They would spend the next several centuries pursuing the goblin pirates and their descendants, as finding tiny ships in the vastness of wildspace proved a daunting task. Eventually the stolen ships were recovered or destroyed, the thieves put to the sword. The Skywar, the first sphere-spanning war the elves participated in, was over.

Expansion and Exploration

With the Skywar over and given the blessing of the Seldarine, the Elven Imperial Fleet set to its true mission. The first few centuries following the Skywar were spent exploring what is today the Known Spheres. Worldscouts visited hundreds of worlds in search of lost elven tribes and kingdoms. Meanwhile, shipwrights and gardeners worked to learn more of the marvelous starfly plants, crafting bigger, sleeker ships. New spells and devices were devised to aid the elves in the strange environment of wildspace.

The first mission handed down from the Council of Admirals was one of exploration. Captains were sent out at great risk to seek out their lost brethren. They set off to find elf colonies that had not heard or were unable to respond to the summons of the Seldarine. These journeys were perilous; many ships were lost. Sometimes, the crew would survive, marooned on some distant, alien world. The elves of Bodi and Alabeth are believed to be the descendants of elven explorers from this era.

Despite these perils, some missions ended successfully despite the loss of a ship. Such was the case when Captain Mariona Leafbower’s ship was destroyed in orbit above Toril by Q’nidar. Captain Moriona and her crew were rescued by the elves of Toril, and with their aide, not only managed to grow a new ship, but laid the seeds for the Island of Evermeet to create its own magnificent fleet of Starwing Spelljammers.

Over the course of many centuries, regular contact with many elven kingdoms was established. Trade routes blossomed between those kingdoms. Elven tradesmen were escorted by the first Man-O-Wars and other warships. The elves enjoyed a period of unparalleled growth and wealth during this time as their tradesmen brought back treasures from a hundred or more worlds.

The Elven Fleet prospered and grew as well. The Fleet swelled from a few hundred ships to a thousand or more ships. They pushed the limits of the starfly trees, crafting six mighty armada warships that were far larger and more powerful than modern contemporary craft. The Elven Fleet worried that such wealth would draw envious eyes. Never would they imagine that their own brethren would become the most dangerous threat the Fleet had faced yet.

Reign of the Corsairs

As the elves grew more prosperous, their interests turned from simple survival to more esoteric pursuits. Matters of philosophy and the nature of the universe came to the forefront of elven debates. Xenophobia and strife gripped elven communities. Elves came to lust ever increasing power and wealth. Their desires were heard across planar boundaries. Through their agents, the demons seeded the Prime with the means to summon them, along with the promise of greater power for those who dare such feats. Some elves, in their arrogance, eagerly called forth the demons, and fell prey to their whispered promises. Lloth, the Queen of Spiders, spun a web of lies and deception that captured many elves. Lloth’s web soon turned elf against elf in the horrible civil war that was known as the Elfwar.

The Elven Imperial Fleet was not immune to this strife. As the Elfwar consumed whole kingdoms, the Elven Fleet was plagued with its own problems. Tradesmen and their escorts began to vanish at an alarming rate. Piracy had always been a problem, and ship disappearances were not unusual. Yet the recent losses far exceeded what mere pirate could take. The Council of Admirals launched an investigation into the matter. The findings would rock the Elven Fleet to its core.

A decades-long investigation revealed that no mere pirates were preying on elven shipping lanes. No, the perpetrators were captains of the Elven Imperial Fleet itself! Worse still, they were acting under the direct orders of Admiral Darkdawn, Admiral Evernight, and Admiral Shimmerstar. Driven to madness by a thirst for power, these admirals signed vile demonic packs. They sought to usurp the power of the Grand Admiral himself and install one of their own in that coveted position. Their plot revealed, the Admirals fled before their wrathful fellow Admirals, taking their fleets deep into the void. With them, they took two of the greatest Armadas.

None knows what happened to the traitor elves in their exile in the void. But they would return two centuries later, much changed by their time in exile and warped by the corrupting influences of demonic packs. The traitors were now the drow, twisted with a burning hatred of those they now considered their inferiors. They were now corsairs and pirates, determined to take what they felt was rightfully theirs.

The Elven Fleet had not been idle during the traitors’ exile. In secret they built a mighty castle upon a small forested moon. The castle was built strong yet elegant. There were great caves where elven warships could moor to be repaired. Thickly built towers housed ballista and catapults to defend against aerial assaults. And the Keep was built to headquarters the Council of Admirals. And within its walls the Lion’s Heart was safeguarded, giving to the castle its name: Lionheart. From this hidden castle, the Council of Admirals coordinated the defense of the Elven Nations against the threat of the drow.

Many campaigns were launched from Lionheart’s secret location against the drow. Demonic alliances had made the drow powerful and dangerous foes, far deadlier and cunning than the orcs and goblins the typically plagued the Elven Fleet. For nearly one hundred centuries, the elves clashed for control of the Known Spheres, until finally the drow were at least defeated. The costs were great, as all but one of the wondrous great armada were lost, and Lionheart itself was ruined. In the closing years of the Elfwar, drow saboteurs infiltrated the castle and worked their darkest magic. A portal to the Abyss was ripped opened within the confines of its walls. An army of tanar’ri poured through, killing everything their eyes fell upon. Despite a valiant defense, Lionheart was overrun. The Council of Admirals was forced to flee, leaving behind many precious artifacts. It would take another four centuries before the Fleet could gather the strength to retake the castle and drive the tanar’ri back into the Abyss. It would take a further thousand years for the elves to recover their lost artifacts. Despite winning the castle back, Lionheart had been deeply scarred by the tanar’ri, and the elves left its ruins for nature to reclaim. Its location has been lost in modern times, known only to the most trusted Lorekeepers of modern Lionheart.

Twilight of Glyth

Since the beginnings of the Elven Fleet, the elves were not alone in wildspace. They encountered many strange and wondrous races in their explorations. The elves also drew the unwanted attention of other nations. The Empire of Glyth, a formidable empire of spelljamming illithids, discovered the existence of the space fairing elves. While the ships built from living crystalline plants fascinated the illithids, it was the succulent elven brains that they came to desire most. The elves came to greatly fear the illithids nautiloids.

As Realmspace at that time was unknown to the Elven Fleet, the Raiders of Glyth could strike almost with impunity at elven trade routes and retreat without reprisal. With the Elven Fleet still gripped with the Elfwar, they could devote few of their precious ships to the defense of elven shipping lanes. As the Elfwars waned, however, the Elven Fleet would prove that elves were not such the easy prey that the illithids had assumed.

Admiral Stardawn was assigned to deal with the illithids menace. Through a brilliant campaign, he managed to destroy more than a dozen Glyth raiders and gave a sharp check to the illithids. Shocked by the ferocity of the admiral’s response, the illithids were forced to withdraw, to prepare for all-out war against the elves. That war never came.

On their capital-world of Glyth, a simple slave uprising escalated into a planet-wide revolt. The ancient empire began to crumble as illithids cities burned and slave armies clashed with the revolutionaries. As the situation worsened, illithids fled to colonies such as Falx, Kule, and Oerth. The last illithids to escape had little choice but to flee to Toril and create a new enclave, Oryndoll. Despite their victory, the revolutionaries abandoned Glyth, for the world was naught by ruins and wastelands. To where they fled, few know for certain, but some sages speculate they retreated into the Planes, as they were the ancestors of the Gith races. A few captured illithid ships, and became the ancestors to the Pirates of Gith. Those same sages note that in many texts and maps from that era refer to the planet not as Glyth, but as Gyth. Other sages mark this up to speculation and coincidence.

The War of Glyth’s Revenge

Shortly after the Glyth fell to armies of rebellious slaves, a fleet of illithid ships, crewed entirely by goblin-kin, savagely attacked elven ships. The Elven Fleet was still fighting in the bloody Elfwar, so the goblins managed to inflict far greater casualties than they should have. In their possession were several dangerous and powerful illithid devices which they used to great effect. What began as a minor flotilla of ten ships quickly grew to five times that number as the goblins cobbled together captured ships into ramshackle vessels to carry their growing horde.

The sudden appearance and power of these humanoids baffled the elven admirals. The goblins could not comprehend, nor control, the strange and alien devices in their possession, according to elven sages on the matter. Moreover, the horde was comprised of several tribes of normally feuding creatures, including kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, gnoll, flinds, and bugbears. Admiral Stardawn speculated that a cabal of illithids escaped the fall of Glyth, and were using the humanoids as the perfect patsies for some sort of power play.

After a decade of destructive raiding and marauding, the goblin fleet began to disintegrate. Battle damage began taking its toll on the increasingly ramshackle fleet. The illithid ships were abandoned as the damage to their hulls too extensive to be repaired. Tribes began to splinter away from the main fleet, only to become easy prey for reprisals from the many powers that they had angered. Within a year, the goblin fleet had lost nearly a third of the ships it once had. Finally, a year later, the fleet had vanished completely. Elven records show no indication of any of their fleets having engaged the goblins directly in battle. Some elven sages supposed that it was likely the goblins ran afoul with a drow armada, or perhaps fell victim of some plague or monster. Regardless, the goblins were gone and that minor war was over.

Calm after the Storm

The aftermath of the Elfwar left the Elven Fleet in shambles. The destruction was extensive, both on elven worlds and in wildspace. Much of their magical knowledge had been lost, forcing the elves to start over in various schools of magic. In some areas, they would never recover. The great Armadas of the past were gone, never to be rebuilt. Once, the Elven Fleet could darken the skies with their Man-O-Wars. After the Elfwar, the surviving Fleet was badly over-extended and could field perhaps a hundred or so battle-worthy ships.

Despite the devastation, this was an era of growth for the elves. Old homelands were destroyed, forcing the displaced elves to find new ones. The Seldarine blessed their people with fertility so that they could replace lost populations. A bumper crop of starfly plants gave the Elven Fleet the ships it desperately needed to reopen vital trade routes. Most importantly, the Elven Fleet needed to guard against both a resurgence of the Elfwar and those that would take advantage of the elves’ woes for conquest and plunder.

To protect their trade routes and defend elven worlds, new castles and outposts were commissioned and built. Chief of these was a new headquarters, a new Lionheart. Not only was it a military outpost, Lionheart served as a major port of call for elven merchant vessels. The Elven Fleet chose carefully the sphere of Lionheart’s location. Though a small sphere with but a few minor worlds and many asteroids, it straddled several vital trade routes. It served well as a trading hub for newly reopened trade routes. The sphere became known as Lionspace after the primary port of call.

For the next three millennia, the Elven Fleet focused on defense and trade. Many elven tribes migrated to Lionspace. The elven settlers made the sphere their own. They planted forests upon the larger asteroids, and starfly plants around the many tiny water worldlets. Even after it began to drift from the major flow routes, the elves remained. Lionspace’s importance, as a military headquarters waned, and the Elven Fleet officially turned over Lionheart to the local monarchy in -1,913 OC. By then, the Elven Fleet had recovered much of its strength and glory.

Timeline of the Imperial Elven Fleet

c. -35,000 OC to -20,000 OC Dawn of the Elves

The Dawn of the Elves marks a period of that many sages consider mythical. Dates are very uncertain, for few historical records survive from this era. Sometime in this era, the elves are created, great wars are fought between the gods, and the Elven Imperial Fleet is founded.

c. -30,000 OC

The first elves, the Minyaeldar, are reputed to have been created at this time by the Seldarine. The Minyaeldar are seeded on many worlds.

c. -29,800 OC

Many Minyaeldar report sightings of a gigantic manta ray carrying a golden city upon its back.

c. -28,000 OC

The jealous god Gruumsh begins the Godswar with the Seldarine. The war rages off and on for the next thousand years.

c. -27,900 OC

Chaotic magic unleashed in the Godswar open countless portals across the Endless Spheres. The Great Elven Diaspora begins.

c. -27,000 OC

– The Godswar comes to a close with a duel between Gruumsh and Corellon. The elven creator god bests the orcish creator god by putting out his eye.

– Blood spilled by Corellon mixes with the tears of the Moon and the Earth to give rise to the Serkearda, the Elves of Blood and the Earth.

c. 27,800 OC

Strange, butterfly-like plants descend from the heavens to elven territories on a dozen or more of worlds. The elves begin to unlock the mysteries of these strange plants from beyond the sky.

c. -26,000 OC

War of the Seldarine: Araushnee betrays her lover, Corellon, by amassing a divine army to battle the Seldarine. Her treachery fails, and she is cast into the Abyss to become the demon-goddess Lolth.

– Araushnee murders Corellon’s three animal companions, the lion, the hart, and the falcon.

– The Seldarine summon elven representatives from half a hundred elven realms to a remote, previously unknown sphere. Most answer the call and arrive at a forested world.

– The Council of Lionheart begins.

c. -25,000 OC

– The Council of Lionheart ends.

– The Elven Fleet is founded.

c. -25,000 OC to -22,000 OC

The Elven Fleet charts trade routes between known elven worlds. Trade flourishes.

c. -22,000 OC

Portals open once more on many elven worlds, from which spew armies of animalistic humanoids. Many kingdoms are destroyed in the ensuing chaos, including the island kingdom of Tintageer on Faerie. The Elven Fleet coordinates their forces with groundling elf forces to destroy the hapless humanoid armies.

c. -21,900 OC

Facing destruction on the ground, several powerful tribes steal elven spelljammers to escape into wildspace. They become dangerous pirates and raiders on fledgling elven trade routes. This marks the beginning of the Skywar.

c. -21,300 OC

The Elven Fleet track down and destroy the last humanoid pirates. The Skywar ends.

c. -15,000 OC

Start of the Elfwar.

c. -7,454 OC

Illithids flee massive slave rebellions on Glyth in Realmspace. Some settle in enclaves on Toril, Oerth, Kule, and Falx. The revolutionaries disappear from Glyth shortly thereafter.

c. -7,450 OC

A fleet of humanoid-crewed, illithid-built spelljammers begin to attack ships in Realmspace. They amass an impressive but ramshackle fleet of stolen spelljammers.

c. -7,440 OC

The humanoid fleet that had terrorized Realmspace and the nearby spheres for the past decade is ground to dust due to battle damage and casualties.

-5,501 OC

Elven world-scouts discover Lionspace.

c. -5,400 OC

Elves start to settle Lionspace.

c. -5,318 OC

The elven Man-O-War Green Monarch is destroyed in a battle with Q’dinar over Toril. The surviving crew, including Captain Mariona Leafbower, is rescued by a groundling elf. Mariona lends her expertise in aiding in the creation of a fleet of Starwing Man-O-Wars for Evermeet’s defense.

c. -5,000 OC

End of the Elfwar

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2 comments on “A Complete History of the Elven Imperial Navy: Part 1 – Foundation and Early History

  1. with my brief study, I’m a small chunk of cosmic dust in the Night-druidverse 🙂 Great history here, with tremendous ideas and a style we can qualify of night-druidic, that mean awesome, in many spacefarer cultures.

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