Half-elves are something of an enigma as a race. Unable to truly fit into the societies of either humans or elves, they spend their lives somewhat uncomfortably “in between” and “not quite.” They adopt and adapt and are excellent survivors, able to assimilate into whatever role is needed and find a way to make themselves indispensable as they seek acceptance from without and wholeness within. Outwardly beautiful but inwardly fragile, half-elves strive to master themselves and find within their hearts the strength to command their destiny.
It is not difficult to imagine why elves and humans find each other attractive. To a human, an elf represents an unattainable beauty. Elves—with their height, slim figures, wisdom, and grace—are often seen as perfected humans, a living ideal many humans find impossible to resist. Elves appreciate humans’ vivacity, their lust for life, and their willingness to act at a moment’s notice. To elves, humans represent freedom, brashness, and excitement. While the most staid isolationist elves decry these traits as weaknesses of the human spirit, other elves find them irresistible. When elves and humans breed, half-elves are the inevitable result.
The term half-elf is deceptive, for only a fraction of the creatures so labeled are the offspring of a human parent and an elf parent. Most are many generations removed from the original coupling, yet exhibit traits of one race or the other that ensure they never quite fit into either.
The physical beauty of half-elves masks a complex and conflicted internal psychology, as the human and elven elements of their psyche do not combine harmoniously. The dilated temporal perspective of their elven lineage leads to languorous predilections at war with their humanistic verve, adaptability, and precocious impulsivity. Their combination of the closed mind of the elves and the open mind of humans leaves half-elves in a delicate and often brittle mental dynamic. This leads many unfortunate half-elves into depression and even madness.
Half-elves have no ancestral homeland and seldom gather in groups composed explicitly of their kind. Instead, most try to fit within either human or elven society. They generally thrive in human communities, where they frequently become artists, bards, or entertainers. Despite this warm welcome, many half-elves avoid mixing with their human cousins, for foremost among the racial gifts granted to them by their elven progenitors is a long natural life. Half-elves often survive 150 years or more, and must watch as three or more generations of their human friends wither and die before their eyes. The older half-elves grow, the more likely they are to be overcome by melancholy and nostalgia, speaking wistfully of lost friends from simpler times.
Lacking a culture of their own, half-elves adopt the dress, affectations, and mannerisms of the societies in which they find themselves. They generally fall into one of two groups: those who wish to fit in and those who wish to stand out. Those of the former group stay within the mainstream fashion trends of their adopted culture, attempting to blend in with their peers by donning the kinds of clothes most other people of their social standing wear. These half-elves sometimes obsess over what others around them wear, say, and do to such an unhealthy level that they nearly drive themselves mad in an attempt to fit in. Despite all their best efforts, though, they rarely do.
Half-elven names can be drawn from the entire breadth of their human or elven cultural history and background, or half-elves may choose names for themselves. Sometimes these names are simple, almost as if meant to fade from memory, but many half-elves choose more embellished, musical names with an elven inf lection.
Half-elves generally look like attractive humans with pointed ears. They stand about half a head taller than humans and rarely put on weight no matter what they eat. Those with stronger elven traits are more likely to be viewed as outsiders by humans, who nonetheless remain strangely fascinated by them. Half-elves whose looks favor their human side tend to have a difficult time in elven society, with conservative elder elves subtly pushing them to discover their human heritage by exploring the world at large (and thus abandon the pure elf community). Half-elven skin tones usually take on the hue of the human parent’s skin.