The High Elves were the last race to be given the patronage of the Gold Gnomes, and the race who most benefited from the intervention. Originally the High Elves were identical to the Wild Elves, eking out a struggling existence in the Tamrest Forest, engaged in violent skirmishes with the Goblinkin and dealing with the multitude of other threats that make their home within the primordial forest. The Gold Gnomes took many tribes of elves into their care, and began educating them in the ways of culture, engineering, arcane magic and more. The elves were apt students, absorbing all of the teachings of the Gold Gnomes and even improving on them in several ways. Living much shorter lives than their patrons, the High Elves quickly began to outbreed the Gold Gnomes, a problem that was not foreseen by the patron race. Fortunately for the Gold Gnomes, the High Elves bore no ill will for the intervention of the Gnomes and in fact were grateful for the elevation in cultural enlightenment. As a form of reverence to what was given, High Elven society still places a value on Gold Gnomes, allowing them special neighbourhoods and token positions in High Elf government.
The High Elves are no less devout than any other race in the region, though their very nature tends to be fluid and mercurial, a fact that is reflected in their religious belief system. Originally they High Elves shared the belief system of the Wild Elves that every ancestor who passed before them becomes part of the natural world and looks over them from they Fey realm. This belief has faded quite a bit over the centuries as the High Elves grew farther and farther away from their connection to the natural world, and were slowly influenced by the Gold Gnome teachings of the elemental primordial beings. The nature of the Nine Free Cities also means that there are no real centralized churches, which leads to a hodgepodge of religions that sprout up or dye off throughout the years.
Like many other aspects of High Elf culture, government structure in the Nine Free Cities changes from year to year. The only thing that allows for consistency in the cities is the oversight and commitment to stability of the Gold Gnome bureaucrats that keep the cities from falling into chaos during these transitions. Not specifically related to government, the various arcane academies in the [Nine Free Cities]] have a significant level of influence in the daily operations of the cities.
The High Elves were extremely limited in their choices of expansion and chose only nine Gold Gnomes Cities in which to repurpose for their own use. Prior to the founding of the kingdom of Fallanstaff the High Elves assumed that the Gold Gnomes would have little difficulty in ceding the cities to them as they had plenty of other smaller settlements with which to build up, and that they would see the Nine Free Cities as a gift to the race they had already given so much too. As a result, the High Elves live in the Nine Free Cities, each a self-sufficient city state, well maintained and defended from any would be threats. In addition to sharing their cities with the Gold Gnomes numerous packs of Ratfolk still call the cities their home, cowering in slums, sewers and whatever other warrens they can find. Many Humans will also find homes in the cities, pursuing studies at the academies, or even plying various trades.
The High Elves do not create much in terms of physical good, preferring to serve as intermediaries, importing and exporting other goods to and from the region. They are however, excellent artisans who create unmatched works of art. The High Elves are also responsible for the minting and dispersal of the golden coins, originally created by the Gold Gnomes and still recognized as the primary accepted currency across the entirety of the region.
The High Elves are still very closely allied with the Gold Gnomes whose cities they have assumed control over. The Gold Gnomes still actively participate in daily life in the Nine Free Cities and relate closely to the High Elves. The High Elves also have a tenuous alliance with the Humans of Fallanstaff who have sprouted up many communities, large and small, around the Nine Free Cities and bring trade goods and patronage of many High Elf Merchants.
The primary enemy of the High Elves are the Ratfolk who lurk in the nooks and crannies of the Nine Free Cities, though most of High Elf society is oblivious to the level of animosity the Ratfolk feel towards the High Elves. In addition, the Wild Elves of the Tamrest Forest have a strong level of contempt for the High Elves, feeling that they have turned their back on their shared heritage and have become enslave by the luxuries offered by the Gold Gnomes.
The High Elves are not a particularly martial people, preferring instead to focus on mercantile and artistic endeavors. The High Elves are fond of using their large stores of coins to hire mercenaries and are not overly selective of who fights for them and have even on occasion gone so far as to hire Lizardfolk, Orcs and Centaurs to fight for them. Despite this lack of martial focus, there are some High Elves who excel at swordplay, and in a nod to their ancestry, some master bowcraft as well. The biggest threat that High Elves pose to would-be enemies is their mastery arcane arts, under the tutelage of the Gold Gnomes. High Elven warcasters are feared throughout the region.
High Elf Racial Traits
Elf Racial Traits
+2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, –2 Constitution: Elves are nimble, both in body and mind, but their form is frail.
Medium: Elves are Medium creatures and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Normal Speed: Elves have a base speed of 30 feet.
Low-Light Vision: Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Elven Immunities: Elves are immune to magic sleep effects and gain a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells and effects.
Elven Magic: Elves receive a +2 racial bonus on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance. In addition, elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Spellcraft skill checks made to identify the properties of magic items.
Urbanite: Elves who live in cities for more than a century can grow to know the ebb and flow of social situations just as their forest-dwelling cousins know the rules of the wild. Elves with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy checks made to gather information and Sense Motive checks made to get a hunch about a social situation.
Arcane Focus: Some elven families have such long traditions of producing wizards (and other arcane spellcasters) that they raise their children with the assumption each is destined to be a powerful magic-user, with little need for mundane concerns such as skill with weapons. Elves with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on concentration checks made to cast arcane spells defensively.
Languages: Elves begin play speaking Common and Elven. Elves with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Celestial, Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, and Sylvan.