I tell you , those half-elves – what’s not to like? Svelte, supple, clever, and always so friendly and eager to please. Seems like they’re good at almost everything. Yeah, it’s true that if you scratch the skin a little bit they always seem to have issues, but who can blame them for feeling a little mixed-up? -Delwik Oakes, Pathfinder
Half-elves stand taller than humans and shorter than elves. Half-elves generally look like attractive humans with slightly pointed ears. How stronger the elven blood in them, the more long and pointed their ears are. 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 abandoning the pure elf community. Half-elven skin tones usually take on the hue of the human parent.
The physical beauty of half-elves, however, 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. This combination of the closed mind of the elves and the open mind of humans places half-elves in a delicate and often brittle mental dynamic.
They are often social chameleons, adapting their habits of mind and behavior to the most dominant influences around them, either the prevalent culture or even a single charismatic individual. While they are masterful at ingratiating themselves with others on a superficial level, they are able to quiet their inner turmoil merely by aping the styles of others. It is difficult for half-elves to transcend this identity confusion and establish complete and fulfilling identities and destinies all their own, but those rare ones who do can become extraordinary leaders indeed, able to command loyalty and unify disparate groups under their banners.
Half-elves adopt the dress, affectations, an 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 hey nearly drive themselves mad in an attempt to fit in. Despite all their best efforts, though, they rarely do.
Their opposites care little for current trends and fads, and in some cases those who wish to stand out and be seen create the trends their more herd-following brethren later adopt. Indeed, in many decadent societies that concern themselves with high fashion, such as Cheliax, Qadira, or Taldor, half-elves are often among the most admired or reviled creators of new trends, fads, and memes. Half-elves also lead innovation in functional textile industries, constantly developing new techniques in tailoring and seamstressing. tehy also work to create better textile blends to serve a variety of purposes both functional and fashionable.
Elves have long drawn the covetous gazes of other races. Their generous life spans, magical affinity, and inherent grace each contribute to the admiration or bitter envy of their neighbors. Of all their traits, however, none so entrance their human associates as their beauty. Since the two races first came into contact with each other, the humans have held up elves as models of physical perfection, seeing in the fair folk idealized versions of themselves. For their part, many elves find humans attractive despite their comparatively barbaric ways, drawn to the passion and impetuosity with which members of the younger race play out their brief lives. Sometimes this mutual infatuation leads to romantic relationship. Though usually short-lived, even by human standards, these trysts commonly lead to the birth of half-elves, a race descended of two cultures yet inheritor of neither.
Half-elves are something of an enigma as a race. Unable to truly fit into the societies of 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.
The lack of a unified homeland and culture forces half-elves to remain versatile, able to conform to nearly any environment. While often attractive to both races for the same reasons as their parents, half-elves rarely fit in with either, as both races see to much evidence of the other in them. This lack of acceptance weighs heavily on many half-elves, yet others are bolstered by their unique status, seeing in their lack of a formalized culture the ultimate freedom. As a result, half-elves are remarkably adaptable, capable of adjusting their mindsets and talents to whatever societies they find themselves in.
As such, half-elves can be found anywhere, in any land, although they are most common in and near the former elf-holds in Varisia and the elf-kingdom of Kyonin. Many have also settled in the great city of Absalom. Their mental duality leads many unfortunate half-elves into depression and even madness, but their unique psychic structure also enables them to manifest psionic powers far more commonly than any other race (especially those whose elvish ancestors sojourned on the Green World of Castrovel). Most common of these psions are wilders, whose psychic capabilities awaken naturally and spontaneously, but half-elves have also been leaders in creating psionic research enclaves and even training academies for other psionic classes, especially in the far-off lands of Vudra.
Half-elves have always had an affinity for crystals and gems, seeing in them a beautiful and poetic reflection of their own multifaceted character and identity, one that is easily obscured or missed until careful work reveals it. A common exhortation half-elves use with one another is to “polish your diamond,” meaning to refine, sharpen, and polish their best qualities that lie within. Beyond simply their aesthetic appreciation for crystals, some half-elves seem to show an almost supernatural connection, being able to induce minor magic effects in crystals they touch, making them glow, change color, or even dance in the air. It was while researching this strange resonance that a pair of psionically endowed half-elves, Samelu Sonshima of Vudra and Alysande Morinel of Taldor, awakened the first psicrystals.
Half-elves 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. Many must watch as three or more generations of their human friends wither and die before their eyes. The older a half-elf grows, the more likely he is to be overcome to melancholy and nostalgia, speaking wistfully of lost friends from simpler times. Many half-elves avoid this sad fate by seeking succor in full-elven communities, where they are the short-lived ones. Elves look upon their half-human spawn with an equal measure of pride and pity, and the elves’ natural haughtiness and self-centered natures ensure that half-elves are truly outsiders no matter where they dwell.
A half-elf understands loneliness, and knows that character is often less a product of race than of life experience. As such, half-elves are often open to friendships and alliances with other races, and less likely to rely on first impressions when forming opinions of new acquaintances.
Half-elves’ isolation strongly influences their characters and philosophies. Cruelty does not come naturally to them, nor does blending in and bending to societal convention – as a result, most half-elves are chaotic good. Half-elves’ lack of a unified culture makes them less likely to turn to religion, but those who do generally follow the common faiths of their homelands.
Half-elves tend to be itinerants, wandering the lands in search of a place they might finally call home. The desire to prove oneself to the community and establish a personal identity – or even a legacy – drives many half-elf adventurers to lives of bravery. Because of the lack of a racial homeland, a group consisting of only half-elves is a rare sight.
Adventuring half-elves tend to be well traveled, with extensive networks of contacts picked up during their long lives among both humans and elves. Rather than tending toward a particular class or role within a party, half-elves are most often jacks-of-all-trades, with wide varieties of skills and abilities. They make for trustworthy, dependable companions, and while they don’t quite fit into the societies of either parent race, they feel at home on the road and are well-suited for lives of exploration and excitement.
Language and Naming
Half-elves speak Elven or the local human tongue, depending on where they were raised. Most half-elves, in their pursuit of happiness and acceptance, learn to speak Common as well.
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 elvish inflection.
Male: Calathes, Carangal, Dorsainvil, Encinal, Gouard, Irakli, Irakli, Kyras, Narciso, Nassauer, Otoniel, Quiray, Satinder, Troxell, Turenne, Zirul
Female: Cathran, Eandi, Elsbeth, Iandoli, Ilyin, Kieyanna, Lialda, Lorceli, Maddela, Mihalyi, Nahmias, Reda, Saroeun, Tamarie, Urriola
Sources: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting