Half-elves exist perpetually on the outside. Too large and thickly built to be long mistaken for a full blooded elf, yet too slight and alien looking to be fully human, they find themselves on the outside of both parent’s societies. Many struggle constantly for acceptance that will never fully come, while many others leave both human and elven societies behind, living either on their own, amidst other races, or living amongst the generally tolerant and diverse population of adventurers.
The appearance and cultural outlook of a half-elf will vary widely. To be a half-elf, one must either have a human and an elven parent, or two half-elf parents. The children of a half-elf and an elf will be elven (though certainly looked down upon by their peers for impure blood) and those of a half-elf and a human will be human. Some take strongly after their elven parent, while others will look so human that they are often passed over in a casual glance. Perhaps the hardest life is for those who are raised in one culture, but closely resemble the parent of the other. These are often faced with difficult childhoods and uncertain futures, especially when human and elven realms are in conflict. About 50% of half-elven men can grow facial hair, and some of those do, further hiding their elven heritage.
Of course, not all half-elves are perpetual outsiders. Some few make their way in their world, either earning respect with their actions (be it as a heroic warrior or as a honest innkeeper), or forcing respect with their money and influence. Still, even those that integrate well into society find themselves with obstacles, especially those of age. While the average elf can easily expect to be in the prime of life while in his 4th century of life, very few half-elves see more than half of that century before succumbing to old age. Of course, with humans, this becomes even more pronounced, as even the shortest-lived of the half-elves regularly see their 150th birthdays.
The response to this is an increasing move to half-elf cultures, or subcultures, within the larger framework of society. While they are far too rare to form a significant portion of society, occasionally half-elves will settle together en masse, forming small communities that support their own. These are often led by a powerful or influential half-elf, though an elf with several half-elf children will sometimes take it upon himself (or very rarely, herself, though elven females are rarely fertile enough to have several children) to provide them a place away from elven and human bigotry.
As noted above, half-elves are far from uniform in either ability or culture. They gain the same cultural training advantages as the culture that raised them, or the cultures that went into creating a half-elf community.
The influence of elven blood is evident in a half-elf’s ability scores, however. A half-elf will have a +1 to either Dexterity or Perception, a boon from their elven parent. Of course, the curse of their lighter frames will give them a –1 to either Strength or Constitution.
Half-elves get 30 CP’s to spend on natural abilities. There is a wide variation amongst all half-elves, and it is not uncommon for siblings to have entirely different natural abilities.
Attack Bonus (5): +1 to attack rolls with any one weapon of choice. Those raised amongst elves will often have this bonus with bows or the swords favored by that race, and human or mixed-race raised half-elves can gain the bonus with any weapon.
Cold resistance (5): +1 bonus on saving throws vs. cold- and ice-based attacks, as the elf’s body is less susceptible to extreme temperatures.
Detect secret doors (5): because of his or her acute senses, the character is quick to spot concealed doors and hidden entranceways. Merely passing within 10' of a concealed door allows the character a Perception roll at one-half their full ability to notice it. If actively searching, they may make two such rolls for each attempt. Of course, doors that are especially well concealed may impose penalties on those searching.
Elven Senses (5/10): Like elves, the half-elf has exceptionally sharp vision and hearing. For 5 CP’s, the half-elf sees in moonlight or better as if it were day, and suffers a –1 to saving throws against blindingly bright light. They also get a +1 to Perception for either Hearing- or Sight-based checks. Those who take the hearing bonus get a –1 to save vs. deafness due to very loud noises, as well. For 10 points, the half-elf has the full range of elven sensory abilities and drawback, including the +1 to Perception for both Hearing- and Sight-based checks.
Heat resistance (5): +1 bonus on saving throws vs. heat- and fire-based attacks, as the elf’s body is less susceptible to extreme temperatures.
Less sleep (5): The half-elf requires only four hours worth of sleep or reverie to be rested. This is especially valuable to spellcasters.
Longer Life-span (5): Drawing on their elven heritage, some half-elves are able to live for centuries. A half-elf with this ability lives three times as long as one without it, entering into all the stages and suffering the penalties at twice the age listed below. However, this also gives them a measure of their elven parent’s view on time, and so they suffer the same penalty to experience as elves (5% per century).
Resistance (10): Like their elven parent, the half-elf does not sleep, but enters reverie. This gives them the same bonus saving throw against sleep and charm spells that elves enjoy.
Stealth (10): When the half-elf is alone (or with other characters with this ability) and is not wearing metal armor, he gains a bonus to surprise opponents. The opponent suffers a –4 penalty, a –2 if he has to open a door.
Strong Elven Blood (10): A character with this trait is much more closely linked with his elven parent, and gains either a +1 to Perception or Dexterity, but also suffers a –1 to Strength or Constitution (must be the ability scores that were not altered previously). They also are smaller, rolling only 1d6 to modify their height and 1d12 to modify their weight.
Other Game Information
All half-elves are Medium creatures, unless magically altered. Males average 60+2d6 inches and 110+3d12 pounds, with females averaging 2 inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than males. Their base movement rate is 12, and their base defense is 10. Half-elves may be of any alignment, though those raised amongst elves tend towards CG.
Unlike elves, half-elves do not look forward to Arvarnaith, nor do they avoid the ravages of age. The average half-elf reaches physical maturity around 20 years of age, and will stay there until they are nearly 65. At that point, they enter middle age, losing a point of Strength and Con, but gaining one of Wisdom and Intelligence. They are nearly ninety by the time they enter truly old age, losing two points of Strength and Dexterity, as well as a point of Constitution, but gaining one of Wisdom. Finally, those who live to see their 125th year become venerable elders, losing a point off of Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, but gaining one of Intelligence and Wisdom. Most will pass on before they reach 185, though the truly ancient will see their 200th birthday. Those with the Longer Life-span ability, as noted above, multiply all of these ages by three when determining what adjustments to make.