View Full Version : Creating the Sea Elves: Viking Elves?

Mr. Mask
2015-08-17, 08:37 AM
One part of the hobbit I was particularly interested in, was when they referenced the Sea Elves. This has lead me to wonder how to design an interesting culture of coastline naval elves. Not to be confused with mermaid elves, or elves with gills.

Anyone have thoughts on these elves? My main inspiration would be the Phoenician and British empires, rather than the Vikings I joked about. Emphasis on trade, great naval tactics, probably an emphasis on long-range fighting rather than boarding, plenty of colonies along the coastlines and islands of the world, etc..

Rather than certain naval cultures of the past that were nervous of the ocean, sometimes having sailors that couldn't swim, sea elves seem likely to have a culture that likes the water. Plenty of swimming, diving, small boating, and perhaps such cultural practices as diving and breath-holding competitions. They may even have some interesting martial sports, like shooting at each other with blunted arrows, standing in wobbly rowboats.

So, do you have any ideas or lore for sea elves, or a similar seafaring culture?

Joe the Rat
2015-08-17, 09:52 AM
Funny you should ask...

There's some stattish stuff in here as well, which I left in where it has some relevance. I've also included the "gilly-elves" as a contrast point.
The Aelwen (Elves) built from the Tor (Tree of Life) and all that came from it, creating what might best be described as a world of “seedpunk”, using nature to construct many amazing things, including armor and weapons not from metal, like the Earth children, but from the woods, leather, chitin and other natural materials available to them.

At the same time the Aelwen divided into two separate families, the Clarren, which reflected where the seeds of the Great Tor landed...

A single seed sank into the sea and became the Mon, a great coral from which sprang the Monninnen, the children of the Sea Floor, who took owner ship of everything below the surface. Another seed floated on the surface of the water and from it grew the Mor, a great Tree from which sprang the Morrinen and the great City Ships.


{blah blah old blah blah snooty blah blah tree huggers}


Aelwen are slender and tall, ranging from 5’10 to 6’4 in height and from 160#-180# in weight. Their skin runs from a pale blue to green for the Sea and Water Clarran and a dark brown to a pale white for the Forest and Air Clarran. Aelwen features run the gamut, though they tend to be narrow with high cheekbones and broad brows.

{big ears}

All Aelwen have keen eyes, and the ability to “see” in darkness, through echolocation provided by their superior hearing. Their languages include ultrasonic clicks and chirps that are part of this. If an Aelwen loses their ears or part of their ears they may lose this ability.

Clarran (Subraces). Aelwen are long divided by their “rootings” into the four Clarran: Torrinen,
Tonninen, Monninen, and Morrinen.


The Monninen are Sea elves. Not surprisingly, they live under the sea. They are about the same size as their land and air-based cousins, though their features tend to be smoother. Their skin tones run in blues and greens, with hair in darker shades, though the occasional white-haired Monninen is not unknown. They have webbed fingers and toes. The Monninen are a race rich in art and treasures, with their exquisite coral and pearl jewelry being highly prized. They rarely trade their prized jewels, as there is little that the surface world can provide them. Most goods do not last long beneath the waves, and of those that do, there are plenty of shipwrecks that can provide what they want.

They are a capricious people, almost as fickle as the storms and currents of their ocean homes. They are also, to an individual, sick of being mistaken for mermaids. Half of them will point out that they don’t have fish tails. The other half will point out that they are, in fact, male.

Denizen of the Deep. You have a swim speed equal to your walking speed.
Amphbious. Monninen can breathe in water or air.
Monninen Weapon Training. You are proficient with Javelin, Spear, Shortsword, Net, and Trident.


Born of the Mor, the Seed that Sails, the Morrinnen are a people of the waves. They are of average height and build for Aelwen, with hair ranging from pale yellows and golds into rich greens. They are expert sailors, ship builders and ship-shapers, growing and coaxing plants into more seaworthy forms. They live their lives at sea, with only a few isolated islands that they might call home. Sailors sometimes tell stories of a Morrinen floating city, made up of massive Mor-ships lashed together. This may be but a fisherman’s tale, as Morrninen do not confirm or deny its existence.

The core unit of Morrinen society is the Ship, ruled by its Captain. The crews are generally made up of various relatives, but anyone who joins a ship will be accepted as part of the family. It is rare, but not unheard of for non-Morrinen or even non-Aelwen to join a Ship. The ships in turn belong to a Wave, a fleet of inter-related or allied Ships. While Ships tend to be autocratic, Wave business is generally open to all for discussion, with final decisions made by the Captains’ Table.

Morrinen have a strong music culture, indeed singing seems to be an integral aspect of ship business. The largest of their few lands, Song Island, is said to have the best conservatories and music libraries in all of Teluria. Many a seaport resident recognizes the Ael-shanties and the sounds of Sea-harps, signaling the arrival of a Morrinen Ship.

Born on the Waves. You are Proficient in Vehicles (sea), and have Advantage on any Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to maintain balance on unstable surfaces.
Deep Diver You can hold your breath for twice as long as normal.
Music in the Blood. You are proficient in Performance. You may substitute proficiency in a musical instrument for any language or tool proficiency granted by your Class or Background.
Morrinen Weapon Training. You are proficient with shortswords, scimitars, shortbows, and longbows.

The idea we had built here is not just elves that sail, but elves that live almost entirely on the water. The net effect is a culture somewhere between a merchant navy and a pirate flotilla. They are not primarily traders (we have another elf with that specific hat), but it is a part of their culture. "Opportunistic Raiding" would be fair game.

Music is a big deal (though in a more Tolkienian setting that's not stand out - everybody sings), not just as entertainment or concerting physical effort, but as a communications on and between ships. If you don't know the code, you don't know what the elves are doing next. I hadn't considered this until now, but that would suggest their Bards would be masters of naval warfare.

Weapons reflect what would be most useful at range, or what to use in close quarters. Pikers would be an appropriate add-on from what we have.

2015-08-17, 10:15 AM
Why would underwater elves have a humanoid shape, as opposed to e.g. mermaids? Are they originally normal elves whose city got flooded, and devised magic to have gills?

2015-08-17, 01:20 PM
They were talking about Grey Elves: Cirdan the Shipwright etc.

Though there were other high elves who made ships: the Telwar IIRC. They were the victims of the kinstrife when some Nolder murdered them for their ships.