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Elven biology

by Ohad Shaham

Elves are very close to humans on a biological level, but hey so are chimpanzees...
Elves belong to the same genus as humans but not to the same specie, unlike Neanderthals (brut men) who are the same species, and so are Hin (halflings).
Genetically elves are 99.8% similar to humans in this passage were going to discuss the remaining 0.2 percent.


Elves tend to be shorter than humans. This is true in most cases though often you can find elves reaching 1.8 meters in height (males and females) and even higher. Reduced height poses an advantage in the dense forest realms the elves come from therefore adult elves tend to be ranging from 1.4 to 1.7 meters (males and females are the same size).
Elves who do not live in forested areas for long periods of time tend to grow higher then woodland elves. Elven bodies are more slender then humans and they weigh lower than the human norm for their height. However their muscles are still strong and they are not fragile as they seem. Elves do not have bodily hair. Nowhere.
Elves have narrow faces with pointed ears (this is much more refined than some illustrations show. the ears are less pointed from Mr. Spocks) and hazel shaped eyes whose colour range from grey and silver through blue and green to violet. Brown eyes can be found but they are more rare.
Hair changes according to subrace and tribe. While blond and golden tend to be more common in most cases some tribes are completely black haired.
Old elves (and that's mighty old!) have white hair. Blue hair or greenish are legends that probably refer to some fairy race or to dryads.


Elven ears have a different hearing range from humans. While human adults here noises from 400 to 20,000 hertz , elves here from 1000 to 30,000 hertz a slightly higher range. This is probably why elves speak in higher pitches than humans. Elves have an excellent sense of sight especially in close ranges. They separate colours better and therefore make better archers and hunters in forested areas when shades of green are the difference between a leaf and a meal of frog legs.
I have a serious problem with infravision. In order to decipher infra red light the eyes of an elf should be very different. Snakes that do have infravision have special organs for that range of light instead of their regular eyes.
Therefore IMC elves (end dwarfs and orcs and everyone) don't have infravision but rather have the natural ability to open their pupils larger (like cats) in order to gather more light. Therefore they can see in what seem to humans to be darkness but cant see in total absolute darkness.
This comes as a disadvantage in places of extreme sunlight such as deserts and snow fields , as the pain to the eyes is terrible.
Smell and taste are usually the same as humans though what elves and humans like to taste and smell is not always the same.

Food and drink-

The elven diet is composed on less complex carbohydrates then humans and less protein from meat. Its not true that all elves are vegetarians or that they are repulsed by eating meat. Its just they need meat in different quantities than humans. Elves do eat a lot of simple sugars from sugar-cane berries and fruit , and they supplement it with the occasional insect fish, frogs and small mammals (usually rabbits) they also eat roots and mushrooms and some nutritious tree bark. Elves cook meat (again against rumours and legends) usually roasting it on open fire. Elves drink wine (only kind of alcohol they know) and tend to react to its effect the same way humans do.


This is a very sensitive subject. The elven biological clock works differently from the human one in almost every aspect. (see below).
For one thing the active hours of elves are different. Elves are not nocturnal but there most active hours are from the after noon to midnight.
Elves go to sleep around two hours before sunrise and wake up at noon (just like modern teenagers!) they sometime nap in the evening like humans do in the afternoon. The reason for this daily cycle is not known but it explains lots of the myths humans have about elves. For one thing, common human folk that live near elves think they are lazy and never work- that's not true - elves work, they just don't do it early in the morning like humans do. Another thing humans think about elves is that they have wild parties all night long (dancing in fairy rings and such) this is only partly true as elves tend to sit around the fire before they go to sleep talking singing and telling stories.

Life cycle-

Elves have extremely long life spans in the OD&D this is about 800 years and in the AD&D system up to 600 years IMC this is more complicated than this. While elves do have very long lives this doesn't mean their cycle of life is the same as humans. Elves grow up slightly slower than humans and when they mature they stay that way for a very long time before they age. Old elves don't suffer for the same aliments that plague human elderly people but just the different aliments they gathered through their long lives. Elves do not get wrinkles on their skin nor do their bodies become fragile or weak. Eventually they will suffer a normal disease and die. This is not considered as death of old age since elves do not fade away into death, they just die.

Elven life cycle versus human life cycle:

human years elven years
babies 0-2 0-3
children 3-12 4-15
puberty 13-17 16-21
young adult (fertility) 18-28 21-70
adulthood 29-55 71-250
venerable 56-75 251-350
death 75-100 350-550

Love and monogamy

Elves usually start getting interested in the opposite sex during their young adult years. Elves form strong bonds with mates (the same way they do with members of their own gender) but this doesn't always lead to marriage. Elves are monogamous and never have relationships with more than one mate but the relationship is not permanent. Elves learned about the marriage custom from humans and use it to promise their loved ones they will stay with them forever. However elven couples are known to fall in love live together raise kids and then go on living single lives again- marriage is optional.

Sexual relations

While we have trouble understanding this complicated subject in our own society its even harder to try and understand sex in a completely different race.
Elves have sex the same way humans (and most mammals) do, in the physical sense but they treat it in a different way. Elves enjoy sex less then humans. Elves are not slaves to their passions as we are and lots of them go through life (a very very long life!) without sex. Elves have less obvious sexual organs then humans, the male's penis is less thick and reaches only 10-14 cm, while the females vagina doesn't have clear outer parts. Both genders have absolutely no hair on their bodies , not even in places that serve as erogenous zones.
Elves treat blind sexual passion as animalistic (in some way that is the main reason humans seem inferior to elves being "like animals" in behaviour).
Elves don't treat nudity as indecent or always sex related but sexual relations of any kind are always done in privacy.
Elves sometimes have sex with partners of the same gender this is considered an act of strong love to that person. Elves do not consider these relations as having to do with duality and don't understand how can one be solely attracted to his/hers own gender there aren't any elven homosexuals as such.

Reproductive habits

This is the most puzzling aspect of elven biology. In evolutionary terms elves rate of reproduction is much too slow to allow the continuation of the species. But evolution works different on creatures of magical essence and maybe the slow rate of reproduction is necessary to the