I used to run a game that started as D&D and later was converted to a homebrew system. Dragon player characters were in a prominent role. The game kinda died, and I take full responsibility for it.
The setting had some interesting points (and several outright flaws). In this post I will describe the creation myth of my revised version (a friend is doing another, vastly different, revised version). There are elves in it and it is seen from their perspective. It is traditional D&D fantasy. This is your unique chance to stop reading.
There has been one previous article related to this setting: Body dreaming about a mind. Something like that.
Once upon time there a tree. Not just any tree, but the tree was everything there, and everything was on that tree. Tribes, even nations, resided on a single leaf. There was life everywhere; on the tree, around it, inside it.
The tree dreamed and there was elves, dreams of the tree given shape. They lived, later taking the role of caretakers and protectors, guarding the tree and its residents. The elves held such power that they could shape the tree itself by mere touch and will.
A race of giants, each as tall as a hundred elves, lived near the roots of the tree. They learned the elven art of shaping wood. But little did they care of the tree; they had their wars to fight and shaped great fortresses and siege engines and traps. For so long did they continue that the tree was harmed, yet still they fought on.
The elves finally noticed. They could not calm the eternal struggle, not even slow it down. One elf was killed in the fray and the giants did not care. There was a war as the elves fought the giants. Giants were war-hardened, strong of body and will, and many an elf died for little effect.
The elves were not pleased. Their art was used against them. The only option was to take it back. The greatest elven dreamers united and called many an elf; those already dead, those not born, those on distant branches, and all of they answered the summons. The elves sung as they never had; a terrible song of pain and sorrow and anger and retribution. The giants could not resist the spell, but revenge they could have, and so did they curse the elves: Never could they forget this, or anything else. And the giants were weakened, corrupted into small and twisted versions of themselves, driven away from the sun and clear air, forever doomed to wander and fight in darkness.
And so were elves cursed and giants perished from the world. It was in vain, however, as the tree died and fell. The branches are now mountain ranges, the leaves now forests, the sap now oceans and lakes and rivers, the bark now earth.
Sad the elves were, all remembering the fateful cursings. Few were they in number. They gathered and there was a prophecy of the tree growing again. And their separate ways went the elves, all seeking for the tree. Long did they search, three ages of great length, yet nothing did they find.
The elves met again, but found no agreement. Was the prophecy false? What should they do?
So it was that many had given up the search, living in small tribes here and there. They are known as wild elves.
So it was that some elves founded a kingdom, with the intention to prevent such disasters from happening in future, and with the practice of enslavement of and conquering those considered lesser, and well do they live in their great cities and exquisite marble towers. High elves they are sometimes called.
So it was that some elves retreated and escaped into the shadows, masking their towers and hideouts with songs of deception and guile, devoting themselves to gathering lore and preserving it, in hopes of finding why the world had to end. They trade and spy and blackmail to learn more. As shadow elves or dark elves are they known.
But some did not give up and continued their search and stayed true to their heritage, shaping houses and palaces of wood and grass and moss, sending many of their talented young on quests to find the seeds or the tree. Wood elves is the name they carry.
This all is basically an excuse to have subraces of elves, all suffering from grief of events past. And I get an arbitrary undergroun race that hates elves as a bonus. Maybe orcs, maybe dwarves, maybe something else. That is to be decided.
All the elven subraces are different approaches to failure. Some fight on, some try to understand it, some become control freaks, some just try living happily ever after regardless.