March 17, 2009

Races at War: Eladrin

This is my contribution to this month's blog carnival on War hosted by The Book of Rev. This is meant to be a series that will examine each of the races from the Player's Handbook from a war perspective, their behavior during war and some of their war gears. These posts are based on information found in the official 4th edition books and articles by Wizards of the Coast. It is mainly intended to be used as a reference and are therefore by no means official content. Comments are very much welcomed (and needed).

In a time long before other great empires, eladrin faithful to Corellon fought bitter wars within the Feywild against the followers of Lolth and other evil fey. (Martial Power, pg. 128)
Like their counterparts in the world, eladrin have had to fight and die to defend their way of life. (Martial Power, pg. 59)

The eladrin knows about wars all too well in fact, the eladrin may know war possibly better than most other races would have you believe. War has caused many irreversible damage to the eladrin as a race. Many Eladrin cities and lives have been lost to war which until today are not fully recovered.

The first war of the eladrin was with the drow. It was a war that almost destroyed them but the eladrin managed to pull through in the end and drive them from the Feywild. Although the story of the eladrin's hard earned victory against the drow are inscribed on the ruins of the Spiral Tower, it was a victory that had its price. The war had shattered their people. The people of the fey are no longer one. The eladrin watched from their shining cities in the Feywild as the elves leave for a better home in the forest of the natural world.

Despite their victory, war never escapes from the eladrin.

The intelligent races do their best to bend the Feywild to their will. The main rivals attempting to rule the Feywild are the eladrin in their shining cities and the fomorians in their subterranean fortresses. (Manual of the Planes, pg. 36)

Today, many eladrin cities are greatly under the threat of the Formorians who seek to destroy them and ransack their vaults for highly prized magical artifacts and power. The eladrin stand ever more vigilant to guard their cities from the formorians and the vengence of the drow. The eladrin will never be caught off guard.

Eladrin in Times of War
As is commonly known, the foundation of eladrin society is the extended family, or House. Although most eladrin spend decades of their youth in one of the isolated stone and crystal cities dotting the endless shadow of the Feywild forest, an eladrin’s true allegiance is to his or her House and its nobles. Those nobles in turn often swear allegiance to one of the eladrin archfey. The eladrin archfey are titular monarchs only. (Manual of the Planes, pg. 39)

War can be a politicized matter for the Houses. The results of war usually involves high number of casualties and sacrifices on the resources of the House which can undermine the House's standing and influence among other Houses. However, if victory is gained, the Houses that participated in the war would gain higher recognition and favor.

When war is inevitable, the nobles of each House would deliberate among themselves, weighing the potential benefits and losses of joining in the war. Eladrin take the long view and calculate the benefits to be gained over decades and centuries. War can be the pivotal point which will turn a minor House into a ruling House of the city or be the drastic end of a House's bloodline. The reputation and survival of the House is taken consideration before the welfare of the city and its citizens.

Once the decision is done, Houses would openly declare their stance on the war and decide whether to join or to abstain. A House that joins the war will call for capable volunteers to form a militia. Gender and profession is not an issue. Anyone that is capable of swinging a blade or slinging a spell are worthy candidates.

If a House chooses to abstain, all of its members are prohitbited by the law of the House to be involved in the coming conflict. A ruling House cannot force other major Houses to change their decision but they can influence the minor Houses to switch sides.

There are exceptions to this however. It is not uncommon to hear of rebellious members of an abstaining House joining the war for other personal reasons and ideals. Such disobedience are severely punished by the House if found out that may involve being exiled from the House.

Houses also pledge themselves as subjects of an archfey and an archfey has the power to override a Houses' decision on whether to join or abstain. However, the fickleness and the agenda of the archfey can be so hard to grasp, even for eladrins, that the occurence of such an event is considered rare. Archfeys tend to only make a decision to join a war if it threatens the Feywild more than their eladrin subjects.

Eladrin Military
Each settlement is a city-state unto itself because the settlements are scattered at great distances across the Feywild. The cities sporadically attempt to create formal alliances, but none of the alliances are strong or of a long-lasting nature. Both the distances involved and the eladrin character run counter to such efforts. (Manual of the Planes, pg. 39)

Every eladrin city is responsible for their own defense and adopt different strategies of organizing their own military. The city of Astrazalian has a uniformed regiment of soldiers and a navy under the command of its ruler while ruins of Shinaelestra are guarded by free spirited rangers. However, the size of these city militaries are usually small when compared to the threat of the Formorians and other racial armies. The militia of the Houses is the one which builds the bulk of the army.

House militias and the city army are distinguished rather clearly. House soldiers signify themselves with banners from their House while the city army carries the banner of the city. This is intentionally done so that each House could easily claim any credit if there are benefits to be won after the war. Each militia has their own chain of command which are headed by an eladrin noble such as a Bralani or Ghaele. This in effect means that an eladrin defense force is actually made out of several armies in addition to the city army. The leaders of each army still convene with one another and plan their strategies as a collective force but still retain their respective anatomies on the field.

The standard infantry is called a Fey Knight while a standard spellcaster is called a Twilight Incanter.

Apart from regular soldiers, Houses also deploy squads of highly trained and specialized members of their House to the field. These are warriors and wizards that are dedicated to a specific martial or arcane arts that are highly efficient outside the formal struture of organized militaries. Squads are basically a combination of various skills provided by each member which makes it a deadly attack force. It is said that Houses that provides a squad is the equivalent of providing 100 regular troops. The usage of squad tactics has turned the tide of battle before in the long line of eladrin wars.

Eladrin in the Battlefield
Combined with their intellect, bravery, and magical power, this loyalty makes them powerful and respected allies. (Player's Handbook, pg. 39)

Despite all their motivations behind a war, eladrin are far from cowardly warriors. On the contrary, it is their bravery that tends to make eladrin armies lead the attack first. Eladrins fight fiercely but also cunningly. They are very aware of any comrades in need of aid and would hurry to their side to prevent their lines from breaking.

Eladrin battles are very dynamic and unconventional. When a battle commence, some eladrins take to the skies and fly over to their enemies, arrows and eldritch energy are fired by archers and Incanters while the Fey Knights march slowly and suddenly teleport into battle. The battle is joined quickly by a bright flash.

Despite the appearance of haphazardness and lack of coordination, eladrin battle plans are rhythmetic and flows like a musical piece to which the soldiers are dancers armed with swords on the dancehall of the battlefield.

Tactics & Strategy

Ossandrya was an eladrin squad commander when the Last Battle of the Spiral Tower began. Drow and demons had taken the mythic site during a protracted battle that saw the eladrin fighting on many fronts. Several fruitless assaults on the enemy-held tower cost Ossandrya’s superiors their lives. With reinforcements unavailable, the eladrin commander was forced to lead the remaining troops against the drow. She devised a multipronged attack that utilized the eladrin’s fey step, taking the biggest risks on herself and having no regard for the tower’s ultimate fate. In the end, Ossandrya’s efforts proved successful. Although the Spiral Tower was reduced to a blackened spindle bereft of magic, the eladrin drove the drow out for good. (Martial Power, pg. 128)

Although soldiers are neccesary for most of the fighting but it is the squads that can turn the tide to victory. Squads are used as precision strike teams that have specific battle objectives which they reach by teleporting. They either cause confusion by distracting enemies or have a commanding officer to kill. They do it fast and disappear fast. They are the sharp tones in the musical Eladrin battle plan.

Squads add a whole new dimension to the battle as highly trained independent soldiers. They sometimes coordinate with other squads to achieve an objective and strike without anyone noticing as they teleport in and out of the battle. Once their objectives are completed, the squad joins into the regular fight, using their deadly skills and powerful magic to mow down the enemy lines.

War Gear
Each eladrin learns to wield the longsword, the traditional weapon of the eladrin people. They have martial disciplines that teach an eladrin to channel the innate magic in his or her spirit, as well as that stored within the elements. (Martial Power, pg. 59)

Eladrin weapon crafters are very skilled in making fine steel blades that are elegant and exquisite as the longsword is a mark of an eladrin's identity. Every longsword is created and balanced according to the current capabilities and skill of its wielder and every eladrin can tell if a longsword belongs to her simply by holding it. Even the longswords of a Fey Knight are easily differentiated from each other.

However, weapons crafters are also known to produce fey blades which are used eladrin rangers who trained to fight with two swords. They are trained to adapt their capabilities to match their weapons created by master crafters.

Eladrin weaponers often make bladed weapons in matched pairs. Whether two identical blades, one heavy and one light, or a double sword, the weapons are made to look good together. More important, they are balanced together so that they seem to fit perfectly in the wielder’s hands. (Martial Power, pg. 135)

As for armor, Eladrin warrios favor the chainmail and they have very refined techniques which makes them stronger and lighter called Finemail (Adventurers' Vault, pg. 6). A more advanced technique is used to create a Weavemail (Adventurers' Vault, pg. 6) which looks like a embroided shirt that is stronger and more resistant to attacks. Beholding an army in eladrin armor is often a breath taking sight as every link sparkle like stars in the faintest of nights.

For their spellcasters, they wear Feywaeve armor (Player's Handbook, pg. 212) using a special thread found in the Feywild that are woven together by special eladrin techniques.

Squads tend to wear enchanted eladrin boots (Player's Handbook, pg. 246) which allows them to teleport further.

Eladrin's don't generally use any war beast in battle but their nobles tend to be accompanied by Wild Hunt Hounds (Monster Manual, pg. 161). It has been said in legends that some eladrin armies have Knights riding on Griffons which have been known to be difficult to tame.


Anonymous said...

A lot of good stuff here. After reading it I was especially struck by the way eladrin mirror the drow -- both structure their politics by house, and each city is a state unto itself.

I really like that description. Look forward to the next entry.

Questing GM said...

Hey, thievescant

Sorry for the late reply.

Thanks! I was starting to think that no one was reading these stuff.

Dark said...

I found this with Google - very useful. Just the quotations and gathering of multiple sources alone was worth the trip. ;)