The Feral Elves

The House Of The Swamp Forests

And the daughters of the elves mated with the sons of the beastmen. For that horrid sin, their descendants were banned from the elven realm; the scattered fugitives condemned to live forever in the marshes of the outside lands. Mathias the village speaker

That was the popular version of the story, as always, the truth is far more complex. As in any story of survival, when the future of the group is in danger, notions of morality are often left behind...

Origins

The original House was a warrior caste that use to protect the frontiers of the ancient elven lands with cavalry armies. When the elven Houses were forced to migrate to the new continent, this one chose an open forest country to live in. The settlements they built were mainly fortified towns or castles that protected the roads, and the pasture lands from the local savage beastmen tribes.

As the climate changed this land was devastated by heavy rain and the rivers broke their banks. The lower lands were flooded, the cattle drowned and many of the elven constructions disintegrated as the land beneath them turned to mud. The settlements became isolated, their survival in serious danger. Without food and deprived of their homes, some of the elves asked the leader of the beastmen tribes for help. The savage chieftain agreed to exchange shelter and food for weapons and armor, and the knowledge to manufacture them. Those elves who refused to have any contact with the savage locals, became scarce in number, and their kin slowly vanished amongst the ruins of their settlements and castles. The alliance between elves and beastmen grew stronger as the younger ones of each race interbred. They procreated a new kind of individuals, with characteristics of both races. A few generations later, the pure breed ancestors disappeared.

 

The Castes

The hybrid origin of the Feral Elves produced some variation in the physical appearance of the individuals. From the tall and elegant -almost pure elves- to the most primitive and bestial, each has a defined place in the social structure of the tribe.

The Upper Caste: It is formed from the most advanced individuals -those with a more elven appearance-. They are always the leaders, possessing as they do a superior intelligence. They have normal feet and no horns at all (they use horned helmets to define their status in battle). Their number is scarce. We can count here the chieftains and shamans.

The Middle Caste: Possess hooves and horns. They form the bulk of the tribes, and they combine the clever attitude of their elven ancestors with the strength and resistance of their bestial origin. The younger ones have small horns and these always form the light infantry. As they grow, assuming they survive the perils of life and battle, they develop long and slender horns and these individuals form the line infantry. A rare variant have massive curved horns; usually the strongest ones, they form the shock troops.

The Lower Caste: These are the centaurs, which retain much of the physical structure and temperament of their wild ancestors. They form the fast moving regiments.

The Feral Elves form nomadic tribes or war bands, forming long caravans that travel trough the swamp forests. A typical tribe is structured this way:

Leaders

-Chieftain: A member of the higher caste, she is a veteran of many battles. She gives orders from the back of the army with the help of messengers and signalers.

-Shaman: She belongs to the higher caste too. She has a deep knowledge of the beasts: her spells usually call the animal spirits within the superior beings. She can make an enemy run away from battle, victim of a panic attack; or turn her own warriors into berserks. Her magic staff is made from the bones of an eminent ancestor.

-War maiden: The most skilled huntress, she leads the action from the front ranks. Unlike the chieftain, the War Maidens are expected to die soon, as they are always found in the middle of the harshest combat.

Main Units

-Light Cavalry: These units are always formed by the youngest centaurs. The light warriors are explorers, skirmishers and form marauding parties. They like to use javelins, spears, hand weapons and don't wear much armor.

-Heavy Cavalry: When the light cavalry survivors grow, they become veterans, and they win the right to be included in the heavy units. These ferals are not as fast as their younger sisters, but they are strong enough to break any enemy infantry line. A typical heavy centaur uses a long spear, a shield, a hand weapon, and wears reptile scale armor.

-War Chariots: These two wheeled vehicles are pulled by two centaurs. They have a crew of two (driver and lancer).

-Swamp Huntresses (Light infantry): A unit formed by the youngest huntresses of the tribe (also from the middle caste), they can travel long distances on their hooves. They wear all kind of hunting equipment (bow and arrows, spear, short sword, a pack of supplies, etc.). Their bands suddenly appear in the enemy rear and make swift attacks.

-Horned Troops (Line infantry): They form tight packs of warriors behind their wooden shields. Usually armed with spears and hand weapons, their regimental formations are designed to discourage enemy cavalry charges.

-Curved Horns Guard (Heavy infantry): Formed by the strongest warriors of the middle caste. They are the shock troops of the infantry. They have bone and reptile scale armor over furry cloaks and use heavy maces. A couple of guards always protect the Chieftain and also the Shaman from enemy attacks.

 

Concept, artwork and story by Alejandro Gutiérrez Franco