It is a misnomer to refer to an “elven pantheon,” in part because the elven race does not consist of a single monolithic culture. For the sake of convenience, many scholars nevertheless persist in referring to an elven pantheon because, prior to the ascendancy of the Aureshan Empire’s human dominated culture, the elven race was considerably less scattered than is now the case. Rather than a real cultural feature, this pantheon is a listing of deities that are historically associated with elven culture. Some elves worship one of these gods. Some worship none, or several. Some worship gods that are widely considered “human” or “Aureshan.”
In the Mereflow Valley, most elves choose a patron from the list of deities below, but supplement their religion with attention to an animistic system of belief that ascribes spiritual guardianship to animals and plants within the elven-held forests, and on occasion to an elf’s ancestors as well.
Elsewhere, this is not true. The jungles of the southernmost portions of the Aureshan Empire, for example, are populated by elven tribes who worship a version of Leroe, the goddess of the forests, whom they consider the spouse of Berendalor, the sun god. As with many other cultures of Tolrea, these elves also have animistic practices and venerate their ancestors. But they consider all other gods, even the other members of the so-called elven pantheon, to be false deities.
At various places on Tolrea, the fellowing deities are commonly enough worshipped by elves to be considered as an “elven” pantheon:
Title: One-Eye, Marksman
Portfolio: Archery, day, warfare
Domains: Good, Sun, War
Holy Symbol: An arrowhead
Favored Weapon: Composite longbow
Berendalor One-Eye sacrificed his missing orb to light the skies after the birth of the first orcs. Through his creation of the sun, the Marksman gave the elven race a subtle but important advantage over the Tusked Ones, whose weak eyes are dazzled by the strength of his disembodied stare. This sacrifice combined with his mastery of the bow to make him the elves’ god of war, as well. Sharing a measure of Berendalor’s quickness of hand and eye, the elves compensate for the frailty of their bodies by striking their enemies from afar, and at a time and place which affords them tactical advantage.
The Marksman is prominent as a patron deity of rangers, paladins, and other elves who consider themselves called to defend the elven people and forests from the threat represented by the elves’ traditional enemies, the orcs and goblinoid races.
Despite Berendalor’s importance as an emblem of elven militance, his role as a sun god and concern with defending a civilized race from the depredations of orcs has also made him the object of some humans’ admiration. Human worshippers of Berendalor are uncommon, but they exist. Even more commonly, theologians from the Aureshan Empire characterize Berendalor as an aspect of Oceus, the Empire’s solar deity.
Title: Laughing Trickster, Lord of Deceit
Portfolio: Humor, illusion, strangers
Domains: Chaos, Trickery, Travel
Holy Symbol: A laughing face
Favored Weapon: Rapier
A widespread legend among elves says that strangers who arrive from faraway places frequently are not what they seem: sometimes in the ways that are obvious, as they may be criminals in disguise, or unexpected sources of help in times of adversity, but also in a less obvious sense. Legends have it that a slim, good-humored stranger with a rapier on his hip could be a mundane visitor . . . or Elvoreth himself, out seeking entertainment and hospitality.
These legends typically feature the Laughing Trickster as a dispenser of rewards to a generous host who puts his guests’ comfort first and his own pride second, and as a source of humiliation and trouble for those who refuse to tend properly to guests. More generally, Elvoreth lends patronage to those elves who make a living by deceit or humor, like bards and rogues, or who travel between settled areas.
Elvoreth sometimes appears in folk tales among humans, gnomes and halflings who live near a sizable population of elves. His name in these cases usually is a corrupted form such as Laughing Everest or Laughing Elvith, but he is always a trickster and usually preys upon miserly hosts or rewards generous hosts. Elvoreth is seldom worshipped by anyone except elves, and most others are a little surprised to find that their nursery tales of Laughin’ Ellered are distorted versions of elven mythology.
Titles: Muse, Songstress
Portfolio: Art, inspiration, luck, music
Domains: Chaos, Good, Luck
Holy Symbol: Unstrung harp
Favored Weapon: Whip
Ghaldra is the elven personification of art and creativity. It is to her that the elves raise their voices before composing a new song, or when preparing to undertake any great act of craftsmanship or skill. She is the especial patron of bards and musicians, and many elves and half elves who sing or play devote themselves to her.
The Muse is fickle and unpredictable, so her faithful try to court her favor by offering her libations of wine or mead before they strike the first chords of a performance, hoping that the sweetness of their offering will tempt her closer for a few moments. Her clerics frequently adventure in search of new tales to work into songs and artwork, and are famous (or infamous) for seeking out dangerous situations to help them track down the best stories.
Of all the elven deities, Ghaldra has acquired the greatest following amongst non-elves. Fun-loving or bohemian gnomes, humans, and halflings commonly convert to her worship. Since Ghaldra’s worship emphasizes the role of art as a force for change, these converts are frequently the spearhead of attempts to retard the expansion of human logging interests into forested areas held by elves. The inevitable tensions that arise from such events have made the Songstress a controversial and widely disliked figure amongst expansionist humans, who often view her non-elven devotees as racial traitors.
Title: Lady Greenwood, Mother of Trees
Portfolio: Elven druids, forests, woodland plants
Domains: Good, Earth, Plant, Healing
Holy Symbol: A growing tree
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff
Many elves, especially those that aren’t part of the Aureshan Empire, live in forested areas. It is only natural that their gods include a patroness of the greenery that shelters them. Leroe, the Lady Greenwood, is that patroness. Those who look after the safety and health of the forests which the elven people call home are her especial favorites, and many elven druids pay her homage even if they are not formally among the members of her clergy.
Aside from druids, a number of rangers and the few barbarians among the elves of Tolrea often choose her as a patron, trusting in her watchful eye to guide them through the woodlands in search of threats to the elves. Leroe is one of the most widespread of the elven deities, and like Berendalor, she is often compared to Merthia. Despite this comparison, Leroe’s clergy are seldom involved in the kind of intensive agriculture that is associated with Merthia’s church.
Titles: The Dreamer, the Eldest
Portfolios: Destruction, dreams, magic
Domains: Destruction, Knowledge, Magic
Holy Symbol: A half-lidded eye
Favored Weapon: Dagger
Legend has it that Verio is the creator of the elven race, and the eldest of their gods. According to these myths, his labors in creating the first elves so fatigued him that he retired to sleep, and has never awakened since. When he does, say his worshippers, it will herald the end of the world.
Elves worship Verio as a god of magic, maintaining that the first spell ever cast was the beginning of his creation of their race, and as a patron of dreams, especially prophetic ones. When fires rage through their forests or storm winds lash between the trees, they say that Verio’s sleep has been disturbed by nightmares.
Verio has few genuine devotees. Most elves find his association with an approaching eschaton somewhat disturbing, and invoke him primarily in order to soothe him deeper into sleep when faced with impending catastrophe. A handful of wizards and sorcerers, especially those concerned with divination and battle magic, award him true loyalty.