As one of the chief chroniclers in the Druidic Conclave of Culture and Antiquity, I’ve gained a broad view of the world and its cultures – not only as it exists today, but as it has existed through the Ages. Yet, despite my learning, there is but one fact that I can say here with certainty – that the only constant in this world is change and uncertainty. This change occurs in all aspects of life and the environments in which life resides . . . and this is the great challenge of the historian. Climates, flora, fauna, populations, cultures, the stars, civilizations, the seasons, and even consciousness – all of these exist in a state of continuous flux. Some change is cyclical; some is so slow that it is imperceptible; some is predictable while some is not. Some change occurs so rapidly that the lives affected have no time to prepare. And in many cases, no record is left of this change other than nebulous clues from which we can infer the past with varying degrees of accuracy. Sometimes it’s merely a few scattered bones, turned to stone over the millennia. Often we’ve found entire cities buried beneath the earth, found evidence of cultures lost long ago to the sea, or newer civilizations merely left in ruin by inhabitants who either migrated, fled, or perished.
Long ago, the Druids had vast libraries of historical books and tomes, chronicling ages past, but during the Great War these depositories of knowledge were lost or destroyed. Before our small circle of historians began compiling historical records, evidence, and accounts into a new central library, people throughout the world knew little more than the sliver of knowledge available to one’s own culture – usually passed down orally through generations. Today, this is still the case for most. I find that if I talk to three different people from three distinct cultures, I feel as though I’m hearing of three different worlds altogether, with very little thread to pull them together beyond the same passing of celestial bodies overhead – even even in that regard, interpretations vary. We all agree there is a sun that rises on one horizon and falls beyond the other, but I’ve found very little agreement on the nature of the sun. And those interpretations of basic nature have changed even within cultures with the passage of time.
The desert people of Jaldur once believed, according to their elders, that the sun was merely a tear in the veil of darkness, and that if one could get beyond the veil, all would be ablaze. In other words, we are protected by a perpetually rotating cocoon which protects us from the infinite fire beyond. The hole, they believed, was like the beginning of a bird hatching from an egg, and eventually the world itself would be born into a world of infinite light. There were even very precise predictions. When these predictions failed to become reality, the sun’s nature evolved. Noting the arc that a thrown object takes as it ascends into the sky and then descends back to the earth, they realized that the sun’s movement is very similar – as if someone were throwing an enormous flaming ball into the sky from one direction, and it was falling in the other direction. So now they’ve come to believe in giant deities, large enough to throw this flaming ball. Within this single culture, there is disagreement about whether the thrower is benevolent, playful, or at war.
This is the greatest challenge of the historian. It would be tempting to merely compile all that we are told into the annals, but we must take into account the unique perspective of the storyteller. We must consider that time changes stories, and after generations, the stories may bear no resemblance to the reality of the past. The story belongs more to the teller than to reality itself. The story becomes infused with the teller’s own ambitions, imaginations, prejudices, preconceptions, misconceptions, mythologies, fears, hopes, and dreams.
And this is equally true of my own telling, here. As I recount my tale of Elvish encounters, I will be honest and forthcoming. And yet, despite my best efforts, this work will certainly remain imperfect – colored by my own narrative, and limited by my own narrow perspective, and my own prejudices. Forgive me if I seem to have a particular fondness for the elves of the woods, as they treated me with utter kindness. Equally, forgive me if I fail to hide my personal distrust of Oredhel, as they spared no affection for me or my kind, and demonstrated ghastly and unjust brutality before my eyes, laughing as I wept. I know the reasons for the sharp edge to their culture, and yet I cannot possibly entirely hide my contempt.
And with that, I shall begin my tale.
There are many myths about the elves of the western lands, and in my travels I have collected much of their history and culture. Given the great mystery surrounding the elves, and the fact they had not been seen by any credible source in generations, I most wanted to see their perspective. How do they seem themselves? How do they believe they fit within the massive social constructs of Uteria? What is their place, and what could be their place in the future, so that we might all coexist in relative peace?
This has been difficult. Most, myself included, have been taught fables of elves rather than honest history. These fables are often of a god-like race, with impossible virtues. Other times, the fables take a much darker tone, designed to scare children into following directions, lest an evil elf kidnap them and cook them into a stew. The one thing I’ve never found in these fables, however, is accuracy. We have only just begun to learn the truth of the elves as they once again began to emerge from their forests and plans, becoming once again a part of human culture.
So hopefully these stories, myths, and histories of the elves will help us to gain some insight into one of the most secretive and powerful races in Uteria.
5704 Common Era
Jarin Plainswalker – NPC Guide
Jarin Plainswalker is a druid who wanders the lands collecting knowledge and artifacts of the fey races. He is a human from the city of Bordon, though after joining the Druid Council he has spent much of his time on the road. His spheres of magic specialize in healing and earth elements, and his knowledge focus is that of the ancient fey races.
He can be used as a loremaster in your campaign, or a companion for your players to fill in a healer role. His knowledge of ancient races surpasses many, and he is valuable in identifying old items, or deciphering ancient scripts.
Introducing Jarin into your Campaign
Jain plays a large part in the world of Uteria. He is the current chronicler of the Elves and has left the Council in Bordon to travel the roads for seven years while he researches the current cultures of the elves.
In your campaign he can be found anywhere, from a city tavern to a camp along a remote river. His specialty is the fey, and his studies will allow him to help the players if they need lore of the elves.
Jarin is very charismatic and when he passes through he often makes many friends with his animated stories and jokes. He has built a wide network of friends who are willing to help Jarin or anyone named his friend. If Jarin has a flaw it is also in his stories, in that his love for getting all the facts correct can lead to some feeling he is a little long winded when a short answer might be preferred.
Origins of Jarin – From the files of the Druidic Library of Seahaven
Letter from the Druid Council of the West to ArchDruid Erlwyn, of the Grand Council of the North
5707 Fourth Age
In Regards to the newly formed Conclave of Culture and Antiquity,
I am writing to ask that we assign Jarin Plainswalker as the fifth and final member of the Conclave. I have done much thinking on who would complete the group and add different perspectives to our goals. Jarin is a unique individual among the Druids and one of the first of the next generation who will lead the Council into the future. I will provide a brief description of his person and upbringing to illustrate my desire to have him in the Conclave.
He was born near Bordon among the small farms in the plains to the west of the Swordspyne Mountains. When he was the age of 13, a goat on his farm was severely injured and his parents found him nursing the small animal and crying. When they tried to take the animal away for slaughter, he screamed out and as his parent described it a blue light shot forth from their son into the animal. When they regained their sight, the animal’s leg, which had almost been torn from its socket by a wolf, was completely healed. Luckily for young Jarin his parents were not as superstitious as most and they contacted us about their son. We here in Bordon were fascinated to find such a young person possessing the innate ability to heal. He was brought to the Grove here and started his tutelage immediately.
Though he showed immense talent, he was also very headstrong and often was found exploring the mountains and wilderness around Bordon rather than attending to his studies. After he graduated from apprenticeship, he immediately took to the field studying the Westlands for ancient sources of magic. This made him rather unpopular among the Arch Council here, though his devotion to finding out about the past drove him to continue. During his middle twenties, he spent much of his time near the Town of Byrn, exploring deep into the swamps to the West of Kaelnor forest, looking for the “Keep of the Mages”, which according to most myths existed there in the past Age. With Byrn’s relative proximity to the Vale, Jarin became very fond of the Elflings, which lead to his many inquiries up North to you of past writings about the other races of Uteria. Since the Elflings are one of the few others races to have open and friendly contact with humans since the last Age, Jarin hoped to find a way to open relationships with the other races. He was especially interested in the Elves, seeing their connection to magic and the past Age.
I hope to assign him to look deeper into the stories behind the elves and bring us more concrete knowledge of who they are and what they have been doing since they shut themselves away in the different corners of Uteria.
Even the formation of this Conclave has been difficult due to the Arch Druid Council here, and adding an outsider to what they consider a dangerous avenue of research, has led me to a dead end.
If you were to send word to the Council here, it would go a long way in allowing me to form the Conclave as would best suit its needs, rather than the Arch Council’s needs.
May Arias Bless you,
A Brief History of Jarin
Jarin spent his childhood as the middle child on a farm, uneventful until his bond to magic was revealed. Once accepted into the Druidic Order he spent his adolescence studying in Bordon. He was a difficult student, often spending more time outside the city walls exploring than with his books. As his teachers learned about his personality and adjusted his studies to be less academic and more hands on, he excelled in classes and was sent into the field as an apprentice to Master Ensin. Ensin was a druid who shared Jarin’s wanderlust and together they spent a few years exploring the dangerous swamps in the west. After Ensin’s untimely death to a Unman’s arrow, he was admitted to a special group who were to try and unlock the mysteries of the last age.
Though many welcome Jarin when he is around, he has no true home. All he owns he carries with him, though he often leaves copies of his journals and sketches in various hiding places along the road.
Jarin is a thin man, slightly shorter than normal, though fast and quick witted. He has a contagious smile, and his eyes have had laugh lines since he was a young adult. He is just as quick to tell a story as he is to sit and listen for hours. He has little use for expensive belongings, but he loves well crafted and artistically intricate items. One belonging he holds dear is a bone handled dagger given to him by his old Master, Ensin.
Becoming Friends with Jarin
It is quite easy to win over Jarin, though to really gain anything besides surface information, Jarin must trust the players not to misuse the information.
Encounter with Jarin
Willow Tree Inn – Byrn
Jarin is sitting by the fireplace telling a story of the swamps to the northwest. His has a small gathering of patrons listening intently.
“The mud seeped into our boots, and pulled at them as we stepped. Bloodflies swarmed around us, their incessant buzzing making this miserable place even worse. But somewhere out here, somewhere there is the Keep of the Magi.