Elves are the second most common race after humans. They are long-lived people with pointed ears. There is almost as much variety in elven culture as there is in human culture.
There are mountain elves and desert elves and sea elves and wild elves and just about every variety one could conceive, each with their own views and beliefs on life. In general, no matter where they come from, elves consider themselves to be the most civilized race; all others are barbaric in comparison. To some degree this is true—elves usually have the oldest culture, the greatest cities, and the most learned scholars. Indeed, it is rare to encounter an elf who does not know how to read and write and probably even be able to cast a few spells.
Elves vary in their cultures and traditions, but not in how their bodies and minds work nor in their abilities. All elves are very interested in the natural patterns of life. Whether they live on mountains, in swamps, sail the seas, or wander the deserts, they are very aware of natural events and pattern their celebrations and lives around them. Solstices, equinoxes, phases of the moon, harvests, seasons, and the like are carefully noted by elves and given special attention in their culture.
Related to this is the seemingly unflagging need of elves to celebrate. The form their celebrations take vary a great deal, but often are related to the natural patterns they have observed, as well as the social patterns of the elves themselves. If there is some excuse to have a cultural ritual or a celebration, elves will rarely pass it by. An elven tribe or group’s ‘atmosphere’ will depend heavily on the natural features surrounding it. They are less likely to force nature to do their bidding as they are to bend and conform to nature.
Elves also have very long life-spans. They mature at the same rate as humans until they reach their late teens, and then they age much more slowly and remain in maturity for many years. An elf that appears old is very old indeed. Due to their long life-spans, elves live at a different pace than humans. They are less likely to hurry, unless it is necessary, taking the time to savor and enjoy everything that happens. The human drive to achieve greatness quickly and pass it on to their family is much less common among elves, who feel (rightfully so) that they have all the time in the world to achieve their goals. Those elves who harbor a desire for power or other machinations will create very long term plans, often beyond the comprehension of the shorter-lived races. This leads to a subtlety that is difficult for the other races to counteract or foresee. However, elves can often appear lazy or frivolous due to their relaxed concept of time and achievement.
Due to these long life-spans, elves typically have two ways of bonding in marriage. These include some form of temporary partnership, and a permanent bonding. The latter is obviously invoked more rarely due to the fact that elves know they will live a very long time, and circumstances (and people) change. They are typically more likely to accept an arrangement that allows for this change. Elves will mingle fairly often with the other races, but generally feel that these people cannot really understand elves. This often leads other races to perceive that elves keep a benign distance at best, and cold disinterest at worst. Most elven groups discourage marriage with non-elves due to the heartbreak of losing a much shorter-lived spouse. When fighting, they tend to prefer bow and short swords, but even then, fighting is seen as a last resort when peaceful negotiations are unsuccessful.