[Guide] Blood Elf Roleplaying

Role-Playing
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Disclaimer: Whereas I haven't listed sources, I've sourced what I can from various points of information: Quest texts, game manuals, Developer DvD commentary, source books etc. If something is speculative, I've mentioned it as such.



Blizzard's own website provides a very clear and colourful outline of the basics of blood elves. You can find that here: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/game/race/blood-elf



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Contents:

1. Naming.

1.1 Surnames

2. History , Personality and Culture

2.1 History

2.2 Personality

2.3 Culture

3. Appearance

3.1. Hair

3.1.1 Facial Hair

3.2. Eyes

3.3 Tattoos

3.4 Skin

3.5 Body structure


1. Naming

Your elf does not come from Japan. As such, any name that is Japanese derived is so very incredibly wrong. Deriving names from culture isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as the culture difference is not so horribly different from the setting that it stands out like a sore thumb. Which is why Japanese names don’t work.  Very bland names also don’t work. Bob, Fred, Sue. These aren’t elven names, they’re human.

So, what does constitute a blood elven name? Well, let’s look at the example of NPCs:

Lyrlia

Fenissa

Ithania

Nemeth

Lethtendris

Mathredis

I’ve picked these at random from an NPC list. There are both male and female names in that list. Is it easy to tell which is which? Well, yes and no. Female elven names tend to typically ‘sound’ female, by which I mean they don’t have harsh tones and usually end with a vowel (in the cases given, ‘a’ is popular). The males names are harsher in their pronunciation, and tend not to end on a vowel. Obviously, this isn’t a set rule. ‘Lethtendris’ is female, and does not follow exactly what I have laid out. ‘Mathrendis’ is male, yet sounds surprisingly smooth on the tongue.

So are there any broad rules to look out for? Yes. Having something that rolls of the tongue is always a plus, male or female. Even the harsher sounding male names are still delicate compared to Orcish or human names because of the letters they are comprised of. They contain ‘soft’ letters, ‘m’, ‘n’ and ‘s’ (etc.) as opposed to ‘harder’ letters such as ‘z’, ‘g’ and ‘d’ (etc.). Adding to the softer tones is the use of ‘th’ within a name, which seems to appear often.  To give an example with some names I’ve made up:

Zugtor – This is very hard sounding, more suitable for an orc.

Salthor – Very similar, but (hopefully) a lot more sort on the tongue, and far more suitable for an elf.



1.1. Surnames

Generally speaking an elven surname is comprised of two halves:

SunSTRIDER

DawnBLADE

BloodWRATH

Etc.

You can see common themes just from these three examples. The sun (and related times of day – dawn, dusk, night etc.) is common amongst blood elves. Again, for further examples there are several lists on WoWwiki to browse through, such as this: http://www.wowwiki.com/Eversong_Woods_NPCs

It should be noted that not all elven surnames follow this format. Some (but not many) appear to remain in what I can only assume to be the Thalassian version of the word, giving them an ‘exotic’ sound. These surnames, whilst valid are often harder to think up.
2. History , Personality and Culture

Blood elves are terribly complex, and the events of The Burning Crusade only made things even more difficult.

2.1. History

First thing is first: know your history. You can’t possibly hope to understand how your character thinks and reacts until you know what it is that drives them and what it is they have been through. WoWwiki is great for this, and I’m not going to waste time going into huge amounts of detail about it. I’ll just give you two links:

http://www.wowwiki.com/High_elf#History
http://www.wowwiki.com/Blood_elf#History

The high elven history is actually a damn sight more important than the blood elven one, since it contains the vast majority of the actual history of the blood elf people. Recent history is important too. It’s good to know what happened to blood elves within the expansion, and how to react accordingly. This I can give a brief rundown of:

-They joined the Horde after proving they were worthy by significantly damaging the Scourge in the Ghostlands. They did this to get a stepping-stone into Outland, where they would reunite with their prince.
- Upon arriving in outland it was slowly revealed Kael’thas had betrayed his people and gone a bit bonkers. The elves of Silvermoon did not know this at this time.
- Civil war* was spread across outland, with the scryers and ‘player adventeurers’ (this may or may not fit into your personal history) facing off against Kael’thas and his Sunfury.
- Kael’thas invades Silvermoon and reclaims the naaru that the Blood Knights had used for their power. He heads to the Sunwell and begins to summon Kil’Jaeden to the world. Now all elves know of his betrayal.
- Civil war is fought on the Isle of Quel’Danas. Kael’thas is eventually defeated. The Sunwell is reignited with the heart of M’uru, and is charged with Light and Arcane energy.

(*When I say ‘civil war’ I am well aware that all races participated in the fight against Kael’thas, not just elf vs. elf. However, it is a civil war to them.)

Everything here needs to be taken into account. All these things will have some bearing on both personality, and culture.



2.2 Personality
This is a hard one to nail down in a guide because, well, everyone is different. There are some very clear-cut traits that blood elves tend to follow, but none of them are a necessity (if you’re capable of pulling off the more unusual stuff without it being awful) and they’re not exactly a checklist of things that must pop up at some point. So I’ll try and run through a few things just as an overview.

Power Hungry
Blood elves adore the idea of power, some moreso than others. Buf if there’s anything they all seem to have in common, it’s that Quel’Thalas will once again rise as a powerful nation. 

There’s also a sense of craving for more – that what they have (be it political swing, financial standing, a drug…) is never quite enough. There is always more to be gained. Always. To be content with your lot in life constitutes laziness and lack of drive. You’ll end up outside, begging for money like Jero’me the artist!

You [SOMETHING] the Light!
This one used to be a little simpler. Before the end of TBC, it was fairly straight forward to say “you hate the light” and it would be accurate for most characters. Now, that’s not necessarily true. It seems, more than ever, blood elves are swinging towards being light-worshipers again. So what now for your characters? Well, take it realistically with how they would react. The turn to the Light again has been sudden. Is your character an elf who has always secretly wanted to back back to Light-worship and is relieved? Or are they bitter and struggling and refusing to accept this new doctrine, after years of scorning that which you had once blamed for not helping you? You could simply be on the fence, or even always have revered the Light, despite what other have said!

You hate the Alliance!
And I mean the ‘old Alliance’ more than the current one, here. Sure, you hate night elves and sort of draenei too. But you really, really hate humans. They left you for dead when the Scourge came, and then when they realised you hadn’t all been finished off, they dragged you to fight their wars for them, and sent you off against impossible odds. Then they decided to imprison your royalty and try and execute him. You’re not going to have a high opinion of these chaps.

STOP! I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING!

There are two sides to every story, this is true. All your meta-knowledge tells you that this is a one-sided account of events. But it’s exactly that – meta-knowledge. Too often I see people not taking into account that there is bias in the world. That their characters don’t have access to WCIII, or WoWwiki and don’t know or understand how events truly played out. For your average blood elf, the story I just recalled will likely be how they know things. Heavily biased, with a lot of anti-alliance propaganda to boot.

Magic is cool, yo.
Blood elves are perhaps the most magically-attuned race on Azeroth. Even more so than their high elven brethren, because blood elves have dared to delve into the darker arts. It is integral to society. Even those who seem like they don’t know any magic (rogues, hunters and in Cataclysm, warriors) know rudimentary magic. What is this? I don’t know, make it up! Say you light a candle with a small spark from your fingers or something. The fact is, your blood flef will have been raised to believe that a magical understanding is the be-all-and-end-all of power in the world. Those who literally have no understanding of this tend to be looked down upon.

There are exceptions to this rule and I will discuss them more in the ‘culture’ section!

Arrogance
One of the biggest troubles I see with blood elf personality is that people take arrogance too far. Blood elves are arrogant beings, that’s not an issue. The problem comes when this arrogance isn’t tempered realistically in RP. As with all things, there is a time and a place and a way in which to be sensible about it.

Most elves will not be rude and look down their noses at every horde race they meet. They may well think little off them, but certainly now after having fought alongside them for a while, it would be silly to openly slander them. This doesn’t detract from an arrogant stance. Rather, it adds to it a layer of aloofness – the idea that your elf is in control of themselves, and that they have no real need to remind the other races they’re inferior. They simply are.

Other Horde Races
Tricky. Very very tricky. I’m going to make this shot since
1) I’m not great at explaining this
and
2) It’s quite subjective from character-to-character.

Just some things to keep in mind:
- Orcs burnt your forests in the second war. They burnt your forests and killed your people. They’re responsible for more deaths in the Windrunner family (who are FAMOUS and RESPECTED) than any other enemy of Quel’Thalas. Now you’re rubbing shoulders with them and you’re best buddies? M’yeah… I think you see the difficulty arising here.

Your best bet (and this applies to all relations here) is to grit your teeth, smile and push through it. Orcs need blood elves just as much as blood elves need orcs.

-You’ve been at war with trolls for millennia! And now you’re allied with a different kind of troll? Again, problems. Work through them like you did the orcs.

-Forsaken have a common goal. That’s where the friendliness ends. These people are dead. They’re monsters. They remind you terribly much of the very creatures that destroyed your home and slaughtered your people. Hell, some of them may even be your people, but dead.

It gets a little tricky with these guys. On the one hand you have things I just pointed out. On the other, they’re lead by a Windrunner (albeit a dead one) and they share your interests, even so far as your interest in dark magic. There is common ground to be had. But then… they’re dead. They stink. They’re an affront to your senses and they look just like those nasty dudes that ripped the head from your mother and plated football with it. You decide how to react.

You suffer(ed) an addiction!
So many people don’t put this in their roleplay and it’s unbelievable. This is basically the crux of the blood elf problem. Until recently, they had no Sunwell. The entire plot of going to Outland, sucking on fel magic and almost dooming themselves revolved around this addiction, and for it to simply be ignored in roleplay is quite shameful.

So, the Sunwell is back! Hooray! That doesn’t mean you have no symptoms of an addiction anymore. This isn’t how addiction works. Remember that part at the start about wanting more? Well, after sucking on fel and goodness knows what else for around 5/6 years, arcane just might not cut it anymore. It may well give you what you need to function, but as an addict, you’ll likely strive for something a little harder now and then. Just for a kick, or a pick-me-up.

Temper your addiction!
With all that said and done, it’s a prevalent theme of blood elf quests that addiction must be checked. That despite your cravings, you have to control them as much as you can. Does this contradict the above section? No. It’s not saying your character can’t chew on Bloodthistle, or occasionally hit up something a little harder. What it’s saying is they can’t really just throw themselves overboard and start sucking the mana out of everything that they pass by. If a blood elf does not control their cravings, and they start to really sink into it, they become Wretched. That’s what Wretched are. It’s a common misconception Wretched as blood elves who couldn’t satisfy their addiction – that’s wrong. Wretched are blood elves who over-indulged. So, if you don’t want to be ugly and, for some reason, naked from the waist down, keep your addiction in check!

Calm, but deadly!
I’ll look at this more in culture, but blood elves tend to be calm creatures. Tend to be. They get very violent, and very vicious when provoked or suffering. This doesn’t mean you lash out wildly at anyone who throws the slightest insult, that’s dumb and I won’t endorse that sort of roleplay. For a great example of what I mean watch this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLxYfvyV7EU#t=1m18s

If ever I need reminding exactly what encompasses a blood elf, it’s that little clip right there. It’s perfect.

2.3. Culture
After a little introduction. I’m going to split this into two parts: ’Pre-Wrath’ and ’Wrath’. Whereas we don’t roleplay in TBC anymore (d’uh?) I think it’s important to understand what the culture was like then, to get a good grip on what it’s like now.

Some broader things to note first:

Blood elves are lead by mages. An affinity with magic is what tends to bring power within society. The magisterium controls much of the politics of Silvermoon, and has a hand  in pretty much every organisation, military or otherwise, that exists.

That said, Farstriders (rangers) were also once revered greatly. As the main bulk of the military, they often had high standing and respect amongst high elves and even in blood elven society, the position of Ranger-General (formerly Sylvanas Windrunner) was extremely high. This gets a little complicated, and I’ll look into it later.

Blood elves take their namesake from their fallen brethren in the third war. There is a lot of respect for the fallen within blood elven culture. The colour of blood elves – red – is worn as a sign of this respect, as opposed to the high elven blue which would be traditional. Dressing in red is a fun challenge, because there aren’t many red items in game that actually look good (trust me, I’ve been looking for months…). Blood Knights don’t wear red and black to look like badasses (although they do look like badasses…), they do it as a respectful nod to their fallen kin. Blood elves have suffered a lot of losses to war, particularly the Third War. 90% of their kin were killed, so to have lost relatives in blood elf society is not a cliché to be avoided, but rather is likely commonplace.

Society ambles by at a slow pace. A trip to Silvermoon will show this. I suggest putting the in-game music on and just walking around a bit. If you can’t be bothered to do that, just listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu2frsrG70o#t=2m09s (I’ve started it at a later point because the first 2 minutes is more militaristic) or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DMsLPXSqig&feature=related.  Blood elves are a relaxed people, when at ease. They like calm, they like serenity. The guardians who plot around warning you not to disturb the tranquillity of the city back that one up. So, fighting in the streets probably isn’t good roleplay. Being a loud, gruff badass won’t fit well.

There is a conflict between appearance and decadence in culture, too. Blood elves like to appear perfect. Their city is a fine city, and on the surface nothing much seems wrong. But what when we take a closer look? Well, there is drug use (some legal, some not) as we can see from the waterpipes dotted around. There is also slavery, hidden away in the basement of a shop. There’s drunkenness within Murder Row. Interestingly, the warlock NPC only brings his succubus minion out at night… take from that what you will. There is a vastly gritty and dirty underside to blood elven culture that’s just waiting to be explored, and I really suggest you do so! It’s quite fun!


’Pre-Wrath’ Culture

Light worship would have been sparse in blood elf culture at this time. Many elves blamed the Light as a reason their kingdom fell, and subsequently turned away from it. On top of this, the Blood Knight Order was formed, which radically abused the Light to serve its own gains.

The use of fel magic became somewhat commonplace, with fel-crystals being placed within Silvermoon City and Eversong woods as a means of stating the addiction. Warlockery was also a more and more accepted practice (although not entirely, remember the warlock NPC?). To heavily shun these developments would have been frowned upon as a weakness.

Farstriders took a backseat in their military standing during this time. Perhaps somewhat blamed for the fall of Silvermoon, they simply seemed to lose a lot of respect and quickly became overshadowed by the newly founded Blood Knights. As such, there was vast animosity between the two factions.  That said, it should be noted that Hauldon Brightwing, Ranger-General, stands at the right hand of Lor’themar Theron, Regent-Lord and former Ranger-General. Clearly, the ranks of Farstriders still have traditional sway and aren’t entirely shunned.

Blood Knights will have been looked at with a strange mixture of respect, disgust and misunderstanding. They were a powerful military force, as well as what seemed to be a overseeing city-guard, dealing with awkward citizens. On the one hand, they did a good job where the Farstriders perhaps lacked in combating the Scourge. On the other, they were a strange, arrogant and somewhat mistrusted force.

Speaking out against the regime was not tolerated. Simply enough, doing so would have lead to ‘silencing’ through whatever means this may be. There’s a small event you can still watch in the Bazaar where such a thing occurs.

Eyes on Outland. What I mean here is that it was a theme of society that they would move from Azeroth to Outland and start a fresh life there. This obviously went a little wrong, however…


’Wrath’ culture
The first big difference? The Sunwell was restored. Light worship will have started to come back into swing, especially with the official stance of the Blood Knights being that they will lead their people into a brighter future with the power of the Light:

"With the Sunwell's rebirth, the Blood Knights - an order of blood elf paladins who once wielded the Light by force - have decided instead to embrace it and to forge for themselves a new identity as they lead their people into a more promising future." – WotlK manual.

Second? The Sunstrider Dynasty has ended, and the betrayal of their Prince is known to everyone. What, exactly this means for culture? I honestly can’t tell you, it’s not something that has been explored very well by Blizzard, but simply being aware is nice.

Farstrider/Blood Knight hostility probably will have died down by this point, with both factions having done enough and undergone changes to prove themselves to each other and their people.

Eyes on Northrend! Now it’s time to fight Arthas, that mean guy who destroyed your lives in the first place. This should be important to every blood elf on one level or another.
3. Appearance

3.1. Hair
I’m delving a bit into speculation with this one. I think I recall seeing this mentioned somewhere, but I can’t find my source so take with a pinch of salt.

Blood elves have a large variety of hair colours, yet not all of them are natural. Natural shades are blondes and browns. Your deep reds, pitch blacks and perhaps even that ginger shade are all dyes, something which developed as part of a ‘break away’ from high elven traditions. I’m pretty sure you’ll be hard pressed to find many (if any) high elven NPCs that don’t have blonde or brunette hair.

The style also varies drastically, although this isn’t represented in game well. This one I can back up with a source if I must. Again, as part of this separation, blood elves went out of their way to radically style their hair away from tradition.

3.1.1 Facial Hair
From what we see in game it looks to be rather much a ‘designer’ trim on the male facial hair. That said, I wouldn’t really ignore someone if they wanted to claim they had a full beard. I’ve seen official art with elderly elves in particular sporting beards.

Stubble I imagine would be frowned upon, though. Keep it neat!

3.2. Eyes
Blood elven eyes are fel-tainted and this have a green hue. There are very few ways around this, and although I can think of some I’m just not going to post them because they’re simply too obscure and I don’t want to encourage that sort of roleplay. Some things are best kept simple – this is one of them.

3.3 Tattoos
Again, as part of the distinction between blood elves and high elves, blood elves took to painting/tattooing themselves with runic patterns or wards. Usually found on the face, arms or across the shoulders/back they serve as either wards to demonic presence or celebrations of victory. Sometimes they’re simply done to look intimidating.

3.4 Skin
A little speculative again but: blood elves tend to have darker skin tones than their high elven cousins – particularly if they have consumed highly in fel magic.

3.5 Body structure
Males are typically athletic, lithe and agile. You generally won’t find a towering, bulky elf walking around. It’s not how their physiology works.

Females too tend to be slender and athletic in build, which is the kind of look that is sought after in society. Having a more shapely build wouldn’t necessarily be considered an attractive trait amongst other elves; rather it may be looked upon as something more akin to lowly human imperfection. Exotic, perhaps, not typically attractive.
Blood Elves and the Cataclysm.

Not very much changed as far as blood elf content is concerned with this expansion. Still, there are a few things I've been looking into that might be worthy of note. Again, as before, I'm trying my best not to speculate. I've used mostly quest and NPC texts to gather the information here.



The Reliquary

The Reliquary is, in essence, the Horde's version of the Explorer's League. It was a high elven organisation that has existed for thousands of years, but was essentially crippled by the coming of the scourge. Now the blood elves are back on track, The Reliquary is also in better shape, and noticeably active.

The goals of The Reliquary seem to be a little unclear. The head of the organisation, Tae'thelan Bloodwatcher, says this:

"You see, there are ancient, powerful relics found throughout this world that I plan to use to free my people from their addiction and unify them as the proud, indomitable race we once were.

Magic is something to be embraced and, I assure you, a force that can be utilized free of corruption with proper teaching."


So one purpose of The Reliquary is the benevolent furthering of an addiction-free life for blood elves, and a unified purpose.

Other NPCs seem a little more callous, however. Doranir in Silvermoon says:

"We discover, acquire, and amass lost artefacts, wealth and lore so that it cannot be used against us. Power does, after all, belong in the hands of those who would use it best... wouldn't you agree?"


It could easily be that both goals work alongside one another. They aren't too different from one another. The first simply seems perhaps a kinder way of stating what the reliquary does.

There isn't all that much more on the topic, other than to say the Grand Vault's whereabouts is a closely guarded secret, and could even be on another plane of existence entirely, if the NPC Aelnara is to be believed.


Blood Elves and Goblins.

Again, there isn't much on this, but in Azshara blood elf NPCs sometimes appear alongside goblin ones, and they tend not to get along. Where a goblin would like to bulldoze some ruins, the elf would prefer to investigate and learn. And I think there is the crux of this relationship. It's unlikely to be one that is easy or pleasant, for the ideals of each race seem too juxtaposed.


Blood Elves and Night Elf Mages.

Not anything huge here, either, other than to say the blood elves look down with contempt at night elven mages, laughing at their attempts at magic and generally believing themselves superior. Quests in Azshara have you disrupting some night elf mage settlements in what is essentially a show of blood elven dominance with controlling the arcane.

A pretty useless but fun fact with this quests is that it sates Arcane Constructs (arcane elemental looking things) have been outlawed in high/blood elven society for 1500 years.
<Reserved for Cataclysm updates>
Just some things to keep in mind:
- Orcs burnt your forests in the second war. They burnt your forests and killed your people. They’re responsible for more deaths in the Windrunner family (who are FAMOUS and RESPECTED) than any other enemy of Quel’Thalas. Now you’re rubbing shoulders with them and you’re best buddies? M’yeah… I think you see the difficulty arising here.
Your best bet (and this applies to all relations here) is to grit your teeth, smile and push through it. Orcs need blood elves just as much as blood elves need orcs.
-You’ve been at war with trolls for millennia! And now you’re allied with a different kind of troll? Again, problems. Work through them like you did the orcs.

Explain, my dear elf

The Horde doesn't need blood elves. Since when did the blood elves participate in any Horde events? The orcs just let you join because they felt som kinship with you, despite your past with them.

You can't work it out with the trolls, since you are their worst enemy. All trolls hate the elven race. Like I've said before, elves are the essence of all evil.

The Darkspear and Amani aren't friends, but they both hold Zul'jin in high regard, like all trolls do. And btw, the troll emissary in Silvermoon complains about the alliance with the blood elves. Sadly, he's the only one.
They need their spell-casting capabilities. That was fairly well established at the beginning of TBC, as well as their strong foothold in Outland, which the helped the Horde get their way there. Even with those things aside, the Horde are stronger with the unity of blood elves, and blood elves stronger with the Horde. It'd be silly for either side to disregard one another.
The horde is much smaller than the alliance they need every able body they can get, it would have been foolish not to include the blood elves after they split from the alliance.
They need their spell-casting capabilities. That was fairly well established at the beginning of TBC, as well as their strong foothold in Outland, which the helped the Horde get their way there. Even with those things aside, the Horde are stronger with the unity of blood elves, and blood elves stronger with the Horde. It'd be silly for either side to disregard one another.


No. Barbies don't fit the Horde. We won't be any stronger until you do somehing than sitting on your splendour-butts.
Sora's guide for Belf Arghpee should be required reading.
Sora's guide for Belf Arghpee should be required reading.
Sora's guide for Belf Arghpee should be required reading.
There's a fair amount of stuff written by her online, which is why I assume so much praise is given. :)

Nice guide.
Or it could be the fact that this is actually the only decent, well-written guide available?

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