The Snow Elves
The “snow elves” are not a race - they are a people, a culture, an idea. They do not differ much in their genetics from their parent races - wood elves mainly, with an occasional high and dark elf amongst them. Even their tone of skin changed little from the more frigid temperatures they chose to call home, and they do not have any “special” resistance to the cold as a people. The most any of them could get from it is a very hearty “you get used to it.”
A great time ago, a group of wood elves had come to the conclusion that to become more in-tune and appreciative of nature, they had to experience it at its harshest. To them, that was the cold forests to the north, which bordered the tundra. In their migration, they picked up a few high and dark elves who simply wanted to get away from the modern lives they left behind, and by the time they reached the forest, some groups wanted to go even further north into the tundra, snow and ice. While the two main groups splintered off, there was no major animosity between them, for despite an obvious change in how their lifestyles would pan out, both the “northern” and “southern” peoples are considered “snow elves.”
In general, snow elves have learned to become more self-reliant than most other peoples, and know how to live solely off the land if need be. Even when going to lands or events of plenty, a snow elf is known to generally carry several items: a knife, rope or twine, bandage wraps, a fire-starting method such as flint and tinder, water, and some sort of lasting food, like salted veal or nuts.
In more specific lifestyles, the southern tribes had the luxury of the forest, albeit a harsh one, where more land-dwelling life roamed. Berries were often harvested and grown, while hunting and gathering was still considered a necessary way of life. Their homes were made from wood, sometimes buried some into the ground. The northern tribes lived in the tundra and along a cold, rocky coast. Hunting was the only real way of surviving, though generous southerners were known to bring berry harvests to them in times of plenty. Northerns generally lived in igloos or homes made of hide and occasionally wood, the insides of which were surprisingly warm. Clothing wise, both tribal groups wore furs, a requirement for such bitter conditions.
While their culture places a need on practicality, it is not to say they lack a culture all together. This is most well seen in their hide paintings and on the patterns of their clothing, which, when resources were not a factor, was limited only by the ability or creative talent of their creators, or access to a good, local seamstress. Geometric patterns were not uncommon on their parkas and other clothing. Masks were sometimes worn by individuals who wanted them, though medicine people of the tribes often wore them out of tradition. Sometimes a snow elf would bring a mask when travelling south to interact with outsiders, though this varied by the “shyness” of the individual. Jewelry such as necklaces made of beads, turquoise, copper, and/or shells were also common, and it was considered a precious act to make jewelry and gift it to a friend or lover. Music was done through hide drums, flutes, and in the northern tribes percussive instruments were made straight from great blocks of ice - it was considered a high skill to fashion the blocks into a tone-consistent shape, let alone several to form a melody.
It is not considered a bad thing for a snow elf to leave their tribe and return to the “Southern World”, though should they choose to return to the tribes to either visit or relocate, relations with former tribe members have notedly been strained. Sometimes the child of a “civilized” snow elf will choose to seek out the tribe, and they are often more welcome than their parents. Even so, the snow elves do not scoff at the idea of other races joining their tribes, it’s been known for a human or two to join some on occasion, but those instances are extraordinarily rare.
Should a person of the “Southern World” befriend a snow elf, they can expect a loyal, resourceful companion, one more suited for temperate and colder climates rather than hot, dry ones. They will not be bigoted to modern life, just not accustomed to it, and will often need time outside of cities such as Lyconia. They will be fiercely defensive of their home tribes, rarely ever telling an outsider exactly where they are, only that they are “north.”