One hundred strange cultural traits and quirks to make your elves different.
They have antlers.
They can only reproduce every five hundred years.
Their native language is entirely sung. It takes a long time for them to learn to speak like other peoples do.
They share the raising of children within the community. It's considered taboo to ask who your biological parents are.
They invented gunpowder and are skilled musketeers.
The elves are territorial, and have an empathic connection with the rest of their tribe. This trait is given through the birthplace rather than blood.
They do not bleed. Legend has it that it was made so through a wish granted to an elven hero, who swore that not a single drop of elven blood would ever be spilled again.
The elves do not sleep, but rather hibernate for 500 moons every 200 years. Every settlement has elaborate sleeping chambers decorated with intricate flowery strokes going back thousands of years; before going to sleep, an elf makes another stroke. Disturbing an elf's sleep is considered a grave offense to the entire elvenkind.
They have hollow bones, like birds. This makes them extremely light, but also brittle.
They are born old and grow younger as they age.
Their language has no tenses, as they have no concept of the passage of time.
Their communities are out of phase with reality and only appear during specific astrological phenomena. Elves who leave their home village may never find it again.
They sing to trees to produce and shape wood. Cutting wood from a tree or carving wood is a grievous sin with the punishment of death.
They must spend at least one hour a day in pristine natural surroundings or they begin to wither and will eventually die.
Bad news makes them laugh. 'He was murdered in front of his children? BWahahaaahaaa, that's grotesque! Hahaha. That poor child will be scarred for life.'
Late at night they enter a deep state of sleep for about 5 minutes. During this time their consciousness leaves their body to witness events happening around the world, but when they wake only a single image of what they saw remains in their mind.
Elves were originally created by some vampire lord, using the humans living in his kingdom as a herd of breeding stock; similar to how humans created different breeds of dogs. The vampire was originally aiming for just a better tasting food source; the grace and longevity was just a happy side effect. The offshoot breed of dark elves was created when the vampire's taint was mixed in by feeding on pregnant elves or having children with them, resulting in a weakness to sunlight.
Elven education is based around initially students learning every discipline and subject possible and being forced to drop out of any subject in which they fall behind their peers. When they drop their final subject, they pursue this subject as a profession. Those that never drop out of a subject end up teaching it, while those who drop out entirely before adulthood are destined to do whatever work is needed, and are dismissed as failures by other elves.
They frown upon the use of weapons in combat as barbaric, and exclusively fight with magic.
They are extremely jealous of great works of art made by other races, and even go to war in order to destroy them.
Their music uses a 33-note scale, making it sound alien and overwhelming to non-elves. Bards often rewrite elven melodies in a more usual 12-note scale, but elves are terribly offended by such practices.
The Soli elves have bronze skin, bright blue hair, and emerald eyes and absorb vital life essence and strength for their magics from sunlight. The Lunelin elves have silver skin, black hair, and amethyst eyes and absorb vital life essence and strength for their magics from moonlight.
Their religious beliefs prevent them from touching bare earth, and they live in a network of treehouses. Only Earth clerics can touch earth without being cursed.
The ghosts of their ancestors exist among them, telling ancient stories and guiding young ones.
They get a new name added for every part of life they reach.
They're a plant based lifeform.
They are extremely family oriented as they live hundreds of years and can have tens of generations in the same household. There are even small towns made solely out of single families.
They are born normally but as the reach middle age they begin to show signs of becoming a tree; leaves in their hair, eyebrows and beard. Skin wears off joints and knuckles revealing bark. Their fingernails turn hard and dark until eventually they are entirely made of wood and remain motionless forever becoming a part of nature. Some elves tend to return to their family burial grove to join their ancestors resulting in forests of trees shaped like people.
It's thought that there are very few Elves in the world, and they have extraordinarily long lifespans. This isn't true. There are actually many Elves with very short lifespans. It's just that there are a limited number of Elf 'designs'. When an Elf dies, another Elf of that model takes his or her place. That's why Elves have a reputation of being haughty and aloof; they haven't forgotten your name, they just haven't met you yet.
Everyone gets facial tattoos based on your 'tribe'. Only the ruling family does not have these tattoos, signifying that they belong to all the people.
Elves are a mutation that occurs infrequently in human babies.
They are affected by a mysterious plague, that is slowly killing all of them.
They have three fingers and a thumb on those hands. Their feet are more like hands that are attached to their ankles.
Every tooth is pointed and their nails are exceptionally tough, but not for hunting, for climbing trees and eating/stripping bark.
They lay a clutch of eggs. All elves are capable of either laying their own clutch or fertilizing another's.
Some of them, under the right circumstances, with evolve a set of insectoid wings. Some grow small plates of chitin like birthmarks or freckles.
Male and females are very hard to tell apart when clothed, even for elves.
They're still quite proper and noble, but have no qualms with eating the corpses of other races.
Their society is more like 1800s US south.
They are insects - there are bee elves, ant elves, grasshopper elves etc.
They are invaders from another dimension.
They have no language- communicating entirely via empathy.
They are a culture of wanderers, explorers, traders and raiders. Their Swan Ships bring fear in the hearts of men, for who knows what the Aelfar bring? Today they might bring magical toys to delight children, tomorrow they come with stories to entice and lure the youth to the seas, but we remember yesterday for the came with spell and steel and harrowed our village, stole our wives and husbands away for their slaves and took our silver and gold. Be afraid when the high horn calls, for it may be the first of the attacks of the Aelfar!
All sustenance is liquid-based mash/paste as it unseemly to chew like animal or beast.
All the language used is visual based sign and body language as they have no voice box to speak, yell, or sing. Instruments are seldom seen or heard.
All minor and major wounds inflict scars do not heal on them and they cover it up with constant application of illusion magic.
Slavery is the cornerstone of their civilization and all work is done by slaves except for war, education, and government functions. A yearly purge is held to keep slaves in line after several riots one millennium ago almost lead to reformation of traditional Elven way of life.
As all elvenkind lost their eyes to a unknown and forgotten eldritch god, they now have unparalleled senses of smell, hearing, and taste. They operate like a mix of a blind bat and a snake as they echo-locate and smell/taste the air for tracking. They are still semi-regal but have no concept of fashion other than texture and scent.
They are siege experts in breaking a siege and outlasting besieging forces. They will do anything to achieve their goals, even if the means to achieve it is horrific and uncontrollable.
They remain pregnant with children for four years exactly to the moment of conception.
They have Kaleidoscope eyes.
They don't have pointy ears.
When 'killed', an Elf can be brought back to life by returning the body to its 'Soul Tree'. A sacrifice is made at the base of the tree and the sacrificial soul lures the Elvin soul back to the body. These Soul Trees are kept in a sacred grove that is fanatically protected by the forest elders and their Druidic apprentices. If a Soul Tree is damaged, the Elf to whom it belongs will be aware of it, regardless of distance, even on another plane of existence. If the Soul Tree is destroyed, the Elf will live on, but can never be resurrected again.
The elves long lifespan is actually a combination of the lifespans of several different spirits. An elf with go through brief transition periods when it is time for them to be inhabited by a new spirit. They take new names after this transition.
Their life cycle starts as a seed, which grows into a small plant, that blooms a single flower, out of which a tiny elf with butterfly wings emerges. They grow to the size of humans over 100 years, losing their wings at age 50.
Their skin has animal patterns.
They live in the forests for the use of lumber as a resource, not some kind of magical connection.
They came from the stars, being a race that travels between different worlds (they're aliens.)
They eschew magic in favor of physical prowess.
Their eyes are sensitive to sunlight. As they live long lives, they spend most of that time indoors and away from common races. As a result, this arrogant race can hardly stand the sunlight.
They only hunt and eat intelligent prey.
They are the gods, grown small and weak.
They are descended from the gods - their power depends on mortal belief.
Their personalities change with the phases of the moon.
They are the world’s great explorers and traders.
They believe that to slay another with a weapon that leaves the hand is a terrible sin.
They are actually a subspecies of fawn, with the legs of a goat, deer, or antelope and the horns to match.
They are sexually dimorphic, the males are 8+ foot tall hulking behemoths and the females are human sized and they live in pride's similar to lions with the male being the primary protective force of the pride when intruders encroach on their territory. Or the opposite!
They are fallen angels who have abandoned the divine gods that condemned them to the mortal coil, instead pursuing the call of nature.
They made a pact with Dragons long ago, and are now adorned with colored tattoos of their ancestor's overlords. They also have a once per shot rest breath attack.
Their biology changes depending on what kind of magic they practice.
As Elves age they slowly begin to turn into a tree, the elves then make their houses upon their ancestor’s tree forms.
Elves began their species’ life as monsters who would steal children and eat them, over the past 200 years they have begun centralizing and stopped eating kids. There are still many wild Elf tribes left who still practice the old ways and are seen much like goblins. The Centralized Elves are trying very hard to get rid of their bad reputation.
The Elves were sent down from the heavens to see that intelligent life would flourish on the planet but, were abandoned by those who sent them. The Elves through generations eventually forgot some of the reason they’re there but always remembered, they were abandoned.
Elven is actually for the most part very similar to dolphin sounds. As well as this Elves can hear higher frequencies than any other intelligent species can, thus the sharp ears.
Though Elves exist, many believe they are fake or just humans with sharper ears. Elves tend to get very offended when people say they don’t exist, and often hide their ears to avoid stupid questions. Elves still live longer and have magical powers, though people just believe it is just all elves looking alike and smoke and mirrors.
They claim to be the first and oldest civilized race, this is wrong. They caused the downfall of their precursors causing their societies to collapse into savagery. An action they may repeat.
Their young bore into tree trunks and live parasitically until they emerge as adults.
Their eyes have vertical pupils.
Elves tree houses are a sickness made by creating and shaping galls and tumors in tree trunks.
Each elf has a tiny bird, mammal, fish, reptile, or amphibian as a personal totem and gets one as a familiar.
Their skin changes color to match their background.
All the different kinds of elves (drow wood and high) in their creation myth have them being created the first of all the elves and the others being perversions, or in the case of dark elves being betrayed and cursed for being the originals.
Cutting hair is extremely taboo among elves and grows incredibly slow, being a good rough indicator of their age.
They’re very openly polyamorous.
The opinion of the youth is very valued in their society as with so long to live they respect opinions with the least amount of bias gathered over time.
They are connected to the land and the presence of other magical creatures interferes with the connection so (depending on the society) they either drive them off or kill them and burn all traces of it.
Elves have compulsory wanderlust, they literally die if they don't see new places often. Drows are especially vulnerable to this and solve the problem by exploring the caves.
All Elves are born from a single 'Life Tree.' The Life Tree blooms a Pod of Elves once a year, and all elves in a pod are identical. They are functionally immortal, only dying of traumatic injuries.
Their society is ruled by organizations that amount to magical research and development companies.
They have an extra eye in the middle of the forehead.
Married elves will never leave the confines of their homes until all their children can fend for themselves.
They are very over emotional and cannot hide their feelings at any given time.
They have the most advanced knowledge of necromancy of every known race and practice it freely, letting their dead do the household chores and other physical labor.
They are non binary, having as many genders as the leaves can have colors.
Their skin reflects moonlight better than other materials, giving them an eerie glow on moonlit nights. Many of their holy rituals take place during full moon, and the unholy ones during new moon.
Their long ears are actually a mark left by an ancient curse, the nature of which is closely guarded from outsiders. Shorter ears are considered more desirable.
Elven books are circular, with pages fixed around a central spine like spokes of a wheel. They therefore have no beginning or end, and are kept in wooden cases to prevent damage.
There's no Elves. That's it, there aren't any. Of course, there's loads of Elves in Fairytales and Legends, but no one has ever actually seen one. They're like the Yeti.