Pathfinder (Dragon Age Setting)
City Elves and Halflings
“Alienages have existed for as long as elves and shems have lived in the same lands. Ours isn’t even the worst: They say that Val Royeaux has ten thousand elves living in a space no bigger than Denerim’s market. Their walls are supposed to be so high that daylight doesn’t reach the vhenadahl until midday.
But don’t be so anxious to start tearing down the walls and picking fights with the guards. They keep out more than they keep in. We don’t have to live here, you know. Sometimes a family gets a good break; they buy a house in the docks, or the outskirts of town. If they’re lucky, they come back to the alienage after the looters have burned their house down. The unlucky ones just go to the paupers’ field.
Here, we’re among family. We look out for each other. Here, we do what we can to remember the old ways. The flat–ears who’ve gone out there, they’re stuck. They’ll never be human, and they’ve gone and thrown away being elven, too. So where does that leave them? Nowhere."
— Sarethia, Alienage Elder
Alienages are closed communities of elves living in human cities, often walled off and found in the poorest, more crime-ridden parts of the city, while elves in villages make home in barns or sheds. Their inhabitants are typically impoverished and survive by begging or taking on the most menial and unrewarding of tasks and in most desperate cases, sneak out of the Alienage at night to steal, rob or murder. Though overall treatment varies kingdom to kingdom, city elves are universally held as second-class citizens. Elves are unable to join most legal organizations like the Chantry, and the law often shows a blind eye to their woes. Slavery of elves is still legal in the Tevinter Imperium and there’s a lucrative demand for elven slaves along with legal servants for nobles, reason being that elves are seen as beautiful by humans despite their low status.
Having been heavily discriminated by humans for so long, most City Elves try to hold onto their remaining heritage while taking deep pride in their close-knit communities, trying to make ends meet in an otherwise hostile world. As such, elves that leave the alieange and try to enter human society are heavily looked down upon. To alienage elves, they’ve abandoned their race and culture by “becoming human” for personal gain, and are fated to be lynched by humans, which isn’t unfounded. Marriage is highly important for city elves; it is the rite of adulthood in elven communities and will often be prearranged in order for new blood to join an otherwise diluted gene pool. The absolute worst thing an elf could do is marry or breed outside their race.