Shadows of Europe
No other metahuman culture has had the obvious world-changing effects as that of the elves. Three nations, isolated neighborhoods in almost every major sprawl, personalities acting as a primary face or voice for almost every major world power, and even with all of that they have still built a culture full of humility and founded on understanding of their fellow metahumans.
Somewhere in the preceding paragraph I was a bit untruthful, or at least skewed the truth a little. And that is the way of elven culture.
Known for their grace and beauty, elves have enthralled the masses with their charm and pissed them off with their arrogance. Their slightly-taller-than-human stature, usually with a lean and muscular frame (or so the stereotypes go), narrow facial features, almond-shaped eyes, and silky hair have filled the airwaves since the earliest days of UGE. They are usually loved or loathed, but they rarely feel the need to acknowledge either emotion when it is not expressed by another of their kin. They use the natural grace and beauty they were given to create an image of trust, while stretching the truth and mastering the art of public relations with their charm. Their ability to spin and skew truths is only part of what defines elves; their isolationist mentality is the second half of their cultural identity.
Elves rarely find the company of anyone other than elves to be pleasant, and when it comes to heroes and idols, you are not likely to find a young elven girl or boy with virtuwallpaper of anyone other than an elf on their bedroom wall. This preference and reverence for their own kin has led to elves isolating themselves out of a sense of superiority. Whether it be their own tribe within the NAN, their own nations behind veils of secrecy both figurative and literal, or a neighborhood within a sprawl that is ninety-nine percent theirs, elves find a way to separate themselves.
As the elves are often seen as the most attractive of the metatypes (though many orks and trolls would disagree with this characterization), their fashion trends tend to be the most frequently copied. One such style, long flowing straight hair, is more than just a trend. That hair is a source of pride among elves, and those who wear it best gain a certain level of prestige. This vanity is both a blessing and a curse as elves, both male and female, suffer from frequent eating disorders and exercise addictions in order to maintain their image. This, and the common “elven prize” phenomenon, push many elven youth, and some full grown adults, to an unhealthy brink as they try to be what everyone else wants.
But not everything among the elves is about beauty and long, flowing hair. Elven counterculture is strong and possesses an icon recognizable around the world. The neon-green “A” with a circle through it is known in sprawls around the world as the tag for the Ancients, the largest elven gang in the world. These brash and wild youngsters define the fast-living, honor-the-strong, live-for-the-moment counterculture of elven society. Though art may still gain some praise in these particular elven circles, it’s usually graffiti, a bike’s paint-job, or a driver who is an artist behind the wheel. The Ancients represent the portion of the elven counterculture that ignores the elven convention that wisdom and age should lead and be honored. They don’t, however, do anything to change the elven superiority complex. The Ancients think of themselves as better than other gangs not just because they can outgun, out-ride, out-cast, and outclass any other gang; they think they are better because they are elves.
Deeper into the counterculture, and truly rare, are members of the elven metatype that sometimes go completely against the culture that raised them. Their streak of independence means a disregard for art and disdain for artistic endeavors, a high value in friendships with all metatypes, and an opinion that experience and age does not grant wisdom, as life and the world are always
changing. The wisdom of a past age is not wisdom in the modern world, and so much has changed, even since the Awakening, that they believe all supposed knowledge from the past must be questioned. These rebels can often be identified by their short hair (another act of counterculture rebellion) and scars marring their “perfect” form. Their imperfect form is still physically fit; it just has scars amid the muscles.
Physical Characteristics: The dryad metavariant greatly resembles the standard nobilis subspecies with only a slight decrease in stature. They also tend to be more slender and fair-haired.
Mental Characteristics: Dryads are the most intelligent of all the nobilis metavariants, and they are often perceived by others to be graceful and physically attractive. Some of this perception may be magically enhanced—Awakened dryads have been known to use their powers to enhance how others perceive them. To date, no dryads have agreed take any standardized tests, meaning the only evidence we have is anecdotal, with all the problems such evidence brings with it.
Cultural Characteristics: Dryads are unique among metavariants in that they possess no particular region of origin. Each of the dozen members of the metavariant interviewed were from different regions, nations, and lineages. Two were even born to human parents in the last forty years. Dryads lack any singular culture to build from, and they lack the interconnectedness within their population to create an in-depth culture. The metavariant is drawn to natural environments, and they tend to stay away from highly polluted areas.