The Wood Elves of Athel Loren are a playable faction in the Tabletop game Warhammer and video game Warhammer: Total War. While they are more neutral then good or evil, and have fought alongside other protagonist factions in major wars, they have tendencies that could cause some to see them as truly evil, especially since they were deliberately modeled after Fair Folk from folklore, who were nowhere near the heroic beings modern day culture portrays them as.
Society and Culture
The Wood Elves are a strongly unified people, for their forest realm of Athel Loren is surrounded on all sides by enemies who desire their forests resources. This makes the Wood Elves one of the most xenophobic races in all of Warhammer since they view anyone who is not a Wood Elf or forest spirit as a trespasser who wish to do them harm. As such, anyone who enters the forest without permission, regardless if they are hostile enemies, poachers, loggers, lost travelers, or hunters just trying to feed their families, are killed without prejudice or mercy.
Unlike the High Elves and Dark Elves, Wood Elves have little to no interest in the Elven home island of Ulthuan, nor do they seek to rule over the world or act as it's guardians. The Wood Elves only desire is to be left alone. While Wood Elves have fought battles outside Athel Loren, they were fought to protect Athel Loren, not to conquer any enemy.
The Wood Elves were once High Elven colonists, but when Malekith made his bid for power, the Phoenix King summoned all Elven Colonists back to Ulthuan. But the colonists who settled in Athel Loren refused and declared themselves independent. Since the Wood Elves were not involved in the Sundering of the Elves, they consider themselves the last true elves in the world and view their High and Dark cousins as arrogant and greedy tyrants.
Instead of bending the forest to their will, the Wood Elves bent themselves to it's will. They swore to always give back what they took from the forest in one way or another, nurture saplings in the spring, and only use dead branches for their fires. This relationship with the forest and their efforts in defending it from the forces of Chaos, allowed them to "befriend" many forest spirits who tolerated the elves... to a degree since they proved useful in defending the forest.
Just like nature itself, the Wood Elves can be caring and passive, but they can also be cruel and violent. They are servants of both light and darkness and good and evil. As such, the Wood Elves worship both the Elven Gods of Heaven and Hell in equal measures, though no Elven God is held in higher esteem then Kurnous: God of the Hunt and Wild, and Isha: Goddess of Fertility and Nature. As a result, like other Wood Elves in fantasy, Wood Elves revere nature and treat it with care and even help plants grow They understand they are not the masters of Athel Loren, but rather Athel Loren is the master of them. When a wood elf dies, the body is buried and a tree is planted over the deceased remains, so that new life will grow from dead life. Wood Elves are also known for capturing and eating trespassers into the forest, including humans. Some victims are killed upon sight if they trespass in the forest, other victims are lured into the forest via magic and are treated to a grand feast, only for them to be fattened up, then eaten themselves.
The forest of Athel Loren is divided into 12 semi independent Kingdoms called High Realms, and each pledges loyalty to King Orion and Queen Ariel and provide military service whenever enemies come to Athel Loren. Some only experience one season, others are locked in day or night, but all come to fight whenever they are summoned.
Interactions with humans
Eventually, human tribes began migrating over the Grey Mountains and settled in the lands west of Athel Loren where they battles local Greenskins and Beastmen. The Wood Elves took little interest in this, until their wars came close to Athel Loren. In response to this, the Immortal Wood Elf demigod king Orion created the annual "Wild Hunt" where the hosts of Athel Loren would hunt and kill any outsiders on the boarders of the forest and even raid human settlements not far from the boarders.
Soon, humans began telling stories of "Fair Folk" living in the forests. Eventually, the human tribes were united by Gilles le Breton who founded the Kingdom of Bretonnia. But instead of waging war on their unified human neighbors, the Wood Elves decided to subtly manipulate them into a human shield against outside invasions. The Bretonnians worship a goddess called "The Lady of the Lake", who unbeknownst to the Bretonnians or even the Elves, is really the Elven Goddess Lileath. The Elves, through their manipulation of the Bretonnian religion, have managed to keep the Bretonnians from technologically evolving to the point where they would become a serious threat to the forest, and have kept the Peasants of Bretonnia oppressed, uneducated and illiterate. They also kill Bretonnians in their yearly Wild Hunts on Athel Loren's boarders. But that is not the worst.
The Wood Elves are infamous for kidnapping Bretonnian children and enslaving them. Some children are kidnapped in Wild Hunts, others are stolen in the night, and some are brought to Athel Loren by the Fey Enchantress, the Lady of the Lake's Holy Woman, and through the Lady, a servant of Athel Loren.
While slaves in Athel Loren are treated significantly better then slaves in the Dark Elf Kingdom of Naggaroth, it hardly is justified since all Wood Elf slaves are children. The slave children are cursed to never grow up and grow old, and think that the Wood Elves are their masters. Over time, the children forget who their parents are and spent eternity happily serving the whims of their elven masters.
- Eternal Guards
- Glade Guards
- Deepwood Scouts
- Wildwood Rangers
- Knights of Athel Loren
- Glade Riders
- Warhawk Riders
- Sisters of the Thorn
- Wild Riders
- Great Eagles
- Great Stags
- Tree Kin
- Treemen Ancients
- Forest Dragons