The elven population is a study in racial divergence. Both descended from the Lightborn via the aelvar common ancestor, they diverged during the Second Age. High elves maintained links to the Aether-filled Astral, leading to near-immortality and strong magical capabilities. The Wood elves gave allegiance to the kami, bonding with the natural elements. Changeable and wild, they gave up their long lives and innate magic for strong ties to nature and wisdom. Still able to interbreed, the two had diverged significantly by the pre-Cataclysm era.
The Cataclysm War accelerated the divergence of these people. Now, the two civilized elven populations barely consider each other as members of the same race. Wood elves consider the high elves a dead end, dying people who are stuck in the past. High elves consider Wood elves barbarous and uncivilized. Both are right. Their languages have diverged to the point that they are mutually unintelligible although they are still written in the same script.
Wood Elves (Puun Ihmisia)
Wood elves tend to be slightly shorter than humanity (standing 5'2" -- 5'10"), lithe and dexterous. Their hair and skin tones tend toward earth tones--browns, greens, and grays. Their hair often is mottled as if by the shadow of leaves. They live a little longer than humans, averaging 100 years.
Kotimaa is the region to the north of Dreamshore and along the north coast of Lake Coy'in. It is the home to one of the two major groups of puun ihmisia in western Noefra. Socially, most Kotimaan wood elves have almost become feral. They live in tribes, wandering through the woods and wastes at the northern and eastern edges of the Council Lands. Inter-tribal squabbles are not uncommon, but the Green Lady and her court have so far prevented any serious warfare. Wood elf society is egalitarian and free--members of the tribes are free to act as long as it doesn't endanger the tribe as a whole. Tribes are led by a council formed by the chief shaman (usually female) and the warleader (usually male). Tribes choose members to act as part of the Green Lady's court--the role of Green Lady (nominal ruler of the whole race) goes to a wise woman chosen from the tribes. No tribe ever is chosen twice in a row. Power-and-status seeking behaviors are rare. They are generally allied to, but wary of, the Duarchy, although many have settled down in that nation.
Sexually, Kotimaan wood elves practice exogamy--males are sent to other tribes at maturity to prevent inbreeding. Within a tribe, all children are notionally the children of the Warleader and monogamy is considered strange. Non-hetero-sexual life patterns are also not uncommon, but exclusive homosexuality is very rare.
Wood elf tribes vary in their acceptance of outsiders. The tribes furthest to the south are the most open and "civilized," settling in fixed locations and building villages and towns. These tend to get along with most races just fine. The far tribes are much more xenophobic. Tales of sophophagy (eating of other sapient life), blood rituals, and worship of the Outcasts are common. Wood elves get along well with most races--they are wary of orcs and dislike high elves.
Kotimaan wood elf names follow the pattern <Given> il <Clan>. Given names are androgynous.
Common given names include: Ahti, Ilmarinen, Louhi, Mielikki, Pekko, Taipo, Ukko, and Vellamo.
The notable clans in the Council Lands are Myrsky, Metsaa, Yaarvi, Pilvi, Kirjava, and Lehti.
Byssian wood elves are more civilized and settled than those from near the former Council Lands. They are most prevalent in the northern side of the country in the foothills of the Nocthian Mountains. They propitiate elemental forces and local spirits, engaging in shamanistic practices at small shrines throughout the region. They are well-integrated into the local political system, electing judges just like the human folk. See Byssian Culture for more details.
Byssian wood elves use the same names as Byssian humans.