Svartalfar

Svartalfars are a species of cruel fey exiled from the First World to the Shadow Plane for grave, unspeakable crimes. Prior to the Gap, they worked as hired assassins in exchange for arcane knowledge so they could return to the First World and take revenge on those responsible for their exile, but after the advent of Drift travel, they changed their endgame, focusing on a new, inscrutable, galaxy-wide and plane-spanning goal.[1]

Exiled aeons ago for unspeakable crimes against other fey, svartalfars fled to the Shadow Plane. Many of these calculating killers have realized that the universal currencies of money and power can advance their race further than can the arcane knowledge they once sought as payment for their services.

The ancestors of the svartalfars were exiled from their primordial home for grave crimes that no fey will speak of. Fleeing to the Shadow Plane, they formed assassin clans, and now they hire their services to any who pay them. Their payment must be in secrets, bits of occult science, and obscure information to add to their huge, dark libraries in underground warrens hidden away on the Shadow Plane. Svartalfars are extremely interested in knowledge about the realm of the fey. Many fear the svartalfars are searching for a way to finally take their revenge upon those who expelled them.

These cold, calculating killers are not swayed by whimsy or deeper passions. They pride themselves on their pitilessness and inability to be bribed or dissuaded from ending a target’s life once they’ve been contracted to do so. Once an assassination is paid for, it’s the duty of all the svartalfars of a clan or cabal to make sure it gets done. If a clan or cabal fails, another one will finish the job.

Svartalfars seem to feel no love or real friendship. All of their actions are committed for practical reasons—political gain, procreation, or relieving boredom. Focused and utterly unyielding, they are considered by many to be the perfect killers, and their tenacity and mastery over magic and shadows are a death sentence for anyone who has been marked as their quarry.

My first thought was 'why not Darkvision?' but then I realized that these are creatures of *shadow,* not darkness. So low-light vision works. On the other hand, a rule that allows them to ignore the miss chance from Partial Concealment due to dim lighting (but not from other effects, like Blur, or from Total Concealment) could be appropriate.

Spiked Chain fits the idea of them being tied to Zon-Kuthon (and, in fact, fits a hell of a lot better than it did for the Shadar-Kai). I'd suggest considering the Whip as well, but it's a pretty dire weapon, and possibly not even worth giving away…

A bonus to Intimidate checks might fit their nature (and help to cancel out penalties to Intimidate coming from their low Charisma). A racial bonus to Stealth checks seems like a natural.

That's probably my only real beef, is Charisma as a dump stat. Darkly mysterious shadow-fey could easily be *more* compelling and enticing and persuasive, with their forbidden whispers and alien fleshly delights than expected. The only real alternative, though, would be to give them a Constitution penalty, which makes them feel pretty 'elfy,' or a Strength penalty, due to frail builds, or an Intelligence penalty (which doesn't fit at all, really). A Constitution penalty could be justified by the naturally 'fragile' nature of Fey (lowest creature HD in the game) and the -2 Con penalty of elves, presumably representing that they've left a part of themselves in whatever shadowy First World region they've come from.

Replacing a Wisdom bonus with a Charisma bonus might also be explicable by the 'darkly tempting' thing, combined with their senses being as much a part of the shadow-realm as the elves physical bodies seem to be 'left behind' in the First World*. Svartalfar might even have a Wisdom penalty, constantly distracted by barely-seen flashes and whispers from the world they've only recently left behind.

*None of which jibes with Gnomes have a Con bonus, but they've only recently been re-imagined as Fey anyway…

Svartalfar is a cool name, but Dokkalfar (dark elf) is also appropriate, if you aren't worried about it being associated with dark elf.

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