Elves are the race I'm most nervous about developing, because I plan on deviating from the conception of what elves are, traditionally, by a pretty wide margin -- bigger than the dwarves, certainly -- but I don't want to go so far that I feel like I'm just calling them elves because they live in the woods. (That said, where the distinction is made, my elves are going to be a lot more like wood elves than 'high' elves.)
I'm also nervous about attitudes of cultural superiority: yeah, my elves are definitely going to be racist, holier-than-thou dicks, but I don't want them to end up being actually, legitimately superior in any meaningful way. (Except in the sense that they as a culture are better at some things than other cultures -- like I mentioned in post 1, elves are by far the best healers, so they can sometimes seem immortal.*) It seems to me that in writing a world without any humans in the mundane sense, elves could easily be written as the Super-White-People of the world by a racist writer, or even read that way by racist readers if written by a neutral writer not trying to undermine that perspective.
Here's the part of the map that elves live in:
Note that it's a slice across the entire map. It's also totally latitudinal: the same kinds of crops should grow anywhere on that whole cross section. And, most of the major bodies of water are inland, so it's easy to fish without fear of wights.
Yeah, the elven territories are as close to utopian as it gets in this map, and they're damn territorial about them. I think I mentioned earlier that other races historically are barely allowed to enter the forest, and certainly not allowed to pass through it. In the modern day, there will be roads that, if you keep to them, you can get across the forest without being attacked by elves operating within the law of the land. (Not to say there's no such thing as bandits.) Prior to that, all trade between the north and south halves of the continent, except what traveled incredibly dangerously by boat in open ocean, was handled by the elves.
More specifically, there are only two or three tribes of elves that have anything at all to do with organized trade, and they manage outposts at the edges of the forests, that eventually would grow into proper cities.
I've said probably a dozen times that elven magic is extremely healing-based, but they've also got a lot of animal-style magic: partial and full transformation. In direct opposition to the values of dwarven magic, elven magic is entirely ad hoc, cast directly into the open air, with at most a talisman or herb as a material focus, sometimes even wordlesslly. Hunting elves can give themselves the eyesight of a hawk and the arm-strength of a bear for the few moments necessary to drop a deer at 600 yards through dense forest.
*Returning to a thought from earlier, elves in elven society routinely live for hundreds of years. But my setting's races are all basically humans, and only stop being earthlike insofar as magic can aid in extending difference. That means that by 100, an elf -- just like anyone else -- would be at pretty significant risk for mental decline or psychologically impairing disease. I expect that as I build this race I'll be spending a lot of time on the Wikipedia page for ageing: their responses to the problems it poses should be a huge influence on their culture.
Again, and this is important so I'm going to say it every time, elven societies vary. Some are materialistic, even imperial, and they're not all super in-tune with nature. Elves can engage in irresponsible forestry and disregard the value of all life. Some elves live perfectly normal life-spans.
Also: I'm begging for input, feedback, criticism or other responses.