Shadowrun: Throw Back
Metahuman demographics show that the elven metatype is
the third most widespread globally, with genetic studies hinting
that elven expression occurs in all, even the most isolated, anthropospheres.
In terms of geographic distribution, the elven metatype
is evenly present in one form or another on all continents and
among all ethnic phenotypes. Additionally, its metavariants show
the least variation of all metatypes. While some, like the night
ones, stand out more than others, the actual physiological deviation
from the baseline elf is usually minimal.
Elven expression dates back to UGE and, in rare instances,
even before 2011. The elven metagenome is one of most studied
in modern genetics, given the particularly desirable classic elven
metatraits of lithe and tall physiques, enhanced night vision, and,
of course, envious longevity.
Of the known elven metavariants, three are commonly known,
and one has been recently recognized: dryads, night ones, wakyambi,
and the xapiri thëpë. In all cases, known total populations of elven
metavariants are rarely more than a fraction of the nobilis metatype,
and there are no dominant regional metavariants.
The dryad is an uncommon elven metavariant that does not
seem to be geographically native to any one region, but rather
a genetic “quirk” of the elven genome. Members have been encountered
within all populations on all continents, with a slightly
higher expression registered in non-urban environments.
Although they resemble normal nobilis in most physical
regards (albeit shorter in build), dryads seem to possess a preternatural
quality that effects all those around them. Though studies
have failed to identify a physiological origin to this effect (ie. no
enhanced phermone signatures, no active paranatural ability) or
even record any evidence of the ability, individuals who come
into contact with dryads seem enthralled by their “obvious charisma,”
“radiant beauty,” “fey-like grace,” and “innocence”—even
when, objectively, the dryad is aesthetically unremarkable (quotes
from Mikos and Laurean, Glamour and the Dryad Expression,
Université de Paris, 2065).
Another peculiar somatic trait unique to dryads—like the
mythological entities that inspired their name—is a form of attunement
with their environment. Their biorhythms and even health
seem bound to and respond to environmental changes in their immediate
area. The nature of this enhanced sensitivity is not fully
understood, but is being studied by several institutes, however, the
particular rarity of this metavariant restricts the study of such a
phenomenon outside “controlled” environments.
A night one is a Northern-European nobilis metavariant
which shares all the common physiognomic traits of the basic
metatype with one notable difference. night ones are characterized
by a layer of vellus hair (a type of very fine, short fur, not
unlike a jaguar’s). This downy fur is indistinguishable from skin at
a distance, but makes this metavariant quite striking at close range,
given the vivid colors of the vellum—ranging from black to violet
to blue, with some rare examples of green and very deep orange.
Their hair and eyes are often a tint of their skin colors, though
individuals with silvery or white hair have been observed.
Additionally, night ones follow a nocturnal biorhythm
(sleeping at day and being active at night) and are hypersensitive
to sunlight. Their apparent adaptation to a life in darkness (dark
fur tones, night vision, and a sharp sense of hearing) has earned
them the derogatory designation of “Night” or “Dark Elf ” in
Though genetic markers suggest night ones derive from
Northern European stock, they can be found in many areas of
Europe, Asia Minor, and North America. The nocturnal lifestyle
that many naturally adopt does impose some limitations to employment
in many normal economic enterprises but has not, on
the whole, effected socially integration.
While unusual, night ones are rarely singled out as the targets
of hate crimes.
As with other elven metavariants, the wakyambi are a rare subgroup
native to Southern Africa. Wakyambi are noticeably thinner
and taller than other elves—many growing to the height of a troll
and a rare few even taller. Despite their height and weight, their
bones show no evidence of frailty, and they reportedly move with
an unexpected grace for someone that size. They invariably exhibit
very dark black or brown skin and tightly curled hair typical to
African phenotypes. Their pointed ears are also less pronounced,
so much so they might be mistaken for a human were it not for
This illusive metavariant tends to congregate in isolated tribes
in the savannah, and very little is known about their social and
cultural habits. No significant study or genetic testing has been
made of the wakyambi metavariant, and their possible origins
remain shrouded in mystery. What little biological and medical
information exists has been gleamed from isolated individuals and
the corpses of dead wakyambi.
According to African folklore, the wakiyambi are members or
descendents of the fabled “Heaven People” (also known as Cloud
Folk and other names among different tribes) that have bestowed
numerous gifts on common humans over the millennia, for their
own mysterious reasons.
One surprising detail that has come to the fore, and the
wakyambi themselves rarely address (though it seems to tie
into the folktale of neighboring tribes), is that the metavariant’s
skeleton shows evidence of a rudimentary tail which may have
degenerated over time.
The xapiri thëpë (meaning “spirit people” in the dialect of the
Yanomani Indians) are a nobilis subgroup native to the rainforests
of the Amazonian basin. Though they rarely leave their secluded
jungles (a reason why they were discovered only recently) due to
their fear of urban environments and their attunement with nature,
some have been spotted in Metropole, Manaus, and other Latin
American cities such as Bogotá or Caracas in recent months.
Surprisingly, the study group’s contacts with the Amazonian
establishment suggest they have been aware of this metavariant
for quite some time, and kept its tribal existence a state secret in
order to preserve them from outside interference. Total population
is believed to be under 10,000 individuals mostly living in
tribal groups (though figures are purely speculative until further
studies are conducted).
According to the studies now released by the Amazonian
government, xapiri thëpë are slightly shorter than the average elf
and apparently share the longevity genes and remaining metatraits
associated with baseline nobilis. Peculiar to the metavariant are
the irregular deep green patches on its epidermis that enable it to
convert sunlight into energy and that augment its camouflage in
its native jungle environments. While the photosynthetic organelles
that compose these patches (which expand with age) appear
to have been endosymbiotically introduced to at some point in the
metavariant’s evolution, they also seem to be the root of a serious
intolerance to a variety of pollutants.
Section: Choose Your Metatype
Chapter: Creating a ShadowRunner