The elves are Lorwyn's dominant race. In a pastoral world, these masters of wilderness have long reigned, and their reign has begun to corrupt them. Outwardly the elves are all grace, elegance, and soft smiles. But they have a cruel, predatory streak. They believe themselves to be the height of the world's truth and beauty, and they see the other races as amusing at best, and as sport to be hunted at worst.
Lorwyn elves are the elvish race of the world of Lorwyn. Unlike the elves of most other worlds, the elves of Lorwyn are aristocratic, ruthless, and predatory. Lorwyn elves have horns and hooves, and their look is imperious, severe, and sculptural. If you'd look an elf in the steely eye, you'd get the sense of a predator sizing you up - they're constantly comparing themselves to others, figuring out predator / prey relationships, and preparing to defend their right to territory.
The elves are paragons of beauty. Their society revolves around the laws of beauty, a code that specifies how one's cunning and personal attractiveness determine one's social rank. If you are only moderately beautiful, you are a low-ranking elf. If you are ugly or disfigured - or a non-elf, which is by definition a truly ugly thing to be - then you are an eyeblight, a creature unworthy of respect or even, if it is deemed so, life. There are four official ranks of elves, determined by measure of beauty - plus the non-rank of eyeblight for everyone else.
- Faultless. Any elf who possesses the minimum threshold of beauty and grace is granted this basic rank.
- Immaculate. Dignitaries, VIPs and higher-level functionaries among elves attain the rank of immaculate.
- Exquisite. Packmasters, who lead elvish hunting packs, and important courtiers are of the exquisite rank. They have the privilege of being able to speak directly to perfects.
- Perfect. The perfect (note: not "prefect") are elves so beautiful and so shrewd that they rule all other elves. There are only a few of these in the world. Perfects can kill those of low rank with impunity.
Although these elves live in forests and interact with nature just like other planes' elves do, their attitude and outlook are very different. Lorwyn elves are obsessed with beauty and perfection; social status and societal power are entirely determined by physical looks. These elves are not afraid to twist nature into more beautiful shapes of their choosing, and they claim complete ownership over all that is beautiful, even sentient beings. The worst thing any being can be is ugly, and elves, in their arrogance, rarely (if ever) see other races as anything but hideous. In fact, the ugly, known as eyeblights to the elves, are shunned at best, and at worst are actively hunted, enslaved, even killed with the potent toxin moonglove.
Elves hunt in packs, riding cervins into battle, sometimes leading trained wolves. One of the functions of a pack-hunt is to search out particularly ugly or dire eyeblights—and kill them. Elves charged with culling eyeblights are called winnowers. You'll find that the Lorwyn novel has a lot to do with these hunts, and an elf who changes rank quite rapidly.
Speaking of hunting, what if you're an elf with particularly nasty prey? What if you're tracking a giant, or some enormous, old-growth treefolk? Even an elf's naturally superior hunting skills only go so far. That's why some elves cultivate a white flower called moonglove, from which can be derived a potent poison. This poison is deadly even in small amounts, taking down even towering giants. In precisely controlled, highly diluted trace amounts, its necrotizing properties can be used to etch or carve living tissue—such as skin or bark.
The elves of Lorwyn often hunt eyeblights, creatures who fail the elves' exacting standards of beauty and therefore have the lowest status in their eyes. But sometimes, instead, they create vinebred minions from such creatures. Elves can animate a parasitic plant called nettlevines to bind around their victims, creating twisted, but powerful and eminently controllable minions. Nettlevine is also eventually lethal for the afflicted victim.
Compared to other elves, Lorwyn elves have a very short lifespan.
When Lorwyn transforms into Shadowmoor, the elves become much less imperious. Their skills in combat ceases to be a matter of destroying eyeblights and becomes a matter of survival. Physically, they do not change much, though their horns become thorny.
They are still obsessed with beauty, and still seek to gather the most beautiful things in the world to themselves. This, however, is not because they in any way remember the sunlit world they ruled before, nor because they intend to keep the world's wonders as prizes for themselves. Instead, beautiful things are comforting to them, proof that the world is not so dark that it cannot potentially be made a brighter and better place, and so act as an inspiration to help the elves keep the faith in dark times. Who knows? If enough beautiful and wondrous things can be kept safe from the grasping darkness, maybe they will form a critical mass that can push back the night, or maybe someone will come to understand a common thread that ties these things together and so bring forth the beauty surely hiding in the rest of the world's inhabitants. Whether those beautiful objects and creatures actually want to be kept safe in a gilded cage is entirely irrelevant to the elves.
No longer do they judge their fellows by appearance, nor do they hunt the unbeautiful for sport; that would be far too onerous a task in a world so blighted as Shadowmoor. Now elves take the role of the protectors and the shepherds, seeking to keep the spark of what is wonderful alive in the darkness.