Elves of the Briar

The first mortals (The First, or First Ones) were the fey elves, when all the world was green. The deeper the forest, the older the ruins within, the more ancient, knowledgeable and powerful the elves guarding their treasures, secrets and dangers.

Elves are like butterflies, with several stages of vulnerable dormant metamorphosis, each lasting longer than the last, but each awakening doubling their power, should they survive it.

  • Spring elves, the only ones who breed, mature at 50 years, and may hide in the leaves or the branches to sleep 50 years into Summer.
  • Summer elves mature at 100, and may enter hollow trunks, or bear caves, or have spiders weave them round for a century.
  • Autumn elves mature at 200, and may dig deep burrows terminating in graves. Some say they rot to the bone over two centuries and are reborn with new bodies grown from the beetles and worms.
  • Winter elves are a second-hand story. You do not meet one and live. They are beyond time, death, regret and reprisal. Some sleeping elves never awaken, perishing in their sleep. Either the transformation or misadventure takes them before they reach their next awakening.

The dreams of the sleeping elves are the forest, as they speak through what grows and gathers, flourishes and perishes. A beetle swarm could be a call to arms, a rose bloom a cry for help. A stray wind could whistle words of a message which only the ears of waking elves could hear. In this way, their bidding could be heeded or ignored, their plans advanced or thwarted, their weaknesses tended to or exploited.

Born Among Thorns

A Dungeon World Compendium Class for Elves of the Briar

When you are an elf of the Briarwood, the following moves are available to you. When you gain a level, choose from these or the advanced moves granted by your class.

Levels 2+

Sharp Ear, Keen Eye

Choose an aspect of the forest:

  • Plants
  • Creatures
  • Spirits

You may craft yourself a mask which grants an affinity and awareness of that aspect to you. Describe what it is made of, and how it looks. That aspect cannot surprise you if you are wearing its mask. Additionally, when you Discern Realities whilst wearing the mask, you may also ask the GM if your aspect is at work, and how. You may take this move multiple times. If you mask is lost or destroyed, it will take you a day to craft a replacement.

Deft Hand, Fleet Foot

Requires: Sharp Ear, Keen Eye

Choose an existing affinity to increase. Take +1 Ongoing when you Spout Lore, Defy Danger against, or combat that aspect whilst wearing its mask. You may take this move multiple times.

Levels 6+

Strong Hands, Knowing Look

Requires: Deft Hand, Fleet Foot

Choose an existing affinity to increase a second time. Take +1 Ongoing to Parley with that aspect when wearing its mask. Additionally, you may ask it questions and it will always answer true. You may take this move multiple times.

Commanding Presence

Requires: Strong Words, Knowing Look

Choose an existing affinity to increase a third time. When you command that aspect while wearing its mask, it must obey to the best of its ability. You may take this move once more after your next metamorphosis.

Level 10+


At level 10, instead of retirement, elves may choose to enter a vulnerable period of hibernation to evolve into a new kind of elf. Describe your retreat into your secret resting place, then:

  1. Set your effective level to 5. Leave your stats as they are.
  2. Describe your greatest hope and fear for the world without you.
  3. Navigate the dreamscape for half a century or more.
  4. Should you survive, set your level accordingly and trade one of your lowest affinities for the next highest in the same aspect. You grow in power each time but become more detached and alien. Your connection with that mask has shifted.

Navigate the Dreamscape

When your mind moves through the forest as your fragile body transforms, you perceive a mixture of the actual and subtle forms of the Briarwood. Daylight is absent, size and distance is amplified by ideas, and time streaks by as a decade in a day. Your gear is merely the memory of your physical form.

No XP is gained here, and there is no rest. Instead, when you fail a roll, choose:

  • Take damage,
  • Take a debility, or
  • Lower your level by one and describe what gear you have forgotten. When your level reaches zero, you forget yourself entirely and your body perishes.

Whenever you roll a 10+, at your option, you may change it to a 7-9 result in order to remove a debility or remember gear, shifting your level accordingly.

While here, you may speak through the forest to use your affinities on the waking world.

  • If you entered the Dreamscape as a Spring Elf, after 50 years, you emerge as a Summer Elf, level 3.
  • If you entered the Dreamscape as a Summer Elf, after 100 years, you emerge as a Autumn Elf, level 6.
  • If you entered the Dreamscape as a Autumn Elf, after 200 years, you emerge as a Winter Elf, level 9.
  • A Winter Elf only enters the Dreamscape to become one with the forest, and leave their body behind forever.

Elves of the Briar

Into The Briarwood Matt_Horam Matt_Horam