Scattered in small communities across the Dragonspine Islands, the Wild Elves of the Dark Seas (known in their own tongue as the Vashti) are an ancient, proud, and isolated race. Distinct and unique gender roles differentiate these elves from others of their kin: political, economic and religious power is held strictly in the hands of female Wild Elves (Vashta), who traditionally remain ashore the various islands across the territory. Conversely, adult male Wild Elves (Vashtu) spend the bulk of their lives at sea, responsible for long-range fishing/whaling expeditions, defense from marauders of other races, and inter-island trading expeditions. Males provide news, trade goods, military service, and occasionally counsel to female elders, who are ultimately responsible for all decisions that affect the group as a whole.
Ocean-going Wild Elf vessels usually plan to visit a different village each month when possible, for three-day full moon festivals famous for their exchanges of food, music, trade goods, news and rumors, and more intimate activities. A typical Vashtu may have sired a few children across various villages who he sees only once a year or less; Vashtu generally have little in the way of ongoing, sustained relationship with their own children or their children’s mothers. A notable exception would be sons who upon maturity join their fathers on the same ship, a not uncommon arrangement.
Generally, the only adult males who reside on land are elder shipwrights and the most feeble of old men; otherwise, elderly males find work on ships as they can, considering a life on land to be the last humiliation of old age. The presence of a Vashta on an ocean-going vessel is quite rare, and she would be accorded great deference and privacy. Given the fact that most Vashti will spend the majority of their lives in the company of their own gender, same-sex romantic relationships are more common than in other cultures.
Due to their long life spans and the limited territory available to their race, Vashti have developed strong cultural norms around child rearing: barring exceptional circumstances, Vashta are permitted only one child each, and female children are favored. These restrictions have of course been lifted during cycles of war, disease or natural disasters, or as otherwise determined necessary by the ruling Vashta.
Wild Elves defend their territory fiercely. Commerce with other races is uncommon, and typically conducted at sea by Vashtu only. Outsiders are permitted to visit Vashti villages on only the rarest of occasions, but these visits have led to wild tales of exotic huntresses and priestesses, full moon orgies, bizarre religious rituals, and the like.
Wild Elves are most famous for their ships, lithe and relatively fragile vessels of great speed, agility, and beauty. Otherwise, Vashti trade goods that may be found in Dark Seas markets would be rare herbs and hardwoods, exotic fauna, and weapons related to hunting (longbows, long knives, blowguns, debilitating poisons, etc.).
Vashti are easily recognizable among other elves by their typical bronze skin, blonde hair, and elaborate tattoos.