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Crafting Motif 77: Stags of Z'en Style


By Gwaerelos, Greenblessed Master of Arms, Elden Root

The Spinners will tell you that all the world is a tree. Evils burrow under the bark like weevils and drink the goodness out of life. The Green's warriors search the boughs, plucking vices from their hiding places and devouring them with relish. Transgression and consequence. Wickedness and payment in kind. We Stags exact that punishment. We claim that payment in blood. Z'en, god of toil and vengeance, demands nothing less.


Like all right-thinking Wood Elves, we observe the Green Pact gladly. Let no tree suffer the axe; only enemies should feel the cleaver's bite. The Stags' great axe-heads feature multiple prongs and cutting edges to ensure every wound we inflict is grievous and irreparable.


In Valenwood, a loose fit spells death. Razor-sharp thorns, snare-like vines, and the grasping claws of great beasts always seek to drag us to an early grave. Our sturdy leather belts cinch tight as a river-boa's coils, keeping our profile lean and our midriffs protected.


All too often, the raking briars and venomous snakes of Valenwood make a meal of unprotected shins and calves. A Stag's boiled leather and beetle-chitin boots afford the wearer the same protection as iron greaves at half the weight.


Wooden bows, no matter their origin, carry the stink of filthy loggers and woodland-oppressors. A Stag's bow relies on flexible root-beetle chitin extracted at the very moment the imago emerges from its husk. Of all the weapons we Wood Elves carry into battle, this one does Y'ffre and Z'en the most homage.


We Wood Elves excel at all crafts, but butchering monstrous beetles remains one of our most time-honored traditions. Crafting a Stag brigandine requires hundreds of delicate cuts to create a flexible garment. Affixing the chitin plates to a leather jack can take many long hours, but the results speak for themselves.


Few weapons embody the virtues of their wielder as completely as the Stag dagger. Fashioned out of chitin and steel, the blade resembles a serrated leaf. What could suit a servant of the Green finer than a lethal frond?


Tight leather wraps and expertly cut chitin plates make Stag gloves the envy of woodland warriors everywhere. Weapons can rarely find purchase on the slick surface of beetle-hide, making these vambraces the perfect armor for a slippery duelist.


A true Stag of Z'en should inspire more than fear. The transgressor must see the face of cold, dispassionate justice. We do not extract the toll on behalf of ourselves—we claim it in Z'en's name. So we hide our faces behind the mandibles and mask of a predatory insect. Insects do nothing needlessly. They lead their life of violence with an eerie calmness. As do we.


Flexible chitin plates laid over rugged leather trousers allow us to remain protected while moving swiftly from foe to foe. For a Wood Elf, speed and safety are one and the same. In these armored leggings, we can move very swiftly indeed.


The head of a Stag mace closely resembles a flower preparing to bloom. But the petals are far from delicate. Heavy, spiked chitin wrapped around a prodigious iron weight make this the most brutal weapon south of the Strid River.


Sometimes chitin needs no alteration. Take the Stag shield, for instance. Z'en's aegis is little more than a beetle's thoracic carapace affixed to a rugged leather base. Y'ffre, in his wisdom, set the beetle in a shield-like shell. What fool would alter what is already perfect?


The shoulder is the steady root of the arm, and like all roots, it needs protecting. Stag armorsmiths devised perfect shoulder cops that feature spiked chitin plates and imposing mandibles to enhance our already terrifying silhouette.


The staff of a Stag mage reflects the Green's sublime power with fearsome mandibles and sharpened leaf motifs. Any spell channeled through such a weapon carries the full blessing of Z'en. Should you face off with hostile mages, this staff ensures that you pay their bloodshed back in kind.


Like our daggers, the swords of a Stag reflect the beauty and terror of the Green through sharpened chitin and leaf-like motifs. Despite their size, these weapons enjoy a remarkable lightness. For every enemy sword-stroke, we can reply with two of our own. Under such an onslaught, even the hardiest Nord will fall in short order.

The Ghost of the Green

Treethane Einisse

We children of the sap recognize many great heroes: Elthonor the Barkborn, the Many-Tales Wolf, Fildunor Boughbrow, and others. But no hero, living or dead, rivals the glory of Z'en's avenger, the Ghost of the Green.

Unlike the shiny, boastful heroes of men and mer, the Ghost stalks through the forests of history quietly—only occasionally drawing back his mighty bowstring to smite the enemies of the Green. His spirit is timeless but his patience is thin. When our people call upon him with sacrifices of deer hearts and boar tusks, a righteous execution follows soon after.

You will know him by his green leathers, his frightful skull, and the tokens he leaves behind: a fern frond, a razor-sharp arrow of Wood Elf make, and the corpse of one who would assault our people. Once he is summoned, no one can escape his wrath. On the day of smoke and summoning, the sacred deer must die. On the day of the Ghost's fury, our enemy must die. Death is inevitable. Such is the way of things in Yffre's domain.

Y'ffre's Beckoning Questions

Gwaering, the Green Lady

October 24, 2014

“This one knows that the Bosmer pride themselves on being among the best hunters across Tamriel. This leads M'Vakhu to wonder about the prominence of the Prince of The Hunt, Hircine, in their culture (Y'ffre notwithstanding). This one could not imagine how such a people could not be tempted into serving one who seems to so inherently embody their way of life. This one appreciates your time.” – M’Vakhu

The Green Lady says, “Invocation of Hircine the Hunter can be benign and harmless, as when an archer asks him for luck when drawing a bead on a stag. Taken too far, however, the Cult of Hircine can serve as a justification for cruelty and a rationalization for oppression and murder. We saw an example of this in our own recent history, leading up to my Handfasting to the Silvenar. The Daedra exist, and when they intrude upon mortal affairs, sometimes we must deal with them—but doing so is always perilous. This is something the foolish and greedy among us often forget.”

“As many outsiders do, I find the Green Pact a bit puzzling. Two of the tenets appear to be 'eat no plants' and 'eat only meat.' These are not really the same thing. Do strict adherents to the Green Pact not consume dairy products, honey, mushrooms, or insects?” – Ravenna Brightwing

The Green Lady says, “Though the Green Pact appears simple on the surface, its doctrinal details can be baffling to outsiders, and indeed, even the wisest of our Spinners disagree on some of its aspects. The first tenet you mention would be better stated as “Harm no living plants,” and this we strive not to do, even when we sing the house-songs to the trees so they will form lodgings for us. But does it harm a living plant to eat its fallen fruit? Indeed not—in fact, in this way the plant’s seeds are spread. The second tenet you mention is better known as the Meat Mandate, but how strictly it is followed varies from tribe to tribe and, indeed, from individual to individual. However, dairy products, honey, mushrooms, and insects are eaten with zest by all but the most ultra-zealous of Pact Bosmer.”

“How powerful are the spinners and is their power limited to Valenwood? Adding thoughts to someone’s memories as it happens in the quest for the Wilderking is pretty powerful, as is seeing the stories of others by touching them or their items.”

The Green Lady says, “A Spinner’s power is in the strength of his storytelling, fostered by talent and increased by experience. As you say, a great Spinner can actually SEE the stories of the nearby world—and these stories can reveal the true natures of persons or objects. But to change a story, a Spinner must engage its protagonist, who on some level must accept the new turns in the tale.”


Arms and Armor of the Bosmeri Champion, Gosellaneth Sight-Unseen

Longinus Attius

A Bosmer, a bow, and a slain Daedra: A plentiful sight within the forests of Valenwood. Gosellaneth has a grace and litheness most charming to the eye, but a stink of smoked fungus most unbecoming.

The Bosmer have a rather amusing wonderment for nature, and were this simply a predisposition to frolicking in the forests, I would have no cause for concern. But the Wood Elf's veneration for the dappled sapling and the delicate moss extends to an almost crippling disregard for cultivation
and management of their bounteous resources. For despite king surrounded by the finest graht oaks in the land, no Bosmer is permitted to craft arms or armor from plants. However, just as they enjoy the fermented pig's milk of Jagga and the smoky intoxication of dried caterpillar, there are ways to solve the riddle of the Green Pact. Without wooden arrows or shields, a Bosmer will descend upon animals like a rabid skeever on a shipmate's toe. Beware the curse of being a forest creature in Valenwood, as your life is likely to be brief, and your corpse parts skinned, flayed, fiddled with, and generally put to use; there are never remains for the maggots.

Expect to see a Wood Elf clad in leather, shell plates, and occasionally antlers, with skulls for helms and other bones for fancy ornamentation. For more robust protection, strange insect resins and equally odd alchemical additives are combined to color and stiffen the plackart and fauld.

As forge fires are banished from the realm of the Bosmer, hand weapons made from metal are rarely used within Valenwood. When a bow is out of reach, expect an axe, spear, or blade shaped from jagged glass or flint stone, grasped with a primitive hand holding a primitive bone handle. No, it is the bow for which the Bosmer craftsman is rightly revered: Cunning concoctions of honey vinegar, brought to the boil before other secretive elements are added, improve the flexibility of the bone stick, and the time submerged greatly affects the form of the stick. Until the recent truce, most bowstrings were fashioned from Khajiiti gut.

The arming of a Wood Elf involves the polishing of flint, the melding of metal, the chiseling of bone, and the fusing of glass into elegant shapes. Or the purchasing of a wooden weapon crafted by another race.

Silvenar Manifest


- 12 oxen, live
- 12 oxen, butchered, salted
- 10,000 eggs
- 200 chickens, live
- 14 barrels, flour (West Weald)
- 6 barrels, sugar (Tenmar)
- 12 casks, salt
- 12 kegs, ale
- 6 kegs, mead
- 20 kegs, beer

Note: It is imperative the kegs of mead, ale, and beer be marked discreetly or in code. The Wood Elf handfast ritual includes the imbibing of a rather … unique alcoholic drink made from honey, animal fat, and other ingredients not considered palatable by other members of the Aldmeri Dominion. While the Wood Elven nobility understands the need for refreshments other than this concoction, there is no need to put … alternative beverages front and center. It could be considered insulting.

The Wood Elves of Valenwood


Unlike their Altmeri and Dunmeri brethren, the Bosmer have an attitude that is almost affable in particular respects. Certain Imperial diplomats have likened this breezy amiableness to the mellow intoxication a greenmote addict might first experience. But hasten not to categorize these as you would a Khajiiti Skooma fiend; these tree-folk are vicious, adept at banditry, and worthy of your concern and attention, if not your respect.

The Bosmeri race is governed—if one can describe this loose hegemony as such—by the Royal Camoran Dynasty, but there seems little rigidity or exertion of jurisdiction among the disorganized tribes of the Bosmer. Only slightly more stringent are the clan lines, which are matrilineal in nature. Ruled by the Treethane, or head tribesman, these serve little purpose other than providing protection during times of war. The real power is wielded by the priests of the forest deity Y'ffre, known as Spinners, who enforce the Green Pact, a bizarre code of conduct forcing the Bosmer to feed carnivorously and never use living vegetation of any kind, for any means.

These are no woodland nymphs. Wood Elves go to war not to conquer lands or covet precious resources; they do it for sport. Unless a threat to Valenwood presents itself, Bosmer consider the slaying of others to be simply unnecessary, and wagers are even made prior to raids regarding the theft of prized possessions without a drop of blood spilled. But when called upon, they excel at the bow. Youngsters are trained to a formidable degree to snipe using both range and speed to their advantage. When you walk the woods near Arenthia, hold your purse or satchel close, and report Bosmeri brigands to your local town watch.

The Green Singing


The Bosmer Spinner stood before the rising moons, a shadow fingering a belt of glittering shells.

"Heavy-bearded Y'ffre, speak through me. Tell us of the time before time. Let the story grow in me. Let my heart echo to the pounding of your feet along the story-lines, the bones of the world. I will walk Your steps, and know Your story."

The Spinner's eyes flickered closed. His fingertips slid along the belt, picking out the shape and orientation of the shells. He raised a foot, and with deliberation stamped it on the ground.

"Speak through me, Y'ffre. Tell us of the drum-play of Mara, who beat out a pulse against the darkness that gnawed Old Ehlnofey. Mara, whose eyes glitter like hot coals, known of mer and knowing mer, mother of a thousand-thousand children. She who looks at Arkay's form and does not blush, but breathes deep the scent of Him."

The Spinner took thumping, methodical steps across the hilltop, eyes closed, hands tracing the patterns of shells wrapped around his chest. His voice shamed the night-calls of nearby insects to silence.

The others watching were reverently silent, eyes closed, swaying in time with the Spinner's steps. His feet slowed, pounding deep footprints in the earth. He no longer spoke; he sighed. He whispered.

"'We are who we are,' the taller tribe says, in a voice made of leaf-shivers. 'We taste the earth and feel your steps over us. We were the land of green singing before the bones were set. Before the before-and-after.'"

The Source of the Bone


The bones of every beast have stories to tell. They have memories of stalking through the vines, of flying through the canopy. Of hunting and killing and eating. When we shape the bone into arrows, we prepare a Death Story, and the bone we choose has great meaning. Some laugh at this or roll their eyes, calling any arrow "just an arrow," but the Bosmer know bones tell the best tales.

Bones from birds of prey rarely miss, and those of great lizards and snakes are quick and sharp. Arrows made from prey creatures are fleet, those from hunters bite deep into their marks. Cheerful arrows for warning shots are best made from monkeys. The more dangerous the beast, the more deadly the result.

These are but a few we know:

The river droop, torpid bottom-dweller, bristles with venomous spines that induce sleep plagued by nightmares. The size of a large dog, it is lazy and easy to catch, but it is tricky to handle and worthless to eat. An arrow fashioned from its dense ribs and spine carries the weight of sluggish rivers and tortured sleep, and it dulls a foe's senses.

Wounds from senche-tiger arrows bleed foes dry. They should be cut jagged and cruel, like the claws of the beast. They are swift and silent, remembering the way to stalk through the undergrowth and pounce, thirsty for the tang of warm blood. Bones from a senche-tiger you did not kill do not speak with the same power; respect must be earned.

Old whispers say that arrows made from the mighty swamp-beast, the wamasu, carry a jolt that rattles deep inside the bones. Pursuing this terror is a worthy task; it lurks deep in the mires of Black Marsh and slaughters nearly all who stumble upon it. Its bones shine black as night. Touching them tingles. The power lingers for years.

These truths are not often written, like so much of my people's knowledge, so treat them with honor. Know that every archer favors a different beast and forms a bond with it through the hunt. May you find your own, and may your shots strike true.

Diplomacy during the Handfasting


The wedding of Indaenir and Gwaering, the new Silvenar and Green Lady, is an important occasion for the Bosmer, and as such is important to the Aldmeri Dominion.

With the unrest currently rampant throughout Malabal Tor, it is important the Queen's representatives understand how to interact with the Bosmer.

The following information is based upon "Bosmer Traditions and Manners," by the highly respected Altmer author Cirantille.

According to their legends, the Bosmer were once wild and savage (not at all like they are now) and able to change shape at will. Wishing to become more civilized, they made a bargain with Y'ffre, giving up shapeshifting in exchange for (what they think is) a more civilized demeanor.

This Green Pact affected every aspect of their lives. They became very ritualistic and, while these rituals may seem odd to … differently civilized … peoples, they do keep the Wood Elves from becoming fully savage again.
One of their most important rituals is the Handfasting. It happens once a generation and is responsible for both anointing and marrying two of their three most important leaders (the third being the Camoran King or Queen of the Wood Elves).

No one but the Bosmer know how these two leaders are chosen, but they are, and the Handfast is the ritual that binds the Green Lady and the Silvenar together.

The Silvenar is the spiritual leader of the Bosmer, and a truly civilizing force on the entire race. Some say he is the embodiment of the Green Pact, others that he's simply a powerful mystic.

When a Bosmer becomes the Silvenar, he or she gains a great understanding of the land they inhabit as well as its people.

The Green Lady, on the other hand, is a pure force of nature. She is the physicality of the Bosmer: a hunter, warrior, and nearly-unstoppable fist of her people.

Do not confuse her passion for savagery, however! The Green Lady inherits the tactical poise of all those who've gone before her. The only thing that can turn her into a true beast is the death of her Silvenar … an occurrence some of us had the misfortune to witness on Khenarthi Island. It is a wonder anyone survived.

Take the Handfast as seriously as the Bosmer do and you should be fine. Eat what is offered (don't ask what it is), but drink sparingly—their ritual drink "rotmeth" will sicken the most powerful non-Bosmer stomach if consumed with abandon.

Avoid conflict when you can, but participating in a few non-lethal brawls during the celebration may not be avoidable. Indeed, it may be expected.

Why We Farm


Now that we have been banished to this cave there is little for us to do but chronicle the reasons we have been forced here. It distracts us from the hunger, and we will not break and eat our own kin as our disgusting brethren outside do.

We Bosmer, though they call us Apostates, seek to join the rest of the world in modern, civilized thought. We do not wish to be tree-worshiping primitives any longer.

To that end we did what to our cousins who imprisoned us in here is unthinkable: we farmed.

We planted and sowed and were going to harvest until we were found out and cast down here, beneath the surface, to die for our transgression against the Green Pact.

We did not agree to the Green Pact, our ancestors did long ago. Yet we must live with the consequences. We cannot even make our own bows thanks to this ridiculous agreement, yet we can buy them from other people. For us to chop down trees is blasphemy, but to pay someone else to do it is fine.

This hypocrisy is ridiculous and we refused to be bound by it. For our refusal, we die.