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Elven Reverie

Yet another difference between elves and the other humanoids of the worlds they share is that elves do not sleep in the typical sense, though they can enter that state if they desire. Instead they gain rest through a process known as the reverie. The reverie is akin to sleep, yet is very much unlike it. When elves enter this state, they vividly relive past memories, those both pleasant and painful. Like the dreaming of humans, elves have no control over which memories rise to the fore when they relinquish their bodies to the reverie. Occasionally, elves do actually dream, but this is not a frequent occurrence and mostly occurs only when they truly sleep.

Elven dreams, when they happen, are sometimes prophetic. Whether these dreams are an indication of some sort o precognitive ability on the part of the elves or granted by their gods is a matter of debate. However, not all elven dreams are prophetic. Indeed, enough of their dreams are like those of humans that they cannot rely on their dreams for guidance. Still, all of their dreams are highly symbolic, providing insight into each individual’s character.

In a very real way, the reverie accounts for the elven desire to lead happy, joyous lives. Who would look forward to reliving unpleasant memories every night? Very few, though there are some truly noble elves who take on the pain and suffering of others so that they relive the memories with each reverie instead. These elves have accepted this sacrifice for the good of their people, taking upon themselves the burden that could not (or should not) descend to the lives of other, more innocent elves. They perform the unpleasant task of drawing into themselves the suffering of their people.

When they enter reverie, elves do not usually close their eyes unless there is a bright light present. They relax their bodies entirely, each muscle losing its rigidity, until they are absolutely calm. Their faces relax into dazed and distant looks as if they were seeing another land or another time.

During this time, they are aware of their surroundings, but they cannot act to influence them any more than a human can while asleep. Only by an act of will can the elf tear herself from reverie, and she will be confused for a short time, just as a human would be who has torn himself from sleep.

(Source: PHBR8 – The complete book of elves ©1992 Wizards of the Coast)

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