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
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.
PHBR8 – The complete book of elves ©1992 Wizards of the Coast)
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