I ranted about elves before way back when but I still wanted a little extra something to make them more alien and just a bit different. Nor your tree hugging wild elf or that mysterious high/gray elf or whatever you want to call them. Somewhere in the bowels of the internet someone made the comparison of old D&D elves to Elric. I like that. Then this little idea popped into my brain that focuses on the standard fighter/magic-user type elf.
In ancient times, the elves make a pact with an ancient being whose name has been long lost. They wanted the power magic and immortality. The elves were granted both but not at the same time. The elves learned the power of magic and would each live for 1,000 years. They had magic but using would cost them years off their lives. The elves created an empire and rules the world for millennia but due to their arrogance and decadence their empire has crumbled. Many elves venture out into the mortal world out of boredom.
The Game Mechanics:
When the elf casts an arcane spell, roll 1d20. If the result is less than or equal to the spell’s level then elf permanently losses HP equal to the spell’s level.
And since I’m on a Dungeon Crawl Classics kick, there’s a little variation for those rules. Elves do not suffer from Corruption. Instead, any time a Corruption effect occurs, the elf loses permanently HP as above plus suffers the effects as if the character had Spellburned a number of points equal to the spell’s level (but doesn’t gain any bonus to the spell check). Additionally, Elves may voluntarily “Spellburn” HP at rate of 2/1 (1 HP=+2 bonus to the spell check). These HP are permanently lost.