To outsiders, the forest realm of Athel Loren is a brooding and malicious place. The creak and groan of living wood echoes from its dim interior, the canopy seems to absorb all light, and half-seen spirits dart between the twilit bowers. To enter is to place your fate in their hands.
Within dwell the Asrai, the Wood Elves. Though they hail originally from Ulthuan to the west as all Elves do, they spurn the sanctimonious arrogance of the Asur, the High Elves, and the murderous decadence of the Druchii or Dark Elves. The Asrai consider themselves to be the only true Elves left in the world, as they embrace all aspects of their nature both light and dark and for thousands of years, they have lived in harmony with the sentient forest.
Tall, slender humanoids who live within the ancient forest of Athel Loren, the Wood Elves are a mysterious race who rarely emerge unless coming to its defence. Although sometimes appearing cruel, in reality they are a neutral power who act only to maintain the balance of their environment. Elves are not just long-limbed, they also live for thousands of years, which naturally makes other races seem trivial and irrelevant; only the preservation of their forest home matters, everything else the affairs of mere mayflies is of little importance or consequence to them
Although incursions are driven back, there are constant threats to the Wood Elves forest home and way of life. In order to combat Athel Lorens many foes, they have developed elite warriors and can call on the forest itself in its defence. In addition to this martial strength, beneath the forest floor lie the Worldroots, enabling subterranean travel;
The Asrai share the wilds of Athel Loren with its spirits and protectors: the Dryads, the Branchwraiths and the ancient guardian Treemen. They adopt its steeds, hawks and Great Eagles for their warhosts, and even rare Forest Dragons may deign to join them when the need is dire. Peerless archers and riders, the Wood Elves pay fealty to the demigod Orion, who dies in flame each midwinter, only to be reborn into thunderous life in spring beneath the Oak of Ages.
Wild, lithe, and utterly ruthless in defence of their land, only a fool would goad the Wood Elves and their spirit allies to conflict. For those who witness the awesome spectacle of an Asrai host marching out of the woodlands on a Wild Hunt, it is likely the last thing they will ever see.
The Wood Elves are playable in both custom games, the Grand Campaign, and Mortal Empires (with the Realm of the Wood Elves DLC installed).
- Absolute Xenophobe: Athel Loren in its entirety hates outsiders in general, only occasionally welcoming animals, but anyone more sentient than that is treated as an interloper that must be killed for daring trespassing into its glades. In fact, even part of the forest spirits considers the Wood Elves as a recent breed of parasites that dare think they belong here. Dryads are always the most bitter about it. Their dialogue in diplomacy is always dripping with pure venom, regardless of the other parties race.
- Achilles' Heel: Fire damage is very effective against treemen units. Also, shielded units can negate much of the damage that the archers cause and they don't have much of an answer in case something actually survives the rain of arrows and gets up close to them due to having some of the weakest infantry in the game.
- Amazon Brigade: Wardancers, followers of the trickster God Loec, are composed entirely of women. Same goes for the Sisters of the Thorn, Ariel's handmaidens who ride on deer and throw javelins at their foes.
- Animal Motifs: Deer, specifically stags, and birds of prey.
- Annoying Arrows: Fully, and utterly Averted. Wood Elf archers will tear through anything that underestimates them due to being the best ones in the game.
- Arch-Enemy: To the Beastmen, with whom they have been fighting for time out of mind for control of the wilderness, and to Morghur especially.
- Archer Archetype: While bows are considered traditional weapons by all Elves, the Wood Elves take this to the top. The magic connections with their forests allow them to grow their bows directly out of tree limbs and prune them off, leaving them with superior quality longbows, and they are famous for their use. Regardless, the Wood Elves have the best and most versatile archer options.
- Even their lowest tier archer units can fire while moving while the high level ones can fire in any direction at any time without having to regroup.
- Waywatchers, their most elite archer units, can hide in any terrain and inflict significant extra armor piercing damage when in a safe position. Deepwood Rangers with Swiftshiver Arrows (slightly less elite) have the highest damage output for archers by a significant margin along with doing magical damage that bypasses physical resistance, though their range is poor.
- Although their basic Glade Guard are outranged by High Elf archers, Waywatchers have a massive 190-meter range and certain lords and heroes have a passive ability that buffs the range of all units by 10%.
- In campaign their archers are even more outrageously dangerous as lords have a skill tree devoted entirely to buffing ranged units in their army, increasing missile damage, rate of fire, and ammunition along with a passive ability that buff damage even more while the lord is nearby.
- Artifact of Doom: The Sword of Khaine (otherwise known as the Widowmaker and the Slayer of Gods), doubling as an Evil Weapon. The cursed blade was wielded by the Ax-Crazy Elven God of War Khaine, which he used to fell immeasurably amounts of people . To drive back the first incursion of Chaos, the first Elven king, Aenarion, picked up the sword, which granted him power unimaginable...at the cost of turning him into an Ax-Crazy beserker. The May Patch added this in as an in-game mechanic, as it lets Dark Elf, Wood Elf or High Elf players construct the Shrine of Khaine. After which, if one's very desperate (or incredibly stupid), gives the player an option to have one of their generals draw the infamous blade from the shrine, turning them into unimaginably powerful One-Man Army...at the cost of turning them insane, with truly horrible effects mounting on the campaign map the longer the wielder holds the weapon.
- Ax-Crazy: During battle Wood Elves are usually...less than composed, especially in the case of the Wardancers, and Wild Riders.
- Badass Army: Living in Athel Loren doesn't allow for weakness. The Wood Elves may lack the discipline or armor of their cousins, but when these wildhearted fey take the field, they do so with unmatched grace and savagery, backed by the power of ancient forest spirits, living gods, and the finest archers in the Warhammer world.
- Berserk Button: Touch their forest and they will turn you into fertilizer for the trees, snacks for the beasts and decorations to ward off enemies.
- Binding Ancient Treaty: During the first Chaos Invasion, Ulthuan was on the cusp of being overrun. Frightful, then Everquenn Astarielle made a pact with Durthu, who would transport her children Morelion and Yvraine to Athel Loren and safeguard them. In exchange for transgressing the rules of Athel Loren, Durthu made Astarielle promise that the Elves would in the future protect the forest, which eventually happened when the descendants of Astarielle, carrying a little of the worldroots essence in them since the babies first traveled inside it, were drawn to Athel Loren and became the Wood Elves. There's a reason why the Everqueen can command Treemen in her ranks.
- Blood Knight: The Wild Riders really enjoy trampling Beastmen with their Elks, and impaling Bretonnian peasants with their spears.
- Blade on a Stick: The faction as a whole makes heavy use of spears for their melee units. Wild Riders use regular spears to skewer their foes, but the Waydancers with Spears wield irregular weapons that seem to be a cross between a sword and a spear, which make them adapt at killing both infantry and large units. The Eternal Guard use long spears and can be equipped with shields, making them a solid choice for being the wall that protects your archers.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: The forest spirits of Athel Loren see things differently than mortal races do, and their entire value system begins and ends with the protection of the forest. Even if no trespass is intended, the spirits will viciously punish mortals for what they perceive as an attack on their charges, whether the mortals realize it or not. What passes for their hearts recognizes no concept of mercy or compassion.
- The same can also apply to the Wood Elves themselves. Athel Loren is everything to them, so while they aren't as overbearing as the Asur, or malicious like the Druchii, a major part of that is because the Asrai genuinely don't care about the outside world, just their woodland home. Most times they'll let hordes of monsters massacre countless lives outside their forest if it proves to be no threat to them, and sometimes will be that very same horde that's killing and destroying everything if Athel Loren demands it.
- Bystander Syndrome: The result of the slight Chaos corruption within the Asrais heart is a haughtiness resulting in them deciding that only their home is worth a damn and thus the Wood Elves would rather leave the rest of the world burn if one single leaf of Athel Loren was spared.
- A Commander Is You: A Glass Cannon/Ranger/Guerrilla faction. They have some of the best infantry archers in the game, many of whom the unique ability to fire on the move, and some having angles of 360 degrees. Elven units are fragile in melee and thus need the support of the tree spirit units to fight in prolonged melee combat. In terms of the Grand Campaign, the faction can conquer any settlement no matter the race, due to the fact that they need to take them to collect Amber, the race's unique resource. This allows them to purchase higher tier units, as well as units that aren't normally available to your choice of starting Legendary Lord, and complete their Wonder-based win condition.
- Containment Field: The Wood Elves have erected several magic barriers marked by waystones in order to protect themselves from demon incursions and contain other malevolent creatures, represented by special buildings that reduce corruption.
- Cool Horse: Their specially trained Elven steeds, some of the fastest and most agile horses bred.
- Closer to Earth: Than the other major elven factions. Their settlements exist with a minimal impact on nature, protecting and nurturing it, while the wild spirits that animate that nature provide for them in turn.
- Crippling Overspecialization:
- While they have fantastic archers, as well as a wide selection of units, the Wood Elves are sorely lacking in the defensive department, as while all their melee units do great damage, they die very easily because of their poor armor and melee defense. The only solid choice they have are the Tree Spirit units, but those cost amber for the main Wood Elf faction, and are expensive to recruit even when starting as Durthu.
- If there's an accurate description for the the Wood Elves campaign, it's Ultra-Isolationist. There are only six Forest Settlements, including the four in Athel Loren, that can be built up beyond level 1. This means that every non-forest settlement cannot be brought up to full potential, causing the Wood Elves to suffer greatly in defending territory and having a strong economy. This handicap is further exacerbated by being unable to build settlement walls.
- Dance Battler: The Wardancers, worshippers of the trickster god Loec, have become masterful dancers who move considerably faster than most Elves could be. Performing specific dances as a form of martial art, their animations reflecting how graceful they are in combat. They excel at cutting through chaft, and other lightly armored targets.
- Defector from Decadence: They are descended from the elven colonists who refused to return to Ulthuan during the final days of the War of the Beard. They see themselves the last true elves of the world and consider themselves a more humble people than their arrogant kin from Ulthuan and Naggaroth. It is made clear in a campaign message that the Asrai dislike their kin from Ulthuan, as when the High Elves send emissaries to Athel Loren, the players will receive gold for accepting them but will get a public order penalty. This is majorly to do with the Asrai's feelings of abandonment, and they see the Asur's attempts at diplomacy as arrogance for now wanting to treat with them after many millennia of silence.
- Difficult, but Awesome: The Wood Elves are infamous for their skillgate playstyle. New players will find them ridiculously squishy, and seemingly overpriced, but the trick is that the Wood Elves play completely different to any faction in previous Total War games. Once a player figures out how to effectively micro them, and use their strengths to their fullest advantage, they'll find an extremely powerful force on the battlefield.
- Don't Go in the Woods: Enforced. Athel Loren is already very dangerous to anyone unlucky or foolish enough to enter it, but the Elves will ensure that the trespasser dies.
- Do Not Run with a Gun: Averted, as the Wood Elves have the unique ability to allow their archers to fire off accurate snap shots while moving across the battlefield. This makes them a serious threat to slow moving enemy units, but also requires them to be heavily micro-managed since they are very vulnerable if anything actually manages to pin them down.
- Dragon Rider: One of the few things the Wood Elves have in common with their kin is their connection with dragons, with Glade Lords being able to ride Forest Dragons. However, unlike with the High Elves (which is an equal partnership) and Dark Elves (which is a master-servant relationship), Forest Dragons are fairly disinterested in the affairs of the Wood Elves, and are more allies of convenience.
- Dual Wielding: Wardancers when equipped with swords do so with one in each hand, allowing them to pirouette between enemies, striking targets on any side.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: The Wood Elves can research technologies to give +40 diplomatic bonuses with every non-Chaos race in the Old World. However, the technology that improves relations with the Dwarf Realms is the last of these. Not to mention, Orion will usually be very hostile to Dwarfs on the diplomacy screen.
- Elite Mooks: The Wood Elves, possessing the best archers in the game, have the Hawk Riders as their greatest ranged units, being expert marksmen who ride giant hawks into battle and can fire in almost any direction as a result of their height. And unlike most other ranged units, they are quite capable in melee due to the razor-sharp talons and beaks of their mounts.
- Event Flag: The game is scripted to spawn waves and waves of Beastmen stacks in an invasion of Athel Loren, once you get the Oak of Ages to a certain level, in both the Grand Campaign and their Mini Campaign.
- The Fair Folk: Wood Elves are far more chaotic than their High Elf kin; they kidnap human children to serve them for eternity, devour human travelers, and that is when they aren't rampaging through the countryside on their Wild Hunts. They might also be behind the Bretonnian religion, manipulating it to better fit their whims. There's also the actual spirits of the forest act like true fair folks, toying with anyone they come with, and cruelly at that. Hunters, questing knights, and even the Asrai themselves, are not safe from them.
- Fire-Forged Friend: While Astarielle and Durthus pact started the history of the Wood Elves, the Asrai only became accepted by the forest when they defended it from an army of Dwarves. Ultimately a Downplayed trope, as it resembles more Teeth-Clenched Teamwork since the spirits of the forest do not wholeheartedly accept the Asrai and some still conspire to exterminate the latter.
- Forest Ranger: The trope is practically the Wood Elves' hat. All Wood Elves are in one way or another appointed protectors of their forests and do know how to fight best in them. The rule Forest Stalker is pretty much ubiquitous to all Elves meaning they have no difficulty moving in forests, and do more damage in them. As specific examples there's the Waywatchers, Athel Loren's elite sentinels who patrol the borders of the forest and identify and track intruders. They are such Stealth Experts that said intruders have been marked and followed long before they are aware they have been spotted. Expert marksmen, the Waywatchers can move unseen across the battlefield and spring deadly ambushes of accurate arrows.
- Fragile Speedster: A universal trait shared by almost all Wood Elf units, which are in general very fast, no matter if they're infatry or cavalry (which is even faster) and as such, all excel at skirmishing and ambushes. On the negative side, barring Forest Spirits, Wood Elves tend to be very weak in straight-up combat due to their low health and low armor.
- Gaia's Vengeance: They fight to protect their home in the forest of Athel Loren, and otherwise stay out of the squabbles of the Old World.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the tabletop fluff the Wood Elves are radically isolationist. The game, however, encourages interacting with other factions by setting the story at a time when the Oak of Ages is weak and needs Amber to be revitalized. However, even through they can take control of any settlement they don't really settle there, instead creating a small lightly-defended encampment which makes it difficult to spread too far from Athel Loren.
- Gathering Steam: Outside of Athel Loren, the Asrai can only build small watch posts, each with a single building. Mostly these are buildings that give very minor buffs to things like reinforcement rate, weapon damage, recruitment costs, income generation, etc. But these buffs are faction-wide and they stack on top of each other. That means that while the Wood Elves can be underpowered in the early game, by the time they have conquered a lot of territory they can have a huge inbuilt advantage.
- Gender Is No Object: Glade Lords can be male or female, both being equal in abilities and function. In the lore, the various levies and ranger corps that the Wood Elves field are composed of both genders and there's no stigma attached to women serving in the military at all, but due to in-game limitations Creative Assembly had to make the battalions exclusively male.
- Giant Flyer: The Wood Elves field a considerable airforce. The neighboring Grey Mountains are home to Warhawks and sentient Giant Eagles who are allies to the Wood Elves and consent to be mounted and fly above the battlefield, carrying a Warhawk Rider, Lord or Hero above the battlefield. There also are a few Forest Dragons slumbering in hidden grotos who reluctantly ally with the Wood Elves from time to time.
- Glass Cannon:
- In general, despite their elven units — especially the ranged units — dealing rather high damage, they tend to get killed rather easily if put under assault. Thankfully, they have the Mighty Glacier Treekin to make up for that.
- A more specific example are the the Wild Riders, high-tier shock cavalry which are not only lighting fast, they hit like a truck and hurt like hell on the charge. They also die really quick, so it's best to pull them out quickly after a successful charge and cycle charge the enemy with them, lest they get surrounded and killed off in quick succession.
- On a strategic level, the only territory that they even can fortify is within Athel Loren itself (and that fortification can be quite considerable.) Every other territory they control consists only of a small literal Hidden Elf Village with a tiny garrison intended to scout and patrol the surrounding area. Unfortunately, while these outposts might depend on their concealment to protect them in the lore, in the game nothing stops another faction simply rolling over them with an army. While they can take any territory, actually holding it is hard.
- Global Currency Exception: They have little use for the soft shiny metals other groups use as currency, but they are seeking to amass rare Amber to heal the Oak of Ages and placate forest spirits.
- Green Thumb: By appealing to the spirits of the forest and channeling Ghyran, the green wind of magic, the Asrai have mastered the art of encouraging planets to grow swiftly and into particular forms. The Asrai protect the grown plants and the plants provide for the Asrai. Everything from food to weapons to fortifications are grown in Athel Loren this way, almost to the point of being an example of Magitek Organic Technology.
- Hand Blast: Wood Elven Spellsingers fight using short ranged bursts of magic when in melee, rather than any form of conventional weapon.
- Heroic Neutral: Though they lean more towards the Neutral than the Heroic, ultimately, all the Wood Elves want is to be left alone in their forest. They have been known, however, to come to the aid of previously doomed Imperial forces, sprouting from the woods out of nowhere, slaughtering the foe in a hail of arrows, and disappearing back into the woods without a word. They also staunchly oppose Chaos, especially the Beastmen.
- Home Field Advantage: Extremely so. The Wood Elves neither have the numbers nor the metal to forge armors, but what they have is an entire forest to wield and which quite literally fights alongside them. When fighting in forests, they have a pretty large advantage.
- Hidden Elf Village: Quite literally. Few trespass in Athel Loren, and fewer still survive doing so. The Wood Elves generally give little care to what goes on outside their realm, but may the gods help you should you seek to disrupt it.
- A more specific example is the Elven glade of Laurelorn, which exists deep within the snowy forests of Nordland. In-game it's represented as a unique landmark in Mortal Empires.
- The Heart of the Jungle deep in South Lands conceals another hidden village controlled by so-called Bowmen of Orionnote . This settlement only appears in the Eye of the Vortex campaign.
- Horse Archer: Glade Riders, which are mounted on pure-bred Elven Steeds. They come in three variants, with different missiles for each.
- Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: The Wood Elves have a habit of kidnapping human children from Bretonnia and turning them into ageless servants who will gradually forget their families and think the Elves are their masters. Some are captured during the Elves' annual Wild Hunts, others are taken in the night, and some are lured into the forest. While they are treated generally well (possibly getting better lives than they could in feudal Bretonnia), it's more of a Gilded Cage then anything else.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: What Wood Elf archers lack in numbers, they more then make up for it in accuracy, even their basic archers are amazing shots.
- Javelin Thrower: The Sisters of The Thorn are a cavalry unit with this function, with some trappings of Magic Knight.
- Jerkass: They tend to be very condescending, not just to the younger races, but even to each other and their allies.
- Keystone Army: Whichever Wood Elf faction you choose starts the game in control of the Oak of Ages, a unique settlement with a single building that must be upgraded to its highest tier in order to complete the Grand Campaign. If the Oak of Ages is ever captured by another faction, however, you instantly lose the Campaign.
- Kill It with Fire: The Wood Elves have a significant weakness to fire-based attacks, which can easily destroy the various types of animated trees that make a up a substantial portion of their army. Subverted by the Firebark Elders, a unit of Treekin who are constantly shrouded in flames (in-universe due to them absorbing fires that would otherwise harm the forest) and who, besides being immune to fire attacks themselves, can grant fire immunity to nearby troops.
- Logical Weakness: All tree spirit units are made of living wood, and therefore suffer a weakness to fire. This manifests as taking 40% extra damage from units with Flaming Attacks.
- Long-Lived: Asrai live for a long time, but aren't immortal. The forest spirits, however are, and many have been in the forest since the coming of the Old Ones.
- Long-Range Fighter: Wood Elf armies tend to have fantastic range and accuracy, but they tend to have fewer close-range units and often lack the durability for drawn-out melee, and as such must rely on the much slower, yet far tankier Forest Spirits to make the difference. As a result they typically involve a lot of skirmish-style warfare.
- The Lost Woods: Athel Loren, the realm of the Wood Elves. It existed, wild and unsettled, long before Elves ever set foot in the Old World. The forest itself is an Eldritch Location, animated by spirits and aware of what goes in beneath its canopy. The Asrai are the only ones who have ever been able to live there successfully, and only because they submitted themselves to the forest rather than trying to conquer it. Anyone else who wanders inside is subjected to a variety of different fates. If you're lucky and your intentions are purely benevolent, then you might wander inside for anywhere to a few hours to a week, be shown a way out by a benevolent spirit or Waystalker and wander back outside, only to find a decade has passed. If you're unlucky, being torn to shreds by angry spirits is one of the kinder fates...
- Mechanically Unusual Class: Unlike almost every other faction in the game, the Asrai can conquer any city on the map. However, that conquest is very limited, as they are only able to construct a small watch station and a minor building on any conquered territory and can't develop it further. By contrast, the settlements in the territories within Athel Loren (an area only the Asrai can hold) have higher development caps than even regional capitals. This is all balanced against their need for Amber, which is required to build their greatest buildings and units at home and virtually requires the conquest of other territories to supply.
- In Mortal Empires they suffer no environmental penalties for establishing their lookouts, though they still can't build much in them, and their settlements within Athel Loren have been expanded to have twelve building slots to ensure that they still have the largest capitals of any faction (since capitals can now be as large as ten slots).
- Nature Spirit: The half of the army that isn't made of Wood Elves. Most are Plant Persons — the giant Treemen, the twisted and knotted Treekin and the Dryads (who unlike the usual take on this trope are, visually, monstrous and vengeful nature spirits inhabiting the animated wood first, feminine beings second). The stag-horned forest dragons that elven lords can ride into battle are also counted as nature spirits. Argwylon, the faction led by Durthu, focuses on the forest spirits over the wood elves, in contrast to Orion's, which does the opposite.
- Nerves of Steel: The Wildwood Rangers have the duty to protect Athel Loren from its most malevolent inhabitants and guard the frontier of Cythral, a part of the forest used as a prison and out of which said spirits try to break out. As a result, they have to be able to look at all these monsters and stand their ground to fight until reinforcement comes, a duty which they have fulfilled until now. Thus, the Wildwood Rangers are Immune to Psychology.
- Neutral No Longer: They are well known for their Heroic Neutrality, preferring to remain isolationist and protecting their realms fiercely. However, a crisis with a withering curse on the Oak of Ages during their campaign has motivated them to mobilize for war, sending out armies to find and collect precious magical Amber which can be used to rejuvenate the sacred heart of the Athel Loren.
- Noble Bird of Prey: The Great Eagles and the Hawk Riders. The former are giant eagles and the latter are giant hawks who are ridden by Asrai archers.
- Noble Savage: As they're based on the Celts, and are generally "good", they certainly count, being much more savage and primal than their High Elf cousins. On a good day, if you're lost in the forest, and you don't have any bad intentions, a Waywatcher or benevolent tree spirit will usually help you find a path out.
- Not So Different: Technology that improves relations with other faction is based on worshipping certain gods and seemingly finding common ground with them, such as supplicating a death god to gain relations with the Vampire Counts.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Forest dragons with deer-like antlers hung with moss show up as a high-tier unit in the Wood Elves roster, and technically count as a spirit unit like the treemen do.
- Our Gods Are Greater: The Wood Elven technology tree is based on gaining the favour of the gods of the Elven Pantheon. These gods are divided into two groups: the Cadai and the Cytharai, the former being openly-worshipped and the latter being merely appeased.
- Plant Person: Treemen, powerful forest spirits possessing living trees, are some of the most powerful beings in the Wood Elves' forces. Also in present are their smaller brethren the Treekin, whose bodies are instead made of dead wood, and the only vaguely humanoid Dryads, both of whom attack in squads instead of being single units like the Treemen.
- Power Floats: The Spellsingers float a few meters above the ground.
- The Marvelous Deer: Two Asrai cavalry units make use of deer as their mounts: the Wild Riders and the Sisters of the Thorn.
- Mighty Glacier: The various Treekin and related forest spirits are unused to swift movement, but they endure as long as trees and hit like battering rams.
- Resurrective Immortality: As the power of nature is in death and rebirth with the seasons, this is a common theme among certain magical Asrai.
- Orion dies every fall, slumbers through every winter, and is reborn every spring.
- The Sisters of the Thorn are ageless, but if one falls in battle, her sisters return her body to the sacred halls beneath the Oak of Ages where she will heal and reawaken the next spring. Only if her body is mutilated beyond recognition will she experience Final Death.
- Seasonal Baggage: Seasons, being markers of a distinct period in the cycle of nature, are a recurring motif in Asrai culture. Their history is divided into seasons, representing a distinct period of their land. Moreover, some parts of Athel Loren are perpetually plunged in one particular season, for instance Atylwyth, the Winterheart, which impact a lot of the local culture.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: A whole part of Athel Loren named the Wildwood or Cythral is dedicated to containing spirits that pose a danger to the integrity of the forest, either purely malevolent spirits or spirits that want the Elves exterminated at all cost. Most infamous of all is Coeddil, one of the Elder Treemen that wants Athel Loren to go back to the time Asrai werent there.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Most of the forest spirits consider the Asrai's presence to be the cause of all the destruction and suffering the forests of Loren has endured over several millennia, and would like nothing more than to have them removed from Athel Loren, though some see the benefit of working with them to ensure the safety and defense of Loren from invaders within and without. Regardless, both will put aside their differences and band together when the forest is threatened by real invaders.
- To Serve Man: The lore heavily implied that the Asrai occasionally consumed human flesh, but campaign events in the game outright confirms that they lure unsuspecting travelers to their halls to be fattened up, and then devoured.
- Treants: The mighty Treemen appear in the Wood Elf army roster with a couple of tweaks from their tabletop version, such as legs ending in a tangle of roots instead of feet. The subfaction of Argwylon, led by the Treeman Durthu Oakheart, focuses on Treemen and other forest sprits above the Wood Elves — for instance, only Ancient Treeman generals and not elven Glade Lords can be put in your council in contrast to the main Wood Elf faction, which does the opposite.
- Trick Arrow: Wood Elf archers are capable of equipping and firing arrows with special buffs that increase their versatility, assuming they have been unlocked in the Tech Tree.
- Tunnel Network: A very special example of one. The Worldroot represents the giant system of giant roots, so large entire armies can march inside of them, that sprawl all over the world, even to Ulthuan. However, the Chaos corruption of the world has withered most of the system, only leaving the major roots. In game they function exactly like the underway stance, letting Wood Elf armies bypass terrain.
- The Unintelligible: The forest spirits' language is incomprehensible — no one save the Asrai can understand them. Durthu's speeches are mostly understandable due to subtitles during his quest battle and the diplomatic menu.
- Unicorn: Unicorns are the same magically sensible horned horses that are attracted to female sorceresses, and spellsingers use them as mounts.
- When Trees Attack: The other part of the faction: various forest spirits such as Dryads, Treekin and Treemen join the Elves in battling against intruders. In the lore, some tree spirits are benevolent, others very malevolent, and can do great harm to anyone trespassing in the forest, but all are unified in their desire to protect Athel Loren.
- World Tree: The Oak of Ages: A truly massive, ancient, and magical tree. It acts as a focus for the Winds of Magic that flow through Athel Loren, was the first place the Asrai were able to commune with the spirits of the forest, and is the place Orion rests and is reborn every winter. Each of its acorns is packed with magic, and can cause a great tree to sprout in seconds of it being buried. It acts as a nexus for the Worldroots, by which the Asrai can travel underground to realms distant. It at the center of the campaign, the player must renuture it back to it's previous strength and protect it from Beastmen incursions. If the tree is razed, the campaign is lost and it's game over. It's also the sight of a gorgeous battle map.
- Wreathed in Flames: The Firebark Elders are a Regiment of Renown of Treekin who absorb fires that would otherwise burn the forest, setting themselves permanently ablaze as a result. This allows them to deal fire damage to enemies, as well as granting them and their allies resistance to fire, the main weakness of the tree-focused troops.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside / Year Outside, Hour Inside: Athel Lorens magic...messes with the flow of time, and there are tales of someone stepping in a part of the forest and either exiting almost immediately looking like an old man or stepping out after years of absence but only remembering after taken a few steps.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: In the fluff, Emperor Karl Franz of the Empire is one of the very few humans the Wood Elves actually like, having even received his iconic gryphon Deathclaw as a baby from them.
Orion, the King in the Woods
Orion, known by many titles such as the King in the Woods or the Master of the Wild Hunt, is the everlasting Lord of Athel Loren and co-ruler of the Wood Elven race. He is immortal, but his existence is irrevocably tied to the seasons. Thus does he pass willingly into his own funeral pyre each midwinter, only to be reborn into thunderous life on the first day of spring. Each year, on the eve of the vernal equinox, the Wild Riders selects a young prince who will bear the mantle of Orion for the coming year. This chosen one is led to the Oak of Ages and given over to Ariels keeping.
There, she works the miracle of rebirth, sculpting her lost husband anew from the chosen ones flesh and Kurnous spirit. On the following morning, the chosen one emerges from the Oaks embrace, a mortal Elf no longer, but reborn as Orion, god-king of Athel Loren. When his realm is threatened, Orion is the first to fight in its defence. Taking up his mighty weapons of war, he winds his great horn and calls Athel Loren to the Wild Hunt. Every Elf feels the lure of their kings wild summons, and many are overcome by this most primal of urges. Drawn to their kings side, they gladly abandon their civilized concerns for the thrill of the hunt and the heady tang of blood upon the wind.
Orion leads what was initially known as the main Wood Elves faction, simply named Wood Elves, but was renamed Talsyn as of The Potion of Speed update.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Orion is green-skinned in concept art, but in-game his skin color manifests as brownish, like tree bark.
- Avatar: The earthly avatar of Kurnous, the Elven God of the Hunt, and is considered a demi god to his people.
- Back from the Dead: Orion is tied to the seasons. Every winter, Orion dies and his ashes are entombed inside the Oak of Ages. When spring comes, a chosen of the Wild Riders sacrifices himself in order for Orion to be reborn. In spring and summer, Orion is at his strongest. But when autumn comes, he weakens until he once again withers and dies during winter.
- Badass Baritone: Speaks very deeply for an elf.
- Badass Cape: Orion possesses the Cloak of Isha which is woven out of leaves by Ariel every year.
- Blow That Horn: Orion can use his ornate hunting horn, the Horn of the Wild Hunt as a special ability, to sound the coming of the Wild Hunt and grants insane levels of charge bonus to himself and any ally unit near him. He also uses it in his trailer.
- Came Back Wrong: Orion's personality is partially influenced by that of the elf sacrificed to summon him. It's mentioned in the lore that it's not unheard of for elf lords to try to sabotage him with with cowardly or weak hosts. One of his quest battles involves stopping a worshipper of Atharti from usurping the sacrifice position to "seduce" the next Orion to Atharti's side.
- The Beastmaster: Orion is accompanied by the Hounds of Orion, but unlike the tabletop where they were actual units, they are unleashed as a vortex spell to harm enemies.
- Blood Knight: As the avatar of the elven god of the hunt this is only to be expected.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Orion looks like Mel Gibson which the game even acknowledge where in one of the game's patch notes, Orion issued a proclamation throughout Athel loren denying his resemblance to the actor.
- Death from Above: Orion can use the Hawk's Talon, a giant longbow, to summon a lance of spectral flaming arrows skyward to obliterate the enemy below
- Deadpan Snarker: He shows a surprising inclination towards sharp remarks when dealing with certain races over the diplomatic menu:To Dwarfs: "You do well to kneel before me... Oh! I thought those were your knees. An easy mistake to make."
To Undead: "You're awfully pale. Perhaps a walk in the sun will do you some good?"
- Fauns and Satyrs: His lower legs are satyr-like and covered in green fur from the knees down, while his head features some fairly impressive deer horns, making him seem awfully similar to the Wood Elves mortal enemies, the Beastmen.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Spear of Kurnous has ammunition, despite being described as having a Summon to Hand mechanic in the lore.
- God-Emperor: He describes himself as God-King of the Deepwood since he is both the king of the Wood Elves and physical avatar of Kurnous, the elvish god of hunting.
- Great Bow: Orion has a massive great bow, the Hawks Talon, but is never seen using it, instead carrying the weapon on his back. It, however, grants him a special arrow barrage ability.
- Heroic Build: He notably has a much thicker build compared to the lithe Asrai, and is so large infact, he's classified as a monster in the game.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: He is an avatar of the elven god of hunting and leads a Great Hunt for the enemies of the Wood Elves when he's active. He sees anyone who isn't allied with him as prey.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Orion has a sync-kill animation where he grabs and lifts up an enemy unit and proceeds to impale them with his spear.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: Compared to the generic Glade Lord. Orion won't be as good in melee or ranged as one who has specialized in either, but he can specialize in both, unlike them.
- Javelin Thrower: Orion wields the Spear of Kurnous, an Empathic Weapon that teleports back to Orion's hand whenever he throws it. He can also wield the weapon to great effect in melee.
- Jerkass: Orion is very arrogant, and callous to practically everyone he interacts with on the campaign map.
- Lady and Knight: As the avatar of Kurnous, Orion is the knight and consort of Ariel, Queen of Athel Loren and avatar of Isha.
- Many Spirits Inside of One: Orions mind cohabits his bodies with the souls of all previous hosts, which can raise their voices to give counsel or reprimand Orion, although Orion undoubfully remains the most powerful spirit inside of his head.
- Large and in Charge: He towers over the Asrai, and is just as tall as the tree-kin.
- Resurrective Immortality: He dies every fall and is reborn ever spring. Even if killed in battle, his rebirth is only a season away.
- Smug Super: So arrogant he could almost be mistaken for one of the High Elves and so violent one might assume he was a Dark Elf.
- Summon to Hand: The Spear of Kurnous is enchanted to return right back at Orions hand whenever it lands, so that he can throw it again and again, though it has ammunition like any other ranged weapon.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: The King in the Woods wears little on his upper body.
- Willing Channeler: Orion is a wood elf channeling the elven god of the hunt, Kurnous. This elf will always be a volunteer despite the 'honour' essentially being death. It is said that whoever dies channeling Kurnous lives on forever in Orion, adding themselves to a Mind Hive of old personalities carried alongside the god.
- The Wild Hunt: Every spring, Orion leads the Wood Elves on a hunt through Athel Loren and surrounding countryside, killing anything they can find. In more ancient times he lead his hunts even further afield.
Durthu Oakheart, the Eldest of Ancients
- Voiced by:
Durthu, or Oakheart, is an Elder of Athel Loren, a Treeman so ancient that even Ariels millennia-long existence pales in comparison. It was he who first forged a union between Elves and forest, and he also who argued with his fellow Elders that the binding be made permanent. In those days, he was ever a friend to the children of Isha, always willing to help them broaden their understanding of the forest and of the Weave.
Alas, those days are long gone. Centuries of destruction and carnage have taken their toll on Durthus valiant spirit. He has borne witness to the rapacity of blooded life, and of the wanton destruction it has heaped upon his homeland. He has seen untold acres of trees felled for kindling or from simple spite. He has watched, time and again, as the Elves have invited calamity on the forest through an inability to sever their connection to the outside world. Worst of all, he has seen his fellow Elders fall, one by one; some slain by their own foes but most destroyed by the enemies of the Elves.
Durthu leads a subfaction centered in the region of Argwylon, where he can recruit forest spirits but will need to pay in amber for Wood Elf units.
- Absolute Xenophobe: Durthu, formerly an open-minded Treeman, has come to hate all intruders whatever their reasons for entering Athel Loren. He still accepts the Wood Elves but has come to shun their presence too, treating them as allies of convenience.
- Arch-Enemy: He views Dwarves as this and enjoys fighting them and driving them off, for he suffered his horrifying burns from Dwarf axe cutters a millennial ago. He barely talks to them on the diplomacy screeen with anything less then pure hatred.
- Ax-Crazy: Millennia of despoiling and deforestation have rendered Durthu barely sentient. A living embodiment of the forest's rage, he despises all sentient beings and will kill anyone or anything that enters Athel Loren without leave, innocent or no. Only elves and other forest spirits are spared his wrath.
- Bad Dreams: Durthu is tormented by spirits that whispers to his ears tales of every time hes failed the Elders of Athel Loren.
- The Beastmaster: Wields the Lore of Beasts.
- BFS: Durthu wields the Sword of Daith, named for the legendary elven master-smith Daith who created it. In-game, it carries a bound spell that allows Durthu to perform an area-of-effect attack around himself.
- Being Good Sucks: He learned the price of doing the right thing the hard way, and has lost countless friends for his loyalty and defense of the Wood Elves.
- Big Good: From the perspective of the tree spirits at least. Durthu is currently the Eldest of Ancient Treemen (that is still alive and not imprisoned) so is the greatest voice of authority among them, and even the Wood Elves will listen when he speaks.
- The Berserker: Durthu has the Frenzy rule for good reasons. He is now mad with rage and will swathe intruders like someone cuts down wheat, fighting with both hatred and insanity in a blur of sword cuts.
- Break the Cutie: Stated to have once been benevolent and all-loving and had even vouched for the elven colonists to permanently live in Athel Loren during the aftermath of the War of the Beard. Unfortunately, millennia's worth of war and destroyed trees have severely tarnished Durthu's outlook on sapient life.
- Dark Is Evil: By far the most morally dubious of the Wood Elf leaders, and also a charred, twisted, downright demonic looking tree.
- Enemy Mine: While in the past Durthu considered the asrai to be friends of the forest, now he merely tolerates them as allies of convenience. His diplomacy screen quotes towards even friendly asrai factions are chilly, at best.
- Evil Sounds Deep: His voice reverberates with so much power, and is so deep, it's sometimes hard to understand what he's even saying.
- Facial Horror: A part of his face is missing, likely the result of many millennia of fighting.
- Fantastic Racism: Has an intense hatred for dwarfs, due to be being greatly damaged by them many centuries ago.
- In-game, Durthu's Council of Elders mechanic does not allow for elves to hold office, only Treeman Elders. Orion is exempt, due to being half god.
- Fallen Hero: There were times where he was peaceful, spending his time as a teacher and healer. However, millenia of witnessing his fellow Treemen die in great part have overwhelmed his spirit. Now he is little more than a mad Treeman who thankfully spares the Wood Elves when he goes on his rampages.
- Freudian Excuse: It's all over his page.
- Gaia's Vengeance: Durthu despises all forms of life that don't live in harmony with nature; and even then, he barely tolerates the naturalistic Wood Elves.
- Gentle Giant: He was this, being notably friendly and open to the Wood Elves residing in Athel Loren. He sadly no longer fit the trope.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: As seen on his picture yonder.
- Hearing Voices: Durthu is continually haunted by The Lamentations of Despair, projections of his failings and guilt that haunt his sleep and every waking moment. In battle, Durthu can project the voices as a magic missile to inflict their pain on others.
- It's All My Fault: Durthu, among other problems, deeply blames himself for the death of all but one of the Elder Treemen, as they all died in wars caused by enemies of the Elves and not Athel Loren itself. Although the Wood Elves Durthu personally welcomed in Athel Loren were invaluable as defenders, they also seemed to cause the problems they helped solve.
- Knight In Sour Armor: The Elder Treeman is now this. While he is constantly wrathful and doesnt welcome the Elves anymore, he is still a stalwart defender of Athel Loren and spares the Asrai of his wrath for they are helpful if barely tolerated allies.
- Magic Knight: In addition to his prodigious physical power, Durthu can cast spells from the Lore of Beasts.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: Durthu is immensely powerful as a result of being one of the two last elder spirits in Athel Loren, as every elder who dies adds their power to the ones still living, but he is so lost to sadness and rage that most of his power is spent unconsciously tormenting himself.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Some of Durthu's branches are adorned with skulls and bones.
- Skull for a Head: The imagery is there, as Durthu's face is pale with Villainous Cheekbones and prominent teeth.
- Sword Plant: Does this occasionally, though doing so when he is driving his sword into a person.
- The Older Immortal: Durthu is as old as Athel Loren itself, long pre-dating the coming of Chaos.
- Time Abyss: Durthu is truly ancient, at 10,000 years old he is among the eldest sentient beings still alive in the setting. The oldest living Slann are younger than Durthu as is the entire elven race. Only the Old Ones and the oldest Dragon Ogre Shaggoths (such as Krakanrok the Black and Kholek Suneater) are known for certain to have been around earlier.
- When Trees Attack: The most ancient treeman left in the world, and he leads a splinter-faction of the Wood Elves centered around other tree-creatures.
- Wise Tree: When he isn't steaming in his mad rage, anyway. He is parlay to many of Athel Lorens secrets, and taught the Asrai how to commune with the plants and craft wooden items without harming them, among other things.
Ariel, the Queen in the Woods
Immortal mage queen of Athel Loren and the avatar of Isha just as Orion is the avatar of Kurnous, Ariel is co-ruler of the Wood Elves alongside Orion. Unlike Orion, Ariel's form is constant and there has only ever been one.
Ariel is not present in the campaign directly but is heavily referenced by Orion in both his diplomacy messages and the background of his magical item.
- Arch-Enemy: Ariel is the arch-nemesis of Morghur the Shadowgave, having battled (and banished) the immortal spawn of Chaos at least twice in the game's backstory. Morghur tends to beeline straight for Athel Loren whenever he is reborn, meaning that he reciprocates if only on an instinctual level.
- The Archmage: Ariel is one of the most powerful wizards on the face of Mundus and probably the most powerful wizard in the whole of the Old World, manipulating Athel Loren with naught but her thoughts. The Cloak of Isha that Orion wears is made for him by Ariel every time he resurrects, and the attrition caused by non-Wood Elf armies in Athel Loren is partially thanks to her.
- Benevolent Mage Ruler: Certainly the more pleasant half of the Wood Elves' royalty.
- Complete Immortality: Unlike Orion, who has to die and renew himself every year, Ariel is truly immortal and her health is bound to the forest itself.
- Deity of Human Origin: She was once a mortal elf, before becoming the living avatar of a goddess and the immortal mage-queen of her people.
- The Ghost: Like Finubar, her existence is only referenced by other characters and the lore.
- God-Emperor: The god-queen of the Deepwood and the living incarnation of Isha. Even Orion defers to her, as implied by some of his diplomacy lines.
- God in Human Form: She's the earthly avatar of Isha, the elven goddess of life.
- Green Thumb: One of her exclusive magic items in the tabletop game allowed her to instantly create forests, and in the lore she is mentioned to control much of Athel Loren's growth.
- Foil: She is, in essence, the Everqueen of the Wood Elves and as such one to Alarielle. Instead of Legacy Immortality, Ariel is just plain immortal thanks to her closer connection to Isha. Together with Morathi the three represent some kind of triune goddess archetype for the three elven factions, though lord only knows which is which archetype.
- Lady and Knight: The Lady to Orion's Knight.
- Minor Major Character: Like Finubar, Ariel is the Wood Elves' political leader in peacetime. Also like Finubar, she is not present in-game at all.
- Morality Chain: She is noted to be one of the few beings who can calm Orion. That said, she can get fairly vicious herself when defending Athel Loren and generally doesn't interfere in Orion's role.
- Time Abyss: As the earthly avatar of Isha she is both spiritually and mentally as old as the elven race, and physically as old as her first manifestation during the War of Vengance some 4,000 years ago.
- Winged Humanoid: When she goes to war, Ariel is shown flying by the means of a set of gigantic moth wings.