The following is on top of the post I wrote 6 months ago about Plant-Men; Greg has added an interesting piece about the various races of 'Elves' on the Moon Design web-site, which I am copying here for ease of reference:
Q: What colour of Elves have existed in Glorantha? What plants are they associated with? Do they still exist?
A: The first point to make is that the 'colour'
classification of Elves is a God Learner construct, and, though
widespread among many humans, is not used by Elves themselves. It is not
a literal description of the appearance of the Elf races, who appear
generally plant-like in many typical hues — green or yellow leaves,
colourful flower-like parts, etc. The colour associations are from God
Learner sorcerous investigations that related these types to elemental
associations. Thus, Brown and Green are both Earth Colours, Blue is the
Water Colour, and so on. Red Elves are the Heat of the south, while the
Yellow Elves were found by the God Learners to be much closer to
Halamalao, God of Light, than any other type of Elf.
Secondly, two common uses of the term 'Elf' are found in Gloranthan
usage. One strictly refers only to a humanoid plant-being that is
associated with trees. The second more broad usage is common among
humans to refer to a wide range of different plant beings, not all of
which are true woody elves. The term Aldryami would be more correct for
the latter. Even some types of "Elves" are not actually true Aldryami, a
word reserved for those beings descended from Aldrya, Gata, Aron, and
With those provisos in mind, the best known types of Elf are as follows:
Brown Elves (Mreli): These are associated
with deciduous trees, and are the most common type of Elf in Genertela
at the end of the Third Age. When Elves work they always group together
no matter what tree they are from, and so it is common to see Elves from
willow, birch, oak and elm living together. Since Elves are related to
local species of trees not all Brown Elves are known to each other. The
Genertelan and Pamaltelan forests are the most obvious example of this
Green Elves (Vronkali): Associated with
coniferous trees, they are the sole elven inhabitants of the pine forest
of Winterwood in northern Fronela. Green Elves are also found in all Brown Elf forests, which they protect while the Mreli hibernate through
the winter. Tree Elves do not recognise a segregation of types among
themselves and so Green Elves are mixed with the Brown. Observers
usually note that Elf groups have individuals who correspond to many
types of trees among them.
Yellow Elves (Embyli): Associated with
tropical evergreen trees, the Yellow Elves are the most common type in
Pamaltela, and are also found in southeastern Genertela, the East Isles
and other islands. Yellow Elves, like others, come in many shapes and
sizes, colours and leafage, all depending upon the species they are
related to. Where Green and Brown Elves are found in the same areas as Yellow Elves (notably in Fethlon, Vralos and the Pamaltelan mountains),
the different species mix together in a single Aldryami society.
White Elves (Halamali): White Elves were
the first children of Flamal, nurtured by the pure light of Halamalao,
the Aldryami sun god. The White Elves were related to the magical trees
that grew in the highest forests covering the slope of the Spike in the
Godtime. When the Spike exploded, the immortal forests were destroyed, so
that no White Elves remain in Glorantha today. White Elves are still in
the God Plane. They are the celestial trees, from whence they are
worshipped by the Elves today.
Moon Elves (Rufeldryami): These Elves live
only in special imperial gardens, though a multitude live among the
forests on the Red Moon, especially the Tendarshan Forest on the Moon's
northeast face. Others are found in the hero planes of the God World.
The Moon Elves have never left their protected gardens, so that many
non-Lunars doubt their very existence. They are so beautiful that most
mortals are knocked senseless by their mere scent. [Note: there aren't any Moon Elves in Second Age Glorantha]
Fire Elves (Olembi): In the far south of
Pamaltela, beyond the lands of mortal men, everything is made of fire so
that hills, rivers and the vales in between are all burning. The Fire Elves are associated with the fiery trees that cover huge parts of the
landscape. The have never visited the Inner World during time except
aboard the firebergs. In visions of the Hero Wars many seers have seen
the burning of vast forests. A few others, claiming more clarity, say
that the burning forests seen in so many visions are not doom for the Elves, but part of the Aldryami plan, and shows the Fire Elves coming to
aid their kin.
Blue Elves (Murthoi): Water-breathing
Aldryami related to forests of kelp and other large water-plants, Blue Elves are still found in coastal waters, as well as in some large
freshwater rivers and lakes. There are several species of human sized
Murthoi (though humans are generally unaware of the differences between
them), and many smaller types unrecognised outside of the waters.
Black Elves (Voralans): These are
associated with fungi, and live in isolated forests of giant mushrooms
that are often found cultivated in and near Troll lands. They have never
been numerous on the surface world because they require such dank
conditions for health. Occasionally these beings are found in other Elf
communities, like the puffball or mushroom people found in Genertelan
forests. Voralans are not true Aldryami, because they are descended from
Mee Vorala rather than Aldrya.
Red Elves (Slorifings): Also known as
'goblins', these beings are associated with ferns and mosses and are
still common in the great swamps of Pamaltela. Two huge nations of Slorifings exist, one on the east and the other on the west of
Pamaltela. These include a huge number of species of Slorifing with a
range of appearance from the humanoid to the monstrous. The Slorifings
are usually found in mixed groups, but generally reject the woody
Aldryami, since the Slorifings are not true Aldryami themselves.
Another interesting Q&A is the following one about hybridisation between sentient races:
Q: Is it possible for a human and an elf to have a child? How about other races?
A: The Gloranthan intelligent races are all separate
species and are not able to breed with humans or each other. Elves, in
particular, are intelligent and mobile plants and cannot normally
reproduce with the 'meat-people'. Sexual activities are possible with
some species of Aldryami, though this resembles sex only to the human
partner, not the Elf or Dryad. Even Trolls cannot breed with humans,
though sexual practices are very similar among the two races, and sexual
relations are possible, though extremely rare.
However, in the earliest myths these beings had not yet
differentiated, and so some bizarre cross breeds were spawned then.
Those powerful fertility magics could be obtained by HeroQuesting and
used to circumvent the normal restriction. In particular the Empire of
the Wyrm's Friends were able to produce cross-breeds of different
intelligent species (and even with animals, though not with plants), but
no one has done this since. As the Hero Wars unfold, player Heroes of
an eccentric bent might find ways to get these magics again, but this
would be an incredibly difficult task, and the usefulness of such an act
is questionable in any event.
The interesting reference in the passage quoted above is the one to the practices of the Empire of the Wyrm's Friends, which is a Second Age empire — and a rival to the Middle Sea Empire.
I can imagine that human-animal hybrids do exist in the Second Age, spawned by the EWF's horrendous magics. Some of these sentient hybrids may have been captured by, or fled to, the Middle Sea Empire. With the Closing upon the coasts of Pamaltela at the time of the campaign described in this very blog, some of these magical hybrids may thus have been stranded on Pamaltela and, with the demise of the Middle Sea Empiure, may have been freed. The picture below then becomes a very inspirational piece of art:
A tiger-human sentient hybrid and a former Umathing slave are battling their way out of a ruined subterranean stronghold of the God Learners. On their way to the surface world, they stumble upon a squad of horrific rat-human hybrids, who have decreed this portion of the underworld should be theirs!
All are using Zistorite weapons found abandoned in the subterranean ruins.