How do elves work lore-wise?

What is the social structure?

What exactely is Etharchy, how much power does an Etharch have?

BW has no setting beyond what’s implied in the life paths. It’s up to you!

An etharchy seems to imply great power, but probably not absolute. The althings exercise some power, at least over the citadels. Princes also seem to rule in their own right. I’ve usually made etharchs like high kings. They rule over their own territory and they exercise some control over lesser rulers.

That said, the Elves and Dwarves are strongly based on Tolkien’s Elves and Dwarves. Though BW can in principle be adapted to fit any setting, the “default” is Tolkien Elves and Dwarves (and of course Medieval Europe humans). I also recommend reading this thread, which is a discussion about a couple of Elvish Traits relating to their social structure, and Etharchy in particular.

Here’s another good thread to read wherein Luke offers a description of elves going to war.

Thanks for sharing Luke’s “Elves at War” thread, very well written and inspirational.
Thank you for the link.

Although the burning wheel dwarves and elves were inspired by the works of J.R.R.Tolkien, as players we are more concerned with the rules rather than their inspiration.
So let me ask:
How much power do you want them to have?
What’s Your vision of elven society?
How do the elves in your game interact with each other and the rest of the world?

Burning Wheel Gold gives us the rules to game by but not the world to game in. That’s up to us.

Feel free to play it your way. If you want to borrow from your favorite book, movie, or video game for inspiration go ahead and “burn” (create) your game from whatever inspires you.

Sure, it can be a little work, but in the end it’s a lot of fun!