The Areas is actually quite narrow but rather long, and the planet is not very big, so there's a wide range of climates.
In the North, it's like Norway or Finland, with ice age conditions every winter and short, but real summers. The very southern most parts reach tropical climate with the Jungles actually being mostly sub-tropical. Like southern China or Florida.
I think I want to avoid obvious dinosaurs and mammoths, but less obvious prehistoric animals are okay. No pterosaurs, but most plesiosaurs should be fine.
I started writing the Race description for elves. Here's what I have so far with probably just as much being added tomorrow.
The elves are one of the humanoid races that inhabit the Barbarian Lands. Along with the lizardfolk, they established many of the first and oldest humanoid civilizations in the known world.
Elves and humans share a great resemblance when compared to other races and can in fact be mistaken for one another at a distance or by people not familiar with either race. Elves typically stand between 5'6" and 5'10" in height and of noticeably slender build. Elven muscle structure is noticeably more dense than humans, which tends to obscure an elves actual physical strength and makes even very strong elves appear very lean. While highly agile, the lack of fat and low body mass puts elves at greater risk from long term exertions, exposure to cold, poisons, and malnutrition, which is the cause for the elven reputation of weakness and frailty. However, this does not translate into a lack of physical strength and many elves are quite capable at hand to hand combat. However, as they tire faster than humans, kass, or even gnomes, elves prefer to not draw fights and battles out and make decisive strikes or retreat.
On shorter distances, the differences between elves and humans become more noticeable. Compared to humans, elves have pointed and slightly elongated ears, which usually are a dead giveaway, but also the easiest part to conceal. Elven faces are usually more narrow and have less prominent features, like short noses, thin eyebrows, and narrow lips. Only noticeable at very short distances is that elven eyes have relatively larger irises and show less white, making them appear slightly more animal-like.
A well known trait of elves, that get frequently exaggerated, is their comparatively long life span. It is not uncommon for elves to live over 300 years before they succumb to old age, but given the long time span, the majority dies at an earlier age from accidents, injuries, or disease or from generally failing health caused by hardships at an earlier age. Elves are regarded adults at age 24 and aging significantly slows down during their 30s. It's usually when reaching ages over 200 years that the age of elves truly starts to show, with graying hair, aging skin, and slowly diminishing endurance. However, only the few truly ancient elves show signs in age as commonly seen in humans that live for more than 70 years before they reach the natural end of their lifespan. Judging an elves age is quite difficult for non-elves and even among themselves elves mostly use hints from small differences in clothing and speech, and the behavior to other elves of known age, to discern the generational differences between elven strangers. Age doesn't play such an important role in elven society than it does among other races, which usually only recognizes children under 16, youths under 32, adults, and elders who have lived for over 200 years. Age differences between adults barely play any role and close friendships and marriages with over 100 years of age difference are quite common. Elves encountered outside the lands of their clans are usually at least in their late 30s or 40s.
Elves do in fact have as many children as humans, but often with much greater time spans between births and it's not uncommon for elves to have uncles and aunts younger than themselves.
Elves possess a remarkable sense of perception, which manifests in heightened hearing shared only by gnomes, and the ability to see without difficulty in only very dim light.
Most elves living in the Barbarian Lands are wood elves, but are usually simply referred to as elves by most people outside the southern jungles. Wood elves generally have lightly tanned skin and hair ranging in colors from dark brown to almost black, though lighter browns and shades of blond and green are common among the Moreshin. Wood elves most commonly have green eyes or occasionally brown. In the northern parts of the Barbarian Lands, gray eyes also occur, with blue being exceptionally rare and often attributed to fey ancestry.
In southern Jungles, most elves one encounters belong to the dark elves. The most striking difference to wood elves is their dark skin, which ranges through several shades of ash gray, that sometimes even reaches to charcoal black in some clans. In stark contrast, dark elven hair is often, white, silver, and very pale blond, but a bluish gray is also not uncommon. Dark elven hunters, who usually hunt at dusk and night, often dye their hair dark to better blend in with their surroundings. The eyes of dark elves most commonly have the same shades of green found among wood elves, but red, purple, and blue also appearing frequently in some family lines.
Dark Elves are semi nocturnal and are mostly active from noon until deep into the night. Their ability to see in darkness is even much greater than that of wood elves, but they are also slightly sensitive to bright light and either live in areas with very thick foliage overhead or remain inside until the sun is low on the horizon. Some dark elves, especially the Keiyashei, even live mostly underground and only come to the surface when absolutely necessary.
Culture and Society
Many of the unique and unusual aspects of elven culture are closely connected to elven longevity. As age differences among siblings often span decades, families are usually small and elven children form much closer bonds with others of similar age, with which they grow up together. These childhood friendships are often the most important relationships of elves, right after their parents, and usually rank higher than the bonds of blood. Once elves reach their mid thirties, they stop visibly aging for almost two centuries, which makes it almost impossible to tell an elves age even for other elves. As a result, age plays a much smaller role in elven society than for any other race and only true elders, who have lived well over two hundred years, are treated with any kind of special respect and reverence. Instead, personal ability becomes a much larger factor in determining social hierarchy. Elves take great pride in their crafts, as it determines their social standing.
While elves are well aware of the changes in perspective and ideals as they become older and new generations follow, this is a fairly slow and gradual shift. In practice, even age differences of forty or sixty years are not considered great enough to be an obstacle to friendships and romantic relationships, and even much larger time spans are not regarded as something improper. As a result, it is a common experience for elves to see their friends and spouses become elders and eventually die of age while they still have more than half of their own life ahead of them. And that is in addition to the numerous dangers that all people in the Barbarian Lands face on a daily basis. To elves, this is simply a part of life. Over the span of up to three centuries, an elf does not attempt to live a single life, but in his lifetime will leave an old life behind and begin a new one several times. As a side effect, elven villages and especially towns frequently gain new residents that become part of the community and are much less stable than communities of other races. The one exception to this fact of elven life are the childhood friendships, which are the most stable and long lasting relationships among elves. While even elves change greatly over the span of more than twenty decades, the connection of being the only people from their childhoods that are still alive is extremely strong for elven elders. Many elves who feel that it is time to permanently settle down for the last station of their life return to their birth places to find any traces of their friends from their childhood who are still alive. This strong bond between many elven elders is also a part why they are regarded with special reverence. Often it is only two or three who find back together, and with the other elders, who share similar experiences, they form their own small segments of society within a community, which nobody who hasn't reached that stage of life yet can fully understand. While elders are usually not active leaders, it is no surprise that they wield very great powers, both because of the special reverence they are shown and the exclusivity of their group.
While gender roles exist in elven society, they are usually much less pronounced than in other cultures. While certain professions have clear tendencies to be performed by either men or women and there are slight differences in male and female dress, gender is much less of a barrier for elves to find their chosen calling and there is generally a rather high tolerance for deviations from the average. Given the great variations in upbringing and experiences among members of an elven communities, certain eccentricities are also very much permitted and rarely cause for ostracism as long as it doesn't upset the common peace.