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Elf (Dungeons & Dragons)

Fictional humanoid race

The elf is a humanoid race in the Dungeons & Dragonsfantasyrole-playing game, one of the primary races available for player characters, and play a central role in the narratives of many setting worlds of the game.[1] Elves are renowned for their grace and mastery of magic[1][2]: 58  and weapons such as the bow[2]: 15, 58  and sword. Becoming physically mature by the age of 25 and emotionally mature at around 125,[3] they are also famously long-lived, capable of living more than half a millennium and remaining physically youthful. Possessed of innate beauty and easy gracefulness, they are viewed as both wondrous and haughty by other races; however, their natural detachment is seen by some as introversion or xenophobia.[1] They were usually antagonistic towards dwarves.[2]: 36 

There are numerous different subraces and subcultures of elves,[2]: 79 [4] including aquatic elves, dark elves (drow), deep elves (rockseer), grey elves, high elves, moon elves, snow elves, sun elves, valley elves, wild elves (grugach), wood elves and winged elves (avariel). The offspring of humans and elves are known as "half-elves" among humans, and as "half-humans" among elves.

Publication history[edit]

Original Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

The elf first appeared as a player characterclass in the original 1974 edition of Dungeons & Dragons.[5][6] The aquatic elf was introduced in the 1975 Blackmoor supplement.[7]

Gary Gygax claims Dungeons & Dragons elves draw very little from Tolkien;[8] Philip J. Clements, in contrast, sees certain aspects as directly traceable to him.[2]: 79  Elves in Dungeons & Dragons are immune to paralysis as a holdover from a game balance adjustment in Chainmail.[9]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition[edit]

The elf appeared as a player character race in the original Player's Handbook (1978).[10][11] The elf also appeared in the original Monster Manual (1977), with subraces including High Elf, Gray Elf (some of whom are also called Faerie), Dark Elf (also called Drow), Wood Elf (also called Sylvan), and Aquatic Elf.[12] The grugach, valley elf, and cooshee (an elven dog) first appeared in Dragon issue #67 (November 1982) in "Featured Creatures", an ongoing series of articles where Gary Gygax released information on official creatures before their release in the upcoming Monster Manual II. The grugach, valley elf, and cooshee then appeared in the original Monster Manual II (1983).[13] A number of elven subraces were presented as character races in the original Unearthed Arcana (1985).[14]

Basic Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

The elf appeared as a character class in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977), and in subsequent revisions.

The Shadow elf appears as a character race in GAZ13 The Shadow Elves published by TSR in 1990 as a 64-page booklet and a 32-page booklet.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition[edit]

The high elf appeared as a character race in the second edition Player's Handbook (1989).[15] The high elf also appeared in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989).[16] Several elven races were detailed as player character races in The Complete Book of Elves (1992).[17] Supplements focused on elves in specific campaign settings include Comanthor: Empire of the Elves, Elves of Evermeet and Elves of Athas.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[edit]

The elf appeared as a character race in the third edition Player's Handbook (2000),[18] and in the 3.5 revised Player's Handbook.[19] Elves were detailed for the Forgotten Realms setting in Races of Faerûn (2003).[20] Elves were one of the races detailed in Races of the Wild (2005).[3]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[edit]

The elf appeared as a character race and as one of three in a family of elven races — the sylvans, the drows, and the eladrins — in the fourth edition Player's Handbook (2008). This version of the elf returns in the Essentials rulebook Heroes of the Fallen Lands (2010).

The elf appears in the fourth edition Monster Manual (2008).[21]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition[edit]

The elf was included as a player race in the 5th edition Player's Handbook (2014).[22] Three subraces were introduced with it: the high elf, the wood elf, and the drow (dark elf). The Player's Handbook connects the high elves to the gray elves and valley elves of the Greyhawk setting, the Silvanesti and Qualinesti of the Dragonlance setting, and the sun elves and moon elves of the Forgotten Realms setting. They also connect the wood elves to the wild elves (grugach) of Greyhawk and the Kagonesti of Dragonlance.

The 5th edition Dungeon Master's Guide (2014) also presented the eladrin (which appeared in 4th edition as a separate but related race) as an elf subrace, using them as an example for creating a new character subrace.[23] The eladrin later appeared as playtest content in "Unearthed Arcana: Eladrin and Gith" (2017); this version was revised and eventually published the following year in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (2018).

Religion[edit]

In several campaign settings, elves have their own pantheon often known as the Seldarine; this pantheon usually consists of the leader Corellon Larethian, as well as Aerdrie Faenya, Deep Sashelas, Erevan Ilesere, Fenmarel Mestarine, Hanali Celanil, Labelas Enoreth, Rillifane Rallathil, Sehanine Moonbow, and Solonor Thelandira. Other elven gods may be present in different campaign settings.

Campaign settings[edit]

Greyhawk[edit]

The elves of Greyhawk include the standard aquatic, dark (Drow), grey, high, and wood (sylvan) elves described in the core rule books of various editions of the game.

Additional non-good elven types created for this setting include the snow elves,[24] valley elves,[25] and wild (grugach) elves.[25][26]

Dragonlance[edit]

The depiction of the elves in Dragonlance fiction is strongly influenced by Tolkien's elves. One of the major character types in the setting, they are presented as aloof and isolationist as a group, but also as caretakers of the natural world.[1] Like in other settings, they are split into several peoples, again echoing the splits among Tolkien's elves:[27] Silvanesti and Qualinesti,[27] two races of high elves estranged from each other; the Kagonesti or Wild Elves; and two races of sea elves: the Dimernesti or Shoal Elves, which inhabit the coastal areas and the Dargonesti or Deep Elves.[28][29]

Forgotten Realms[edit]

The various elven subraces are more prominent in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, and Faerûn boasts several major subraces.[2]: 79  They differ physically from typical Dungeons & Dragons elves in that they are as tall as humans (5′9″ on average), or even taller. The exception are the Drow, who are of standard D&D elven height. In Faerûn, surface elves call themselves Tel-Quessir which means "The People" in the elven language. In 4th edition, most of the elven subraces were classified as drow, eladrin or elves.

The history of the elven race is marked by great empires and a gradual decline and retreat from the mainland Faerûn. The elves first came to Abeir-Toril from the plane of Faerie more than twenty-five millennia ago. The first wave of elves to arrive were the green elves, lythari, and avariel. The second wave included the dark elves, who arrived in the jungles of southern Faerûn, and the sun and moon elves, who arrived in the north. Not long after, the aquatic elves arrived in the Great Sea. After the second wave of elven immigrants arrived, the Time of Dragons ended and the period known as the First Flowering of the Fair Folk began. The elves settled into five major civilizations along the west and south of Faerûn during this period. Along the Sword Coast, the sun elves established Aryvandaar and Shantel Othreier, and the green elves established Illefarn, Miyeritar (along with the dark elves), and Keltormir. To the south, in present-day Vilhon Reach, the green elves also created the nations of Thearnytaar, Eiellûr, and Syòpiir. In the forests that once covered the Shaar, the moon elves established Orishaar, and the dark elves established Ilythiir and Miyeritar (along with the green elves). All of these realms were gradually destroyed as a result of the Crown Wars, which made way for other elven realms.

Their once expansive realms have shrunk back in territory and prestige due to the influence and expansion of the younger races, particularly humans. They remain influential, however; much of the shape of Faerûn is influenced by conflict between the various subraces of the elves.

The elven subraces of Faerûn include the following:

Aquatic Elves or Sea Elves (Alu-Tel'Quessir)
Aquatic elves are also known as sea elves. They live beneath the waves[2]: 79  of Faerûn and can breathe water as easily as their cousins on land breathe air. They can also breathe air but for a very short period of time.
Avariel or Winged Elves (Aril-Tel'Quessir)
The avariel are very rare in Faerûn, since they have been hunted nearly to extinction by various dragons. Avariel remain in any number in only one place—the Aerie of the Snow Eagles, a secluded mountain home in the north. Avariel maintain good relationships with aarakocra, and those in the Aerie of the Snow Eagles have recently reestablished contact with their cousins in Evermeet. The avariel make their homes in open areas, and take immense joy in flying. They absolutely abhor and detest being inside, underground, or otherwise restricted from the open sky. The avariel are known for their fierce clerical tradition, as devout worshippers of the Seldarine sky goddess Aerdrie Faenya.
Drow
Once known only as dark elves, one of their greatest kingdoms was Illythiir. They were transformed into drow and banished to the Underdark when their matron goddess Lolth broke from the primary elven pantheon. Of all the elves they are the only ones that are inherently evil and hate their cousins with an undying passion. They are smaller than their cousins, both shorter and thinner. In addition, their skin resembles polished obsidian, and their hair is snow-white or silver. Their eyes are almost inevitably red, gleaming with the hatred for their surface dwelling cousins. In 4th edition, the drow are a separate race rather than an elf subrace.
Dark Elves (Ssri-Tel'Quessir)
Recently returned into the fold of the true elven race. These former Drow now live on the surface in the city of hope. They have brown skin and black hair and have been cleansed of all drow traits. They are protected once again by Corellon Larethian.
Lythari (Ly-Tel'Quessir)
The lythari are a subrace of elves who can transform into wolves. Unlike most werewolves, they can transform at will and keep their minds while in wolf form. Because the lythari have changed so far from their elven roots, most Faerûnian scholars now consider them a separate race from elves. Lythari are devoted to Selune and their Ancestor Endymion, Father of the race and follower of Selune.
Moon Elves or Silver Elves (Teu-Tel'Quessir)
The moon elves are the most common of all the elves in Faerûn and are also known as silver elves. They typically have fair skin and hair that runs in hues from silver-white to black or blue. While human style hair colors are rare, eye color can be remarkably similar, with colors ranging from blue to green. The majority of the half-elves in Faerûn come from parings between humans and moon elves. In 4th edition, moon elves are eladrin.[30]
Star Elves or Mithral Elves (Ruar-Tel'Quessir)
This subrace left the forests of Yuirwood for an extraplanar realm known as Sildëyuir. They have recently considered returning due to increasing threats by the alien nilshai.
Sun Elves or Gold Elves (Ar-Tel'Quessir)
Sun elves are primarily found upon the island of Evermeet and because of this, they are less common across the rest of Faerûn. With bronze colored skin; gold, black, or green eyes; and gold, blond, black, or (rarely) red hair, they are also called gold elves. Sun elves are less physically fit, but more intellectually advanced,[2]: 79  than their counterparts. Sun elves are the primary practitioners of elven High Magic, and are among the greatest magic-users of Toril, both arcane and divine. In 4th edition, sun elves are eladrin.[30]
Wild Elves or Green Elves (Sy-Tel'Quessir)
The most reclusive of all the elves, the wild elves pride themselves on their isolation and skill at keeping hidden. Their skin tends to be brown and they have similar colored hair which lightens with age. In 4th edition, wild elves are elves.[30]
Wood Elves, Copper Elves, or Sylvan Elves (Or-Tel'Quessir)
Wood elves are a reclusive subrace, preferring to live in such areas as the High Forest. They place more emphasis on strength than learning. Wood elves are considered by other elven subraces (particularly the austere sun elves) to be boisterous and hedonistic. They have a zest for life and pleasure. According to Races of Faerûn (which was published in March 2003 and only mentions aquatic elves, avariel, drow, lythari, moon elves, sun elves, wood elves, and wild elves), wood elves are the only elven subrace that is native to Toril. They slowly formed for centuries from some of the other elven subraces after the last Crown War. They see their realms as the natural successors to past nations such as Eaerlann and Cormanthyr. In 4th edition, wood elves are elves.[30]
Vil Adanrath
Lythari that have been separated and live in the Endless Wastes.

Eberron[edit]

Once the slaves of the giants of Xen'drik, the elves of Eberron immigrated over time to the continents of Aerenal and Khorvaire, establishing nations and distinct cultures on both. Most notable are the elves of Aerenal, whose culture revolves around the veneration of the Undying Court.

Dark Sun[edit]

Athasian elves are hostile nomads, marked by savage dispositions and a deep distrust of outsiders.[31] An Athasian elf stands 6½'–7½' tall. They are slender, lean, and generally in terrific physical condition. Their features are deeply etched into their weather-toughened faces, and their skin is made rough by the windblown sands and baking sun of the wilderness. The dunes and steppes of Athas are home to thousands of tribes of nomadic elves. While each tribe is very different culturally, the elves within them remain a race of long-limbed sprinters given to theft, raiding, and warfare.

The 2nd edition product Mind Lords of the Last Sea introduced a new offshoot of Dark Sun elf. The people of Saragar call them "ghost elves" for their fair complexions, light blonde hair and pale blue eyes. Ghost elves are elitist and xenophobic, and live almost exclusively in the city of Sylvandretta. To maintain a pure bloodline, they have inbred for millennia, resulting in their lighter appearance and halving their lifespan compared to other Athasian elves.[32]

Spelljammer[edit]

The elves are the largest political and military presence in space; at the time of the original Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space boxed set, the elves had just completed a remarkably successful extermination of interstellar orcs and goblins throughout the known universe.[33]

Other subraces[edit]

Subraces of elves include Dark Elves and Deep elves.[34][35]

Drow[edit]

Main article: Drow (Dungeons & Dragons)

Grey Elves[edit]

These elves are the most noble of elves, yet also the most arrogant. They are of higher intellectual capabilities than other elves, but, despite the fact that they are taller than high elves, they are physically weaker. They live in isolated mountain strongholds, and rarely allow access to outsiders. They have silver hair and amber eyes, or gold hair and violet eyes, and wear clothes of white, silver, yellow and gold, and usually wear regally colored cloaks.

Shadow Elves[edit]

These elves are an isolated race of elves that survived a cataclysm and adapted to live in caves in Mystara. The shadow elves are even paler than normal elves, with white hair and very clear eyes, usually a sparkling blue or gray color. The shadow elves are somewhat smaller and thinner than their surface cousins, standing about five feet tall and weighing about 100 pounds. Their ears are larger than those of wood elves, giving the shadow elves a sort of "walking radar" underground. Shadow elves have high-pitched voices—almost squeaky to human ears.

High Elves[edit]

High elves are the original eladrin and the original elves that came Abeir-Toril from the Feywild (dark, sun, moon, green, lythari and star elves), and most commonly encountered by other races, and the most open and friendly of their kind. They travel to other lands more than other elves. They are generally dark-haired and green-eyed, with very pale complexions the color of new cream. They simply do not tan, no matter how much time they spend under Oerth's sun. High elves prefer to wear light pastels, blues and greens and violets, and often dwell in homes built into living wood, high in the trees.

In 4th edition the Eladrin are the High elves.

Painted Elves[edit]

This subrace resides in painted deserts and petrified forests, preferring a druidic lifestyle.[36]

Rockseer Elves or Deep Elves[edit]

"Rockseer elves are the rarest of all elvenkind. They are far taller than most of their kin, with a few reaching almost to eight feet in height. An average weight for a Rockseer is between 120 and 140 pounds, with little gender difference. Rockseers are very pale skinned, and they have no body hair. Head hair is extraordinarily fine, always worn long, with the appearance and texture of exquisitely fine silk. The hair is silver, and eye color is a pale, almost ice-blue. They are androgynous in appearance, making it difficult for outsiders to tell males and females apart.

"Rockseers have been separated from the rest of elvenkind since mythic times. Their own history tells that they were cowards at the great battle of Corellon Larethian and Lolth, fleeing the combat and taking refuge far below ground. They have no knowledge of surface elves. They know of the Drow and hate them, avoiding them whenever possible. They are extremely seclusive and shun the company of all other races, including the Svirfneblin. The only exception to this are pech, with whom Rockseers sometimes form friendships."[34][35]

The deep elves are found in 1996's Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three, but originated in the Night Below boxed set campaign published in 1995. In a subplot of Night Below, the player characters can reintroduce the exiled Rockseers to the rest of elvenkind and reconcile them with their god, Corellon Larethian.[37]

Half-elves[edit]

Main article: Half-elf (Dungeons & Dragons)

Half-elves are the offspring of humans and elves. They look like elves to humans and like humans to elves. Half-Elves have curiosity and ambitions like humans but they have sense for magic and love for nature like their elven parents. Their skin is paler than human skin and they are taller and bigger than elves. Half-Elves have long ears like elves. They live about 180 years.

The half-elf appeared as a player character race in the original Player's Handbook (1978).[11]

Reception[edit]

Classics scholar C. W. Marshall positively remarked on the "wide diversity of genetically unique groups" of elves found in the game, "which can energize fans".[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ abcdKirby, Danielle (2013). Fantasy and Belief: Alternative Religions, Popular Narratives, and Digital Cultures. London, New York: Routledge. pp. 74–75. ISBN .
  2. ^ abcdefghClements, Philip J. (December 2019). Dungeons & Discourse: Intersectional Identities in Dungeons & Dragons (Thesis). Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  3. ^ abWilliams, Skip. Races of the Wild. Wizards of the Coast, 2005. ISBN 0-7869-3438-7
  4. ^ abMarshall, C. W. (2019). "Classical Reception and the Half-Elf Cleric". In Rogers, Brett M.; Stevens, Benjamin Eldon (eds.). Once and Future Antiquities in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 168. ISBN .
  5. ^Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  6. ^Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 62, ISBN 
  7. ^Arneson, Dave. Blackmoor (TSR, 1975)
  8. ^"Tolkien had them taller, more intelligent, more beautiful, and older than humans; in fact, he made them quite similar to the fair-folk, the fairies. The elves of the AD&D game system borrow two names (gray and wood) from the Professor's writings, and that is nearly all. They are shorter than humans, and not generally as powerful." Gygax, Gary (March 1985). "On the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien on the D&D and AD&D games". The Dragon (95). pp. 12–13.
  9. ^"Ever wonder why elves are immune to paralysis? As far as we can figure out, that immunity came from a game-balance issue in the original Chainmail rules, which mostly covered medieval warfare (with a fantasy supplement that spawned the game we all play today). Masses of low-cost undead troops were beating up high-cost elf troops, so the 'elves are immune to paralysis' emerged as a balancing factor." Noonan, David (2007). "Interlude: Birth of a Rule." Rules Compendium. Wizards of the Coast. p. 13.
  10. ^Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. pp. 84–85. ISBN .
  11. ^ abGygax, Gary (1978). Players Handbook. TSR. ISBN .
  12. ^Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  13. ^Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II (TSR, 1983)
  14. ^Unearthed Arcana, by Gary Gygax, published 1985, ISBN 978-0-88038-084-3
  15. ^Cook, David (1989). Player's Handbook. TSR. ISBN .
  16. ^Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
  17. ^McComb, Colin D.The Complete Book of Elves (TSR, 1992)
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^Boyd, Eric L.; Matt Forbeck; and James Jacobs. Races of Faerûn. Wizards of the Coast, 2003
  21. ^Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  22. ^Mearls, Mike; Crawford, Jeremey (2014). Player's Handbook. Wizards of the Coast.
  23. ^Mearls, Mike; Crawford, Jeremey (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide. Wizards of the Coast.
  24. ^Reimer, David (March 1990). "In the Frost and the Snow". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#155): 26–29.
  25. ^ abGygax, Gary (November 1982). "Featured Creatures". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#67): 10–11.
  26. ^Breault, Mike, ed, et al (1990). Greyhawk Monstrous Compendium Appendix. TSR.
  27. ^ abBesson, Anne (2004). "La Terre du Milieu et les royaumes voisins". In Ferré, Vincent; Bourgois, Christian (eds.). Tolkien, trente ans après (1973-2003). Paris. pp. 357–379.
  28. ^Hickman, Tracy; Weis, Margaret (1987). Dragonlance Adventures. TSR, Inc. pp. 57–62. ISBN .
  29. ^Rick Swan; Bill Connors; Troy Denning; Bruce Nesmith; James M. Ward; Steve Winter (1990). Mike Breault (ed.). Monstrous Compendium Dragonlance Appendix. TSR, Inc.ISBN .
  30. ^ abcdBaker, Richard (August 20, 2008). "Locked: The one and only "Ask the Realms designers thread" 4". Wizards of the Coast Community. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  31. ^Swan, Rick (September 1992). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#185): 65–66.
  32. ^Smith, Lester W. (1996). The Wanderer's Chronicle: Mind Lords of the Last Sea. TSR. p. 47.
  33. ^Rolston, Ken (February 1990). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#154): 59–63.
  34. ^ abSargent, Carl (1995). Night Below. TSR.
  35. ^ abPickens, Jon (1996). "Elf, Rockseer". Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR: 40–41.
  36. ^Cordell, Bruce, Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes, and JD Wiker. Sandstorm (Wizards of the Coast, 2005).
  37. ^Sargent, Carl (1995). Night Below. Book 3: The Sunless Sea. TSR, pp. 2–4, 38.

Further reading[edit]

  • Baker, Keith. Eberron Campaign Setting. Wizards of the Coast, 2004. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
  • Cordell, Bruce, Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes, and JD Wiker. Sandstorm (Wizards of the Coast, 2005).
  • Perry, Chris. "The Seldarine Revisited", Dragon Magazine #236, pages 13–17.
  • Reynolds, Sean K, et al.Races of Faerûn. Wizards of the Coast, 2003. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  • Sargent, Carl. Night Below: An Underdark Campaign (TSR, 1995).
  • Turley, Kieran. "Ghost Elves: Elves of the Ethereal", Dragon #313 (Paizo Publishing), 2003.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)

DnD 5e – The Elf Handbook

Last Updated: September 26, 2021

TEMPORARY NOTE: RPGBOT is undergoing a massive update for DnD 5e content to accommodate rules changes and new content introduced by Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Please be patient while these changes are made. I maintain this site as a hobby, and I got access to the book on the same day as everyone else and I am rushing to catch up as quickly as I can. While much of the site has been updated, this page and others still need some work. To see what I still need to complete to catch up with Tasha’s, see my To-Do List. To watch for ongoing updates, please follow me on Twitter.

Introduction

Elves are a powerful, effective base race with subraces which are numerous and diverse enough that elves are usable in a variety of builds. Unfortunately, because the subraces differentiate the Elf’s traits so much, it’s rare for more than one subrace to be viable in the same class unless you’re using the Customizing Your Origins optional rules.

Elves are one of very few published races with an aquatic option. While the Sea Elf is conceptually interesting, it gets very little beyond the ability to function well underwater, so I habitually ignore it in my character optimization content. I will continue to do that here, but if you’re playing in an aquatic campaign, remember that the Sea Elf is a thing.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Classes (Default Rules)

This section assumes that you’re not using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If you are using those rules, scroll up to the previous section.

Artificer

The High Elf makes a perfect Artificer, adding both Dexterity and Intelligence, as well as a Wizard cantrip to complement the Artificer’s spellcasting.

Barbarian

One of few classes where the Elf is a truly bad option. The Sea Elf and the Shadar-kai are probably your best bet here solely because they’re the only elf subraces which get increases to either Strength or Constitution. But the Barbarian is so strictly locked into Strength that it’s hard to function without an increase.

Bard

Drow, Eladrin, and Mark of Shadow elves all recieve Charisma increases. The core elf Perception proficiency and Dexterity increase both complement the Bard nicely in any build.

Cleric

The Cleric is a challenging option for the Elf, but it’s absolutely doable. Wood elves and Pallid Elves both get a Wisdom increase, and between Dexterity and Wisdom they make fine lightly-armored clerics. Avoid domains which provide heavy armor proficiency, and look for domains which complement your subrace traits.

Druid

Generally a better option for the Elf than the Cleric, the Druid’s adherence to lighter armor makes it easier to rely on Dexterity without disregarding other class options like proficiency in medium and/or heavy armor. The Wood Elf’s mask of the Wild works while using Wild Shape, and the Pallid Elf’s innate spellcasting offers some interesting new options for the Druid to explore.

Fighter

One of few classes where a large number of Elf subraces can truly shine. Since the Fighter only needs an increase to either Strength or Dexterity, an Elf can fill any Dexterity-based build, and depending on your subrace you can emphasize different capabilities like spellcasting, stealth, or even Face skills.

Monk

The Wood Elf is among the best race options for the Monk. Dexterity and Wisdom are exactly what the Monk needs, and no class is more dependent on perfect ability scores. The Pallid Elf has the same ability score increases, but the innate spellcasting may be less appealing than the Wood Elf’s traits. Both options work great, so use whichever appeals to you.

Paladin

Like the Bard, elf subraces which provide Charisma increases make great paladins, but don’t overlook subraces which provide Constitution increases. While high Charisma is great, start with 14 or 15 is perfectly fine if you can’t find a Charisma increase on the subrace that you like. Obvious options include the Drow and the Eladrin because they do get Charisma increases, but Sea Elves and Shadar-Kai make good options too, and you might even be able to make the High Elf work if you can make good use of attack cantrips like Booming Blade from time to time. Mark of Shadow may seem like a strange choice for the Paladin, but mechanically it works very well.

Ranger

The Wood Elf is almost tailor-made to be a ranger, but the Ranger’s only major ability dependency is Dexterity so any elf subrace makes a fine ranger.

Rogue

The Rogue needs Dexterity and almost nothing else, but free Perception proficiency does at lot to complement the Rogue’s already spectacular skills. Nearly any elf subrace works for the rogue, offering unique options depending on your racial traits. High elf rogues should consider booming blade, which makes for great hit-and-run tactics when combined with Cunning Action. Mark of Shadow offers several excellent options for the Rogue, even if you don’t plan to pursue Arcane Trickster.

The Rogue is, in my opinion, the single best use case for Elven Accuracy. If you’re consistently relying on Advantage to deliver Sneak attack the extra die improved your chance of rolling a natural 20 (and therefore a critical hit) from 9.75% to 14.26%. And if you’ve ever gotten to roll a critical hit with Sneak Attack you understand how exciting it is to roll all of those dice. If you use the Steady Aim Optional Class Feature in conjunction with Elven Accuracy, you get to roll that nonsese almost every turn. It honestly feels like cheating.

Sorcerer

Drow, Eladrin, and Mark of Shadow elves all get Charisma increases, which is really all that you need to succeed as a sorcerer, but they don’t add capabilities which the sorcerer couldn’t already provide.

Warlock

Drow, Eladrin, and Mark of Shadow elves make excellent warlocks. Extra Charisma is all that you truly need, but Dexterity helps to pad the Warlock’s AC in light armor, which is crucial for Hexblades. Drow innate spellcasting helps to complement the Warlock’s limited spell slots, and be sure to pick up Devil’s Sight to capitalize on the ability to cast Darkness. Eladrin can teleport, reducing the need for Misty Step. Mark of Shadow grants some extra spellcasting, and adds several new spell options to the Warlock’s spell list.

Wizard

A high elf wizard is among the most obvious and iconic wizard builds. All you truly need to succeed as a wizard is an Intelligence increase, and the core Elf’s Dexterity increase and Perception proficiency will help to keep you alive. One extra cantrip may not seem like much since you already start with three, but cantrips are very powerful and an extra can do a lot to diversify your capabilities.

Elf Feats

Elven AccuracyXGtE

If you can get Advantage reliably, this is a fantastic feat. The +1 ability increase is nice, but the reroll mechanic is the real draw here. You need Advantage to trigger the reroll, but you can reroll one die each time you roll with Advantage (though you’re limited to attack/checks/saves with the four lister ability scores), so Advantage is essentially rolling three dice and choosing the highest.

It’s a little unusual to lean into Elven Accuracy this far, but my blog post “Oops All Elves” dives into exactly how crazy you can get by building a party around one feat.

Revenant BladeERLW

If you’re proficient with martial weapons and want to engage in two-weapon fighting, the Double Scimitar is appealing (provided that it’s available in your game). Since the primary attack has a larger damage die than weapons which qualify for two-weapon fighting, you’ll get more average damage once you gain Extra Attack. However, most builds which use two-weapon fighting are Dexterity-based, so without the Revenant Blade feat the double scimitar can be a hard choice.

If you’re building for two-weapon fighting, Revenant Blade is an improvement is excellent but not necessarily your best option. It’s an option to replace Dual Wielder, and Revenent Blade isn’t always better. Both feats provide a +1 AC bonus, so let’s ignore that and compare the differences:

Revenant Blade adds the Finesse property to the Double Scimitar, making it equivalent to using a rapier and a dagger with Fighting Style (Two-Weapon Fighting). Dual Wielder allows you to use non-light weapons while two-weapon fighting, allowing you to use two rapiers, two longswords, or something else along those lines. Two rapiers is better damage than a double scimitar (if we ignore magic weapons), but Revenant Blade adds a +1 increase to either Strength or Dexterity (probably Dexterity) and doesn’t require a Fighting Style.

Once you hit 20 Dexterity, Dual Wielder with Fighting Style (Two-Weapon Fighting) will have better damage output because two rapiers are again more powerful. But the possibility of magic items tips things toward Revenant Blade since it’s easier to find one magic weapon than two, and the resource cost to spend as Fighting Style is steep, so taking a Fighting Style (Defense) with Revenant Blade is a more effective combination than Dual Weilder.

Dragonmarks

Dragonmarks are detailed in Eberron: Rising from the Last War. Elves treat dragonmarks like a subrace, retaining their core racial traits and adding the traits provided by the dragonmark.

Mark of Shadow

A Charisma increase, some illusions, and bonuses to Performance and Stealth. This is a great option for nearly any rogue. The Arcane Trickster seems like the most obvious beneficiary, but the only dragonmark spell which is new to the Arcane Trickster is Pass Without Trace. Pass Without Trace is amazing, but it may not be enough make you reconsider your subclass to enjoy it.

Sours: https://rpgbot.net/dnd5/characters/races/elf/
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D&D 5th Edition

↓ Attributes

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ElfTraits

Your elf character has a variety of natural Abilities, the result of thousands of years of elven refinement.

Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Age: Although elves reach physical maturity at about the same age as Humans, the elven understanding of Adulthood goes beyond physical growth to encompass worldly experience. An elf typically claims Adulthood and an adult name around the age of 100 and can live to be 750 years old.

Alignment: Elves love freedom, variety, and self- expression, so they lean strongly toward the gentler aspects of chaos. They value and protect others’ freedom as well as their own, and they are more often good than not.

Size: Elves range from under 5 to over 6 feet tall and have slender builds. Your size is Medium.

Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision: Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, you have superior vision in dark and dim Conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in Darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in Darkness, only Shades of Gray.

Keen Senses: You have proficiency in the Perception skill.

Fey Ancestry: You have advantage on Saving Throws against being Charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.

Trance: Elves don’t need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious, for 4 hours a day. (The Common word for such meditation is “trance.”) While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. After Resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.

Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Elvish. Elvish is fluid, with subtle intonations and intricate grammar. Elven literature is rich and varied, and their songs and poems are famous among Other Races. Many bards learn their language so they can add Elvish ballads to their repertoires.

Subraces

High Elf

As a High Elf, you have a Keen Mind and a mastery of at least The Basics of magic. In many fantasy gaming worlds, there are two kinds of high elves. One type is haughty and reclusive, believing themselves to be superior to non-elves and even other elves. The other type is more Common and more friendly, and often encountered among Humans and Other Races.

Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Elf Weapon Training⁠: You have proficiency with the Longsword, Shortsword, Shortbow, and Longbow.

Cantrip: You know one cantrip of your choice from the Wizard spell list. Intelligence is your Spellcasting ability for it.

Extra Language⁠: You can speak, read, and write one extra language of your choice.

Sours: https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Elf
Elf 5e - Races for Dungeons and Dragons

Elf 5e Guide

What is this guide?

This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the Elf will be right for your character build.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your Elf . This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Black is a trait shared by many races and or will not impact the effectiveness of your character build
  • Redisn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orangeis an OK option
  • Greenis a good option
  • Blueis a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Update

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has added the "Customizing Your Origin" option that may affect the ability score increases, languages, and proficiencies in this guide. To read more about this, visit our D&D Race Guide.

What are Elves?

Elves are a magical people of otherworldly grace, living in the world but not entirely part of it. They live in places of ethereal beauty, in the midst of ancient forests or in silvery spires glittering with faerie light, where soft music drifts through the air and gentle fragrances waft on the breeze. Elves love nature and magic, art and artistry, music and poetry, and the good things of the world.

Elven Traits

Ability Score Increase: +2 DEX is the most common double racial bonus. 

Age: Elves reach adulthood at 100 years and can live to be 750 years old.

Alignment: Elves tend to lean towards chaotic good, with the exception of Drow whom are chaotic evil more often than not.

Size: Elves are medium creatures, typically 5-6 feet tall.

Speed: 30ft walking is standard

Darkvision: 60ft

Keen Senses: Free proficiency in Perception is always welcome. 

Fey Ancestry: Advantage against being charmed and being unable to be put to sleep by magic will come in handy in some tough situations.

Trance: The elf’s trance is seemingly innocuous but it is quite powerful upon closer inspection. First off, remaining semiconscious allows you to be surprised less often. Second, only having to sleep for 4 hours will allow casters (specifically Wizards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks) the ability to wake up before the rest of the party, cast a spell, and then short rest to get the spell slot back. This can be extremely powerful given the right spell and the right circumstance. 

Languages: Common and Elvish

Elf Subraces

High Elf

Ability Score Increase: +1 INT is a decent ability score for Wizards, thought they will typically more drawn towards the Gnome’s +2 INT.

Elf Weapon Training: The shortbow and longbow proficiencies can actually make a difference here because they are useful for casters, though they are often not more powerful than Cantrips. Especially after level 5.

Cantrip: A free Wizard Cantrip is awesome. Check out our Wizard’s guide to read about which Cantrips are best.

Extra Language: This will likely come in useful once or twice in a campaign.

Wood Elf

Ability Score Increase: +1 WIS is the best PHB races get. This combined with the +2 DEX is really nice for Rangers, Monks, and Druids.

Elf Weapon Training: The shortbow and longbow proficiencies are great here because Druids and Monks, two classes that are very likely to choose a Wood Elf, do not have proficiencies here. That being said, they aren’t particularly effective for those classes, but they are certainly nice to have.

Fleet of Foot: Extra movement speed is never wasted.

Mask of the Wild:  Being able to hide when only lightly obscured is great.

Drow

Ability Score Increase: +1 CHA is an interesting combo with +2 DEX. Not many classes will take DEX as their main stat increase and then buff CHA except for maybe a Valor or Swords Bard or a Swashbuckling Rogue.

Superior Darkvision: This may come in handy once or twice, but typically 60ft of Darkvision is good enough.

Sunlight Sensitivity: Not being able to go out in sunlight without taking disadvantage on attack rolls and Perception checks is a massive downside of the Drow

Drow Magic: Dancing Lights is a fairly limited Cantrip. Faerie Fire is great. Darkness can be useful but is a tough spell to workaround. 

Drow Weapon Training: Not great additions to the weapon proficiencies here, especially for the classes that will be frequenting the Drow.

Which Classes Work With Elfs?

Artificer: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the miserable AC of an Artificer. High Elves get an INT boost and a free cantrip of your choice, as well as an extra language for your roleplaying needs.

Barbarian: Nothing here for a Barb.

Bard: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the AC of a Bard, and can give melee Bards a boost with attacking. Proficiency in Perception and having Darkvision is useful.

Cleric: DEX is good for initiative and light armor capabilities and Perception pairs well with the Cleric’s presumably high WIS score. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to being put to sleep keeps you healing and buffing your party in dangerous situations.

Druid: DEX is good for initiative and light armor capabilities, and Perception pairs well with the Druid’s presumably high WIS score. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to sleep keeps you healing and helping your party in dangerous situations. The Wood Elves’ Small WIS bonus, increased walking speed, and Mask of the Wild. A good choice.

Fighter: You’re likely not going to play an Elf unless you are a Finesse Fighter or Archer. Elves get a bonus to DEX, free Perception proficiency, and Darkvision, all of which are very important for DEX based Fighters.

Monk: Proficiency in Perception is great; Perception is the best skill in D&D 5e. In addition, the DEX score increase of 2 pairs perfectly with the Monk’s game plan.

Paladin: You’re likely not going to play an Elf as a Paladin. Elves get a bonus to DEX, free Perception proficiency, and Darkvision, all of which aren’t very important for Paladins.

Ranger: +2 DEX is exactly what you are looking for with a Ranger. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to sleep is icing on the cake.

Rogue: A +2 to DEX, Darkvision, and proficiency in the Perception skill. Nice!

Sorcerer: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the miserable AC of a Sorcerer.

Warlock: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the AC of a Warlock. Proficiency in Perception and having Darkvision is useful.

Wizard: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the miserable AC of a Wizard. High Elves get an INT boost and a free cantrip of your choice, as well as an extra language for your roleplaying needs.

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

Sours: https://arcaneeye.com/players/dnd-5e-races/elf-5e/

5e elves dnd

Elf Features

Source: Plane Shift - Zendikar

Elves are strongly associated with nature, the magic that flows through their forest homes. Their shamans and druids channel this magic of life and growth, communing with the land or the spirits of the departed. Striving to live in harmony with nature, they celebrate the ties between their communities and their connection with the broader world around them.

The elves of Zendikar have much in common with the elves of other worlds. Your elf character has the following traits.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2. This replaces the standard elf Ability Score Increase presented in the Player’s Handbook
  • Subrace. Ancient divides that arose as the elven people migrated across Zendikar resulted in three main elf nations: the Tajuru, the Mul Daya, and the Joraga. Choose one of these subraces.

Tajuru Nation
The Tajuru nation is the largest of the three main elven nations, concentrated in Murasa and spread across other parts of Zendikar as hundreds of far-flung clans. Tajuru elves are the most open to people of other races, seeing their skills and perspectives as valuable new tools for survival. The Tajuru are also more open to new lifestyles, be it living in a mountaintop citadel or roaming grassy plains.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
  • Skill Versatility. You gain proficiency in any combination of two skills or tools of your choice.

Juraga Nation
The elves of the imperious Joraga nation of Bala Ged have little respect for any other race of Zendikar— or even for other elves. The survival of their nation and its traditions is the Joraga elves’ only goal, and they view the influence of others as a weakness. The Joraga eschew the goods and habits of others, even avoiding the pathways blazed by the Tajuru when possible. Many view the nomadic Joraga clans as little more than bands of roving murderers, but a complex culture hides behind those clans’ aggressive exterior.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
  • Elf Weapon Training. You have proficiency with the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.
  • Fleet of Foot. Your base walking speed increases to 35 feet.
  • Mask of the Wild. You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.

Mul Daya Nation
Elves of the Mul Daya nation of Bala Ged are set apart from other elves by their relationship with the spirits of their elven ancestors. To the Mul Daya, the spirit world and the mortal realm are different only in terms of their tangibility. Death and the spirits of the dead are as much a part of the lives of the Mul Daya as is the natural world. This is not a macabre sentiment to the elves; they simply view it as the truest sense of the natural order.
Mul Daya elves can often be recognized by their face painting and tattooing. Many Mul Daya decorate their skins with an enwrapping vine motif, and make use of poisons and acids collected at great cost from strange creatures and plants in the depths of Kazandu.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
  • Superior Darkvision. Your darkvision has a radius of 120 feet.
  • Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.
  • Mul Daya Magic. You know the Chill Touch cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Hex spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Darkness spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
  • Elf Weapon Training. You have proficiency with the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.
Sours: http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/elf
What They Don't Tell You About Elves - D\u0026D

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