5e SRD >Races >

Elf

Note: The text in this shaded box was taken from a different Open Game License product. Nothing in the text should be interpreted as “rules” or “mechanics”.

The long-lived elves are children of the natural world, similar in many superficial ways to fey creatures, though with key differences. While fey are truly linked to the flora and fauna of their homes, existing as the nearly immortal voices and guardians of the wilderness, elves are instead mortals who are in tune with the natural world around them. Elves seek to live in balance with the wild and understand it better than most other mortals. Some of this understanding is mystical, but an equal part comes from the elves’ long lifespans, which in turn gives them long-ranging outlooks. Elves can expect to remain active in the same locale for centuries. By necessity, they must learn to maintain sustainable lifestyles, and this is most easily done when they work with nature, rather than attempting to bend it to their will. However, their links to nature are not entirely driven by pragmatism. Elves’ bodies slowly change over time, taking on a physical representation of their mental and spiritual states, and those who dwell in a region for a long period of time find themselves physically adapting to match their surroundings, most noticeably taking on coloration that reflects the local environment.

Elves value their privacy and traditions, and while they are often slow to make friends at both the personal and national levels, once an outsider is accepted as a comrade, the resulting alliances can last for generations. Elves take great joy in forging alliances with races that share or exceed their long lifetimes, and often work to befriend dragons, outsiders, and fey. Those elves who spend their lives among the short-lived races, on the other hand, often develop a skewed perception of mortality and become morose, the result of watching wave after wave of companions age and die before their eyes.

Physical Description

Generally taller than humans, elves possess a graceful, slender physique that is accentuated by their long, pointed ears. It is a mistake, however, to consider them weak or feeble, as the thin limbs of an elf can contain surprising power. Their eyes are wide and almond-shaped, and filled with large, vibrantly colored pupils. The coloration of elves as a whole varies wildly, and is much more diverse than that of human populations. However, as their coloration often matches their surroundings, the elves of a single community may appear quite similar. Forest-dwelling elves often have variations of green, brown, and tan in their hair, eye, and even skin tones.

While elven clothing often plays off the beauty of the natural world, those elves who live in cities tend to bedeck themselves in the latest fashions. Where city-dwelling elves encounter other urbanites, the elves are often fashion trendsetters.

Society

Many elves feel a bond with nature and strive to live in harmony with the natural world. Although, like most, elves prefer bountiful lands where resources are plentiful, when driven to live in harsher climates, they work hard to protect and shepherd the region’s bounty, and learn how to maximize the benefit they receive from what little can be harvested. When they can carve out a sustainable, reliable life in deserts and wastelands, they take pride as a society in the accomplishment. While this can make them excellent guides to outsiders they befriend who must travel through such lands, their disdain of those who have not learned to live off the scant land as they have makes such friends rare.

Elves have an innate gift for craftsmanship and artistry, especially when working in wood, bone, ivory, or leather. Most, however, find manipulating earth and stone to be distasteful, and prefer to avoid forging, stonework, and pottery. When such work must be done within a community, a few elves may find themselves drawn to it, but regardless of their craftsmanship, such “dirt-wrights” are generally seen by other elves as being a bit off. In the most insular of elven societies, they may even be treated as lower class.

Elves also have an appreciation for the written word, magic, and painstaking research. Their naturally keen minds and senses, combined with their inborn patience, make them particularly suited to wizardry. Arcane research and accomplishment are seen as both practical goals, in line with being a soldier or architect, and artistic endeavors as great as poetry or sculpture. Within elven society, wizards are held in extremely high regard as masters of an art both powerful and aesthetically valued. Other spellcasters are not disdained, but do not gain the praise lavished upon elven wizards.

Relations

Elves are prone to dismissing other races, writing them off as rash and impulsive, yet on an individual level, they are excellent judges of character. In many cases an elf will come to value a specific member of another race, seeing that individual as deserving and respectable, while still dismissing the race as a whole. If called on this behavior, the elf often doesn’t understand why his “special friend” is upset the elf has noticed the friend is “so much better than the rest of his kind.” Even elves who see such prejudice for what it is must constantly watch themselves to prevent such views from coloring their thinking.

Elves are not foolish enough, however, to dismiss all aspects of other races and cultures. An elf might not want a dwarf neighbor, but would be the first to acknowledge dwarves’ skill at smithing and their tenacity in facing orc threats. Elves regard gnomes as strange (and sometimes dangerous) curiosities, but regard their magical talent as being worthy of praise and respect. Halflings are often viewed with a measure of pity, for these small folk seem to the elves to be adrift, without a traditional home. Elves are fascinated with humans, who seem to live in a few short years as full a life as an elf manages in centuries. In fact, many elves become infatuated with humans, as evidenced by the number of half-elves in the world. Elves have difficulty accepting crossbreeds of any sort, however, and usually disown such offspring. They similarly regard half-orcs with distrust and suspicion, assuming they possess the worst aspects of orc and human personalities.

Alignment and Religion

Elves are emotional and capricious, yet value kindness and beauty. Most elves are chaotic good, wishing all creatures to be safe and happy, but unwilling to sacrifice personal freedom or choice to accomplish such goals. They prefer deities who share their love of the mystic qualities of the world.

Adventurers

Many elves embark on adventures out of a desire to explore the world, leaving their secluded realms to reclaim forgotten elven magic or search out lost kingdoms established millennia ago by their ancestors. This need to see a wider world is accepted by their societies as a natural part of becoming mature and experienced individuals. Such elves are expected to return in some few decades and take up lives in their homelands once more, enriched both in treasure and in worldview. For those elves raised among humans, however, life within their homes—watching friends and family swiftly age and die—is often stifling, and the ephemeral and unfettered life of an adventurer holds a natural appeal. Elves generally eschew melee because of their relative frailty, preferring instead to engage enemies at range. Most see combat as unpleasant even when needful, and prefer it be done as quickly as possible, preferably without getting close enough to smell their foes. This preference for making war at a distance, coupled with their natural accuracy and grasp of the arcane, encourages elves to pursue classes such as wizards and rangers.

Male Names: Caladrel, Heldalel, Lanliss, Meirdrarel, Seldlon, Talathel, Variel, Zordlon.

Female Names: Amrunelara, Dardlara, Faunra, Jathal, Merisiel, Oparal, Soumral, Tessara, Yalandlara.

Elf Traits

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. The drow are an exception; their exile has made them vicious and dangerous. Drow are more often evil 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.

5e Compatible Subraces

Frost Elf

Source BoHR:PR1

Long ago, your ancestors settled, perhaps unwillingly, in frigid climes. Surrounded by ice and snow, you and your people are hardier than your cousins and have turned the elven talent for magic toward surviving in your unforgiving homeland.

Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.

Elf Weapon Training: You are proficient with the spear, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.

Frost Elf Magic: You know the produce flame cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the goodberry spell once per day. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the locate animals or plants spell once per day. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Ghost Elf

Source BoHR:PR1

Deep within ancient forests, your people have long been stewards of sacred burial grounds of legendary elven kings and heroes. As you watch over your ancestors, so too do their spirits watch over you in times of need.

Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 1.

Elf Weapon Training: You are proficient with the spear, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.

Light: You know the light cantrip. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it.

Rebuke Death: You are proficient in saving throws against death.

Grey Elf

Source WotW

Ability Score Increase. As grey elves are an amalgam of the elven races, they share their physical abilities. However, because they are also found the world over, they often have to rely on many different mental and diplomatic aspects to achieve dominance or acceptance in a region. The Laith Seachran have become very versatile, and have learned to take advantage of different intellectual abilities. Grey elves have the standard +2 to Dexterity, but may choose to have a +1 in either Charisma, Intelligence or Wisdom.

Elven Immunities. Grey elves are immune to magic sleep effects and gain advantage on saves against charm magic.

Alluring Aura. The wandering grey elves are the most likely to be making their livelihoods outside of their ancestral homes, often relying on their unearthly beauty to win over opinions, smooth over disagreements or just to be beguiling. They add a bonus equal to half their proficiency modifier to Deception and Persuasion skill checks, and once per long rest may gain advantage on either of these checks when interacting with a non-elf.

Keen Senses. Grey elves gain proficiency in Perception skill checks.

Diverse Heritage. Grey elves gain one additional skill or tool proficiency to reflect both their complicated bloodline and their study of different cultures.

Magic in the Blood. Once per day, members of this race may increase the DC of any spell they cast by +1 a number of times per long rest equal to their Charisma modifier. Members of this race with a Charisma score of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities (the caster level is equal to the user’s character level):

Elven Weapon Familiarity. Grey elves are proficient with longbows (including composite longbows), longswords, rapiers, and shortbows (including composite shortbows), and any weapon with the word “elven” in its name.

Warrior Caste. Many elves devote large portions of their youth to the use of bow and blade rather than the study of magic. Grey elves with this racial trait may choose one fighting style from the ranger class.

Half-Elf

Source WotW

Ability Score Increase. Half-elves gain a +2 Dexterity bonus and another bonus from their bloodline (see below).

Dual Minded. The mixed ancestry of some half-elves makes them resistant to mental attacks. Half-elves gain proficiency in Wisdom saving throws.

Versatile. You gain a single bonus feat at 1st level. You must meet all prerequisites for that feat. You may choose the Skilled feat to gain additional skill proficiencies instead.

Elf Blood. Half-elves count as both elves and humans for any effect related to race.

Highborn Elf

Source WotW

Ability Score Increase. Highborn gain +2 Dexterity and +1 Intelligence. Highborn Elves are nimble and their knowledge is vast and formidable. Regardless of their cold beauty, their relations with other races often suffer from their sense of superiority.

Steel Mind. High elves have a mind-set that is foreign, even to other elves. The highborn do not consider a contest of wills with other races a contest at all. They are naturally resilient in matters of the mind, and gain proficiency on all Wisdom saving throws.

Keen Senses. Highborn elves gain proficiency in Perception skill checks.

Elven Weapon Focus. You gain the Elven Weapon Focus Feat*.

Learned. Highborn elves make it a point to be well rounded. They may choose proficiency in one additional skill of their choice at character creation.

Elven Magic Lore. Highborn elves gain proficiency in the Arcana skill, or expertise if they have already selected it.

Magic in the Blood. Once per day, members of this race may increase the DC of any spell they cast by +1. Members of this race with a Charisma score of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities (the caster level is equal to the user’s character level):

Weapon Familiarity. Elves gain proficiency with longbows (including composite longbows), and shortbows (including composite shortbows), and any weapon with the word “elven” in its name. Most highborn elves will only wield elven weapons, considering other weapons inferior. There are some though, that understand having a wide range of options is good to have training in all manner of weapons.

Luathaigh Elf (Elfling)

Source WotW

Ability Score Racial Traits. Elflings gain a +2 Dexterity and a +1 Charisma. Luathaigh elves are smaller than normal elves, but their agility and personality are boundless.

Size. Luathaigh are small creatures.

Type. Luathaigh elves are fey with the elf and halfling subtypes. You are considered elf, fey and halfling for the purpose of qualifying for abilities regarding race.

Fey Luck. Once per long rest, the elfling may reroll any failed attack, save or skill check.

Keen Senses. Elflings are proficient in the Perception skill.

Shifty. Elflings have a reputation for larceny and guile—and sometimes it’s well deserved. Elflings gain proficiency in the Deception and Sleight of Hand skills.

Sylvan Elf

Source WotW

Ability Score Increase. Sylvan elves gain +2 Dexterity and +1 Wisdom or Charisma. Sylvan elves are nimble and are regarded as some of the wisest mortal beings in the world. Their allure and power of presence is well known. The sylvan rely more on tradition than innovation.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 35 feet.

Keen Senses. You have proficiency in the Perception skill.

Elven Weapon Focus. You gain the Elven Weapon Focus Feat*.

Natural Stride. The sylvan tie to the Dreaming and their fey kin manifests itself in a lightness of being. They may move through natural difficult terrain at their normal speed. Sylvan elves can ignore the effects of difficult terrain in natural environments, as if it were normal terrain. Magically altered terrain affects them normally.

Hide in Natural Surroundings. You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by natural foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, or other similar conditions.

Magic in the Blood. You know one cantrip of your choice from the druid spell list. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for it.

Elf Weapon Training. You have proficiency with all elvish weapons, the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.

Umbral Elf

Source WotW

Ability Score Increase. Umbral elves have a +2 Dexterity and a +1 Intelligence or Charisma.

Languages. Umbral begin play speaking Elven and either Common or Shadowtongue.

Hatred. Umbral elves gain a +1 bonus to damage against fetchlings and undead.

Shadow Caster. Umbral elves add +1 to the saving throw DCs for their spells when they are cast in dim light or darkness.

Shadow Blending. When in conditions of dim or no light, attacks made against the umbral elves are made with disadvantage.

Shadow Resistance. Umbral elves have resistance to cold damage.

Keen Senses. You gain proficiency in the Perception skill.

Shadowborn. You gain proficiency with the Stealth skill. If you gain proficiency from another source, you gain expertise instead.

Low-Light Vision. Elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.

Light Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the umbral elf has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception ) checks that rely on sight.

Disconnected. The time spent in the tenebrous realm severed the umbral elves’ ties to the Dreaming Realm. They do not have access to the reverie or any feats that require connection to it.