Exploring RPG Races: Elves
Poets, Artisans, and Skilled Adventurers
Elves are known for their elegance, pointy ears, and uncanny beauty. However, so do vampires, in an edgy way. Then, what really makes elves so unique and one of the most played races in D&D and video games?
Some players would define elves as a better version of humans. Faster, stronger, wiser, and in a sense, even more pure. There’s an innocence to them that makes elves exceptionally captivating. It might be thanks to their fey ancestry or their connection with nature. Regardless, there’s certainly something magical and tricksy about them that other races may never match.
Here’s an overview of the most common elves in D&D and what players should expect when roleplaying them.
What is an Elf?
They are creatures that live approximately 700 years, at least in D&D — far more than what a human is capable of — and for that reason, they tend to do everything at their own pace, not rushing to accomplish things, nor being so tempted by common desires. Their longevity gives them a unique perspective of the world and a bigger understanding of its events. But that doesn’t mean elves are unfocused or won’t seek what they want with fervor. They’re great artisans and teachers with an affinity for magic. They enjoy art, music, nature, and all that is beautiful, making them more likely to pursue classes like minstrels or mages. Albeit elves can do wonders with swords and bows as well. If an elf minstrel sounded like something interesting, why not check this post about the bard class?
Playing as an elven race means the character will likely have a proficiency bonus in dexterity, have a better time when using dexterous weapons, and deal better with activities that require the same ability. They’re great at perception, seeing well in dark or dimly lit environments. Moreover, their fey ancestry gives them an advantage against being charmed and makes them immune to sleep by magic sources.
In fact, elves in D&D don’t need to sleep at all, they simply meditate for 4 hours (i.e. the equivalent of a short rest for other races.) The elf is a great race to be ever vigilant and take care of others while they rest, or just spend the extra hours preparing themselves for the next day.
High elves are magical creatures by nature, having an inborn talent for magic and growing up knowing its basics. There are three types of high elves, the gray elves of Greyhawk, the Silvanesti of Dragonlance, and the sun elves of the Forgotten Realms. The first one is far more reclusive and has a superiority complex while the other two are usually more friendly and easier to find among other races.
As a high elf, the character has a bonus on intelligence, proficiency with swords and bows, and gets to choose a cantrip from the wizard spell list.
As the name implies, wood elves are the ones most connected with nature and tend to live in forests. Most of them distrust outsiders or any non-elves while few do not. Spending so much time alone in the forest may do that to someone. And for that, people may also call them “wild elves”, spotting their groups around Greyhawk, Dragonlance, the Forgotten Realms, and in Faerûn.
They have nature’s wisdom, swift feet, and an ability to hide in plain sight when they’re lightly obscured by any natural phenomena (e.g. foliage, heavy rain, and snow).
Also known as Drow, the dark elves live in the Underdark, and oftentimes are drawn towards chaos and evil intentions. Apart from other elves, these creatures can be vicious and dangerous, being feared and known for their cruelty. It is possible to make a good-aligned Drow character, however, other races may twist their noses around them as much as with Tieflings.
Curiously enough, dark elves have a bonus in charisma despite being portrayed as such evil creatures. They can also use rapiers and crossbows, have an affinity for magic, and can perfectly see in the dark. It is rare for a Drow to walk out of the Underdark, and they receive a penalty during combat for being in the sunlight.
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