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Elves are humanoids with fey ancestry. They are known for their pointed ears, lithe build, and exceedingly long lifespans.

Description

Appearance

Elves are similar to humans in many respects, though they are first identified by their long, pointed ears. Elves often have an almost supernatural beauty about them, a hint at their fey origin. Elves are slightly shorter than humans, ranging from less than 5 feet tall to just over 6 feet. They tend to be lighter than humans weighing around 110 pounds, though there are exceptions.

Most elves have skin tones akin to humans, those native to northern climates (such as the Greying Wildlands) often having pale skin, while those originating from the deserts of Marquet have dark skin. Their hair typically matches those of humans as well.

Drow often have dark gray skin, though it can also range from deep blue to dark purple. Their hair is typically white. Dark elves are also shorter than other elves, averaging around only 5 feet tall. Pallid elves have pure white skin and hair, with pure black eyes. Sea elves' skin ranges in shades of blue-green.

Personality

Most elves are born with the same lust for life as any other being. But as the years take over, witnessing and contemplating the terrors of the Scattered War or sorrows of the Icelost Years, elves have tendency to become haughty, aloof, and unconcerned with the day-to-day joys and sorrows of the shorter-lived races.[4]

History

The elves are the first race believed to have been created by the gods on Exandria. These "First Children" were made by Corellon, the Arch Heart. It is possible they were created in Corellon's image, or that Corellon and similar-minded gods took the form of their creation.[5]

During the Calamity, the elves of Wildemount fled to the Feywild and performed a ritual encasing their entire civilization in ice, hoping to avoid the wrath of the warring gods. Once they emerged safely back in Wildemount, the elves found that the Calamity had wiped almost all traces of elven civilization from Exandria, leaving only scattered ruins of their former might.[6]

In the face of adversity, elves of Tal'Dorei, who called themselves gwes’alfen (elves of Gwessar), made the same journey to the Fey realm, although they did so by gathering in Syngorn and transporting[7] the entire city via the magic of Threshold crests.

Society

Tal'Dorei

Elves were the first people to live within Tal'Dorei, which they called Gwessar. Their society, the Court of Ullusa, fell at the beginning of The Calamity, and part of the survivors fled to the Feywild, returning a generation later when it was safe and moving to the Verdant Expanse.[2] Within the city of Syngorn, the high elves tend to hold themselves to the highest standard, thinking little of those that leave the city to wander elsewhere, and shunning those who marry with humans.[2]

Within the Rifenmist Peninsula there exist the Orroyen Tribes, nomadic groups of wood elves (related to the ones in Syngorn) who embrace the natural world. Few of these elves ever leave the jungle, content to wander and protect their wild domain.[2] Other elves left Syngorn to find their way to the northern side of the Cliffkeep Mountains, founding the elvenpeaks of Lyrengorn, soaring across the skies on wyvernback.[2]

Deep beneath the Stormcrest Mountains in the subterranean city of Ruhn-Shak, the dark elves are on the brink of destruction.[8] While many follow the brutal, cut-throat ways of the Spider Queen, many others are consorting with the dark powers of Tharizdun. Amid the chaos, many drow have fled their subterranean home to live in peace among the surface. While they are shunned from Syngorn, some have found sanctuary among the peaks of Lyrengorn.[8]

Wildemount

Fan art of Leylas and Quana Kryn, by BlackSalander.[art 2]

The largest population of elves on Wildemount are comprised of the dark elves of the Kryn Dynasty.[3] These drow have shunned the worship of Lolth in favor of a new, relatively unknown god known as the Luxon. As such, these drow live on the surface of Wildemount in the region known as Xhorhas, underneath night-shrouded skies of the city Rosohna. Through the power of the Luxon, the drow of the Dynasty are capable of reincarnating into new bodies after they die, through a process called Consecution.[9]

Within the Greying Wildlands, many elves once called the city of Molaesmyr their home. However, it was destroyed in a mysterious cataclysm that warped the forest around them, killing the elves living there and forcing them to flee. These elves settled in two places.[10] Some fled north, to the dwarven city of Uthodurn, where they were accepted and now live together in harmony.[11] Others fled to the west and founded the treetop city of Bysaes Tyl, where they lived in seclusion until they were discovered and forced to join the Dwendalian Empire.[12]

Fan art of Captain Avantika, by Nguyen Minh Hieu.[art 3]

Within the Menagerie Coast, there are groups of elves, each with a different point of origin. Most elves of the Coast are descended from travelers from the desert realm of Marquet, where they along with native elves of the Ki'Nau founded the city of Gwardan.[13] Beneath the waves of the Swavain Islands the water breathing sea elves make trade with merfolk, rarely surfacing due to their distrust of the surface folk.[3] Meanwhile, high in the Cyrios Mountains in the secluded Pallid Grove, a group known as the pallid elves have begun to venture from their subterranean home for the first time since The Calamity.[14]

Elves in other planes

It is widely known that elves have an ancestral connection both with the fey and the Archeart, their mythical creator. These two connections are reflected in the presence of this race outside the Material Plane:

  • Some elves live in the Feywild, the realm where they were originally created. Historically many elven civilizations have fled to this plane in moments of danger (like the Calamity),[6][7].
  • The plane of Arborea is very connected with deities that elves worship, like Melora, Sehanine and Corellon; it is in fact the home of several elven courts overwatched by those gods (although it is unclear if those elves would be considered humanoids). Moreover, to that plane come the souls of the worshipers of the deities that live there.[15]

Powers, abilities, and subraces

Despite the various differences in subraces, all elves have many traits in common. Elves are renowned for their dexterity and keen senses, capable of seeing within dim light and even darkness. Due to their fey ancestry, elves are resistant to being beguiled, and magic cannot put them to sleep. In fact, elves do not even require sleep, instead needing only to meditate in a trance for four hours.

Dark elves

Fan art of Essek Thelyss, a dark elf, by Vicious Mongrel.[art 4]

Dark elves, also known as drow (or myrk'alfen in Elvish[16]), are often charismatic. Due to living in the Underdark, drow have superior darkvision compared to other elves. However, they are unused to the light of the sun, and have difficulty seeing outside on sunny days. Drow have some natural magic ability, being able to create dancing orbs of dim light that fly under their control. More powerful dark elves are able to unleash a spray of these lights at their enemies to mark them as targets, and can also create pockets of magical darkness.

High elves

Depiction of an high elf from DDB.png Elf on D&D Beyond.[art 5]

High elves (also called lyren'alfen) tend to be studiously minded. They rose to prominence during the Age of Arcanum,[17] and many of them still train themselves in the arcane, learning some basic wizardly magic.[18] High elven societies seem to be more abundant in northern regions of Exandria, like those of Lyrengorn, in the Cliffkeep Mountains of Tal'Dorei,[19] or the descendants of the survivors of Molaesmyr, in the North of Wildemount.

Pallid elves

Official art of a pallid elf, by adragonswinging.[art 6]

Pallid elves are as wise as their wood elf cousins, and are supremely insightful. They also have a modicum of innate magic like dark elves, able to cause small objects to brightly glow with a touch. More powerful pallid elves can cause others to fall into a magical slumber, and can wreath themselves in invisibility.

Sea elves

Sea elves are the most constituted of elves, able to withstand the chill of the deep ocean. As such, they are adept swimmers and capable of breathing underwater. Sea elves also speak Aquan and are capable of rudimentary conversation with undersea beasts.[20]

Wood elves

Wood elves (called syn'alfen) tend to be some of the wisest of their kind. Elves of the wood are fleet of foot and train themselves to remain hidden in the natural environment.[21] Wood elven societies are among the oldest of this race in Exandria. Examples of this are Syngorn and the Orroyen tribes, both composed by descendants of the fallen Court of Ullusa, near the Verdant Expanse in Tal'Dorei.[22][23]

Notable elves

Exandria Unlimited: Calamity

PCs

NPCs

Campaign One: Vox Machina

PCs

NPCs

Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting

Campaign 2: The Mighty Nein

NPCs

Fan art of Dairon, by Jinjidraws.[art 7]

Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn

Campaign Three: Bells Hells

NPCs

Trivia

  • According to Aabria Iyengar, high elves lived a time of splendor during the Age of Arcanum, but they survived the Calamity as a shadow of their former glory, unlike wood elves, who withstood the cataclysm by taking refuge in nature or fleeing to the Feywild.[17] This is actually reflected in the demographics of elven societies between 810 and 836 PD, in which the wood elves usually outnumber the small percentage of high elves.[19][24][23]

References

Art:

  1. Official art of a high elf, a wood elf, and a dark elf, by Claudia SG Ianniciello from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 23. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  2. Fan art of Leylas and Quana Kryn, by BlackSalander (source). Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Captain Avantika, by Nguyen Minh Hieu (source). Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of Essek Thelyss, a dark elf, by Vicious Mongrel (source). Used with permission.
  5. Depiction of an high elf from DDB.png Elf on D&D Beyond. This file is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast 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.
  6. Official art of a pallid elf, by adragonswinging (source). Used with permission.
  7. Fan art of Dairon, by Jinjidraws (source). Used with permission.

External links

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