Elves mingle freely in human lands, always welcome yet never at home there. They are well known for their poetry, dance, song, lore, and magical arts. Elves favor things of natural and simple beauty. When danger threatens their woodland homes, however, elves reveal a more martial side, demonstrating skill with sword, bow, and battle strategy
Personality: Elves are more often amused than excited, more likely to be curious than greedy. With such long lives, they tend to keep a broad perspective on events, remaining aloof and unfazed by petty happenstance. When pursuing a goal, however, whether an adventurous mission or learning a new skill or art, they can be focused and relentless. They are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. They reply to petty insults with disdain and to serious insults with vengeance.
Physical Description: Elves are short and slim, standing about 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet tall and typically weighing 85 to 135 pounds, with elven men the same height as and only marginally heavier than elven women. They are graceful but frail. They tend to be pale-skinned and dark-haired, with deep green eyes. Elves have no facial or body hair. They prefer simple, comfortable clothes, especially in pastel blues and greens, and they enjoy simple yet elegant jewelry. Elves possess unearthly grace and fine features. Many humans and members of other races find them hauntingly beautiful. An elf achieves majority at about 110 years in age and can live to be over 700 years old.
Elves do not sleep, as members of the other common races do. Instead, an elf meditates in a deep trance for 4 hours a day. An elf resting in this fashion gains the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep. While meditating, an elf dreams, though these dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. The Common word for an elf's meditation is "trance," as in "four hours of trance."
Relations: Elves consider humans rather unrefined, halflings a bit staid, gnomes somewhat trivial, and dwarves nor at all fun. They look on half-elves with some degree of pity, and they regard half-orcs with unrelenting suspicion. While haughty, elves are not particular the way halflings and dwarves can be, and they are generally pleasant and gracious even to those who fall short of elven standards (which, after all, consists of just about everybody who's not an elf).
Alignment: Elves love freedom, variety, and self-expression. They lean strongly toward the gentler aspects of chaos. Generally, they value and protect others' freedom as well as their own, and they are more often good than not.
Elven Lands: Elves mostly live in woodland clans of less than two hundred souls. Their well-hidden villages blend into the trees, doing little harm to the forest. They hunt game, gather food, and grow vegetables, their skill and magic allowing them to support themselves amply without the need for clearing and plowing land. Their contact with outsiders is usually limited, though some few elves make a good living trading finely worked elven clothes and crafts for the metals that elves have no interest in mining.
Elves encountered in human lands are commonly wandering minstrels, favored artists, or sages. Human nobles compete for the services of elven instructors, who teach swordplay to their children.
Religion: Above all others, elves worship Corellon Larethian, the Protector and Preserver of life. Elven myth holds that it was from his blood, shed in battles with Gruumsh, the god of the orcs, that the elves first arose. Corellon is a patron of magical study, arts, dance, and poetry, as well as a powerful warrior god.
Language: Elves speak a fluid language of subtle intonations and intricate grammar. While Elven literature is rich and varied, it is the language's songs and poems that are most famous. Many bards learn Elven so they can add Elven ballads to their repertoires. Others simply memorize Elven songs by sound. The Elven script, as flowing as the spoken word, also serves as the script for Sylvan, the language of dryads and pixies.
Names: When an elf declares herself an adult, usually some time after achieving her hundredth birthday, she also selects a name. Those who knew her as a youngster may or may not continue to call her by her "child name," and she may or may not care. An elf's adult name is a unique creation, though it may reflect the names of those she admires or the names of others in her family. In addition, she bears her family name. Family names are combinations of regular Elven words, and some elves traveling among humans translate their names into Common while others use the Elven version.
Male Names: Aramil, Aust, Enialis, Heian, Himo, Ivellios, Laucian, Quarion, Thamior, and Tharivol.
Female Names: Anastrianna, Antinua, Drusilia, Felosial, Ielenia, Lia, Qillathe, Silaqui, Valanthe, and Xanaphia.
Family Names: Amastacia ("Starflower"), Amakiir ("Gemflower"), Galanodel ("Moonwhisper"), Holimion ("Diamonddew"), Liadon ("Silverfrond"), Meliamne ("Oakenheel"), Nailo ("Nightbreeze"), Siannodel ("Moonbrook"), Ilphukiir ("Gemblossom"), and Xiloscient ("Goldpetal").
Adventurers: Elves take up adventuring out of wanderlust. Life among humans moves at a pace that elves dislike: regimented from day to day but changing from decade to decade. Elves among humans, therefore, find careers that allow them to wander freely and set their own pace. Elves also enjoy demonstrating their prowess with the sword and bow or gaining greater magical powers, and adventuring allows them to do so. Good elves may also be rebels or crusaders.
Elven Racial Traits
- +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution: Elves are graceful but frail. An elf's grace makes her naturally better at stealth and archery
- Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures, elves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Elven base speed is 30 feet.
- Immunity to magic sleep spells and effects, and a +2 racial saving throw bonus against Enchantment spells or effects.
- Low-light Vision: Elves can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
- Proficient with either longsword or rapier; proficient with shortbow, longbow, composite longbow, and composite shortbow. Elves esteem the arts of swordplay and archery, so all elves are familiar with these weapons.
- +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. An elf who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if she were actively looking for the door. An elf's senses are so keen that she practically has a sixth sense about hidden portals.
- Automatic Languages: Common and Elven.
- Bonus Languages: Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, and Sylvan. Elves commonly know the languages of their enemies and of their friends, as well as Draconic, the language commonly found in ancient tomes of secret knowledge.
- Favored Class: Wizard. A multiclass elf's wizard class does not count when determining whether she suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing (see Experience for Multiclass Characters). Wizardry comes naturally to elves (they sometimes claim to have invented it), and fighter/wizards are especially common among them.
In the Realms
Faerûn is home to six (seven) major subraces of elves, which some sages believe were brought to this plane long ago by their gods. The moon elves, sun elves, and wood elves are joined in loose allegiance to the traditions and authority represented by the Elven Court, now located on the island of Evermeet, and in the person of Queen Amlaruil. Most drow elves treat other elves as despised enemies, and the wild elves usually ignore the decrees of the civilized elves of Evermeet.
The sea elves are an aquatic people who rarely interact with their surface kindred. The racial name for elves is Tel-quessir ("the people"), with each subrace having a variant describing its particular kind of elf.
Moon elves are the most common sort of elves in Faerûn. Also called silver elves, they have fair skin (sometimes tinged with blue) and hair of silver-white, black, or blue. (Humanlike colors are rare, but possible.) Their eyes are blue or green, with gold flecks. They are the elven subrace most tolerant of humankind, and most half-elves are descended from moon elves.
Regions: Moon elven domains can be found in the woodlands of the Dalelands (in Cormanthor), Evermeet, the High Forest, the North, Silverymoon, and the Western Heartlands. Evereska, on the western edges of Anauroch, is the strongest elven domain remaining in Faerûn. See Elven Regions.
Racial Abilities: Moon elves have all the elven racial traits listed above except as follows:
- Automatic Languages: Elven, Common, home region.
- Bonus Languages: Auran, Chondathan, Gnoll, Gnome, Halfling, Illuskan, Sylvan.
Sun elves are less common across Faerûn than moon elves, because most live on Evermeet where nonelves are not allowed to tread. Also called gold elves, they have bronze skin, hair of golden blond, copper, or black, and green or gold eyes. These are seen as the most civilized and haughty elves, preferring to remain separate from humankind and other nonelven races.
Regions: Aside from Evermeet, where they are most common, sun elves can be found in the woodlands of the North, Silverymoon, and the Western Heartlands. The realm of Evereska is home to a number of powerful sun elven families. See Elven Regions.
Racial Abilities: Sun elves have all the elven racial traits listed above except as follows:
- +2 Intelligence, -2 Constitution. Sun elves value study and contemplation over the feats of agility learned by most other elves.
- Automatic Languages: Elven, Common, home region. Bonus Languages: Auran, Celestial, Chondathan, Gnome, Halfling, Illuskan, Sylvan.
The very rare wild elves are rarely seen by others, because they live in the heart of thick forests and they have incredible skill at keeping hidden. Also called green elves, their skin tends to be dark brown, and their hair ranges from black to light brown, lightening to silvery white with age.
Regions: Wild elves favor warm southern forests and jungles, such as the Chondalwood, the Methwood, the Forest of Amtar, and the Misty Vale. Wild elven characters may use the wild elf entry inn Elven Regions or choose the Chondalwood, Chessenta, Chult, or the Shaar as their home region.
- +2 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence. Wild elves are hardier than other elves, but favor physical action and feats of athleticism instead of learning to solve problems.
- Automatic Languages: Elven, Common, home region. Bonus Languages: Gnoll, Illuskan, Orc, Sylvan, Tashalan.
Wood elves are reclusive, but less so than the almost feral wild elves. Also called copper elves, they have coppery skin tinged with green, and brown, green, or hazel eyes. Their hair is usually brown or black, with blond and coppery-red occasionally found.
Regions: The High Forest is home to many wood elves. Smaller communities can be found in the forests of the Dalelands (especially Cormanthor), thee Great Dale, the North, Tethyr, and the Western Heartlands. See Elven Regions.
Racial Abilities: Wood elves are very similar to the wood elves entry. They have all the elven racial traits listed above except as follows:
- +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma. Wood elves are strong but slight, and tend to be less cerebral and intuitive than other elves.
- Automatic Languages: Elven, Common, home region. Bonus Languages: Chondathan, Draconic, Gnome, Goblin, Gnoll, Sylvan.
The green depths of the Yuirwood hide an ancient secret long forgotten by folk beyond Aglarond's borders, and not widely known even within - the star elves, an elven subrace that retreated from Faerûn to an extraplanar refuge known as Sildëyuir. Sometimes referred to in ancient texts as mithral elves, the star elves concealed the existence of their hidden kingdom for almost two thousand years, leaving behind nothing but mysterious ruins and old, strong magic in the stone circles of the Yuirwood.
While the star elves have kept themselves apart from the rest of Faerûn for many centuries, their isolation is coming to an end. Besieged by an insidious peril from beyond the circles of the world, they face the possibility of being driven from Sildëyuir back to their ancient abode in the Yuirwood.
Personality: Star elves are cautious and aloof, keeping an emotional distance from events. They can be judgmental, although they take their time and consider many factors before passing judgment on a creature or action. Once won, a star elf's friendship (and enmity) is deep and long lasting. Star elves love beauty in any form and have a knack for perceiving inner beauty rather than outward appearance and actions. Among their own kind, star elves delight in song, dance, and works of magic, but away from their homeland they are slow to bestow the gift of their voice or artistry.
Physical Description: Of all the elven subraces, star elves most closely resemble moon elves. They have pale skin that sometimes takes on a pearly gray or faintly violet tinge, and hair of gold, red, or silver-white. Their eyes are gray or violet, sometimes with gold flecks. Like the sun elves or moon elves, star elves are tall and slender; men average between 5 1/2 and 6 feet in height and weigh around 140 pounds, while women are about half a foot shorter and weigh around 110 pounds. In their homes they favor elegant, embroidered tunics but dress in neutral colors with dappled gray-green cloaks to remain unseen in woodlands. Star elves are graceful and strikingly handsome by human standards.
Relations: Most star elves have removed themselves from the everyday life of Faerûn and therefore have little understanding of humans, dwarves, and other races. They think of humans as aggressive expansionists who readily take up blade and spell to get what they want, and they regard humans with caution. They get along well with other elves, especially sun and wood elves, but fear trouble from the moon elves' unguarded generosity and engagement of human realms.
Alignment: Most star elves prefer not to involve themselves in the world's troubles. Star elf society values individual accomplishment and rights over collective effort, so they lean toward chaotic rather than lawful alignments.
Religion: Star elves venerate the Seldarine, the pantheon of elven deities. They are not a devout race but hold a special reverence for Corellon Larethian.
Language: Star elves speak Common and Elven. Those who venture to Faerûn from Sildëyuir often learn Aglarondan, Mulan, or Rashemi. In their refuge, Auran, Celestial, and Sylvan are common, while some star elves learn Abyssal and other evil tongues to converse with those seeking to destroy Sildëyuir.
Names: Male - Aeril, Brevel, Dhisten, Jhered, Mourel, Ourevel, Thacleven; Female - Bracatha, Calastra, Evindra, Falindrg, Lauratha, Nimara, Varele; Surnames - Dawnsong, Duskwood, Moonshadow, Nightsong, Nightwind, Starwind, Woodsong, Woodwalker.
Adventurers: After two millennia in isolation, star elves have realized that they know little about the world from which they took refuge. As their ancient haven no longer shields them entirely, many have begun to debate whether Sildëyuir should remain closed. Certain Faerûnian realms might make powerful and reliable allies in their war against the abominations who threaten Sildëyuir. A few have taken it upon themselves to spy out the lay of the land, seeking knowledge to defend their home - or a place to call their own if Sildëyuir must be abandoned.
Regions: Most star elves live in the extraplanar realm of Sildëyuir; see the Sildëyuir description. A small number already live quietly among the people of Aglarond, and choose that region instead (The Yuirwood.
Star Elf Racial Traits
Star elves have the following abilities and characteristics.
- +2 Charisma, -2 Constitution: Star elves are graceful but frail.
- Land speed 30 feet.
- Immunity to magic sleep spells and effects, and a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells and effects.
- Low-light Vision: Star elves can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, or similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
- Otherworldly Touch (Su): Between sunset and sunrise a star elf confers the ghost touch ability on any melee weapon she wields and any armor she wears, but only so long as she keeps the weapon in hand or wears the armor. Star elves have a magical affinity for starlight that gives them an unusual edge in fighting extradimensional foes.
- Extra planar (Su): Star elves are not outsiders, but they are not native to Faerûn. Spells and effects that target extraplanar creatures affect star elves. Banishment, dismissal, and similar effects that banish outsiders return a star elf to Sildëyuir.
- +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. A star elf who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if she were actively looking for the door. A star elf's senses are so keen that she practically has a sixth sense about hidden portals.
- Star elves have no racial weapon proficiencies.
- Automatic Languages: Common and Elven
- Bonus Languages: By character region.
- Favored Class: Bard. A multiclassed star elf's bard class does not count when determining whether she suffers an XP penalty.
- Leaf & Thorn The Secret Life of Elves
- Elven Lexicon
- Elven Items
- Elves of the Ethereal
- Aquatic Elves
- Half Elves
Among the Fair Folk there is a Calling that is a yearning to go west over the sea to Evermeet. It comes to most elves late in their lives, but some feel its tug early, and others are never touched by it at all. Some who have both elven and human blood, as I have, feel it, and others do not. I am so far unmoved by the Calling, and I am beginning to believe I never will be. Simply put, the Calling, which humans and elves alike have termed the Retreat, seems to have come to an end.
No elven-council or ruler has decreed an ending to the Retreat. Weary of mortal affairs, exhausted warfare and care, the Retreat offered elvenkind a hope of lasting peace in a land beyond mortal reach. It is enough to know the for thousands upon thousands of years, as orcs and men spread and raged across Faerûn, elves withdrew by portal and ship and far-faring magic westward to Evermeet. Yet now no more ships set sail, no more secret companies steal forth in the shadows never to be seen again. The Retreat is ended. All those Fair Folk who wished to leave have left.
Cormanthor, Ardeep, and other traditional holds stand largely abandoned, fading to pale echoes and shadows of their former splendor. Where once elves abode in easy mastery over unbroken forest, now humans till and rumble in their carts and wagons, and winds howl across bare lands. Elves who remain bide in the shadows, and speak softly; gliding with adroit grace around and among men like silver ghosts in moonlight.
It seems to me that many Fair Folk dwelling in Faerûn today are like fine-cut, glittering gems, or warswords: fair to look upon, but tempered cold and hard of necessity. And abide they do still - ah, yes, know this: the Retreat is ended; and many elves remain. Hear you fey, faerie trumpets in the moonlight, or see impossibly graceful figures dancing in silver armor as free-flowing as any fine gown, long slender fingers curled about harp-strings and pipes and long, curving swords with equal deftness?
The elves are still here - and more than that: Some are returning. They are coming back east with ready sword and wisdom in the ways of humankind. Aye, you may cut down this tree and that, but are you then free of all trees? No, they spring up, in the teeth of your will that such a place be bare of trees. Spring up anew, and endure ... and when your breath is forever stilled and your bones lie among their roots, the trees will be standing still, covering the ground you hewed them from once more with their shade. Patient and looking down the long years, elven are trees among men. Learn this, if you learn naught else of the Fair Folk.
- Cambrizym of Candlekeep, Sage Pursuivant