See also: Tel-quessir

Elves, much like their living ancestors, the eladrin, who are also commonly called elves, were a long lived race of the Tel-quessir found most commonly in forests, shrublands, and other wildernesses. From time to time the elves have organized strong nations, though with far less frequency than eladrin, in some cases adopting even a nomadic lifestyle. Almost all elves have worshipped the Seldarine, otherwise known as the elven pantheon, and the elves are generally, though not always, have been good in nature.


Physical characteristicsEdit

Elves stand at average from 5'4" – 6'0" (1.63 – 1.83 meters) and weighing in from 130 – 170 pounds (59 – 77 kg). Usually, true elves are a naturally slender and athletic race.[3] Elves have a similar range of complexions to humans, with wood elves typically coppery or pale skinned and wild elves having darker pigmentations. Often, elven hair is dark, either brown or black, with copper red or blond hair also found amongst wood elves.[4], although orange or even green hues are not completely unheard of.[5] Elven eyes are commonly brown, hazel, or an emerald green.[6] Elves, like their cousins the eladrin, are fair and beautiful, handsome, and have pointed ears and no body hair except eyebrows, eyelashes and hair.[5]

Elves mature at roughly the same rate as humans,[5] though they are not usually considered past adolescence until they reach 110 years of age. Unlike humans, elves do not age dramatically as their lifespan comes to a close, with the most obvious changes being a change in hair color, alternatively graying or darkening. Most elves remain healthy and full of life up until their death, which, if age-related, is usually between two[5] and nine centuries.


Elves have a number of abilities that set them apart from other humanoid races. Like their kin the eladrin, elves are agile, dexterous creatures. However, elves can move slightly faster than their eladrin kin and can move swiftly through even the roughest terrain. Elves are also more preternaturally aware of their surroundings than eladrin, as well as possessing better common sense. This aids elves in many ways, allowing elves a high degree of perceptiveness that they can lend partially to allies. Additionally, elves are extremely accurate in their attacks, having a degree of precision that would be unusual for other humanoids.[7]

Many elves do not sleep, instead finding their rest in a meditative state called “reverie”, which is as restful as true sleep but leaves them aware of their surroundings, similar to an eladrin’s ability to enter a trance.[8]


Elves have commonly possessed strong but swiftly passing passions, being moved easily to laughter, anger, or misery and as quickly calmed. They have been known for their impulsive behavior and, as a result, many races seeing them as flighty or impetuous. However, elves are not as flaky as others may interpret them to be, and are typically responsible in spite of their almost whimsical nature. Partially due to their long lifespan (though not entirely, since many long-lived races act differently), elves have had difficulty taking some matters as seriously as other races, but when threats they recognize do arise, elves are strong friends and allies to those they are loyal to.[5]

Elves tend to make strong and uplifting friends. Most elves love simple joys such as dancing, singing, footraces, or contests of skill. They have a natural aversion to that which they see as uninteresting tasks and are fun-loving by nature. However, despite how unpleasant some things such as war can be, elves can become grimly serious if a threat to their friends, family, or livelihood makes such actions necessary.[5]


The elves branched away from the eladrin in a long forgotten age, and no one is exactly sure which race came first, though most scholars believe the eladrin did.[9] Of the Tel-quessir, those who would become the elves were the first to arrive on the then united worlds of Abeir-Toril.[10] At that time there were only the green elves, known as the Sy-tel-quessir in their own language.

Millennia passed and the fey ancestors of the elves and eladrin together ruled over much of Toril in relative peace until -12000 DR, when the eladrin nation of Aryvandaar invaded the dark elf and green elf nation of Miyeritar, starting the first of five Crown Wars which, in total, lasted for 3000 years.[11]

The green elves suffered many defeats in the Crown Wars and by the end of the conflict had lost all of their former territory.[12] Driven into the wilderness, the green elves gradually changed over generations, with the gap between them and eladrin widening until they became a distinct race. This change caused the elves to gradually lose their talent for the arcane and grow even closer in their connections to the wilderness, becoming as much a part of the landscape as the wild beasts with whom they shared it.[13]

The green elves who remained in isolation became the wild elves and lost their taste for civilization and nation-building, becoming nomadic wanderers.[12] It was also around this time that the first of the wood elves (or Or-tel-quessir) emerged,[14] when some of the wild elves migrated into the lands of the eladrin and bred with their kin race, creating a new hybrid culture.

The wood elves, unlike the wild elves, continued to build civilizations, though on a smaller scale than the eladrin. In the eastern High Forest the wood elves founded the kingdom of Earlann, a contemporary and ally of Netheril.[14] However, when Earlann fell, the wood elves too abandoned the concept of nation-building, leaving it to the other races.

Elves as a whole ignored the Retreat to Evermeet, though some followed their eladrin brethren to the land across the Trackless Sea. Most elves remained in Faerûn, embracing the world around them rather than rejecting it, though a few tribes of wild elves also chose to withdraw from the world, hiding in remote places like the Chondalwood in order to evade the notice of the other races.


Elves have usually been found in small tribes throughout the forests of Toril as well as windswept plains and mountain vales. The elves, as a whole, have preferred these secluded places of nature to the cities and nations of the civilized world, living in harmony with their natural surroundings. Cautious and cunning warriors, particularly of the bow, elves secured these homelands through guile and tactics.[6]



From left to right: a human, sun elf, wood elf, moon elf, drow, and wild elf. The sun and moon elf are considered eladrin rather than true elves.

There are at least seven different sub-races of elves:

Wood elves
Copper-skinned or tanned elves who guard over their native forests.
High elves
Highly civilized, light-skinned elves with a natural gift for wizardry. Represented by two subraces, the moon elf and the gold elf.
Wild elves
Feral, reclusive elves who scorn civilization and its trappings, preferring a wild existence close to nature.
A dark-skinned sub-race of elves that predominantly live in the Underdark.
A mostly extinct race of winged elves.
Aquatic Elf
A aquatic race of water-breathing elves.
A rare and reclusive race of sylvan elves who transform into wolves.
Star Elf
An isolated subrace that lives on the demiplane of Sildeyuir.

While not strictly a sub-race of elves, the result of a human and elven mating is a half-elf, whereas the offspring of an elf and a half-fiend is a fey'ri.


Further ReadingEdit

1st Edition D&DEdit

3rd Edition D&DEdit

4th Edition D&DEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 21–24. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  2. Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  3. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 40–41. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  4. Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 41. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
  7. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  8. R.A. Salvatore (July 2000). The Chaos Curse. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 70. ISBN 0-7869-1608-7.
  9. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  10. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  11. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), pp. 21,25. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  13. Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.


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