Elves are one of the most easily recognizable races in dungeons across the entire imagination. Everyone has an image in their mind of the classic Tolkien-style elf. Ever since the beginnings of D&DElves were popular, and even more so with the advent of the Forgotten Realms setting.
In the Forgotten Realms, elves are an ancient culture that existed long before the rise of human empires or any other major powers that exist in the world today. Many of the cities in the Lords’ Alliance are even built on or over the ruins of ancient elven cities, the most famous example being Waterdeep, which sits over the remains of Aelinthaldaar, once the capital of an elven kingdom. Tolkien’s influence is evident here, particularly in the similarities to the elves, who are an ancient civilization that has more or less died out. However, there are a number of unique qualities D&D Elves, allowing players to play elves in a way that makes them feel unique and breaks with genre stereotypes. Here are some things players can do to make their elves more interesting.
Connect with the history and culture of the elves
There is an extensive body of lore and history about elves and their cultures in the Forgotten Realms, including elves in others D&D worlds as well. One of the best resources for Forgotten Realms elves is Mordenkainen’s Tome of Enemies, which contains a whole section on what drove the various elven subraces apart in the first place. Another thing to consider is the stereotypes in the world about certain subraces. High Elves are often considered haughty, noble, and have a rich tradition in magic and the study of the arcane. A player playing a High Elf character should keep this in mind and consider how this affects their daily interactions with other characters and NPCs.
When roleplaying, keep race bonuses in mind
One of the best tools a player has in their arsenal is actually the mechanics provided by their class and race. For elves, many racial bonuses are great indicators of how to roleplay within that race. The Wood Elves are a great example as their Mask of the Wild and Fleet of Foot features are the best starting points for roleplaying. These two traits indicate that a classic wood elf behaves stealthily, perhaps unintentionally, moves gracefully, and takes longer strides than other characters.
Know the challenges that come with roleplaying as a world elf
The two main sub-races of the planar elves, Eladrin and Shadar-kai, come from two planes of extremes. Home to the eladrin, the Feywild is a place of chaotic magic and intense emotions. In contrast, The Shadowfell, the plane the Shadar-kai hail from, is a place of deadened emotion, stripped of most color and life. The elves of these planes, while on the Material Plane for the purposes of a Forgotten Realms campaign, will still bear the marks of their home planes. They may be affected differently if they are on an aircraft that does not follow these rules.
Eladrin may feel that they need to hold back and not act so impulsively, or they may even feel that the Material Plane itself is dampening their emotions compared to what they are used to. Their seasonal forms may be forced to bind themselves to the season of the area they are in, or they may feel disconnected because the Material Plane seems stagnant or immobile compared to the Feywild. In contrast, Shadar-kai free from the oppressive influence of Shadowfell could feel awe for the aliveness and aliveness of the Material plane, and they could become even more impulsive and emotional than they were on their home plane.
Consider different ways wanderlust can affect elves
In the Forgotten Realms, all elves are plagued by a desire to explore and roam the world. This wanderlust often drives them to become adventurers in the first place, but that doesn’t have to be the point where that taste stops. Players should consider how this affects their characters’ decision-making in relation to their goals and objectives – for example, whether they’d rather visit a remote ruin they haven’t seen before than return to a familiar town. It can also mean that they are restless, fidgety, or find it difficult to stand still for long periods of time. You could pace around a room while the rest of the group makes plans.
Consider the elves’ long lifespan
While elves in the Forgotten Realms are not technically immortal, they can live for extremely long periods, up to 600 years in some cases. Because of this, they’ve likely seen a number of historical events and perhaps even remembered firsthand what the rest of their group considers ancient history. This can give them an interesting appreciation (or disregard in some cases) of life. They may consider taking life as a last resort as their perspective has made them value life more. Or they easily disregard creatures with short lifespans and consider their lives less worthy.
Roleplay against the stereotypes of the elves
Keep in mind that the sections above describe the most classic examples of elven characters or in-world stereotypes related to elves in the Forgotten Realms environment. One interesting thing players can take advantage of is playing against these stereotypes. For example, players could create a wood elf who moves more clumsily than most of their kind, a drow who is happier above ground than below ground, a younger elf who has more experience of big events than their older family member, or a Elf who is more than happy to stay in her hometown instead of wandering the world. These are all traits that players can explore to make an elf character more unique, especially at a table where other elf characters are present.