The Elven Subraces
There are many different worlds on which Elves exist. Consequently, there are many different and varied races of Elves, each with their own philosophies, appearance, and societies. There are six "standard" subgroups of elves: Aquatic, Dark or Drow, Grey, High, Sylvan, and Half-elves. First we will discuss the standard subgroups, and then give a world by world view of Elves as we know them.
sea elves, these ocean-dwellers patrol the deeps, holding court beneath
the waves. Aquatic elves have gill slits much like fish, and can survive
out of the water for a short time by breathing. Their skin is typically
silver-green, and their hair is also green or bluish green. These elves
play an important part in the underwater ecology, keeping the waters safe
for inhabitants. They hate sharks intensely and organize hunts against
this menace. Sea elves commonly travel with elven ships, defending those
on board from attacks beneath the waves. Aquatic elves are feared by
pirates and those who would prey on elven craft.
society consists mainly of those sea elves who dwell within a five-mile
area. There is a titular king or queen to whom they pay homage, but has no
real power over daily life. Sea elves live as they please, coming together
under a ruler only in times of underwater emergency or great trouble for
the world in general. The lords and ladies of the ocean cities escort
visitors and conduct trade, while the rest of the population are artists,
hunters and farmers. These elves have cities of living coral, supplemented
with glittering crystal domes.
Dark Elves (Drow):
Underdark is the home of these evil cousins of the surface elves. The drow
are reputedly as wide-spread as the other subraces of elves, perhaps even
more so. No one knows exactly how far the underground holdings of the dark
elves extend. They are also well known for having a certain grasp on
interdimensional magic, for they use it to travel long distances. They
hate the light, and have researched ways to travel while avoiding the sun,
which is an anathema to them. Drow are typically shorter than other elves.
They all have white hair, glowing red eyes and black skin. In all other
respects, save their height and coloring, they resemble their above-ground
Drow craftsmenship is truly a marvel to behold,
wrought with strange and intricate designs. Their works are unstable
however, and will disintegrate over time when away from the radiation of
Drow society is matriarchal, with the female
drow holding power. Male drow are intrusted with the relatively
unimportant jobs of swordplay and some sorcery. The females on the other
hand, command the important positions in drow society. They are
priestesses of the dark goddess Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders.
The drow are rigidly class-structured and divided. A drow can advance in
her caste, but cannot advance beyond it. When one seeks advancement, it is
usually done through death.
The most noble
and reclusive of the gentle race are the grey elves. They see themselves
as the protectors of good in the world, but will stir from their mountains
and meadows only when faced with a great evil. Grey elves act much like
human knights, supercilious and condscending, full of their own
importance. They think nothing about speaking their own minds, and are
often haughty, disdaining contact with most others, including all other
elves save grey elves.
When arming for battle, they don
shimmering suits of elven-made plate or chainmail, and protect their heads
with distinctive winged helms. Mounted warriors ride gryphons or
hippogriffs into battle, swooping down on the enemy with dreadful
Taller and more slender than other elves, grey
elves typically have silver hair and amber eyes, some rarer elves have
golden hair and violet eyes and are often known as 'faerie', and are
probably those who made first-contact with humans.
disguise the entrances to their mountains and meadows with powerful magic,
ensuring that only elves, or those familiar with the elven dweomer, are
allowed access to their retreats.
The most commonly seen of all elves, the
high elves are also the most open and friendly. They are also the most
adventurous of elves, and have no conpunction about exploring the world
outside their homelands.
At first, high elves may seem aloof
and arrogant, but with little effort, a glimmer of true self can be
learned. High elves know the value of friendship and alliance with other
good races of the world. Trust is hard-earned however, thus, although they
serve the cause of good, one can never be sure what the reception from
them will be.
High elves are very pale. Their skin does not tan
and is the color of new cream. Their hair and eyes fall into two main
categories. Those with blond hair and blue eyes, and another equally
numerous variation with dark hair, ranging from brown to sheerest black,
and intense green eyes.
High elves do not place a great deal
of value on society, preferring instead to live as they wish, not as
someone tells them to. They live in a constant relationship with nature,
never taking more than they need, and giving back ever more.
elves are descended from the same stock as the other elves, they are far
more primitive than their kin. Sylvan elves, by their very nature, seem
more prone to violence than their civilized cousins. Their muscles are
larger, their complexions more florid. They have yellow to coppery-red
hair, which contrasts with their lightly tanned skin. Their eyes are
generally light brown, although bright green is not uncommon.
Wood Elves do not care about the proceedings in the outer world; only when
such acts imapact their realm do the wood elves take interest. Even then,
that interest is only in removing the nuisance and in returning to the
wildlands as quickly as possible. Only other elves can break their
solitude without suffering potential death.
properly elves, half-elves are included here because they do possess elven
ancestry. There are rare exceptions, but most half-elves are also
predominantly half human. Elven genes cannot typically cross with anything
other that human genes. Most half-elves are of high elf descent, though
again, there are always exceptions.
Half-elves are not readily
accepted into either elf or human communities. They often become
introverted, sullen, and embittered. Largely, it is a matter of the
half-elf in question and the society with which he or she deals. They are
never accepted into grey elf society, for half elves are a reminder of all
that the grey elves wish to eliminate.
Since they are human and
elven both in demeanor, they are easily recognizable as such. They are
taller and heavier than the average elf, though their hair and eyes often
reflect those of the human parent. In all cases they will still have the
pointed ears and angular features of the elven parent.
Peruse the listing of the main Elven Subgroups,
or take a look at Elves of Oerth (Greyhawk),
Toril (Forgotten Realms),
or Middle Earth (JRR Tolkien).