Elves are a staple fantasy setting race which can also be found in science fiction settings with fantasy elements such as Shadowrun and Warhammer 40000, to say nothing of Elf-like races found in most science fiction that has aliens. The modern Elf trope is that of a humanoid being with otherworldly features, usually a tendency towards fondness of nature and the ability to sense and do things through a connection to it or the wider universe. Caucasian skin, a flowing language without heavy or guttural sounds, and pointed ears are standard, and are usually as tall or taller than humans although an older shorter version (AKA Christmas Elves) exists. Compare and contrast them with Dwarves, another staple fantasy race who share mythological origins (in one mythology, Dwarfs were a subrace of Elf).
- 1 Elf History
- 2 The Ugly Side of Elves
- 3 D&D
- 4 Magic: The Gatherering
- 5 On /tg/
- 6 Monstergirls: On the Subject of Elven /d/eviancy
- 7 Humans the new Elves?
- 8 Elves and Dwarf Fortress
- 9 See Also
- 10 Elf hate in /a/
- 11 Is your Elf /tg/ approved?
- 12 Common names for Elves
- 13 Typical Elven Traits and Habits
- 14 Uses of elves
Myths And Evolution
To sum up the history, "Everyone in the northern Old World kinda maybe sorta had the same creature, but evolved their own variations on it, then kept swapping ideas and offshooting other mythological creatures until we wound up with toymakers, fairies, and perfect assholes who shoot arrows".
For the long version: Elves are one of the oldest western European myths, having roots in Germainic folklore (meaning "pretty much all of the northern half of Europe") which extends into the pre-Christian era, and at the earliest points of the written record there was already some fairly distinct differences in everyone's version. Thus its almost impossible to pinpoint an origin or original variation due to most Europeans not being big into writing shit down before the Romans, most of them having incomplete languages so they pretty much abandoned whatever they had before being introduced to the Greek alphabet, and the few that could write down their folklore rarely writing shit down on anything that'll last being buried for a few centuries aside from the rare grave marker or weapon inscription. While the name is synonymous with Germanic/Scandanavian folklore, the archetype is quite common under different names, such as nymphs, faeries, and other creatures that tend to get lumped together under the name "fair folk." Generally speaking if its a magical human-like being (as opposed to a talking animal) it probably goes back to Elves.
The basic evolution of the idea as far as we are aware goes like this:
- Roman: Some historians connect the origins of Elf myths to the Romans, who had myths about the spiritual explanation for misfortune and guerilla warfare they dealt with in the far northwestern reaches of Europe (kind of like World War 2 "gremlins" being blamed for malfunctions in aircraft among superstitious pilots). Some further connect it to a tactic possibly used by the Celts against the Romans, dressing children and small adults in mud and leaf camouflage and using them to sneak into Roman camps to steal supplies and weapons to use against them.
- Scandinavia: In Norse mythology, the nature of Elves changed wildly based on the author's use of them, and the gradual evolution of the viking myths as they became more and more influenced by the groups they raided certainly doesn't help. In most texts, they are similar to how the Greeks used the word Daemon, a reference to most kinds of non-god spiritual beings that tells you very little about what said being is or does other than it not being human. In some texts, Elves includes the Vanir gods and not humans, or humans and not gods, made even more complicated by the fact some Vanir are also Aesir gods. One text divides them into svartálfar (Black Elves), dökkálfar (Dark Elves), and ljósálfar (Light Elves). The lord of the land of the Elves is the god Freyr, one of the most popular Norse gods and the brother of Thor's wife Freya (which throws some water on Thor as a Humanity Fuck Yeah god). Some humans are reincarnated as Elves when they die, some Elves are demigods who are worshiped as someone more likely to answer your prayers than the gods themselves (this actually persisted even after vikings largely converted to Christianity). Elves are sometimes a type of Dwarf, or Dwarves are a type of Elves. There are references to paying tribute to Elves, the sun being an Elven creation, Elves wander the countryside and can be seen in mornings, and Elf men lust after human women while human men lust after Elf women and the descendants of such unions are often heroes. Unfortunately Elves aren't actually the focus of any surviving stories, and as a result, there are only minor references to them that we no longer have much context for. The only thing that's really concrete about viking Elves is they're pretty, all have magic, and are great to have on your side.
- Germany: German myths use Elves as tricksters who are a blight on humanity, causing mischief and disease like a type of fairy rat. Elves also behave like several Greek countryside feyfolk by seducing or raping human men and women. Dwarves are distinct from Elves, but Dwarves can behave like them and use Elf magic against humans.
- Britain/Ireland/Scotland: Elves in British folklore are fairly synonymous with fairy myths. Elves are often trickster spirits like in Germany, and breed with humans like in the Norse accounts, but British Elves are gone into in depth as having their own kingdoms and politics, using humans as wet-nurses for Elf royalty and Elf nobility forcibly abducting/raping/marrying human maidens. Thus British Elves are less trickster spirits or types of lesser divine beings and more another race of mortals living in the realm of fairies and playing by fairy rules. Scottish and Irish folklore both kept Elves in the trickster fey position. The Brits took the ljósálfar/dökkálfar distinction one step further by creating the Seelie and Unseelie courts; elves of the Seelie Court were generally nicer, as in they'd reward you if you did them a favor and would warn you if you accidentally offended them, and would play mostly harmless, lighthearted pranks. Elves of the Unseelie court were usually assholes that would visit harm on travelers and would hurt you just because they felt like it. The Scottish also had the Sidhe, which both refers to various magical beings as well as being the word for the places that the Aos Sí feyfolk live. Sidhe/Aos Sí myths influenced the British heavily in regards to Elves/fairies, which they spread back to the French and Germans.
In most myths Elves were seen as pagan, repelled by Christianity (like Vampires). The sign of the Pentagram was considered the "Elf Cross" and could be used as a symbol on jewelry or decoration to ward away the ill-intentions of Elves (in theory that would mean Elves not wanting humans to bother them would use the sign of the Christian cross).
During the Renaissance period and the Enlightenment, Elves were used to add a sense of wonder to stories such as in William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night Dream, or a touch of eroticism such as in the popular ballad Elveskud where a female Elf seduces a young man to be her husband (in most variations he resists her and she murders him with pestilence, likely to keep it PG-13). Just like how in the modern day you can circumvent rules regarding violence on television by using non-humans and blood colors other than red, you could get away with a lot of shit that uptight religious folks would (literally) burn you at the stake for by just substituting a human for a pointy-eared human. It should be noted that, as far as we know (it can be argued of course), the trope of Elves having pointy ears comes from Midsummer Night Dream through the Fey spirit named Puck, who later would be known as Robin Goodfellow in Shakespeare's Grim the Collier of Croydon and would appear in other pieces of English literature from other authors. Puck is a servant to the fairy king and queen Oberon and Titania, and is generally portrayed like a Satyr (which are usually portrayed with pointy ears like a goat). As fairies and Elves became staples of English art and folklore, Puck's pointy ears showed up more and more and in further and further cultures.
A kind of war of words was waged around this time between authors from various European countries for ownership of the concept of Elves, waged by famous figures such as Jacob Grimm (of the Brothers Grimm) and Hans Christian Anderson, each of whom carried Elves further away from sexual human-like beings and further towards what we know today as fairies (as in the thing your daughter might run around the house in plastic butterfly wings pretending to be).
By the 1700's Elves appeared in song and literature to add a sense of beauty to descriptions of the wilderness, an idyllic version of the countryside full of magic and mystery. This continued into the Victorian era where small diminutive humanoids were added to pictures of toadstools or tree branches, helped further by the widespread appeal of fairy tales and the reprinting of the works of the aforementioned great authors into children's storybooks with thousands of illustrations by different artists. Some folks, notably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the guy who wrote Sherlock Holmes) actually believed these to be real, to the point that "believes in elves/fairies" was the 1800's version of "believes aliens are living on Earth" and was just as common.
The return of the man-sized Elves came with the 1823 American poem Twas the Night before Christmas, describing Santa Clause as being "a right jolly old elf" which was followed by an artistic evolution, a key figure of which was cartoonist Thomas Nast, creating a visual and a folklore for Santa Clause as an Elf who is identical to a human as if from Norse mythology, helped by child-sized Elves of the Danish shoemaker Elf variety (they are called "nisser" in Danish).
The first modern Elf story that defined the fantasy trope that any fa/tg/uy worth their salt would know is actually not JRR Tolkien's. It was The King of Elfland's Daughter, written by Edward Plunkett in 1924. It showcases the full return of the classic Nordic Elves. In it, a human king is given an order by his subjects that they want their next ruler to be magical. The king sends the prince to marry an Elf woman, and he enters the mystical realm of the Elves where he wins the heart of the Elf princess. She returns with him to rule the humans as queen, but is unhappy and longs for her family and returns. The prince sets out to return to her side but would die trying to find the entrance in vain, so his bride begged her father to enable them to be together. The Elf king uses his magic to draw the entire human kingdom into the Elf lands, uniting the two races in one dynasty over one kingdom. They all lived happily ever after.
This story didn't really influence anything that we know of, but its worth mentioning that Plunkett beat Tolkien to the punch.
Tolkien grew up fascinated by mythology, but thanks to most of the pre-Christian pre-Roman British culture being lost he always felt disappointed that his own people would never have the amazing mythology of the Norse or the Egyptians. As a result, he spent much of his youth creating his own, which became a lifetime project. Tolkien's non-fiction scholarly pursuits in the study of language and translation of various classical texts from early European history helped him greatly in his endeavors, allowing him to essentially reverse-engineer a semi-plausible fictional mythology. Tolkien himself was a very devout Catholic and as a result his work shied away from being heavily pagan, taking a note instead from how the Norse mythology gradually changed (Odin becoming less warlike and wiser, Loki changing from clever trickster to villain, Baldur transitioning from unimportant victim in a story about arrogance to being a literal resurrected nice guy everyone loves after the end of the world). Tolkien's fiction borrows heavily from many feyfolk in European folklore which, as previously mentioned, basically can all be fairly called Elves. The actual word Elves he reserved for his favorite beings in the setting. A recurring theme in his work is the importance of music and passing on stories (because many of the pieces of ancient history we have today were exactly that, stories told by a storyteller or a song sung in celebration or remembrance). Tolkien entrusted his many, many, many, many, many, many, many semi-organized (putting it politely) volumes of notes from a lifetime of work, including enough for many stories, to his own son Christopher along with the control of the canon. Christopher Tolkien has spent most of HIS life trying to decode his father's intent, decipher scribbled notes, and try to figure out what of a hundred versions of one text is the final copy; to this end he published several volumes of collected stories, the last being Tolkien's most important work Beren & Luthien (which was already released in a very abridged form in the Silmarillion).
In the Tolkien setting, there is one omnipotent god called Eru Iluvatar who used aspects of his own personality to create lesser beings mistakenly worshiped as gods by mortals called Ainur. After creating the Ainur he conducted them to sing, the first sound that ever existed. One of the Ainur named Melkor refused to participate in Eru's melody and began singing his own tune and confusing others into harmonies and dissonances between the two conductions, although the vastly more clever Eru trolled Melkor with the second piece becoming a single greater song no matter how hard Melkor fought to create an independent one. That song not only created everything that ever was or ever will be, but its echo is literally destiny and the great plan of Eru for all his creations and their creations and so on. Eru gave the Ainur their own free will at this time and gave them the knowledge they needed to understand his plan (but not all of it, nothing is omniscient other than himself). then Eru sat to watch his plans unfold (which is basically all he does for the rest of time as far as anyone knows), while the Ainur sorted themselves into Valar (the strongest, and the rulers) and Maiar (the weaker ones which serve the Valar). The Valar set themselves to finishing the world according to Eru's still-echoing song (with the exception of Melkor who followed his own by fucking up the works of the others, creating volcanoes and dark deep places, all not knowing that Eru had planned for that shit during the singing of the great song).
While the Ainur helped to create much of the world during the Music of the Ainur, Illuvatar alone created two special races using the secret fire; the firstborn were the Elves, who awoke before the creation of the Sun. The first to awaken were three married couples, Imin+Iminyë, Tata+Tatië, and Enel+Enelyë. As they traveled from the eastern region where they awoke towards the west they found six other married couples of Elves which Imin and wife claimed as their subjects, then nine couples which were claimed by Tata and wife, and finally twelve wives which were claimed by Enel and wife. The sixty total Elves followed the rivers on their journey to the west (not that one) and focused on poetry (despite not having a language yet) and music as they went. They discovered eighteen more couples which stargazed, which Tata claimed. Then they found another twenty four pairs who sang, joining Enel's. At the end of Elf Genesis, there was a grand total of 144 Elves (so much less incest). Elf numerology as a result is based on two, three, six, twelve, and 144. At this point the Elves created the first spoken language and named themselves Quendi.
Melkor first discovered the Elves and sent minions to harass them which took the form of great horsemen resembling the Valar Oromë so that when the real Oromë discovered them some Elves hid or fled. These Elves were later collected by Melkor, and seeing the terrible influence he had on Elves the Valar finally waged war on him in order to put him in what is essentially a time-out. The Elves who didn't flee from Oromë sent three ambassadors to visit the Valar, and when they returned telling of a literal Garden Of Eden that all Elves were invited to. Most Elves did leave, which was called the Sundering Of The Elves, with the exception of the Avari who refused to leave Middle Earth. During the Great Journey the Elves passed by Melkor's dark lands and grew afraid, returning to live with the Avari.
- While it may seem that the Avari would be important later given they're given importance enough to mention, they aren't. They remain wild and feral, one of their member is literally called a Dark Elf when he's namedropped later, but for all intents and purposes the Avari are a dropped plot in canon Tolkien work. They may be evil or good, but their fate is 100% unknown.
The Elves who reached the western coast of Middle Earth were guided by Ulmo to the kingdom of Valinor, on a small continent called Aman where the Valar dwell while on the planet and not in Eru's realms. The last group to arrive was the Telari, who were so curious about the wonders of the mortal world as they traveled that they stopped constantly.
- The Telari are the ancestors of the Sindar, Falathrim, and Nandor/Laiquendi. They love the sea, and even during the Sundering many decided to island-hop and explore the watery parts of the world with the Maiar Ossë.
- Sindar are the Telari who never reached Aman, but were given knowledge of the wonders of Alan by their king Elwe, who had been one of the elf ambassadors to Aman. They are called Grey Elves as they were more enlightened than their Avari cousins but still hadn’t received the full benefit of Aman’s blessings. They formed one of the more powerful elf kingdoms until it was destroyed, where the surviving Sindar decided to rule over the lesser Nandor. Sindarin is the dominant elvish language used in Middle Earth.
- The Nandor are Elves who went south when the Telari reached the river Anduin (the one from the movie with the two giant statues with raised hands) for unknown reasons. They drop out of history until suddenly reappearing later, lead by an Elf king named Denethor (one of several characters of that name) when he heard Elves nearby had established a kingdom named Doraith. The Nandor settled the city of Ossiriand which became the kingdom of Lindon until Denethor was later killed by Orcs, whereupon the Nandor became known as the Laiquendi, or Green Elves, and their kingdom absorbed into Doraith. The Nandor who did NOT relocate to Doraith became known as Wood Elves, or Silvan Elves, and established their own kingdoms. The average Tolkien moviegoer would know them as almost all of the Elves seen in the Hobbit and LotR trilogies, including Galadriel (who is of mostly Noldor descent) and Legolas.
- Falathrim are simply the Elves who loved the sea so much they remained a naval power in Middle Earth. After their kingdom was destroyed they joined the Nandor in Lindon, thus also becoming the Laiquendi.
Of the Elves that reached Aman, there was three groups ruled by the ambassadors who had been sent there by the Elves before the Sundering began: the Vanyar ruled by Ingwë, the Ñoldor ruled by Finwë, and the Telari ruled by the brother of their ambassador named Olwë (because the real ambassador Elwë remained in Middle Earth among the Falathrim).
- As you will see, the Ñoldor are something of the historical fuckups of the Elves. On one hand they are great warriors, great smiths, great artists, great lovers (in the non-sexual sense), and literally shaped most of the history of early Middle Earth. But on the other they are great fuckups, the only group of Elves even slightly corruptible due to their impulsive natures and desire to see and experience and learn. It should be noted that Ñoldor do NOT learn to achieve power, but to understand; this ties into Tolkien's explanation of power being always bad when not in servitude and humility to the divine creator, and rather reflects the philosophical perspective that learning is a type of prayer to better understand the divine creator's work (compare to Einstein's desire to understand the mysteries of the universe and his apprehension and regret for being a part of the creation of the atomic bomb). The Ñoldor simply took it way too far in their ambition early on. Its also worth noting that according to Christopher Tolkien the Ñoldor were originally supposed to be called the Gnomes, but Tolkien early on decided against it because he didn't figure people would be able to divorce the idea of the tiny jolly lawn ornaments from his Elf Saxtons and used his skills with languagemancy to create the more
After some time Melkor pretended to have reformed, but immediately set to work stirring up trouble again and corrupting his caged Elves into Orcs. The Vanyar were uninterested in him or his promises of power and gain, the Telari were useless in his eyes given they had little potential for warfare or interest in his non-ocean gifts, but the Ñoldor were corruptible in their unending desire for knowledge (power and science for its own sake is generally a sign of villainy in Tolkien's work, to the point he literally stated in a letter once that anytime the word "power" is used and it isn't in deference or servitude to Eru's plan (like Gandalf's power is) it is a sign of villainy). Melkor gave them what they wanted, knowledge of all things he knew, but peppered it with opinions rather than fact once they had come to trust him. One of the greatest revelations was that sometime in the future, the human race would be created with the implications that mankind was the replacement for the Elves and Aman was a metaphorical kennel to imprison them in while mankind enjoyed Middle Earth.
In particular, he convinced the most hot-headed of the Elves, Feanor, that his half-brother Fingolfin wanted his royal birthright, and the two nearly came to blows. To stir things up even more, he destroyed the Two Trees (Earth's only source of light at the time other than stars, mere fragments of which became the moon and sun), murdered Feanor's father Finwë, and stole his gems that Faenor had created, the Simirils (made using essence from the trees which were now impossible to replicate). Feanor was so pissed that he swore revenge, no matter who stood in his way, including his own kin and the Valar. Well, oaths are a pretty serious deal in Middle-Earth, and Feanor did end up comitting the first Elf on Elf murder due to the Telari refusing to provide him with ships and him taking them by force in order to reach Melkor faster, and having as a result having his people exiled from Aman in his quest for revenge - only to get killed by Melkor before he had the chance to exact it.
Pretty much all of the worst Elves died in the wars against Melkor, so the ones that survived to the end of the Third Age were much wiser and mellower. Though they also experienced intense sorrow since immortality means outliving everyone you knew. On top of that, whereas elves can't die of old age, they can whither away into wraiths unless they return to the undying lands, which nearly all have by the end of the LOTR trilogy. Many elves are actually envious of humans' mortality, calling it "the gift of men," since Illuvatar has a special fate for them that none but him knows of, whereas elvish souls are bound to Middle-Earth until the end of time.
So at the end of the canon stories, we have a pretty good structure of why Elves are the way they are, and it is 100% the setting they are in and the values of the beings who created them and raised their culture (Eru, Valar, Maiar).
- Elves are the most aware of Eru's plan compared to any non-Eagle non-Ainur race. They know the basics of where their race will go and end up. So when humans start talking about destiny and fate, or choice in a conflict, the Elves know that they themselves are playing with a different set of rules than mankind, something very few humans know and less really understand.
- Elves are not greedy or ambitious for power. Like a Hobbit, babbling brooks or really tall trees contain as much beauty to them as the finest gold and diamond crown, and with less literal appetite than a Hobbit the Elf has even less need for gold. Elves are also aware of the Tolkien rule that non-god power is evil. The only Elves with a hook to play to their baser natures is the Ñoldor, who were hot-headed and knowledge-lusting; but the descendants of Faënor's people have learned their lessons, and great leaders such as Thranduil and Elrond know that its better to spend centuries of inaction than jump into a fight. Elves such as Vanyar and Telari have no desire to fight at all, to thevpoint that regardless of stakes they cannot be drawn into war.
- Elves look at the achievements and failings of mankind and their reactions are "yeah, we've been there". Particularly in Ñoldor terms, Elves have already made every major mistake you can possibly make, and know in the case of Faënor that assholes gonna asshole, and as a result are hesitant to involve themselves in anything shortsighted no matter how seemingly righteous. Even worse with Dwarves, a race who seemingly continue to repeat the same mistakes for stupid reasons (from an Elf perspective) and wonder why Elves never want to get involved.
- Elves are generally extremely rigid in their psychology. They develop certain personality qualities, mindsets and obsessions which get set into stone. At most an Elf can be broken by tragedy or torture, leaving the permanently damaged being. This is part of why Elvish/Human relationships are problematic, total heartbreak for one party is an inevitability.
- Elves are literally part of nature. Their afterlife is to continue to faff about while many reincarnate back into the world as mortal Elves, and no matter what happens they can always uproot and fuck off back to Valinor. This means they are both connected to the fate of the world as a whole and thus have high stakes to defeat world conquerors, and a disconnection from the smaller localized events such as the fate of kingdoms including their own. Elves are intrinsically connected to the goodness of the world, and the mucking about of Sauron or random Orcs means little in the longterm. Separating themselves from this natural world saps their strength, and in time would degrade them into what Orcs are today (Hobbit-sized sun-fearing cowardly humanoids that can only be whipped into a warrior culture by a powerful evil).
- Elves value things that other races have mild appreciation to outright disdain for. The Falathrim prefer sailing around the coast to a literal Garden Of Eden. Laiquendi disregard the promise of gold, and instead would accept gossip, songs, and jokes as payment for services and lodging. While ideal friends of Hobbits and decent allies to many humans, Dwarves and ambitious men find them to act like mentally handicapped assholes. Exceptions exist, such as the warmth Gimli has towards Elves coming from his humble appreciation of beauty without the need to possess it, but in general greed and pride make you a poor bedfellow for an Elf (Beren/Luthien joke not intended, but true).
- The race of Elves were planned by Eru as the first to dwell in the world, and teach the second race, humans, the ways they discovered, much like the first part of a song setting the tune and chorus that is echoed later in a different key. Elves view their own history like the way a person ages, their first era being childhood innocence but also being inferior to benevolent teachers while fearing powerful evils that would do them harm. In the second era their history reaches adulthood, being the primary force which shepherds their dependents (humans, to a lesser extent Dwarves) while being the main defenders standing up to the darkness. By the third era, the one where mankind is starting to take responsibility for the world and looking to stand alongside their former protectors as equals, the Elves are in their elderly years and preparing to leave the world; this causes them to act somewhere between benevolent gift-giving grandparent and irritable veteran/teacher/“GET OFF MY LAWN”. By the fourth age their race is mostly gone from the world, leaving humans as inheritors.
When copying Elves from Tolkien, many writers kept these truths but without explanation as to why, making them seem irrational and alien in their settings. For example without a history of Faënor fucking everything up, Elves just come off as douchebags for not wanting to join a great war against evil, and without literally being taught by mother nature itself how to create a civilization the tree-hugging stuff is just a dull trope without justification.
Like most ideas borrowed from Tolkien, many people tried putting their own spin on Elves in their own settings. However, they always seem to default on a few key ideas:
- Elves are always long-lived, if not outright immortal, well-exceeding human lifespan. There is no obvious downside to this, which is strange because even vampires are like "everyone I know and love is dead". Tolkien's Elves paid for it by having difficulty in politics with humans, and were unfortunately bound to Eru's plan taking away a large part of their free will as a race (not as individuals however); Warhammer Elves pay for longevity with even more shit afterlives due to their gods being dead and their souls being tasty to otherworldly nasties, but in most fiction they get off scot-free.
- Elvish civilization is far older and more advanced than human civilization, and is almost always on the decline, usually due to the slow death of magic in the world or just their low numbers and cultural stagnation.
- Elves are almost always haughty elitists who look down on other races, whether they're snobby High Elves, murderous hippy Wood Elves, or sociopathic Dark Elves.
- Elves have the best magic and would never use the crass artifices used by humans and dwarves, even if they are advanced in their own right. Their own shit is so ancient and powerful it is literally never used, or no longer belongs to them and instead is passed from dark lord to adventurer to dark lord to adventurer and so on.
Poorly handled, these post-modern traits are often significant parts of the reasons that many people straight-up hate elves. And while many people blame the worst elvish traits on Tolkien, many of them simply aren't present in the books (outside of the aforementioned asshole who got his ass handed to him). Or they blame him for fantasy writers adhering to this self-imposed mould without looking into the source material or original mythology. Many creators have tried to break free of this mould by going back to the trickster fey roots, with mixed results. Others just treat Elves as humans with a trade-off, in which case their advantages are greatly toned-down.
- In Warhammer Fantasy Elves are a race created by giant interdimensional space toads called the Old Ones to fight against a dimension of molestation/mucous/murder/mindfuck demons but were
such a bunch of arrogant pricks generally prone to murdering each other over stupid shitslow to reproduce and their inherent compassion (yes, really) soured into arrogance - so much so that they were rejected as failures and the Old Ones went on to create Dwarfs. Later on the Elves split into three groups (two of which are murderfucking insane, one of which is the true heroes of the setting that you want to lose anyway because they're such fucking assholes) due to their gods being dead or insane assholes. Its worth mentioning that Warhammer was the third setting to steal from Tolkien after D&D, and certainly took the idea further. Things got way the fuck crazier in Age of Sigmar, which is basically the straight to DVD Warhammer 2.
- Warhammer 40000 went with the name Eldar for their space Elves (even though it was still ripping off Tolkien, especially since he invented the word Eldar), keeping them largely the same but in only two groups, neither of which are heroes (the setting really doesn't have any faction that truly qualifies anyway), and making them the origin story for the aforementioned molestation demons.
- In Shadowrun Elves are merely humans that mutated after the return of magic to Earth in 2012. They have long lifespans, although to varying degrees. Across the world they banded together and overthrew local governments to create their own "kingdoms" (keep in mind the world of Shadowrun is the lovechild of D&D and Blade Runner). Some Elves are effectively immortal unless killed, and a few in particular come from entirely different points in world history (keep in mind that everything we know that ever happened in our universe is known as the Sixth World...Harlequin is an Elf that's most likely from the Fourth...). Of course your average Elf player character is most likely between 20 and 60 years old, and physically most likely the same either way, as a homeless drifter orphan or the child of blue collar workers from a megacorp. Average Elf NPCs are low skill workers, street vendors, violent gang members, wageslaves, rent-a-cops, and corporate executives. Shadowrun Elves have the ability to see magic usually, some degree of feeling it, but an Elf is as likely to be able to use it as most other "races".
- In the Legends of Zelda, there are these Hylian race which are just human with pointy ears with their most notable characters are the main character Link and the princess Zelda. They have strong affinity with magic and has rich culture, religion background with a goddess called Hylia protects them. They also have this weird telepathic ability which allows their pointy ear to transmitting messages to any other Hylian in any space, realm, dimension and time (ha suck it shadows of the warp!).
In Other Media
- Elves in Elfquest are the descendants of a race of time traveling shapeshifting aliens that attempted to visit humans during the medieval period, and took the forms of Elves from folklore while also reshaping their giant spaceship into the form of a crystal castle to approach the humans as friends; the pets of the Elf aliens, in fear, tampered with the control panel and sent the ship into the past as the Elves were preparing to leave, and instead greeted cavemen who promptly slew many of the shapeshifters and forced the rest into the wilderness. The descendants of the Elves each have different characteristics based on what happened after their ancestor fled as only the first generation could shapeshift, such as tall bodies and wings for those who dreamed of returning to their ship and taking to the stars again. All Elves are psychic, and form mating pairs based on subconscious links. The main cast are mostly from the deep forests, their ancestor turning feral in the wilderness and taking the form of a wolf (also, she fucked a wolf too). They behave like the elf/wolf hybrids they are, are very short and have four fingers with very large eyes; their leader later finds a mate in one of the desert Elves, who retained more of the Elven alien culture and have the power to heal others. Stories include learning industrialization, kinslaying, that humans make good pets, where they came from, even more kinslaying, the medieval humans they were supposed to contact in the first place weren’t worth the effort, their ancestors were morons, and so on.
- Elves in Warcraft were a type of Troll that was mutated by magical radiation coming from a pool of Titan blood (and possibly further altered by the intervention of a moon goddess). This changed them, making them closer to humanoid (five fingers and toes and no tusks being the biggest changes). Each subgroup can be defined mostly by how much magic they consider too much, with each preceding group from lowest to “never enough” being ousted by the preceding group. The changes became more diverse as time went on, with the latter groups becoming closer to human than the former groups, and even spawning other separate races (Night Elves and Nightborne have fangs while High Elves and Blood Elves don't). The groups are Kaldorei -Night Elves (which had a group split off and become Shal'dorei - Nightborne), then some more Kaldorei called Highborne (which were made up of magic users and royalty) split and became Quel'dorei - High Elves, which also split with most supping on fel magic becoming Sin'dorei - Blood Elves. Even then are mutations such as the Naga (merpeople/snake people who are Highborne mutated by the Lovecraftian-type Old God N'zoth), Satyrs (like the real-life mythological beings based on a Highborne mutated by Sargeras) and the San'layn (the setting's vampires, who are mutated undead Sin'dorei made by the Lich King).
- Elves in the Witcher franchise have a complex origin, but generally come in two varieties.
- Aen Elle are Elves from another dimension, where they are constantly at war with Unicorns and the "White Frost", an apocalyptic scenario that is the destined destruction of all realities (one at a time rather than all at once). They're not exactly nice, but technically they're trying to save all worlds even if they kill everyone they meet while doing it. A major factor in the latter novels and the video games (less so in the first where they are the direct cause of the events you are dealing with, which you won't learn until the end of the second game). They don't particularly care about humans, monsters, or other kinds of Elves, they just want to wipe out the Unicorns and the White Frost plus all witnesses while generally being fairly pleasant and peaceful in their own dimension.
- Aen Seidhe are the Elves native to the setting, although not originally. Elves, monsters, and humans arrived to the world from their own separate dimensions after the White Frost destroyed them during an event known as the "Conjunction Of The Spheres". Elves arrived first and created a civilization while warring with the natives, humans appeared later and destroyed many of the civilizations that preceded them including those of the Elves over time. Many humans and Elves believe themselves to be a native race to the planet and hate the other for being an unnatural invader, while other Elves believe themselves to have been created by gods and humans simply being an evolved ape whereas humans believe Elves to be disguised demons and humans to be the divinely created ones. Many events that would in other settings have cemented the bond between Elf and man, such as a human prince and an Elf princess falling in love, instead always end in tragedy and cause further discord between the races. The Witcher setting takes place in the Northern Kingdoms of an unnamed continent where Elves are treated worse than any other, having formed largely into guerilla warriors spread across the world called "Scoia'tael" that also include Dwarves, Gnomes, intelligent monsters, and some human outcasts such as Witchers (read: Geralt "GIT YER HANDZ OFF MAH ELFS AND WITCHES OR I'LL GUT YE" of Rivia). Scoia'tael attack humans constantly, usually retribution for casualties in a war they can't win due to Elves only being able to breed in youth while humans have most of a medieval lifespan to do so. Any time Elves don't join Scoia'tael they are found in the ghettos of human cities, which are subject to frequent ethnic purges either by mob or inquisition. Of course because its Witcher any time Geralt can side with some decent Elves you'll find out in the next game or novel they were slaughtered or were politically out-maneuvered back to square -1, the rest of the time there being little difference between the Elf and human assholes other than the humans generally raping before they murder the townsfolk. In one of the later novels of the series (Lady of The Lake) its mentioned that some form of magical door opened to another dimension, with many of the Elves choosing whatever is ahead of them over the bullshit behind them.
- Elves in Monster Hunter International are one of the few PUFF exempt friendly species of monsters. They live in the "Enchanted Forest"... which is actually a trailer park and are every trailer trash stereotype at once. The US Government basically gave them a PUFF exemption and welfare in exchange for being on hand for divination and consulting on magic (as they are one of the few outright magic users that isn't powered by demons or old ones) and like started acting like anyone else on gibmedats. These services are supposed to be exclusive, but MHI is known to bribe them with alcohol for some assistance under the table. One elf shows proficiency with a bow though takes offense, calling it a hurtful stereotype, when the local fa/tg/uy points this out.
The Ugly Side of Elves
Elves are truly a love-or-hate phenomena amongst fantasy fans, and the main reasons for the dislike stem from some of the traits in the "post-Tolkien" elves section above. In a nutshell, elves are often portrayed as the Mary Sue race in fantasy fiction; even when the author doesn't outright use them as a mouthpiece, the simple fact of the matter that they are rarely called on their shit (screwing things up, being arrogant, being wrong about shit, acting like they have the right to lecture other races, etc) usually pushes them into the "asshole" category for many readers. When the setting's non-elf characters outright agree with them, that's when readers/viewers/gamers tend to get particularly pissed. The exception to this is when the reader is NOT supposed to like them, in which point they are often pants-on-head retarded and Stupid Evil, being villains who don't deserve to be as hammy as they are written compared to their minions.
Compounding matters is that those who are fans of elves often tends to be on the obsessive side even by /tg/ standards, which is part of the reason why they often get pushed into the Mary Sue's territory. Dungeons: the Dragoning 40,000 7th Edition proposed the name "Elfaboo" for hardcore Elf fans; whether the "Elfaboos" or Weeaboos come off worse for the comparison is probably unknowable.
This bears repeating
Tolkien invented the modern version of "elves". In Tolkien's works, Elves had a certain degree of Mary Sue perfectness about them, yes, but they also had certain weaknesses in exchange; most importantly, they would fade from the world, and they knew it. Many subsequent imitators forgot this nerf, and thus failed to include flaws in their elves. Nobody likes a Mary Sue, much less a whole species of them.
Dungeons & Dragons obviously used Elves, and was in fact one of the first to ripoff the Tolkien Elves. Early D&D Elves were much closer to his and were comparable to a player today attempting to play a young Dragon, but as of 3rd edition were toned down greatly. D&D Elves are mostly notable for their batshit insane Greek-style god pantheon in the Faerun setting. Their lifespans are not much longer than Dwarves, and they can't grow facial hair. Half-Elves are a core class, and they tend to be sold as tragic figures who had to watch a parent grow old and die in their prepubescent equivalent while in turn growing old and dying as their other parent stays the same age they seemingly always were (of course the standard /tg/ approach is to utilize necromancy for a drama-free backstory).
There are three major "archetypes" of elf in D&D; the High Elf, the Wood Elf and the Dark Elf. The myriad elven cultures that have been developed for different settings usually base themselves in these three archetypes, but some sub-species are more unique.
These are generally portrayed as the most "civilized" elves; the most focused on exploring their magical heritage and the ones who are most interested in building cities and civilizations. This makes them the most common of elves, in no small part because they tend to be the most adventurous of the elven species. Whilst they are traditionally described as respecting nature heavily, their first true love is magic; this is the race that defined the archetype of the elven wizard, and they shamelessly exploit their natural talents in arcane magic to make their civilizations work. A high elf community isn't necessarily a magocracy, but it's an easily applied trope.
In AD&D, the following elven races are considered to be High Elves:
- Zakharan Elves
- The Qualinesti of Krynn
- The Moon Elves of Faerun
- The Sun Elves of Faerun
- The Star Elves of Sildëyuir and Faerun
- The Dark Elves (Ancestors of the Drow in the Forgotten Realms)
- The Llewyrr of Moonshae Isles
- The Green Elves (Ancestors of Wood Elves in the Forgotten Realms)
These elves prefer the wild to civilization, and are much more reclusive than their High Elf cousins. Also known as Sylvan Elves, at least in AD&D, wood elves still possess an affinity for magic, but place far more importance on living in harmony with nature. If the high elves defined the archetype of the elf wizard, these elves are responsible for the association of the elf race with the druid and ranger classes - especially the latter, given the wood elf forte with bow & arrow.
In AD&D, the following elven races are considered to be Wood Elves:
- The Kagonesti of Krynn
- The Tamirnesti of Krynn
- The Armachnesti of Krynn
- The Wild Elves of Faerun
- The Wood Elves of Faerun
- The Grugach of Oerth
- The Dusk Elves of Barovia
Dark Elf (Drow)
This is the obligatory evil elf race. These guys have their own name, the Drow, and that's helped them to develop their own iconic niche, in contrast to High & Wood Elves who often seem to have nothing but the most meager nitpicking of details separating them.
Water-breathing elves who live deep underwater. Usually the most xenophobic and thus least interesting of all the elves. Seriously, even in Dragonlance, where the local aquatic elves A: mirror the high elf/wood elf split in their own culture as the Dargonesti (Deep Elves) and Dimernesti (Shoal Elves), and B: are shapeshifters, with Dargonesti turning into dolphins and Dimernesti turning into otters, they have pretty much no value or influence on the setting at all.
The only other Aquatic Elves in AD&D are found in the Forgotten Realms, where they are known to inhabit both the Great Sea and the Sea of Fallen Stars.
A subrace which most people prefer to forget, these are the most arrogant and elitist elves of all - that's right, they're literally defined as "the asshole elves who aren't drow". Obsessed with the idea that they represent the pinnacle of the elven species, even the CBoE struggled with portraying these guys at all sympathetically. Xenophobic, supercilious, condescending, these are pretty much the embodiment of every elitist asshole elf cliche you can think of. Even more so than High Elves, they rely heavily on their prowess for arcane magic to do everything. They also keep other elven races as slaves to do all the physical labor. Charming.
In AD&D, the following elven races are considered to be Gray Elves:
- The Silvanesti of Krynn
- The Valley Elves of Oerth
Avariel are flying elves.
Athasian Elves are tall, lean, desert-dwelling runners with a culture based on trade and grifting.
Elves in OD&D
Back in the earliest days of D&D Elf was a class, not a race. That's how long they've been in the game.
The Basic D&D version of the Elf was a Gish class, combining elements of Fighter and Magic-User. As such, they required a minimum Intelligence of 9 to qualify for the character, and needed high Strength and Intelligence to gain bonuses to XP gathering. They had a D6 hit dice, started play with the Set Spear vs Attack and Lance Attack fighter manuevers, were immune to the paralysis attack of ghouls, and had a 1 in 3 chance to detect secret or hidden doors.
Technically maxing out at 10th level, they gained a fairly small selection of mostly low-level spells, maxing out at 3 spells for each level from 1st to 4th and 2 level 5 spells upon hitting 10th level, but could keep gaining experience after 10th level; this progression initially gave them similar abilities to higher-level Fighters, but The Elves of Alfheim splatbook instead gave them two options. From 10th level onward, an elf could either use the old rules, becoming an Elf Lord, or they could focus on enhancing their spellcasting abilities, becoming an Elf Mage.
The path of the Elf Lord focuses on increase their attack rank, maxing out at Attack Rank M. At Attack Rank D, they gained the Fighter Combat Options and could make 2 attacks per round. At Attack Rank G, they halved all damage taken from breath weapons (quartering it if they passed their saving throw). At Attack Rank K, they could make 3 attacks per round.
The Hollow World produced the Elf Warrior, an elf who, for whatever reasons, couldn't learn magic and so focused on their combat skills instead, complete with rules for "multiclassing" to "proper" Elf and gaining spellcasting at a later date. This works because the Hollow World setting has a unique trait where native PCs cannot become magic-users unless they have at least a 16 in Intelligence... which is almost twice the Intelligence required to qualify for the Elf race in the first place! So, Hollow World Elf PCs don't get to learn spells, but in a trade off, they advance faster - halving their XP costs up till level six, at which point their XP costs become a little over half. But, as the suppression of magic actually stems from an environmental factor in the Hollow World itself, warrior elves who find their way up to the surface can go on to learn elven magic; they do this by paying off the "missing" experience, and once they have as many "elfin wizard" levels as they do elfin warrior levels, they switch over to just using the normal elf XP levels. If these elves then return to the Hollow World, they retain their spellcasting ability; having learned how to cast in the first place, they are no longer affected by the thaumic "static" that saturates the inner world.
Dawn of the Emperors: Thyatis and Alphatia introduced the Forester class, a human trained by elves who thusly has learned to blend martial skills and magic the same way that they do. Mechanically, this functions identically to the Elf class, but loses the Immunity to Ghoul Paralysis and Infravision traits.
Elves in AD&D
Elves in AD&D got codified as one of the better races offensively, with a useful +1 to hit with long swords, short swords, and bows of all kinds (but not crossbows). They are also 90% Resistant to Charm and Sleep effects, and have a chance to spot secret doors just by going near them. They gain +1 Dexterity, but suffer a -1 penalty to Constitution. Their biggest downside is that Elves cannot be Raised from the dead; to revive an Elf, a much more powerful magic (the Resurrection spell) is required. All in all, Elves were a decent character race.
AD&D would later go on to publish the Complete Book of Elves, a hilariously bad book that achieved cult status amongst fa/tg/uys the world over due to how hilariously elf-supremacist the book is. While it's a stretch to say that it goes the Chakat route of establishing them as a race of Mary Sues, it does go out of its way to establish them as brilliant, capable, and far beyond the ken of those pathetic lower races. Even the original author of the book treats the supplement like a complete joke and has gone on record mocking how terrible it is.
To its credit, the Complete Book of Elves does include a number of interesting ideas all its own, including interesting takes on Elven folklore and myths, explanations of why it is Elves find humans attractive (mostly human dynamism and flexibility), explains the animousity between Dwarves and Elves, and perhaps most interestingly, ways to make an elf-themed campaign, whether because elves are the biggest race in it, or whether they're almost extinct, offering lots of potential insight into how to design such a campaign. The few good inclusions, however, do not do anything to lessen just how ridiculous the book itself is, or its funniest offenses (for example, a story of how Elves singing at a funeral accidentally killed human guests present).
The basic issue with the Complete Book of Elves is that it struggles under the burden of TSR both trying to emulate the Celtic Mythology from which the elves are drawn AND to present them as a playable race, which just... doesn't work very well unless you're trying to use them in a Heroic Fantasy instead of the Sword & Sorcery setting that AD&D aimed for.
The CBoE included playable stats for High, Sylvan, Dark, Grey and Aquatic Elves, plus the first basic material for playing Averiel. Mechanically, these ranged in power from overpowered to absolute crap - take the Sylvan Elf, who is mechanically required to be more of a dick than either the drow or the gray elves, who are established in that same book as such hyper-arrogant elitist elf-supremacists they think they have a divine right to enslave the other elven races!
The CBoE was also the birthplace of the Bladesinger, which was one of a wide array of kits that mostly were forgotten about in future material, such as the Spellfilcher (an elven mage/thief specialized in stealing magical grimoires and artifacts from non-elven wizards) and the Collector (which is basically the Spellfilcher mixed with elven Indiana Jones).
Elves in 3rd Edition
Like all the PHB races that weren't Human and Dwarf, Elves were really lame. They got a penalty to Constitution, which was a serious hazard to any class. In exchange for this they got immunity to sleep, some bonus weapon proficiencies which they couldn't get any major use out of since any class that didn't already get them was unsuited to attacking with weapons or got them already. The only exceptions were Rogue and Cleric, and neither liked the con penalty much while archer cleric wasn't well supported in core.
They also didn't sleep, instead going into a meditative trance for four hours. Since everyone else needed to sleep and they could only regain spells after 8 hours of rest, even if they didn't need 8 hours of rest, the only use for this outside of all-elf groups was the elf was stuck with night watch duty. Also for some reason this was buried in their fluff and never put in the SRD as a result, so nobody actually remembers they have it. Since it wasn't in the SRD, no OGL based system includes it either.
Unlike most of the PHB races, Elves didn't have to wait before they stopped being worthless. In the Monster Manual (still core) the subrace Gray Elf was briefly detailed. They get the normal elf traits, but +2 Intelligence and -2 Strength in addition to the standard elf traits. This gave them total adjustment of -2 str, +2 dex, -2 con, +2 int. These adjustments shoehorned them into one thing, Wizard, which they did moderately well but it was something they were useful for without leaving core, which is more than most PHB races could claim.
Elves in Pathfinder
Compared to 3.5, all elves got a +2 to intelligence, a bonus to spellcraft and a bonus to checks against spell resistance. Since it wasn't in the SRD, elves lost their trance ability. This was a bit weird since when Golarion was a 3.5 based setting there were references to elves going into a trance. Once again elves were pretty much locked into wizard if they didn't want to be useless. Like all core races they got to trade some of their racial traits out, but this mostly amounts to swapping the bonus weapons and other secondary traits for more caster goodies.
Despite not being particularly strong race they are still the third most played race in Pathfinder (after human and half-elf). This is mostly an anomaly due to a very high number of elf wizards (22% of wizards were elves), plus a good number of Alchemists, Rogues and Arcanists (the only classes their bonuses are suited for).
Elves in 4th Edition
4th edition decided that the vast array of different elven subraces were, really, kind of silly. Plus, the basic divide between High Elf & Wood Elf was never really very clear - both races are simultaneously highly magical and highly enamored with nature, which itself doesn't make a lot of sense in D&D - there's a reason the wizard and the druid don't get along. So, they decided to twist things around.
Elves in 4e originate from the Feywild. Once, they were Eladrin clans who felt a deep affection for the nature, especially that present in the mortal world rather than their own faerie realm. Choosing to take Melora and the Primal Spirits as their patrons instead of Corellon and Sehanine, they gave up the cities and pursued a tribal existence, venturing deep into the uncharted regions of the mortal world. When Lolth promoted her civil war, a side-effect was that the ties between the Eladrin clans were broken, and much like the renegades who followed Lolth into the Underdark ultimately transformed into Drow, so did the mortal worlder eladrin mutate, losing some of their fey nature and becoming more tied to nature.
Personality wise, elves are described as a simple and earthy people; eladrin may be reserved and scholarly, but an elf would rather tell jokes or go out and do some target shooting whilst sharing a drink with some buddies than sit around being gloomy all day. They're much darker-colored than their ancestors were - though more in the sense of brown/black hair and tanned skin than being full-on black-skinned - and lack the characteristic "one solid color" eyes that define an eladrin.
4e's elves favor martial, divine and primal classes over arcane ones; their initial ability score modifier was +2 Dexterity and +2 Wisdom, and it wasn't until later in the game that they got the ability to trade their Wisdom bonus for an Intelligence bonus. The Seeker was created as the iconic elf class, combining their cultural and mechanical predilictions for the Ranger and the Druid.
A 4e elf's statblock goes like this:
- +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom OR +2 Intelligence
- Speed: 7 squares
- Skill Bonuses: +2 Nature, +2 Perception
- Elven Weapon Proficiency: You are Proficient with the Longbow and the Shortbow.
- Fey Origin: You count as a Fey creature for effects that key off of origin.
- Group Awareness: Non-elf allies within 6 squares of you gain a +1 racial bonus to Perception checks.
- Wild Step: You ignore difficult terrain when you shift.
- Racial Power - Elven Accuracy: 1/encounter, you can reroll an attack roll, though you must use the second roll even if it is worse than the original.
It bears mentioning that elves attracted a lot of flak for Elven Accuracy, simply because it's a single attack re-roll once per encounter (with a +2 bonus to the re-roll if you've got the Elven Precision racial feat). This isn't really as powerful as it seems, because A: 1 re-roll per fight sequence isn't going to guarantee every attack hits, and B: most of the Leader classes can hand out attack re-rolls like freaking candy anyway. Most anons on /tg/ either hadn't read any of 4e's actual combat mechanics, couldn't get over the idea of elves not having a Strength penalty (never mind that races like Orcs, Bugbears and Goliaths still got Strength bonuses and so still had higher average bonus damage than elves did), or both.
Dragon Magazine #382 then introduced an elven subrace called the Dusk Elves, who are... different. These pale-colored elves (skin "like moonlight", fair hair, light blue or light violet eyes) are descendants from a 4th group of eladrin: during the great civil war between Corellon and Lolth, their ancestors just wanted to stay out of it entirely, refusing to take part in the fighting on either side. This attempt at neutrality backfired on them when both the Corellon-loyalists and the proto-Drow turned on them; if it weren't for Sehanine taking pity on them, they probably would have been exterminated. As such, they've been forced into exile in hidden cities and enclaves throughout the mortal world, protected by complex layers of illusion magic. Described as furtive, haunted and suspicious by nature, they are very emotionally withdrawn and extremely touchy about the topic of loyalty. Unlike other elves, dusk elves have no particular loyalty to the Prime Material; they view it as being a prison, at best a gilded cage, and culturally yearn to return to the Feywild once more.
As with most early subraces in 4th edition, Dusk Elves are represented by taking an elf and buying the appropriate "bloodline feats". The core bloodline feat is Dusk Elf Stealth, which grants a +1 racial bonus to Stealth to all allies within 6 squares who don't have this feat. It's... rather unimpressive, and the race rather relies on its other unique feats to stand out; Gathering Night lets you become invisible for a turn by taking a Total Defense action whilst concealed, Gloaming Ward grants you a turn of free concealment the first time you get bloodied, Sehanine's Boon means you gain extra HP from healing surges sent whilst concealed, and and Umbral Wind means you can use your second wind to gain concealment (or bump concealment to total concealment) for a turn instead of granting +2 all defenses for a turn. Oh, they also have Dusk Elf Weapon Training, which is free proficiency with light blades and a small damage boost with them.
Dusk Elves have a unique racial Paragon Path, called the Darkening Blade; a Dexterity-focused melee attacker who uses a combination of mobility, stealth, and swift but accurate strikes to prevail.
Similarly to the Eladrin, Elves also got a set of alternate racial traits in the Neverwinter Campaign Setting to portray the neglected wood and wild elves. Since the Eladrin were covering the High Elves, this enabled for elves to cover the more primal versions of the species. The unfortunate factor of this is that both variants replaced the racial power, where a good number of racial feats dedicated their existence to, though they did get some consolation prizes.
Wild Elf Variant Traits
- Replace Elven Accuracy with Subtle Step (1/encounter ability to shift at full speed)
- Replace Group Awareness with Wild Elf Weapon Proficiency (Javelin, Spear, Longspear)
Wood Elf Variant Traits
- Replace Elven Accuracy with Sense Threat (Use Perception for Initiative, allies within 10 squares of you gain +2 to Initiative rolls if they scored below you)
- Replace Group Awareness with Wood Elf Reactive Stealth (Can use Stealth to hide when rolling Initiative)
Elves in 5th Edition
- Ability Score: +2 Dexterity
- Typical Alignment: Favor Chaotic Good (Lawful Evil if Drow)
- Size: Medium. Ranges from under 5 to over 6 feet tall, with slender builds. Nothing's stopping you from making a fat elf, of course.
- Speed: 30 foot base walking speed.
- Darkvision 60 feet
- Keen Senses: Proficiency in Perception.
- Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saves against being charmed, and immune to magic that puts you to sleep.
- Trance: Trancing for 4 hours yields the same effect as an 8 hour sleep.
- Languages: Common and Elvish.
And, of course, there are the subraces. The High Elves, with the Sun Elves being the asshole, extra arrogant bastards we all think of, and the Moon Elves, who are more common and friendly (note: they both fall under the umbrella of High Elf, with the same bonuses). Then, there's the tree-hugging Wood Elves, and the edgy Drow.
- Ability Score: +1 Intelligence
- Elf Weapon Training: Proficiency with Longsword, Shortsword, Shortbow, and Longbow.
- Cantrip: Free cantrip from the Wizard spell list. Uses Intelligence as it's Spellcasting Modifier.
- Extra Language: Free extra language.
- Ability Score Increase: +1 Wisdom
- Elf Weapon Training: see above
- Fleet of Foot: Base walking speed now becomes 35 feet.
- Mask of the Wild: You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by natural phenomena, such as foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, and mist.
- Ability Score: +1 Charisma
- Superior Darkvision (120 feet instead of 60)
- Sunlight Sensitivity: Disadvantage on attack rolls and Perception checks that rely on sight if you, your target, or whatever you're trying to perceive, is in direct sunlight.
- Drow Magic: Start with free Dancing Light cantrip, get free Faerie Fire at 3rd level, and free Darkness at 5th level. Both recharge on a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these.
- Drow Weapon Training: Proficiency with rapiers, shortswords, and hand crossbows.
Amazingly, if one doesn't count the Eladrin (who received a writeup in the Dungeon Master's Guide and then a tweak of that in [[Unearthed Arcana), it took until the November 2017 issue of Unearthed Arcana before the elves received some new subraces.
Avariel - Winged elves, and immediately a source of derision on /tg/ for getting absolutely nothing beyond their flight ability.
- Bonus Language: Auran (Elemental Air)
- Flight: Fly speed of 30 feet, but not available if wearing medium armor or heavy armor.
Grugach - Super-feral and territorial wood elves originally from Oerth... in many ways a prototype of the Wood Elves of Warhammer Fantasy. Also really made no sense as a subrace when the PHB specifically lists them as an example of a Wood Elf.
- +1 Strength
- Xenophobic: Your default language is Sylvan instead of Common.
- Grugach Weapon Training: Spear, Shortbow, Longbow, Net.
- Druidic Cantrip: You know 1 cantrip of your choice from the Druid spell list, which uses Wisdom as its spellcasting ability score.
Sea Elves - The long-anticipated(?) oceanic elves of classic D&D lore.
- +1 Constitution
- Bonus Language: Aquan (Elemental Water)
- Sea Elf Weapon Training: Spear, Trident, Light Crossbow, Net.
- Child of the Sea: You have a Swim speed of 30 feet and can breathe both air and water.
- Friend of the Sea: You can communicate with Small or smaller animals that possess an innate swimming speed.
Shadar-kai - These basically attempt to crudely mash-up their lore from the past two editions by using 4e's lore, but making them descendants of elves rather than humans.
- +1 Charisma
- Deathly Cantrip: You know a single cantrip chosen from a list of Chill Touch, Spare the Dying and Thaumaturgy. This cantrip can't be changed at a later date. Your spellcasting ability score for this cantrip is Charisma.
- Blessed By The Raven Queen: You can use a bonus action to teleport to an unoccupied space within 15 feet. After teleporting, you gain resistance to all damage until the end of your next turn, during which time you appear translucent and ghostly. After using this ability, you must complete a short rest or a long rest to use it again.
Magic: The Gatherering
Magic: The Gathering has had Elf as a creature type since forever and unlike Dwarf they have stuck around as a creature type. Though they can do anything green, they are best known for their manadork creatures.
NOTE: As mentioned above, elves have drawn their fair share of hatred. The sections below are a factual but tongue-in-cheek discussion about the aspects of elves. Due to various reasons including overuse, being arrogant, and the males being effeminate threatening the gender insecurities among the audience, there is A LOT of scorn towards elves among communities such as /tg/ and here. Read on, learn more and draw your own conclusions.
The origins and nature of elves lie in Germanic mythology and folklore. Reconstructing the early concept of an elf depends almost entirely on texts in Old English or relating to Norse mythology, which altogether is a clusterfuck of alternate versions and retcons. The facts about elves in these legends often changed, though the general idea was a group of beings with magical powers and supernatural beauty, ambivalent towards everyday people and capable of either helping or hindering them. They have been everything from lesser gods to harmful fey beings almost as bad as demons. These varied portrayals and possible pagan origins led to further demonization of elves when Christianity spread to those parts of the world (though even in the earliest non-Christian mythologies about elves, they are portrayed as unpredictable, mysterious and potentially dangerous). Most elves in modern fiction are derived from their usually benevolent, fey or near-angelic portrayal in Tolkien's works. (Ironically, considering it was some early Christians who demonized elves, Tolkien himself was a Christian.)
For the average elegan/tg/entleman, elves are magical, pointy-eared, forest-dwelling hippies; the antithesis to the industrious, manly dwarven race (though ironically in the original Germanic mythology all Dwarfs are a subset of elf, meaning that all Dwarfs are elves but not all elves were Dwarfs). Though related, they are not in fact Eldar due primarily that one is found in space with guns that shoot shuriken, and the other live in forests and have bows that loose arrows... unless you're playing something crazy like Spelljammer. Elves are the chosen race of many hipster Mary Sues in the fantasy setting thanks to their pointed ears, slender builds and ever-perky breasts. In all actuality, that could be why they're always scantily-clad and the fantasy of neckbeards everywhere. An overused 'fact' (based on said appearance and fantasies) is that "all elves are female unless proven otherwise" or that "an elf's gender is elf".
Please note that this article probably wouldn't concern Dark Eldar and some forms of dark elf, who are usually many times more metal than their fruity non-dark cousins, allowing them some form of toleration or even acceptance by some smar/tg/entlemen. They are also much more likely to show some skin and/or put out, which helps.
Monstergirls: On the Subject of Elven /d/eviancy
|This article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.|
Elves are technically one of the most widely accepted form of monstergirls, alongside the catgirl and the cowgirl. As such, there's a lot of /d/ aspects of elves, both officially and unofficially. Not helping elves is that their menfolk are typically portrayed as slim, clean-shaven, graceful and ranging from "pretty boy" to "androgynous" on the looks department; in Western culture, these are stereotypes of gay men, in contrast to the buff, rugged, hairy, chiseled appearance of, say, a dwarf or an orc. Ironically, in Japan, the stereotypes are actually reversed, so your standard elf is expected to be an avid chaser of human women whilst those burly dwarves and orcs are busy having sweaty gay orgies in their holes in the ground.
As monstergirls elves are just about the lowest entry level of them all. Pointy ears, superior senses, and an improved lifespan are the only ways they really differ from humans (the only other things that are often applie are superhuman speed and enhanced magical ability), and they're almost always very attractive with a comparative lack of aging. They can be anything from wholesome and homely to full-on tsundere or even yandere. Inevitably elves are very lewd, and even the stuck up ones secretly crave sex. They often possess overly sensitive ears that can turn them into helpless moaning messes when rubbed, if not outright drive them to orgasm. Elves are also prime rapebait, submitting to sexually aggressive humans, orcs and monsters after only a few short thrusts or rubs. This makes them popular for the genre of manga/anime where they are easily molested and submit to their partners, leaving them dripping with or soaked in semen and possibly pregnant as well. This also makes them popular with mindbreak and willing slavery fetishists.
In the Monster Girl Encyclopedia, there are two kinds of elf; the standard elves are pretty bog-standard tsunderes who live in seclusion to avoid giving into their craving for dick, whilst the "dark elves" have embraced their corruption and turned into a pack of dusky-skinned incestuous BDSM freaks.
Humans the new Elves?
It is common knowledge that we Humans have a raging hate (and a raging hardon) towards these treehuggers, more so if it is /tg/. Seriously we only think that the only positive outcome of elves if their women gets the tentacle rape treatment. Yet it never really come across that maybe we were the elves the entire time? Well before you carry your pitchforks and shotguns. Think about it. We are the lithest and most agile of the primate species, our women being more flexible than any other primate out there. We also consider ourselves superior to these pebbling animals and we have a relatively long lifespan, that and the fact that we are more inclined to range weapons than bonking large beasts in the heads as well as being generally physically weaker than all of the great apes and even our extinct relatives by a large margin. We also possess Magic and use it all the time, only that we just call it "science" (aside from the fact that humans have religions while animals don't) Well you may say that this may not be true because we have Vikings and other historical badass motherfuckers. Which is kinda true. However, the badassary gets called into deep question when we have ambiguously flamboyant shit like ballet and figure skating. I fucking dare you to find an Elf equivalent in fiction that could rival the tutu-wearing, leotard-bearing, ass-kissing tights that is ballet. The parallels between humans and elves became even more striking in the later 20th century and early 21st century. Seriously think about it. We are seeing a rise in veganism and animal rights activist like the stereotypes of elves being salad munchers and animal fuckers. We are also seeing the rise of the pussification of humans the same way we view elves as colossal pussies. If anything we may be seen as the pussified elves of the animal kingdom to the Neanderthal dorfs (but, assuming they existed, where are the neanderthals now?). We only differ from true elves in that we humans are raging morons at times. Humanity fuck yeah? te on offer.
Elves and Dwarf Fortress
Elves in Dwarf Fortress are notably different than elves in other settings... They are the polar opposite of the above descriptions. The RAGE they create isn't inspired by their gay Mary Suedom, rather the RAGE they create is often related to primal fear and panic. They are terrifying figures of rape incarnate, meaning that all that rape usually focused upon elves in other fantasy settings will be thrust upon your little Dorfy settlers and fortress, with little to no mercy.
TL;DR THEY EAT PEOPLE
|Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races|
|Basic Set:||Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human|
|Creature Catalog 1:|| Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao |
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
|Creature Catalog 2:|| Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy |
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
|Creature Catalog 3:||Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie - Triton|
|Dragon Magazine:|| Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:|| Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubbit - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:|| Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll
|Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races|
|Core:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
|Dark Sun:||Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen|
|Dragonlance:||Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur|
|Mystara:|| Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak) |
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
|Oriental Adventures:||Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk|
|Planescape:||Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling|
|Spelljammer:||Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil|
|Ravenloft:||Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope|
Book of X:
| Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar |
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
|Dragon Magazine:||Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart|
|Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races|
|Player's Handbook 1:|| Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf |
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
|Player's Handbook 2:||Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter|
|Player's Handbook 3:||Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden|
|Monster Manual 1:|| Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki |
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
|Monster Manual 2:||Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku|
|Dragon Magazine:||Gnoll - Shadar-kai|
|Heroes of Shadow:||Revenant - Shade - Vryloka|
|Heroes of the Feywild||Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr|
|Eberron's Player's Guide:||Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged|
|The Manual of the Planes:||Bladeling|
|Dark Sun Campaign Setting:||Mul - Thri-kreen|
|Forgotten Realms Player's Guide:||Drow - Genasi|
|The Races of Pathfinder|
|Player's Handbook:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
| Aasimar - Catfolk - Changeling - Dhampir - Duergar |
Drow - Fetchling - Gillman - Goblin - Grippli - Hobgoblin
Ifrit - Kitsune - Kobold - Merfolk - Nagaji - Orc - Oread
Ratfolk - Samsaran - Strix - Suli - Svirfneblin - Sylph
Tengu - Tiefling - Undine - Vanara - Vishkanya - Wayang
|Bestiaries:|| Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid - Gathlain |
Gnoll - Kasatha - Munavri - Naiad - Orang-Pendak
Reptoid - Rougarou - Shabti - Trox - Yaddithian
|Adventure Paths:||Being of Ib - Kuru|
|Inner Sea Races:|| Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker |
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
|Ultimate Wilderness:||Vine Leshy|
|Blood of the Sea:||Adaro - Cecaelia - Grindylow - Locathah - Sahuagin - Triton|
|Planar Adventures:||Aphorite - Duskwalker - Ganzi|
|The Races of Starfinder|
|Core Races:||Android - Human - Kasatha - Lashunta - Shirren - Vesk - Ysoki|
|Legacy Races:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling|
|Expanded Races:|| Aasimar - Astrazoan - Bantrid - Barathu - Bolida - Borai - Brakim|
Contemplative - Copaxi - Damai - Draelik - Dragonkin - Drow - Elebrian
Embri - Endiffian - Ferran - Formian - Ghibrani - Ghoran - Goblin
Gosclaw - Gray - Haan - Hobgoblin - Ikeshti - Ilthisarian - Kalo
Kanabo - Khizar - Kish - Maraquoi - Morlamaw - Neskinti - Nuar
Orc - Osharu - Pahtra - Phentomite - Quorlu - Reptoid - Ryphorian
Sarcesian - Screedreep - Scyphozoan - Selamid - Seprevoi - Shimreen
Shobhad - Skittermander - SRO - Stellifera - Strix - Svartalfar - Tiefling
Trox - Uplifted bear - Urog - Verthani - Vilderaro - Vlaka - Witchwyrd
Woioko - Wrikreechee
The Elves page is currently an absolute goddamn mess that needs some massive revamping to make it at least somewhat decent. The following will be sorted out or blammed accordingly.
Elf hate in /a/
Even animes hate elves, with the antagonists of Last Exile being a race of elves who are complete pricks and pretty much the cause for the world's problems. Except for tan-skinned and white-haired "chocolate elves", they are generally agreed to be pretty cool.
Is your Elf /tg/ approved?
A Quick guide to making a /tg/ approved elf. Every answer of yes is a point in their favor.
- Do they eat people?
- Are they batshit crazy?
- Does he/she do cocaaaaaaaaaaine?
- Are they NOT Chaotic Good? (Double extra important if it's a Drow)
- Does he/she wield a chainsaw? (
only applicable to some settingsForget that part. A chainsaw wielding, magic casting elf will be accepted anywhere, due to the rules of awesome)
- Is he/she NOT protective of trees/animals? Alternatively, is he/she protective of trees and/or animals BUT to the point of bloody fanaticism ?
- Is he/she sexually attractive?
- Is he/she bloodthirsty?
- Does he/she know how to work metal?
- Is he/she skilled at making technology? Otherwise, is he/she at least skilled at using technology?
- Is he NOT effeminate, if a he?
- Does he have a beard or other facial hair besides eyebrows?
- If he/she is an archer or melee combatant, does he/she have visible muscles? (Note he/she doesn't have to be RIPPED, just visibly muscular. "Swimmer's physique" is a thing. Go google image search for Olympic athletes in the relevant sport ("Olympic fencer body" seems to return good (if rather NSFW) results) for reference of what humans who do that kind of thing semi-professionally actually look like.)
- It is NOT another fucking Drizzt clone?
- Does he/she inspire fear incarnate and is shunned if not hated by society?
- Is he NOT childishly, excessively optimistic?
- Does said elf fight with something ELSE than a bow/longsword/rapier/magic? (Axes, hammers, fists, crossbows, hell even guns if you have them)
- Does he/she swear profusely like a drunk pirate?
- Does he/she drink?
- Is he/she a pirate?
- Does he/she drink?
- Are they not bigoted against non-elves? Alternatively, do they hate non-elves to the point of seeing them as vermin to be enslaved or destroyed?
- Is it NOT like any other elf stereotype you have every seen?
If you have a large majority of "yes", congratulations. You have a /tg/ approved elf.
For DM's, you can create any type of elven race. Be it faggy and hate-inspiring or scary shityourpants, run away because its slowly coming this way. Unless it's a slave-elf, which is often disapproved of for a variety of reasons.
Don't let us know, or we will find you.
Common names for Elves
- Those Treehugging Assholes
- The Fair (or Fey) Folk
- Fantasy's Worst Creation, Second Only To Blood Magic
- Forest Sluts (Wood Elves)
- Pompous Sluts (High Elves)
- Edgy Sluts (Dark Elves)
- Fruit (a common item of an elven diet)
- Smug Forest Cunts
- Punching Bags
- Long Eared Forrest Mongrels
- Dandelion Eaters/Keebs (from Keebler Elves) (Shadowrun)
- Knife Ears (Dragon Age)
- Santa's Minimum-wage Sweatshop Workers
- Keebler Cookie/Cunt
- Salad Eaters
- Fun Police
- Aelves (commonly thought to be a mispronunciation caused by a corporate phallus lodged in the speaker's throat)
- Molesty McGee, the slitheride.
- Beren's Folly
- Beren's In-laws
- Shota Fairy Aliens
- Bard Bait
- Plains Dwarves
- Ward Saves
Typical Elven Traits and Habits
- Having long/pointed ears
- Being physically agile
- Magical powers (or just magic in their blood even if they can't use it)
- Lifespan of hundreds to thousands of years, with correspondingly low birth rate.1
- Hugging trees (How are we supposed to climb them?- an elf)
- Anal pounding 2
- Eating granola or other grain mixtures
- Kissing bunnies
- Prancing in meadows or equivalent
- Snapping in light breezes
- Being sissies or girls
- Bringing useless cloth to your dwarven fortress
- Radiating obscene levels of intense gay
- Being unbelievably fucking smug
- Washing my boots
- Speaking in Dickensian prose and hacking into your computer network
- Having Elfginas
All elves are female until proven otherwise. A variant of this axiom is that an elf's gender is "elf".
A common exception to the above is the 'Fair Folk' variant, known to steal children to raise as another elf with no human memories; they'll take your soul if you catch a glimpse of their Wild Hunt, and sadistically murder you if you ever appear near any of their sacred places. In that sense, maybe the Dark Eldar's habits are a spin on their national time-honored traditions. Who knows.
footnote 1: What elves don't want you to know is they have a birthrate similar to humans, but to achieve their longevity and control their population, they eat their own young. That's why they want you to stay the fuck out of their forests: no witnesses. Another rational and plausible explanation is that, due to their immortality/extreme long-livety, elves limit the number of children they have to prevent overpopulation or simply have widespread female infertility due to anorexia. Alternatively still, their tree-hugging ways tend to result in them getting killed by dangerous animals, keeping their population in check through sheer naiveté.
footnote 2: or they just prefer buttsex
Uses of elves
- 35 elf bone bolts can be made from one elf. The bones are exceptionally splintery. Perfect for dealing with the aforementioned slaves.
- Twigs make excellent fire starters
- Each elf contains about seven pints of elvish blood; easier to carry if you decant first.
- Excellent targets/punching bags. Not only do you hone your skills, but an elf is dead (or at least in pain) at the end. The perfect system! (NOTE: Beware settings where the elves shoot or punch you back).
- Easy start for aspiring pimps.
- Corporate negotiators
- Circus performers
- Nothing of any value
Being better than you and whichever race you play as (unless you play as an elf)Applying butthurt to their sensitive ego