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Elves are an ancient and powerful people, whose years are long and whose passions run deep. They form tight communities in hidden forests but mingle freely with other humanoids, always welcome yet never at home. Elves favor things of natural and simple beauty and are famed for their poetry, dance, song, lore, and magical arts. When danger threatens their woodland homes, however, they reveal a stern martial side, demonstrating skill with sword, bow, and battle strategy.
Taking the Long View
Elves are more often amused than excited, and more likely to be curious than greedy. With such a long life span, they keep a broad perspective on events, remaining aloof and unfazed by petty happenstance. When pursuing a goal, however, whether adventuring on a mission or learning a new skill or art, elves can be focused and relentless. They are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. They reply to petty insults with disdain and to serious insults with vengeance.
Slender and Graceful
Elves are about the same height as humans, though they vary more widely. They range from under 5 feet tall to just over 6 feet, but they are slender, weighing only 100 to 145 pounds. Males are about as tall as and only marginally heavier than females. Elves tend to be pale-skinned and dark-haired, with deep-green eyes. They have no facial or body hair. With their unearthly grace and fine features, elves appear hauntingly beautiful to humans and members of many other races. They prefer simple, comfortable clothes, especially in pastel blues and greens, and they enjoy simple yet elegant jewelry. An elf reaches adulthood at about 110 years of age and can live to be more than 700 years old.
Proud but not Cold
Elves have high expectations and do not hide that fact. They consider humans rather unrefined, halflings a bit staid, gnomes somewhat trivial, and dwarves not at all fun. They look on half-elves with some degree of pity, and they regard half-orcs with unrelenting suspicion. While they can be haughty, elves are generally pleasant and gracious even to those who fall short of their standards (a category that encompasses just about everybody who's not an elf).
Hidden Woodland Realms
Most elves dwell in forest settlements, each numbering less than two hundred souls. Their well-hidden villages are built among and blend into the trees, doing little harm to the forest. Elveshunt game, gather food, and grow vegetables, and their skill and magic allow them to support themselves without the need for clearing and plowing land. They are talented artisans, crafting finely worked clothes and art objects. Their contact with outsiders is usually limited, though a few elves make a good living by trading crafted items for metals (which they have no interest in mining).
Elves encountered outside their own lands are commonly traveling minstrels, favored artists, or wandering sages. Human nobles compete for the services of elf instructors to teach swordplay to their children.
Alignment: Elves love freedom, variety, and self-expression, so they lean strongly toward the gentler aspects of chaos. Generally, they value and protect others' freedom as well as their own, and they are more often good than not.
Religion: Above all others, elves worship Corellon Larethian, the Protector and Preserver of Life. Elven myth holds that the race arose from his blood, shed in battles with Gruumsh, the god of the orcs. Corellon is a patron of magical study, arts, dance, and poetry, as well as a powerful warrior god.
Language: The Elven language is fluid, with subtle intonations and intricate grammar. While elves' literature is rich and varied, their songs and poems are most famous among other people. Many bards learn their language so they can add Elven ballads to their repertoires. Others simply memorize them by sound. The Elven script, as flowing as the spoken word, also serves as the written form of Sylvan, the tongue of many woodland beings, and of Undercommon, spoken by drow and other subterranean creatures.
Names: Elves are considered children until they declare themselves adults, some time after the hundredth birthday, and during this period they are called by "child names." On declaring adulthood, an elf also selects an adult name, although those who knew him or her as a youngster might continue to use the child name. Each elf's adult name is a unique creation, though it might reflect the names of respected individualsor other family members. In addition, every elfbears a family name, typically a combination of other Elven words. Some elves traveling among humans translate their family names into Common, while others use the Elven version.
Male Adult Names: Adran, Aelar, Aramil, Arannis, Aust, Beiro, Berrian, Carric, Enialis, Erdan, Erevan, Galinndan, Hadarai, Heian, Himo, Immeral, Ivellios, Laucian, Mindartis, Paelias, Peren, Quarion, Riardon, Rolen, Soveliss, Thamior, Tharivol, Theren, Varis.
Female Adult Names: Adrie, Althaea, Anastrianna, Andraste, Antinua, Bethrynna, Birel, Caelynn, Drusilia, Enna, Felosial, Ielenia, Jelenneth, Keyleth, Leshanna, Lia, Meriele, Mialee, Naivara, Quelenna, Quillathe, Sariel, Shanairra, Shava, Silaqui, Theirastra, Thia, Vadania, Valanthe, Xanaphia.
Family Names (Common Translations): Amastacia (Starflower), Amakiir (Gemflower), Galanodel (Moonwhisper), Holimion (Diamonddew), Liadon (Silverfrond), Meliamne (Oakenheel), Nailo (Nightbreeze), Siannodel (Moonbrook), Ilphelkiir (Gemblossom), Xiloscient (Goldpetal).
Elves take up adventuring out of wanderlust. Being long-lived, they can enjoy centuries of exploration and discovery. They dislike the pace of human society, which is both regimented from day to day but ever changing over decades, so they find careers that let them to travel freely and set their own pace. Elves also enjoy exercising their martial prowess or gaining greater magical power, and adventuring allows them to do so. Some might be rebels, usually against unjust repression, while others might be champions of just causes.
As an elf, you have all the following racial traits.
Low-Light Vision: If there is no light within 30 feet of you, you treat shadows in that radius as normal light, and you treat darkness in that radius as shadows.
Elf Weapon Training: When you attack with a longsword, a shortbow, or a longbow with which you have proficiency, the damage die for that weapon increases by one step: from d6 to d8, or d8 to d10.
Keen Senses: You have advantage on checks made to listen to, search for, or notice something.
Free Spirit: You are immune to the charmed condition and to any effect that would put you to sleep.
Trance: Elves do not need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply for 4 hours a day. (The Common word for such meditation is "trance.") While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; suchdreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. Afterresting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.
Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Elven.
Subrace: Choose a subrace. Two subraces are described here: high elf and wood elf.
The high elves were the first people to master arcane magic, and many spells used today originated with elf wizards of old. They benefit still from the magical mastery achieved so long ago, and nearly every high elf knows something of magic. High elves tend to be guarded and aloof, more serious and focused than their woodland kin.
Ability Score Adjustment: Your starting Intelligence score increases by 1.
Speed: 30 feet.
Cantrip: Choose one minor spell from the wizard's spell list. You know and can cast this spell.
Intelligence is your magic ability for it.
Where high elves are serious and civilized, wood elves are anything but. Free spirits, capricious and whimsical, they claim sylvan lands untouched by civilization. Some have close ties to other neighboring races while others can be xenophobic, keeping to themselves and finding even small towns unpleasant and uncomfortable. Wood elves lack the innate magic enjoyed by high elves, but they have an uncanny ability to move undetectedthrough the wilderness.
Ability Score Adjustment: Your starting Dexterity score increases by 1.
Speed: 35 feet.
Wood Elf Grace: You can attempt to hide evenwhen you are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.