Aquatic elves (also called sea elves and Alu'Tel'Quessir in their own tongue[8]), were water-breathing cousins to land-dwelling elves.[5] They lived amid the waves and the ocean depths with allies such as dolphins and whales. Aquatic elves fought underwater with tridents, spears, and nets.[5]


Although they were of the same subrace, aquatic elves from the Great Sea had a different appearance to those from the Sea of Fallen Stars. The former had deep green skin, mottled and striped with brown. The latter had blue skin with white stripes and patches.[5] Some other aquatic elves had pale silver-green skin.[2][7] Both groups were robust and tall with long limbs, and long, thickly webbed digits. Their most distinctive feature was the gills visible in their necks and over their ribs.[5] Compared to other elves, aquatic elves had deep voices.[7]

Aquatic elves could have eye colors including turquoise,[9] white, black, blue, green, and rarely silver.[8] Their hair was usually thick and somewhat stringy,[5] and some aquatic elves had a rough hair texture.[9] It could be blue-green,[7] emerald green,[5] blue, black, silver, or even occasionally red.[5] Warriors clipped their hair short, but other aquatic elves wore it long and flowing.[5] Females in particular sometimes grew their hair up to 4 feet long.[3]

Aquatic elves were either lightly clad or wore no clothes at all. Their clothes were formed from underwater plants[5] and made with intricate designs in shades of black, brown, and green.[3]


Aquatic elves were isolationist by both their nature and the physical location of their settlements, although they were not quite as reclusive as the wild elves. Their trust did not extend far beyond their clan and others of their kind, and their communities were very tightly-knit. They couldn't understand why the surface elves did not realize that community and alliances meant survival, whereas rivalry, individualism, and factionalism meant death.[8][5] However, despite being extremely cautious, they were also extremely curious, and aquatic elves near the shore would often spend a significant amount time secretly observing the land-bound races.[5]


Aquatic elves were the least magical of the elven subraces and had fewer innate magical gifts. However, they were deeply in touch with their environment, even more so than other elves. They could detect minute changes in the currents of the water and could hear sounds underwater that surface dwellers could not perceive.[7] Additionally, their eyesight was much keener than that of surface races. They could see twice as far as surface elves in low-light conditions (and therefore four times as far as a human)[5][2] and could see clearly enough to count soldiers in an army up to a mile away.[3] They were able to hide in kelp and seaweed as their surface kin could in forests, and their movement was never hindered when moving through the plants.[3][4]

Due to their gills, aquatic elves were amphibious. The amount of time aquatic elves could leave the water without doing harm to themselves seemed to vary. It could range from a few minutes [3] to a few hours[5][10] and up to a day.[9] Additionally, the result of going beyond these limits varied. Some would begin to "drown" on land,[5][2] while others simply experienced a loss of vitality due to drying out and could remain on land indefinitely, remaining healthy if they took the time to soak for an hour every day.[9] Even within the same community, the amount of time could be variable, with some "landwalkers" having a greater capacity for breathing air.[5] Some seemed to have no limitation on their time away from water at all.[1] The elves of Cormanthyr used clerical magic to allow them to remain on the surface for longer periods of time.[11] Some aquatic elves were uncomfortable breathing freshwater and became fatigued quickly when doing so.[5]


Sea elf and sahuagin-5e

Two Aquatic elves fighting a sahuagin.


The majority of aquatic elves lived in the Sea of Fallen Stars and the Great Sea. There were major colonies in the Dragonmere and Dragon Reach areas, as well as several outposts known as the Sharksbane Wall east of the mouth of the Vilhon Reach and west of the Alamber Sea. A colony called Faenasuor lay on the continental slopes east of Starmantle, and a number of small villages could be found off the coast of Tethyr and among the reefs near the Fang of western Aglarond .[5] There was a notable colony of aquatic elves called Hyaline in Lake Sember in Cormanthyr,[11] and a great city known as Iumathiashae with a population of several thousand aquatic elves lay off the shores of Evermeet, as did several smaller settlements, and these served as an underwater army for the island.

Aquatic elves generally built settlements in calm waters that supported coral reefs or seaweed forests.[3][4] These settlements usually had populations between 100 and 400, though communities both significantly larger and smaller existed. Aquatic elven communities were almost entirely self-sufficient, trading with others rarely and then only for luxuries. They subsisted on kelp grown on their farms and fish they hunted.[3][7]


Aquatic elven society was based on family and clan. Noble families and monarchs ruled, but in a benign and loose fashion rather than with an iron fist.[5][7] While women could and did have positions of power, aquatic elven society was largely patriarchal and inheritance ran first through the eldest son.[5]

The concept of private property, for the most part, did not exist among aquatic elves.[5] Whatever given aquatic elf currently carried on their person could be considered theirs, but everything else belonged to the community as a whole.[7] This particularly applied to tools, weapons, and other practical items. Any aquatic elf could take one of these items whenever it was needed and regardless of who had possessed it previously, although individuals were allowed to keep relatively private dwellings. Such communal ownership meant theft was almost unknown.[5] The exceptions to this were monarchs, who often had large and elaborate homes with limited access and many personal items. However, aquatic elven rulers were a reflection of their people and remained rather generous.[7] The freedom to borrow items at will was not extended to outsiders, and surfacers were often watched carefully to make sure they did not try to take advantage of the cultural practice.[5]

Aquatic elves held promises sacred and would rather die than fail to complete something they had sworn to do. If they died in the process, their kin took over the responsibility to complete it. The slightest implication that an aquatic elf wouldn't keep his word was deeply offensive. However, promises received from non-elves were highly suspect, both because aquatic elves knew that other races won't honor the promises of their dead and because only other elves had the lifespan to complete any serious task.[3]


The aquatic elves had their own language that, while clearly related to standard Elvish, was very distinct and not immediately understandable to non-aquatic elves. It was very similar to the language of dolphins, with squeals and clicks interspersed through it. They speak surface languages with great difficulty.[7] Different languages are more or less common among different groups of aquatic elves, but Elvish[7][4] and Aquan[5][1] were known by many groups, as was the Common tongue among those who lived near the shore.[5][3] Those who lived in the Sea of Fallen Stars knew the trade language Serusan.[5] The languages of other aquatic races (including that of their mortal enemy the sahuagin[3]) might also have been known to an aquatic elf.[9] Nobles and most of those who left their home settlements to adventure were literate, although commoners were not.[5]

Magic & Religion

Aquatic elves were the least magical of the elven races. Once every two or three generations an aquatic elf showed a talent for arcane magic,[11] making magical talent about as common as it is in dwarf communities rather than in human or elven ones.[5] Those who were spellcasters devoted their long life spans to study and became extremely skilled.[5] In remote communities those elves who were magically inclined were limited to the teachings of the few older magic users and rare written materials. The aquatic elves of Lake Sember were able to send those with magical ability to study with the great mages of Myth Drannor.[11]

While it was unclear why arcane magic was so uncommon among the aquatic elves, it was rumored that the drow were somehow responsible for taking this ability from them,[3] and this was part of the reason the aquatic elves held such a grudge against them.[12]

Clerical magic was much more common among aquatic elves.[11] Most revered Deep Sashelas, the elven sea god of knowledge and creation,[5] but Corellon Larethian was still revered as the father of their race and they acknowledged the other Seldarine to a much lesser extent. It was considered a great honor for a member of an aquatic elven family to be a priest of Deep Sashelas.[11] Some aquatic elves were also known to worship Istishia.[13]

Arts & Leisure

Sculpture was the primary art form of aquatic elves, as other mediums were likely to be destroyed by the water in short order. Intricately carved reliefs cover the walls of most cities, and statues were common.[7]

Aquatic elves were also quite musical. Their powerful voices traveled farther than expected underwater, and their thrumming songs brought to mind whalesong and dolphin noises. The songs were often very long and evoked the rolling calm of the ocean.[7] Bards were common in aquatic elven society.[5]

Because they lived underwater, the products of aquatic elven crafting often differed significantly from their counterparts on the surface. They developed a range of waterproof magical items, and a system of writing underwater using either cured sharkskin or thick seaweed and an extremely viscous ink.[5] They did not commonly use metal, as it was almost impossible to forge underwater and would corrode quickly.[5][4][9] What little metal they did use was traded for or scavenged from shipwrecks. The exception to this was gold, which would not corrode and was easily shaped in its raw form. Beaten gold jewelry was common among aquatic elves. Most aquatic elven items were crafted from stone, coral, shells, and animal materials such as bone, narwhal horns, turtle shells, sharkskin, or chitin.[5] One of their commonly crafted types of magical items were their tridents of serenity, which would keep sahuagin in the vicinity of the weapon from entering a blood frenzy and were given to elves patrolling the borders of a territory.


Aquatic elves were extremely isolationist. There were some aquatic elves who did not even know that the surface existed, let alone a whole world beyond it.[7] Even other underwater races were generally kept at a distance, regardless of alignment. Aquatic elves fought fiercely against evil races and did not see the point of mingling with their shorter-lived neighbors even if they were of similar alignment.[3]

This isolation extended even to other elves, although if aquatic elves had to interact with anyone they preferred that it be their surface kin.[3] However, at least in Iumathiashae, the elves cared deeply for the surface elves and appreciated the contact they did have with them even if they still kept mainly to themselves.[7] The aquatic elves of Hyaline in Lake Sember were less isolated from their kin, having decided that it was necessary for the survival of their children to learn more of the surface world. Aquatic elves there regularly interacted with the elves of Semberholme and their children were taught in the many schools within the city. This colony also had friendly relations with the treants on the southern shore of their lake.[11] In general, aquatic elves saw little difference between the subraces of surface elves.[5][7][11]

Aquatic elves hated sahuagin and sharks more than any other creature and would often attack them on sight. They were driven to destroy them at every opportunity.[5][3] Aquatic elven societies were occasionally infiltrated by a certain type of mutated sahuagin that looked almost exactly like them, known as a malenti.[3]

They were also incredibly wary of human fisherman since aquatic elves who were caught in their nets were often mistaken for sahuagin and killed.[5][3][4] Aquatic elves maintained neutral relations with merfolk and locathah. Tritons and marine storm giants sometimes lived in harmony with aquatic elven settlements.[9]

The creatures aquatic elves had the closest relationship with were dolphins.[5][3][4][9] Any large group of aquatic elves had a 50% chance of being accompanied by a number of dolphins.[3] They held whales in great reverence as well, with many of their settlements being built on whale migration routes so that they could interact with the creatures regularly. Young aquatic elves would even travel with a whale pod for a year as a sort of pilgrimage.[5] Many other marine creatures were also tamed as mounts, beasts of burden, and pets.[9]


Aquatic elves were the last of the elven races to reach Faerûn and had always kept themselves somewhat apart from their land-bound kin. At first, they were nomadic wanderers but gradually they began to form separate communities.[5] According to one aquatic elven myth, they were once land-dwelling as well and their ancestors served as an armada that was going down in a storm and was saved by an unknown goddess.[7]

They attempted to stay aloof from the Crown Wars, but this failed and the destruction and turbulence spread to their homes, driving some of the aquatic elves of the Great Sea north into the Sea of Fallen Stars.[5] They repeatedly battled with the evil underwater races, especially the sahuagin, but at times they also fought against merfolk and other goodly races.[5]

In -231 DR, the Kelpor'ral clan moved from the Sea of Fallen Stars to Lake Sember, founding Hyaline.[11]

Notable Aquatic Elves


Further Reading


External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 101–103. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), pp. 110–111. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 39. ISBN 0-9356-9600-8.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 5.27 5.28 5.29 5.30 5.31 5.32 5.33 5.34 5.35 5.36 5.37 5.38 5.39 5.40 5.41 5.42 5.43 5.44 5.45 5.46 5.47 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 28–30. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  6. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 109. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 Anne Gray McCready et al. (March 1994). Elves of Evermeet. (TSR, Inc), pp. 26–29. ISBN 1-5607-6829-0.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 Todd Mossburg (December). “Children of the Deep”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #116 (TSR, Inc), pp. 28–30.
  10. Anne Gray McCready et al. (March 1994). Elves of Evermeet. (TSR, Inc), p. 105. ISBN 1-5607-6829-0.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), pp. 94–96. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  12. Elaine Cunningham (May 1998). Tangled Webs. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 228. ISBN 0-7869-0698-7.
  13. Walter M. Baas and Kira Glass (1991). Nightwatch in the Living City. (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 1-56076-068-0.
  14. Elaine Cunningham (March 2003). Tangled Webs. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2959-6.


High elves
LlewyrrMoon elfStar elfSun elf
Aquatic elf (Marel)AvarielDark elfDrowDusk elfLythariPoscadar elfSnow elfSylvan elf (Wild elfWood elf)
Related races
Planetouched: CeladrinDraeglothFey'ri
Humanblood: CrintiHalf-elfHalf-drowHalf-sea elf
Dragonblood: Drow-dragon (shadow)Drow-dragon (deep)ZekylZar'ithra
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.