- See also: Tel-quessir
High elves, also sometimes known as eladrin, were graceful warriors and wizards who originated from the realm of Faerie, also known as the Feywild.[note 1] They lived in the forests of the world. They were magical in nature and shared an interest in the arcane arts. From an early age they also learned to defend themselves, particularly with swords.
Occasionally the term "noble eladrin" was used to denote more powerful variants, who had become so infused with the magic of the Feywild that they took on the characteristics of natural phenomena such as seasons. Prior to the Spellplague, the term "eladrin" referred exclusively to celestial eladrin, the chaotic good celestials residing in Arvandor. After the Spellplague and the reemergence of the Feywild to Toril, certain races of the Tel-quessir, previously referred to as "elves," began to self-identify as eladrin.
High elves were roughly of human height, standing from 5′5″‒6′1″ (1.7‒1.9 m) on average, but were lighter, weighing from 130 to 180 pounds (59 to 82 kilograms). Even exceptionally strong high elves looked rather slim compared with other races, looking athletic rather than muscular. Most high elves were fair-skinned, though sun elven skin was a hue darker than that of the star elves or moon elves. Dark elven skin, in contrast, was dark brown. Most high elves had black hair, with silvery hues common among moon elves and star elves while blond or copper hues were more common among the sun elves. This hair was often worn long and loose.
High elven eyes were most commonly green, with sun elves commonly possessing golden eyes and moon elves commonly exhibiting blue hues. Violet eyes were also not unheard of, though rarer. Unlike moon elves or sun elves, high elves native to the Feywild lacked pupils and had eyes that appeared to be solid orbs of color while more common varieties of high elves exhibited eyes of normal color except for the gold-speckled appearance of moon elf eyes.
High elves, like elves, grew at a decelerating rate throughout their lives. Very young high elves matured at a rate comparable with humans but during adolescence slowed to a near stop until about 110 years of age, at which point high elves were considered mature. Elves then remained vigorous and active until the middle of their third century. Even so, after this, most high elves suffered few of the infirmities of old age that plagued other races, remaining full of life until the end.
Common to all high elves was the fact that they didn't sleep. Instead, they entered a trance, also known as a “reverie”, for four hours a day. During this time they meditated on recent events.
High elves were graceful, intelligent beings, with a greater capacity for intelligence than most humanoid races while also possessing an agility comparable with their elven kin. High elves were also unusually strong-willed and had a natural resistance to the effects of enchantment spells. High elves also had no need for sleep in the same way most humanoids did, instead going into a trance. While in a trance, high elves remained fully aware of their immediate surroundings. Furthermore, high elves needed only rest for four hours to get the same effect that most other humanoids got from six hours of sleep.
Perhaps most notable, however, was an ability possessed by high elves prior to the First Sundering and regained after the Spellplague. This ability, known as fey step, allowed a high elf to slip out of the Prime and into the Feywild, or vice versa, with relative ease.
Due to their longevity and strong ties to the otherworldly magic of the Feywild, high elves had a detached view of the world outside of their sphere. High elves as a whole had difficulty believing that the events occurring over mere "years" affected them in any major way, with the exception of major tragedies such as the Time of Troubles or the Spellplague. High elves instead looked at things from a much longer perspective, unconcerned with anything that had consequences that stretched over anything less than decades. However, while some high elves were content to seclude themselves, others stalked the lands as champions battling the evil just outside of a high elven city's magical wards.
This detached view of the world could make high elves seem distant and intimidating, not to mention haughty and arrogant. Furthermore, the powerful fey nature of high elves might frighten less magically talented races. High elves, however, took friendships quickly to heart and could react with rage when their compatriots are threatened. Combined with their general intelligence, bravery, and arcane power, this loyalty to friends made them formidable allies and dangerous enemies.
Though perhaps haughty in their view of it, many felt a need to explore the world around them and were curious, particularly in their youth. However, the tragedies of the Time of Troubles and Spellplague checked this adventurism to an extent and many high elves retreated into their strongholds where magical wards held off the evils around them. Overall, moon elves had a stronger impulse for exploration and discovery than sun elves or star elves, both of whom were more cautious in their dealings with the outside world.
High elven society long straddled the boundary between the Prime Material Plane and Faerie. High elven cities were magnificent marvels of elegant architecture made of wondrous towers and structures that blended seamlessly into places of natural beauty. Many high elven cities were found in locations where the border between the Prime and the Feywild was particularly thin—isolated mountain vales, green islands, storm-wracked coasts, and the deepest reaches of ancient forests. Some high elven realms existed entirely in the Feywild, or at least partially so, most famously in the case of Evermeet. Many of these cities crossed over occasionally into the Prime before winking out of existence entirely.
High elves lived in grace with the touch of magic found throughout their lives, as exemplified by Corellon, the patron god of all fey but particularly his chief creation the high elves. High elven practices of all sorts were influenced by this from dance and song to swordplay and wizardry. The cities of the high elves were stunning locations of beauty, formed and shaped by the blending of magic with graceful and elegant designs.
High elven clothing was often simple and functional, but did not lack beauty and grace any more than other clothing, with complex and beautiful patterns woven into the cloth. The clothing, while otherwise non-fanciful, was often made of superior materials to those used in other clothes. Most high elves preferred clothing of natural colors such as green, but others wore garments of garish hues, particularly during holy days or festivals.
Relations with other races
Although most high elves resided in isolated communities of their kin, a few had interests or dealings in the outside world, and it was not uncommon to find high elves living among dragonborn, dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, humans, and tieflings. Overall, moon elves were more open in their dealings and eager to make friends outside of the high elven race while sun elves were cautious and star elves nigh xenophobic. Grey elves, in general, show their xenophobia towards both the N'Tel'Quess, and the other Tel-Quessir'.
Wood elves were descended from eladrin. In fact, to many other races both wood elves and high elves were simply known as elves, or they would refer to eladrin as "high elves" or "gray elves". It didn't help that both high elves and elves spoke the same language, Elven, and had many similarities.
High elves, unlike wood elves who appeared conspicuously absent from the Feywild, were not in fact native to the Prime, having emigrated to Toril from the realm of Faerie during the Dawn Ages. This migration started circa −27,000 DR when the fey opened gates from the Faerie realm allowing large numbers of green elves (who later became the true elves), avariels, and lythari to migrate to Toril. Further migrations to Faerûn occurred around −25,400 DR, when the sun elves and moon elves, the modern variants of high elves, first arrived. These early settlements were early enough that, when Abeir-Toril was split into two, elves and high elves ended up on both worlds.
Through the efforts of these early high elf settlers, the Time of Dragons was brought to an end and the First Flowering of the Fair Folk would begin, resulting in the temporary dominance of wood elves and high elves over all of Toril. High elves concentrated themselves primarily in the west, with sun elves along what would become the Sword Coast, founding the nation of Aryvandaar while moon elves forged the nation of Orishaar in what would become the Shaar.
Eventually, however, these nations were brought low by the Crown Wars, a series of destructive conflicts between all branches of the Tel-quessir race. These wars, while partially inspired by the cruelties of Ilythiir. The resultant conflicts tore the Tel-quessir apart, causing both the creation of the drow and the destruction of most green elf nations. Eventually, the Seldarine found the high elves of Aryvandaar, particularly its ruling family the Vyshantaar, culpable and in the last Crown War the nation was exterminated.
Another traumatic event followed shortly after the Crown Wars: the First Sundering. During this event, which resulted in the creation of Evermeet, arcane spellcasters from across Faerûn gathered to try and bring part of the Feywild into the Prime. The ritual used, however, backfired and killed most of the mages involved and destroyed entire nations. Although the ritual's purpose was ultimately successful in creating a new homeland for the Tel-quessir people, Evermeet would eventually prove a drain on the high elven people, causing many to abandon Faerûn for its greener pastures, a practice triggered in large part by the fall of another great high elven nation, Myth Drannor, in the Year of Doom, 714 DR.
Eventually, however, the Retreat came to an end, brought about partially by drow attacks on Evermeet and other ill portents. Following these events, many of the high elves who had taken refuge there began to return to the mainland, boosting their numbers during the Era of Upheaval.
After the disruptive events of the Spellplague, the Feywild moved closer and back into parallel with Toril, making the barriers between the two planes much more porous. As a result, the race reacquired their ability to fey step.
High elves were found most commonly either in the Feywild or on the Prime Material Plane. In the first case, high elves were found throughout all of the fey equivalent of Toril, but were particularly common in places such as Evermeet or Sildëyuir. The high elves of the Prime, on the other hand, were more common in the kingdom of Myth Drannor, though many were found in the more cosmopolitan regions of Faerûn such as the Sword Coast.
High Elven Subraces
Many varieties of high elves or eladrin existed, though some later went extinct or evolved into entirely separate races.
- Moon elf
- The most numerous of all Tel-quessir, so numerous that when someone uttered the word "elf" they most likely meant a moon elf. They were also known as "silver elves". They were friendly, outgoing, curious and bold.
- Sun elf
- Also known as "gold elves", they were cautious, detached, considered, and always took the "long view".
- Star elf
- Also known as "mithral elves".
- Dark elf
- Dark-brown-skinned, high elven ancestors of drow.
- High elves that were geographically and culturally isolated for millennia on the isle of Gwynneth in the Moonshaes.
- The term "high elf" in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd editions of D&D was the main playable elven race, the common elf. High elves of this sort did not exist in the Realms, though they shared the same statistics with moon elves. In the Realms, the term "high elf" was a synonym for gold elves only, according to the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set, Elves of Evermeet, and Player's Guide to the Forgotten Realms Campaign. In core 4e, the term "high elf" was given as a synonym for "eladrin" in the 4th-edition Player's Handbook, and both moon elves and sun elves were said to be eladrin in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. 5th edition stopped using the term "eladrin" for these two races, but it did maintain the classification of both subraces as high elves. This article is for any of the elven subraces that were called eladrin in 4th edition.
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Aquatic Elves: Aquatic elf • Marel
Dark Elves: Dark elf • Drow
Sylvan Elves: Wild elf • Wood elf
Miscellaneous: Avariel • Dusk elf • Lythari • Poscadar elf • Snow elf
Planetouched: Celadrin • Draegloth • Eladrin • Fey'ri • Shadar-kai
Humanblood: Crinti • Half-elf • Half-drow • Half-sea elf
Dragonblood: Drow-dragon (shadow) • Drow-dragon (deep) • Zekyl • Zar'ithra
Miscellaneous: Drider • Maraloi