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The sun elves, also sometimes known as gold elves, sometimes as high elves due to their stereotypically elitist ways, and Ar-tel-quessir[5] in their own language were a subrace of high elves historically rare in Faerûn due to the Retreat, in which the majority abandoned the continent for Evermeet, although during the Era of Upheaval they began returning to the mainland. Haughty and arrogant, sun elves typically felt themselves superior to most other races, including other Tel-quessir.[6]


Like all of the Tel-quessir, the sun elves were close to the height of humans, but with notable differences. Sun elves had bronze-colored skin and hair most often of copper, golden blond, and black, with red more uncommon but not unheard of.[5] Sun elves typically had green eyes, though golden ones were also common[7], often with a liquid appearance, and silver, black, hazel, or copper hues had also been heard of.[5] Like their moon elven brethren, male sun elves were typically taller and heavier than females, sometimes by as much as five inches or twenty pounds.[8]

Sun elves had a reputation for being stronger but less durable than other elves.[9]


Sun elves were firmly of the belief that they stood as the sole protectors and inheritors of Corellon's legacy in the Prime. Patient and deliberate in most of what they did, they demonstrated an orderly nature uncommon to most elves, preferring to master a skill before applying it rather than learning as they go. Rushing was out of the nature of sun elves, who, while less versatile than most races, had a mastery of whatever they applied themselves to. The only true exception to this was martial combat, which nearly all sun elves had some training in, regardless of how much and which most were eager to finish as quickly as possible once engaged.[10]



Sun elves

Unlike most elves, sun elves organized their society along firm and hierarchical traditions. Communities were typically run by members of an esteemed nobility, some of whom could trace their ancestry all the way back to the First Crown War. There was a difference, however, between sun elven and human monarchy and where a human king typically accumulated influence through the ownership of land or command of soldiers, a sun elf noble commanded authority through the prestige of their family name or the magical power they held at their behest, a power they often demonstrated through the grandeur of their home.[10]

Sun elves were less motivated to become adventurers than their wandering moon elven brethren and preferred, for the most part, to keep to themselves. Those who were driven into the world to forge a path among the other races often did so as spies or scouts on the behalf of their people, or perhaps as vigilant watchmen against possible threats. Others might be drawn to adventure by a desire to explore the ancient ruins of the world and learn from their secrets, bringing back lost secrets of magic and power to their people. Most sun elves who turned to adventure did so as wizards, fighters, or something in-between, though sun elves generally lacked the desire to be versatile. Many sun elves also became bards, though they were a rare sort given more to solemn songs of the ancients than joyous ballads. Many sun elves were also clerics or paladins and had more to their number of either than any other elven culture. Sun elves who continued their career away from sun elven homes often went on to become masters of the arcane such as arcane devotees, archmages, or loremasters. Sun elves also favored the paths of the arcane archer and bladesinger, though to a lesser extent.[10]

Art and Leisure[]

The sun elven qualities of patience and haughtiness often both demonstrated themselves in sun elf art. Sun elven architecture, while undeniably beautiful in most cases, was often flashier than what other elves commonly built, a quality in part due to the fact that sun elves would accept nothing short of perfection, working tirelessly in their art to constantly raise the aesthetic bar. Sun elf art, poetry, music — all of these demonstrated a regal attitude that had come to be closely associated with sun elven tastes. To a sun elf, the grander a piece the better, with heroic ballads or tragic epics the preferred form of literature amongst the subrace. Sun elves loved and enjoyed learning, perhaps even to a point that others might find surprising. Nearly all sun elves had access to a private store of knowledge and no self-respecting sun elf lacked the capacity to read or write.[10]

Contrastingly, many sun elves preferred clothing that was at once beautiful and understated, with subdued colors like blue or green favored over bolder hues. Most sun elves decorated themselves with gold or mithral embroidery in subtle patterns woven into the design of their clothes and which added to the beauty of the clothing without seeming flashy or showy. Similarly, most sun elven jewelry was simple in appearance, but in fact exquisitely complex both in construction and design.[8]

Unlike other Tel-quessir, few sun elves enjoyed keeping pets, though they retained a fondness of nature itself. Sun elves were rarely disturbed by wild animals, more often welcoming them should they pass within a city's limits. For companionship or servitude, however, sun elves were more likely to summon powerful elementals or immortals than natural creatures. Those who did keep personal pets were most likely to use them as mounts, though often exotic ones such as pegasi or giant eagles.[11]

Magic and Religion[]

Sun elves had a deep respect for magic, particularly of the high magic variety, and often concentrated their studies on its nature and use. Sun elves had an advantage in this over other races, even other elves, for as a collective group, sun elves had a greater wealth of lore than any other, a collection accumulated over millennia. With the proper training, sun elven mages might be capable of warding an entire city or changing the landscape of a small region overnight, although such power was often used hesitantly and with restraint; the destruction of Myth Drannor and other disasters reminding sun elves that, with great power, came the need to restrain one's self. As a result, sun elves, as much out of an urge to prevent magical disasters as out of possessive arrogance, were hesitant to use their abilities learned as mages outside of their domains.[10]

Although sun elves favored the arcane, they did not neglect the divine and most sun elves were deeply religious. This piety was often intertwined with nationalism, as sun elves firmly believed they were the chosen people of the Seldarine. As in most other things, sun elves left no detail incomplete and the sun elven ceremonies devoted to the Seldarine were often long and drawn-out. For other races, these rites might even seem dull, with sun elves neglecting any hint of joy or merriness, which they believed disrespectful to the gods, in their worship.[12]

Sun elves generally paid heed to all the Seldarine,[12] though some did not consider Angharradh to be amongst the Seldarine.[13] Most found Corellon Larethian most worthy of their veneration. To the common sun elf, Corellon reflected the best qualities of a leader — wisdom, generosity, and firm leadership. Priests of the god often had a high place in sun elven society, advising nobility and aiding the military. Another god who commonly drew sun elf attention was Labelas Enoreth, who sun elves saw as the leader and protector of their culture in particular, as well as the keeper of wisdom and knowledge that sun elves valued so highly.[12]

Relations with other races[]

Sun elves had a high opinion of themselves, even in comparison with the moon elves, and as a race felt that they were the chosen people of Corellon himself, selected to protect the traditions and culture of the Tel-quessir.[10] But in spite of this, most sun elves did feel an affection for their brethren, the moon elves, although in a way that could often seem patronizing. Sun elves generally saw moon elves as immature and irresponsible children who, although amusing, needed to be constantly reminded of their duties to the greater Tel-quessir family.[12]

A sun elf (top) and a wood elf (bottom).

Interestingly, sun elves were often on better terms with the sylvan elves, whose reverence for nature and stern manner was admired by the sun elves. Of the second branch in the Tel-quessir family tree, sun elves were most fond of wood elves, though the sparse settlement of both peoples meant that direct contact was a rare thing. Sun elves were less amiable towards the wild elves, whom they felt were in need of "civilizing." Of all the Tel-quessir, however, sun elves viewed the aquatic elves the most positively, seeing them as their equals and partners in spreading Tel-quessir culture across Toril.[12]

Sun elven opinions on races outside of the Tel-quessir were far more strained. Sun elves could be incredibly prejudiced, to the point of some even refusing to aid a dying human if it mildly inconvenienced them. Many sun elves objected to speaking in any language other than Elven or even to speaking with members of other races at all. These prejudices were partially rooted in past wrongs done by humans unto sun elves, though in truth they often only served to heighten present tensions.[14]

Of all the races in the world, however, the one that sun elves held the most open hatred for were the drow. Sun elves, like many elves, viewed the drow as a blasphemy incarnate and made a policy of killing any drow they might meet on sight. So deep was this contempt for the drow that rumors of an attempted drow expansion into the ruins of Cormanthyr were one of the primary reasons for the eventual return of the sun elves to the ancient kingdom in 1374 DR.[12]

Compared to moon elves, sun elves were relatively uncommon,[9] though their numbers in Faerûn grew during the Era of Upheaval.


Sun elves migrated to Abeir-Toril around the same time as the moon elves, making them among the last elves to appear on the world. Although less numerous than the moon elves, sun elves settled into the new world more easily, forming the nations of Aryvandaar and Othreier. Of the two, Aryvandaar would become the most powerful, blossoming under the rule of House Vyshaan. However, this prosperity would come with a cost and Aryvandaar's blatant aggression towards other cultures would be one of the main causes of the Crown Wars, which would eventually result in the nation's obliteration. As a result, sun elves turned inwards, becoming less expansionist and more reclusive.[8]

Among the greatest nations founded by the sun elves was Cormanthyr, centered around the city of Myth Drannor, which the subrace would found in −3983 DR. Built on the principles of compassion and the responsible use of magic, Cormanthyr was among the most powerful empires of its day, eclipsed in power only briefly by Netheril. Defending it were the Crown Coronals, an order of swordmages that kept the power of neighboring human empires checked for centuries. It was during this period that Cormanthyr first welcomed humans into its territory, signing the Dales compact and raising the Standing Stone, which still mark the year 0 in the commonly used Dalereckoning dating system.[12]

However, Cormanthyr would not last, done in both by the growing power of humanity as well as an overabundance of magic, in spite of the nation's attempts at restraint. In the Year of Doom, the thin veil between the Prime and the fiendish planes was broken, resulting in the invasion of Cormanthyr by a horde of fiends. Ultimately, Myth Drannor fell and the sun elves took to the already progressing Retreat in greater numbers than ever before, resettling in the distant isle of Evermeet, the last major sun elven civilization, the second largest settlement composed in the moon elven-dominated city of Evereska.[6]

During the Era of Upheaval, however, the sun elves made a slow but gradual comeback. The Retreat, which had gone on for millennia, came to its conclusion and many sun elves began to return to Faerûn.[10] In the Year of Lightning Storms this would culminate in the reclaiming of Myth Drannor, an event which would itself lead to the blossoming, once again, of a great sun elven nation.[15]


Sun elves had historically been rare in Faerûn, the majority having departed the continent for Evermeet after the fall of Myth Drannor. However, isolated communities remained strewn throughout the land, with the largest clumps concentrated in the North, the Western Heartlands, or the moon elven city of Evereska.[6] However, as of 1479 DR, sun elves were far more plentiful than they once were and the city of Myth Drannor once again housed a sizable portion.[16]

Notable Sun Elf Houses[]



Return of the Archwizards (The Summoning, The Siege)



  1. 1.0 1.1 Steve Kenson, et al. (November 2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 106. ISBN 978-0-7869-6580-9.
  2. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  4. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 32. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 18. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 40–41. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  7. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 41. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  11. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 41–42. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 42. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  13. Anne Gray McCready et al. (March 1994). Elves of Evermeet. (TSR, Inc), pp. 43–4. ISBN 1-5607-6829-0.
  14. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 41–2. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  15. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 156. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  16. Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.


High elves: Grey elfLlewyrrMoon elfStar elfSun elf
Aquatic Elves: Aquatic elfMarel
Dark Elves: Dark elfDrow
Sylvan Elves: Wild elfWood elf
Miscellaneous: AvarielDusk elfLythariPoscadar elfSnow elf
Related races
Planetouched: CeladrinDraeglothEladrinFey'riShadar-kai
Humanblood: CrintiHalf-elfHalf-drowHalf-sea elf
Dragonblood: Drow-dragon (shadow)Drow-dragon (deep)ZekylZar'ithra
Miscellaneous: DriderMaraloi