See also: Sylvan elf and Green elf (disambiguation)

Wild elves or green elves, also known as Sy-tel-quessir or grugach,[3] are a feral, stealthy subrace of the elven species that have become more and more reclusive over the years. As of 1374 DR, they are an extremely insular race who remain close to nature and are rarely seen by other races.[1] They have a heavier build and darker skin than other elf subraces despite having a similar average height.[4]


Physical characteristicsEdit

Wild elves have darker skin than other elven subraces, in a range of light brown to dark brown. An average male is 5'8" (173 cm) in height and weighs 150 lbs (68 kg), while an average female is 5'3" (160 cm) and 130 lbs (60 kg). Their hair can be anything from black to light brown, and it grays and turns to white with old age. They prefer to wear as little clothing as possible and choose instead to adorn themselves with other decorations like tattoos, feathers or body paint. They can make and wear complicated and intricate beadwork. Males are usually larger than females, sometimes by as much as five inches or twenty pounds, but wild elves differ little in size from other elves.[4]

Wild elves, like other elves, are nimble and agile in body, but they are commonly thought of as less intelligent than their elven brethren, due in part to their aversion to civilization.[1]


Wild elves are a quiet, withdrawn people who neither like outsiders nor tolerate any offense to their person. In some ways, wild elves are very savage and they are quick to violence if provoked. Few things are more dangerous in the wilderness than a vengeful band of wild elves with ill intent. However, wild elves are not wholly uncouth and most would rather let trespassers go freely than harm them, so long as they learn nothing that could be used against the tribe; those who do are usually wiped of their memories rather than killed. Wild elves are also trustworthy and loyal friends who, though so slow to trust that short-lived races such as humans are often put off the attempt, will happily reward those who earn their respect and admiration in any way they can.[5]


FRCS wild elf

A female wild elf.

Wild elves live in a tribal society without many of the advances available to the other elves. They rarely craft their own magical weapons and have lost the ability to use powerful magic. There are rare cases of powerful shamans; these are almost always female.[4] Wild elves do retain the ceremonies and feasts often found among other Tel-quessir which are occasions of joy with singing and dancing. Hunts are occasions where each member of the tribe has his or her own particular place. Sometimes these are held on their own, and sometimes they are held as part of a larger event. Although it is common for wild elves to speak a number of languages, it is rare to find one who is literate.[6]

Wild elves who leave their remote homelands to become adventurers are often drawn to careers that require physical strength, much more so than is the case in other Tel-quessir. Rangers and barbarians are particularly common among warrior wild elves, though fighters are not unheard of. Although wild elves worship the gods they are only very rarely clerics or other divine spellcasters, feeling a closer affinity to the ways of the druid or shaman. Similarly, due to a lack of literacy or magical tradition, very few wild elves become wizards, though the path of a sorcerer is well-respected among the wild elves. More experienced wild elven adventurers commonly become arcane archers or druidic hierophants.

Art and leisureEdit

Wild elves strongly prefer art such as music and poetry to physical works of art like painting or sculpture. To a wild elf, the joy of art comes from its spontaneous creation, rather than latter appreciation. Because wild elves see the world as ever-changing and the things within it as impermanent, wild elves feel it is distasteful to write down musical scores or oral tradition, believing that it unnaturally locks the art into a sterile state. Wild elves carry on this ideology into their architecture, which is weaved into the tangled limbs of living trees in a complex web that would baffle many "civilized" architects.[6]

Wild elves are excellent craftsmen, but they prefer tools that can be assembled or deconstructed at a moment's notice, often resulting in a primitive or even crude aesthetic, though wild elven tools are no less effective in overall use. Weapons in wild elf society tend to be those than can be created without the need for metal, a resource that is not naturally available without refinement. Bows and spears or halfspears are common weapons, as are clubs, daggers and knives made from bone. Some prefer to wear hide armor but most are content to use their innate agility or various forms of camouflage as their primary defense.[5]


A wild elf in the Forest of Amtar.

Like other elves, wild elves are fond of wild animals and try to live in harmony with their feral neighbors. Many wild elves keep animals like wolves, birds of prey, or wolverines in their tribes as guardians. Wild elves are not even adverse to keeping larger, more dangerous dire animals, who are kept as companions only slightly less often.[7]

Magic and religionEdit

Magic does not play as large a part in wild elf society as it once did. During the age of the long fallen eladrin empires the ancestors of the wild elves were as open to the study of arcane magic as any but since their fall, wild elves have abandoned its study, along with many other trappings of civilization. For these reasons, and others, wizards are uncommon. However, wild elves have, in contrast with their wood elven cousins, no particular aversion to the arcane arts and though they lack any strong traditions of the Art, they are generally welcoming of its use by sorcerers, who come by their talent naturally. Wild elves are also common practitioners of primal magic and druids are common amongst the wild elves, who typically use more words, gestures and material components in their spellcasting than is common among the druids of other races.[6]

Wild elves have an approach to spirituality that is unusual among the Tel-quessir, even in comparison with the drow. While the wild elves honor and worship the Seldarine, they neither worship them exclusively, nor do they do it as part of the hierarchical and organized traditions that other Tel-quessir generally espouse. Instead, wild elven religious practice is often very informal and rooted in animistic traditions that see the fey gods as simply part of a greater pantheon that include primal spirits as well as the gods Mielikki and Silvanus. Of all the Seldarine, the wild elves feel closest to Rillifane Rallathil.[6]

As part of their unusual traditions, wild elves have several unique practices and beliefs. Tattoos are common among the wild elves, who often enchant the markings with power. Wild elves also believe that each member of their race has a spirit animal. These animals are believed to provide spiritual guidance and protection. Young wild elves must discover their own spirit animal by attending a ritual involving spending hours in an enclosed area filled with burning herbs. During this time, he or she is expected to have a vision of the spirit animal that will accompany him or her for the rest of his or her life.[5]

Relations with other racesEdit

Wild elves are not a very open-hearted race and are generally untrusting of outsiders, in part due to the harsh experiences of their history. Wild elves will commonly avoid or even outright attack intruders upon their lands, though not all wild elves are so extreme in their methods. Wild elves have been known to help lost adventurers, though usually such "help" involves capturing the intruders, magically altering their memories, and setting them free some distance away from their homelands. When wild elves themselves require help from outside, they will reluctantly seek it, sometimes even allowing visitors into their hidden sanctuaries. As a general rule, wild elves do not trust the N-Tel-Quess, but will reward those who earn their respect with lifelong friendship or even gifts such as ritual tattoos or a spirit companion.[8]


4e wild elf

A wild elf from Elfharrow.

When the eladrin first arrived on Abeir-Toril, the green elves, the lythari, and the avariels were the explorers. The green elves were by far the most successful at establishing themselves and exploring new areas, creating several territories that eventually each became the nations of Eiellûr, Keltormir, Syòrpiir, Thearnytaar, and Ilythiir.[9] All of these nations were consumed by the Crown Wars between around −12,000 DR and −9000 DR, during which time the "dark elves" of Ilythiir turned with a vengeance on their brethren and destroyed most of the green elven nations. After the disaster, the green elves never again created nations or cities.[4]

After the fall of their ancient realms, the green elves entered a period they call the "Wandering," moving from land to land over a period of many generations.[4] It was during this time that the green elves gradually diverged from their eladrin roots, becoming the first true elves.[10] Forced to live as fugitives, slaves, or vagabonds the green elves eventually withdrew into the deepest forests and mountains of Faerûn. By the time of Jhaamdath's rise c. −5800 DR the green elves had largely settled into their current homelands and intermittent contacts with it and other human empires did little to encourage the green elves to move elsewhere.[4]

The majority of wild elves did not participate in the Retreat to Evermeet, instead using isolation as a survival technique, but forsaking many of their traditional elven skills of high magic. Over the centuries following the Wandering, the green elves would diverge further from their ancestors, becoming distinct not only from the eladrin but from other elves. Losing touch with their ancient traditions and regressing more into primitivism the green elves became clan-based and then tribe-based, eventually becoming the wild elves as they are known today.[4]


Wild elves almost exclusively inhabit forested areas. They can be found in the Forest of Amtar, Chessenta, the Chondalwood, Chult and the Shaar.[4] Some tribes live in small villages of huts, and others live a nomadic lifestyle. It is common to find entirely male or entirely female tribes.[6] Some wild elf tribes construct villages at the tops of trees, using considerable engineering skill.[7]


Behind the scenesEdit

Under 1st and 2nd editions, wild elves and wood elves were considered to be one subrace with different names. Wild elf was considered somewhat derogatory, much like calling a moon elf "grey elf." In the 2nd edition accessory Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves (p. 19), the terms "sylvan elf", "forest elf", "green elf" and "Sy-tel-quessir" were all synonymous with "wild elf."

Further ReadingEdit



High elves
LlewyrrMoon elfStar elfSun elf
Aquatic elf (Marel)AvarielDark elfDrowDusk elfLythariPoscadar elfSnow elfSylvan elf (Wild elfWood elf)
Related races
Planetouched: CeladrinDraeglothEladrinFey'riShadar-kai
Humanblood: CrintiHalf-elfHalf-drowHalf-sea elf
Dragonblood: Drow-dragon (shadow)Drow-dragon (deep)ZekylZar'ithra
Miscellaneous: DriderMaraloi
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