The Best Sub-Races of D&D Elves

Post On: January 5, 2021 By William Settle

Sure, your standard elves are good enough to play in D&D, however Dungeons & Dragons affords us plenty of options to further define our Elven characters through several unique sub-races. Why just keep playing the boring, cookie cutter archetypes defined by the players handbook over and over again, when you can really put a genuine fingerprint and splash of personal touch onto your character. These niche Elven lineages offer more than just some superficial paint job too, they can give you additional bonuses, hindrances and really shape the nature of your character altogether. Below is a list of my own personal favorite D&D sub-races listed from 10 to 1. Enjoy!

10. Aquatic Elf – These elves are kid of the red headed step children of the D&D world. Yes they exist, but does anyone really want to play as one? Mostly no. I think their inclusion into the game was only to cover the “Naturalist”, protectors of all earth, mentality of the Elven race. Really I could never see myself playing as one, unless of coarse we are playing some sort of seafaring, pirate heavy campaign.

9. Wild Elf – As if the elves where not already free spirited enough. Wild elves are so unhinged that you can never trust them in any sort of well disciplined party. They will no doubt cause a fuss in any situation that calls for uniformity or self control. Sure, maybe they have a place as NPC’s, or a party more focused on comedy, I just dont like the idea of having a glorified house cat in the party that just can’t be reasoned with.

8. Grey Elf – Talk about arrogant and pompous. These are the self centered, self serving and completely vain members of the Elven race. Just think of any entitled celebrity and you pretty much nailed their personalities. Some people like to consider them the most elegant and regal, I just see them as the most needy of all the Elven races. Like spoiled rich kids.

7. Eladrin – This is a relatively new race for me however I really dig this plane-touched warping of your traditional elf, however no race has ever reminded me more of flower-children than these. They do have some pretty nifty powers though, enriching the typical elf with teleportation. They remind me a lot of Nightcrawler from the X-Men. Even with all of these powers, they kind of remind me a lot of porcelain dolls, just pretty and fragile. Not really the worst elves in the world, just not to my taste.

6. High Elf – These are your standard elves even though they have that fancy name. I like to call this race “Old Faithful”. Don’t get me wrong, they lack a bit of the old flare that a lot of these sub-races have, however they are, in my own personal opinion, the best standard race in the game. Not only that, they have the perfect “Hero” vibe going for them. From the dirt, destined for greatness. Like Robin Hood, but with pointy ears. It just would not be Dungeons and Dragons without these guys and gals!

5. Avariel – Elves with wings! Now that is something you don’t see every day. Although, not traditionally a playable sub-race, the allure is just too great to not put on this list. The advantages that you would gain however would seriously unbalance any party. I can’t imagine a better archer than an Avariel. Just fly above your enemies and rain down arrows! Done and done! You could also safely assume that they would be completely worthless in a cramped dungeon though.

4. Half-Elf – Yeah, I know! Half-Elven is not really a “True” elf. So what! They have literally all the strengths of an elf, minus all of the social stigma that one might have towards elves. This is because they can easily pass for a human. They also make for great hero’s since most of them are total outcasts from both of their parents. They are the true underdogs in the social sense and have all the bonuses for a true hero. The perfect champion race.

3. Shadow Elf – Now the shadow elf is relatively new to me, as I grew up playing AD&D 2nd edition. They seemed rather intriguing though. I just love the idea of them being twisted by the Shadowfell into something much darker, imbued with those dark magics. They are very much akin to dark elves without that pesky Lolth to pay tribute to. (Something I can whole heatedly get behind!) They also have some awesome shadow powers that make for the perfect assassin! If it wasn’t for my lack of familiarity, I might have put them higher on the list.

2. Drow Elf – Sure they are evil. But damn are they cool. Wow, is that underdark world so fascinating. You have all manner of nasty things living down there. Illithids, Driders and so on. Maybe they would be difficult in a group of good aligned players, but as enemies they are perfect. Drow are just so rich in lore, with literally 40+ years of back story. Just a wealth of material for you to choose from and Drizzt! One thing that I do genuinely hate about them though is how the men have always been the underlings of their society, something that has genuinely terrified me for years as a male!

1. Wood Elf – Basically like an elf that was raised by wolves. Yes, I know they have their own societies and a fairly complex culture, however their way of life is way more grounded and in tune with nature than their Grey Elf, high society counterparts. Strong, enduring and totally in tune with the forest, they are the absolute perfect hunters. Nothing makes a greater ranger character than these guys and gals. My favorite Elven race! I literally play them every single chance I can get!

Alright everyone that pretty much sums up my list! Thanks for reading! Have fun with whatever sub-race you play and as always, Stay Groovy!