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Greyhawk creature
Male and female high elves, as depicted in the 3.5 Player's Handbook (2003). Art by Sam Wood.
Alignment Chaotic Good
Type Humanoid
Subtype Elf
First appearance

Elves, also known as olves or olvenfolk in the Flan tongue, are one of the primary civilized races of the Flanaess. Elves speak Elven.


Elves are renowned for their grace and mastery of magic and weapons such as the sword and the bow. Becoming physically mature by the age of 25 and emotionally mature at around 125 (Races of the Wild, 2005), they are also famously long-lived, capable of living more than half a millennium and remaining physically youthful. They rarely die due to the wear of age. Possessed of innate beauty and easy gracefulness, they are viewed as both wondrous and haughty by other races; however, their natural detachment is seen by some as introversion or xenophobia.

There are several different subraces of elves, including aquatic elves, dark elves (drow), grey elves, high elves, snow elves, valley elves, wild elves (grugach), wood elves, and winged elves (avariel). The offspring of humans and elves are known as "half-elves" among humans, and as "half-humans" among elves.


Elves are most often associated with temperate forests, though this applies chiefly to high elves and wood elves. Aquatic elves are only found in temperate aquatic regions, and gray elves often prefer temperate mountains. Snow elves, drow, and grugach are found almost exclusively in cold mountains, the Underdark, and deep forests, respectively. Valley elves are rarely seen outside the Valley of the Mage.

In the Flanaess, large numbers of elves can be found in Celene, Highvale, the Lendore Isles, Sunndi, the Duchy of Ulek, the Valley of the Mage, the Vesve Forest, and the Vault of the Drow. Verbobonc was originally an elven settlement, though they have mostly left that region to the humans and gnomes. The City of Summer Stars is a lost and ruined elven community of fable and legend in the depths of the Adri Forest, now under a dreadful curse.

Typical physical characteristics

Slightly shorter than the average human, elves are also noticeably more slender and graceful (this is reflected in a bonus to dexterity and a constitution penalty), averaging between 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet and 95 to 135 pounds. Males are slightly more muscular on average, there is little difference in height between the sexes, and facial hair is unheard of. Their features in general may be described as more angular and defined; including long, pointed ears and wide, almond-shaped eyes. Most elves have fair skin and dark hair, though this is no more true of all elves than it is of humans. They have a reputation for careful grooming, more so than perhaps any other race. This frequently extends to their clothing, which is luxurious and well-kept, though not to the point of impracticality.

Elves do not sleep as most other creatures do, instead falling into a four-hour restful trance. Consequently, elves are unaffected by sleep-inducing spells and effects, and are able to remain active far longer than other races.

Elves also do not age as other creatures; their physical appearances remain constant from achieving physical maturity to death. Elves do grow physically weaker and mentally stronger as they grow older, and accumulate a "glow" from the strength of their souls as they age (Races of the Wild, 2005).


Most elves are usually chaotic good, though grugach tend to be neutral, Valley elves chaotic neutral, and drow neutral evil.



Most elves, other than drow and Valley elves, follow the Seldarine, the elven pantheon, consisting of the following deities:

Members of the Seldarine, as depicted in Faiths and Pantheons (2002). From left to right, Angharradh (a Forgotten Realms goddess), Aerdrie Faenya, Corellon Larethian, Fenmarel Mestarine, Deep Sashelas, and Erevan Ilesere.
Members of the Seldarine, as depicted in Faiths and Pantheons (2002). From left to right, Hanali Celanil, Labelas Enoreth, Rillifane Rallathil, Sehanine Moonbow, Shevarash (a Forgotten Realms,, deity), and Solonor Thelandira.

While Corellon Larethian leads the Seldarine, most subraces also have a patron deity whom they hold in nearly equal regard. Deep Shahelas (and his wife, the dolphin goddess Trishina) for the aquatic elves, Fenmarel Mestarine for the grugach, Rillifane Rallathil for the wood elves, Tarsellis Meunniduin for the snow elves, and Aerdrie Faenya for the avariel.

The only deity known to be honored by the Valley elves is Ehlonna, who is also frequently worshipped by other elven peoples. Dark elves most often worship Lolth, the Demon Queen of Spiders, or one of her brood.

Elven subraces

Elves are of various sorts, including a marine race, all of which are detailed here.

  • Aquatic elves, or sea elves: Aquatic elves live beneath the waves and can breathe water as easily as their cousins on land breathe air. They have silverish-greenish skin and hair of green or blue-green. They are mortal enemies of sharks and sahuagin. They are friends to dolphins and surface elves, and neutral to all others, save for fishermen, who they dislike. Their chief god is Deep Sashelas.
  • Avariel, or sky elves. Also known as the "winged folk," these winged elves are very rare, but are believed to dwell in the Lortmil Mountains (LGG.143).
  • Drow, or dark elves: The "black elves" are only legend to most in the Flanaess. They are as dark as gray elves are bright and and as evil as the latter are good. Once surface elves themselves, they were transformed into drow and banished to the Underdark when they fell to the worship of demons and gods of elemental evil. Of all the elves they are the only ones that are inherently malevolent, and they hate their cousins with an undying passion. They are smaller than their cousins, both shorter and thinner. In addition, their skin resembles polished obsidian, and their hair is snow-white or silver.
  • Gray elves: These elves are the most noble of elves, yet also the most arrogant. They are of higher intellectual capabilities than other elves, but, despite the fact they are taller than high elves, they are physically weaker. They live in isolated mountain strongholds, and rarely allow access to outsiders. They have silver hair and amber eyes, or gold hair and violet eyes, and wear clothes of white, silver, yellow and gold, and usually wear regally colored cloaks. Those with gold hair are generally called faeries. They worship the standard elven pantheon.
  • Grugach: The most reclusive of all the elves, the wild elves pride themselves on their isolation and skill at keeping hidden. Their skin tends to be brown and they have similar colored hair which lightens with age.
  • High elves: High elves are the elves most commonly encountered by other races, and the most open and friendly of their kind. They travel to other lands more than other elves. They're generally dark-haired and green-eyed, with very pale complexions the color of new cream. They simply do not tan, no matter how much time they spend under Oerth's sun. High elves prefer to wear light pastels, blues and greens and violets, and often dwell in homes built into living wood, high in the trees.
  • Valley elves: Closely related to gray elves, Valley elves are the tallest of their kind, as tall as humans. They dwell only within the Valley of the Mage, though agents are occasionally sent outwards on missions for the master of the Vale. Because of their height, they can often pass as and infiltrate the societies of humans. Other elves despise Valley elves, believing they've sold out their dignity and independence for the fleeting protection of a human wizard - even worse that his lieutenant is a drow. They call the Valley elves by a disparaging name in their own language that connotates to "automaton" or "slave."
  • Wood Elves: Wood elves are a reclusive subrace. They place more emphasis on strength than learning. Wood elves are considered by other elven subraces (particularly the austere gray elves) to be boisterous and hedonistic. They have a zest for life and pleasure. They are more neutral than most elves, except the valley elves and grugach. Their complexions are fair, their hair is yellow to coppery red, and their eyes are light brown, light green, or hazel. They wear russets, reds, browns, and tans. Their cloaks are usually green or reddish brown.
  • Half-elves: Not really a subrace per se, half-elves are the offspring of humans and elves. Blending the features of human and elf, half-elves look like elves to humans and like humans to elves (hence their elven description as "half-human"). They do well with elves, humans, gnomes, dwarves, and halflings. In the case of conflicts between elves and humans, however, each side often suspects a half-elf mediator of favoring the other.


Elves inhabited the Flanaess for many centuries before the Great Migrations introduced hordes of humans, orcs, and goblins who pushed them from the grasslands and prairies deep into the ancient forests that were their first home and most secure retreat.

Elves mark the time using the Olven Calendar.

Elven craftmanship and technology

Elves are strongly associated with the following items (magic items are listed in italics). Drow items are listed in the drow article:


  • Bearskin armor (RotW)
  • Elven chainmail
  • Elven darkleaf armor (A&EG3E)
  • Elven leafweave armor (A&EG3E)
  • Elven plate armor (PHBR8)
  • Forestwarden shroud (RotW)
  • Hawkfeather armor (RotW)
  • Thistledown armor (RotW)
  • Thistledown suit (RotW)
  • Tigerskin armor (RotW)
  • Wildwood armor (RotW)
  • Woodwalk armor

Clothing and textiles

  • Boots of elvenkind
  • Cloak of elvenkind
  • Honey leather (PHBR8, RotW)
  • Sashling (PHBR8, RotW)
  • Thistledown (PHBR8)

Food and drink

  • Elven Aleeian wine (A&EG3E)
  • Elven mead (A&EG3E)
  • Elven moondrop (A&EG3E)
  • Feywine (PHBR8)

Musical instruments

  • Elven harp (PHBR8, RotW)

Tools and miscellaneous gear

  • Elven rope (A&EG3E)
  • Elven tree tent (A&EG3E)


  • Arrow, blunt (RotW)
  • Arrow, dragonsbreath (RotW)
  • Arrow, elven leaf (A&EG3E)
  • Arrow, flare (PHBR8)
  • Arrow, message (PHBR8)
  • Arrow, serpentstongue (RotW)
  • Arrow, swiftwing (RotW)
  • Bow of songs (A&EG3E)
  • Close fighting blade (RotW)
  • Elven(craft) bow (PHBR8, RotW)
  • Elven courtblade (RotW)
  • Elven double bow (A&EG3E)
  • Elven lightblade (RotW)
  • Elven thinblade (RotW)
  • Hideaway weapons (RotW)
  • Larethian protector (A&EG3E)
  • Swordbow (RotW)

Artifacts and relics

Publication history

The grugach and Valley elf first appeared in Dragon #67 (November 1982) in the series "Featured Creatures," an ongoing series of articles where Gary Gygax released information on official creatures before their release in the upcoming Monster Manual II (1983).


  • Cagle, Eric, Jesse Decker, Jeff Quick, and James Wyatt. Arms and Equipment Guide. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.
  • Conforti, Steven, ed. Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign, version 2.0. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005. Available online:[1]
  • Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1989.
  • McComb, Colin. The Complete Book of Elves. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.
  • -----. On Hallowed Ground. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • Perry, Chris. "The Seldarine Revisited." Dragon #236. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • -----." Dragon #251. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1998.
  • Reimer, David S. "In the Frost and the Snow." Dragon #155. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1990. Available online:[2]
  • Voskuil, Denise Lyn. "The Elfin Gods." Dragon #155. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1990.
  • Williams, Skip. Races of the Wild. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005.

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