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High elves, also known as eladrin, are graceful warriors and wizards that originated from the realm of Faerie, also known as the Feywild. In addition to living in the Feywild, they are at home in Arvandor and Gates of the Moon as well as the forests of the world. They are magical in nature and share an interest in the arcane arts. From an early age they also learn to defend themselves, particularly with swords.
Occasionally the term “noble eladrin” is used to denote more powerful variants, such as bralani and ghaele, who have become so infused with the magic of the Feywild that they take on the characteristics of natural phenomena such as seasons. Noble eladrin are more advanced members of the same race, some of which are similar in power to archdevils or demon lords. Prior to the Spellplague, the term “eladrin” referred exclusively to 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 are roughly of human height, standing between 5'5" and 6'1" on average, but are lighter, weighing in between 130 to 180 lbs. Even exceptionally strong high elves look rather slim compared with other races, looking athletic rather than muscular. Most high elves are fair-skinned rather than dark, though sun elven skin is a hue darker than that of the star elves or moon elves. Most high elves have black hair, with silvery hues common amongst moon elves and star elves while blond or copper hues are more common amongst the sun elves. This hair is often worn long and loose.
High elven eyes are most commonly green, with sun elves commonly possessing golden eyes and moon elves commonly exhibiting blue hues. Violet eyes are also not unheard of, though rarer. Unlike moon elves or sun elves, high elves native to the Feywild lack pupils and have eyes that appear to be solid orbs of color while more common varieties of high elves exhibit eyes normal except for the gold-speckled appearance of moon elf eyes.
High elves, like elves, grow at a decelerating rate throughout their lives. Very young high elves mature at a rate comparable with humans but during adolescence slow to a near stop until about 110 years of age, at which point high elves are considered mature. Elves then remain vigorous and active until the middle of their third century. Even so, after this most high elves suffer few of the infirmities of old age that plague other races, remaining full of life until the end.
Common to all high elves is the fact that they don't sleep. Instead, they enter a trance, also known as a “reverie”, for four hours a day. During this time they meditate on recent events.
High elves are 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 are also unusually strong-willed and have a natural resistance to the effects of enchantment spells. High elves also have no need for sleep in the same way most humanoids do, instead “trancing.” While in a trance, high elves remain fully aware of their immediate surroundings. Furthermore, high elves need only rest for four hours to get the same effect that most other humanoids get from six hours of sleep.
Perhaps most notable, however, is an ability possessed by high elves prior to the Sundering and regained after the Spellplague. This ability, known as fey step, allows an high elves 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 have a detached view of the world outside of their sphere. High elves as a whole have difficulty believing that the events occurring over mere “years” affect them in any major way, with the exception of major tragedies such as the Time of Troubles or the Spellplague. High elves instead look at things from a much longer perspective, unconcerned with anything that has consequences that stretch over anything less than decades. However, while some high elves are content to seclude themselves, others stalk the lands as champions battling the evil just outside of an high elven city’s magical wards.
This detached view of the world can 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, take friendships quickly to heart and can react with rage when their compatriots are threatened. Combined with their general intelligence, bravery, and arcane power, this loyalty to friends make them formidable allies and dangerous enemies.
Though perhaps haughty in their view of it many feel a need to explore the world around them and are 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 have retreated into their strongholds where magical wards hold off the evils around them. Overall, moon elves have a stronger impulse for exploration and discovery than sun elves or star elves, both of whom are more cautious in their dealings with the outside world.
High elven society has long straddled the boundary between the Prime and that of Faerie. High elven cities are magnificent marvels of elegant architecture made of wondrous towers and structures that blend seamlessly into places of natural beauty. Many high elven cities are found in locations where the border between the Prime and Feywild is particularly thin - isolated mountain vales, green islands, storm-wracked coasts, and the deepest reaches of ancient forests. Some high elven realms exist entirely in the Feywild, or at least partially so, most famously in the case of Evermeet. Many of these cities cross over occasionally into the Prime before winking out of existence entirely.
High elves live 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 are influenced by this from dance and song to swordplay and wizardry. The cities of the high elves are stunning locations of beauty, formed and shaped by the blending of magic with graceful and elegant designs.
High elven clothing is often simple and functional, but does 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, is often made of superior materials to those used in other clothes. Most high elves prefer clothing of natural colors such as green, but others wear garments of garish hues, particularly during holy days or festivals.
Most high elves train themselves in the use of a longsword, a weapon important to their culture, religion, and heritage.
Although most high elves reside in isolated communities of their kin, a few have interests or dealings in the outside world, and it’s not uncommon to find high elves living among dragonborn, dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, humans, and tieflings. Overall, moon elves are more open in their dealings and eager to make friends outside of the high elven race while sun elves are cautious and star elves nigh xenophobic.
Wood elves are descended from eladrin, and in fact to many other races both wood elves and high elves are simply known as elves, or they will refer to eladrin as “high elves” or “gray elves”. It doesn't help that both high elves and elves speak the same language, Elven, and have many similarities.
High elves, unlike wood elves who appear conspicuously absent from the Feywild, are 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 immigrate to Toril. Further immigrations 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 would be 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 would concentrate 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 would be 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, were in large part the result of the high elves’ intrusive attempts to convert the green elves of Ilythiir away from their heretical nature worship to the veneration of Corellon. The resultant conflicts would tear the Tel-quessir apart, causing both the creation of the drow and the destruction of most green elf nations. Eventually, the Seldarine would find the high elves of Aryvandaar, particularly its ruling family the Vyshantaar, culpable and in the last Crown War the nation would be exterminated.
Another traumatic event followed shortly after the Crown Wars, which was the 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.
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 are found most commonly either in the Feywild or on the Prime. In the first case high elves are found throughout all of the fey equivalent of Toril, but are particularly common in places such as Evermeet or Sildëyuir. The high elves of the Prime, on the other hand, are more common in the fey kingdom of Myth Drannor, though many are found in the more cosmopolitan regions of Faerûn such as the Sword Coast.
Many varieties of high elves or eladrin exist, though some have gone extinct or evolved into entirely separate races.
An extinct race of high elves who were the first to arrive in the Prime during the ancient past when Abeir and Toril remained united. Eventually, the Crown Wars drove this race into isolation, wherein they became the sylvan elves.
The most numerous of all Tel-quessir, so numerous that when someone utters a word "elf" they most likely mean moon elf. Also known as “silver elves.” They are friendly, outgoing, curious and bold.
Fey of immense power, noble eladrin are eladrin who have become intensely close to the arcane power of the Feywild, absorbing it to become demigod-like beings comparable in power to powerful angels or fiends.
Also known as gold elves. They are cautious, detached, considered and always taking the "long view".
Also known as “mithral elves."
Dark brown skinned, black haired high elven ancestors of drow.
High elves that were geographically and culturally isolated for millennia on the isle of Gwynneth in the Moonshaes.