The elves once ruled large portions of the Realms after the time of dragons and before the coming of humans. Elven numbers in the Realms have since dwindled, as the majority have retreated before the onslaught of mankind, seeking quieter forests in the refuges of Evereska and Evermeet.
Elves are of human height but much more slender, with light, strong bones. Their delicately tapered fingers and hands are half-again as long as those of humans. Elven faces are thin and serene; their ears are pointed. Elven lifespans are counted in centuries, not in mere decades.
There are five known elven sub-races in the Forgotten Realms, and four of them live in relative harmony.
Gold Elves, also called sunrise elves or high elves, tend to be recognized as the most civilized of the elven sub-races and the most aloof from mankind. Taller and more slender than the other elves, Gold elves typically have white-blond hair and
golden eyes. Somewhat rarer are those grey elves who have pale golden hair and violet eyes. These elves are often known as faerie and are probably those who first made contact with humans. This subrace garbs themselves in wool tunics of gold, silver, white, or yellow. Over these, they wear cloaks of dark blue or purple. Their dress alone often makes them the most striking of the elves, and their elegant bearing and pure beauty make them almost appear as supernatural creatures.
While not exactly bigoted toward other races, the grey elves do believe in the purity of the elven line. They are the least tolerant of other races, and they take pains to ensure that they remain secluded from all - sometimes even other elves. Only the mightiest mages of other races are allowed within their mountain citadels, and these are greeted with suspicion. The gold elves are not rabid in their dislike of the shorter-lived races, but they do fear the corruption that the other races can bring to the elves.
Because of their reverence for the sanctity of elven blood, dold elves have striven to maintain their original ideals. They consider themselves to be the purest form of all elves. They believe that, since the other elves do not concern themselves with maintaining their purity, their role in the elven world is less than that of the dold elf. Gold elves feel that they are the "true" elves and that others are somehow lesser versions.
Moon Elves, often called silver elves, are more tolerant of humans than the other elven sub-races. Their skin is the color of new cream, and does not tan or burn in sunlight. Their hair and eyes fall into two major variations. Some have light hair ranging from pale blond to strawberry blond, and blue eyes. Others have dark hair, ranging from medium brown to sheerest black, and intense green eyes. Silver elves prefer light pastel shades. Since they rely on hunting and woodsmanship, they often wear cloaks of green for camouflage in forests.
Their preferred weapon is the bow, but they are also adept with long and short swords. In battle, they wear their gleaming elven chain mail beneath cloaks "woven of the essence of the woods," which allows them to move silently through forests, strike quickly, and then retreat. Although they may befriend giant eagles and occasionally use them for transport, they rarely use mounts because horses and the like are too unwieldy in the forest. Only on the long-distance journeys or on the plains will moon elves use mounts.
Silver elf civilization is much like that rumored in children's fairy tales. Elven homes are enchanted, the lands under their jurisdiction places of goodness. The realms of silver elves are fabled in the lands of men, and the highest aspiration of many a human is to slip into the arms of death while basking in the serenity of the elf lands.
Silver elves live in a constant relationship with nature, never taking more than they need and giving back ever more. They replenish the forests and the plains constantly, ensuring that there will always be nature within their world. As such, they are often regarded by other good-aligned races as the highest epitome of goodness. Although those who prefer law over freedom do not always agree, they nearly always have respect for the quality of elven life. There is no doubt that the moon elves lead a fine life: Freedom, nature, and the sheer vitality of being alive comprise their daily existence.
Wild Elves, sometimes known as green elves, forest elves, or wood elves, are reclusive and distrusting of non-elves, in particular humankind. They have yellow blond to coppery-red hair, which contrasts with their lightly tanned skin. Their eyes are generally light brown, although bright green is not uncommon. Hazel or blue eyes are exceptionally rare, cropping up only two to ten times in an entire generation. Wood elves, by their very nature, seem more prone to violence than their civilized cousins. Their muscles are larger, their complexions more florid. Wood elf clothing is much less gaudy than one would normally expect from an elf. The focus of their clothing is to allow the wearer to blend with the woods easily. A typical outfit is dark brown and green, or tan and russet in fall. Winter finds sylvan elves wearing white leather so that they can hide in snow.
Wood elves are often described as wild and temperamental. This is true to the extent that these elves are a very emotional people. They live with their hearts, not their minds as do the grey elves. Whatever they feel, they know it is the right answer. Logic plays little part in their lives, for logic cannot save one from the charging boar or the falling tree. Intuition and strength are all that counts in the wildwood.
Although they are of elven descent, wood elves tend toward total neutrality. This is not out of any inherent evil, but only out of a desire to be left alone. They do not care about the proceedings in the outer world; only when such acts impact their realm do the wood elves take interest. Even then, that interest is only in removing the nuisance and in returning to the wildlands as quickly as possible. Only other elves can break their solitude without suffering potential death.
Not for them the sophistication of art and delicate music. They prefer a simpler life. Their music is that of wind through leaves, the howl of wolves, and the cries of birds. Their tattoo art is inspired by the everchanging cycle of seasons.
Also called sea elves, these ocean-dwellers patrol the deeps, holding court beneath the waves. Their skin is typically silver-green, and their hair is also green or bluish green. They have webbed feet and hands, along with the ability to breathe water through their gill slits (much like fish).
These elves play an important part in the underwater ecology, keeping the waters safe for inhabitants. They hate sharks intensely and organize hunts against this menace. Sea elves commonly travel with elven ships, defending those on board from attacks beneath the waves. Aquatic elves are feared by pirates and those who would prey on elven craft.
Aquatic elf society consists mainly of those sea elves who dwell within a five-mile area. There is a titular king or queen to whom they pay homage, but has no real power over daily life. Sea elves live as they please, coming together under a ruler only in times of underwater emergency or great trouble for the world in general. The lords and ladies of the ocean cities escort visitors and conduct trade, while the rest of the population are artists, hunters and farmers. These elves have cities of living coral, supplemented with glittering crystal domes.
Dark Elves, also called drow or night elves, are the most sinister and evil of the elven races. Drow are typically shorter than other elves, and they retain the Dexterity common to elves. The corruption of the drow echoed in their appearance, for their skin darkened to ebony black and their hair turned white. Their eyes glowed red, especially when angered. In all other respects, save their height and coloring, drow resemble their aboveground cousins.
Driven beneath the surface long ago by the good, light-loving elves, these sinister beings have made a home for themselves in what they call the Underdark. They have become the masters and mistresses of dark grottoes, and they have thrived in a savage land where most dare not tread.
Drow have an abiding hatred of all things aboveground, but nothing draws their wrath quite like the good elves. The drow take any chance they can to destroy other elves they encounter. Even the few evil elves aboveground are seen as enemies, and the drow do not hesitate to betray such a one when he or she has served a purpose.
If your DM has run the "NIGHT BELOW" campaign, you also have Rockseer Elves in your world.
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