Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half Elf
Final character race in the Player Handbook. There are plenty more in other books like Xanathar’s Guide to Everything or Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. I’ll let you explore those as I haven’t explored all of them yet either.
Half Elves fall into the category of a race without a home. They feel out of place among humans and among elves. Being that they don’t look quite like either, half elves, where ever they go, are going to stand out. They are welcome in human cities, but still remain apart, whereas elves tend to look down on them for their mixed blood. This is going to be a pretty standard hook that you can use for your player character to go adventuring, they’ve needed to wander for a long time. I will say, play this carefully, though, as racism is going to be an issue for some people at your table who have been passed over for race or some other ism in their life. Just be aware of your table to know if it will work to play that trope.
Statistically, Half-Elves are a great race to play. You get a bump to Charisma and two other abilities of your choice. That means that the half elf is set-up to play anything and often is the face of the party. And the two other ability scores makes it really good at anything else, whether your want to be a barbarian or a wizard. They also pick up Dark Vision and Fey Ancestry, which gives them advantage against being charmed, from their elven half, and two skills of their choice from their human half. The skills, again, make them good at anything.
Beyond that, how do you play a half elf. I think the big thing is that you don’t have a home. But beyond that, when you did have a home, where did you grow up? Did you grow up in elven society or human society. If you grew up in Elven society, check out my article on Elves. If you grew up in Human society, check out my article on humans. You are going to have some traits of the other, but where you grew up is going to shape you. If you were cast out at a young age from both societies, that is going to shape you as well.
I don’t know that there is a ton more to say about half elves, so let’s jump into some backstories.
I was born to an elven mother and a human father. I’ve been told that is the way that you don’t want things to go. But from what I’ve seen, no one treats half elves all that well. We were cast out of elven society, and that was that. Things were fine for a few years, until my father died at the age of 50 while I was still fairly young. Our Elven clan wouldn’t take us back in when that happened as I was still a half breed and we were forced to live on the street before my mother became a handmaid for a noble house. It wasn’t the work that she wanted, but human nobles value elven help as they can live through generations and be with the family a long time. I was being groomed to join the nobles guard when another elf in the families employ accused me of stealing, which I didn’t do, and got me kicked out of the house as well as my mother. I want to clear my mothers name so she can have at least a decent life again and make whomever did frame us pay.
Alignment: Chaotic Good
I come from a noble house. As a half elf, t hat is pretty nice, and better than I’ve seen a lot of half elves treated. It was a treaty that was signed between a human house and an elven house that was sealed with a marriage that led to me. I was given a nice comfortable life and I didn’t have to do anything that I didn’t want to. What I wanted to do was sit around and read books, so that is what I did. Then, however, someone broke the treaty. I don’t know who broke it first, but the humans claimed the elves did, and the elves claimed the humans did, and my family was torn apart. Things were said on both sides, but I haven’t seen my father in several years now. The war that is breaking out is bad, and I’m searching for a way to solve it. I believe that I’ve found something in a higher power, but until I know for sure, I try and help as much as I can.
Alignment: Lawful Good
A deal was made before I was born for my soul. I don’t like it at all, but that is what my mother decided for me. She was in a tough spot, on the run after she’d stolen money from a crime baron and she had been nearly caught. She was hiding in the woods and crying, praying that someone would help her, when a beautiful and powerful looking elf showed up and agreed to help. He was able to deal with the criminals who were chasing her, in exchange for me. I wasn’t conceived yet, but nine months later, there I was. We lived a simple life with my mother using her stolen money to set-up a shop. I worked with her there, eventually taking over most of the business. Then one day, the same elf knocked on the door and said that they had a job for me, and that it was time for me to start fulfilling my part of my mothers deal. And what I need to do for him starts with dealing with the crime baron.
Alignment: Anywhere on the good spectrum
Class: Warlock – Fey Pact
Background: Guild Artisan
Those are just some ideas. You can see that I lean into playing with the birth of the characters to determine some of their life story and how it’s influenced them as a half elf.
Have you played a half elf in a game of Dungeons and Dragons? Was it for the stat bonuses or for the role playing aspect?
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