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Half-Elves – A guide to D&D Races

Half-Elves are descended of both Human and Elven ancestry and offer a great compromise to someone who wants the best of both worlds. Similar enough to Humans to be approachable, but alien enough as Elves to be different, they offer a good choice to the player who wants to be able to straddle both worlds while being a member of neither.

Lore and Heritage

Half-Elves are uncommon, although large cities will often have a small community of them – sometimes even with second generation Half-Elves, the children of two Half-Elf parents, for who could understand their upbringing and outsider nature other than someone else raised in it?

Half-Elves have no specific heritage of their own. One of their parents is a short lived Human and the other a long-lived Elf, so they are always the product of a doomed romance even if it is a happy one. Half-Elves are often wanderers and loners, seeking comfort in solitude or from others on the fringe of society (such as adventurers).

Defining Characteristics

Half-Elves take the average of their parents features. Slenderer than most humans, but more muscular than most elves, they vary in height between five and six feet, with some variation. There is greater sexual dimorphism in Half-Elves than in Elves, as males tend to bulk heavier and can grow facial hair, which the often do to try and hide their Elven ancestry.

Half-Elves also have the pointed ears of Elf-kind, but significantly reduced by their Human nature to a small peak at the top of the ear. Eye colour and shape are often inherited from their Elven parent, giving them striking eyes. This blending of the features makes them attractive people, particularly in Human lands where they can be seen as ‘exotic’ but not ‘alien’.

The dual nature of Half-Elves makes them excellent messengers and diplomats between Human and Elven courts. Living faster than Elves, but more patiently than Humans makes Half-Elves able to appreciate the nuances of both cultures without being dominated by one.

Half--Elves in Social Environments

With a Charisma bonus of two, Half-Elves are attractive, likeable or otherwise dynamic personalities. Aa a bridge between two worlds they make excellent mediators and diplomats and are excellent Bards, Clerics, Sorcerers and Warlocks as many are adept at bargaining with others. This is enhanced by their advantage against Charm magic, making them difficult to persuade without reasonable argument.

As people who have made peace with their own ‘two sides’, Half-Elves make great negotiators and peace-makers, and their long lives can give them plenty of experience in doing so.

When playing a Half-Elf, consider how you approach negotiation and diplomacy – do you use Human bluntness or Elven wordplay? Do you use both depending on the circumstances? Do you twist your Charisma and become a con-artist or swindler?

Half-Elves in Combat Encounters

While not directly blessed by Elven grace, Half-Elves do have two extra attribute boosts that can be applied to any other attribute (but not Charisma), so Dexterity is a natural second choice to allow specialisation in Finesse weapons. Half-Elven fighters are well suited to roles as duellists, ranged combatants or front-line fighters as the player chooses. In this, they share a lot of the versatility that makes Humans so useful.

As with Humans, your choice of Class greatly affects your choices in Combat, and after Humans, Half-Elves are the most versatile again. While Charisma lends itself to some Class roles, the additional attribute modifiers mean that you can customise your character in a variety of ways for the combat role of your choice – or use your Charisma to take a command role on the battlefield!

Reasons to Play Half-Elves

Half-Elves have it all for a fantasy setting. They’re not as boring as a predictable Human, nor as hard to relate to as an Elf. They are highly modular and can easily be adapted to any Class you choose and they come with two extra Skills and an additional Language at character creation.

As frequent loners, you have the opportunity to be tied to no specific culture, meaning less to learn about lore and world at the start of the game, but a reason to seek out a diverse group to adventure with for companionship – a Half-Elf makes for excellent ‘glue’ to bind an adventuring party together, allowing for intra-party conflict without violence and promoting good story through that.

Reasons NOT to Play Half-Elves

The best reason to NOT play a Half-Elf is similar to the reason many people don’t want to play Humans – it’s been done a lot. It can be hard to stamp your individual character onto the pre-existing mould of ‘Half-Elf loner’ without backing yourself into a corner where you miss out on the fun of an adventure through having to balance everyone else’s needs.

With a Charisma modifier, it’s a good idea for you to be able to roleplay a confident and outgoing character, so it may not be a great choice if you’re shy or quiet.

Half-Elf Mechanics

Half-Elves have a Charisma increase of 2. They also improve two other attributes by 1 each. They have a base walking speed of 30. From their Elven heritage they gain Darkvision up to 60’ and Fey Ancestry, which confers advantage on saving throws against being charmed and they cannot be put to sleep by magic. From their Human side, they gain Skill Versatility and can pick two additional skills that they are proficient in. Half-Elves speak Common, Elven and one other language of your choice.

Written by Rawand Al-Issa

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