Four New Elf Subraces in Unearthed Arcana
  • Four New Elf Subraces in Unearthed Arcana


    This month's Unearthed Arcana article gives us four new elf subraces to playtest. "After the positive response to the eladrin a couple of months ago in Unearthed Arcana, we decided to explore four more elf subraces: avariel (winged elves), grugach (the wild elves of Greyhawk), sea elves, and shadar-kai (deathly servants of the Raven Queen)."




    Comments 126 Comments
    1. pukunui's Avatar
      pukunui -
      Let the complaints about the subrace overload begin!

      Avariel: They get wings that grant them a fly speed of 30 feet, and they know Auran (I guess because some of them live on the Plane of Air). That's it.

      Grugach: Greyhawk gets a mention. I'm sure that will excite some folks. Primitive elves with druidic magic. Oh, and they can't speak Common automatically. Just Elvish and Sylvan.

      Sea Elves: I suppose this one was inevitable, since we can already have half-sea elves thanks to the SCAG. They scan swim and breathe underwater (duh) and communicate with otters and crabs and little fishies (but not dolphins!). Oh, and they can all speak Aquan because some of them live on the Plane of Water.

      Shadar-Kai: This is going to make some people mad, I just know it. "How dare they turn my favorite emo humans into elves!" At least they've still got the pale skin and loads of piercings and such. And they're still tied to the Raven Queen's apron strings.
    1. gyor's Avatar
      gyor -
      Shadar Kai aren't elves, if they wanted to make them a subrace, should have gone with a subrace of human, because they are descended from humans.

      I'll also point out that the Shadar Kai in FR have no tie to the Raven Queen.
    1. shawnellsworth's Avatar
      shawnellsworth -
      All I can say is that I can't wait to see these cleaned up or not in the next book, these are not ready for my game. Shadar-Kai are human in the lore I follow.
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      The Shadar-kai thing reminds me of several times they have put something they wanted tested into a thematic UA which they probably don't intend on using in that way. Like the "maritime" UA way back when, or the "Raven Queen" warlock patron.

      They want to get a shadar-kai playtest out there, but don't have an "human variant" UA or "Shadowfell" UA lined up on the docket... so they throw it into the elf one so that people can still take a look at the features even though it "doesn't belong there".

      Of course, what'll now happen is that everyone will spend all their time complaining about the elf thing as opposed to actually looking at or testing the race features. But I guess they just take what they can get. LOL!
    1. lonelynoose's Avatar
      lonelynoose -
      Avariel, f*ck yeeeeaaah.

      I miss the brittle bones aspect though. My characters were always nervous to take physically risky tasks or adventures in risky spaces. Cage/Bar fight? Heeeeeeeell NO. Dungeon crawl? Uh, this isn't a good idea guys!
    1. pukunui's Avatar
      pukunui -
      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      Shadar Kai aren't elves ...
      They *weren't* elves. Apparently, now they are. But I'm sure they'll get loads of feedback along the lines of "How dare you make them elves!" so they'll probably go back to being humans again.

      I'll also point out that the Shadar Kai in FR have no tie to the Raven Queen.
      So? The grugach of Greyhawk have no ties to FR. What's your point?

      (By the way, "Grugach of Greyhawk" sounds like a tongue-twister. Say it out loud ten times fast!)
    1. guachi's Avatar
      guachi -
      Any reason we get race after race and sub-race after sub-race of elves dwarves and halflings but we only get one race of humans? Why don't we get different races of humans in 5e?
    1. pukunui's Avatar
      pukunui -
      Quote Originally Posted by guachi View Post
      Any reason we get race after race and sub-race after sub-race of elves dwarves and halflings but we only get one race of humans? Why don't we get different races of humans in 5e?
      Tradition. There are still a few more subraces of elves and dwarves that they haven't touched on yet ...
    1. Mephista's Avatar
      Mephista -
      Talk about power creep. The Shadar Kai get free cantrip AND teleport with resistances. That's better than all the high elf shinanigans right there. Granted, the three cantrips are kinda lackluster - Thaumaturgy is probably the best of the lot, and that's saying something. Chill Touch isn't bad for a necromancer type, but at this point in the game, the only CHA option is Shadow Sorcerer. Everyone else generally has better options available, and even then? I've found that despite the huge lists of cantrips, very few people take a ton of damage cantrips - usually two at most, leaving Mage Hand, Minor Illusion, Light and Prestidigitation-class spells. Light isn't exactly a big demand if race gives darkvision as well.

      Wing elf is going to be rated as OP, just like all the other winged races. Which is... pretty fair in this case. No +1, which means that they're going to lean towards DEX weapon classes, and we all know what that means - more gripes about kiting and flying while staying out of reach. We're literally designed to lean towards some of the worst flame threads of 5e.

      Grugach... yeah. Just huh? The only thing I see going on here is we have a Strength elf for maybe going barbarian? The druid cantrip is almost always going to be Guidance or Druidcraft - all the others rely on WIS in some way, and that's an off stat. People generally don't like off stats, in my experience.

      Sea Elf is pretty worthless outside of a sea game. Could see it taken for just that, but too situational to really care about it. I do love sea games, but you really need to enable the whole party, not just one person.

      All in all, lackluster.
    1. Mephista's Avatar
      Mephista -
      Quote Originally Posted by guachi View Post
      Any reason we get race after race and sub-race after sub-race of elves dwarves and halflings but we only get one race of humans? Why don't we get different races of humans in 5e?
      We do. Aasimar, tieflings, yuan-ti are all variations on humans, after all.
    1. SkidAce's Avatar
      SkidAce -
      Human Variant from my campaign... I have others. Don't understand why WotC are reluctant to explore the concept.

      Novans

      Novans normally have tanned skin, with black or brown hair and blue eyes. The Novans are the race that populated the areas south of the central Alyndrica. They are mainly found in the area stretching from Rel Astra through Landfall and Sunaria. They are mostly of even temperament, practical, and stick together.

      Ability Score Increase. Increase Constitution and Wisdom by 1.
      Skills. Choose Insight or Animal Handling.
      Feat. Choose Durable or Observant
      Common Backgrounds etc....
    1. gyor's Avatar
      gyor -
      The Shadar Kai's features are good, but I'd add Chain Weapon Prof. But make them their own race or a human variant. PS the Drow are the Emo race, the Shadar Kai are the BDSM race.

      Sea Elves are awesome, but add Dolphins to the list of sea creatures they can take too.

      The Grurach make a passable stand in for Wood Elves in FR.

      Averiel are fine, but will be disallowed for FR play, personally I'd start them off with gliding or a feather fall type effect at level 1, then have their wings grow stronger to give them actual fight at an appriotate level.
    1. Sword of Spirit's Avatar
      Sword of Spirit -
      Grugach: The PHB already says grugach are wood elves. Contradicting the PHB actually makes me angry. Hopefully people with less emotional response will also object to this move in the survey.

      Otherwise, I don't have any problem with this material. Avariel and Sea Elves are welcome and well-executed additions. While they're at it, they need to update the aquatic half-elf from SCAG to get water breathing to go with their swim speed. What if their mother was a sea elf or they were raised in that culture?
    1. pukunui's Avatar
      pukunui -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mephista View Post
      We do. Aasimar, tieflings, yuan-ti are all variations on humans, after all.
      As are 5e's half-elves and half-orcs.

      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      The Shadar Kai's features are good, but I'd add Chain Weapon Prof.
      No. The spiked chain must remain in 3e where it belongs.

      PS the Drow are the Emo race, the Shadar Kai are the BDSM race.
      Uh, I'd say it was the other way around. The stereotypical drow female of past editions looks just like a dominatrix.

      The Grurach make a passable stand in for Wood Elves in FR.
      FR has wood elves *and* wild elves, so why not have the grugach stand in for the latter, and let the PHB wood elves stand in for the former?

      Averiel are fine, but will be disallowed for FR play
      You mean AL play, of course.
    1. Leatherhead's Avatar
      Leatherhead -
      Well lets take a look.

      Avariel:
      The Winged Elves seem a bit weaker than Aarakocra at first glance. But then you remember that they are still an Elf, which means that they will not suffer the problems of being a Birdman, and get the basic elf package (which is a good thing to have). However, if you are allowing flying races in your game, it's not mechanically stronger than the winged Tieflings, though the peasants will probably be more amiable to them.

      Grugach:
      Strong elves. The bonus in str isn't likely to temp anyone outside of the odd elf-barbarian. The weapon proficiencies exist to help out the Druid, Sorcerer, and Wizard. But the real windfall here is the free Druid Cantrip. Druids have a very nice selection of cantrips that lots of characters will want in on, though using wisdom for the casting stat is going to put some breaks on them.

      Sea Elf:
      The AquaElf. That's basically it actually, outside of those water-focused campaigns they aren't anything to think about. Constitution is always good. Trident proficiency isn't any better than spear proficiency unless you happen to find a magic one. Nobody uses nets. The only characters who would really want to use hand crossbows are the ones which have class support to back it up(and thus proficiency with them). That leaves "talking" to swimming animals, swimming, and breathing underwater as the draws here.

      Still, it's nice to have stats for them now, my Pirate game was missing them.

      Shadar-kai:
      These things used to be Human-ish, and masochists. Odd that. Now they are half-undead goth elves or something.
      As of right now, they are weaker Eladrin (the UA kind). However, they are clearly more geared for the Paladin or Hexblade playstyle (fitting I guess, given that they serve the Raven Queen), teleporting into the fray and getting resistance to damage while doing so.
    1. gyor's Avatar
      gyor -
      Quote Originally Posted by pukunui View Post
      They *weren't* elves. Apparently, now they are. But I'm sure they'll get loads of feedback along the lines of "How dare you make them elves!" so they'll probably go back to being humans again.

      So? The grugach of Greyhawk have no ties to FR. What's your point?

      (By the way, "Grugach of Greyhawk" sounds like a tongue-twister. Say it out loud ten times fast!)
      The Grugach can be refluffed as Wood Elves for FR purposes because FR doesn't have Grugach, but Shadar Kai do exist in FR and have a story and background.
    1. pukunui's Avatar
      pukunui -
      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      The Grugach can be refluffed as Wood Elves for FR purposes because FR doesn't have Grugach
      FR does have wild elves that are distinct from its wood elves.

      ... but Shadar Kai do exist in FR and have a story and background.
      True, but shadar-kai also exist outside of the FR, where they *do* have links to the Raven Queen. And since not everything 5e is specifically written with the FR in mind, despite what many people claim, I'm not seeing why this is a big deal. Especially since it's in the same article as a race specifically mentioned to be from a setting other than FR.
    1. gyor's Avatar
      gyor -
      I think this really reinforces this is going to be the Book of the Planes next.
    1. gyor's Avatar
      gyor -
      Quote Originally Posted by pukunui View Post
      FR does have wild elves that are distinct from its wood elves.

      True, but shadar-kai also exist outside of the FR, where they *do* have links to the Raven Queen. And since not everything 5e is specifically written with the FR in mind, despite what many people claim, I'm not seeing why this is a big deal. Especially since it's in the same article as a race specifically mentioned to be from a setting other than FR.
      Well they can at least have a side bar for FR Shadar Kai when they publish it.
    1. pukunui's Avatar
      pukunui -
      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      I think this really reinforces this is going to be the Book of the Planes next.
      Agreed. Especially when you look at it in the context of the last two UA articles (eladrin/gith and tieflings).

      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      Well they can at least have a side bar for FR Shadar Kai when they publish it.
      That sounds like a good idea.
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