Just take something else they expect like "Elves are good and live in the forest" and turn it on their heads "Here are some that are evil and live underground!"
I mean, they are in 5e. In earlier editions, they were a mechanically distinct subrace. 1e gave them a +1 to Int, which other elves didn't get, for example.yes you are correct, the Grey - Moon thing is Forgotten Realms lore, but Greys did exist in Greyhawk long before that.
Grey Elf is a type of High Elf
Everybody wanted to play them, even without the overpowerness, because they were cool. They were anti-heroes. They, the PCs divorced from their culture, were the ultimate lone wolves.Since this is my era, I can add a bit. When Unearthed Arcana came out 1985, drow had become badass. They were no longer weak fighters as already noted. They were stronger than any other elf, except when sylvan (wood) elves and grugach (wild elves) have VERY high strength (18:90 or higher). They could be unlimited level druids, and same for clerics if female (male clerics were very weak). This reversed with magic-user: male drow were the best M-Us among all elves, though only slightly better than grey elves, and female M-Us were not quite as weak as male clerics. Like all elves, they were unlimited as thieves and had decent level limits for both rangers and assassins. Interestingly, drow got no assassin bonuses, which would have thematic for the era.
Remember, the original elf in OD&D had a beard. And Elfquest (one of my favorite comics as a kid, but I digress) came out in 1978. so bearded elves have been a thing for a while, and if anything, non-bearded elves are the deviation
All of this, though I would have happily let my players all be Underdarkers had they asked. A mixed surface/Underdark party would indeed be a challenge, but consider that humans went underground all the time with various aids. By the time the G/D module series rolled out, a solution was introduce to aid this further (I won't spoil, just in case). So a mixed party would probably need to be more subterranean, but that would be a cool party to play or run!Everybody wanted to play them, even without the overpowerness, because they were cool. They were anti-heroes. They, the PCs divorced from their culture, were the ultimate lone wolves.
The overpowerness was, significantly, a factor of them being adapted from an NPC race, introduced to challenge more traditional PCs and living in a particularly hostile, underdark environment. The svirfneblin and duergar also were a bit on the OP side - which would have been OK if everyone was playing an underdark character in an underdark environment. But it was really out of place in a typical surface campaign.
Dwarves are not heroes! They're stone-cutting isolationists deep in mountains!Drow were not anti-heroes. They were ruthless sadistic villains that worshipped a chaotic evil demon queen.
Dragon 72 ....I could never take Valley Elves seriously because, like, you know, Valley Girls.