Elf

Yaarel

Mind Mage
With an increase in design space in mind, something like the following for the Elf race:



ELF
Elves are beings of magic. The first elves are beings of thought changing their forms at will. But when entangling the creation of the material realm, they lose their mercuriality and persist as humanlike creatures within the fey realm. Individuals exhibit a fateful appearance of enchanting beauty and stunning success. These elves explore new magics in other planes of existence, and adapt there. Some materialize into creatures of flesh and blood.

ELF TRAITS
Creature Type:
Humanoid
Size: Medium (typically 5-6 feet tall)
Speed: 30 feet
Life Span: 750 years on average

As an Elf, you have these special traits.
Fey Ancestry. The fateful realms of the feywild are part of you. You have Advantage on saving throws you make to avoid or end the Charmed Condition on yourself.
Innate Spells. You personify the magic of spellcasting. You gain spells you can cast innately. Each time you advance in character level, you can swap one innate Spell to make an other Spell of the same level innate. Choose any two cantrips. You can choose Darkvision or Waterbreathing in place of a cantrip. Choose any level 1 spell and any level 2 spell. You can cast these Spells innately without any component once after each Long Rest. When you reach character level 3, you can instead cast the level 1 Spell innately once after each Short or Long Rest, and likewise when you reach character level 5, the level 2 Spell. You know these Spells. You can also cast them using any Spell Slots you have of the appropriate level. Each elven culture promotes certain spell choices. See the Elven Culture table for the typical choices of your elven culture. You can choose atypical spells.
Trance. You dont need to sleep, and magic cant put you to sleep. You can finish a Long Rest in 4 hours if you spend those hours in a trancelike meditation. You dream wakefully during your trance, often reliving earlier experiences, and remain conscious of your surroundings.

ELVEN CULTURE: TYPICAL SPELL CHOICES
Astral:
Light, Sacred Flame; Bless, Misty Step
Detection Mark: Darkvision, Guidance; Detect Evil/Good, Augury
Drow: Darkvision, Dancing Lights; Faerie Fire, Darkness
Eladrin: Frostbite, Sacred Flame; Charm Person, Misty Step
High: Prestidigitation, other cantrip; Detect Magic, Misty Step
Palid: Darkvision, Light; Sleep, Invisiblity.
Sea: Darkvision, Waterbreathe; Speak with Animals, Enhance Ability
Shadar-kai: Darkvision, Resistance; False Life, Misty Step
Shadow Mark: Darkvision, Minor Illusion; Disguise Self, Darkness
Storm Mark: Booming Blade, Thaumaturgy; Fog Cloud, Warding Wind
Wood: Darkvision, Druidcraft; Longstrider, Pass without Trace



Here as cultures, all of these kinds of elves and half-elf marks are already 5e official. Not listed here are additionally the 5e Magic the Gathering kinds of elves. To have only one Elf race that allows the player to choose each spell, is the only way to manage all of these many different kinds of elven traditions. A DM can make one or more elven cultures prominent in a setting. Some spell listings represent a concept, like Shadar-kai having False Life in place of temporary damage resistance while retaining its shadowfell theme.

There needs to be only one Elf race in D&D. This race can diversify into many cultures. The Elf is much like the Human that also comprises many cultures. A difference is, the elven cultures mainly distinguish from each other by means of mastering different magics.

I feel One D&D gets it right by having each kind of Elf differ from an other by means of the innate spells it exhibits. However, I feel it gets it wrong by essentializing each culture. Instead, make the spells a player choice. An Elf character can choose the spells to cast innately. A player character may or may not be typical for ones culture.

Backgrounds supply any skill proficiencies, such as Perception, Arcana, or whatever, depending on the elven concept.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
The One D&D Elf race seems to balance well compared to other One D&D races. That said. The 1dd (One D&D) design space for a race, generally, might be too small, even tho it is so because a background feat is now standard. The 1dd Dragonborn tends to disappoint dragonborn players who look at the Fizbans dragonborn. Similarly, the 1dd Elf disappoints those who look at the Spelljammer astral elf and the elves of the Monsters of the Multiverse. Fizbans, Spelljammer, and Monsters of the Multiverse feel like a satisfying amount of design space for a race − and remind me of the satisfying 4e races.

Possibly, 1dd can add cultural backgrounds whose feats can fill in the missing design space of a race. For example, perhaps a background feat for the High Elf grants Misty Step pro bonus times per long rest. Of course, other races can also be part of this culture as well, to learn the High culture techniques to Misty Step. Or possibly, a future 1dd increases the race design space.



Note. The Darkvision spell itself can allow a choice between 60-foot range, or else sensitive at 120-foot range. Darkvision can easily be a cantrip, instead of a level 2 spell.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
According to the recent descriptions, such as Monsters of the Multiverse, the playable Eladrin is humanoid, not fey. But there are "fey (elf)" Eladrin in the bestiary. Even so, the first elves are celestial, not fey. So perhaps, humanoid is the most applicable creature type after all. This humanoid type relates to somehow entangling the fates of the humans in the material plane.

Hypothetically, the playable creature type would allow a choice of humanoid, fey, or even celestial. But then why not Shadar-kai be shadowfell "shadow" creature type? And if so, why not let the elf choose any creature type, maybe especially elemental as beings of soil or sun? At this point, one might as well stick with humanoid as the default for every elf.

So rather than a Celestial Ancestry, or a Fey Ancestry, the Elf is simply a Humanoid who is "Fey Touched", which seems an accurate enough description according to the various elven traditions.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Heh, the Tolkein elves definitely lack darkvision! In the Rings of Power TV show, a main elf character, Arondir, needs to use a lantern to explore an underground tunnel.

Tolkien correctly emphasizes beauty as a central archetype of the elf concept. Tolkien tends to reimagine folkbelief concepts as if an "exotic" human ethnicity, but hints of the reallife archetype are there. The elf is a personification of fate whence magic. In the context of an imagery of fertile sexuality and famous success, it is beauty that proves to be the central elven archetype. The beauty is why different kinds of folkbelief beings came to identify as an "elf" during medieval and early modern periods. An elf can exemplify the beauty of any human ethnicity.

I updated the first post for the Elf description to mention the salient elven archetype of beauty and success.



By the way, I notice in the UA One D&D, both lowercase "elf" and capitalized "Elf". As far as I can tell, the capitalization refers specifically the rules for the Elf race, whereas the lowercase refers generally to "elves" inworld in the narrative of the setting. I like this. Likewise, "humans" inworld, but "Human" race stats.

I am less clear about elven cultures. For example, High Elf and Wood Elf are capitalized in the context of the rules for them. But inworld, to say a "High elf" or a "Wood elf" refers to a specific culture and is like saying a "Mozambique human" or an "American human" or a "Glaswegian human". But I havent noticed capitalization for the elf done this way.

Relatedly, I notice SPELLS ARE NOW CAPITALIZED! Yay! In other words, treat the names of spells like the names of songs: capitalize and italicize them. So, Dancing Lights, Fireball, Wish, and so on. The combination refers to the technical rules of a specific spell. At the same time, in a casual context where it is less convenient to italicize, one can still make the technical names stand out by means of capitalization, Dancing Lights, Fireball, Wish, and so on.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
The One D&D Elf race seems to balance well compared to other One D&D races. That said. The 1dd (One D&D) design space for a race, generally, might be too small, even tho it is so because a background feat is now standard. The 1dd Dragonborn tends to disappoint dragonborn players who look at the Fizbans dragonborn. Similarly, the 1dd Elf disappoints those who look at the Spelljammer astral elf and the elves of the Monsters of the Multiverse. Fizbans, Spelljammer, and Monsters of the Multiverse feel like a satisfying amount of design space for a race − and remind me of the satisfying 4e races.

Possibly, 1dd can add cultural backgrounds whose feats can fill in the missing design space of a race. For example, perhaps a background feat for the High Elf grants Misty Step pro bonus times per long rest. Of course, other races can also be part of this culture as well, to learn the High culture techniques to Misty Step. Or possibly, a future 1dd increases the race design space.



Note. The Darkvision spell itself can allow a choice between 60-foot range, or else sensitive at 120-foot range. Darkvision can easily be a cantrip, instead of a level 2 spell.
It is indeed possible that for the sake of backward compatibility, 1dd race + background feat = base Monster of Multiverse or PHB race power level.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
It is indeed possible that for the sake of backward compatibility, 1dd race + background feat = base Monster of Multiverse or PHB race power level.
Huh. I can see how treating an earlier race as if already combining a background feat can work. Still, the design space of earlier races seems too inconsistent for this approach to work well. Also, I assume the UA playtest wants the 2014 PH (Player Handbook) race characters to also get a free background feat.

The design space of the PH races is unequal in terms of balance. Arguably Variant Human followed by Half-Elf then Wood Elf are most powerful, and eventually Dragonborn then Halfling are least powerful. The increments in between are small but each extremity is noticeable compared to each other.

In my experience, the Wood Elf having +5 to speed is more powerful than the designers seem to assess. To put it humorously: when the party is fleeing a dragon, a player doesnt need to be the fastest, but only faster than the slowest. But this principle applies to typical situations like "kiting" from a distance. The boost in speed is fun and flavorful, and doable at level 1, while at the same time very valuable. The boost in speed is enough to make the PH Wood Elf one of the stronger races, whereas the PH High Elf is mediocre.

When making ability score improvements nonracial, the PH race ranking alters somewhat. Note, even the new versions of races in MMM (Mordenkainens Presents Monsters of the Multiverse) seem unequal to each other. For example, the races with full flight are more powerful.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The flavor of the Elf is magic.

Some players esthetically prefer the gaming mechanics to be diverse, thus prefer to avoid the use of spell mechanics for race traits. Nevertheless for the Elf race specifically, to spellcast is precisely appropriate flavor. For the Non-Elf races, traits other than spells sometimes feel better.

Looking thru the recent races in MMM (Mordenkainens Presents Monsters of the Multiverse), the following races have traits that utilize spell casting. Typically these races gain a spell at character levels 1, 3, and 5.

Aarakocra (flight and at 3 Gust of Wind)
Aasimar (Light cantrip)
Deep Gnome
Duergar
Fairy (flight and spells at 1, 3, and 5)
Firbolg
Genasi of Air
Genasi of Earth
Genasi of Fire
Genasi of Water
Githyanki
Githzerai
Kobold (Sorcerer cantrip)
Triton
Yuan-ti

Notably MMM Eladrin has Fey Step as a trait rather than the Misty Step spell. Similarly, Shadar-kai (and Spelljammer Astral Elf), and other traits for Sea Elf.

Like the Elf archetype, the Fairy personifies fate-whence-magic. Spells make sense. Think fairy godmother. The question here is balancing flight.

Other races having spells feel more debatable.

The Gith flavor is psionic, and a psionic spell might make sense, but a nonspell trait that still has the psionic tag can make sense too.

Nature beings probably include Genasi who derive from genies. Innate elemental spells might make sense. Are Tritons spellcasters in a similar sense?

The Aarakocra might Gust of Wind psionically?



In any case, an Elf exhibiting innate spellcasting makes sense.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
while I accept the premise that Elfs are inherently magical creatures I do think that there is fae too much reliance on spells in 5e which could instead be just abilities. Sure Misty step and Light are probably magical but do other things need to be?

for instance I’d much rather Aarakocra just having a natural ability to generate a Gust from their wings which can push a person 5ft backwards or knock over an object. Give them a feat to increase it to 15 ft.

and why isnt Longstrider just a trained Runner ability?

that said I do like that you have managed to condense Elf down to a single creature with a wide variety of cultural traits
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
while I accept the premise that Elfs are inherently magical creatures

I do think that there is fae too much reliance on spells in 5e

which could instead be just abilities.
Yeah, for the Elf spells feel ok.

But for many Non-Elf races, spells can feel a less appropriate flavor.

For example, I had to look twice at the Triton casting spells. At the very least, the Triton being a spellcaster − with spell flavor − changed my perception of a what a Triton is.

and why isnt Longstrider just a trained Runner ability?
I agree moving faster can be nonmagical.

In D&D, speed can be powerful in combat, so there is a need to ensure mechanical balance. But there is no need for a high speed to be magical. Many reallife creatures move super-fast. Also some humans move much faster than other humans, and for longer amounts of time.

The Wood elves manifest the Longstrider spell for the purpose of speeding magically.

But other races can increase speed in nonmagical ways.

for instance I’d much rather Aarakocra just having a natural ability to generate a Gust from their wings which can push a person 5ft backwards or knock over an object. Give them a feat to increase it to 15 ft.
For a nonmagical Aarakocra, probably avoid wind control?

A humansize creature seems less like to generate that much windforce in that way nonmagically.

that said I do like that you have managed to condense Elf down to a single creature with a wide variety of cultural traits
Yeah, I like how there is finally "one elf to rule them all". I also like how the spell traits emphasize its magical flavor.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
POPULAR WOOD ELF BACKGROUNDS
The background features here are popular in various Wood Elf cultures, whether prestigious or common. When you create a background for your Wood Elf character you can choose from these or other features. Wood cultures tend to inhabit forest wildernesses in the material plane and to value the magic of primal life and elemental animism. The cultural descriptions span the editions of D&D, from 5e Wood Elf, 4e Elf, 3e Wood Elf and Wild Elf, to 2e and 1e Wood Elf and Grugach.

Popular Ability Scores. Either +2 to one and +1 to an other, or +1 to three: Dexterity, Wisdom, and Strength.

Choose two proficiencies from the skill list [and weapon list].
Skill. Animal Handling, Athletics/Acrobatics, Insight, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Slight of Hand, Stealth, and Survival.
Weapon. Longbow, shortbow, longsword, shortsword, spear, javelin, lance, and net.

Choose a tool set or mount.
Tool Set. Brewers, Cobblers, Carpenters, Cooks, Leatherworkers, Potters, Smiths, Weavers, Woodcarvers, Herbalists, or Poisoners.
Mount. Deer (stats for warhorse), Giant Owl (stats for giant eagle), or Giant Lynx or Leopard (stats for tiger or dire wolf). Consult with your DM about having one of these or other Large Beasts as your friend and mount.

Popular Languages. Common, Elvish, and Sylvan.

Choose the Elven Accuracy feat, or one of the other feats from the following lists.
5.5 Feats. Alert, Crafter, Healer, Lucky, Magic Initiate, Savage Attacker, Tough, or Tavern Brawler.
Tashas. Chef, Crusher, Fey Touched, Fighting Initiate, Piercer, Poisoner, Skill Expert, or Telepathic.
Xanathars. Elven Accuracy or Wood Elf Magic.
Players Handbook. Athlete, Charger, Durable, Elemental Adept, Grappler, Mage Slayer, Martial Adept, Mobile, Mounted Combat, Observant, Polearm Master, Resilient, Ritual Caster, Sharpshooter, Skulker, Spell Sniper, or War Caster.



Hopefully, 5.5 will create new backgrounds and feats that are specific to each of the various Elf cultures across the D&D traditions. A setting that has one or more Wood cultures, such as Forgotten Realms, can detail more of it.

Wood cultures include other background features, but the popular ones can enjoy an ancestral sanctity and respect. Consult with the DM for the specific institutions in the setting that a Wood Elf character might be a member of. Each player creates ones own background for a Wood Elf character. When a background diverges from the popular features, figure out how it can work within the larger elven culture. Such characters help diversify the Wood culture, bringing verisimilitude, while also informing a self-identity with the Wood culture as a whole.

Note. The One D&D background format doesnt offer weapon proficiencies. It needs to. Many elven cultures have weapon training traditions. Yes, a feat can grant weapon proficiencies, and likely the class of the character already has the traditional elven weaponry anyway. Even so, for the 5.5 background system to update elven cultures easily, it must supply a missing traditional weapon when sought. I dont think a character needs to master every cultural weapon, but it can help to master one of them. In the meantime, the DM can allow a player to swap a background skill for proficiency with one martial weapon.



WOOD CULTURES

Within the Wood Elf cultures, backgrounds tend to organize around the values of primal life magic, elemental animistic magic, materiality, forest wildernesses, and druidic Wisdom. Yet within these Wood cultures there are also divergent backgrounds, such as Intelligence wizardry traditions, such as elemental, and Charismatic paladin orders, such as Ancients. These pluralistic traditions evolve in the context of the popular Wood backgrounds and are in relationship to them.

The context of a Wood traditional weapon is for hunting and self-defense. Unlike bow and spear, the only purpose of a sword is to kill fellow humanoids, and is exclusively for self-defense. Many Wood cultures primarily organize around extended families. In these societal structures, the elders of the wider family influence the group decisions among the related households. Each family has its own militia of mages and gishes, whose primary duty is to defend the family. Armies form when families make alliances with each other. Notably, the Wood cultures often celebrate physical prowess and athletic stunts, often death-defying across the treetops. Because of this bodily athleticism along with a reverence of the material plane of existence, the human martial traditions such as fighters and rogues can find some respectability.

Bows and spears are hunting weapons, such as for deer and boar, respectively. There are two conflictive themes within Wood cultures. Likely both are present in a particular culture. One, the elves are effective hunters treating the animals of their hunt reverently as cycles of nature, using all parts of a slain animal respectfully, and often magicking their leatherwork and furs with the primal lifeforce of these animals. Two, the elves are strictly vegetarian and never kill animals. They coexist and communicate with animals, grow up with them as personal friends, and sometimes formally adopt them into ones family as siblings.

Wood elves are known for their luxurious durable clothing made by hand and magic, such as Elven Cloak and Elven Boots. Materials include furs, leathers, intricate plant fabrics, and vibrant dye colors. They design some for camouflage.

Many Wood cultures never kill plants, especially trees. They carefully extract their resources like fruit and wood while keeping the plants healthy and well. They shape and weave living trees to form homes and catwalks across the treetop branches. The structures are unnoticeable from the outside and opulent within. They farm in ways that preserve the complex ecosystems, seeming wild and natural yet extraordinarily verdant and abundant. A Wood culture traditionally migrates nomadically or settles in a remote tree town, or both while linking trade routes and migratory stations.

Wood cultures revere the features of nature as members of the community. Life magic and elemental magic are holy. Often druids function both as the pastors of ancestral sacred communities and as the warriors of a family.



RACE VERSUS BACKGROUNDS

Elf Race

The original post designs the Elf race: Fey, Trance, and Innate Spells.

This can represent all of the official elves in 5e, and even all of the elves across the editions of D&D, from otherworldly Grey Elf and musclebound Grugach to runner Athas Elf and shapeshifter Dargonesti Elf.

The choice of Innate Spells seems the only way to feasibly include the entirety of the D&D traditions. The design mechanically actualizes the elven affinity with magic.

5.5 Elf Backgrounds
The nonmagical aspects of many D&D Elf tradtions − like sword and bow, drow rapier and handbow, grugach spear, etcetera − work better as a background.

Looking at what 5e has so far, explore how the 5.5 backgrounds for an elven culture can look.



ELF CULTURES

The 5e Players Handbook mentions nonmagical cultural features.

Each of the 5e Elf "subraces" additionally mentions other related elven cultures from other settings across earlier editions of D&D, including Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance. They too inform elven cultural features.

Note, a race cannot have an alignment, but the goals of an organizational faction, such as a Paladin order or a Druid community, can. Members of a specially aligned organization "typically" adhere to it.

ELF (MULTICULTURAL TRENDS)
Ability: Dexterity
Chaotic Good Alignment
− "Freedom, variety, self-expression", and "protect others freedom"
Skill: Perception
Languages: Common, Elvish

HIGH (CULTURES)
• 1e Grey, 3e Grey, 4e Eladrin, DL Silvanesti, FR Sun
• 1e High, 3e High, DL Qualinesti, FR Moon

Abilities: Intelligence and Charisma (4e Eladrin)
− "keen mind and mastery of magic", "magic, art and artistry, music and poetry", "bards", "songs and poems are famous"
Weaponry: sword (long/short) and bow (long/short)
Languages: any additional language

WOOD (CULTURES)
• 1e Wood, 1e Grugach, 3e Wood, FR Wild
• 3e Wild, 4e Elf, DL Kagonesti, FR Wild

Abilities: Wisdom and Strength (1e Wood/Grugach)
− "keen senses and intuition"
Neutral Alignment (1e Wood/Grugach)
Weaponry: sword, bow, spear (1e Wood/Grugach)
Additional Language: Sylvan (1e Wood / 4e Elf)

DROW (UDA CULTURE)
• 1e-5e Drow, FR Drow
Abilities: Charisma (3e-5e), Wisdom (1e/4e Drow), and Intelligence (1e-3e)
Weaponry: rapiers, shortsword, and handbow
Additional Language: Drow Sign (1e-3e Drow)

The nonmagical cultural features work well as background.

Each elven culture has many backgrounds. A few backgrounds, say 4 to 13, can be prominent, whether frequent or prestigious. For the game, these few backgrounds communicate the tropes and themes that help make the culture salient and vivid.

As a DM, try avoid turning these tropes into a cultural stereotype, by ensuring individuals and groups who diverge from the tropes. The diversity enriches the culture and feels verisimilitudinal. Especially the 5e Players Handbook Elf champions freedom and nurtures individualistic self-expression.
 
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According to the DMG, there are plenty of celestial elves hanging around Arborea. I think "you are really a celestial, fey, or fiend, but everyone thinks you are humanoid" (or more officially Extraplanar Origin) sounds like a good background with the "roll a d8" table for why you are slumming it up in the mortal realms. Especially if 8. is "Lolth in her demon lord mode took a fancy to you, and you saw what happened to the last guy or girl she hooked up with, so time to visit one of those quaint mortal realms (for your health)." I figure demon lord Lolth is probably amused by your escape attempt (and think of the fun she will have when she comes to get you; spider-based curses for everyone in a 1000-mile radius), and no one actually escapes goddess mode Lolth.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
According to the DMG, there are plenty of celestial elves hanging around Arborea. I think "you are really a celestial, fey, or fiend, but everyone thinks you are humanoid" (or more officially Extraplanar Origin) sounds like a good background with the "roll a d8" table for why you are slumming it up in the mortal realms. Especially if 8. is "Lolth in her demon lord mode took a fancy to you, and you saw what happened to the last guy or girl she hooked up with, so time to visit one of those quaint mortal realms (for your health)." I figure demon lord Lolth is probably amused by your escape attempt (and think of the fun she will have when she comes to get you; spider-based curses for everyone in a 1000-mile radius), and no one actually escapes goddess mode Lolth.

The stories about Corellon and Lolth were emerging earlier than when 4e standardized the Feywild and Shadowfell. How these two planes relate to the material and astral planes seems a bit awkward in corner cases. In various senses, the Elf is all four planes: fey, material, astral, even shadow Shadar-kai.

Regarding the earlier terms "outer planes", I call all of it "astral". These are "astral dominions" in the "astral sea", and all of it is in the astral plane. So a technical jargon "astral" can include both celestial and fiend, as well as whatever the modrons and slaadi are.

I want a return of the 4e jargon "planar origin", distinct from "creature type".



I am still less sure how to type the Elf. I went back and changed the original post from "fey touched" to "fey ancestry", even tho it seems narratively less accurate. It is more familiar for 5e jargon. I might revisit it if I have a more solid sense how elven origin relates to taxonomy.

If I look at the terms in a certain way, I think I can find a "Humanoid of Fey Ancestry" sensical.



Different aspects of the elf matter to different players.

For example, Tolkien fans (similarly Greyhawk) might emphasize the material plane, and how for them the elves are more like a human ethnicity with a hint of magic.

For British folkbelief fans, the elf is a humanlike fairy, thus they might emphasize the D&D fey plane. Likewise, 4e fans might champion the elves and eladrin of the Feywild.

The astral domains are the setting for Corellon and Lolth. Corellon is a celestial and Lolth eventually becomes a fiend. Corellon is a shapechanger. The elves parthenogenically grow into shapes from the blood of Corellon, thus are celestial as well, according this narrative. The fans of this setting might emphasize the astral plane for the elves.

I am a fan of Norse folkbelief, where the elf is an animistic nature being. To translate this concept into D&D, they are normal features of nature in the material plane, literally elementals who are native to the material plane. They are the fire of sunlight with its air (Norse) and the earth of fertile soil with its bodies of water (Celtic).

I have made my peace with elves being fey. The idea is, the Feywild is one of the echoes of the material plane. When the normal features of nature animistically project their mind/spirit into a human form (or any other form), these immaterial forms happen in the fey plane of existence. This works well enough in 5e. The only difference is, I emphasize how the Feywild overlaps the material plane, in the same way that the ethereal plane and the Shadowfell do. From the Feywild one sees the material plane, albeit it appears vibrantly. Each fey creature is the projection of some specific feature of nature in the material plane. Animism is all about the physical world, there is nowhere else. So animistic beings journey the "border" of the material plane.

For example, each naiad in the fey plane is a specific wellspring gurgling water somewhere in the material plane. Each hamadryad is a specific tree somewhere. The dryad is more a manifestation of some forest collectively. Similarly, the elf is more sunlight collectively, or fertile soil collectively. In any case, this one-to-one connection between material nature and a fey being is important.

(How to reconcile this animistic view with Corellon and Lolth? The two figures exist in some of my settings. I treat them as the "Adam and Eve" sotospeak of the elf family. The two are elves albeit now at epic levels. Perhaps Lolth led a faction of elves from the astral to the material. In the aftermath of a conflict, Corellon sent almost all shapeshifting elves from the astral plane to the material plane, where they lost their ability to shapechange. They became specific features of normal nature, including sunlight and soil. From there, these natural features can animistically project their thoughts into humanoid forms within the fey plane. From the fey plane, their magic visits other planes of existence. Some made their remote projections materialize into humanoids of flesh and blood in the material plane. In other words, elves are avatars of features of nature and maintain a vital connection to nature.)

Elves can become creatures of any plane of existence. If the technical term "Humanoid creature type" means simultaneously both astral and material, perhaps this creature type makes sense for elves. (They are astral thought become material objects of nature.) By contrast the elves with Corellon are astral only, specifically celestial, and never became humanoid.

(The Fey Ancestry might make sense if every "humanoid elf" ultimately derives from the fey plane − from an animistic manifestation of some material natural feature to there. The nonhumanoid "celestial elf" has nothing to do with this entanglement with materiality. Perhaps the humanoid elves who are still in the fey plane have a more direct connection with the material element they project from.)
 

I think humanoid means you are subject to the range of emotions that humans in the real world are capable of feeling. The emotional spectrum of a fey elf would be different than a humanoid elf, even if they appeared the same (I highly recommend CJ Cheryl's excellent Foreigner series of books where emotions that look the same for two different species of sentient beings but are really very different is a big plot point). Ditto celestial elves, and if Shadowfell-dwelling elves went full monstrosity (like pretty everything else in the 'Fell) or if Lolth changed the Drow into fiends, their emotional spectrums would all be different. It is why generic humanoids tend to be "any" alignment in 1 D&D and aberrations, celestials, fiends, fey, etc. tend to be "usually" a specific alignment.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I think humanoid means you are subject to the range of emotions that humans in the real world are capable of feeling. The emotional spectrum of a fey elf would be different than a humanoid elf, even if they appeared the same (I highly recommend CJ Cheryl's excellent Foreigner series of books where emotions that look the same for two different species of sentient beings but are really very different is a big plot point). Ditto celestial elves, and if Shadowfell-dwelling elves went full monstrosity (like pretty everything else in the 'Fell) or if Lolth changed the Drow into fiends, their emotional spectrums would all be different. It is why generic humanoids tend to be "any" alignment in 1 D&D and aberrations, celestials, fiends, fey, etc. tend to be "usually" a specific alignment.
Surprisingly, 5e never quite defines term "humanoid", despite it being central to the game.

Your point that the term denotes the same range of emotion − and I would add rationality − that humans exhibit seems the most useful and consistent definition. To be humanoid means to have a humanlike mentality and personality.

Some humanoids are immaterial − like eladrin and shadar-kai who are creatures of the spiritworld. So, material flesh and blood is ultimately irrelevant. Humans whose afterlife include astral dominions and shadowfell and perhaps elsewhere, are likewise immaterial spirits but are presumably still humanoid. For humans, materiality remains significant. But the human spirit can separate from it.

Ultimately, the human mentality is what makes a humanoid, humanlike.

This mentality also mechanically allows players to roleplay nonhuman characters in normal human ways.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
In the Norse view, when the nature beings take a human form, they really do become "humanoid", sotospeak. They behave emotionally and intellectually like humans do.

Nature itself − the features of the land and the sky and the sea − are absolutely nonhuman. A mountain is a mountain. However, when a feature projects out from its source in a way that takes on a form, a human form behaves like human in every way. If materializing to live the life of a human, the avatar sotospeak can bleed like human and can fall in love like a human and have human kids with an other human.

They are eccentric humans, of course. Their natural origin remains part of who they are and the wider perspective where they are coming from. Their personality and magic often resonates the source natural feature. Human offspring can inherit these characteristics.

The Norse elf has a perspective that can include foreseeing the future of certain individuals. But otherwise, when they take on a human form, they behave in a way that a human would who also has this information.

There is a saga about a jǫtnar called Bárðr. He is the mind of a specific mountain in Norway. He chose to become an actual human, lived a human life, sailed to Iceland, and had kids there. It seems, when he became a physical human body he disconnected in some way from the physical mountain − in other words, he emigrated the family of jǫtnar and immigrated to the family of humanity. By magic, he became a different kind of nature being, a human one. But he retains affinity with his mountainous origin. He got homesick for his life as a jǫtnar, and eventually returned to being a jǫtnar once again, this time becoming the mind of a different mountain in Iceland. He still retains a love for humanity and occasionally manifests to rescue humans who find themselves in danger while on this Icelandic mountain.

Similarly, a Norse account identifies Vǫlundr as an elf, who becomes a human. The text is complex with later euhemeristic additions. Nevertheless, the text evidences how the Norse perceive the elves to exhibit the same range of mentality and magic as the human shamans do, including the Norse female vǫlva as well as the male shamans among the Finlanders noita and the Sámi noaidi. The story describes Vǫlundr and his friends physicalizing from the sky in the form of swans. The six swans then shapechange into human forms. There are three men and three women. Like Vǫlundr, all appear to be elves. Hermeneutic analysis associates the women with the elven nornir, namely the fates, who are also the valkyrjur, a nickname for when the fates choose who dies honorably in battle. In this context, one or all three of these women elves are assigning fates that cause the three men to fall hopelessly in love with them. The women then disappear, probably returning back to the sky. But the elven men, going insane with love, then separate to go out in search of their lover. The story follows Vǫlundr. A human family captures, cripples, and (magically) enslaves him to create items of beauty and magic for them. The human man is a local king and the queen is probably the shaman who can entrap the elf. Vǫlundr suffers for many years as a human, but eventually breaks free while exacting a (not Good) gruesome vengeance upon the family. He murders their young children and rapes their adult daughter. He then shapeshifts into a swan and escapes back to the sky. His half-elf descendant later becomes an important national leader, which seems to have been part of the original intention of the elven women weaving these fates together.

The point is, the elves are fates and mages who can glimpse the future, at least the future of particular individuals. But they can and do fall in love in the same way that humans do. They exact revenge in emotional ways that some humans do. The elves even inflict future fates on each other, in the same way as they inflict fates on humans.

In D&D terms, these nature beings are humanoid, if manifesting in a humanoid form.

The cool thing is, to be a "nature being" is a background. A human can be a nature spirit. They might originate from some mountain, or sunlight, or waterfall. But while they are human, they can live a normal human life. At death, their minds return to the original nature feature. Perhaps the nature being gains an affinity with humanity and can mourn the death of their human avatar. Likewise, a nature being can take on any humanoid form: elf, dwarf, dragonborn, etcetera. Not all nature beings can manifest and shapeshift, only the ones who are magically powerful enough to do so. When a nature being manifests as a human, the human could be an infant and grow up naturally, or appear suddenly as an adult without a past.
 

Surprisingly, 5e never quite defines term "humanoid", despite it being central to the game.

Your point that the term denotes the same range of emotion − and I would add rationality − that humans exhibit seems the most useful and consistent definition. To be humanoid means to have a humanlike mentality and personality.

Some humanoids are immaterial − like eladrin and shadar-kai who are creatures of the spiritworld. So, material flesh and blood is ultimately irrelevant. Humans whose afterlife include astral dominions and shadowfell and perhaps elsewhere, are likewise immaterial spirits but are presumably still humanoid. For humans, materiality remains significant. But the human spirit can separate from it.

Ultimately, the human mentality is what makes a humanoid, humanlike.

This mentality also mechanically allows players to roleplay nonhuman characters in normal human ways.
I think the unofficial definition of humanoid in 5e was anything that could be a PC, so that everyone would be affected by the same set of spells (with a few exceptions like elves and sleep); it created controversy, but I think the ease of play was probably worth it. They are moving away from that, so there will probably be a little bit more solid definition of humanoid. Since Planescape is on (long) horizon, I suspect a couple of years from now, pretty much every type will be available to PC's (although beasts have to be awakened and limited to a type of animal that could pick up tools or weapons--apes, cephalopods, and raccoons and their kin).
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
In the MMM (Mordenkainen [Presents] Monsters [of the] Multiverse).

The eladrin monster stat blocks exhibit true magic resistance.

"
Magic Resistance. The eladrin has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

"

The elf race should eventually gain true magic resistance at a higher level as an aspect of Fey Ancestry. It can start as charm resistance and eventually becomes magic resistance. (Trance is what grants sleep immunity.)

Possibly magic resistance can be a higher tier feat. Preferably any elf gains it automatically while leveling.



Like spells, races should have the "At Higher Levels" mechanic.

At Higher Levels, every race should improve or gain traits at each tier: 5-8, 9-12, 13-16, 17-20, and 21-24.



In addition to magic resistance at a higher tier, the elf might also gain higher level spells as Innate Spells.
 

kapars

Explorer
It is indeed possible that for the sake of backward compatibility, 1dd race + background feat = base Monster of Multiverse or PHB race power level.
In the video that accompanies the playtest packet Jeremy Crawford states that the MotM races are to be used alongside the new PHB ones. It would be Eladrin + Starting Feat for example.
 

Starfox

Adventurer
My comment on the 6E elf is that it, like the 5E elf, seems overpowered. Compare it to the 6E teifling,l which is very smiliar except that it lacks some of the elf's abilities.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
My comment on the 6E elf is that it, like the 5E elf, seems overpowered. Compare it to the 6E teifling,l which is very smiliar except that it lacks some of the elf's abilities.

Generally speaking. All of the 1DD (UA OneD&D) races reduce to a design space of about feat.

This small amount of design space is a regression. For example, the Dragonborns in Fizbans have more design space than the one in 1DD does. Likewise the Astral Elf in Spelljammer has more design space than the Elf in 1DD does.

Probably, 1DD does this because the extra feat at level 1 is now standard. Also note, the ability score improvements happen separately as part of ability score generation. Finally, this small amount of design space balances better with the 2014 Players Handbook races − especially after removing the ability score improvements from the Players Handbook races. For example, the Half Elf is the most powerful race in the Players Handbook, but after removing its +2 and two +1s, there is not much design space left over. Also note the Custom Lineage in Tashas is only a single feat of design space.

I can understand and sympathize why 1DD reduces its race format so draconianly.

Nevertheless, I feel there needs to be more design space so each race can do something satisfyingly flavorful and mechanically effective. 4e races are excellent here. By the time of Fizbans and Spelljammer 5e races also began to feel satisfying.

The 1DD races are a regression back to bare minimum.



Regarding the 1DD Tiefling specifically. Where a standard feat is about 8 points, the Tiefling race has:

2 points: Darkvision (≈ cantrip)
1½ points: Thaumaturgy cantrip
2 points: Firebolt or Chill Touch (but only 1 point if Poison Spray)
2 points: a useful resistance: versus fire, necrotic, or poison

Already the total is roughly 7½ points and is comparable to a feat.

On top of this, the tiefling also gains spells: a spell level 1 spell at character level 3 and and a spell level 2 spell at character level 5. These spells would actually be valuable but their delay to later levels makes them less valuable, relatively speaking. Normally, these two spells are worth about a half-feat, namely 4 points. (1½ points for a level 1 spell per long rest, and 2½ points for a level 2 spell per long rest). But to not get these at level 1 means the race design space at level 1 is less valuable.

For what it is worth, the 1DD Tiefling race feels more powerful than the 1DD Elf race.

Both races have cantrip and two spells. But otherwise, the Elf trance, charm resistance, and skill proficiency are all less valuable than what the Tiefling gets: better resistance plus extra decent cantrip. But generally, you can see how the designers are at least aiming to balance both races with each other.
 

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