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5E So Shadar-Kai are now a subrace of elves: Huh?

Corpsetaker

First Post
I'm not understanding this move to make the Shadar-kai into a subrace of elves. They have always been described as "human like" so I don't get this. Why not introduce the Lythari?
 

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Saelorn

Hero
I'm not understanding this move to make the Shadar-kai into a subrace of elves. They have always been described as "human like" so I don't get this. Why not introduce the Lythari?
Elves are basically like humans anyway, except that their one racial hat is to sub-race out with very little provocation. If you take a group of elves, and move them anywhere, they will turn into a sub-race of that kind within a few generations. If you take a group of elves and move them to the shadow-whatever, you're going to get shadow elves within two generations.

To contrast, the weird thing about humans is that we can hybridize with anything. If you cross anything with a human, you get a creature that's half human and half that thing. It works with elves and orcs. It even works with horses and bulls. It also works with dragons, of course, but that's a racial hat which dragons happen to share with humans (dragons can also mate with anything, and give birth to a half-dragon of that same creature type).
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It was just an Unearthed Arcana. And if the response here is any indication, they got a whole lot of feedback saying, "Yeah, sure, the mechanics are cool, but why tf are they elves?"
 

Nevvur

Explorer
I can't answer the question as to why they made Shadar-kai elves, other than to speculate it's strongly linked to the general popularity of elves (or 'improved humans' as seems to be the functional reality).

I don't mind, though. In fact, I ran with it as an important plot point for a homebrew setting's ancient history. The PCs were helping stabilize a human colony in a land once occupied by elves millennia ago. Bad stuff happened to those elves, with some of them retreating across the ocean (where they met humans and other demihumans) and others retreating to the Feywild. There was an accident with one of the Feywild portals that sent the refugees into the Shadowfell instead. Voila! Elven Shadar-kai!

I feel like elves had enough subraces before they absorbed Shadar-kai, but in this particular case it fed nicely into a larger narrative.
 





QuietBrowser

First Post
I'm not understanding this move to make the Shadar-kai into a subrace of elves. They have always been described as "human like" so I don't get this. Why not introduce the Lythari?
Shadar-kai were originally introduced in 3e's Fiend Folio as a race of fey that left the Material Plane for the Plane of Shadow out of elitist disdain for mortals, only to find that their nature reacted badly with the "void" elemental affinity of their new home, causing them to start fading away into nothing unless they subjected themselves to constant pain, with a particular favored implement being shackle-like bracers whose interiors were lined with vicious spikes. Needless to say, they blamed the mortal races for what happened to them and sought revenge on anyone who was a humanoid.

4e took these rather bland enemies and turned them into a tribe of humans who sought immortality through a pact with the Raven Queen, and sort of got what they wanted, acquiring powers over shadow and prolonged lifespan, but also the need to seek out constant stimulation lest they fade into nothing.

I'd like to be charitable and presume the 5e version was an attempt to meld these two disaparate identities into one, but it's probably just because the writer was lazy.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Personally, I don’t have a cooshee in his fight, but I’ve felt for years that we don’t need elves to be ubiquitous. (And I play a lot of elves.)

It just seems to me that if there is a mystical humanoid taken from legend or even created anew for the game, the designers’ hands stay real close to the big “Elf” inkstamp...
 

Corpsetaker

First Post
My problem is now that Forgotten Realms is their flagship, and default, setting then they are going to try and incorporate that into the setting where it won't make a lot of sense given all the previous we have doesn't indicate the Shadar-kai were in any way associated with elves. Now if they somehow write them as coming from a different world and are now new to the Realms then I could possibly see it, but trying to make it as if they've always been around just doesn't make sense.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Yeah, I prefer the idea that they are a human subrace rather than an elf subrace. There are plenty of elf subraces, and it fits better into existing lore.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Its probably linked to the fact that, IIRC, Mearl or other devs are now trying to work the Raven Queen with a ''dark archfey'' angle rather than a divinity. Shadar-kai being the chosen people of the Raven Queen, if she's an archefey and haunt the Feywild, I think it makes sense that Shadar-kai should have a fey-heritage. To me, she's still a non-racial godess of the Nentir Vale setting, whatever they want to do with her.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Its probably linked to the fact that, IIRC, Mearl or other devs are now trying to work the Raven Queen with a ''dark archfey'' angle rather than a divinity. Shadar-kai being the chosen people of the Raven Queen, if she's an archefey and haunt the Feywild, I think it makes sense that Shadar-kai should have a fey-heritage. To me, she's still a non-racial godess of the Nentir Vale setting, whatever they want to do with her.

Shadar-kai were originally introduced in 3e's Fiend Folio as a race of fey that left the Material Plane for the Plane of Shadow out of elitist disdain for mortals, only to find that their nature reacted badly with the "void" elemental affinity of their new home, causing them to start fading away into nothing unless they subjected themselves to constant pain, with a particular favored implement being shackle-like bracers whose interiors were lined with vicious spikes. Needless to say, they blamed the mortal races for what happened to them and sought revenge on anyone who was a humanoid.

4e took these rather bland enemies and turned them into a tribe of humans who sought immortality through a pact with the Raven Queen, and sort of got what they wanted, acquiring powers over shadow and prolonged lifespan, but also the need to seek out constant stimulation lest they fade into nothing.

I'd like to be charitable and presume the 5e version was an attempt to meld these two disaparate identities into one, but it's probably just because the writer was lazy.

This. Except I don't think it was laziness as much as it was an attempt to reconcile the human-ones of 4e with the fey ones of 3e. Feedback seems to be negative though, so I wager they'll probably not go with the elf-subrace thing and instead make a new race that keeps the same idea but scrubs the word "elf" from the mix to avoid near-reflexional elf-hatred. Be prepared for some wheel-reinventing.
 

Parmandur

Legend
It was just an Unearthed Arcana. And if the response here is any indication, they got a whole lot of feedback saying, "Yeah, sure, the mechanics are cool, but why tf are they elves?"
Forum posts are not necessarily representative of the overall feedback that they got.
 

Parmandur

Legend
My problem is now that Forgotten Realms is their flagship, and default, setting then they are going to try and incorporate that into the setting where it won't make a lot of sense given all the previous we have doesn't indicate the Shadar-kai were in any way associated with elves. Now if they somehow write them as coming from a different world and are now new to the Realms then I could possibly see it, but trying to make it as if they've always been around just doesn't make sense.
Forgotten Realms isn't the default setting, though: see the treatment of the Yuan-Ti in Volo's Guide, for example, which ignore the FR specific version completely.
 

Parmandur

Legend
This. Except I don't think it was laziness as much as it was an attempt to reconcile the human-ones of 4e with the fey ones of 3e. Feedback seems to be negative though, so I wager they'll probably not go with the elf-subrace thing and instead make a new race that keeps the same idea but scrubs the word "elf" from the mix to avoid near-reflexional elf-hatred. Be prepared for some wheel-reinventing.
Do we have any indication that the feedback is broadly negative? The forum "consensus" and the actual UA survey results do not seem to match much of the time.
 

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