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D&D 5E When is a dark elf NOT a Dark Elf? (Mechanically and roleplaying purposes)

hopeless

Adventurer
Have had a character idea for quite a while and recent events led me to the decision to post this thread to find out whether I'm going about this properly.

The background for the character is that she's the product of a relationship between a half elven adventurer and a drow maiden who was using the relationship to conceive a child to sacrifice to her god.

The adventurer figured this out and was chewed out by his barely teenaged son and his own wood elven grandmother who joined him in a mission to rescue the product of that relationship.
Short story he was killed in the process along with the mother who had by that point given birth and the wood elf called in her own deity who ended up chatting with Lolth allowing the child to be rescued and the errant father's body to be recovered and cremated as per his wishes.
The child grew up mostly being raised by her half brother when their great grandmother was too busy as she was earning the money in the family by this point.

Now here's the problem.

The child might be considered half drow by birth, but she was wasn't raised in the underdark nor by drow so the usual abilities wouldn't apply as due to her actual bloodline she in essence three quarters elven and only a quarter human so if we were using Tolkien logic she would have the choice of being human or elven and chose to be elven.

So she lacks superior darkvision and thus lacks the vulnerability to sunlight due to being raised above ground she wouldn't have the weapon training of a drow or drow magic as neither were taught to her as she grew up so it sounds more and more like a half elf, but with a full elven lifespan.

How would you view this?

This isn't an attempt to min-max abilities just a background story and an attempt to reason out what racial abilities she would actually have.

So would you agree she's a half elf with a full elf lifespan or is there something else I haven't considered?

Many thanks in advance!
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
With Tashas, there is no problem.

Probably dont use the Drow stats as a basis, since both the Lolthian spells and the extra-darkvision seem less likely.

Use either the Half Elf stats (Half Wood Elf) or the full Wood Elf stats, whichever you prefer.

Then you can legally swap various features that you feel are appropriate. Maybe you want a Charisma score improvement +2 for this Wood Elf, or want a Dexterity score improvement +2 for a Half Elf, for example?

The character appearance can be anyway you imagine, from fully Drow to fully Wood Elf to fully Human, or some blend.
 
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ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Decide if half elf or elf and then use the custom stuff from tashas, pick proficiencies to suit upbringing. Decide whether skin tone is blue black, grey, or beige as you like.

I wouldn’t use the Drow subtype as a start point, because of the sunlight sensitivity.

Half Elf Drow descent might work just fine if you want the access to Drow magic and for it to be innate.
 

Kurotowa

Legend
Ah, fantasy genetics! Let's run down the main options.

The simplest solution is to just pick the drow or half-elf racial mechanics package and flavor your appearance to your needs. You can use the Tasha's customization rules to tweak things a little and swap the drow weapon profs for other skills while stipulating that the racial spells are inborn rather than trained. That does of course leave you with the problem of still having superior darkvision and sunlight sensitivity, though. Half-elf is a fairly neutral option, mechanically, and maybe you can talk to your DM about minor tweaks like lifespan.

The first escalation is to turn to Tasha's rules for Custom Lineages. This is a fairly flexible "I'm unique and don't fit in your checkboxes" option: One ability of your choice gets +2, gain a feat of your choice, gain darkvision OR one skill of your choice, you speak Common and one other language, done. If you DM allows this it should be fairly easy to skin it with some elfy flavor, especially with the right feat choice.

The level beyond that is to start homebrewing with your DM. This is things like taking the drow racial package, cutting darkvision down to normal in trade for losing sunlight sensitivity, maybe tweaking the Drow Magic options too, and definitely trading the weapon profs on the Tasha's guidelines. The upside is you can try to dial things in precisely for what you want, the downside is a lot of DMs don't like people going this freeform with their character options.

So it's up to you to decide which of this will both meet your desires and be acceptable to your DM. Good luck.
 

No real ideas for you on this, but I am glad the actual topic is not what I expected to see when I clicked on the thread. You may want to add "mechanically" to your title, because other people with advice may be avoiding the thread because it sounds like something else is being discussed.
 

You really have to determine if Elf is a dominant gene.

If it's not, they are a half-elf. If it is, they could be a light skinned soulless abomination, or a dark skinned soulless abomination.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, in my campaign world where the drow live has a big impact on what they look like, how they behave and so on. The radiation from the underdark is what makes their skin a dark gray while also bleaching out their hair (which is actually hollow like a polar bear's so it's difficult to see with darkvision). So her skin color would be normal, her hair would likely be a lighter color but not white.

I would say this child was full elf in appearance and lifespan. Maybe when she gets really angry her skin starts to turn slightly grey just for effect. I would probably use the half-elf benefits and ability stats, keeping the +2 to charisma from the half-elf and drow gaining a +1.
 

SkidAce

Legend
All the suggestions so far are legit.

It also depends on your world.....if the sunlight sensitivity is genetics from 1,000s of years of ancestors in the dark, being raised above ground wont change that.

All in all I say go for the most interesting facets for the player.
 




I don't remember from where (XGtE?), but there are Half Elf variants you can take. The one for Drow (IIRC) gives up the 2 skills for the Drow's spell abilities. This seems like the simplest option, with the custom lineage from TCoE being the second.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
Have had a character idea for quite a while and recent events led me to the decision to post this thread to find out whether I'm going about this properly.

The background for the character is that she's the product of a relationship between a half elven adventurer and a drow maiden who was using the relationship to conceive a child to sacrifice to her god.

The adventurer figured this out and was chewed out by his barely teenaged son and his own wood elven grandmother who joined him in a mission to rescue the product of that relationship.
Short story he was killed in the process along with the mother who had by that point given birth and the wood elf called in her own deity who ended up chatting with Lolth allowing the child to be rescued and the errant father's body to be recovered and cremated as per his wishes.
The child grew up mostly being raised by her half brother when their great grandmother was too busy as she was earning the money in the family by this point.

Now here's the problem.

The child might be considered half drow by birth, but she was wasn't raised in the underdark nor by drow so the usual abilities wouldn't apply as due to her actual bloodline she in essence three quarters elven and only a quarter human so if we were using Tolkien logic she would have the choice of being human or elven and chose to be elven.

So she lacks superior darkvision and thus lacks the vulnerability to sunlight due to being raised above ground she wouldn't have the weapon training of a drow or drow magic as neither were taught to her as she grew up so it sounds more and more like a half elf, but with a full elven lifespan.

How would you view this?

This isn't an attempt to min-max abilities just a background story and an attempt to reason out what racial abilities she would actually have.

So would you agree she's a half elf with a full elf lifespan or is there something else I haven't considered?
No.
At least not in games I run. She's not a pure elf. Therefore she's (mechanically) a half-elf and has the natural lifespan of such, no matter how she was raised.
You want the elven perk of living forever? Then you gotta make an elf....
 


Whatever seems right.

I was recently playing a Half-Elf (Drow) PC whos mother was Drow, and Father was a Tehyrian human, who had a Sun elf grandparent himself.

I used the Half Elf (Drow traits replacing the 2 x skills) as the baseline.

If nothing else feels right, Custom lineage is also there if you need it.
 

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