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D&D 5E Wow! No more subraces. The Players Handbook races reformat to the new race format going forward.

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The recent UA article, Travelers of the Multiverse, lists the "astral elf" as one of the options for what appears to be an upcoming setting.

(Speculation about this setting include Star Frontiers and Spelljammer, but some hope for Planescape. If Spelljammer, they seem to navigate the 4e Astral Sea but as a kind of empty space.)

Of interest in this thread is, the races. The UA presents the format for what the elf race will look like going forward.

Immediately apparent:

There are no more "subraces", going forward.

The "astral elf" would traditionally be understood as an elf "subrace". But here it appears in the format as its own separate race, using the new format. The ability score increases can be any ability, and are handled separately as part of the ability score generation step. The languages are Common plus any other, depending on culture. The typical elf can be any human height and weight.

Some of the elf race features are recognizable: Darkvision, Keen Senses (Perception Proficiency), Trance (conscious long rest), and Fey Ancestry (Charm resistance). But sensibly, the Sleep immunity is part of the Trance trait, rather than the Fey Ancestry trait. Trance specifies the trancer remains fully "conscious", whence immunity to sleep. The new traits peculiar to the "astral" elf are:

• Astral Fire (a light-related cantrip)
• Radiant Soul (self-heal during a successful death save)
• Trance Proficiency (swap weapon or tool proficiency during Trance)

Notably, these new traits are not separated out for a subclass section. They are intermixed among the more familiar Players Handbook traits as part of the new race format.

Thus there is no section for "base race traits" onto which "subrace traits" add. Every iteration of elf stands on its own. It might or might not share a same trait with other elves.

The astral elf race description confirms that the elf is an elf like the other elves are. Unlike the other elves, the ones that live on the Astral Plane age differently and have an immortal lifespan, with many having already lived for thousands of years.

The new format specifies the creature type, along with size (Medium) and speed (30). The astral elf is Humanoid, despite immigrating into the Astral Plane from the Feywild Plane. The astral elf is no longer Fey but maintains Fey Ancestry.

In sum, there are no more subraces. Each race is assumed to include diversity. Any potential variant, including a setting variant deriving from environmental adaptation, is written up fully as its own race, using the new race format for it.
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I wonder what this means for the PHB races and sub-races? But also what about the dragonborn subraces that we are getting in Fizban's Guide?
That sounds like it would end up repeating a lot of information for no good reason, honestly.
Not sure this is a valid assumption. Just because they repeat elf info doesn't really mean much. It's a UA article.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but based on Occam's razor I'd say the latter.

Perhaps, the 50th Anniversary corebooks might present the elf race as a choice of elf race traits? Meanwhile each prominent elf culture, like High, Wood, Udadrow, and so on, might favor certain choices but individuals within each culture might still exhibit any of the other elf race traits, even if in the minority.


My guess is that they're showing how they will update the elf. Subraces might still exist, but since ASIs are now more to to with rolling ability scores rather than race/subrace, they have to follow the new method to showcase the subrace. I won't be surprised if we still have the parent elf race with a cluster of traits common for all elves and then subraces with their own unique traits in the future.


Well we'll probably see UA's of the PHB races with the new approach or what not at some point. Time will only tell how it'll turn out.

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