Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Eladrin are a subrace of elves native to the Feywild.
Untamable, changeable, and fiercely free, the Eladrin are ruled by their emotions and innate connection, both to the changing seasons of the natural world, and to the roiling fey magic that lives within each of them.
In this guide, we’ll go over what makes this subrace of elves unique, break down the mechanical benefits (and drawbacks) of playing an Eladrin, as well as some of the classes that synergize well with a fey elf character.
All elves have a touch of the otherworldly about them, but of all the high, wood, or dark divisions of their species, it’s the Eladrin – the fey elves – who may be the most alien.
Natives of the Feywild, a place of faerie magic and raw emotion, the Eladrin also might be the oldest example of elven culture.
They dwell among the fey folk, with many older Eladrin eventually transcending their mortal forms to become fey spirits.
Elves have been a part of European folklore for millennia, but the modern conception of the fair folk (tall, slender, graceful, ageless, and good with bows) has been greatly influenced by the works of Tolkein (not to mention Dungeons & Dragons itself), but the Eladrin are probably the closest thing D&D has to classical representations of elves.
In Icelandic, as well as other Scandinavian mythologies, elves (also known as álfur or the huldufólk – which translates to hidden people) exist in a parallel world that is overlaid upon our own, and frequently step in and out of this extraplanar home, only choosing to be seen by humans when the mood takes them.
The Eladrin’s Fey Step ability, which lets them briefly teleport by darting in and out of the Feywild, adds a little of this traditional elven flavor to the race.
Eladrin used to be a blanket (if slightly stuffy) term for all elves in earlier editions of D&D.
High elves used to be known as “common Eladrin” – something I’m sure any high elf would find deeply offensive – with those native to the Feywild being designated “Noble Eladrin”, although there’s some debate over whether this term actually applies to the elf-like fey spirits that also dwell within the plane of faeries.
In D&D 5e, the Eladrin were introduced as a playable race of fey elves, first through Unearthed Arcana and officially as part of Morenkainen’s Tome of Foes (MToF).
The Eladrin’s physical appearance, personality, and abilities are as changeable as the twisting, untamed magic of the Feywild itself.
Each Eladrin is linked to one of the four seasons – Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer – and, depending on the season to which an Eladrin’s emotional state feels most closely linked, their whole appearance can change from one day to the next.
A Spring Eladrin’s skin and hair will turn dazzling shades of green, and they are filled with such vibrance and joy that flowers and green shoots burst forth from the ground around them.
In contrast, an Eladrin wearing the aspect of Winter is prone to bouts of melancholy and bitter rage, their skin and hair turn shades of cold blue and white.
Some Eladrin “wear” a single season their entire lives, whereas others change their appearance in tune with the changing of the seasons.
Other fey elves may slip from Autumn to Summer, from Winter to Spring as it suits their ever-changing moods, as easily as someone might throw on a new set of clothes.
Eladrin look very similar to their high elf cousins, but tend towards being a little taller, slimmer, and having eyes that sparkle or glow faintly with the magic of the Feywild.
Characteristics of the Eladrin
Before we dive into what makes Eladrin unique, let’s take a look at some of the traits that the fey elves share with all their elven cousins.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
- Age. An elf typically claims adulthood and an adult name around the age of 100 and can live to be 750 years old.
- Alignment. Elves love freedom, variety, and self-expression, so they lean strongly towards the gentler aspects of chaos. They value and protect others’ freedom as well as their own, and are good more often than not.
- Size. Elves range from under 5 to over 6 feet tall and have slender builds. Your size is Medium.
- Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
- Darkvision. Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
- Fey Ancestry. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.
- Trance. Elves do not sleep. Instead they meditate deeply, remaining semi-conscious, for 4 hours a day. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit a human would from 8 hours of sleep.
- Keen Senses. You have proficiency in the Perception skill.
- Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Elven.
As an Eladrin, you also gain the following characteristics…
- Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
- Seasons. Each Eladrin embodies one of the four seasons and has coloration reminiscent of that season, which can also affect the Eladrin’s mood:
- Autumn is the season of peace and goodwill, when summer’s harvest is shared with all.
- Winter is the season of contemplation and dolor, when the vibrant energy of the world slumbers.
- Spring is the season of cheerfulness and celebration, marked by merriment as winter’s sorrow passes.
- Summer is the season of boldness and aggression, a time of unfettered energy.
Some Eladrin remain associated with a particular season for their entire lives, whereas others regularly transform, adopting characteristics of a new season.
When finishing a long rest, any Eladrin can change their season. At later levels, your chosen season also affects your other key trait, Fey Step.
- Fey Step. As a bonus action, you can magically teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. Once you use this trait, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest. When you reach 3rd level, your Fey Step gains an additional effect based on your season; if the effect requires a saving throw, the DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. The effects are as follows:
- Autumn. Immediately after you use your Fey Step, up to two creatures of your choice that you can see within 10 feet of you must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by you for 1 minute, or until you or your companions deal any damage to it.
- Winter. When you use your Fey Step, one creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of you before you teleport must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened of you until the end of your next turn.
- Spring. When you use your Fey Step, you can touch one willing creature within 5 feet of you. That creature then teleports instead of you, appearing in an unoccupied space of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you.
- Summer. Immediately after you use your Fey Step, each creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of you takes fire damage equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1 damage).
Because some entries are self-explanatory, and others are universal to all of elvenkind, we’re not going to break down everything, but rather focus on the traits that require a closer look, or have interesting implications for the ways in which you play an Eladrin character.
Ability Score increases. All elves get a +2 bonus to their Dexterity thanks to their almost supernatural grace and poise, which is a great addition to just about any character, whether you’re playing a ranged weapon damage dealer, or your squishy spellcaster just needs some better AC.
The +1 bonus to your Charisma that the Eladrin grants you actually makes you kind of similar to a drow, and as such well-suited to playing a rogue, sorcerer, or even a Dexterity-focused paladin.
Even if a Charisma-focused class doesn’t appeal to you, a boost to your competence in social situations is never a bad thing.
Alignment. Elves tend towards the more chaotic side of good (with the notable exception of the drow).
While Eladrin don’t explicitly differ from high or wood elves in terms of alignment, their connection to the ageless, inhuman fey could also mean that an Eladrin leans more towards a neutral alignment, as the faerie folk don’t adhere to or even recognize the same morals as mortals.
Seasons. Your chosen season is a key component, not just of your Fey Step ability, but also the way in which you roleplay your Eladrin.
In addition to giving you some broad guidelines for the different effects that the seasons have on your Eladrin’s personality, the rules in MToF also present you with some optional traits and flaws that help express the constantly-shifting emotions that dominate the Eladrin.
d4 Autumn Personality Trait
- If someone is in need, you never withhold aid.
- You share what you have, with little regard to your own needs.
- There are no simple meals, only lavish feasts.
- You stock up on fine food and drink. You hate going without such comforts.
d4 Autumn Flaw
- You trust others without thought.
- You give to the point that you leave yourself without necessary supplies.
- Everyone is your friend, or a potential friend.
- You spend excessively on creature comforts.
d4 Winter Personality Trait
- The worst case is most likely to occur.
- You preserve what you have. Better to be hungry today and have food for tomorrow.
- Life is full of dangers, but you are ready for them.
- A penny spent is a penny lost forever.
d4 Winter Flaw
- Everything dies eventually. Why bother building anything that is supposedly meant to last?
- Nothing matters to you, and you allow others to guide your actions.
- Your needs come first. In winter, all must watch out for themselves.
- You speak only to point out the flaws in others’ plans.
d4 Spring Personality Trait
- Every day is the greatest day of your life.
- You do everything with enthusiasm, even the most mundane chores.
- You love music and song. You supply a tune yourself if no one else can.
- You can’t stay still.
d4 Spring Flaw
- You overdrink.
- Toil is for drudges. Yours should be a life of leisure.
- A pretty face infatuates you in an instant, but your fancy passes with equal speed.
- Anything worth doing is worth doing again and again.
d4 Summer Personality Trait
- You believe that direct confrontation is the best way to solve problems.
- Overwhelming force can solve almost anything. The tougher the problem, the more force you apply.
- You stand tall and strong so that others can lean on you.
- You maintain an intimidating front. Better to prevent fights with a show of force than to harm others.
d4 Summer Flaw
- You are stubborn. Let others change.
- The best option is one that is swift, unexpected, and overwhelming.
- Punch first. Talk later.
- Your fury can carry you through anything.
Fey Step. In terms of innate abilities, the Eladrin’s Fey Step is top tier. It’s a great chase and escape mechanic at lower levels (when D&D is more of a survival horror game than a heroic power fantasy) and functions as a great vehicle for some free spells.
The benefits they provide synergize well with different classes. An Oath of the Ancients Paladin, for example, is a great aura-focused defensive tank, but can lack damage output. Pairing one with the aspect of Summer is a great way to bump up your initial guaranteed damage as you leap into the fray.
An Eladrin Bard, on the other hand, could make great use of the aspect of Autumn for a few extra uses of Charm Person per short rest.
What Classes Are Well Suited to the Eladrin?
Because of your natural Ability Score increases, any class that uses either Dexterity or Charisma as its primary stat is going to be your friend.
Because Dexterity (ranged attacks, some melee attacks, breaking grapples, AC, and the most common saving throw in the game) and Charisma (almost the entirety of the social pillar, which is supposed to be a third of the game according to Wizards of the Coast, and cool magic if you pick the right class) are two of the best stats in the game, there’s no class that is explicitly Dexterity and Charisma-focused in the way that the Ranger is a Wisdom and Dexterity-focused class.
This does mean, however, that if you want to be a stealthy, graceful, dextrous character (think Rogue, Ranger, Fighter with a bow), you can do that easily as any elf, and sprinkling a little extra Charisma on top is never going to hurt.
Alternately, if you want to play a Charisma-focused class (Bard, Warlock, Paladin, Sorcerer), dexterity is either going to come in handy as a way to boost your melee damage (Bard with a Rapier or a kinda weird Paladin with a bow or finesse weapon – I’ve seen it work before, although it’s kind of a waste of your heavy armor proficiency) or bump up your AC and stealth if you’re playing a squishy spellcaster who’s starting the game with the same number of hit points as an asthmatic kobold (that’s 5 hp in case you were wondering).
The Eladrin are a thoroughly versatile race, the only real exceptions being heavily Strength-focused classes (Barbarians, classic sword and board fighters, etc.) or Wizards (high elves get a boost to their Intelligence and a free extra cantrip, making them a way better choice as the foundation for a Wizard). Otherwise, you can pretty much have at it.
Below, we’re pulled together some of the classes that synergize best with an Eladrin, both from a mechanical and thematic point of view.
A boost to your Charisma is a great addition to any bard, and the added Dexterity is fantastic, given the fact that pretty much all bards use the rapier in melee combat.
A great way to leverage your natural teleportation abilities (which also use Charisma to determine your spell save DC) is to branch into the College of Swords at 3rd level, which lets you become a master of positioning, darting in and out of combat fast enough to make your party’s rogue jealous.
Alternately, the College of Glamour (which focuses on illusions and enchantment magic) is a great thematic fit for a faerie trickster bard using the aspect of Summer to teleport and charm their way past even the most stoic of castle guards.
Any bump in Charisma makes a subrace viable as the basis for a paladin.
However, because paladins are also a Strength-focused class, your Eladrin paladin (in addition to being the most fun kind of paladin to say out loud over and over again until words no longer have any meaning like you’re trapped in some kind of Samuel Beckett hellscape) is going to need some tweaking.
Mechanically, because your Dexterity is going to naturally be higher than your Strength, re-focusing your paladin to use ranged or finesse weapons.
Grabbing the Duelist fighting style with a shield and a one-handed weapon is a great move here, especially since your low Strength and high Dexterity means you’re not going to want to pick up any Heavy Armor.
Probably the best thematic choice for an Eladrin paladin is the Oath of the Ancients, which sets you up as a defender of nature and the wild places, and pushes you in the aesthetic direction of the Green Knight from Arthurian legend – even though he didn’t actually have anything to do with defending nature, but that’s no reason to waste a good fashion-forward vibe.
Lastly, the warlock (especially if you choose the Archfey patron for added thematic excellence) is a perfect fit for an Eladrin.
With Charisma as your spellcasting modifier, and Dexterity supporting the warlock’s traditionally low AC and preference for ranged weapons, you make a potent member of the party.
Also, if you want extra points for being a brave roleplayer, tie your seasons to the emotions of your patron and let the DM decide what side of the bed you wake up on every morning.
Eladrin Appearance and Names
The Eladrin share a great deal of physical characteristics with their high elf and wood elf cousins. They have delicate, somewhat androgynous features that look – to human eyes at least – both beautiful and uncanny.
Because of their prolonged exposure to the untamed natural magic of the Feywild, Eladrin also differ from other elves in a few important ways.
They’re not only taller than high elves, but their eyes shimmer, glitter, or glow with the fey energy that suffuses their bodies. The touch of the fey realm manifests itself most strongly, however, through the bond between an Eladrin and the seasons.
Depending on the season your Eladrin embodies, their skin and hair will radically alter itself – sometimes overnight.
A Spring Eladrin has skin the color of fresh leaves, bright moss, or clover, and their hair might be speckled with wildflowers. An Autumn Eladrin’s skin and hair, by contrast, turn a dizzying array of reds, golds, and fiery oranges; they may leave a trail of brown leaves in their wake, and the tree under which they choose to rest might lose all its foliage even at the height of Summer.
Eladrin have both a first name and surname taken from the melodic elvish tongue. You can feel free to choose any elvish name that takes your fancy.
Due to the close relationship between the Eladrin and the changing seasons, you might even choose to change your surname name along with the rest of your personality when your Eladrin shifts from Summer to Autumn, for example.
Below is a list of elvish-sounding names based on the names of different seasons in several languages. You can read the full list at your convenience here.
Example Eladrin Seasonal Names:
Friejjohr, Uda, Momuroun, Gwaynten, Kynyaf, Efterår, Vinter, Zomer, Kesä, Talvi, Sierade, Upernaaq, Haust, Fómhar, Geimhreadh, Inverno, Êté, Aestas, Takurua, Høst, Vår, Wayra Pacha, Verano, Gwanwyn, Suvi.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.