Learn about the Elves of the Astral Sea and one of D&D 5e’s playable races
Who are the Astral Elves?
The Astral Elves are Elves that left the Feywild a long time ago, making their way to the Astral Sea to be closer to their gods. They became a space-faring race and while their natural home is in space in the Spelljammer setting, they can find themselves upon any of the planets of the universe.
Astral Elves share many of the same features that most other elves have such as; pointed ears, a slender figure, intelligence and a certain aloofness. What differentiates Astral Elves from their counterparts are the physical changes living in the Astral Sea has wrought upon them. The main difference is that they do not age out in the Astral Sea, giving them a different perspective on time and existence. Time has less meaning to Astral Elves making them slower to act and more considered in their approach (even more so than an average elf).
Astral elf features in 5e
|Ability Scores||+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores|
|Lifespan||Typically about 750 but the effects of time don’t affect creatures in the Astral Sea allowing many Astral Elves to become thousands of years old.|
|Languages||Common and 1 other language|
|Traits||Astral Fire, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, Keen Senses, Starlight Sense, Astral Trance|
|Book found in||Spelljammer: Adventures in Space|
If you want to play as an Astral Elf, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
Astral elf Traits
Astral Fire – You know one of the following cantrips of your choice: Dancing Lights, Light, or Sacred Flame. Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it (choose when you select this race).
Darkvision – You can see dim light within 60 feet of yourself as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You discern colors in darkness only as shades of gray.
Fey Ancestry – You have advantage on saving throws you make to avoid or end the charmed condition on yourself.
Keen Senses – You have proficiency in the Perception skill.
Starlight Step – As a bonus action, you can magically teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. You can use this trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Astral Trance – You don’t need to sleep, and magic can’t put you to sleep. You can finish a long rest in 4 hours if you spend those hours in a trancelike meditation, during which you remain conscious. Whenever you finish this trance, you gain proficiency in one skill of your choice and with one weapon or tool of your choice, selected from the Player’s Handbook. You magically acquire these proficiencies by drawing them from shared elven memory and the experiences of entities on the Astral Plane, and you retain them until you finish your next long rest.
How to play as an Astral Elf
The Astral Elf is another teleporting elf, similar to the Eladrin or Shadar-Kai. It’s basically misty step without spell slots which is hugely useful. Unfortunately for Astral Elves, their version of teleport doesn’t come with the extra bonuses that Eladrin and Shadar-Kai get making them a slightly weaker option. On the flip side, Astral Elves can use their trance to gain a skill proficiency which is generally more useful than a weapon or tool proficiency. Even so, if you’re going for pure optimisation, I’d recommend the Shadar-Kai or Eladrin over an Astral Elf.
Not that this makes an Astral Elf a poor option. Below are the main benefits of playing an Astral Elf:
- Free misty step – You can teleport as a bonus action. This means your precious action isn’t wasted. Starlight step is great for getting out of melee combat without using the disengage action or escaping the grappled and restrained conditions (it’s basically a get out of jail free card for these conditions). This makes it most useful for weaker classes that will want to get away from bigger, tougher enemies. However, you can also use it for some extra distance if your enemy is too far away (there’s nothing more frightening than a burly fighter suddenly teleporting into your face).
- Extra proficiencies – You’re proficient with perception which is great for everyone plus you can pick an extra skill proficiency. I’d talk to your party to see what skill gaps the party has and use it to fill one of those. You can then change this skill when you rest if you have a particular mission up ahead that requires finesse in a certain skill. Weapon and tool proficiencies can occasionally be useful but tend to have less utility.
- Free cantrip – Cantrips can be used as often as you like so even if you don’t have a ton of spell slots, this one can be great. You’ll want to focus on a character with either a high wisdom, intelligence or charisma though to get the most out of it. Sacred flame is a reliable source of radiant damage so always a good option. Dancing lights and light have some utility outside of combat, but these effects can mostly be replicated by your darkvision and a torch making sacred flame your best option.
Best classes for Astral Elves
Astral Elves are a bit of an everyman race. They’re decent for every class but to get the most out of them, you’re really looking at classes that will benefit most from a teleportation ability, a couple of extra skills and a cantrip (probably sacred flame). I’d recommend the following classes as great options for an Astral Elf:
The bard is the pick of the bunch here. As the party swiss army knife, more skills are great for you. Teleport is a great ability for getting out of trouble, and bards don’t get misty step as standard so starlight step is extra handy. Bards also don’t have access to damage dealing cantrips making sacred flame most useful for them.
Paladins and monks typically have high wisdom or charisma but don’t have access to cantrips so sacred flame is a great option for them for the times when they need to do some ranged damage. Paladins in particular benefit from some extra skills so that they’re not just the face of the party.
Worst classes for Astral Elves
Most classes can work reasonably well with an Astral Elf but a couple stand to gain less.
Barbarians are one of these as the cantrips will not do as much damage as their weapon attacks (especially as you’re likely not great on wisdom, intelligence or charisma). On top of this, starlight step, while useful at times, is less important for barbarians that rarely need to escape combat or grapples and who prefer to use their bonus actions for rage related activities. Extra skills are fine, but again, barbarians tend to be very combat-focused and not geared towards out of combat situations.
Clerics also stand to gain a little less from an Astral Elf. They don’t tend to be a skill-focused class and already have better cantrips available (or these ones if they want them). Starlight step can still be quite useful though.
About Astral Elves
Astral Elf appearance
Astral Elves look like other Elves with their main distinction being that they do not age. You can find Astral Elves that are thousands of years old that have the appearance of young adults.
This does create an unusual problem as newborn Astral Elves also do not age. This means that Astral Elf parents must raise their children on a planet to allow them to reach adulthood before retuning to the Astral Sea.
Astral Elf personality
Most Elves are arrogant beings though not generally cruel (other than the Drow). Astral Elves are similar in this regard, taking this arrogance up a notch. As near immortal beings, with generations of knowledge and their refined Spelljammer technology, they have an even greater sense of self-importance. While they tend to respect the well-being and independence of other races, they also view themselves as considerably superior and will generally be very aloof when dealing with “lesser” races.
Other Elven subraces
How to roleplay as an Astral Elf
The main thing to convey when playing an Astral Elf is their major superiority complex as well as their near immortal perspective.
Below are some ideas for how you could play an Astral Elf:
- The Altruist – You are a benevolent being, taking pity on those lesser than you. You do your part to share your superior knowledge to help those less fortunate than yourself. That is, those not born as an Elf. The poor things. You’re well-intentioned and don’t really get the troubles of other races, but at least you’re trying, even if you patronise everyone along the way.
- The stranded explorer – You were flying your Spelljammer for some purpose or other (research, adventure or any other purpose) but it has crashed on a planet and you’re stuck. You’ve had to acclimatise to the locale and its people while seeking a way back to the Astral Sea.
- Investigating a problem – You have been sent by the Astral Elves to investigate a problem (because no other race could be trusted to investigate it properly). For this reason, you’re willing to align yourself with other races to understand this problem and report back to your people. This problem could be anything but it’s worth discussing with your DM what it could be.