Half-Elf Playable Race Guide in D&D 5e

From lore and descriptions to traits and abilities, learn all about Half-Elves in D&D 5e

Half-Elves are the children of both Elvish and Human parents. This means that they gain of the aspects of both races, though are typically not fully accepted by either race with Humans and Elves often feeling that the opposite racial aspects are those dominating a Half-Elf’s decisions. In theory, many races could mate with an Elf to produce Half-Elf children, but as standard, his particular race is based on Human and Elvish parents.

Half-Elves were introduced into D&D 5e in the Player’s Handbook and are one of the original races of 5e. If you want to create a Half-Elf character, then our guide has everything you need to know.

What is a Half-Elf?

Half-Elf Description

Half-Elves are the children of Human and Elvish parents, as such, they take on traits of both their lineages. They tend to be a little taller and stockier than most Elves, but also a little shorter and slimmer than most Humans standing between just under 5ft and 6ft tall and weighing between 100-180 pounds. Most Half-Elves though, do have a size that would be considered typical of either race.

Half-Elves typically have pointed ears, inherited from their Elvish parentage, and are able to grow facial hair like other Humans. Some Half-Elves, particularly those that have found themselves disparaged or rejected from communities, will hide their Elvish heritage by growing facial hair.

In some regions, Half-Elves are very rare and some may never meet another member of their race. In other areas, especially those where Humans and Elves mix a considerable amount, Half-Elves can be very common and can even form communities of their own.

Half-Elf Personality

Many feel that Half-Elves tend to possess the better qualities of each race, with various qualities balancing out those of their opposing lineage. The curiosities, inventiveness and ambition of Humans is tempered by the refinement and careful aspects of the Elves. Despite this, Half-Elves are generally not well-considered within Human or Elvish societies. The Elves view them as too human and the Humans view them as too Elvish and while Half-Elves are accepted and able to live among most of these communities, they are generally viewed as inferior for these reasons.

This leads a lot of Half-Elves to leave their homes and strike out on their own or live in mixed-race settlements (which are more common among Humans). Elves tend to be particularly disparaging of Half-Elves while Human settlements are often very cosmopolitan and more accepting of these differences (unless they harbour distrust of Elves).

Many Half-Elves will band together, sharing their common challenges and trials as the only people that truly understand one another. They are often accustomed with trying to get along with people that are different to them having normally been raised among a race that is not their own (often Human or Elvish). This makes them great diplomats and intermediaries and many will operate is these functions, using their natural charisma to aid them; though they often struggle to act in these roles with Humans and Elves.

How to play as a Half-Elf

Half-Elves, like all other races, have a wide variety of personalities, but most suffer from some similar conflicts; the pulling of the 2 sides of their biology. While you may find that the character you create may be different from most Half-Elves, the following considerations will help you determine where you differ and where and how these personality traits are the same:

  • Two races, no home – You’re born of 2 races but are likely not at home in either. Both races likely begrudgingly accept your differences, but do not like it. How you respond to this conflict may say a lot about your character. Do you resent your heritage, see the unique talents it provides or have you found your own path away from either race?
  • Where were you raised? – Where you were raised likely has important implications for who you are. You may have been educated by Humans or Elves. Have you retained any of their particular sensibilities and quirks. Perhaps you were raised separately and maybe that’s given you different quirks entirely. Has your life with a particular race made you more fond of them, or have you found living with those different to you to create conflict?
  • Balanced personality – The traits you’ve gained from your Human and Elvish parents likely gives you a more balanced personality, one that gives you a more measured approach to life and its challenges. How does this manifest in you?

Half-Elf features in 5e

Ability Scores+2 Charisma, +1 any 2 other abilities
Creature TypeHumanoid
LanguagesCommon, Elven and 1 other language
TraitsDarkvision, Fey Ancestry, Skill Versatility
Book found inPlayer’s Handbook

If you want to play as a Half-Elf, your character will have the following traits and abilities:

Half-Elf traits

Darkvision – Thanks to your elven heritage, 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.

Skill Versatility – You gain proficiency in two skills of your choice.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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