Wood Elf Playable Race Guide in D&D 5e

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

Elves are graceful beings that originated from the Feywilds. They have slender features, pointed ears and are mostly hairless other than their head. Wood Elves in particular have a close affinity with nature and tend to live in the wild, not building cities but fashioning homes in an even less intrusive way than other Elves. Like most Elves, Wood Elves value the pursuit of artistry, magic and poetry above most other pursuits but will often manifest this differently through the tending of nature or their quiet and quick movement through woodland.

Wood Elves are generally distrustful of other races and will typically hide away from them. Many races do not respect nature and are often seen as destroyers of nature that do not understand the Wood Elves’ culture. Even other Elves can view Wood Elves as somewhat “wild” in nature, but rather than being savages, Wood Elves are resourceful beings, even if they lack the book-learning of the High Elves for example.

If you want to play as a Wood Elf in D&D 5e, then our guide is here to help you with everything you need to know from description and background to their traits and abilities.

What are Wood Elves?

Elves came from the Feywilds many centuries ago and have settled across the many settings of the D&D universe from the Forgotten Realms to Eberron and all of Wildspace in between. There are many types of Elves that populate these settings with many Elven groups splitting off and becoming their own subspecies. Many of these subspecies have become playable races in D&D 5e, these include:

Some of these subspecies occur across different settings and may be named different things. For example, Wood Elves may be known as Wild Elves (Grugach) in Greyhawk, the Kagonesti in Dragonlance or Wild, Green and Forest Elves in the Forgotten Realms.

Elves can be identified by their slender features, pointed ears and mostly hairless bodies. They’re typically a little shorter than humans but fit within the normal range for humans standing between just under 5ft to just over 6ft tall. Wood Elves tend to have brown or black hair (but can be blonde) with copperish skin (sometimes with some traces of green) and green or brown eyes.

Unless they have to, Wood Elves tend to avoid settlements outside of nature and are unlikely to be found in a large city unless forced their by circumstance. They do build settlements, but unlikely the towering stone and marble buildings of the High Elves, these tend to be made even more naturally.

With a long lifespan of about 700yrs, Wood Elves have a longer view on things and are less brash and quick to judgement as humans are. Often, they will choose to wait to see if a problem solves itself rather than rushing to action. This can create conflict with the shorter-lived races who do not have the time to spend years resolving their problems.

Wood Elves embody the Elven affinity with nature more than any other Elven subspecies. They are stealthier and more agile than their other Elven cousins, capable of outrunning and even out-hiding other Elves.

How to play as a Wood Elf

Like most races, Wood Elves come in many types. However, you will likely take on at least some of the traits typical of your race. Below are some typical traits to consider when playing a Wood Elf as well as some considerations though you can certainly choose to play as an outlier among your race. If you do, consider why you might have different characteristics to the rest of your race:

  • Isolationist – Wood Elves rarely reveal themselves willingly to non-Elves. As an adventurer, you may want to consider what has drawn you away from your home. Exile or a mission perhaps? You may also want to consider how you deal with being among people and civilisation.
  • Affinity with nature – You love nature and are at home in it. You abhor those that seek to destroy it and while open to diplomacy, will defend your lands aggressively if provoked. You are likely educated in the ways of nature knowing different plants and animals and how to tend them. You may want to consider how you view those that may destroy or abuse nature.
  • Grace and poise – You not only appear graceful, but act with grace too. Consider how you fight. You have likely been trained in combat by other Elves meaning your combat is likely less barbaric and more refined with fluid motions and attacks with precision. You probably aim for arteries and organs that will cause the most damage than the brute force approach of an Orc for example.

Wood elf features in 5e

Ability Scores+2 Dexterity; +1 Wisdom
Creature TypeHumanoid
LanguagesCommon and Elven
TraitsDarkvision, Keen Senses, Fey Ancestry, Elf Weapon Training, Fleet of Foot, Mask of the Wild. Trance
Book found inPlayer’s Handbook

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

Wood elf traits

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. The Common word for this meditation is “trance.” While meditating, you dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive after years of practice. 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.

Elf Weapon Training – You have proficiency with the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.

Mask of the Wild – You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.

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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