Review of Unearthed Arcana “Elf Subraces”
DnD 5th edition is known for giving the players tons of options when it comes to creating the character they want to play. Sub races give an extra point of customization to players and this article focuses on Elven race. In addition to the ones listed in the players’ handbook and other WotC sources this adds the Avariel, the Grugach, Sea Elves, and the Shadar-kai.
The Avariel, or winged-elves, are rare creatures that still exist in small colonies around the material and air planes. Fans of the Baldur’s Gate video game series will recognize the npc Aerie as an Avariel. Benefits of this sub race are a flying speed of 30 feet with the restriction of no medium or heavy armor, and they learn the language Auran. That’s all the benefits they receive but don’t discount the flight ability. I can’t tell you how many times I have bypassed traps or obstacles with flight. Plus you usually would get advantage in melee attacks from the height. I really like this race and the roleplaying aspect is interesting as well.
The Grugach are greyhawk natives and are considered strange, even to other elves. They are wood-folk, preferring the forest and nature than the cities of man and punishing any intruder who dares to trespass into their domain. The benefits of this race are: Strength increases by 1, proficiency with spear, shortbow, longbow, and net, one cantrip from druid spell list, and the Sylvan language, BUT they DO NOT learn common. This language restriction could potentially be deleterious to a group but it might make for some fun pantomime RP if they are up for it. The bonuses to this class are nice and I especially like the weapon proficiencies and cantrip. This is a great option for a ranger or other missile class.
Sea elves are adventurous sailors who forsake the earth and trees of the world to sail on the blur oceans of Toril. Their colonies are small and hidden in the ocean shallows and in the plane of water. Their race bonuses are: constitution increases by 1 (great for an elf), proficiency with spear, trident, light crossbow, and net, a swimming speed of 30 feet, ability to speak with small swimming creatures, and you learn the language Aquan. This is a great race for an elf swashbuckler, I really like the extra constitution and the weapon proficiencies. The swim speed is nice, I don’t think characters end up in water too often but it might save your butt one day. Speaking to small swimming creatures and Aquan language is fine I guess but I can’t really think of any situation where they would be too useful.
The Shadar-kai is a race I recognize from Shadowfell. I never really thought of them as “elves” per se but I suppose that it is not unimaginable to classify them as so. They seem more like elves from Shadowrun than the forgotten realms, with piercings and tattoos with pale skin and black eyes. Their benefits are: charisma increase by 1, learn a cantrip (either chill touch, spare the dying, or thaumaturgy), and blessing of the raven queen which allows a magical teleport within 15 and resistance to all damage when activated. This is a nice class that would work well for an assassin or a sorcerer. I can imagine some tension caused by these shadow creatures and it makes for a real interesting characters. The teleport ability is pretty powerful and is a good way to escape a troublesome situation.
I really like it when Unearthed Arcana adds new options for PCs to take. It is usually in the form of class options but race is another large aspect of what makes a character. I would love to see more. Sub races for orcs, for dwarves, humans, gnomes and everyone else.