The half-elf is a player character race featured in Dungeons & Dragons and related material.


Half-elves, as their name implies, are the offspring of humans and elves. Unlike the Half-Elven in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, such as Elrond and his twin brother Elros, half-elves in Dungeons & Dragons do not have to choose between the human and elven worlds but are a subrace unto themselves, blending the features of human and elf. Half-elves look like elves to humans and like humans to elves (hence their elven description as "half-human"). They do well with elves, humans, gnomes, dwarves, and halflings, a social ease reflected in racial bonuses to the Diplomacy and Gather Information skills. In the case of conflicts between elves and humans, however, each side suspects a half-elf mediator of favoring the other. The drow despise them, referring to them as "mongrel half breeds."

The main character of the initial Dragonlance series, Tanis Half-Elven, is a half-elf, as his name implies. In the Dungeons & Dragons Eberron campaign setting, half-elves consider themselves a separate people from humans and elves both and "breed true"; they bear the dragonmarks of Storm and Detection.

Half-elves have curiosity and ambitions like humans but they have sense for magic and love for nature like their elven parents. Their skin is paler than human skin and they are taller and bigger than elves. Half-elves have long ears like elves. They live about 180 years.

While creating a character in 3rd edition, a player can choose any class for half-elf. Half-elves, like humans, do not get attribute bonuses and decreases, so they don't have a favored class. Like elves, they have low-light vision, immunity against sleep effects and partial affinities for skills related to perception (elves have full skill affinities for same skills).

Like elves, a half-elf can become an arcane archer.

In 4th edition half-elves gain bonuses to constitution (or dexterity in some publications) and charisma with the ability to help group diplomacy checks and learn some powers from humans, elves, or classes apart from their own.

In 5th edition half-elves gain bonuses to charisma and some attributes of their choice as well as some of the traits of their elven ancestors.

Publication history[]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition[]

The half-elf appeared as a player character race in the original Player's Handbook (1978).[1] The half-elf also appeared in the original Monster Manual (1977).[2] The half-elves of the Dragonlance setting were detailed in Dragonlance Adventures (1987).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition[]

The half-elf appeared as a character race in the second edition Player's Handbook (1989).[3] The half-elf also appeared in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989),[4] and Monstrous Manual (1993). Options for the half-elf character race were presented in Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995). The planar half-elf for the Planescape setting was detailed in The Planewalker's Handbook (1996). The half-breed aquatic elf for the Forgotten Realms setting appeared in Sea of Fallen Stars (1999).

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[]

The half-elf appeared as a character race in the third edition Player's Handbook (2000),[5] and Monster Manual (2000), and in the 3.5 revised Player's Handbook[6] and Monster Manual (2003). The half-human elf was presented in the 3.5 revised Dungeon Master's Guide (2003). Half-elves, including half-aquatic elf and half-drow, were detailed for the Forgotten Realms setting in Races of Faerûn (2003).[7] The aquatic half-elf, the arctic half-elf, the desert half-elf, the fire half-elf, the jungle half-elf, and the half-elf paragon were detailed in Unearthed Arcana (2004). The madborn half-elf of the Eberron setting appeared in Five Nations (2005). The aquatic half-elf appeared again in Stormwrack (2005). The deepwyrm half-drow appeared in Dragon Magic (2006).

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[]

The half-elf appeared as a character race in the fourth edition Player's Handbook (2008) and the Essentials rulebook Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition[]

The half-elf appeared as a character race in the fifth edition Player's Handbook (2014).


  1. Gygax, Gary (1978). Players Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-935696-01-6. 
  2. Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  3. Cook, David (1989). Player's Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-88038-716-5. 
  4. Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
  5. Tweet, Jonathan; Cook, Monte; Williams, Skip (2000). Player's Handbook. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1550-1. 
  6. Tweet, Jonathan; Cook, Monte; Williams, Skip (2003) [2000]. Player's Handbook v.3.5. revised by Andy Collins. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7. 
  7. Boyd, Eric L.; Matt Forbeck; and James Jacobs. Races of Faerûn. Wizards of the Coast, 2003

External links[]