Half Elf 5e

Published on June 11, 2020

What are Half-Elves?

Half-elves are a race that is split between two worlds. Humans and Elves are about as different as you can get when it comes to their perspective on the world around them, this is mainly due to one main factor: time. Half-Elves who choose to walk among humans see their friends and loved one’s age, while time barely touches them. Half-Elves that live around elves grow restless with the timelessness of the society and tend to mature much faster than their equal aged counterparts.

It is because of this inability to fit in that draws most Half-Elves to become adventurers.

Half-Elf Traits

Ability Score Increase: a +2 CHA increase is one of the more common racial bonuses available. What truly makes the Half-Elf racial bonuses stand out is the ASI that comes along with the bonus to CHA. This means that a Half-Elf would make a great choice for ANY CHA based caster because they can always boost their next most important stat. Paladins can boost STR or CON, Bards and boost DEX, etc.

Age: Reaching adulthood at 20 is fairly standard. Living to 180 years is a nice bonus.

Alignment: Half-Elves typically play towards the chaotic end of the spectrum, but the Good, Neutral, and Evil alignments are left up to you.

Size: Medium

Speed: 30ft

Darkvision: 60ft of Darkvision is always nice.

Fey Ancestry: This is where the benefits of the Half-Elves better half (get at me humans) really starts to shine, advantage on saving throws against being charmed is going to come up multiple times in the length of a campaign. Immune to sleep effects from magic is less common but can still be important.

Skill Versatility: An absolutely amazing racial trait. Nobody has even said, “wow, I am proficient in too many skills!”. Bards and Rogues will love Half-Elves because it will increase their ability to skill monkey, other classes get to pick Perception, Stealth, or a social ability that they don’t get access to so they can be more well rounded.

Languages:

Half-Elf  Subclasses

Aquatic Half-Elf

Swimming Speed: Swimming speed is almost never worth giving up two skill proficiencies. The only exception would be if you are planning on playing a pirate-themed campaign.

Drow Half-Elf

Drow Magic: Forgoing two skill proficiencies for three spells is going to benefit some classes more than others, the most notable class that gets a good deal out of this would be the Warlock.

  • Dancing Lights: Not a particularly impressive Cantrip, although it has its uses. Lighting dark spaces before entering as well as distracting guards the chief among them.
  • Faerie Fire: An often overlooked spell, Faerie Fire is something that should be stocked by all parties. Invisible creatures are a pain to deal with and this provides a great, low-level answer to dealing with it. The spell also has the versatility of simply casting into a crowd of creatures and giving your party members advantage on their attacks against them.
  • Darkness: Darkness is a tough spell to pull off, unless you have the Warlock’s Devil’s Sight.

High Half-Elf

Elf Weapon Training: Most classes that are going to need proficiency with longswords, shortswords, shortbows, and longbows already have them. This is not worth giving up skill versatility for.

Cantrip: Taking a Cantrip of your choice from the Wizard spell list can be very beneficial to the CHA based casters that don’t want the High Elves racial bonuses.

Mark of Detection Half-Elf

Ability Score Increase: This replaces the vanilla Half-Elf racial bonuses and gives a greatly sought after +2 WIS bonus. This is great for Druids, Clerics, Rangers, and Monks.

Deductive Intuition: Adding a d4 to Investigation and Insight is alright, but won’t stack up long term to the bonus you get from skill versatility.

Magical Detection: Detect Magic, Detect Poison and Disease, and See Invisibility are all niche spells. Making them based on your INT modifier makes them even nicher for a race that gets +2 to WIS.

Spells of the Mark: There are some pretty decent spells here and access to 9 more spells isn’t something to scoff at for most classes

  • 1st
    • Detect Evil and Good: If one of these creature types is within 30ft of you, it’s probably too late.
    • Detect Poison and Disease: Extremely niche
  • 2nd
    • Detect Thoughts: Surprisingly versatile. Being able to view surface thoughts, deeper motives and detect being behind barriers makes this 2nd level spell a player even in late levels.
    • Find Traps: Hopefully, you have someone in your party with a high enough Perception that you don’t have to blow a 2nd level spell looking for traps.
  • 3rd
    • Clairvoyance: Very niche.
    • Nondetection: Very niche.
  • 4th
    • Arcane Eye: Good scouting spell.
    • Divination: Niche, but useful.
  • 5th
    • Legend Lore: Extremely niche spell that can be made irrelevant with a high History or Arcana check.

Mark of Storm Half-Elf

Ability Score Increase: Because you are given the +1 DEX instead of an ASI, this is just a worse version of the Vanilla Half-Elves’ racial bonus for most classes.

Windwright’s Intuition: Adding a d4 to Acrobatics and Navigator’s Tools isn’t great, it won’t stack up to the benefit you get from skill versatility.

Storm’s Boon: Damage resistance is always nice, Lightning damage is fairly common but not as common as something like Fire.

Headwinds: Gust and Gust of wind are extremely niche.

Spells of the Mark: There are some pretty decent spells here and access to 9 more spells isn’t something to scoff at for most classes

  • 1st
    • Feather Fall: You’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
    • Fog Cloud: You can’t see, your party can’t see, your enemies can’t see. Good for getaways though.
  • 2nd
    • Gust of Wind: Not all that useful.
    • Levitate: Surprisingly useful spell. If you can levitate a melee creature into the air they will have to way to get down.
  • 3rd
    • Sleet Storm: This is only really effective if you can find a bottleneck where your party members won’t be affected.
    • Wind Wall: All in all, a useful spell that can provide an advantage in a number of different circumstances.
  • 4th
    • Conjure Minor Elementals: Conjuration spells are typically very powerful because it affects the action economy so heavily. Watch your concentration on this.
    • Control Water: Niche, but useful.
  • 5th
    • Conjure Elemental: Another great conjuration spell.

Wood Half-Elf

Elf Weapon Training: Most classes that are going to need proficiency with longswords, shortswords, shortbows, and longbows already have them. This is not worth giving up skill versatility for.

Fleet of Foot: Two skill proficiencies is usually more beneficial than an extra 10ft of movement.

Mask of the Wild: This only benefits you in certain environments, whereas skill proficiencies are extremely versatile.

Which Classes Work With Half-Elves?

Barbarian: Being able to take +1 to CON or STR is not enough to make a Half-Elf Barbarian work.

Bard: The +2 CHA, ASI, and skill versatility make this is one of the better races for the Bard class.

Cleric: The +2 WIS bonus offered by the Mark of the Finding subrace is very tempting for Clerics as it is not offered by many other races. The spells and racial traits are an added bonus.

Druid: The +2 WIS bonus offered by the Mark of the Finding subrace is very tempting for Druids as it is not offered by many other races. The spells and racial traits are an added bonus.

Fighter: Being able to take +1 to CON or STR is not enough to make a Half-Elf Barbarian work.

Monk: No +2 to DEX will be a huge burden for Monks.

Paladin: The +2 CHA, ASI, and skill versatility make this is one of the better races for the Paladin class.

Ranger: The +2 WIS bonus offered by the Mark of the Finding subrace is very tempting for Druids as it is not offered by many other races. The spells are an added bonus to the Ranger’s limited spell list.

Rogue: No +2 to DEX will be a huge burden for Rogues, but skill versatility can be important for skill monkeys. If your rogue is going to be the party’s face, you can get away with a +2 CHA, +1 DEX, and pickup Deception and Persuasion.

Sorcerer: The +2 CHA, ASI, and skill versatility make this is one of the better races for the Sorcerer class. The Mark of Storm subrace is particularly tempting because it offers a number of spells while keeping with a solid ability mod bonus.

Warlock: The +2 CHA, ASI, and skill versatility make this is one of the better races for the Sorcerer class. The Half-Elf Drow subrace is great because it provides a couple of useful Warlock spells and won’t make you burn any of your precious slots for them.

Wizard: Not being able to pick up a +2 to INT is going to make the Half-Elf a tough go for Wizards.