Ghost Elves of the Ethereal

A Walk Through the Planes – Part 92: Ghost Elves of the Ethereal




One thing D&D has always been far, far too interested in is adding new types of elves to the game. Admittedly, there is a ton of variation within mythological elves, but still, that’s nothing compared to what we see in the game. I went and checked the Forgotten Realms wiki page for elf and found nine subraces there, and just a quick glance at the Greyhawk wiki tells me that this doesn’t include many found in that Prime plane instead. There’s five more in Krynn and others in Athas and Mystara and probably every other setting the game’s created, all different enough to justify their own statistics and special abilities. I’m not even going to get started with the second edition Complete Book of Elves, either, I just want to illustrate that there are dozens of types of elves already available in D&D, and no real need for more to be created. But apparently Dragon Magazine didn’t agree with me, and saw fit to print “Ghost Elves of the Ethereal” by Kieran Turley in its November 2003 (#313) issue. 

The most worthwhile thing about this four-page article isn’t so much the concept of ethereal elves (the name really says it all) as the race’s backstory. When attacked by dark elves during the early days of the multiverse, this group was nearly eradicated. To save themselves, they were forced to inadvertently make a deal with a “pit fiend of almost godlike power,” as their kin were too busy, I don’t know, elf-ing it up to help them out. After centuries enslaved by this devil, they made pacts with lesser fiends to overthrow their tyrant, and once successful fled to the Ethereal Plane for safety. Due to their elf-ishness, severing their ties with the earth linked them with this plane, and soon they discovered new abilities related to traveling there. 

Another single piece of art Dragon article. It’s an elf, but, like, ghostly.

Because of their backstory, ghost elves are sullen and don’t much care for other elves, particularly those who are aware of what happened to them. Perhaps the most interesting thing about how this affected their society is their disdain for the entire elvish pantheon, such that instead their few priests worship Moradin (the big daddy dwarf god), after being influenced by dwarven priests who were also slaves of their pit fiend tyrant. I rather like having rebel elves who aren’t also evil, ones who just don’t like the sanctimoniousness of normal elf society, and this offshoot fits that bill nicely. 


Turley did a pretty decent job in creating an elvish offshoot that feels somewhat unique and with this almost worthwhile. Not only is their backstory rich, their statblock is well-developed and he even includes a sidebar about how to include them in a campaign. However, the myriad already-existent elvish types made this article forgettable nonetheless, and as a result we’ve never seen or heard from the ghost elves again—perhaps they really are as good at hiding their existence as the article claims. If you really feel the need for yet more elves, you could certainly do far worse than introducing ghost elves to the game, but it’s hard to recommend checking out this article for something no one really needs or asked for.

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