I include 2 basic versions of the elf in my games, the Sylvan Elf and the Water Elf. The Sylvan Elf is the version introduced in the Basic rules and lives in the forest and is reclusive, while the Water Elf is from the gazetteer to Minrothad being seafarers and traders and much more common in human cities. The Sylvan Elf has several ethnicities; the wood, the grey, the high, the wild, the green. There are a few changes to the sylvan elf:
- I expanded the immunity to ghoul paralysis to any undead special effect such as the mesmerizing gaze of a vampire, and mummy rot. This gives elves and inherent advantage over undead
- I also expanded their secret door detection to the general ability to search for room traps, I see these as basically the same thing
- I codified the fact that elves are supposed to have good hearing, giving them a 2/6 to hear noise and a 1/6(as opposed to humans 2/6) chance to be surprised
- I switched out infravision for night vision, ala eyes like a cat. This also means elves are nocturnal. I've done this for most demi-humans, I do keep infravision for creatures that actually live completely underground.
- and I switched up how elves cast spells, I call it Fae Sorcery. This is a natural inborn ability that elves just learn to do like walking; they do not have study books and memorize spells like humans to cast them. In reality, much of human magic is an attempt to recreate the magic of the fae. Basically elves and other fae descended creatures can cast spells at will but gain fatigue in doing so and gain spells they know by meditating when they level up. I also require that when casting a spell each elf has a unique "twitch" that triggers the spell, such as wiggling the nose or the ears, snapping the fingers, clicking their tongue, blinking or winking, etc. Elves have access to a spell list first shown here
Water Elves, as sylvan elves with a the addition of:
- Direction Sense which allows them to know the cardinal directions if outside, this ability is important to any seaman and serves to separate the cultures of the two types of elves
- and Navigation Sense allowing the elf to know the cardinal direction of a place they have been to before. This is paired with direction to give the Water Elves a reputation as skilled navigators.
- their spell list is also modified to reflect their watery environment based on the Minrothad gazetteer.