I got into a debate with one of my players. They claimed that their character having a (full) high elf mother and a (full) shadar-kai elf father would be considered a high half-elf, and should use the Player's Handbook half-elf features and traits. But I disagree and think that it would make them a full elf - either a high elf like the mother, or a shadar-kai like the father.

I want the player to stick to only official races for character creation. I just feel that 2 elf sub-races are different enough to make only a half race.

What offspring would a high elf mother and a shadar-kai elf father make?

  1. Full high elf
  2. Full shadar-kai elf
  3. High half-elf
  4. Half-shadar-kai
  5. Human

I'm trying to stick with the official D&D 5E lore.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Is this purely from a lore perspective or mechanics? There are no rules for "Half X Elf", and definitely not for being half of one thing half of another. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 20, 2020 at 2:20

1 Answer 1


Rules-as-written, they must pick one subrace of elf.

Rules-based answer: Pick one or the other.

According to Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, the shadar-kai are a subrace of elf. This excludes half-elf and human as possible offspring. A half-elf is defined as the offspring of an elf and a human, while a human is a different race from elf entirely.

There are no specific rules for the offspring of two different subraces of elves. However, Player's Handbook, p.23, defines the following rule for playing an elf:

Ancient divides among the elven people resulted in three main subraces: high elves, wood elves, and dark elves, who are commonly called drow. Choose one of these subraces.

Mordenainen's Tome of Foes additionally adds three subraces:

At the DM's discretion, you have access to more sub-races for elf characters, in addition to the subraces in the Player's Handbook. When you choose the subrace of your elf, you can choose one of the following options: eladrin, sea elf, or shadar-kai.

Rules-as-written, then, the player must pick either the statistics of a high elf or a shadar-kai elf. Anything else, such as some homebrew mix of the two, must be ruled upon by the DM.

Lore answer: Canonically undefined

The lore of the shadar-kai as elves is thus far restricted to Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. This is because shadar-kai were not canonically elves prior to 5th edition. They were described in 4th edition as humanlike, rather than elves.

In other words, the description of the shadar-kai in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes is the sole source of lore on that race as regards their offspring with a high elf. That work does not define any such offspring, meaning that it is undefined.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that in Fiend Folio (3.0) they were fey speaking elven. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 6:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sidenote: SCAG also lists some half-elf variants (p. 116), one of which is "high half-elf" (along with drow half-elf, wood half-elf, and aquatic half-elf). Also, XGtE's "This Is Your Life" section has a "Half-Elf Parents" table (p. 62), where the 4 listed parent combinations are elf & human, elf & half-elf, human & half-elf, or 2 half-elves. (There's no such parents table for elf characters.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 6:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "A half-elf is defined as the offspring of an elf and a human" Or a half-elf and an elf or human. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 12:07

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