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Fiendish Codex I (p. 105 and onwards) details the war at the start of the multiverse between the forces of Law (all of the gods and their servants) against the forces of Chaos (the obyrith and their tanar'ri hordes). Things are rather clear-cut, with the rise of the Queen of Chaos, the imprisonment of Miska the Wolf-Spider, the tanar'ri rebellion against the obyrith and their subsequent destruction/exile, the quick stalemate afterwards followed by the start of the Blood War.

But before the rebellions started Queen Morwel of the eladrin started to wage war on the demons in an attempt to destroy the forces of the Queen of Chaos. The eladrin, while Good aligned, are also Chaotic. But where did they come from? From what I understand this conflict was against Law and Chaos. And I have read somewhere (can't find it right now) that eventually there was a split between the Good and Evil deities, who while all Lawful had their own ideas on what Lawfulness was. So where did the eladrin (and other non-evil Chaotic Outsiders) come from? Were they somehow split off from the Good aligned celestials? Are they some type of offshoot from a proto-Demon form? Or are they something else entirely? I have tried the Fiendish Codexes, the Manual of the Planes, the Book of Exalted Deeds and a few others, but nothing answers this question.

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There is no canonical answer to this question

In no published source that touches on the eladrin, and there really aren't that many, is there a canonical answer pre-4E (and 4e ones are just high elves). The celestials have always gotten less attention and detail than the fiends, for obvious reasons. We actually don't have a firm origin, or even suggested origins, for any of them. Notes on the eladrin identify the notion that they might be elven spirits but also reject it as an unfounded rumor - and not in the usual way of winking at the reader and saying "but maybe..."

Here's what we do know

The eladrin originated from a time known as the Age Before AgesFC1. beings of chaos and good who allied with the obyrith known as the Queen of Chaos in the ancient war against the forces of Law. When Miska the Wolf-Spider was banished by the Rod of Law2E:RoSP,3E:FC1 and the forces of Chaos were sundered, the eladrin struck out at their former allies and so devastated the obyriths that they were unable to fight back against a similar betrayal by the tanar'ri.

The eladrin are led by Queen Morwel, who resides in the Court of Stars (both a demiplane attached to Arborea as well as the metonym for the eladrin "leadership" and nobility). She has been the only eladrin leader for as long as anyone is awareBoED, although her consorts have changed over the millennia.

Ruins found in Mithardir (also known as Pelion) as well as encounters with a mysterious and rare race of albinistic "elves" in and around said ruins suggest that the eladrin were either originally very different from what they are now or else were preceded by beings who wielded great and terrible powers, and that whoever erected those now-ruined buildings likely had a hand in the foundation of the cosmos as known2E:DG. Certainly legends speak of a time when Mithardir was forested and a race of titanic beings, perhaps lost deities, ruled the now-dead layer of the planeMotP.

Source List

  • 2nd Edition
    Dead Gods (Planescape adventure); Planes of Chaos (Planescape accessory); Planescape Campaign Setting; Planescape Monstrous Compendium II; Rod of Seven Parts (D&D adventure); Warriors of Heaven

  • 3rd Edition
    Book of Exalted Deeds; Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss; Manual of the Planes; Monster Manual; Planar Handbook

Not an exhaustive list, provided mainly for corroboration of major points or for further reading on topic of interest.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Those albinistic elves you mention, is there more to read on those? I'm curious as to what they are. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Mar 23 '15 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Axios_Verum I invite you to expand on that research in an answer, rather than tacking on answers in comments, which we've asked you not to do. Remember, comments are specifically for requesting clarification or suggesting actionable improvements. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 15 '17 at 15:26
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You current accepted answer (at the time of writing) posits:

In no published source that touches on the eladrin, and there really aren't that many, is there a canonical answer pre-4E (and 4e ones are just high elves).

With the publication of 5e, and understanding that 5e has introduced some significant changes in lore from 3.5e (and before), we have a "canonical" source for the origin of the Eladrin. I understand, that as a 3.5e game, post, 3.5e lore may not be relevant, but given the dearth of 3.5e material, this new perspective may be useful to you, and others playing 3.5e.

That being said, specific lore on the origin of the Eladrin and their demeanour is provided in the 5th Edition source, Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

The primal elves cavorted on various planes of existence before the rift between Corellon and Lolth. Outside the glory of Arvandor, their favorite place was the Feywild, also called Faerie — a realm of unbridled passion. It is to that place of splendors that the elves fled after they were flung from Corellon’s presence. It is in that place where they transformed from fey creatures into humanoids.

[...]

One group of elves, the eladrin, never left that first refuge. After being exposed to the pervasive magic of the Feywild for centuries, these elves have a supernatural quality not shared by their cousins on the Material Plane. Some eladrin have been transformed so thoroughly that they have become fey creatures again and have been permitted to return to Arvandor, where they are a fascination and a delight to the Seldarine.

It describes them as:

All kinds of elves live in the Feywild, but one subrace — the eladrin — has adopted it as their home. Of all the elves, eladrin are closest in form and ability to the first generation of elves. Some could pass for high elves, but most are distinctly eladrin in appearance: very slender, with hair and skin color determined by the season with which they feel the closest affinity. And their eyes often glimmer with fey magic.

This "reimagining" of the Eladrin, brings the 5e Eladrin closer to the Tolkeinesque imaginging of elves that inspired the D&D elven tradition. In particular, it brings them closer to the Eldar subrace in Tolkein's world (from whence the Eladrin name almost certainly originates, being the language of the Eldar, Common Eladrin).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This represents a massive ret-con of the eladrin relative to 3.5e, so this really doesn’t apply to this question well at all. The Feywild isn’t even a thing in 3.5e, and its nearest analogue, Faerie, certainly has nothing to do with eladrin. 4e and 5e conflate elves, eladrin, and fey, where prior to 4e those things were completely separate. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 4 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan yes I'm aware, however, elves (and by extension Eladrin) are heavily based on the works of Tolkein, and this reimagining of the Eladrin is significantly closer to the Tolkeinesque imagining of Elves (specifically the Eldar subrace, and their language, Common Eladrin which is almost certainly where the name of the D&D subrace came from) \$\endgroup\$ – illustro May 4 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer was intended as a counterpoint to the supposition in the accepted answer "In no published source that touches on the eladrin, and there really aren't that many, is there a canonical answer pre-4E (and 4e ones are just high elves).", particularly given the "issues" many people have with 4e's reimaginging of D&D and it's lore, and 5e's (slight) return to some of the pre-4e lore \$\endgroup\$ – illustro May 4 at 13:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ ...but the 5e stuff wasn't pre-4E. 3.x eladrin were explicitly outsiders, of more or less the same tier as archons. The 4e and later concept of "eladrin" being an elf-variant is effectively talking about a different kind of creature entirely. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden May 4 at 13:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro "elf-like" and "is an elf variant" are very different statements. The first is a matter of appearance. The second is a matter of lineage. Sure, the eladrin were especially comfortable among elves. Fine. That doesn't make them the same manner of beast. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden May 4 at 16:17
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"...In 2nd, 3rd and 3.5 edition, Eladrin are elf-like celestials from Arborea, also known as Olympus, the plane for the chaotic good. They revel in personal freedom and artistic expression. Most (at least the Bralani and Ghaele have the ability to cast off their humanoid form and adopt a more chaotic form (Whirlwind / Multi colored ball of energy). In 4th edition Eladrin are..."

Arborea: "..Arborea or more fully, the Olympian Glades of Arborea, is a chaotic good-aligned plane of existence. It is one of a number of alignment-based Outer Planes that form part of the standard Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) cosmology..."

"...The eladrins, powerful elf-like celestial creatures are the protectors of Arborea, the most common of which is the Ghaele. Lillends are also common on the plane. Many types of celestial and anarchic version of common animals, natural creatures suffused with tendencies of good or chaos, are found in Arborea..."

From what I remember, the conflict against the Queen of Chaos did not begin on Arborea, leading to believe the key Eladrin who played a part in that battle of Law and Chaos left Arborea to do just that. Then the Tanar'ri Rebellion follows suit, with more Eladrin playing crucial parts in it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I know what the Eladrin are and where they live, but what is their origin? Were they around during the Law/Chaos conflict? if so, on which side? Or if they were not, where else did they originate from? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Mar 10 '15 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ They are inherently born from chaotic energy, but I do not believe they were around at the creation of things. I believe once Arborea was created, and the Olympian Deities and such, the Eladrin were created by one such chaotic Celestial deity to protect the Plane. As it says above, they were created to safeguard the Plane of existence known as Arborea. I think what happens later is a result of the Eladrin thinking for themselves beyond simply protecting a plane of existence. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Mar 10 '15 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't found anything linking the Arboreans to the Olympians or any other deity. They stand apart from the gods on their plane, much like the Archons and Guardinials do. And if they were created to protect Arborea, who created them? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Mar 10 '15 at 21:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Didn't mean to confuse you. No the Olympians ARE separate from the Eladrin, but they DO all inhabit the Olympian Glades of Arborea. Olympus is ON Arborea. I didn't mean to say it was an Olympian Chaotic Celestial Deity that created the Eladrin, just one of the Chaotic Celestial Deities that inhabited the plain. Like you read in the above quote from the various published sources, their original purpose was protecting Arborea .Shy of going on a grand pilgrimage to get there, being created there instead of elsewhere is the only probable explanation. Who particularly created them is unknown. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Mar 10 '15 at 22:05

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