Eladrin highlight an important part of Elven history, illustrating a fall from Arvandor.
That’s right, it’s elves, other elves, and still more differenter elves today folks, as Jeremy Crawford (who could just say whatever he wants about D&D and I’d feel like I learned something) sits down to talk the history of the Elves with D&D Beyond’s Todd Kenreck. There’s a lot of ground to cover in this 16ish minute video, which does an amazing job of solidifying the “story” of the Elves in Dungeons and Dragons.
This one is very appealing to me for a couple of reasons. For one, this gives Elves a much more specific identity, something besides just, “these are Elves–we all know what Elves are, here are some superficial differences between these and Tolkien Elves, so let’s not say anything that might get anyone sued.”
Tolkien’s legal estate aside, that’s kind of how it had been for a few editions. Elves are incredibly long-lived and they live on secret islands, and depending on your campaign setting they might be different, but depending on how well you write them, there’s a vast gulf between “unique elven creations” and “humans but skinny and with pointy ears.” The best part is–none of the lore has really changed. Back in 3.x you’d find the bit about Elves springing up from the blood of Corellon Larethian, spilled by Gruumsh in battle.
Now it seems they’ve sat down to really think about what that means for the lore. In this case, it means that at first Elves were fluid beings who subtly shifted to fit their environment, but as Lolth sought to guide them towards a more solid form of being, they began to lock in forms.
And then, before Lolth could finish her evil plan to supplant Corellon as the primary Elven deity, the other Elves balk–and that moment of doubt buys them some small measure of grace. They are still cast out from Arvandor, but they do not descend into the Underdark with Lolth. Instead they drift throughout the planes, finding homes across the scattered Cosmos. Including those who remain in the Feywild.
This brings me to the other thing I like about this new iteration of Elves. They have a reason for their varied subraces that opens up the potential for more stories. It’s not just their origins, but their place in the world. So it is with Eladrin, aka the Elviest Elves to ever Elf. In 5th Edition, they are Elves who remained in the Feywild where they were reshaped (some might even say twisted) by the ambient, changing magic therein.
They become the misty-stepping Elves we’re familiar with, but take on a more seasonal quality, representing the wild nature of their home plane. And from there, the rest is history. But it’s history that hints at a larger cosmos, and one inviting for players of Elves of any race. I think it’s a neat way to explore that idea, while offering some building blocks for storytelling around your table. So take this hefty heaping of Lore and get ready to (fey) step out on the town.