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D&D Race Guide: How to Play a Half-Elf

4 Minute Read
Jan 29 2024

Half-Elves are one of the most classic, quintessential, and basic player races in D&D. But that doesn’t make them boring.

They’re one of the most classic and popular D&D races with some of the most variety. Half-Elves have been classic D&D and perfect for the player who doesn’t want to play a human but doesn’t not want to play a human, either.  Chances are you’ve either played a Half-Elf or had at least one in your various adventures. But how do we get the most out of these characters?

Walking in two worlds but truly belonging to neither, half-elves combine what some say are the best qualities of their elf and human parents: human curiosity, inventiveness, and ambition tempered by the refined senses, love of nature, and artistic tastes of the elves.

Half-Elf Traits


If you’re making a new character, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble upon the Half-Elf for the first time in the Player’s Handbook. They’re quintessential to the game and right there in the most core core-book there is.

Choosing to play a Half-Elf will give you a Charisma score increased by +2 and one other ability score of your choice increased by +1. And when it comes to the basics, they’re fairly human with a walking speed of 30 ft and a human-esque size of medium. But they’re not human, they’re a little more. So Half-Elves also have Darkvision up to 60 ft, Fey Ancestry, and Skill Versatility.

Their ancestry gives them advantage on saving throws against being charmed, plus magic can’t put them to sleep. And Skill Versatility just means that your character gains proficiency in two extra skills of your choice.

Best Classes for Half-Elves

This is a class that’s very flexible. If humans are the blank slate that you can paint your own adventure on, Half-Elves are a sort of French gray. A little different and a little fancier, but still pretty neutral. And this isn’t a bad thing in or out of the metaphor. I purposefully chose that paint color for walls, and when it comes to making a D&D character, they don’t have to be wacky or complex to be fun.


All of that to say, you can do a lot with a Half-Elf character. I feel like the most common choice I see for them is Ranger. But with a Charisma boost, you can’t go wrong with any of the Charisma-based classes like Warlock, Bard, Sorcerer, or Paladin. But with bonus proficiencies, darkvision, and access to the feat Elven Accuracy, I think I would go Rogue, personally.


Unsurprisingly, Half-Elves have shown up in quite a few places aside from the Player’s Handbook and every version is just a little different. In Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, players have the option to forgo Skill Versatility and instead give their character one of six Keen Senses based on the character’s parentage. some of these are High or Wood Elf Weapon Training, Drow Magic, and Sea Elf Swimming Speed of 30 ft.

Eberron – Rising From The Last War has yet another Half-Elf variant, now with a Wisdom increase of +2 instead of Charisma. They also have Deductive Intuition which allows you to add a d4 to any investigation or insight checks, and access to a few more spells including Detect Magic, Detect Poison and Disease, and Legend Lore.

Finally, and also from Eberron is the Mark of the Storm variant Half-Elf. Here we get back the +2 to Charisma along with a +1 to Dex. This variant also gets to add a d4 to any acrobatics checks or any checks involving navigator’s tools, resistance against lightning damage, and access to a handful of extra spells including Gust of Wind, Feather Fall, and Control Weather.

Tips & Tricks

If you’re a first-time player, want to keep your character a little simple for your own ease, but also want to get that magical fantasy experience, Half-Elf may be the way to go. Despite being a little basic at the base, this is one of those races you can do almost anything with. And see a lot of success doing it. For more experienced players though, this is a character that you can put your own mark on. Come up with a wild backstory, go nuts with feats, and just really make this one your own.


Have you played a Half-Elf character? What do you think is the easiest player race for first-time adventurers to play?

Happy adventuring!

Author: J.R. Zambrano
  • D&D: An Adventurer's Guide to Lankhmar, City Of Adventure