Dark Elves (Escarnum)

This is a variant of the Drow race originally published in the Monster Manual.

Though it is unknown to the other races of Escarnum, elven history remembers that once, a certain group of elves committed a crime so unspeakable that it nearly destroyed their society completely. Although the nature of their crime is a closely-guarded secret known only to a few particularly important individuals, it was deemed to be entirely unforgivable - and thus, the disgraced faction were exiled to a prison deep below Taido's surface.

Although they were perhaps expected to die out in the catacombs there, the exiled elves survived, evolving over many generations into their own distinct sub-race. Hardened by the pitiless lifestyle thrust upon them, they became known as the deep elves. Today, they have long since established their own society in the depths, and bred a slave-race of warriors to wage war on the surface elves, hoping to one day break free from their imprisonment and destroy those who banished them.


Deep elves are essentially a magnification of many of the traits of their surface brethren. They are predisposed toward law and structure, and have an intricate political hierarchy defined by constant competition and subterfuge. They are selfish and extremely arrogant, and view the surface races in particular as diseases upon the world, usurping the deep elves' rightful position.

Physical Description

Deep elves appear similar to their surface brethren, though several very distinct features set them apart. Through their evolution in the depths, deep elves have become extraordinarily pale; their skin and hair are entirely colourless, their eyes red or occasionally purple. Some use dyes or magic to give themselves an unusual appearance, but natural colour is all but unheard-of. Their builds are even more slender than those of the common elves, giving them a frail, wraith-like appearance, and they have also become shorter, close to human height.


Deep elves wage a constant war with the elves of Taido, the only surface-dwellers with whom they have made contact. Save for their slave-race, the stone-born, all creatures they come into contact with in the underground are also viewed as enemies. Deep elves trust no one.


While the deep elves still share the lawful inclination of common elves, the origins of their race - and the unforgiving nature of their home and society - mean they also tend strongly toward evil.


The deep elves dwell in the prison formed for them by their surface-dwelling brethren - a vast network of tunnels stretching down for many miles underneath the island of Taido, known as the Underworld.


Deep elves use the same language as common elves, though they have discarded most of the alphabets used by their surface-dwelling brethren and instead developed their own. Although interaction between deep elves is still governed by strict laws of etiquette, they take pleasure in misusing the surface elves' scripts.


When the deep elves were first exiled many generations ago, they took with them a number of names from the "pool" used by surface elves, as these names could not be re-used after being tainted by such disgraced individuals. Although the most powerful members of their society still carried these "stolen" names, and have passed them on to their descendants, those born afterward were given new names out of necessity. Such names still sound the same to those not familiar with the elven tongue, however.


Deep elf adventurers are essentially unheard-of in Alm. Even if one did manage to escape the heavily-guarded prison established by the surface elves, they would be hunted as long as they remained on the island of Taido, and quite possibly even pursued to the mainland. However, the catacombs of the Underworld extend beyond the borders of Taido itself, and there is no telling where its denizens may be able to find their way.

Game Rule Information

Deep Elf Racial Traits

Deep elves have the same racial traits as the common elf, except as noted below.

  • +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma. In addition to the physical frailty and agility of their surface brethren, deep elves have vicious cunning and powerful personalities. These are in addition to the ability score adjustments of the common elf.
  • Saving Throws: A deep elf gains a +2 racial bonus on Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities.
  • Racial Skills: Deep elves receive a +2 racial bonus on subterfuge checks; they are naturally deceitful and cunning.
  • Darkvision: Deep elves can see in the dark up to 120 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and a deep elf can function just fine with no light at all. This trait replaces the common elf's low-light vision.
  • Light Sensitivity: A deep elf is treated as dazzled as long as she is in bright light, such as sunlight or a daylight spell. Abrupt exposure to such light renders her blinded for 1 round. Countless years of living in darkness have rendered deep elves sensitive to the bright sunlight of the surface world.
  • Spell Resistance: A deep elf has spell resistance equal to 11 + her class levels.
  • Spell-Like Abilities: A deep elf can use the following spell-like abilities once per day: dancing lights, darkness, faerie fire. Her caster level is equal to her class levels.
  • Innate Magic: A dark elf gains a +1 bonus to her spell save DCs when casting spontaneously.
  • Weapon Proficiencies: If a deep elf becomes proficient with the Light Blades, Claw Weapons or Crossbows weapon group, she is automatically proficient with exotic weapons associated with that group. Deep elves have similar tastes to their surface cousins, but choose weapons more suited to their underground habitat. This trait replaces the common elf's Weapon Familiarity.
  • Level Adjustment: +2. Deep elves level up slower and gain experience more slowly than other races.
  • Languages: Elven and Underling. Deep elves may learn Shuwa-tou as a bonus language. This trait replaces the common elf's languages.
  • Favoured Class: Sorceror. The deep elves of Escarnum are natively magically adept, but unlike the drow, lack the interference of a deity.

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