Table of Contents:
The Return of the Space Elves
The Travelers of the Multiverse unearthed arcana seems to have finally confirmed that a 5e Spelljammer book is on the way, and we’ve got a bunch of new interplanar races to play with. The astral elves are elves who live on the astral plane (which you can essentially think of as space but magic) and rather than being an elf subrace they’re getting a whole new racial entry all to themselves. How does their astral home affect how they play? Climb aboard our interplanar craft and strap yourself in as we go through everything you need to know.
Astral Elf Traits
Astral elves are elves who adapted to the astral sea, so really, they’re just elves with a big old dash of “magic space energy” tossed in. They’re described as having a “spark of divine light” about them that gives them their magic and a starry gleam in their eyes. Generally, this should give you free reign to add any “space magic” cosmetic concepts that you can think of. Maybe sparkles on black hair, star-trek style splotches or face ridges, or maybe the Vulcan bowl cuts. Beyond appearance the big difference is their age. There’s no “real time” in the astral sea, so a lot of astral elves are literally thousands of years old (and live to 750 if they leave it). This gives them a whole range of timeless tropes to play with, disillusionment with anything time related, and generally failing to understand how much time things take. Astral elves are going to have time-based comedies of errors and I’m here for it.
Astral Elf Statistics
Astral elves like most of the newer race releases use the newer “lineage” format which means they assume you’re picking your own ability score increases and a few other things like weight and height. This means we’re just worried about the features, and also strangely that they’re their own “new race” rather than functioning as a new elf subrace. Let’s go over each of the astral elf’s features and what they’ll mean for your new ELF FROM SPACE character:
Creature Type: You are a Humanoid.
Size: You are medium.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Astral Fire: You know one of the following cantrips of your choice: dancing lights, light, or sacred flame. Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it (choose when you select this race).
Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. You discern colors in that darkness only as shades of gray.
Fey Ancestry: You have advantage on saving throws you make to avoid or end the charmed condition on yourself.
Keen Senses: You have proficiency in the Perception skill.
Radiant Soul: When you succeed on a death save, you can regain a number of hit points equal to your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma modifier (choose when you select this race). You can’t use this trait again until you finish a long rest.
Trance: You don’t need to sleep, and magic can’t put you to sleep. You can finish a long rest in 4 hours if you spend those hours in a trancelike meditation, during which you remain conscious.
Trance Proficiencies: Whenever you finish a long rest using your Trance trait, you gain two proficiencies, each one with a weapon or a tool of your choice (selected from the “Equipment” chapter of the Player’s Handbook). You mystically acquire these proficiencies by drawing them from shared elven memory, and you retain them until you finish your next long rest.
So, we’ve got a few similarities to the other elves we know and love, but there’s some really interesting new powers to play with here. Let’s go over them and really dig into what they’ll mean for your character:
Creature Type: Humanoid is your “standard” creature type so there’s nothing super interesting here, you’ll get targeted by all the “normal” stuff just like any other elf.
Size: Medium is also standard and there’s not much to say about it.
Speed: Also basic speed, not a bonus, not a penalty, but nothing special either.
Astral Fire: Now we finally get to the good stuff. It’s not a full racial spell feature it’s just a choice of cantrips, but free spellcasting is free spellcasting. Out of the three options sacred flame probably has the most “value” as a fully scaling damage cantrip, but both dancing lights and light have fine value as utility options. It’s also worth noting that you get to pick any of the mental ability score for the spellcasting on this cantrip, making that sacred flame option look even more appealing so long as you aren’t purely a martial class.
Darkvision: Literally the most common racial feature that’s an actual “feature” but it’s always nice to have. Your starry eyes can see in the dark which in some key (especially low level) encounters it can be very useful.
Keen Senses: If you’re going to get a free skill Perception is the one to get. Perception is the most used skill in 5e, and you should basically always take it if you’ve got the option. Getting it here for free lets you choose another skill down the road.
Radiant Soul: This is BY FAR the strongest feature astral elves get and will likely be the reason you’d pick it over other varieties of elves. This gets you a “pop up from death” ability similar to the half-orc’s relentless endurance feature, but BETTER. Where relentless endurance pops you up from 0 with a single hit point, this new radiant soul feature pops you up with hit points equal to your proficiency bonus + your best mental stat. So at early levels probably 4-6 hit points, and maybe 8-9 later on. In later tiers the difference between 1 hit point and 8-9 hit points isn’t a whole lot, but at early levels the difference between 1 and 4-6 is HUGE. At level 1 that’s usually like half your maximum hit point total! I almost suspect they’ll nerf this somehow for the final release but for now this is one of the strongest survivability racial features around.
Trance: Here we tie back into the “standard elven” stats with their trademark trance state ability. Getting a long rest in half the time means that while the rest of the party snoozes you can keep watch (and depending on how your DM rules “conscious” you can keep watch in trance too). This makes you significantly less likely to be surprised while trying to rest, which can be a major thing if your DM has made a habit of sending monsters to sneak up in the night.
Trance Proficiencies: And the astral elf’s final ability takes the old standard trance and puts a new twist on it. This essentially gives you two free weapon or tool proficiencies you can “swap out” for others whenever you finish a long rest. This opens up a lot of interesting possibilities. For one it practically hands you all martial weapon proficiencies for free, since you can swap out for any weapon proficiency you happen to need. Find a shiny new magic warhammer? Take a nap and gain proficiency with warhammers. The tool proficiency option is interesting as well. Is a dungeon full of traps coming up tomorrow? Take a nap and swap over to thieves’ tools proficiency. Clever players will get a TON of mileage out of this feature, I only hope they don’t nerf it down.
Building an Astral Elf CharacterSince the lineage model detaches the race from the ability scores, there aren’t any “ideal” classes anymore. Your astral elf can be an artificer, or a warlock, or any other class just as optimally. That being said the trance proficiencies feature is incredibly useful for classes that use tools more often and gain bonuses for them like the Bard or the Rogue. Being able to pick up any martial weapon proficiencies on a whim also opens up some new combat options for those classes like making sneak attacks with a whip. Finally, the radiant soul feature can give a degree of survivability to classes that previously had to rely on the half-orc for a similar feature. I think spellcasting classes that also want to get into melee like the Cleric, Paladin, and Warlock will find the astral elf particularly viable.
Last updated: January 27, 2019
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