- This page is about elves in general. For the playable races, see Night elf (playable), Nightborne (playable), Blood elf (playable), and Void elf (playable). For the lore of main elf subspecies, see night elf, nightborne, high elf, blood elf, void elf, felblood elf, and San'layn.
Death knight, Demon hunter, Druid, Hunter, Mage, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior
Darnassus † |
Saber cat |
|Area(s)||Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, Northrend, Broken Isles, Telogrus Rift|
|Language(s)||Darnassian, Thalassian, Shalassian|
An elf is a long-lived humanoid species native to Azeroth known for keen perception, grace, and great spellwork. They are one of the longest-lived species on Azeroth. The specific origins of elves remained lost to history for millennia, until Brann Bronzebeard confirmed that the first elves were originally dark trolls that were transformed by the Well of Eternity.
Elves come in many flavors in Azeroth, the four most dominant of which are playable races in World of Warcraft: night elves and void elves for the Alliance, and blood elves and nightborne for the Horde.
- 1 Racial history
- 2 Anatomy and physiology
- 3 Races and groups
- 4 Notable
- 5 In the RPG
- 6 Notes and trivia
- 7 Videos
- 8 See also
- 9 References
Kaldorei, the night elves
- “...a primitive tribe of nocturnal humanoids cautiously made their way to the edges of the mesmerizing, enchanted lake. The feral, nomadic humanoids, drawn by the Well's strange energies, built crude homes upon its tranquil shores.”
The night elves are a powerful and mystical race whose origin extends back to ancient times. The founders of Azeroth's most magical and advanced civilization which at its peak spanned the breadth of ancient Kalimdor, the night elves came into a horrific conflict with the Burning Legion and achieved a pyrrhic victory that sundered Kalimdor's landmass into the continents of the present age. The devastation wrought by their conceit fractured the kaldorei into several isolated groups that would characterize themselves based on magical usage. The main group that came to join the Alliance eventually, would abandon the ways of arcane magic usage entirely, and craft a radically different society centered around the worship of Elune, harmony with the natural world and its denizens and Druidism. The other 2 main groups of Kaldorei, the Quel'dorei of Eldre'thalas and the Shal'dorei of Suramar would be cut off from nature by a demon in the first group and by an impenetrable magical barrier in the second group for 10,000 years.
Quel'dorei, the Highborne
- Main article: Highborne
The magocratic society that the night elves developed split into two castes: a body of the majority of the Kaldorei and the elite caste, the Highborne, known as the quel'dorei ("noble children", "highborne", or "high elves"). These were the favorites of and most loyal to the beautiful Queen Azshara, queen of the elves. They sought to understand the energies of the Well of Eternity, gaining exhilarating power from the arcane energy siphoned from the Well's depths.
The night elves (and in particular the quel'dorei) would go on to expand across ancient Kalimdor, shattering the empires of the Gurubashi and Amani trolls in the process and inspiring awe in those who witnessed their might. However, the arrogance and carelessness of the quel'dorei would spell doom for their civilization, attracting the attention of the Burning Legion. Azshara and some Highborne closest to her, opened a portal from the Well of Eternity into the Twisting Nether, enabling the demons to enter into Azeroth and wreak havoc upon Kalimdor. Some of these Highborne of Zin'Azshari grew terrified of Queen Azshara's undying loyalty to Sargeras and the demons of the Burning Legion. Quickly, they escaped to aid the rest of the night elven civilization in banishing the demons back into the Twisting Nether in a catastrophic war now called the War of the Ancients, ending in the implosion of the Well of Eternity and the Great Sundering of Kalimdor. These Highborne would later depart to form their own separate society, however other groups of Highborne from other regions survived the sundering in isolation have only recently emerged. The Kaldorei have 2 main groups of Quel'dorei from different parts of their former empire around today. The larger group of these Highborne night elves are the Shen'dralar ancients that have survived since the Sundering from the city-state region of Eldre'Thalas (now known as Dire Maul). Another group are unliving ghosts in the Broken Isles ruined city of Nar'thalas in Azsuna and are known as the Court of Farondis who have endured in a cursed state since Azshara, in a terrible display of power punished them for disobeying her before the Sundering took place.
Shal'dorei, the nightborne
- Main article: Nightborne
The nightborne were once night elves of Suramar. The Great Sundering blasted most of Suramar to the bottom of the Great Sea, although some of it remained above shore in the Broken Isles due to the efforts of the resident Highborne, who crafted a magical shield that kept the center of their city together. This shield would stay up for 10,000 years, as the night elves believed the world outside of Suramar had been destroyed. Under their shield they would evolve into the Nightborne, reliant on their source of power, the Nightwell for nourishment. The shal'dorei are a newly discovered group of Kaldorei. Though they vary slightly in appearance with the rest of the night elves, they retain the customs and characteristics of the night elves of the pre-sundering era and dwell in the ancient city of Suramar they have stewarded diligently with their magical resource for the last 10,000 years.
Quel'dorei, the high elves
- Main article: High elf
Amongst the main group of night elves that triumphed over Queen Azshara and her Legion allies, the Highborne of Zin'Azshari that rebelled against Queen Azshara led by Dath'remar Sunstrider had been instrumental in frustrating the machinations of the Queen and giving the time needed for the night elves to ultimately triumph in their fight. However due to the role of the Zin'Azshari Highborne indirectly bringing the demons to Azeroth, despite their brave heroics they were never fully trusted by the rest of the night elves who had abandoned magic to pursue druidism. The surviving night elves would end up banishing the Quel'dorei for the acts leading to the Sundering as well as more wanton waving of arcana. These Zin'Azshari quel'dorei were forced into exile and eventually settled in Quel'Thalas. Becoming known as "high elves," they rejected the culture and lifestyle of their kin, taking the night out of night elf and took up a diurnal cycle instead of nocturnal. Over time, their skin became a pale color instead of their former purple-dark/grey hues. They rebuilt a new Elven society, one not based on the worship of the moon goddess or moon and star themes, but on the Sun and the Light, where they would freely practice and excel in magic. They succeed in building their dream blending both nature and arcane magic with a found faith in the Holy Light and would endure as a shining bastion of civilization powered by their arcane font The Sunwell for 7,000 years. So they would live free from the distrust of their former kin to practice magic they would shield from demonic eyes until betrayal from within would lead to devastating invasion from the undead Scourge would fracture their society and change them forever.
Sin'dorei, the blood elves
- Main article: Blood elf
Under the leadership of their regent, Lor'themar Theron (in turn working under the directive of Prince Kael'thas, last of the royal bloodline), the blood elves retook much of Quel'Thalas from the Scourge and looked to reuniting with their prince on Outland. Fate had other ideas, however, and the prince -- twisted by demonic energies -- was killed after betraying his people to the Burning Legion.
Though biologically and physiologically high elves, blood elves have glowing emerald-green eyes, courtesy of their exposure to the fel magic in place around Outland and Quel'Thalas. Like the orcs, high elven physiology undergoes a visible reaction when exposed to fel magic, though evidently one not quite as all-encompassing.
San'layn, the darkfallen
- Main article: San'layn
The San'layn are vampiric undead blood elves, under the command of the Blood-Queen Lana'thel. They are a recent addition to the Scourge army, introduced after Arthas' second visit to Northrend. They possess their own racial faction which plays an important role in the Scourge army. The greatest concentrations of San'layn are located in the Temple City of En'kilah in northeastern Borean Tundra, and in the Crimson Hall inside Icecrown Citadel; these are also the only places where unnamed San'layn appear.
Ren'dorei, the void elves
- Main article: Void elf
Void elves are a race of Void-infused elves. A group of blood elf scholars led by Magister Umbric was exiled from Silvermoon for their experimentation with the Void. After an altercation with void ethereals, Umbric and his brethren were transformed into void elves. Alleria Windrunner, the first mortal to succeed at mastering the Void, came to the aid of her kin and taught the void elves how to control the shadows.
The void elves seek to utilize their great but dangerous powers for the sake of defending Azeroth, and to prove those who doubt or judge their abilities wrong, all the while resisting the Void's call to madness. They have the ability to metamorphose into a Void form.
Anatomy and physiology
The Well of Eternity's arcane energies are the primary reason for the existence of the elves, and the night elves are described as having an arcane essence, so it makes sense that they and all elves derived from them would be magical in nature. All elves are exceptionally long-lived and, at one point, were immortal, though the main races of elves have lost their immortality. Further, all elves possess glowing eyes, a sign of the use of great spells — a being of any race can exhibit glowing eyes while focusing or casting a particularly powerful spell, but the trait is innate in only a few races, most of which are demons or undead.
Elves have several characteristics in common. All have unusually acute senses and are able to see clearly even in low-light conditions. As a general rule, elves are also slim, athletic, and graceful. Furthermore, they all have large pointed ears that tend to be greeted with admiration or mockery by other races. From the Official Encyclopedia Typically, night elves have longer ears than high/blood elves, whereas the latter's point upward rather than backward.
A characteristic of elves on Azeroth are their unusual eyebrows, which extend beyond their faces, resembling either whiskers or antennae. There has been no official coverage of this anatomical oddity, despite it being present in all official artwork. Though it may be speculated that this is due to the elves' extreme longevity; the brow's continuing growth over the life of the individual to its extreme length.
Races and groups
During the events of the Sundering, many Quel'dorei were turned into naga and continued to be led by Queen Azshara. Some Quel'dorei were turned into satyr by Sargeras and led by Xavius. Xavius, along with many of the demonic satyr, eventually began serving the Old Gods as Shadow satyr.
The Quel'dorei of Suramar sealed themselves away behind a magical barrier and eventually became the nightborne, the Shal'dorei, led by Elisande. If any went against her rule, they would be exiled, and their magical addiction would lead them to become Nightfallen and eventually withered. Some exiled however attempted to create an Arcan'dor to cure them of this addiction and its side-effects, but an attempt failed and created the fal'dorei.
The non-Quel'dorei night elves retained their Kaldorei identity and established Darnassus, led by Tyrande Whisperwind and Malfurion Stormrage. The Shen'dralar managed to barely survive and remained night elves as well. Some night elf druids eventually became worgen of the Druids of the Scythe. Others, during Cataclysm sided with Old Gods, Deathwing, and Elemental Lords, and became Druids of the Flame.
But the Quel'dorei under Dath'Remar Sunstrider were exiled. These high elves established Quel'Thalas. During the events of the Troll Wars, the high elves trained 100 humans of the Empire of Arathor, eventually leading to the formation of the Kirin Tor of Dalaran, and likewise the intermingling of humans and elves to establish the half-elves, such as Arator and Alodi.
Eventually during the the Scourge invasion of Quel'Thalas by Arthas Menethil, 90% of the high elf population was destroyed along with the Sunwell, with some having been spared due to not being in the area at the time, such as the high elves of Dalaran. In the wake of this genocide, Kael'thas Sunstrider decided to rename the high elves of Quel'Thalas into blood elves, the sin'dorei.
However, Arthas raised many of the fallen elves for his Scourge. One such group of elves continued existing as undead elves or ghostly banshees under the Forsaken, originally led by Sylvanas Windrunner. Though they died high elves, some like Velonara identify as blood elves even in undeath. Another group of undead elves are due to the Sunfury attempting to avenge their people alongside Kael'thas, leading to their being raised as the vampiric San'layn, or Darkfallen, led by Blood-Queen Lana'thel.
Eventually in desperation, Kael'thas began to work with Illidan Stormrage, and with Grand Magister Rommath integrated the use of fel into blood elf society due to the loss of the Sunwell. Without the Sunwell, the addiction to magic caused blood elves to deteriorate into wretched.
This eventually led to a series of events that caused the blood elves to join the Horde; the high elves of Dalaran and other Alliance kingdoms rejected this, leading to the establishment of the Silver Covenant within Dalaran for the high elves that chose to retain loyalty to the Alliance, led by Vereesa Windrunner.
Simultaneously, Illidan had decided to integrate only elves into the Illidari, taking on trainees from Kael'thas's forces and night elves who had chosen to follow him. However, Kael'thas had in actuality betrayed Illidan and was collaborating with Kil'jaeden, who offered felblood to the blood elves, creating the felblood elves.
During the third invasion of the Burning Legion, the Illidari re-integrated into Azerothian society to help with the Legion. A large portion of the nightborne, especially among the aristocracy, went along with Elisande and sided with the Legion, creating the Felborne.
Due to the restoration of the Sunwell with M'uru's heart, it is sensitive to void. When Alleria Windrunner re-appeared during the third invasion, she tried to go visit but the Sunwell reacted badly to her. She discovered other blood elves had begun investigating the void like she had, but were exiled from Quel'Thalas for their research. She managed to rescue them and bring them into the Alliance, as the void elves, the ren'dorei.
After the events of the Fourth War, some night elves had been raised into undeath as well.
- Dark troll
A number of elves have played a significant role in the lore of Warcraft.
|Queen Azshara||Infamous Queen of the night elves ten thousand years ago, currently the Empress of the naga; one of the most powerful sorceresses ever to exist.||Alive|
|Illidan Stormrage||Powerful night elf sorcerer; often called "the Betrayer" due to his role in the War of the Ancients; a previous ruler of Outland||Alive|
|Malfurion Stormrage||The first and most powerful druid ever to walk Azeroth, current Archdruid of the night elves.||Alive|
|Tyrande Whisperwind||High priestess of Elune and current leader of the night elven people.||Alive|
|Shandris Feathermoon||Tyrande's protege, current general of the Sentinel army.||Alive|
|Maiev Shadowsong||Warden of Illidan's prison for ten millennia, later imprisoned in Outland. Returned to Azeroth after being freed.||Alive|
|Jarod Shadowsong||Leader of the night elves after the Sundering.||Alive|
|Broll Bearmantle||Druid of the Cenarion Circle.||Alive|
|Kur'talos Ravencrest||Heroic noble and general during the War of the Ancients.||Deceased|
|Fandral Staghelm||Former Archdruid of the night elves, then Druid of the Flame and Majordomo of Ragnaros.||Deceased|
|Lady Vashj||Once a Highborne servitor of Azshara, then a powerful naga in service to Illidan, now a Baroness in Maldraxxus.||Active|
|Xavius||A powerful Highborne that was turned into the first satyr by the dark titan Sargeras.||Deceased|
|Ralaar Fangfire / Alpha Prime||First night elf to become a worgen.||Deceased|
|Altruis the Sufferer||Demon hunter of the Illidari.||Alive|
|Naisha||A member of the Watchers and Maiev's lieutenant.||Deceased|
|Cordana Felsong||Former Warden and companion of Khadgar, later corrupted by the Burning Legion.||Deceased|
|Leyara||Fandral Staghelm's lieutenant and member of Druids of the Flame.||Deceased|
|Kor'vas Bloodthorn||Demon hunter of the Illidari.||Alive|
|Sira Moonwarden||Dark Warden of the Banshee loyalists.||Active|
|Delaryn Summermoon||Dark Ranger Captain of the Horde.||Active|
|Grand Magistrix Elisande||Leader of the nightborne of Suramar, casted her lot with the Legion during their third invasion.||Deceased|
|Star Augur Etraeus||A powerful nightborne astromancer who uses the Nightwell to draw on the essence of other worlds, he aids Elisande.||Deceased|
|First Arcanist Thalyssra||Led the Nightborne Resistance into a rebellion that led to the removal of Elisande and the Legion out of Suramar City. Became leader of the kingdom and joined the Horde.||Alive|
|Ly'leth Lunastre||Leader of the largest Nightborne resistance cell within the City that is stirring up Nightborne to overcome their fear and rise up against the Legion.||Alive|
|Chief Telemancer Oculeth||The inventor and creator of the teleportation network of Suramar City which he now uses to aid the resistance to overcome the Legion.||Alive|
|Arcanist Valtrois||An intelligent arcanist master of Leyline energies that aids the resistance's efforts against the Legion occupation of the City.||Alive|
|Silgryn||Initially a guard in Suramar City, patrolling the outer city with his pet owl Kal, before joining First Arcanist Thalyssra's rebellion against Grand Magistrix Elisande.||Alive|
|Sylvanas Windrunner||Former Warchief of the Horde, Banshee Queen of the Forsaken, and Ranger-General of Quel'Thalas.||Active|
|Vereesa Windrunner||Liberator of Grim Batol and Ranger-General of the Silver Covenant.||Alive|
|Dath'remar Sunstrider||The first leader of the high elves.||Deceased|
|Anasterian Sunstrider||Last king of Quel'Thalas.||Deceased|
|Dar'Khan Drathir||Betrayer of Quel'Thalas.||Deceased|
|Talthressar||Co-founder of Allerian Stronghold, lieutenant of Alleria and the Sons of Lothar.||Unknown|
|Captain Auric Sunchaser||Originally part of the Alliance Expedition, he leads the high elves in the Allerian Stronghold while Alleria is away.||Alive|
|Thalorien Dawnseeker||Wielder of Quel'Delar.||Deceased|
|Kael'thas Sunstrider||The late prince of the blood elves, last scion of the Sunstrider dynasty. Sent to Revendreth in the Shadowlands||Active|
|Lor'themar Theron||Regent Lord of Quel'Thalas||Alive|
|Halduron Brightwing||Ranger General of Silvermoon||Alive|
|Lady Liadrin||Blood Knight Matriarch||Alive|
|Grand Magister Rommath||Grand Magister of Quel'Thalas||Alive|
|Archmage Aethas Sunreaver||Leader of the Sunreavers||Alive|
|Tae'thelan Bloodwatcher||High Examiner of the Reliquary||Alive|
|Voren'thal the Seer||The leader of the Scryers in Outland||Alive|
|Magister Astalor Bloodsworn||Creator of the Blood Knights||Alive|
|Koltira Deathweaver||Death knight of the Ebon Blade and the Horde.||Active|
|Kayn Sunfury||Demon hunter of the Illidari.||Alive|
|Valeera Sanguinar||Spy of House Wrynn, member of the Uncrowned.||Alive|
|Lyandra Sunstrider||The latest wielder of .||Deceased|
|Blood-Queen Lana'thel||Leader of the San'layn, former wielder of Quel'Delar.||Deceased|
|Prince Keleseth||Overlord of Howling Fjord, ruler of the South-Eastern reaches of Northrend and ambassador to the vrykul; also took part in the assault upon the Scarlet Enclave and the ritual to raise Arugal. Raised in undeath to serve in Icecrown Citadel as a member of the Blood Prince Council. Prince Valanar's brother.||Deceased|
|Prince Valanar||Overlord of Borean Tundra and master of Naxxanar; also took part in the assault upon the Scarlet Enclave and the ritual to raise Arugal. Raised in undeath to serve in Icecrown Citadel as a member of the Blood Prince Council. Prince Keleseth's brother.||Deceased|
|Prince Taldaram||Agent of the Scourge forces attempting to conquer Azjol-Nerub. Raised in undeath to serve in Icecrown Citadel as a member of the Blood Prince Council.||Deceased|
|Blood Prince Dreven||Sought with a group of San'layn to join the Horde during the Fourth War.||Deceased|
|Alleria Windrunner||Co-leader of the void elves and Alliance heroine of the Second War.||Alive|
|Umbric||Co-leader of the void elves, once a magister of Quel'Thalas until he and his followers were exiled for tampering with the Void.||Alive|
- Main article: Half-elf
|Arator the Redeemer||The half-elven son of Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner and a paladin of the Knights of the Silver Hand.||Alive|
|Galadin and Giramar||Twin sons of Rhonin and Vereesa Windrunner.||Alive|
|Alodi||The first Guardian of Tirisfal and wielder of Ebonchill.||Active|
In the RPG
- Blood Maiden and Dark Womb - Variation of highborne that were described in the Appendix Three of Manual of Monsters.
- Half-blood elf
- Half-night elf
Notes and trivia
- The elves of Warcraft, like almost all elves in modern fantasy, are inspired in some regard by the elves of Tolkien's books, who were known as the Eldar or the Quendi. In Warcraft, like in JRRT's works, the elves are one of the oldest races, and became divided into subraces over time. As a quieter connection, "eldar" means starpeople, and kaldorei means "children of the stars".
- Though the vast majority of night elf lore is original on the part of Blizzard, they draw parallels to the Sidhe ("SHEE") of Irish mythology and other beings of Celtic myth (except for the chimaera and the hippogryph, who are Greek). Night elven architecture has also been said to draw upon Nordic and Japanese designs, while the ancient night elves' architecture is more Graeco-Roman. Blizzard has also said that night elves were based on traditional fantasy dark elves but with a twist.
- See each specific race page "Notes and trivia" section for cultural inspirations of each type of elf.
- Originally, the race now known as high elves were simply called "elves", and conformed to the stereotypical fantasy elves. Though there were several hints of the night elves in various Warcraft media, the original elves were not referred to as "high elves" until The Last Guardian.
- Half-elves originate from Norse mythology and were borrowed by Tolkien, which he called the Peredhil. The most famous half-elf in Tolkien's legendarium, is perhaps Elrond Halfelven. (Unlike in some other fantasy genres, the Half-elven are not a distinct race from Elves and Men, and before they die must ultimately choose which race to belong to.)
- The division between "light" and "dark" elves is based in the Norse myth of the Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar.
- Banshee - A particular type of undead, often formed from elven spirits.
- Dark ranger - Another undead elf, this one corporeal and a class.
- Shen'dralar - A faction of surviving Highborne living in Dire Maul.
- ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia/Night Elves
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Magazine Volume 2 Issue 1
- ^ Races of World of Warcraft: Blood Elves
- ^ 2017-11-16, BlizzCon 2017 World of Warcraft Q&A Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, retrieved on 2017-11-19
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1
- ^ Overlord Bunny 2013-03-09. Behind the Lore: Night Elves. BlizzPro. Retrieved on 2018-03-16.
- ^ The Last Guardian, pg. 34, 36