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Svartalfar, Dark Elves (Drow)

By David Revoy -, CC BY 4.0,, Svartalfar, Dark Elves
By David Revoy –, CC BY 4.0,

The svartalfar (or “black elves”) reside in the underground world of Svartalfheim. The underground of Midgard, though not as far down as Helheim

They may be either benevolent or malevolent. The original Svartalfar worked the forges on the lowest level of the world tree. These beings were not considered evil to begin with, and the Black or Dark skin was a result of working at the forge.

Svartalfar characters are extremely intelligent, charismatic and dextrous, but share surface elves’ comparative frailty and slight frames.

Source(s) 3.5E Monster Manual I, 3E Monster Manual I, Monstrous Compendium Volume 2, Urban Arcana, 1E Monster Manual 1, 1E Fiend Folio, Plot and Poison, Monstrous Manual, Races of Faerun, Introduction to AD&D

Svartalfar 1st-Level Warrior
Size/TypeMedium Humanoid (Elf)
Hit Dice1d8 (4 hp)
Speed30 ft. (6 squares)
16 (+1 Dexterity, +4 chain shirt, +1 light shield), touch 11, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple+1/+2
Attacklongsword rapier +3 melee (1d6+1/18-20) or hand crossbow +2 ranged (1d4/19-20)
Full Attackrapier +3 melee (1d6+1/18-20) or hand crossbow +2 ranged (1d4/19-20)
Space/Reach5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacksspell-like abilities
Special QualitiesDrow traits, Spell Resistance 12
SavesFort +2, Ref +1, Will -1*
AbilitiesStrength 13, Dexterity 13, Constitution 10, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 9, Charisma 10
SkillsHide +0, Listen +2, Search +4, Spot +3
FeatsWeapon Focus (rapier)
OrganizationSquad (2-4), patrol (5-8 plus 2 2nd-level sergeants and 1 leader of 3rd-6th level), or band (20-50 plus 10% noncombatants plus 1 2nd-level sergeant per 5 adults, 2d4 6th-level lieutenants, and 1d4 9th-level captains)
Challenge Rating1
AlignmentUsually Chaotic neutral
AdvancementBy character class
Level Adjustment+2

Svartalfar usually coat their arrows with a potent venom

Poison (Ex) : An opponent hit by a Svartalfar’s poisoned weapon must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or fall unconscious. After 1 minute, the subject must succeed on another DC 13 Fortitude save or remain unconscious for  2d4 hours. A typical Svartalfar carries 1d4-1 doses of Svartalfar knockout poison. Svartalfar typically coat arrows and crossbow bolts with this poison, but it can also be applied to a melee weapon. Note that drow have no special ability to apply poison without risking being poisoned themselves. Since this poison is not a magical effect, Svartalfar and other elves are susceptible to it.

Svartalfar Characters

  • Svartalfar Traits (Ex): These traits are in addition to the high elf traits, except where noted.
  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma.
  • Darkvision out to 120 feet. This trait replaces the high elf’s Low-Light Vision.
  • Spell Resistance equal to 11 + class levels.
  • +2 racial bonus on Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities.
  • Spell-Like Abilities Svartalfar can use the following spell-like abilities once per day: dancing lights, darkness, faerie fire. Caster level equals the drow’s class levels.
  • Weapon Proficiency A Svartalfar is automatically proficient with the hand crossbow, the rapier, and the short sword. This trait replaces the high elf’s weapon proficiency.
  • Automatic Languages Common, Elven, Undercommon. Bonus Languages: Abyssal, Aquan, Draconic, Drow Sign Language, Gnome, Goblin. This trait replaces the high elf’s automatic and bonus languages.
  • Light Blindness: Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds drow for 1 round. On subsequent rounds, they are dazzled as long as they remain in the affected area.
  • Favored Class Wizard (male) or cleric (female). This trait replaces the high elf’s favored class.
  • Level adjustment +2
  • The Svartalfar warrior presented here had the following ability scores before racial adjustments: Strength 13, Dexterity 11, Constitution 12, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 9, Charisma 8.

Challenge Rating

Svartalfar with levels in NPC classes have a CR equal to their character level. Drow with levels in PC classes have a CR equal to their character level +1

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