Eldren for Low Magic 5e

Posted: 2024-02-21
Last Modified: 2024-03-06
Word Count: 2491
Tags: d20 dnd5e rpg settings

Table of Contents

This work includes material taken from the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of the Coast LLC and available at https://dnd.wizards.com/resources/systems-reference-document. The SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.

CHANGED 2024-03-02: Altered the Half-Bresailians.

CHANGED 2024-03-06: Improved Ageless Eldren’s Flashback ability.

DM’s Note

The origin and destinies of the Eldren are intertwined with the forces mortals call “magic”. Therefore, DMs should consider carefully whether to introduce them into their campaign.

We present them here for those DMs who want Low Magic but not No Magic.

The Eldren Peoples

Eldren stand taller than typical humans, between 6’ and 7’. They tend to be slender and angular, but surprisingly strong for their build. Most notably, all Eldren races have a certain “look”: lobeless ears that come to a subtle point, sharp faces suggesting a hawk or a hatchet, and eyes of a vibrant, unnatural color. Skin color varies from a very pale albino through shades of tan and gold to an almost perfect jet black.

The origins of Eldren remain mysterious. Some scholars believe all Eldren arose on one world and migrated to other worlds through portals. Others contend that prehistoric humans went through a process of “Eldrenization” that creates both the Eldren “look” and an Eldren’s affinity for magic.

Relationships between the Eldren, the Fae, and “elves” that appear in Faerie realms remain an active topic of research.

Ofshoots of the Eldren

The Eldren separate themselves into several clans and “breeds”, most of which conform to the Eldren template in this document. A few, however, deserve special mention.

The Atalan or Aurdrenn resemble broader, more muscular Eldren with bronze skin and golden hair. From their home continent of Atalanti (on some unnamed world) they spread through the multiverse conquering other peoples. A cataclysm destroyed their continent over a thousand years ago and now bands of Atalan roam the multiverse, looking for a place to settle down … or to conquer.

The Drenn or Rheudrenn resemble Eldren in general outlines, but their blue skin and preference for cold, dark caverns sets them apart. Unlike most Eldren the Drenn eschew direct sorcery in favor of the magical sciences: alchemy, artificing, and arcane engineering. Wherever they set up shop their artifacts become the most coveted tools and weapons in the realm. Drenn are extremely long-lived; mortal artificers simply cannot match the depth and breadth of their arcane knowledge.

The Hy Bresailians consist of two sub-species: the Uildrenn or High Eldren and the Gadrenn or Low Eldren. High Eldren resemble typical Eldren but tending toward the pale and white-haired end of the spectrum; Low Eldren look like unusually short, tanned Eldren (about 4’ tall). Few have ventured to the world / land of Hy Bresail, but on the white ships that make landfall in other worlds the High Eldren act as lords and masters while the Low Eldren act as servants. Hy Bresailians also eschew the Eldren affinity for sorcery, possessing instead a sort of telepathy that allows them to communicate with other Hy Bresailians and in a limited sense with other humanoid species.

Mordrenn are the legendary “dark Eldren”. Tales portray them as unusually short – about 5’ tall – and very dark-skinned. Their mastery of travel between worlds and the forms of sorcery that carry from one world to the next made them a multiversal power. Then they disappeared, leaving only enigmatic ruins and artifacts.

Eldren Ancestries

(Players may not play a Hy Bresailian or a Mordrenn; they are far too rare and mysterious.)

Atalan

The gold-skinned Atalan possess extraordinary vitality. This contrasts with their innate ineptitude with virtually all forms of magic. Whether this caused their culture to grow warlike, or their warlike nature “bred out” the typicall Eldren affinity for magic, is as yet unknown.

Age. Atalan grow to adulthood as quickly as humans, and apparently do not age beyond that.

Size. Medium

Speed. 30'

Healing Surge. You may take a single Action and expend Hit Dice to regain Hit Points, as if you had just taken a Short Rest. If taken to 0 HP, you may use a Reaction to expend Hit Dice and regain HP. An Atalan gets one Healing Surge per Short Rest.

Healing Recovery. You may recover all your Hit Dice on a Long Rest.

Magical Resistance. You gain Advantage on all saving throws vs. magic.

Magical Inability. You may not use any form of magic except Incantations and ceremonial magic. You cannot take any spell-casting Class or Subclass.

Drenn

These nocturnal “dark Eldren” prefer environments where their extraordinary night vision gives them an advantage: natural caves, windowless keeps, even houses with shuttered windows and only a candle burning.

Age. Drenn mature half as fast as humans, and they’re not considered adults until the age of 100. Drenn age very slowly, and remain active for 1000 years or more.

Size. Medium

Speed. 30'.

Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60’ of you as if it were bright light, and in near darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Arcane Instincts. You have Advantage on any Intelligence (Arcana) check related to sensing, analyzing, and understanding a magical effect. This applies to magical rituals, magical artifacts, and magic spells. You must spend an amount of time determined by the DM examining the phenomenon.

Eldren

Typical Eldren, whatever their coloration, tribe, clan, or “race”, conform to this template.

Age. Eldren mature half as fast as humans, and they’re not considered adults until the age of 50. Eldren age much more slowly than humans, and may live for 500 years or more.

Size. Medium

Speed. 30'.

Eldritch Senses. You can sense the distance and direction of anything magical, cursed, or otherwise unnatural within a range of 60’. you can only tell that the object, person, or place is “eerie” in some way, but cannot specify the nature or conditions of the eerieness.

Eldritch Instincts. You have Advantage on any skill or attribute check involved in casting an Incantation or other ceremonial magic. This power does not apply to ordinary 5e spellcasting, if the setting and DM allow spellcasting classes (e.g. Wizard, Warlock, Druid).

Eldren, Ageless

About 1 in 100 Eldren live beyond a few centuries, acquiring vast amounts of experience. Such Eldren gather more experience than their minds can contain, leading to a phenomenon called The Fog of Years. An Eldren experiencing the Fog of Years will forget everything that happened more than a few centuries ago, even their former professions, except for brief flashes of memory related to their current situation. Thus an Eldren who had been fumbling with his sword may suddenly strike their foe with the force and precision of a master swordsman.

Age. Eldren mature half as fast as humans, but they’re not considered adults until the age of 50. Ageless Eldren do not age, and typically die only through violence, accident, or ennui.

Size. Medium

Speed. 30'.

Eldritch Senses. As Eldren.

Eldritch Instincts. As Eldren.

Flashback. Once per session you may have a flashback, described in as much detail as the DM and other players can stand. After this, you may choose one of the following:

Hybrid Ancestries

Neither Atalan or Mordren can conceive offspring with other sub-species. The remaining Eldren sub-species can sometimes have offspring with humans or other demi-human species.

Half-Bresailian

The offspring of a Hy Bresailian and a compatible human or demi-human acquire the Eldren “look” but most superficial characteristics of their non-Bresailian parent. This may cause negative reactions depending on the prevailing attitudes about Eldren.

Age. The same lifespan as the non-Eldren parent.

Size. Medium or Small, depending on the non-Eldren parent.

Speed. The same as the non-Eldren parent.

Empathic. You make all Insight checks with Advantage, even if you would normally be at Disadvantage. However, you still cannot read minds, just emotional states and behavior.

Magical Ineptitude. You gain Disadvantage on all attempts to use all magic except Incantations and ceremonial magic. If you cast a conventional spell, the target has Advantage on their saving throw against it.

Half-Drenn

The offspring of a Drenn and a compatible human or demi-human retains the coloring of their Drenn parent but nearly all other characteristics of their non-Drenn parent. All males and about half the females of such unions have the same lifespan as their non-Drenn parent; the remaining females inherit Drenn longevity.

Except as noted above, a Half-Drenn conforms to the Ancestry of the Non-Drenn parent, including Ability Scores.

Half-Eldren

The offspring of most Eldren subspecies (save as noted above) and a compatible human or demi-human acquire the Eldren “look” but none of the Eldren’s other abilities. This may cause negative reactions depending on the prevailing attitudes about Eldren.

Except as noted above, a Half-Eldren conforms to the Ancestry of the non-Eldren parent, including Ability Scores.

Cultures

Atalan Squad

Ancestries: Atalan

Groups of Atalan frequently maintain the same military discipline as their homeland’s infamous armies. Each unit will have a Commander who they will obey without question and one or more Lieutenants who enforce order. Atalan Squads engage in anything from service to the reigning king to banditry to an attempted or successful coup d’etat against local authorities.

Athletic. You gain proficiency in the Athletics skill.

Militaristic. You gain proficiency with all Common and Martial Weapons, and with all Armor.

Language. Atalantal

Eldren Diaspora

Ancestries: Atalan, Drenn, Eldren

Solitary Eldren or Eldren in small bands will make themselves useful to the larger human(oid) population. They often pick up one or more trades to earn money, learn the basics of self defense in case anyone tries to rob them, and do their best to get along with – or get ahead with – the dominant group.

Apprentice Crafter. You gain proficiency in any tool of your choice.

Self-Sufficient. You gain proficiency in all common weapons.

Language. High Eldrennic or Elder Speech.

Drenn Enclave

Ancestries: Drenn, Half-Drenn

Drenn culture revolves around the Enclave, a hidden dwelling of between a dozen and several hundred Drenn individuals consituting a tribal or extended family unit. All Drenn labor to make the Enclave as self-sufficient as possible while still indulging in their classic pursuit of creating artifacts that push the limits of natural philosophy and supernatural arcanism.

The locations of these enclaves are known only to a few who provide the Drenn the luxuries they cannot make for themselves in return for their artifacts beyond price. Even within the Enclave complex security is tight, and Drenn work to make their homes proof against intruders, inside and out.

Journeyman Crafter. You gain proficiency in any two tools of your choice.

Fortification Expert. Whenever you make a Wisdom (Perception) or Intelligence (Investigation) check to discover traps or other security features in a building, you have Advantage on the roll.

Languages. Middle, Late, and Modern Drennic.

High Eldren City-State

Ancestries: Eldren, Half-Eldren

A sufficiently large population of Eldren will, seemingly inevitably, build a settlement for their own kind. The settlement will grow into a city-state which more often than not uses its military, economic, and mystical might to defend itself – often pre-emptively – its neighbors. Some city-states remain powerful but fiercely independent polities, others become the centers of an empire.

For this reason most High Eldren civilizations gain an evil reputation, despite their best intentions. The strangeness of the Eldren may mark even the most idealistic and pacifistic City-State as an enemy of humankind. Its citizens eventually succumb to the temptation of fulfilling the expectations of their neighbors. They may institute strict ancestry laws, develop a caste system or slavery, and conduct themselves with Machiavellian ruthlessness. The death-knell of an Eldren civilization comes when enough of their neighbors rise up to crush them, or when their decadence leads them to self-destruct.

Eldren Battle Training. You gain proficiency with daggers, longswords, longbows, and rapiers. You may wear any Light or Medium armor and carry a shield.

Cruel Reputation. You have Advantage on any Intimidation check against a member of another Ancestry.

Languages. High Eldrennic, Low Eldrennic.

Hybrid Enclave

Ancestries: Half-Bresailian, Half-Drenn, Half-Eldren

While a few isolated Eldren Hybrids assimilate to the culture of the parent that raised them, a critical mass of Hybrids inevitably forms its own subculture.

Insular. You know many other Hybrids in the area, and can find a contact for just about any service you desire simply by asking around.

Vigilant. You are acutely aware of being different. All Wisdom (Insight) checks regarding other characters’ attitude toward you are at an Advantage.

Languages. Common and a single ancestral language for the whole enclave: Bresailian, Modern Eldrennic, Modern Drennic, or Elder Speech.

Languages

The long history of the Eldren has created several related languages. If a character knows one Eldren language they can make an Intelligence check to understand its nearest ancestor or descendant. Beyond that one step in either direction, the Eldren languages are not mutually intelligible.

Language Era1 Nearest Ancestor Written
Atalantal - unknown Atalantal Alphabet
Bresailian - unknown Bresailian Script
Drennic, Early 2 Ancient Eldrennic Eldren Glyphs
Drennic, Middle 3 Early Drennic Elder Runes
Drennic, Late 4 Middle Drennic Drennic Script
Drennic, Modern 5 Late Drennic Drennic Script
Elder Speech2 4+ High Eldrennic Elder Runes
Eldrennic, Ancient 1 unknown Eldren Glyphs
Eldrennic, Old 2 Ancient Eldrennic Eldren Glyphs
Eldrennic, High 3+ Old Eldrennic Elder Runes
Eldrennic, Low 3+ Old Eldrennic Elder Runes
Eldrennic, Modern 5 Elder Speech Elder Runes
Mordrennic 2 Ancient Eldrennic Dark3 Glyphs

The various forms of Drennic and Eldrennic reflect the long written and oral history of the Drenn and Eldren peoples. The longevity of the Drenn and some Eldren means that different stages of those languages may still be spoken.

Below are all the known writing systems of the Eldren People.

Writing System Eras1 Type Media
Atalantal Alphabet 2-5 alphabet stone, metal, paper
Bresalian Script 2-5 abugida wood, paper
Dark Glyphs 2 logographic stone
Drennic Script 4-5 featural alphabet paper, engraving
Elder Runes 3-5 alphabet stone, wood, paper
Eldren Glyphs 1-2 logo-syllabic clay, wood

  1. Rough timeline of Eldren history in a world. (1) Ancient Times, (2) Rise of the Eldren, (3) High Eldren Civilization, (4) Decline and Fall, (5) Rediscovery of Eldren Culture. Through it all the Drenn keep their blue heads down. ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. A koiné of various dialects often adopted by Eldren and humans as a religious or mystical language. ↩︎

  3. Called “dark” because their meaning was unknown for several centuries. ↩︎