Of all the new elf subraces in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, eladrin are the most mystical and mysterious. As a subrace of elves that make their home in the Feywild, the eladrin are the closest a player character can get to playing a fairy in D&D. They are described as being capricious and changeable, and their ability to change seasons reflects this. This can make roleplaying an eladrin a challenge. However, if one looks to the original lore that inspired the Feywild in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, then roleplaying an eladrin as a fey trickster can be both fun and rewarding.
Fairies: The original eladrin
The Feywild in D&D was originally called “the Plane of Faerie.” It was inspired by old tales of elves, goblins, and other types of fey spirits. In the original European lore, elves and other spirits were cheerful pranksters at best and horrible fiends at their very worst. A fairy might give the hero the magic sword needed to slay the dragon, but then claim the hero’s firstborn child as payment. They were called the Fair Folk not for their beauty, but because insulting them could prove disastrous. The fey creatures of D&D reflect this, as not even Titania, the Queen of the Summer Court, is considered wholly good.
A good example of this nature is the fairy known as Robin Goodfellow or Puck, a famous figure of English folklore. According to legend, Puck might do various chores or housework for you if you left him a gift of milk or beer. But if you displeased him, he would undo the work as quickly as he had done it. Puck is perhaps one of the most famous fairies in all folklore, featuring prominently in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a servant to King Oberon and Queen Titania, the namesakes for the monarchs of the Summer Court in D&D.
A question of alignment for a fey trickster
To reflect the capricious nature of the fey, it’s probably best if you play an eladrin of chaotic alignment. The D&D alignment grid can be a useful tool when roleplaying, as long as you don’t let it completely control your character. That being said, the chaotic end of the grid is generally where a fey trickster would fall. A fairy wouldn’t let the laws or honor of man dictate what their actions would be. They are ruled by their emotions and their whims, and they hold their oaths begrudgingly if at all.
To every eladrin, there is a seasonEladrin in D&D are given a distinct mechanical reflection of their changeable nature, and it’s one you should use well. Each eladrin may change their season every long rest. The season an eladrin is in affects their behavior in addition to adding a secondary effect to their Fey Step ability. When roleplaying an eladrin, you can choose to stay on a particular season. But if you want your character to reflect the capricious, ever-changing nature of the fey trickster, then I recommend you change seasons every so often, as long as the change reflects your character’s current mood. However, you should be wary about letting the season you currently enter dictate your character’s personality. Rather, your character’s personality should dictate the season you enter. For example, an eladrin who has recently lost a comrade might become morose and enter the season of winter, while a different eladrin in the same position might become vengeful and enter the season of summer. As always, roleplaying should dictate how you use the mechanics rather than the mechanics dictating how you roleplay.
To keep a consistent character when roleplaying, one trick you might use is to choose a “default” season and a couple of extra seasons your character might enter in specific circumstances. For example, a particularly generous and kind eladrin might have autumn as their default season, but then change to summer if their generosity is taken advantage of. Meanwhile, a particularly playful eladrin might choose spring as their default season, but then change to autumn if their pranks offend the wrong person and they need to make amends.
The changeable nature of the fey makes them exceedingly fun to roleplay. Until lately, however, players had to make do with homebrew pixie and sprite races if they wanted to get anything close to a fairy. With the addition of the eladrin in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, we finally have an official subrace to reflect that infamous collection of chaos that is the Plane of Faerie. I personally cannot wait to play an eladrin, and I hope my tips can help you roleplay a memorable fey trickster in your own campaigns.
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