Dark elf

Dark elves are the (mostly) evil counterparts of the elves in many mythologies and fantasy settings. They are often at war with other elves.


Dark elves in mythology and folklore

Norse mythology

In Norse mythology, svartálfar ("swart elves" or "black elves") or dökkálfar ("dark elves") are synonymous with duergar ("dwarves") or vćttir ("wights"). They are light-avoiding, subterranean creatures who dwell in the world of Svartálfheim. Snorri Sturluson, author of among other things the Younger Edda, distinguish them from the ljósálfar ("light elves") of Álfheim, in most sources simply known as elves.

In the Orkney Islands, the trow or the black elves are similar to the Svartalfar or to Scandinavian trolls and inhabit mines and caves. They may be either good or evil, but the evil variety are more common. The drow or the dark elves are the Shetland Isle equivalent of the trow, but unlike the trow, they are thought of as exclusively evil.

Celtic mythology

In Celtic mythology (Gaelic), the Daoi-Sith are dark elves, while the Du-Sith are black elves.

Dark elves in fiction


In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, the Moriquendi—the Elves of Darkness—are, in essence, the Elves that did not join the Great Journey over the sea and behold the light of the Two Trees in Valinor. The term "Dark Elf" in Tolkien's writing seems to hold an additional special (not explained) meaning, as it is given as a special title of Eöl of Nan Elmoth.

Dungeons & Dragons

In the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse, especially in the worlds of Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms and Eberron, dark elves are called drow. They are dark-skinned and white-haired and are generally, but not exclusively, evil. Many other games and works of mainstream fantasy fiction derive their "dark elves" or "night elves" from the drow of Dungeons & Dragons.

The drow made their first appearance in the Dungeons & Dragons game in the module D1 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth (1978) by Gary Gygax (monochrome cover). The story continued in modules D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth , D2 Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, D3 Vault of the Drow, and Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. The first monster encyclopedia that the drow appeared in was the Fiend Folio.

The Dark Elf Trilogy (1990–1991) is a series of books written by R. A. Salvatore, set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, starring the heroic dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden. R. A. Salvatore is widely credited as the "creator of the drow."

In the Dragonlance setting, dark elves are not a distinct race; rather, "dark elves" are elves who have been cast out by the other elves for various crimes, such as worship of the evil deities. Dalamar, an ally of Raistlin, is the most notable of Krynn's dark elves.

In the Mystara/"Known World" setting, night elves are a race of subterranean elves who have been mutated via magic.

Record of Lodoss War

Dark elves from the fictional world of Record of Lodoss War are brown-skinned and not necessarily evil, but primarily aligned with the forces of Marmo, the enemies of the story's heroes. These Dark Elves are capable of deep loyalty and love.


As with most metahuman races in the Shadowrun world, many elves are born from the same ethnic groups that normal humans come from, meaning that there are African elves, Indian elves, and Arabic elves, for example. However, the closest thing to the "dark elf" in Shadowrun is the elf metahuman variant subgroup called the Night Ones, most of which come from Europe. The Night Ones have an aversion to sunlight and are different from other elves by possessing a fine fur coat that covers their bodies, indistinguishable from their skin at a distance and usually colored from black, violet, or dark blue. Popular media has dubbed them dark elves, and the group is sometimes stereotyped against as being members of a cult or an "evil" metahuman race. In the in-character comments of a sourcebook, a character derisively calls a group of Night One pirates, "the Muppets", because of their purple fur resembling the Muppet Grover.


In the world of Warhammer Fantasy, the generally evil Dark Elves (Dark Eldar in the Warhammer 40,000 universe) do not dwell underground, nor are they dark-skinned. They call themselves the Druchii. The Druchii live in Naggaroth, the geographic equivalent of North America in the Warhammer World, and are cruel raiders with much hatred for all other races; especially their lighter kindred, the High Elves.


In the WarCraft series of computer games, night elves are a race of elves similar to the drow of Dungeons & Dragons in appearance. However, because of their worship of nature, effeminate stature and extensive use of magic, they are much more similar to the "light" or "high" elves.

The Elder Scrolls

In The Elder Scrolls series of computer role-playing games, Dark Elves (also called Dunmer) lived peacefully with other races. They were the predominant race in Morrowind, their native province, and held many of the highest positions of authority. In addition, much of the mythology surrounding Morrowind revolved around them. They are generally conservative by nature, being very devoted to their pantheon of gods, and are distrustful of "outlanders". Dunmer culture is split between the settled people of the cities and the nomadic Ashlander tribes. Dark can easily be applied to them as "gloomy" or "morbid", for such is their temperament. Dunmer are said to have been punished with their red eyes and dark-bluish skin colour by Azura, one of the most prominent Daedra, either for disobeying her in one of the most crucial moments of their history or for turning to worship the Tribunal.

Final Fantasy IV

In the console RPG Final Fantasy IV, the Dark Elf holds the Crystal of Earth, which he stole from the peaceful kingdom of Toroia. The player is tasked with retrieving said crystal, a task complicated by the Dark Elf's ability to manipulate magnetic fields—metallic equipment does not work in the cave in which he lives.

Age of Wonders

In the Age of Wonders series of computer strategy games, the story begins with the arrival of humans to the Valley of Wonders and the slaying of the elven leader. This causes the elven race to split into two parts: the light elves (keepers of the light) and the dark elf (the cult of storms). The light elves wish to keep peace with the humans, while the dark elves want to take revenge and destroy all traces of mankind. The player has to choose in the campaign to be one of the two factions.


In this Korean MMORPG, dark elves are introduced in the later expansion packs. In its sequel, Lineage II, the user can choose from several type of races: human, light elf, dark elf, orc, and dwarf.


Sacred is a classic Hack and Slash RPG by the German company, Ascaron. The "races" in this game are: Seraphim, Gladiator, Wood Elf, Dark Elf, Battlemage, Vampiress, Daemon, and Dwarf. (The last two only appear in the expansion pack, Sacred Underworld.)

Mega Man Zero

The Dark Elf was created as the ultimate weapon during the era of Cyber Elf development, towards the end of the Maverick Wars. According to legend, the original X used the power of this Elf to finally destroy Sigma for good, thus ending the years of constant fighting. Following the construction of Neo Arcadia, the Elf was stolen from a laboratory, and used by the evil Dr. Weil to instigate the Elf Wars. X and Zero together stopped Weil and his reploid Omega, and after Zero went to sleep for 100 years, X sealed the Elf away for good using his own body as the seal.


Dark Elves in Arcanum are Elves who have chosen to actively attack humans for their use of technology which interferes with their magic and their destruction of the Elven forests. If the player in the game chooses to turn evil he spends some time working for the Dark Elves. Unlike in most modern fantasy fiction the Dark Elves do not appear physically differant from the Light Elves.sv:Svartalv


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