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|Draenei ( Lightforged) · Dwarf ( Dark Iron) · Gnome · Human ( Kul Tiran) · Night elf ( Void elf) · Worgen||Pandaren||Blood elf ( Nightborne) · Goblin · Orc ( Mag'har) · Tauren ( Highmountain) · Troll ( Zandalari) · Undead|
The night elves (or kaldorei, which means "Children of the Stars" in their native tongue of Darnassian) are among the oldest known races in Azeroth. They have a long and fascinating history. Native to the western continent of Kalimdor, the night elves ended a long period of seclusion at the end of the Third War and became members of the Alliance.
The night elves are the direct descendants of dark trolls. This peace loving and fiercely independent tribe took up residence at the Well of Eternity. The magic contained within elevated their forms to match their graceful spirits, completely transforming them into highly intelligent and virtually immortal beings, forever changing them into the night elves known today.
The reclusive Night Elves were the first race to awaken in the world of Azeroth. These shadowy, immortal beings were the first to study magic and let it loose throughout the world nearly ten thousand years before the First War (Warcraft 1). The Night Elves' reckless use of magic drew the Burning Legion into the world and led to a catastrophic war between the two titanic races. The Night Elves barely managed to banish the Legion from the world, but their beautiful homeland was shattered and drowned by the sea. Ever since, the Night Elves refused to use magic for fear that the dreaded Legion would return. The Night Elves closed themselves off from the rest of the world and remained hidden atop their sacred mountain of Hyjal for many thousands of years. As a race, Night Elves are typically honorable and just, but they are very distrusting of the 'lesser races' of the world. They are nocturnal by nature and their shadowy powers often elicit the same distrust that they have for their mortal neighbors.
Theirs is a most ancient heritage, which has shaped them into a very self-sufficient and self-conscious people that often display strong streaks of isolationism. With the Well of Eternity once located at the very center of their civilization, the night elves were the first and the greatest wielders of magic, putting the craft to use with unmatched brilliance and inspiration. However, the arrogance of their highest caste, the Highborne, caused an increase in the reckless use of magic that the Well of Eternity granted which, ultimately, got The Burning Legion's attention to Azeroth. The Highborne fell under the thrall of Sargeras, and an apocalyptic confrontation between the remaining night elves and the invading Legion was set into motion that became known as the War of the Ancients. The outcome changed Azeroth for all time, causing a Sundering which tore the landmasses of the world apart and gave rise to the Maelstrom which was the place that the Well of Eternity once stood.
Although the mighty night elves proved capable of putting a decisive halt to the Legion's onslaught, and thus ending the war and arguably saving the world, both their civilization and the world itself were shattered as a result, a difficult paradox and burden the remaining night elves live with. Left with nothing else but their lives, the night elves withdrew to their ancestral forests of Ashenvale and isolated their culture from the rest of Azeroth for nearly ten millennia, renouncing magic and becoming devoted wholly to the natural cycle of the world they had almost led to ruin. Ever since, their ways have revolved around an intimate connection to the natural forces, animistic powers and the worship of their mysterious moon goddess, Elune. The night elves now stand as a people who are both highly spiritual and pragmatic, an often sophisticated paradox, and are possessed with a deeply seated desire to find their solace. It is thus no surprise that they have become great healers and will aid all sorts of creatures partly due to their nature and perhaps partly because it helps them find their solace in reconciling for mistakes of the past.
Virtually all remaining night elves consider it their sworn duty to maintain the safety and balance of the natural world. They are generally honorable; a strict but just and truly compassionate people. Even so, they tend to be dismissive and distrustful of the younger races they now found within the world, and whom they consider to either be living in stubborn ignorance (for war-mongering and the destruction of nature), or as too short-lived to ever attain the responsibility and wisdom which the night elves have gained through their burdened past. In turn, many of these younger cultures perceive the night elves' attitude as one of mere arrogance or of superiority. The night elves tend to be looked upon with awe, wonder, and even mistrust, if not for their shadowy and secretive nature, longevity, and ancientness met with youthful appearance (they look forever young), than for their aloof and judging demeanor.
In the dawn of Azeroth's time, the Titans created a magical well — dubbed the Well of Eternity by the night elves. Over time it became the source of their power, wisdom, and immortality. This immense source of mystical energy shone like a beacon throughout the Twisting Nether, eventually claiming the attention of Sargeras, the Destroyer of Worlds, as he sought to claim its power as his own.
War of the Ancients
- Main article: War of the Ancients
Thus began the corruption of the elves. Posing as a venerable god, Sargeras managed to contact the most powerful of all the night elves, queen Azshara. Sargeras convinced Azshara, and her most loyal assistant, the Lord Counselor Xavius, to open a portal to Azeroth in order to allow the Titan to "bless" the entire night elven race (while also promising to eradicate any "unworthy" races). In their insolence, those of magical nobility, the Highborne of the palace of Zin'Azshari, sought to use and control this source of unimaginable power and unspeakable evil; and for their pride, they were consumed by the magic they so eagerly wished to wield.
As the portal into the mortal world grew larger, Sargeras sent over more numerous "emissaries" to aid with the portal and bring the word of their god from the beyond. These demons were members of Sargeras' ancient army, known as the Burning Legion, and they had put to the flame countless worlds throughout the void. As the portal grew close to its completion to allow the dark titan entry to Azeroth, a small band of kaldorei led by Malfurion Stormrage, the first druid, realized the threat posed to their entire world by this nameless evil and the now-crazed Azshara. Realizing his seemingly imminent victory could be threatened by these few elves, Sargeras commanded that his Legion make war upon Azeroth and destroy the unworthy, which included the entirety of the kaldorei race.
As war raged across the world, many protectors of the world emerged to aid the young Malfurion Stormrage in closing this portal to the Twisting Nether and the malevolence which now stood poised to destroy them all. The demi-god Cenarius, the ancients, and the powerful dragonflights clashed head on with the advancing legion. Having learned much about the power and beauty of nature from his shan'do, Cenarius, Malfurion was able to disrupt the nearly completed portal spell and close his world off from the invincible Sargeras.
With so much power in flux, the Well of Eternity imploded in a magical cataclysm, sending untold numbers to their doom. Many kaldorei were dragged to the bottom of the sea, only to be twisted and transformed into the sea serpents now known as the vile naga. The catastrophe tore the continent apart into four sections, and left a permanent storm known as the Maelstrom where the well once stood. With the majority of the Highborne dead, the kaldorei turned away from their arcane legacy and began a new culture focusing on attunement with nature and their surroundings.
The surviving Highborne from Zin'Azshari tried to assimilate into the new druidic society, but over time they could not ignore the burning addiction to magic their whole race suffered from. This group of Highborne, led by Dath'Remar, left Kalimdor, sailing across the sea to the other, newly formed continent. Here, they established the nation of Quel'Thalas, and would from that point on call themselves high elves.
The night elves, settled into their new vigil culture, living as closely to the land and its inhabitants as possible. In time, they were granted a chance to continue as immortals when the World Tree, Nordrassil, was planted on Mount Hyjal with the remaining essence of the Well of Eternity. Having established a future for their people, the druids slumbered, communing with the dragon Aspect, Ysera, in the Emerald Dream. The druids were bound to the Dream through Nordrassil and slept for centuries at a time, only to be awoken during times of great need. For untold ages, they diligently watched over the world, abandoning former concepts of civilization and empire building to stand guard over the hidden source of power and ensure it would never be used to summon the demons again. Fulfilling this sacred vigil charge, they would remain in isolation forgotten by the centuries. They would come to refer to this period as the Long Vigil.
Rediscovery and the Third War
The Third War led to the rediscovery of the continent of Kalimdor and the night elf race. The orcs, newly fled from The Eastern Kingdoms, and seeking resources for their armies, began a lumber project against which the night elves took great offense. This led to many skirmishes between the Warsong Clan of the orcs and the night elf Sentinel force. Eventually, the orcs and the night elves suspended their enmity and fought alongside each other, along with the humans, dwarves and high elves of the Alliance, against the demonic forces of Archimonde, a colossal lieutenant of the Burning Legion.
The night elves have now fully come out of isolation for the first time in 10,000 years, with their sacred charge of keeping Vigil ended, they are now faced with rebuilding a civilization that was abandoned 10,000 years ago. In addition, much of the healing and restoration over the millennia was lost after the battle with Archimonde at Mount Hyjal and they seek to restore that too. In destroying Nordrassil to prevent the return of the Burning Legion, the night elves made the ultimate sacrifice: that of their immortality. They have founded the city of Darnassus on the ill-planned and unblessed new World Tree of Teldrassil, and are trying to reclaim the forest’s inhabitants from the madness spread by the demonic corruption of the Third War. In the absence of Malfurion Stormrage, the night elves are led by Tyrande Whisperwind (who is highly beloved by the vast majority of the night elven people and referred often to as "the shining light of our people" by them) and Arch-Druid Fandral Staghelm (who is much less popular but still has a strong following). Though they are now aware that there are allies outside the boundaries of their woods, one should not walk lightly in their lands. After all the sacrifices they have endured to keep their lands free of destruction or bondage, the night elves are not fond of strangers. Many have found arrows in their chest before they even knew danger lurked about them. It is currently unknown when the night elves joined the Alliance, but they may have just kept their alliance made in the Third War. The night elves are usually a compassionate people even though they can be mysterious and reclusive and even a bit mistrustful of the younger races, presumably because they live so long and thus acquire more wisdom. Still, they are generally very kind and just and though brave have good hearts and seek to help nature and anyone in need as long as it is safe and wise to do so. They tend to take pride in helping their allies now, and many are great healers.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm players will be able to select the mage class as a night elf, with the ability to use arcane magic. After the Sundering, night elven society outlawed arcane magic on pain of death. However, a Highborne agent sought an audience with Tyrande Whisperwind, to offer that they put their differences aside and combine their resources and skills to prepare for challenges ahead.
It is also likely that the night elves will fight alongside the Worgen in Gilneas, on the Forsaken front. It has not been explicitly stated what role the kaldorei will play in the war against the Forsaken. It can be assumed that they are attempting to establish close ties with the Worgen; and perhaps even train them as Druids to indoctrinate them into the Cenarion Circle.
Since that time, it has been discovered that the Night Elven survivors of the Sundering who fled to Mount Hyjal were not the only of their kind. Other hidden or abandoned groups of Night Elves survived independently or in a cursed state and over time have also emerged out of isolation. One group of Night Elves were the Highborne of Eldre'thalas, known as the Shen'dralar, who were able to successfully defend their city from the demonic invasion and ensuing Sundering. They captured a demon of immense power and used it to power their city until it grew in strength and started drawing power from them instead. Eldre'thalas fell to near complete ruins, and some of its Highborne survivors sought refuge with their kin.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
Two additional groups of Night Elves have come to light in World of Warcraft: Legion. Most of the current Night Elves and their descendants are from the City of Suramar, thought lost. However it has recently been discovered that during the War of the Ancients, the Highborne mages of that city, rebelled against Queen Azshara and also fought the Legion, sealing a second portal that would outflanked the departing army from Suramar region led by Lord Kur'talos Ravencrest. The city rose up to defeat the demons and the Highborne mages erected an impenetrable magical barrier around the city, protecting it from the great destruction that ensued. There they would live believing the rest of the world lost to demons, and would continue advancing their magical abilities and mastery of the arcane using a font of magic known as the Nightwell. The arcane legacy suspended by the Vigil group, would continue boldly and responsibly with the citizens of Suramar, and the energies of the Nightwell would further evolve their night elven forms into a new version known as the Nightborne.
They continue in the pre-sundering Night Elven arcane traditions without the recklessness that dominated the final moments of Queen Azshara's reign. Their leader, who once fought the Legion has surrendered her people to their great enemies, and a resistance has formed to replace her and drive out the Legion. The nightborne resistance is a collection of Nightborne dissidents and night elven refugees that have been displaced and greatly affected by the new invasion and seek to end this great evil.
The second group are a cursed Night Elven civilization of Nar'thalas known as the Court of Farondis. Night Elves cursed to ghost forms by Queen Azshara herself in a terrible display of power for their rebellion in the early days of the first Legion invasion. They continue in this state up till today where adventurers will get an opportunity to assist them and have a profound impact on their destiny.
Battle for Azeroth
This section concerns content exclusive to Battle for Azeroth.
Sylvanas Windrunner, knowing that Darnassus would be a major hub for the Alliance shipments of azerite, determines that the time for the Horde to strike is now. She allows Varok Saurfang to plan an attack on the night elven territories that would bring them within striking distance of Teldrassil.
The Alliance leave those territories largely unguarded as they pursue what they think is the Horde's plan to move troops into Silithus. Their mistake is realized too late, as Saurfang and the Horde sweep into Ashenvale. The defenders put up a stubborn fight, among them Malfurion Stormrage, but it is to only buy time for the night elven fleet and the Alliance to return.
Malfurion manages to halt their advance at the border between Ashenvale and Darkshore with a wall of wisps, but an attack by the Horde in the north of Darkshore, through an unknown path in Felwood, ends the stalemate. Knowing he needs to buy more time before the Horde's inevitable capture of Teldrassil, Malfurion sought out Sylvanas and fought, only to be struck down by Saurfang from behind.
Tyrande manages to heal him enough to keep him from dying, teleporting them to Stormwind. She continues with the evacuation of Teldrassil via magical portals, but no one is prepared for when Sylvanas orders the tree burned. They attempt to save everyone they can, and in the end, Teldrassil and Darnassus are destroyed, the night elves left refugees in Stormwind.
Night elven culture has been greatly influenced by the ancient Celts. The night elves are a people who have dedicated their individual lives, as well as the very organization of their entire society, in the pursuit of the protection of the natural world. They are at one with the subtle ebb and flow of the Kalimdor forests they call home. The druids of their people spent ages walking in a spectral realm guarded by the great Green Dragon Ysera the Dreamer known as the Emerald Dream. The night elves were once immortal but after the Third War, they gave up their immortal nature to defeat Archimonde and were forced to fully rejoin the world and fight for its survival. Though the night elves venerate and honor many creatures, Moon Goddess Elune is honored above all others.
Prior to the conclusion of the Third War, night elven society was divided by gender (with many exceptions made, of course), with the majority of men being druids and the majority of women serving as highly skilled warriors, priestesses, huntresses, or a combination thereof. These roles more or less defined the culture of the kaldorei for ten thousand years. In the years since the end of the Third War, this gender division has ended in favor of more practical concerns, setting aside its historical strictures on membership. Masses of eager, intelligent women have taken up the mantle of the druids, just as men have begun to choose the path of priesthood and/or war and have thus affiliated with (although have not yet qualified for/been allowed to join) the sisterhood of the Sentinels. Women night elf druids have been just that- druids- and in fact very important ones as part of the Cenarion Circle since right after the end of the Third War- before it they weren't allowed to affiliate with the Cenarion Circle.
Right now, both men and women are practicing the arts of war, healing and druidism. Their society is really a balance: a night elf man will most certainly respect a night elf woman, and she will respect him in turn, as can be seen by them calling one another brother and sister and trusting one another, almost as though all kaldorei are one family with very few exceptions. In such a culture of mutual respect and trust, it is not surprising that when the rare night elf does something significantly horrible enough to betray the trust of the people, the punishment is harsh and the trust is slow to return.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
Night Elf culture continues to change and is now referred to as been in a Post-Vigil state as arcane magic usage and practice is no longer banned and the ban on The Highborne is lifted. This is in part due to the discovery of other Night Elven groups that survived the Sundering independent of the main group. One such group, the Highborne of Eldre'thalas have been accepted back into Night Elven society, but remain distinct with their own cultural values both parties have agreed they are free to live by. Despite initial distrust due to this groups particular role in the War of the Ancients and the way their behaviour since to present, they are also free to practice magic without restriction and night elves are free to learn from them. This took several weeks of negotiation . Highborne have a distinct culture to the post-vigil Night Elf culture around them.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
The nature-orientated culture is not the only one amongst night elves. An alternative night elven civilization emerged from isolation in the events of World of Warcraft: Legion. The Nightborne civilization represents a strong Arcane pre-sundering Night Elven culture. These evolved night elves still carry on life in a heavily arcane influenced manner typical of all Night Elves prior to the sundering, but without the recklessness that characterized the end of Azshara's reign or her caste system - understandably as Suramar did lead the rebellion against her. They were highborne led at the time of their isolation but now simply refer to themselves as Nightborne. They appear to have nobles and non-nobles. They give the clearest picture and detail of the other side of Night Elven culture the Vigil group abandoned when they left all forms of developing civilization as we know it to carry out their sacred charge of guarding the World Tree and the secret it protected.
The fate of the Nightborne and Suramar City has not yet been determined, but the Legion walks its streets and a resistance of Nightborne and Night Elven denizens of the Broken Isles are working together to overthrow the invasion.
Possible Future Cultural Implications
It's also quite clear that after these events, Nightborne civilization will change, just as the Vigil group changed after their emergence in the 3rd War. Note that where for 10k years the Vigil group cut themselves off from making any use of the arcane via sorcery and adapted their civilization accordingly, the Nightborne civilization being preserved in an impenetrable shield has also found itself cut off from nature nearly entirely. From their history we know the night elves are linked with strong natural affinities to the arcane and nature. It is fascinating how we see two groups have developed entirely focusing on just one part of their affinity.
Understandably both have had limitations and have not recaptured the breadth and effectiveness of their former selves, but the emergence of the nightborne presents an incredible opportunity should these two groups decide to combine reuniting advanced nature expertise with advanced arcane expertise, filling the deficiencies in each others' ranks allowing them perhaps for the first time since before the sundering to have a second go of doing it all over again, but correctly, avoiding the pitfalls that led to the ruin and current predicament.
The nightborne would need allies and help with the nightwell source that in the long years of isolation, been severely restricted from Azeroth's whole by a shield, has become corrupted. It is also very interesting that Vigil group druids and priests have 10,000 years being purifying and enhancing arcane sources achieving harmony with nature by calling on the Goddess and natural citizens of the land . Seems they have exactly what the Nightborne need, and in contrast, the post-vigil night elf group have struggled immensely against magical assault, especially those at the hands of the Blood elves, suffering great defeats in Shaland'ris Isles, Ghostlands, Azshara campaign, Desolace, something the refugee Highborne from the cataclysm were unable to prevent.
The night elves worship the Ancients, who are nature deities attuned to the forest and the hunt. Elune the moon goddess and Malorne the Waywatcher are the most prominent figures of worship. After Cenarius ' death, the night elves will never forgive the orcs for this, his children live on and gain power each passing year. The night elves venerate the children of Cenarius as he was venerated, and perhaps one day these children of the slain demigod will aid the night elves in repaying the orcs for the transgressions of the past.
- Main article: Darnassian
The Sisters of Elune hold by far the most power; as one of a small handful of kaldorei organizations to survive the War of the Ancients , and the only one to be based upon aptitude and not lineage, they were largely responsible for the establishment of the new government after the War's conclusion. Among their early actions were to reorganize the old, class-based army into the Sentinel pattern used today, and to adjust the order's charter to include public service. The head of the Sisters would be the sole head of the night elf government.
The Cenarion Circle, then still under the direction of Cenarius himself, took no active part in governmental affairs, as their numbers included druids from several other species. Though Archdruid Stormrage did take part in the government on occasion, the druids typically remained aloof. At all times, the Sisters of Elune hold the true power.
Though Tyrande is still the undisputed and highly beloved leader of the government, the Sisters are not the only players on the field; power in the night elf government today is set largely across three groups: the Sisters of Elune, the night elf faction of the Cenarion Circle, and the Sentinels. In particular, Arch-Druid Staghelm believes himself to be a much more capable leader than Tyrande, and a silent power struggle has erupted between the two leaders. Only the highest of the Sisters and druids are aware of the battle that could tear kaldorei society apart.
As of the events of Stormrage: Malfurion Stormrage has returned and Arch-Druid Staghelm is no longer with the Night Elves. Tyrande and Malfurion have wed and together now lead the Night Elves of the Alliance. Malfurion Stormrage continues also in an independent capacity as the head of the Cenarion Circle.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
The Highborne group are led by Archmage Mordant Evenshade. Night Elf post-vigil rule is not a dictatorship, decisions made concerning the Highborne are done with mutual agreement on both sides. The Highborne seek to reclaim their City and restore it to the great bastion of Arcana it once was.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
The Nightborne group are independent of the Vigil group currently and are led by Grand Magistrix Elisande, a war hero turned traitor now for aligning with the Burning Legion. A resistance movement led by second in command First Arcanist Thalyssra works to overthrow her and drive out the Legion. Arcanist Thalyssra has offered sanctuary and care for both Nightborne and Night Elven refugees of the current conflict and together with the help of adventurers are taking back the Night Elven home.
Suramar City is where the majority of all current Night Elves and all Nightborne originate from.
Night elves rely on their magic and the benefits of the natural world around them to maintain their society. Their magic is druidic in nature and flows straight from the natural world. They use this magic and their affinity for nature to shape the trees and stone and make friends with the animals around them. It is with these skills rather than engineering, steam power, or metalcraft that they survive.
While they cultivate a relatively low-tech society, when compared to those of the dwarves or gnomes, they seem to have been able to create some relatively simple mechanical weaponry, such as the large glaive Thrower, a mechanical siege weapon, which they developed during their period of isolation from other races. Though the night elves obviously have metallurgical skills (the aforementioned glaives don't forge themselves), there is only one anvil and forge present in Darnassus or on Teldrassil. This is found on the right hand side of the ramp (coming from the bank) leading up to warriors terrace. There are likely other forges in ancient kaldorei lands and the reason kaldorei choose Darnassus/Teldrassil to not host major/many forges is because of basic intelligence: Darnassus is a tree, on a tree, and that tree is Teldrassil. Wood and fire do not mix well and the peoples of the alliance have long been trading with one another, no matter what their opinions might be of one another, trade seems to continue...though the night elves are without a doubt the most self-sufficient of all the races native to Azeroth.
As the city of Darnassus exemplifies, the night elves are skilled at building and stonecraft. These skills probably date from before the War of the Ancients, when the kaldorei were more "traditional" in terms of technology. It should be noted that their lifestyle is not "anti-technology," but rather one where technology is not the goal.
Night elf structural architecture is based on the Norse. Night elven architecture can be seen almost everywhere in Kalimdor, with their beautiful ruins all over the land. Darnassus is a perfect example of their unique style. The temple of the moon,
and the bridges that lay over the lake are showing the elves excellence in stonecrafting. Their style of architecture is a mix of Byzantine classicism to ancient Greek and Nordic pagodas. They build their pagoda-like wooden buildings around tall trees, but in places where that is not possible, the houses are on the ground.
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
Post-Vigil Night Elf group have only recently for the first time started building homes and cities since the destruction of their civilization during the Great Sundering. For 10,000 years the village of Moonglade was the capital as the night elves lived in harmony with land focused only on their sacred duty of vigil, and not concerned with rebuilding their ruined cities. Since coming out of isolation, now the Long Vigil has ended, Darnassus is the first attempt for 10,000 years.
For more information on pre-sundering Night Elf architecture, see Suramar City. It stands as the only non-ruined Night Elf city from before the Sundering with distinct architecture. It is worth noting that Thalassian structures are also derived from this, as the High Elves though changing much about their former night elven nature, are still based off of them. Quel'thalas bore the cities of Quel'danis and Silvermoon.
The Art of War
Rather than drawing from the chaotic and darker side of magic, theirs is pulled from Azeroth itself. Stone, root, flora and fauna all are avenues through which their magic travels. Druids are able to change into animal forms, snare their foes with roots or harden their skin like tree bark.
Their warriors are not to be taken lightly either. The night elves are among the most deadly adversaries to be found anywhere, due to a combination of their proficient skill with a bow, their stunning agility, and the ability to melt away into the shadows of the night. Few use common weapons such as swords, most preferring the mighty glaives (triple-bladed swords) they have grown accustomed to. War panthers, hippogryphs and even the mighty chimaeras and mountain giants have all been known to aid the night elves in battle.
For ten thousand years, all night elven war and "foreign policy" has been based solely on the safety of Ashenvale Forest and Mount Hyjal from outside incursion. The Sentinels, hidden safely among Ashenvale's leafy trees, effectively sealed off the region from unwanted interference for ten millennia. The Sentinel's method of deterrence was successful until the invasion of the Legion-endorsed Scourge; at which point the night elves were forced to awaken the Druids and accept aid from the Alliance and the Horde.
Night elven society has changed since the battle of Mount Hyjal, and the Sentinels now function in an entirely different manner. As the Burning Legion threat has been averted, at least for now, the night elves are no longer considered in a state of war. However, many Sentinels and druids have begun to hunt down and kill Warsong Orcs, as a result of their operations in Ashenvale, and the death of Cenarius.
Night elves are imposing in stature, males being on average 7 feet tall. Male kaldorei are very muscular, with broad chests and shoulders, indicative of the strength that lies within both their minds and bodies. Female night elves have that same strength lying in their minds and bodies; they are stunningly beautiful, lithe and curvaceous, yet extremely muscular and strong. The race’s prominent eyebrows, long pointed ears and natural aspects imply a feral grace. Skin tones range from pale white to blue to violet (the most common and signature color) to black (though not playable in the game) or even ruddy red, and their hair ranges in color from bright white to woodland green to lustrous black.
Night elves have skin colored subtle shades of purple ranging from dark to light, and from almost blue to bright pink. Their hair ranges from blue, green, dark violet, white or black (though black is not an option to players, numerous E3 posters picture night elves as dark haired).
While gathering lumber from Ashenvale for Thrall's war effort, Grom Hellscream, unaware of the night elves' identity, remarked that they looked "like elves, but they're far too tall, and far more savage".
Night elf males are very tall, range between 6'6" and 7'6", with broad shoulders and a lithely muscular torso whereas females are really quite similar just shorter and, well, more feminine. They are often described as beautiful. The men are typically of a slim-waisted yet firm, muscular build including long, muscular arms and large hands. They are often seen shirtless and seem very confident; it seems the women and men have wonderful love lives together. The women are also tall, standing between 6'2" and 7' 2" in height  and have an athletic body which is muscular. According to the WoW game manual, having a slim, athletic build. Unlike most other elves, night elf men often have thick beards and bushy eyebrows.
Among night elves, amber-colored eyes, as opposed to the traditional silver, are a sign of inherent druidic potential and/or a night elf destined for greatness. Among the class-obsessed night elves who lived prior to the War of the Ancients, amber eyes were rare, and thus viewed as a sign of underlying greatness. Queen Azshara and Illidan Stormrage, both extremely powerful sorcerers, had amber eyes. The night elves became vastly more egalitarian since the War's end, abandoning their former obsession with bloodlines, and thus, amber eyes are now far more common. In addition, druidism spread throughout night elven society, and many night elves develop amber eyes after birth if they practice the art.
Though amber eyes are a sign that the individual has a natural ability for druidic magic, it does not mean that all amber-eyed night elves become druids, or that silver-eyed night elves are unable. Malfurion Stormrage himself was born with silver eyes, and developed amber eyes only after studying druid magic. His own brother, though born with amber eyes, lacked the patience to succeed in the art.
In-game, all male night elves have golden eyes while all female have silver ones. This is purely graphical and does not have any effect on gameplay or class choices nor does it reflect the night elven society; one can always roleplay their character as having silver eyes if male or amber eyes if female.
The symmetrical markings worn by many night elf females do have some meaning. The tattooing "mark[s] an earlier rite of passage". It is yet not clear what the rite of passage consists of, or whether the act of tattooing itself is the rite of passage. It is quite rare for a night elven female who is older than 400 (320 is the age of maturity) to not have facial markings/tattoos. Tyrande does indeed have them but the model in World of Warcraft does not represent this, Tyrande actually has the markings of the Bear as best shown on the Warcraft 3 Box art. It is likely that the markings symbolize an animal totem (most commonly the Antler (Stag, as of Malorne), Crow/Owl (as of the Talon), Bear/cat (as of the Claw), and others indicative perhaps of the Wild, of the Grove, or of the Fang, thus recognizing that night elven society is indeed deeply druidic and spiritual and that even before druids these animalistic and spiritual beliefs existed, and that gender is irrelevant in the case of worship and that truly they are an equal society (look at female night elf NPCs...it is extremely rare to find one, save Tyrande and perhaps a dozen others, who do not have markings).
These markings can be indicative of the path one takes... they sometimes seem to resemble leaves or flowers which could be indicative of the people's affinity for nature of a healing path... much is left to speculation though they do clearly have some mystical significance. While roleplaying a young female night elf, one thing one could do is to have her have a ceremony in which brothers and sisters attend and she receives her markings. Why a barber shop is not in Darnassus does not make sense in regards to the lore because though night elves are a feral people, they are also highly sophisticated; with such a paradox and such a culture that has facial markings almost universal and the need for hair to be changed sometimes for self-defense, the simple act of cutting hair or providing markings doesn't go against any of their beliefs, harms no one, no nature, and is really emblematic of the culture. Perhaps we'll see one in the next patch.
This section concerns content exclusive to World of Warcraft.
- No Tattoo - Bare skin showing the natural shadow around the night elf's glowing eye.
- Crane - Stylized crane body (two wings and trailing "legs") on the cheek immediately beside the nostrils with the neck of the crane extending across the eye socket and the upraised head and beak of the crane reaching to the hairline across the forehead.
- Leaf - An ornate maple-type leaf completely covering the eye socket - the stem of the leaf terminates at level with the nostrils and the uppermost tip of the leaf begins at the hairline.
- Claws - Three claw marks across each eye, with the longest being the middle mark, terminating at level with the mouth, the innermost beside the nostrils and outermost on the cheekbone, all originating from the hairline on the forehead.
- Wings - Ornate butterfly wings beginning at the hairline and extending down the cheek to terminate in a "double tail", with the main part of the wing terminating at level with the nostrils and an additional ornamentation terminating at level with the mouth.
- Bear - Seeming to represent a great tear of a bear swipe across the eye socket, the entire socket is tattooed dark. With one point of the "ragged edge" running alongside the bridge of the nose, and five gradually longer trails ending in points across the cheek, with the fourth line extending the furthest down the cheek almost to the chin. The upper part of the tattoo is triangular along the eyebrow line and has two pointed flourishes from the mid eye and outermost corner of the eye. Finally a banded lighter flourish, almost an echo of the eyebrow, extends up from the beginning of the eyebrow to the hairline, curving and flaring at the terminus to follow the hairline towards the temple.
- Serpent - Reminiscent of a snake's eye slit, one double pointed, slightly curved line is marked over each eye.
- Blades - Looking like the dual-pointed demon hunter blades, these run from the hairline to terminate at level with the mouth, vertically across the eye socket. The design element of the demon hunter blade, with the additional small pointed aspect near the handle where the bottom blade arcs downward, occurs on the cheekbone.
- Owl - One of two tattoos which cross the bridge of the nose - reminiscent of a demon hunter's mask, this is a more horizontal tattoo along the level of the eyes. Two curving vertical lines run along each side of the bridge of the nose, resulting in two thin points arcing up to just above the level of the eyebrows on the forehead and two angular points arcing downward along the line of the nose onto the cheek. One band below the eye terminates at the outer corner of the eye and one band along the upper lid terminates further towards the temple hairline.
- Shadow - The other horizontal tattoo which crosses the nose - Two thin lines cross the bridge of the nose. A pattern reminiscent of dragonfly wings extends upwards diagonally from the lower line where the cheekbone meets the nose to the innermost corner of the eye, across the eye socket, with two lobes angling upwards from the upper lid and the outer corner of the eye, respectively, towards the temple. Two thinner lobe extensions run diagonally downward onto the cheek, with a third triangular flourish on the cheekbone by the outer corner of the eye.
Some Night Elves are born slightly differently from the others. One example is when a male Night Elf is born with Antlers, which means they're destined for remarkable things. An example of this is Broll Bearmantle.
Other Night Elven Variations:
This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.
Legion introduces an alternative version of Night Elves called the Nightborne. The Nightborne are evolved Night elves and have a slightly altered appearances maintaining very similar characteristics to normal night elves in height and mannerisms. However their eyes have a silver glow though some are slightly shaded purple, their bodies are slimmer indicative of the time the race nearly starved and adjusted itself to directly feeding off The Nightwell. it's magical font's substance for sustenance indirectly causing the current Withered when starved of Arcwine nourishment due to the corruption of Nightwell source itself.
Their hair colour is white and often thinner, it is possible though we might see slightly colour tinged variants if they become playable.
One of the most defining characteristics is the runed markings of power that overlay their body, they use magic to fashion most of their weapons and attire as they used it for food, having to adapt as natural resources were depleted following years of isolation.
Their skin varies from dark blue/purple to greys and blacks, generally darker night tones to their normal night elven counterparts. Another notable characteristic, is their ears, which are at normal night elven inclines however the tips point upwards rather than level.
It is worth noting that Unliving Night elves in the form of ghosts also make an appearance in Legion, they seem slightly faded out versions of regular night elves.
The half night elf and half deer/stag Dryads and Keepers of Grove, and the Sons and Daughters of Cenarius, are also worth mentioning here, as they have the upper torso of Night elf, but the lower torso of a stag. Instead of hair, they have leaves, and the males have moss for beards instead of hair.
Their eyes are always a amber golden. Male Keepers of the Grove usually have the lower half of their left arm wooden and clawed. They are druidic worshippers of Elune and nature.
The night elves are members of the Alliance, but they are not the most trusted or highly regarded members of this group of races. Although honorable and just, the night elves’ natural distrust has tainted their relations somewhat. Traditionalists and supremacists within night elven society, such as the Archdruid Fandral Staghelm, in almost complete contrast to Tyrande Whisperwind (who has shown great compassion toward the Worgen, for example, and other races) have shown great mistrust in what they consider "lesser races". Combined with their mystical appearances and mysterious natures, interactions with other races become uncomfortable at times. There is a strong streak of isolationism in the kaldorei, for they are uncomfortable leaving the verdant mists of Teldrassil. Still, the night elves’ leaders see wisdom in an alliance with the younger races. The younger races show potential, and because of this the night elves see themselves as observers, waiting to step in to correct any dangerous mistakes. In addition, the other races possess one quality the night elves have been missing for some time: excitement. Adventure and exotic locales now have appeal to novice night elves. The kaldorei have more than a few among them who have braved leaving the forest to seek out fortune and intrigue in far-off lands. Their hatred of orcs has also fueled their participation in the Alliance. After the death of Cenarius during the Third War, many sentinels, druids and warrior night elves began a great hunting of orcs as a repayment for Cenarius’ murder.
Their political trend towards isolationism, a lack of intimate involvement in Alliance politics, would indicate that kaldorei ties with the Alliance are not significant overall. Most roles they play in the presence of other Alliance members focus around the elements of protection and restoration. For example, in the Plaguelands the kaldorei make it their mission to cleanse and restore life to the land, whereas the other races focus primarily on eradicating the scourge threat. In Northrend, night elves can be seen tending the trees spread throughout the grounds of the Argent Tournament. The general racial inhibition to involve themselves in the folds of Alliance politics does not always apply, however, and various exceptions to the rules can be made. On the same Argent Tournament grounds, night elf champions stand ready and proud to take on any jousters willing to challenge them. A note should be made that Tyrande and the night elves were the first members of the Alliance to greet and welcome the Draenei after the crash on Azuremyst Isle, and were it not for them it is possible the Draenei may not have become members of the Alliance. It is also important to note that Tyrande and the night elves have opened their very own home to the Worgen and have rescued them; were it not for them, countless Worgen and non-worgen Gilnean refugees would have perished (or even still be perishing). There is a great variety of night elves and though all share the most important things, there are many exciting ways to play a night elf. They have been noted as having a sense of humor and serenity, something that comes with being close to nature, having such an ancient and impressive legacy and history, the daily meditation they do as a people/culture, and much more. Exuberant, lively night elves and calm, "hippie" like ones are abound. It should be noted it is important to avoid stereotyping while playing a kaldorei.
Notable night elves
|High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind||High priestess of Elune, Head of the night elf people, elected by them into government for thousands of years, head of government||Alive||Temple of the Moon, Darnassus||Kaldorei, Sentinels, Elune, Alliance|
|Archdruid Malfurion Stormrage||Archdruid of the night elves, Arch-druid of the Moonglade||Alive||Temple of the Moon, Darnassus; Mount Hyjal; Nazj'vel, Darkshore||Sentinels, Cenarion Circle, Druids, Alliance|
|Illidan Stormrage||"The Betrayer", Demon Hunter, Lord of Outland, Master of the Black Temple||Alive (lore); Killable (WoW)||Temple Summit, Black Temple||Himself, (formerly the Night Elves, and the Burning Legion)|
|Archdruid Fandral Staghelm||Leader of the Cenarion Circle in Malfurion's absence between the Third War and the Cataclysm. Turned to madness by Xavius. Imprisoned by the Cenarion Circle.||Deceased (lore); Killable (WoW)||Stormrage Barrow Dens, Moonglade||Cenarion Circle, Druids, Alliance|
|Valstann Staghelm||Military Leader during the War of the Shifting Sands, killed by Rajaxx. Son of Fandral Staghelm.||Deceased||Unknown||Cenarion Circle|
|Sentinel General Shandris Feathermoon||Commander of the Sentinel Army. Close personal friend of Tyrande Whisperwind.||Alive||Feathermoon Stronghold, Feralas||Sentinels, Alliance|
|Warden Maiev Shadowsong||Leader of the Watchers and Illidan Stormrage's former jailor. Ex-priestess of Elune.||Alive||Warden's Cage, Shadowmoon Valley or Temple Summit, Black Temple||Watchers, Elune, Ashtongue Deathsworn|
|Lieutenant Naisha||First lieutenant of Warden Maiev Shadowsong. Killed by Illidan Stormrage in the Tomb of Sargeras.||Deceased||Tomb of Sargeras||Watchers, Elune|
|Captain Jarod Shadowsong||Ex-captain of Suramar. Leader of the Kaldorei Resistance after Stareye's death in the War of the Ancients.||Alive||Mount Hyjal||Sentinels, Kaldorei Resistance, Guardians of Hyjal|
|Lord Kur'talos Ravencrest||Heroic noble and general during the War of the Ancients. Master of Black Rook Hold.||Deceased||Unknown||Kaldorei Resistance|
|Lord Desdel Stareye||Ravencrest's Lieutenant by nobility. Took command after his Lord's death.||Deceased||Unknown||Kaldorei Resistance|
|Queen Azshara||Former ruler of the night elves. Transformed and mutated during the Sundering. Currently ruler of the Naga.||Eternal||Nazjatar||Old Gods (presumed), Quel'dorei, formerly the Burning Legion|
|Lady Vashj||Former member of the Highborne caste. Mutated into Naga. Powerful sea witch and ally of Illidan Stormrage.||Deceased (lore); Killable (WoW)||Serpentshrine Cavern||Queen Azshara, Illidan's forces|
|Lord Xavius||Former member of the Highborne caste and High Councilor of Queen Azshara. Transformed by Sargeras into the first Satyr.||Eternal||Emerald Dream||Old Gods (presumed), Formerly Burning Legion, Queen Azshara|
|Dath'Remar Sunstrider||Former member of the Highborne caste. Exiled from Kalimdor and transformed to one of the first high elves.||Deceased||Unknown||Kaldorei Resistance, Quel'Thalas, formerly Queen Azshara|
|Broll Bearmantle||Powerful Druid, fought valiantly in the Third War, friend of Varian Wrynn. Member of the New Council of Tirisfal.||Alive||Unknown||Alliance, New Council of Tirisfal, formerly Crimson Ring|
|Mr. T||Creator of the Mohawk Grenade||Alive||Unknown||Himself, Night Elf Mohawks|
|History||Ancient times||War of Ancients||Long Vigil||Recent times|
|Ruler||Official||Unknown||Queen Azshara||Queen Azshara||Tyrande Whisperwind
|Tyrande Whisperwind||Tyrande Whisperwind
|Unofficial||Kur'talos Ravencrest||Desdel Stareye||Jarod Shadowsong|
Night elf factions and allies
Throughout the extensive history of the night elves they have garnered support from many different kinds of creatures on Kalimdor and more recently the Worgen of Gilneas
- Farstriders of Ashenvale Forest
- Ancients and treants
- Dryads and keepers of the grove
- Chimaera s
- Faerie dragons
- Some furbolgs
- Some mountain giants
- Some dark trolls (Shadowtooth clan)
It has never been officially stated whether ancient or elder kaldorei will continue to live the average lifespan of a night elf now that their immortality has faded. Though as Malfurion and Tyrande continue to live in what can be assumed good health, we can make an assumption that most venerable kaldorei will live, along with all kaldorei, the remainder of their normal lifespan after the destruction of the World Tree. It has even been speculated that some day (perhaps soon!) the immortality of all the night elves will be restored as projects to regain their immortality continue and the dragons have blessed these new projects. The night elves seem to be very hopeful and happy currently. This is not speculation but fact: a night elf has never died due to old age yet. So, it's highly probably we'll see further major patches announce that their immortality has been restored. This is very popular among players (the prospect of having the night elves be confirmed/restored as immortal). Immortality, of course, does not mean that one cannot die from, for example, an arrow to the chest or an illness, though.
Other groups of Night Elves - The Highborne and The Nightborne achieved immortality through arcane means, the former by siphoning energy from a demon the Shen'drelar imprisoned, and the latter through their powerful arcane font, the Nightwell in a manner similar to how the Night Elves used the Well of Eternity to indefinitely extend their lifespans before the sundering.
Pregnancy and Fertility
The lack of presence of kaldorei children has led some to believe that birth within the night elves' society to be a rare occurrence. This is quite contradicting to the blessing of nature that the kaldorei have received.
Interestingly, it could be argued that the kaldorei have a similar stance to mating and producing offspring to the dwarves, being that they see no reason to have children often, and do so every few centuries. This is likely subject to change since the loss of their immortality. Indeed, in more recent Feast of Winter Veils, it is not unusual to spot night elf children visiting Greatfather Winter in Ironforge.
It has been stated due to traditional gender roles the majority of night elf males became druids. Since the druids entered the Emerald Dream for 10,000 years of sleep, and comprised the vast majority of the night elf male population their sleeping would have meant the active breeding population of society was devastated. So the only active breeding population was equivalent to the couple vast minority of males leading to a very small birth rate. Since the traditional gender roles are now fading and it is most unlikely, given the fact they are no longer immortal and might not even live 10,000 years, that any druid, male or female, will enter the emerald dream for such a long time, more children are likely to be born.
- The night elves were actually referenced several times in Warcraft lore long before their unveiling as the fourth race in Reign of Chaos. There is a reference to dark elves in Day of the Dragon and a reference to the history of the "kaldorei" in Lord of the Clans. Medivh actually narrates the story of the kaldorei, the Well of Eternity and the War of the Ancients to Khadgar in The Last Guardian (published before the unveiling of the night elves), as a warning against magocratic arrogance.
- The night elves have a philosophy that is generally opposite of the blood elves and differ in somewhat interesting ways:
- While the night elves' beliefs are linked to the Moon, the blood elves' beliefs are linked to the Sun. ** While nearly all night elf guards are female, all blood elf guards are male.
- After the Sundering, the night elves, for the most part, avoided all things arcane, preferring naturalistic powers, whereas the blood elves are addicted to arcane magic, studying and using it frequently.
- Even their primary colors are nearly opposites of each other; the night elves' bodies and architecture possessing a large amount of blues and greens, while the blood elves' bodies and architecture possess primarily reds and yellows.
- Night elves and worgens are the only races that have been seen to randomly flip while jumping. Night elves front flip while worgen back flip.
- The night elves were originally based on the Drow from the various Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings. The gender divisions (warrior and ruler women and magically-inclined men), darker-hued skins, and a very powerful goddess are the only elements of this that survive.
- One of the male jokes is "Who wants to live forever". This is a Queen song written for the movie Highlander, in which the last immortal being of good must battle an equal force of evil for "The Prize" — ironically, mortality — which is what the night elves receive in the destruction of Nordrassil.
- The architecture of the night elves, according to an interview with Chris Metzen, draws its influences from both Nordic and Japanese building style. This is most obviously apparent in the night elf city of Darnassus, which includes several tower buildings in the style of the Pagoda at Yakushi-ji (薬師寺).
- The male night elf's dance is based on Michael Jackson's Billie Jean.
- Alizée's dance from "J'en Ai Marre" was the influence for the night elf female dance.
- When entering combat without weapons equipped as female night elves, they will go into a fighting stance that appears identical to the idle stance used by Psylocke in her Capcom v.s. fighting game appearances.
- Fan art
- ^ a b c World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 174
- ^  World of Warcraft Magazine (Issue 5: Pg 90-91)
- ^ a b c d e World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 38.
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Class combinations (JPG). Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ a b c d e f g h The Warcraft Encyclopedia - Night Elves. Retrieved on 2009-05-11.
- ^ World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Media. Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ a b c The Warcraft Encyclopedia - Sentinels. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ a b c The Warcraft Encyclopedia - Cenarion Circle. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ Wolfheart page 63 (hardback), 43 ebook.
- ^ World of Warcraft Cataclysm: The Highborne
- ^ World of Warcraft Legion Quest: Grow-main
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 38-39.
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 39.
- ^ Stormrage
- ^ Lands of Mystery, pg. 22
- ^ Warcraft: Legends Volume 3, I Got What Yule Need
- ^ Day of the Dragon, 160
- ^ The Art of Warcraft, pg. 58