Elf — Shadar-kai Subrace 5E

Hello elves! welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for checking out the 10th episode of our elven subrace series. Today we’re going to be going over the second contender for the edgiest race in all of dungeons and dragons. That’s right you all thought it was the drow or the duragar. But it is often debated that it is actually the shadar-kai which is what we’re going to be covering today. Haven’t heard of them and never played one before? you know maybe this article will enlighten you and maybe even change your mind.

The shadar-kai were released in mordenkainen’s tome of foes which is a super awesome book if you’re curious about any lore of dungeons and dragons and is in my opinion one of the best books that dnd or wizards of the coast rather has ever produced. The shadar-kai if you’re not super familiar though a brief overview of their history…

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they’re essentially a servants of the raven queen and dwell in the shadowfell. They’re devoid of all emotion and operate much like worker bees with the raven queen being their queen bee for lack of a better term. She is pretty twisted and living in the shadowfell has changed them into these pale empty kind of vessels for her.

They are very much reflections of the eladrin, although whether or not they’re darker than the drow. I suppose it depends on your definition of darkness. As far as i’ve been able to tell they aren’t particularly cruel and they don’t really take satisfaction in much of anything much less torturing creatures. However because the raven queen is often portrayed as being evil, they operate as their hands and do some pretty messed up things. That being said, now let’s move on to their description and traits.


Sworn to the Raven Queen’s service, the mysterious shadar-kai venture into the Material Plane from the Shadowfell to advance her will. Once they were fey such as the rest of their elven kin, and now they exist in a strange state between life and death. Eladrin and shadar-kai are like reflections of each other: one bursting with emotion, the other nearly devoid of it.


First and foremost they gain a plus one ability score increase to constitution which is amazing regardless of really whatever class you’re playing. And they also gain necrotic resistance so resistance to necrotic damage which is super useful depending on the campaign you’re in. It might even be game changing or make the shadar-kai a little bit overpowered.

Regardless necrotic resistance is one of the harder resistances to obtain in the game in general. As it doesn’t traditionally work with a lot of means that would otherwise grant you resistance like absord elements or rage or blade ward or what have you. So it is really nice that they could just get these for being them.

And these two traits alone make them a perfectly viable sub-race, but that’s not all they get. Let’s move on now to blessing of the raven queen.

Blessing of the Raven Queen

  • As a bonus action, you can magically teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. Once you use this trait, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest.
  • Starting at 3rd level, you also gain resistance to all damage when you teleport using this trait. The resistance lasts until the start of your next turn. During that time, you appear ghostly and translucent.

This is a really interesting ability and for a while was one of the best abilities you could get out of a sub-race. In a lot of ways it still is just because of its sheer viability at literally any level of play. However there is of course the argument that once you get to those higher levels. Depending on your class every shot is kind of a one shot kill.

That being said, however during the early and mid tiers of play this is perfect. If you’re playing a gish caster or a melee base caster at those early levels this is not only going to provide you with a great means of escape or even a great way to get into combat, but also a great way of essentially doubling your survivability.

The fact that it applies to all damage is absolutely incredible, seeing as how there’s virtually no way outside of a couple racial abilities and spells that are kind of in beta testing to gain access to resistance against psychic damage and force damage. So this is a great way to just cover all of your bases at one shot.

The biggest drawback to this is you can only do it when you finish a long rest. So it’s very much a once per day ability. With that being said however most games or most sessions only have one or two combats in them. So you can use it fairly liberally with assuming you’re getting reliable long rests. If someone has access to leomond’s tiny hut that would probably be ideal for assuring the viability of this strategy.

There is also a small discussion over the fact that you are ghostly and translucent during the round after you perform the blessing of the raven queen. This is interesting because i’ve heard it argued by several players and through extension one or two dungeon masters that, this could likely get you advantage on stealth checks for example or sleight of hand checks if you’re pickpocketing or both.

With that being said, you could also infer that you would become a lower priority in terms of combat after doing this, just because you know they can’t really see that well. This would be especially true as it relates to beasts as they are not known for being the most intelligent and oftentimes will just attack what they perceive to be the largest threat. Outside of that it’s really just like a scaled-up misty step however as with the eladrin this is not a spell it is a racial ability that is magical in essence.

So things like dead magic zones or anti-magic zones or what have you won’t really have an effect over this and because of that it is a far better than misty step and it doesn’t really consume a spell slot which is nice although it is a resource in of itself. Now let’s move on to my personal thoughts.


Overall i’m actually a really huge fan of the Shadar-kai. I think they’re very interesting, i do think that the drow is a little bit better mechanically if i’m being blunt however this is a great way to still play an edgy character without having the evil attachment on you. They also get these cool silver masks at least based on the lore to disguise their identity, so you might want to play around with that.

I’ve played in a lot of games with Shadar-kai during my time at adventures league and i’m always sure to play into their lore. I know people are kind of cautious on where were you around them, not because they’re scared of them but just because they are such an exotic race. They typically stay to the shadowfell and they very rarely travel openly in the material plane preferring stealth above being the center of attention.

So it might make more sense for them to be a rogue as opposed to something like a bard however that’s up to you as the player. Just make sure you work with your dungeon master so you understand how this sub-race will fit into the world as a whole and how people are likely to perceive you. They are way more on the exotic end of the spectrum so just bear that in mind before selecting it. However drow are well known for being evil and quite malicious so maybe this is a safer bet in that regard but maybe it might attract unwanted attention. Regardless work with your dungeon master about it.


That being said! Let me know what you think of the Shadar-kai down beneath in the comment section. Mention any thoughts, questions, comments or concerns you have reagrding them. That being said, i hope you all have a wonderful day and as always happy adventuring.

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