[RPG] What happens when a wood elf and a dark elf have a child


In my D&D 5e campaign one of the PCs who's a wood elf started dating a dark elf, and as a result she got pregnant and she is about to give birth. One of the other players had their PC die and he is considering playing as the child of the couple.

My question is, which race is the child going to be?

Best Answer

I don't believe there's more modern material to reference, but this specific question is addressed in 3rd edition Forgotten Realms setting books (and FR material is heavily referenced in the core 5e handbooks). According to Races of Faerun's introduction, under the Race, Subrace, and Ethnic Group heading:

In game terms, a subrace is, for all intents and purposes, a race of its own, but all the subraces of a particular race share many of the same qualities and are related. When parents of different subraces have a child, the child almost always "takes after" one parent or the other.

Basically, when subraces interbreed, the offspring just have the traits of one of their parents. The distinction between subraces is deeper than the distinction between ethnic groups, who have varying appearances but identical mechanical racial traits; subraces "breed true" rather than mixing in most circumstances. I'd be inclined to say a mixed subrace individual would appear to be one particular subrace, but could conceivably have a feature or two that hints at their more diverse heritage, say eye or hair colour. Mechnically, however, you choose the subrace of one of the parents. and take their racial traits. If this character might be a PC it seems fair to let them choose which they'd like the character to be; otherwise, I'd just flip a coin.

Note that my source is from 2 editions ago and is technically a setting-specific source, but there's nothing equivalent available for 5e yet and as far as I can tell the specific question of what happens when subraces interbreed is not raised in other material. There's no particular reason to think this should be different in the newer edition or different settings, especially as it's simply the easiest way to adjudicate the scenario. Of course, your GM is free to decide that things work differently in their world.

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