First, I must disambiguate the types of elves that many lump into the general category of “dark” elves because the disparate types are quite different, even where their territories occasionally overlap. On one hand, the so-called deep-dark elves are misnamed. They come from the eastern mountain region called Bei-Had from a deep cavern system replete with glowing lichen and fungi, a large forest, and several lakes, all of which supports a rather large population. This place is called the Daroka Deep and it is after this place that they are named. In the common tongue, it would not be rendered deep-dark elves, but rather Daroka Deep elves, and the neighboring races call them by the simplified Darokai. On the other hand, the once wild elves who followed the dissenters from Greenfolk under Garumeth (AKA Gruumsh) into the depths of the earth westward, became orcs, drow (also called dark elves) and shadow elves (described here). As to the difference between drow and shadow elves, the majority lies in the source of their “dark” power, as they are related closer to each other in many ways than most other elves. The fact that some more naturally powerful (by ties to their demon queen Lolth) drow have taken de facto control of Shadereach, the shadow elves’ home country, does not make them greater, nor the same. Rather, the drow connection to demons strengthens them, but also limits their world-view to one where the masses of assets are to be subjugated. Shadow elves, while touched by the power of elemental Shadow, rarely succumb to demonic or even diabolical forces, preferring logic, mystic energy, or self-furthering manipulation as sources of power. In fact, these three elements of their character, in balance, are probably what keeps them from destruction at the hands of their masters and enemies alike. Shadow elves are linked to shadow, elementally, just as the elves of Uburru are linked to the other five elements and in a more pure form than any drow. Their skin is pale, in shades from pastel pink to lavender to powder blue to pigeon gray. Their blood vessels show through faintly in a web of burgundy and indigo. Their hair is typically dark (auburn, deep brown, navy, aubergine, and black) but often chemically treated for lighter and more creative colorful looks, especially among the wealthy. Their ears are particularly long and broad for elves, completely tuftless and swept up, out and back. Their eyes come in vibrant, metallic reds, browns, blues, purples, grays, and black, complete with massive cornea and narrow iris bands and sclera. These hide behind thick lids with long lashes between narrow but dramatic brow lines where their most expressive features can be seen. In the right light, their eyes reflect much of it, glowing brightly. They are notably taller than average elves and even most humans, but are slender and wiry in physique. They are very fond of close-fitting or tailored clothing in layers of varied dark colors, especially with intricate details and fine fabrics. They loathe to cover their heads, except to ward off bad weather, excessive light, damage or prying eyes. They are keen on the use of throwing weapons, whips, staves and spears (which they use interchangeably), and tall, sturdy bladed longbows that shoot very long arrows and short spears. They are notorious for mastering all the secrets of one preferred type of weapon. They prefer armor that is naturally or can be made quiet, so they are also quite keen on maintenance, quality, craftsmanship and good fit. They are essentially omnivorous, but especially love large, hardy, earthy mushrooms as well as soups, stews and draughts made of local fare accompanied by over-day maize-and-honey cakes. A favorite pastime is catching, taming, raising and training felines of all sizes and kinds as pets, companions, watchers, mounts and such. They are particularly find of black puma, longhaired black house cats, and exotics. As sensitive as they are to light, most daily activities revolve around the period between sunset above the western hills and sunrise over the eastern crags. This is a longer period than most realize due to the height of the surrounding elevations and the depth of the reach. They sleep primarily behind heavy shutters and curtains, inside caves, maze-like homes, and fortresses through the bright hours of daylight. If overly exposed to light, their skin becomes darker, almost vibrant in color, and they suffer from pain and partial blindness until healed or recovered. Working in darkness is not a problem for them, as their eyes both gather in light and perceive the stuff of Shadow much the way others see light. Between this capacity to see Shadow and their large sensitive ears, it is particularly difficult for outsiders in their territory to hide from them in the dark and why they are particularly adept at camouflage, but not hiding in shadows.
If they expend enough effort, they can really learn to pierce and wield the deepest of Shadows with aplomb. Abilities: STR -2, DEX +2, INT +2. Quick and cunning, they are nevertheless thin and less physically powerful than most. Vision: low light vision with color at 2x normal for humans; darkvision with color at normal; Shadow vision (half normal, takes a full round, and pierces even magical darkness). Weapon proficiency: select one weapon of choice from thrown, whips/chains, staff/spear, exotic bladed spear-bow. Considered proficient in that weapon and eligible for feats applying to that weapon. Skill bonuses: +2 to hearing, camouflage, handle animal, knowledge (nature). Elemental: Shadow-touched: +1 to attacks, defenses, saves, and skills involving darkness and Shadow; -1 to the same when involving elemental Light and daylight Light weakness: exposure to bright light equal to daylight produces a cumulative difficulty to perform any actions of -1 up to 1 minute, another -2 from 1 minute up to one hour, another- 3 from 1 hour up to 1 day, another -4 from 1 day up to one week, another -5 from 1 week up to one month, another -6 from 1 week up to one year, and another -7 from 1 year on. The highest difficulty increase is a whopping -18! No laughing matter, as this penalty applies to ALL actions, including skills, saves, attacks, casting, etc. Recovery can be made with an equal amount of exposure to complete darkness, slowly reducing the penalty based on time remaining to full recovery. Magic restoration can remove the problem. Preferred class: select one of the following at character creation, permanently: Rogue (Explorer variant), Ranger (SRD or Underdark variant), Druid (SRD or Underdark variant). Only a wish, reincarnation at level 1, or resurrection or level drain resulting in a return to level 1 can change this.