|Playable races in World of Warcraft|
|Draenei · Dwarf · Gnome · Human · Night elf · Worgen|| Pandaren
||Blood elf · Goblin · Orc · Tauren · Troll · Undead|
|Illidan Stormrage, Tyrande Whisperwind, and Malfurion Stormrage|
|Faction/Affiliation||Alliance, Cenarion Circle, Twilight's Hammer, Argent Crusade, Ebon Blade|
|Character classes|| Druid, Hunter, Priest, Rogue, Warrior, Death Knight, Mage, Monk
Scout, Dead shot, Ranger, Beastmaster, Savagekin, Assassin, Ley walker, Archdruid, Sentinel, Warlock
|Racial mount||Saber, Hippogryph|
|Primary language(s)||Darnassian, Common|
|Secondary language(s)||Goblin, Low Common, Orcish, Thalassian|
- For the playable race and faction, see Night elf (playable).
- "Darkness covered us in the beginning, and we could not see. We cried for guidance and the moon shone down bright upon us. Her soft light not only illuminated the night for us but also gave comfort. Her light touched us from within, enabling us to see even when the moon was not visible..."
- —Tyrande Whisperwind
The night elves, or kaldorei ("Children of the Stars" in their native tongue of Darnassian), are a powerful and mystical race whose origin extends back to ancient times. The founders of a magical and advanced civilization which at its peak spanned the breadth of Ancient Kalimdor, the night elves came into a horrific conflict with the Burning Legion and achieved a pyrrhic victory that sundered Kalimdor's landmass into the continents of the present age. The devastation wrought by their conceit caused the kaldorei to abandon the ways of arcane magic entirely, and craft a radically different society centered around the worship of Elune, harmony with the natural world and its denizens and Druidism.
The far-reaching and ancient legacy of the kaldorei has shaped them into a race of very self-sufficient and self-conscious individuals, who often display strong streaks of isolationism. The night elves ended a long period of seclusion in the aftermath of the Third War, standing with refugees from the Eastern Kingdoms during the Battle of Mount Hyjal, and began to associate themselves with the Alliance from the Eastern Kingdoms in response to the Horde's presence in Ashenvale.
Emergence of the night elves
At the beginning of the world, now known as Azeroth, the god-like titans created the Well of Eternity, source of all magic on the planet. In time, a tribe of dark trolls came to settle near the translucent waters of the well. These feral, nomadic humanoids built crude homes on the shore of the well, and named themselves Kaldorei, which meant "children of the stars" in their native tongue. The trolls believed that their moon goddess, Elune, slept within the Well’s shimmering depths during the daylight hours. Exposed to the potent power of the well, the trolls began to evolve, eventually becoming the first night elves.
The early Night Elf priests and seers studied the Well with an insatiable curiosity, driven to plumb its untold secrets and power. As their society grew, the Night Elves explored the breadth of Kalimdor and encountered its myriad denizens. Despite the trolls’ attempts to keep this new race from claiming further territories, the night elves built up a mighty empire that expanded rapidly across Kalimdor. Empowered by the well and wielding fierce magics never before imagined by the trolls, the night elves soon threatened the two greatest empires on Azeroth: the Amani and Gurubashi.
The night elves systematically dismantled the troll’s defenses and supply chains. Unable to counter the elves’ destructive magics, the trolls buckled under the onslaught. The territories of the Gurubashi and Amani empires fragmented within only a few years, and the night elves' shockingly quick victory incurred the trolls' eternal hatred, lasting to this very day.
In time, the Night Elves’ curiosity led them to meet and befriend a number of powerful entities, not the least of which was Cenarius, a mighty demi-god of the primordial forestlands. The great-hearted Cenarius grew fond of the inquisitive Night Elves and spent a great deal of time teaching them about the natural world. The tranquil Kaldorei developed a strong empathy for the living forests of Kalimdor and reveled in the harmonious balance of nature. The only creatures that gave them pause were the ancient and powerful Dragons. Though the great serpentine beasts were often reclusive, they did much to safeguard the known lands from potential threats. The Night Elves believed that the Dragons held themselves to be the protectors of the world, and that they and their secrets were best left alone.
Yet, as the seemingly endless ages passed, the Night Elves’ civilization expanded both territorially and culturally. Their temples, roads, and dwelling places stretched across the breadth of the dark continent. Azshara, the Night Elves’ beautiful and gifted Queen, built an immense, wondrous palace on the Well’s shore that housed her favored servitors within its bejeweled halls. Her servitors, whom she called the Quel'dorei or "highborne", doted on her every command and believed themselves to be greater than the rest of their lower-caste brethren.
Sharing the priests’ curiosity towards the Well of Eternity, Azshara ordered the educated high-borne to plumb its secrets and reveal its true purpose in the world. The high-borne buried themselves in their work and studied the Well ceaselessly. In time they developed the ability to manipulate and control the Well’s cosmic energies. As their reckless experiments progressed, the high-borne found that they could use their newfound powers to either create or destroy at their leisure. The hapless high-borne had stumbled upon primitive arcane magic and were now resolved to devote themselves to its mastery. Although they agreed that arcane magic was inherently dangerous if handled irresponsibly, Azshara and her high-borne began to practice their spellcraft with reckless abandon. Cenarius and many of the wizened Night Elf scholars warned that only calamity would result from toying with the clearly volatile arts of arcane magic. But, Azshara and her followers stubbornly continued to expand their burgeoning powers.
War of the Ancients
- Main article: War of the Ancients
Thus began the corruption of the elves. As their powers grew, a distinct change came over Azshara and the high-borne. The haughty, aloof upper class became increasingly callous and cruel towards their fellow Night Elves. A dark, brooding pall veiled Azshara’s once entrancing beauty. She began to withdraw from her loving subjects and refused to interact with any but her trusted high-borne priests. The pandaren, long-time allies of the night elf people, saw this change overcoming the night elves and decided to sever all ties.
Before they left, the pandaren decided to offer the highborne a gift, a chest of pandaren design, said to contain all the arcane magic they would ever need. The gift was accepted and taken down into a royal vault in the Temple of Zin-Malor in Eldarath. However when the chest was opened, it was found to contain absolutely nothing. The pandarens' gift was actually a message of advice and wisdom to the highborne: all the arcane magic they needed was nothing, or in other words, they did not need it at all. The chest and the message it represented continued to exist in the vault even 10,000 years later, but as history would record, the pandarens' wisdom fell on deaf ears.
Posing as a venerable god, Sargeras managed to contact Azshara. Sargeras convinced Azshara, and her most loyal assistant, the Lord Counselor Xavius, to open a gateway to Azeroth that this almighty "god" might come forth and bless their whole race (meanwhile eradicating all races deemed "unworthy"). In their insolence, those born to nobility, the Highborne, 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 ever more numerous "emissaries" to aid with the portal and bring the word of their god from the beyond. These demons were members of Sargeras's immortal 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, Tyrande Whisperwind, the high priestess of Elune, and Jarod Shadowsong 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 young 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 demigod Cenarius and his fellow Ancient Guardians, the Dragon Aspects, the Earthen, the ancients, the tauren and the furbolg 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 known as the Sundering, 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, its remains now separated by a massive ocean, 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, settling in the sacred glades around Mount Hyjal.
Illidan, seeking to maintain arcane magic in the world even after the destruction of the well of eternity had also traveled to Hyjal. Here, he poured three vials filled with water from the original well of eternity into a lake, imbuing it with great power and turning it into a new well. When Illidan refused to give up his magical powers, he was captured by his brother Malfurion and imprisoned within the Barrow Deeps under the watchful eye of Maiev.
For many years, the Night Elves worked tirelessly to rebuild what they could of their ancient homeland. Leaving their broken temples and roads to be overgrown, they constructed their new homes amidst the verdant trees and shadowed hills at Hyjal’s base. In time, the Dragons that had survived the great Sundering came forth from their secret abodes. Alexstrasza the red, Ysera the green, and Nozdormu the bronze descended upon the druids’ tranquil glades and surveyed the fruits of the Night Elves’ labors. Furion, who had become an arch-druid of immense power, greeted the mighty Dragons and told them about the creation of the new Well of Eternity. The great Dragons were alarmed to hear the news and speculated that as long as the Well remained, the Legion might use it to find Azeroth once more.
Furion and the three dragons made a pact that the night elves would serve as guards of this new well. Alexstrasza brought an enchanted acorn, a remnant of G'hanir, and placed it in the well, where it grew into Nordrassil, the first world tree. This tree would forever serve as a symbol of the connection between the night elves and nature, and would use the energies from the well to heal the world after the devastation of the sundering. Nozdormu then blessed tree, so that, as long as the tree stood, the night elves would never age or fall prey to disease. Ysera also placed an enchantment upon the World Tree by linking it to her own realm, the ethereal dimension known as the Emerald Dream. The Night Elf druids, including Furion himself, were bound to the Dream through the World Tree. As part of the mystical pact, the druids agreed to sleep for centuries at a time so that their spirits could roam the infinite paths of Ysera’s Dreamways. Though the druids were wary of losing so many years of their lives to hibernation, they agreed to uphold their bargain with Ysera.
The Long Vigil
Tyrande Whisperwind, high priestess of Elune, had become the leader of the night elf populace. For thousands of years, she led the night elves in their vigil. Much of this time was spent apart from her love, Malfurion Stormrage, who, alongside his fellow druids, upheld the balance of nature from within the Emerald Dream. However, whenever a crisis came, the druids would awaken.
One such crisis came from the remaining highborne. The Highborne that had survived the sundering and had settled alongside their night elf brethren initially tried to assimilate into the new druidic society, but over time they could not ignore the burning addiction to arcane magic their whole race suffered from. These Highborne, led by Dath'Remar, declared the druids cowards for refusing to wield the arcane. Malfurion and the druids warned the Highborne that any use of magic would be punishable by death. Yet, in an attempt to protest the druid’s law, Dath'Remar and his followers unleashed a terrible magical storm upon Ashenvale. The night elves could not bring themselves to put so many of their kin to death, so they decided to exile the reckless Highborne from their lands. So the Highborne left Kalimdor, sailing across the sea to the other, newly-formed continent. Now calling themselves high elves, they established the nation of Quel'Thalas.
Another such incident was the War of the Satyr, a devastating war that exacted a heavy toll from the night elves. During this war, the night elves fought against the unified satyr forces of Kalimdor. In desperation, some of the night elf druids even started using the Pack Form, a dangerous druidic transformation that had been forbidden by Malfurion Stormrage. These druids would form the Druids of the Pack, who tried to use the mystical Scythe of Elune to gain control over their forms. However, this failed, and they became the first Worgen, before being sealed away in a pocket of the Emerald dream. Though losses amongst the night elves were great, the satyr eventually lost and they lost nearly all of their lands, being forced to survive as isolated sects.
However, the biggest war was probably the War of the Shifting Sands. In ancient times, the troll empires defeated the aqir, forcing a group of the latter to retreat into Ahn'qiraj, an ancient Titan facility. Over the centuries, these aqir developed into the qiraji and came to serve C'thun, the old god at the heart of the facility. The Silithid, another insect race related to the aqir, also came to serve C'thun. The night elf forces, led by Fandral Staghelm and Shiromar, fought the armies of C'thun, but retreated after the death of Valstann Staghelm, son of Fandral, and the loss of Southwind Village.
It wasn't until the night elves called for the aid of the dragonflights that the qiraji were driven back. Anachronos, Merithra, Caelestrasz and Arygos, children of the Dragon Aspects, led armies of dragons against the forces of C'thun. Together, the night elf and dragon forces were able to force the insect armies back to the gates of Ahn'qiraj. While the battle seemed to turn against them once more, Merithra, Caelestrasz and Arygos flew into the city to create the Scarab Wall, though they were captured as a result. The scarab wall was capable of containing the insectoid armies, trapping them in the city. To one day reopen the gates and truly beat the qiraji, Fandral Staghelm was given a scepter. However, enraged by the death of his son, Fandral shattered the scepter, forever damaging the bond between the night elves and the dragonflights.
Rediscovery and the Third War
- "These women fight with unmatched savagery! I've never seen their equal. They are... perfect warriors."
- —Grom Hellscream
- Main article: Third War
The night elves’ isolated existence was shattered during the third war, when refugees from the Eastern Kingdoms arrived on the continent in large numbers. The orcs, newly fled from the Eastern Kingdoms and seeking resources, had sent the Warsong Clan to Ashenvale, unaware of the area's inhabitants. The night elves took great offense to the orcish presence in their lands and attacked. While the orcs had some initial victories, that ended when Cenarius arrived, mistaking the orcs for demons and destroying most of their outposts. In desperation, the Warsong Clan once more consumed demon blood, becoming powerful Chaos Orcs and proceeded to kill Cenarius.
At the height of this conflict — known as the Third War — the Legion and its terrifying undead Scourge assaulted the night elves’ lands. Tyrande rallied the night elf defenders and awoke Malfurion and his druids to combat the resurgent threat. For the vast majority of the third war, the night elves remained hostile to the allied Horde and Alliance Expedition. Only during the final battle, the Battle of Mount Hyjal, did the night elves join with the mortal races, standing to defend the world tree. In the end, even this alliance didn't manage to stop the invading demons, but it managed to delay them long enough for Malfurion Stormrage to complete a magic ritual. Archimonde, the leader of the demonic invasion, was torn apart by thousands of Wisps, finally being killed by the world tree itself.
Although victorious, the night elves suffered greatly from the battle with Archimonde at Mount Hyjal. Their beloved World Tree Nordrassil, created and blessed by the Dragon Aspects Alexstrasza, Ysera, and Nozdormu to grant the night elves immortality, had been sacrificed to elicit a massive blast of energy to slay Archimonde. With Nordrassil's destruction, so went the night elves' sole source of protection from aging, disease, and frailty.
Over time, Nordrassil slowly began to heal its wounds, but a number of druids led by Fandral Staghelm desired to create another World Tree that would restore the night elves’ immortality. Malfurion warned against this act of self-interest, but when he suddenly fell into a coma, his spirit lost within the Dream, Fandral forged ahead with his plans unopposed, becoming the new leader of the druids. The second World Tree, Teldrassil, was planted off the northern coast of Kalimdor, and eventually it towered among the clouds. Within this tree, the night elves founded the great city of Darnassus. However, Teldrassil failed. Though it grew, it was corrupted, and the dragon aspects refused to bless this new tree.
After the third war, the night elf nation also joined the Alliance, though the exact moment at which they joined is unknown. They were motivated to do so by the continued logging operations of the Horde in Warsong Gulch. As a result of the third war, corruption and madness had taken hold of many of the night elves' former lands and allies, severely weakening the strength of the night elf nation. As members of the Alliance, the night elves partook in multiple conflicts, most notably the Second War of the Shifting Sands.
Not all night elves joined the Alliance however, with the druids forming the neutral Cenarion Circle and settling in the city of Nighthaven. Though individual druids still have roles in the night elf nation, the druids as an organization remain neutral to this day, even accepting and training members of the Horde. The Cenarion Circle joined in several conflicts, directing the united Alliance and Horde forces during the Second War of the Shifting Sands, launching the Cenarion Expedition after the Opening of the Dark Portal and fighting on the front during the War against the Nightmare. DEHTA, a radical group within the Cenarion Circle is also active in Northrend, seeking to stop the large-scale hunting of the native animals through violent means.
As the corruption of Teldrassil worsened, the Emerald Nightmare spread further and further. By the time the War against the Lich King ended, people throughout the world started slipping into comas, their spirits drawn into the Emerald Dream. It turns out that the nightmare was lead by Xavius, an ancient highborne noble and the first satyr, thought to have been forever sealed into a tree form during the War of the Ancients. Fandral Staghelm was also involved in this plot, having been responsible for Malfurion's coma, using , and the corruption of Teldrassil, having grafted a branch from Xavius' tree-body to Teldrassil.
With the aid of other druids and the Green Dragonflight, the nightmare was defeated and most of its' corruption cleansed. In the aftermath, Ysera and Alexstrasza blessed Teldrassil, restoring nature's ancient bond with the night elves. Malfurion and Tyrande got married, now sharing rulership of the night elf nation.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, a group of Highborne known as the Shen'dralar successfully appealed to Tyrande Whisperwind to be allowed to make a return to kaldorei society. After the Sundering, the night elves had outlawed arcane magic on the pain of death. However, a Highborne archmage named Mordent Evenshade sought an audience with Tyrande and proposed to set aside long-standing differences and to combine resources, skills and numbers to prepare the wider night elven race for the challenges it faces. Despite the doubts of certain Sentinels, this proposal was accepted. The Shen'dralar were allowed a cautious return among their kaldorei brethren, with some young night elves being trained by them to become new night elven mages, and, conversely, some of the Highborne taking up the druidic arts or being initiated into Elune's priesthood, major societal changes that marked the first steps towards reconciliation between the Highborne and wider night elven society.
After an outbreak spread the worgen curse uncontrollably across the war torn nation of Gilneas, the Shattering also destroyed the reefs which protected this human kingdom from naval attacks, causing the Forsaken to launch an invasion. The night elves intervened, assisting the worgen in acquiring the Scythe of Elune, helping them to understand and deal with their transformation and holding back the Forsaken's assault, allowing the surviving Gilneans to escape to Teldrassil. After this, the kaldorei integrated the Gilnean Worgen into their culture; granting them asylum within Darnassus itself, allowing several female worgen warriors to join the Sentinel army and bringing Worgen druids into the Cenarion Circle.
Night Elf territory was one of the main fronts during the Alliance-Horde war. The Shatterspear tribe of Jungle trolls joined the Horde and assaulted northern Darkshore, though the night elves were able to fend off the attack. Two separate horde offensives were launched against Ashenvale, both stopped by the night elves with assistance from the rest of The Alliance, and, by the time Theramore was destroyed, the horde had been fully driven from the forest. However, the night elves were not completely successful in their war efforts. Their assault on the new settlements of the Bilgewater Cartel in Azshara was held off, and a massive horde-constructed bomb destroyed Thal'darah Grove in the Stonetalon Mountains.
Though Malfurion Stormrage had become the co-ruler of the night elves, his Cenarion Circle remained a neutral organization, intent on restoring balance following the cataclysm. Malfurion himself halted the slow collapse of Darkshore, with aid from Thessera the Green Dragon, Aroom the Wildkin and Elder Brownpaw the Furbolg. In Desolace and the Southern Barrens, members of the Cenarion Circle investigated the new out-of-control vegetation. In Felwood, a large portion of corrupted soil was cleansed to build Whisperwind Grove. Though most of the Cenarion Circle turned a blind eye to the goblin wood-cutting going on in the region, the Worgen of Talonbranch Glade refused, and broke away from the neutral organization to fight them.
However, the biggest contribution for the night elves following the cataclysm was at Mount Hyjal, where Ragnaros invaded to try and destroy Nordrassil and the Cenarion Circle, the Shadow Wardens and the Green Dragonflight united against him, forming the Guardians of Hyjal. The guardians were successful in fighting off the initial Fire Elemental invasion, resurrecting several of the Ancient Guardians. When the fire elementals invaded again, aided by Fandral Staghelm and his newly formed Druids of the Flame, the guardians were not only successful in fighting them off, but even managed to infiltrate the Firelands, killing Ragnaros and many of his lieutenants, including Staghelm, as well as constructing the Sentinel Tree to keep watch over the area.
Mists of Pandaria
This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.
To restore the immortality of the Night elves, Lorekeeper Vaeldrin was looking for the Pools of Youth, created by an ancient civilization that predated even Queen Azshara. Using a series of ancient magical scrolls, he opened a portal to the Krasarang Wilds. Tyrande Whisperwind, having had a vision of some sort of light, sent a group Sentinels, led by Vaeldrin's daughter, Lyalia, with him. However, the target of the spell had been warded using lost Mogu magic, imprisoning the expedition in a magic bubble that slowly drained their life. Luckily for the expedition, an alliance adventurer freed them with the help of Kang Bramblestaff, and the freed expedition constructed a base camp to search for the pools.
However, it turns out that the pools do not grant their immortality freely. Instead, they are used to transfer life energies from one person to another. During one battle with the mogu, Lyalia is captured and killed. Vaeldrin, using some of the water from the pools, uses his own life energy to save her, resulting in his own death. Despite these setbacks, the expedition is not without achievements, helping the Pandaren fight off the Dojani Mogu and aiding in the defense of Stoneplow. Later on, being one of the largest alliance forces on the continent prior to Landfall, the night elves gained a strong presence at the Shrine of Seven Stars. Shortly after the Alliance lands on Pandaria, a powerful artifact called the was discovered. The night elves moved it to their capital for study and safekeeping. However, the city was infiltrated and the bell was stolen by the Horde.
During the Siege of Orgrimmar, Tyrande had mustered an army of her people in Ashenvale and began a slow march towards Orgrimmar. After the Alliance and Horde rebel armada landed at Bladefist Bay, Tyrande's forces appeared from the west and, using glaive throwers, managed to destroy the front gate of Orgrimmar. She and her Sentinels then distracted Garrosh's Kor'kron, allowing Alliance forces and Darkspear rebels to invade the city.
- "The druids and sentinels prefer to keep separate company, but we have always worked well together. Never mistake privacy for aversion."
- —Erina Willowborn
For more than ten thousand years, the night elves have been bound to nature, shaping their culture into what it is now. Modern night elf society was founded on the very grounds of protecting nature, signified by their connection to the world tree. As one of the longest living races in Azeroth, night elves tend to be slow to change. Slow to anger and slow to cool off, the night elves experience emotions as deeply, or perhaps more so, than the younger races. While generally slow to respond emotionally, their minds have seen much and tend to have a honed wit and sense of humor.
The night elves worship, revere and honor many beings, but above all stands Elune, the moon goddess of the night elves. Her priests, the Sisters of Elune, are the leaders of the night elf military, and her high priest is the official head of the night elf nation, ruling from the Temple of the Moon in Darnassus. The night elves also worship their ancestors. This worship takes the form of offerings, traditionally rice cakes that are blessed in the Temple of the Moon.
The night elves, especially the druids, also have a close kinship with most of the Ancient Guardians, as all known living ancient guardians were last seen on Mount Hyjal. Cenarius is amongst the most ancient allies of the night elves. Aviana is the patron of the Druids of the Talon, while Ursoc and Ursol are the patrons of the Druids of the Claw. Malorne, Aessina and Tortolla are also allies, having assisted the Guardians of Hyjal in the protection of the world tree. Omen, while still corrupted, lies at the heart of the Moonglade.
The night elves also have close bonds with the Red, Green and Bronze Dragonflights. The great dragon aspects, Alexstrasza, Ysera and Nozdormu, were the ones to bless Nordrassil and the night elves have worked with them on many occasions since. Ysera is particularly important, as all druids assist her dragonflight in guarding the Emerald Dream
Prior to the conclusion of the Third War, night elf society was sharply divided by gender, with the vast majority of men being druids and most women serving as warriors, priestesses, or a combination thereof. These gender roles more or less defined the culture of the kaldorei for ten thousand years. Many years ago, the two genders were even forbidden to take the opposite role. When this was finally lifted, it was a tremendous and tumultuous societal change, with a pair of statues created to commemorate the first male priest and the first female druid. Even so, the gender divisions remain strong, and only at the end of the third war were female night elf druids welcomed into the Cenarion Circle.
In the years since the end of the Third War, this overall gender division has eased considerably in favor of more practical concerns, and many factions have set aside the historical strictures on membership. More women have taken up the mantle of the druids, just as men have begun to choose either the path of priesthood or more widely the path of war and have affiliated with the Sentinels.
Most night elves are, by the standards of other races, ancient. Because of their previous immortality, some night elves are more than ten thousand years old, which is older than the entirety of human and dwarven civilization put together. Though the immortality of the night elves has ended, much of its cultural impact remains, and many amongst the night elves seek for a way of regaining it. After the Cataclysm both Malfurion and Jarod Shadowsong, alive during the War of the Ancients and more than a thousand years age difference between them, have been feeling minor, but increasingly consistent aches and pains due to aging. Jarod's wife, also from the same era, passed away due to illness tied to aging.
- "Were it not for Lady Tyrande's recent mercy towards his kind, his execution would be my duty under the law. He will be watched closely, but I will not deny aid to my sentinels simply out of pride."
- —Shandris Feathermoon about Estulan and his Highborne
For thousands of years, arcane magic has been outlawed amongst the night elves, with its use punishable by death. Even when the night elves joined the alliance, they still avoided arcane magic. However, just before the cataclysm, this changed. Archmage Mordent Evershade of the Shen'dralar traveled to Darnassus, seeking an audience with Tyrande Whisperwind. Sensing a coming change (likely the cataclysm), the archmage offered his wisdom and knowledge to the high priestess.
Tyrande Whisperwind, no longer as settled in the ancient ways as she had once been, accepted, allowing several of the highborne to return to Night Elf society, even allowing them to train night elves as mages. However, the reunification has not been easy. Many night elves are still angry at the highborne for the part they took in the War of the Ancients, and have been hostile, or even violent, towards the returned highborne. In addition, the new night elf mages are still very inexperienced, making rookie mistakes that can and have been exploited by enemies of the night elves
For thousands of years, the Sisters of Elune held by far the most power; as one of a small handful of kaldorei organizations to survive the War of the Ancients, with membership based upon aptitude and not lineage, high priestess Tyrande Whisperwind reorganized the order to direct the Sentinels. She herself became the sole ruler of the night elf nation, remaining that way for thousands of years. Recently however, changes have come to the night elf government. Following the marriage between Tyrande and Malfurion Stormrage, the latter became co-ruler of the night elves, the first change in official leadership in the past ten thousand years.
The Cenarion Circle, before his death 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.
- "Many craven races have tempted our wrath over the centuries. None have survived!"
- —Maiev Shadowsong
By the time of the Great Sundering, military service for the night elves had become more a matter of bloodline than ability. Almost all high-ranking officers were nobles, and the night elves had lived in peace for so long that very few of those officers, however privileged and well educated, possessed even a basic knowledge of tactics. Joining the army, once a selfless choice to defend the night elf people, had been reduced to a status symbol. The War of the Ancients made the army's deterioration all too clear. After the night elves and their allies had achieved victory, High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind decreed sweeping changes throughout night elf society. As part of these changes, Tyrande disbanded the old army, most of which had no desire for further battle, and established the Sentinels.
The night elf sentinels are considered great warriors, fighting with savagery and skill that amazes even the greatest of warriors. The sentinels care little for melee combat, instead relying on their trusted bows and throwable three-tipped glaives. Swords, scimitars, daggers and the the two-tipped glaives more commonly associated with Demon Hunters are seen only in isolated cases. Supporting the sentinels in battle are the druids, the Sisters of Elune and the Watchers, all of whom bring powerful magic to aid in battle. Night elf technology is rather limited however, and the only commonly employed technological war equipment seems to be the Glaive Thrower.
Rather than rely on technology in battle, the night elves instead bring their natural allies. Amongst these many, many allies are Owls, Sabers, Hippogryphs, Dryads, Keepers of the Grove, Nymphs, Treants, Chimaeras, Faerie Dragons and Ancients (see notes for controversy). Furbolg, Wildkin, Green Dragons and Storm Crows are also allies of the Night elves, but don't appear to be integrated in their armies.
Conflict with the Horde
- "They are mongrels, and nothing more! They are responsible for Cenarius' death! I will be damned before I stand with them."
- —Tyrande Whisperwind, speaking of the Horde "outlanders" prior to the Third War
Though many within the kaldorei still felt bitter about the role orcs played in Cenarius' death, hostilities were not renewed until the Horde continued their lumbering operations in Warsong Gulch. These Warsong incursions into Ashenvale renewed the night elves' animosity towards the orcs and have therefore functioned as the catalyst for their participation in the Alliance's military endeavours. Despite this, diplomatic relations with fellow druid tauren and their respect for Warchief Thrall has tempered the night elves' wrath. To avoid all out war, the night elves have even allowed open trade with the Horde until the Wrathgate incident strained their trust, consequently leading to a withdraw of all trade contracts as well as a barring of any Horde member from Ashenvale. When the orcish territory of Durotar suffered from a terrible drought, the orcs' new warchief, Garrosh Hellscream: son of Grom Hellscream, launched an invasion of the night elven lands of Ashenvale to sustain his people. The conflict between the orcs and the kaldorei since then escalated so fiercely into open warfare that it even began to involve several of the ancients.
Interactions with the Alliance
There appear to be some culture clashes between the night elves and the other races of the Alliance. Some kaldorei have expressed thinly veiled contempt for the other cultures or mortals of the world. Traditionalists within night elven society, notably former Archdruid Fandral Staghelm and Warden Maiev Shadowsong, have shown open antagonism or contempt for what they consider to be "lesser races" and "outlanders". The shadowy nature and the wild conservative ways of the night elves have also led to awkward or strained interactions between the kaldorei and other races. For example, the night elves seem to be uncomfortable with the Alliance's obnoxious use of technology while the Alliance view the night elves' primal form of warfare and lifestyle as somewhat primitive. Even so, Malfurion Stormrage and Tyrande Whisperwind see merit in maintaining ties with the younger races within the Alliance, for they have shown resilience in the face of terrible adversity. As a result, the night elves have positioned themselves as a peculiar mixture of observers, teachers and arbiters; watching silently from the sidelines and stepping in without warning to 'correct' any dangerous mistakes or 'naive' courses of action. In addition, the younger cultures do seem to possess one quality the kaldorei have been missing for quite some time: the enthusiasm of youth. Adventure and exotic locales have renewed their appeal to many night elves, and the kaldorei again have more than a few who brave leaving Teldrassil and Ashenvale to seek out intrigue in the far-off lands their people have not set foot on for ten thousand years. With the recent loss of their immortality, the mortal races of the Alliance have also shared their experience with the night elves on how to cope with death, frailty, and sickness.
In line with Malfurion's stance on the races of the Alliance, druids such as Talar Oaktalon advocate the interconnectivity of things and have encouraged the sharing of ideas and the lending of mutual aid. Indeed, the kaldorei have become increasingly involved in many Alliance affairs that focus on the protection and restoration of Azeroth's natural world. In the Plaguelands, the night elves have made it their mission to cleanse and restore life to the land, whereas the other races focus primarily on eradicating the lingering Scourge. In Northrend, kaldorei can be seen empowering the wildlife in the very heartland of the Lich King's seat of power. In Thousand Needles, there was an instance of night elf sentinels temporarily joining forces with tauren refugees to rout the marauding Grimtotem tribe. Most notably, after the human kingdom of Gilneas was jolted back into the outside world in the Cataclysm's wake, the Forsaken launched an invasion of its lands. The kaldorei, being well aware of the druidic origins of the curse afflicting the Gilneans, lent their aid to the besieged kingdom and granted the worgen asylum within Teldrassil's borders.
A particularly lingering grudge lies between the kaldorei and their high elven and blood elven cousins: night elves view them with disgust, suspicion, or outright hostility. Though a few high elves have rejoined the Alliance in recent years, the night elves (who joined during the Third War) have opposed this notion, seeing it as their duty to warn their new allies against the high elves. The Highborne's part in bringing about the War of the Ancients figured heavily in the night elves' retelling of high elf history.
The primary language of the night elves is Darnassian. Due to ideological differences between the night elves and their distant kin a linguist must take great care in drawing comparisons between Darnassian and its two cousin languages (Nazja and Thalassian), because the night elves find such comparisons offensive.
- Sample male names: Caynrus, Oso, Caelyb, Bretander, Darnall, Mardrack, Hammon, Heralath, Fyldren, Jarod
- Sample female names: Haidene, Elerethe, Saynna, Elyssa, Naisha, Faeyrin, Keldara, Sarinei, Raene, Ferlynn, Ysiel
- Sample last names: Winterdew, Blackforest, Skyshadow, Raincaller, Trueshot, Featherbow, Lightmane, Bluewater, Darkheart, Rapidstrike
Like humans, elves are often addressed by just their first name, or with their rank/position and their last name. However, there are a number of elves that use single names and don't fit this pattern.
- Sample single names: Pained, Moonshadow, Treesong, Nightbloom
Compared to their peers in the Alliance, the night elves are rather limited in their use of technology. Instead, they rely on their magic and the benefits of the natural world. That doesn't mean the night elves are primitives however. Traditional night elf architecture shows that the elves are quite skilled at building and stonecraft, and traditional night elf weapons include the metal glaives. In battle, the night elves also deploy simple mechanical weaponry, most notably Glaive Throwers.
The night elves' lifestyle is not "anti-technology", however, but rather one where technology is not the goal. Apparently, night elf sentinels are okay with and capable of using guns, but still seem to prefer their bows and throwing glaives.
One of the night elves' most important basic ingredients is rice flour, with most families keeping at least one basket of rice in their houses. The most well-known night elf recipe is kimchi, made of fermented vegetables and sold by vendors throughout night elf territory. To ferment these vegetables, night elves bury pots with vegetables. is also common, eaten almost every day. Ribs, spider kabob, sweet potatoes, lunar pears, moonberries, eyes of Elune (seemingly a kind of apple), sunfruit, baby octopi (sometimes eaten while still alive), herring, clams and whitefish are also known to be part of night elf cuisine.
While nowhere near the partaking of libations that the dwarves are known for, the night elves are familiar with alcohol. Even in ancient times the kaldorei made Darnassian wine, distilled from ginger and which was mixed and/or stored in amphorae.
Moonwells are also used by night elves to bless food stores.
Notes on culture
- Bracers of Kinship are symbols of a sacred bond of friendship, trust and love amongst night elves.
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). Female night elven eyes glow blue while male's eyes have an amber glow to them. From their dark troll ancestors, they have retained both the long ears and great height, but evolved from the three-digit hands and feet of trolls to five digits. The general bearing of the body and facial structure changed from that of trolls to something more akin to humans; this is particularly notable when comparing the males of both species. While not noticeable while the mouth is closed, when speaking to a night elf one can often spot the long upper canines they posses.
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".
According to the WoW game manual, they have 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.
The symmetrical markings worn by many night elf females do have some meaning. The tattooing "mark[s] an earlier rite of passage". It is not yet clear what the rite of passage consists of or whether the act of tattooing itself is the rite of passage.
Notable night elves
|High priestess of Elune, Head of the night elf government .||Alive||Temple of the Moon, Darnassus||Kaldorei, Sentinels, Elune, Alliance|
|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|
|"The Betrayer". Lord of Outland, Master of the Black Temple.||Deceased (lore); Killable (WoW)||Temple Summit, Black Temple||Himself, (formerly Burning Legion and Kaldorei)|
|Leader of the Cenarion Circle in Malfurion's absence between the Third War and the Cataclysm. Turned to madness by Xavius. Majordomo of the Druids of the Flame.||Deceased (lore); Killable (WoW)||Firelands||Ragnaros the Firelord, Druids of the Flame, Twilight Hammer|
|Commander of the Sentinel Army. Adopted daughter of Tyrande Whisperwind.||Alive||Feathermoon Stronghold, Feralas||Sentinels, Alliance|
|Former leader of the Watchers and Illidan Stormrage's former jailor. Former High priestess of Elune.||Alive||Warden's Cage, Shadowmoon Valley or Temple Summit, Black Temple||Herself, (formerly Watchers, Elune)|
|Ex-captain of Suramar. Leader of the Kaldorei Resistance after Stareye's death in the War of the Ancients. Current leader of the Watchers.||Alive||Mount Hyjal||Watchers, Kaldorei Resistance, Guardians of Hyjal|
|Companion of Varian Wrynn, Champion of the Crimson Ring, Druid of the Cenarion Circle.||Alive||Unknown||Cenarion Circle, Alliance, New Council of Tirisfal, Varian Wrynn|
|Former ruler of the night elves. Transformed and mutated during the Sundering. Currently ruler of the Naga.||Alive||Nazjatar||Old Gods (presumed), Quel'dorei, formerly the Burning Legion|
|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|
|Former member of the Highborne caste and High Councilor of Queen Azshara. Transformed by Sargeras into the first Satyr.||Deceased||Emerald Dream||Old Gods (presumed), Formerly Burning Legion, Queen Azshara|
|History||Ancient times||War of the Ancients||Long Vigil||Darnassus|
Night elf factions and allies
- Sisterhood of Elune
- Druid organizations
- Allies of Nature
|This article or section needs to be cleaned up to conform to copyright laws and fair use.|
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.
After the events of the Battle of Mount Hyjal, the night elves severed all ties with the Horde in response to Cenarius' death at the hands of the orcish champion Grom Hellscream, maintaining a tentative relation with the Alliance alone. Directly afterward, many sentinels, druids and warriors of the kaldorei began a great wild hunt of orcs across Kalimdor as a retaliation for Cenarius’ murder.
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. While Cenarius has died, and 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.
The night elves once worked with orcs to halt the Burning Legion, and now they retain knowledge of the race's language for tactical reasons.
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 elf males are very tall, range between 6'6" (198 cm) and 7'6" (229 cm), with broad shoulders and a lithely muscular torso whereas females are far more slender. The men are typically of a slim-waisted yet firm, muscular build including long, muscular arms and large hands. The women are quite different, standing between 6'2" (188 cm) and 7' 2" (218 cm) in height.
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 are lithe and curvaceous, yet still 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 or even ruddy red, and their hair ranges in color from bright white to woodland green to lustrous black.
- Prior to Cataclysm, Night elves were the only race that could front flip. Post-Cataclysm, the Worgen have learnt to front 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.
- 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 the night elves in Day of the Dragon and 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.
- 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.
- The night elves appear to be almost the exact opposite of the blood elves and differ in somewhat ironic ways: while the night elves' beliefs are linked to the moon, the blood elves' beliefs are linked to the sun. While literally all night elf guards are female, all blood elf guards are male.
- The night elves's eyebrows clip with nearly every hat in-game. This is because only hair is changed upon wearing a hat and the face remains the same. The same applies for blood elves and high elves.
- Female night elves are voiced by Debi Mae West.
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Magazine Volume 2 Issue 1
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Warcraft III Manual
- ^ http://www.wow-europe.com/en/info/story/trolls/history.html#newerfoes
- ^ 
- ^ Pearl of Pandaria
- ^ War of the Ancients Trilogy
- ^ Original lore had malfurion making the decision, later stated at  that Tyrande, as the head of the government, did it.
- ^ World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen
- ^ a b c War of the Shifting Sands
- ^ a b Warcraft III campaigns: The Invasion of Kalimdor and Eternity's End
- ^ The World of Warcraft Manual
- ^ a b The events of the Teldrassil quests
- ^ a b The events of the Silithus quests
- ^ The events of the Zangarmarsh,Terokkar Forest and Blade's Edge Mountains quests
- ^ a b c d Stormrage
- ^ The events of the Borean Tundra quests
- ^ a b c d e f g The Warcraft Encyclopedia/Night Elves
- ^ Sentinel Stillbough
- ^ World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - Class combinations (JPG). Blizzard Entertainment. Retrieved on 2010-01-31.
- ^ The events from the Worgen starting experience
- ^ The Howling Oak
- ^ Adella, Silvia and Tambre
- ^ Selyria Groenveld
- ^ a b The events of the Darkshore storyline
- ^ a b c Wolfheart
- ^ The events of the Ashenvale storyline
- ^ Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War
- ^ The events of the Azshara storyline
- ^ The events of the Stonetalon Mountains storyline
- ^ The events of the Desolace storyline
- ^ The events of the Southern Barrens storyline
- ^ The events of the Felwood storyline
- ^ The events of the Mount Hyjal quests
- ^ a b c The events of the Krasarang Wilds storyline
- ^ The guards at the shrine are either night elf, or one of the night elves' natural allies.
- ^ World of Warcraft Battlechest Guide, page 153
- ^ Dialogue with Choluna
- ^ a b The events of the Mount Hyjal storyline
- ^ The events of the Lunar Festival
- ^ a b c d e The Warcraft Encyclopedia/Sentinels
- ^ a b c The Warcraft Encyclopedia/Cenarion Circle
- ^ Strom was founded 2800 years before the first war, the awakening of the dwarves was 2500 years before the first war. Night elf culture dates back to before the war of the ancients, 10,000 years ago
- ^ Wolfheart, pg. 28, 89
- ^ The Old Wizard's Almanac
- ^ Archmage Evershade's dialogue
- ^ , and
- ^ a b The Spirits of Ashenvale
- ^ Seen primarily in Warcraft III, supported by the night elf guards using the same weapons.
- ^ Sentinel Leader
- ^ Sentinel Spy
- ^ Tortured Sentinel
- ^ Sentinel Infiltrator
- ^ Feralas Sentinel
- ^ Lunar Festival Sentinel
- ^ a b Seen throughout night elf territory
- ^ Night elf racial mounts and pet
- ^ a b Warcraft III available units
- ^ The events of the Feralas storyline
- ^ a b
- ^ Gathering Thunder!:Thrall citing the war with night elves for lumber as reason for their animosity in the Theramore Summit.
- ^ The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm
- ^ Wolfheart
- ^ a b
- ^ Lord of His Pack
- ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia/High Elves and Blood Elves
- ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia/High Elves
- ^ The Warcraft Encyclopedia/Darnassian
- ^ World of Warcraft Battlechest Guide, page 152
- ^ A sampling of names taken from World of Warcraft and the Trading Card Game. All used names belong to characters whose names are not references or jokes.
- ^ The stone buildings in Darnassus
- ^ fruits growing near the moonwell in Malfurion's Breach
- ^ Kaldorei Amphora
- ^ Stormrage
- ^ a b c d e f g h World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 38-39.
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 71.
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, 174
- ^ The Art of Warcraft, pg. 58
- ^ Day of the Dragon, 160