The high elves, or quel'dorei ("Children of Noble Birth" in both Darnassian and Thalassian), are a race descended from the Highborne night elves who left Kalimdor and settled in the Eastern Kingdoms, founding Quel'Thalas.

The high elves were once a significant force on the continent, but in recent times their numbers have been dramatically reduced, 90% of their race having being slaughtered in the Third War.[1] (LoC 113) Following this, another 90% of the survivors changed their name to "blood elves" in remembrance of their fallen brethren, and no longer consider themselves high elven.[1] Only tens of thousands of high elves remain, and those who do cling to the Alliance and are trying to restore the glory of their once great people.


The ancient origins of the high elves are a legacy of tragedy and conflict, a series of events that has profoundly affected the development of the Quel’dorei. The high elves are a stark contrast to their nocturnal cousins, the night elves (or Kaldorei). Embracing the light of the sun and forsaking the night, the high elves are the descendants of the very elves who served Azshara in the time of the Well of Eternity. The Kaldorei regard the high elven penchant for using arcane magic as careless, akin to a foolish child playing with fire. The schism that separates the Highborne elves and the night elves is one so ancient that no amount of diplomacy or offerings of peace can soothe the scars of history. The arrogance of the high elves led to the War of the Ancients and ultimately to the downfall of the golden age of elven civilization. Through the reckless use of arcane magic, the high elves allowed darkness to seep into the world and corrupt Azeroth. Even now, the high elves find themselves enslaved to the very thing that often destroys them. Arcane magic is a powerful drug to the high elves, and it can be a lure to a dark and perilous path. Yet too many wield it as if they were doing no harm, and few but the oldest and most sage can recall the true reasons why the use of such magic is a dangerous and potentially damning practice. Regardless of the risks, some high elves press onwards to revel in the euphoria and power that the use of magic brings them. The high elves are a tragic example of a race in decline. Their centuries of arcane practice have led them into an ever-tightening downward spiral. Now there are few true Quel’dorei left. Most have gone with Kael’thas Sunstrider to become the blood elves, and in doing so have allied with the sworn enemies of elvenkind, the naga. Now the scant remaining Quel’dorei are typically those who have embraced the Light and seen past the powers of arcane magic and darkness. Distrusted by almost all of the races, the remaining high elves are pariahs in an age when there is little left for them but a life of mistrust and woe.[2] (WoWRPG 36)


Exile of the Highborne

When the night elves adopted druidism, they outlawed the practice of arcane magic. The use of its dangerous powers would be punishable by death. However, many Highborne loyalists of Queen Azshara survived the Sundering and grew restless. They suffered from magical withdrawal, and 7,300 years before the invasion of the Horde through the Dark Portal, they spoke against Malfurion Stormrage and the Druids.

Dath'Remar Sunstrider, the leader of this movement, declared the druids cowards for refusing to wield the arcane. Furion 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 druids could not bring themselves to put so many of their kin to death, so they decided to exile the reckless Highborne from their lands. Sunstrider and his followers boarded a number of specially crafted ships and set sail upon the seas. By now the Highborne were glad to be rid of their conservative cousins and free to practice the arcane with impunity.

None knew what lay beyond the Maelstrom, but they eventually found the Eastern Kingdoms and formed their own magical realm. They abandoned the concepts of Elune and nocturnal activity, embracing the sun instead. They would soon become known as the high elves.

Foundation of Quel’Thalas

Sunstrider led the high elven fleets across the world for many long years. Their goal was to find places of considerable ley power for them to build their new homeland. After landing on the Lordaeron continent, they moved inland and formed a settlement in the Tirisfal Glades. After a few years, however, many were driven insane. The belief at the time was that something evil slept beneath the Glades, so the high elves abandoned the region and moved northwards.

Around this time, they had become completely severed from the life-giving energy of the Well of Eternity. This meant that they were no longer immortal and were vulnerable to the elements. They had shrunk in height and their skin had become a peach hue similar to most dwarves and humans. The high elves soon discovered primitive humans, but associated little with them. The forest trolls of Zul’Aman, under the Amani Empire, posed the greater threat to their society. The elves soon grew to hate the forest trolls and they fought each other whenever they met.

After many more years, the high elves discovered a land in the northern forests which suited them, and founded the kingdom of Quel’Thalas. Unfortunately, they would learn that Quel’Thalas was founded on a sacred and ancient troll city. The trolls began to attack the elven settlements en masse in retaliation. Although the Amani outnumbered them ten to one, the elves utilized magic to its fullest effect and defeated the trolls.

Some elves, wary of the Kaldorei’s warnings, created a protective barrier around Quel’Thalas which allowed them to continue their magic without attracting the Burning Legion’s attention. To do this, they employed a series of monolithic Runestones.

High Elf Establishment2

Quel'Thalas was designed with great care for beauty

Soon, Quel’Thalas became a shining monument to high elven prowess. It was crafted in the same style as the halls of Kalimdor[2], with the addition of integrated magic and a brighter colour scheme. Although they did not worship it, a great respect was maintained for nature. The high elves were careful to interweave their cities and architecture with their natural surroundings, creating a truly beautiful and tranquil land.[3]

To sate their hunger for great magical power, the high elves created the Sunwell. It became the source of their power as the Well of Eternity had been in Kalimdor, although the Sunwell was much weaker, and the elves were forewarned of the dangers. As the high elves became more powerful, they cast an enchantment on the forests that bathed Quel'Thalas in eternal springtime, in defiance of the kingdom's location on the extreme north of the continent. From that point on, all high elves had access to the Sunwell's powers from anywhere on Azeroth. Over time, the high elves came to regard the Sunwell's waters as holy.[4]

New world patterns and the Thalassian kingdom

For nearly four thousand years, the high elves remained relatively at peace. But while the elves established their nation, the Amani plotted their next assault. 2,800 years before the First War, they unleashed it upon the high elves. The Troll Wars ignited. Suffering loss after loss, the high elves turned to the humans of Arathor for support. The two formed a military alliance in exchange for the instruction of 100 humans in arcane magic. Together, they crushed the Amani; an empire that had endured for more than twenty thousand years. Humans and high elves have cultivated this alliance ever since.

The high elves also established relations with the Ironforge Dwarves to the far south, when the human nations of Gilneas and Alterac encountered them more than a thousand years later. The two races had no special bond and tended to distrust one another. When allied, it was through their common ties to the humans.

Yet 230 years before the First War, the dwarven race split into three factions (See War of the Three Hammers). The Wildhammers desired to open up trade with the high elves, considered taboo at the time, and would serve as one of the catalysts for their war.[1] (LoC 67) When it ended, the clan became close allies to the high elves. The two races were united through a mutual appreciation for nature and other cultural similarities.[1] (LoC 99) They would soon become each other’s closest friends within the alliance.

War and the fall of Quel’Thalas

The high elves only helped out on a small level in the First War, when the Horde first attacked and took Stormwind Keep. After the humans were defeated and fled north through Khaz Modan, the dwarves sent emissaries to meet with the high elves and humans to discuss the threat of the Horde.[3] (APG 129)

Peace in Quel’Thalas continued for almost three thousand years until the Second War. The orcish Horde came through a portal from the world of Draenor at the advent of the First War, and defeated the Kingdom of Stormwind. They then brought ogres into Azeroth, and allied with the goblins and forest trolls, turning their sights on the north.

When the humans proposed an alliance of their seven nations, the Wildhammer and Ironforge dwarves, the gnomes and the high elves, the elves were honour-bound to join it due to their ancestral connection with Arathi, of whom Anduin Lothar was the last pure-blooded scion. Under Anasterian Sunstrider, they were the least enthusiastic of the alliance and put forth only a token army.

However, the orcs' northern campaign managed to burn down the borderlands of Quel’Thalas, slaughtering many high elves in the process, and corrupting the Runestone at Caer Darrow. This enraged Silvermoon, which promptly pledged its full support to the war. The Horde eventually splintered under internal political pressure, and the Alliance charged southwards to crush it. The Second War was won.

In the aftermath, some high elves blamed the humans' poor leadership for the burning of their forests. King Terenas of Lordaeron reminded them that nothing of Quel’Thalas would have remained if not for the hundreds of humans that gave their lives to defend it, but nevertheless, the high elves largely abandoned the Alliance. Alleria Windrunner and a cadre of her elven rangers remained loyal to Alliance High Command, but they were eventually lost on the other side of the Dark Portal. Her sister Vereesa also advocated continued support to the Alliance after the Grim Batol incident, but Anasterian was not swayed.

It should be noted that although the high elves retreated from the Alliance, a large number of them remained in Dalaran and were loyal to the Alliance through the Kirin Tor.


Sylvanas Windrunner battling the scourge as they march for Silvermoon

Years later, the Scourge came forth. Its commander, Arthas Menethil, obliterated the leading nation of Lordaeron and then turned their sights on Quel’Thalas. Their goal was to revive a human man named Kel'Thuzad, who could summon the demon-lord Archimonde into Azeroth. To do this, they required a source of considerable ley magic, and chose the Sunwell.

The high elves were still recovering from their grievous injuries at the hands of the Horde, but faced the Scourge in battle regardless. This time, there would be no human army to rescue them. The high elven army, lead by the Ranger General Sylvanas Windrunner, was eradicated.

The Sunwell was used to resurrect Kel'Thuzad, and fouled with evil in the process. The Scourge then set about to commit genocide on a massive scale. By the time they had left the forests, not a single living elf remained in Quel’Thalas. The Kingdom was gone.

Soon, Dalaran, with the second greatest concentration of high elves, was destroyed as well.



Blood elves, named for their fallen brethren

The remaining elves throughout the continent were scattered and clung to the Alliance for protection. A large amount left with Jaina Proudmoore to form the state of Theramore in Kalimdor, before the destruction of Quel'Thalas. They take two out of the seven seats on the ruling council that advises Lady Jaina and play a key role in the governing of the city-state. Occasionally, ships have come from Lordaeron bringing more of their people to the diverse city.

Also, a unit of high elven rangers under command of Ranger Captain Fellari Swiftarrow battled against the undead under command of the zealous Scarlet Crusade, and a large statue in honor of their capable leader has been erected in the Scarlet Monastery.

Some high elves live in the Hinterlands, and some high elves took refuge in Zul'aman. Several bands of high elves, survivors from Quel’Thalas, fled south and now wander throughout the forest. Those who stay one step ahead of the trolls survive; those who do not are dead (and probably eaten by the cannibalistic trolls). Scourge patrols, hunting the elven refugees, also stalk through the land.[1] (LoC 98, 99, 115)

The high elves of the Plaguelands, the region of former Lordaeron and southwestern Quel'Thalas, founded a social and political movement under Prince Kael'thas. They renamed themselves blood elves, allied themselves to the Naga and Illidan, and accepted demonic magic in its darkest form to sate their magical addiction. The blood elves have actively converted high elves to their cause and base themselves in Outland. The two factions of the high elven race are split by their differences and deep hostility to one another to this day.

Some of the Alliance high elves are known as the Silvermoon Remnant.

High elves

Two high elves


The high elves are a people without a home, now dwelling in the lands of humans after the forces of Prince Arthas and the lich Kel’Thuzad destroyed the city of Silvermoon. Now, most of the remaining true high elves dwell among humans, living in small communities and villages. Many of the high elves journeyed with Prince Kael’thas, the last leader of the Sunstrider dynasty, to join with Illidan and the naga. These elves eschewed their high elven ancestry in search for some way to placate their magical addiction and became the blood elves. This change has forced the high elves into decline, causing them to doubt the future of their once-proud race and drawing animosity toward them from other races who feel that the high elves have betrayed the Alliance. Most of the high elves have placed themselves under a self-imposed exile, ashamed of the damage that they have wrought upon the world of Lordaeron with their abuse of arcane magic. While humans still accept the high elves because of the aid that both races provided each other during the most recent attacks of the Burning Legion, many of the other races will only deal with the high elves if absolutely necessary. This is especially true after the acts of Kael’thas Sunstrider. The night elves in particular do not care for the company of high elves and in some cases can be openly hostile toward their sun-blessed brethren. The passing of time may heal these wounds, but the use of arcane magic will always draw a rift between these two breeds of elf.[2] (WoWRPG 36, 37)

The Lands of Conflict RPG book (which takes place before World of Warcraft[2] (WoWRPG 9)), states that the high elven population is approximately 24,810 and the half-elven population is approximately 9,550, not including Theramore, Dalaran, and several less significant cities. Stormwind (pop. 200,000)[2] (WoWRPG 13)[1] (LoC 52) alone has the most, with a total of 20,000 high elves, and 8000 half elves.

However it is also possible that population of Stormwind was a typo, and was instead meant to be only 20,000. If so then it lowers the population numbers down to 6,810 high elves in eastern lands and 2,350 half elves. Though the 200,000 population also appeared in the World of Warcraft The Roleplaying Game as well.

When Kael'Thas founded the blood elves, approximately 90%[5] of the surviving high elven population left and joined his cause. Since then the blood elves have presumably converted more to their side, reducing high elven power to an extreme low.

High elves and goblins are two of the playable races in the Warcraft RPG, but not in World of Warcraft MMO.


High elves in old age


Gil firebough

Elven male

High elves stand slightly taller than humans do. A high elf is usually a little over 6 feet in height and weighs between 100 to 175 pounds, depending on gender. The elves are slim, with sharp symmetrical features, often an exaggeration of perfect beauty. The high elves are uniformly fair in complexion, with white to flaxen colored hair. Their eyes are incredibly intense in color, seeming to glow with an inner light. While many high elves have blue or green eyes, violet and red are not unheard of.[2] (WoWRPG 36) The structure of high elven eyes (based on artwork) shows that they are generally like humans with a pupil and iris surrounded by "white", but tend to be able to see much farther than humans are capable. They reach adulthood at 110 years, a "venerable" age at roughly 350 years, and dying of old age between 354 and 390 years.[2] (WoWRPG 36,174)[6] Most high elves (especially those of the Alliance) do not wear red or black for fear of being mistaken as blood elves.[4] (A&HC 68.) They have shorter ears and much smaller, lighter bodies than night elves. As well, their ears usually point upwards whereas those of the night elves do not.

High elves have white, red, orange brown and blonde colored hair and fair skin, most have brilliantly intense sapphire coloured eyes that glow (at least in World of Warcraft). While high elves have blue, sapphire glowing eyes, the blood elves have green, emerald glowing eyes to show their magic addiction and their newly addiction to fel magic.

Blood elves and high elves were for the most part the same race in terms of underlying physical biology[7]. However, blood elves have recently been evolving beyond or into something different than high elves due to use of fel magic, and may evolve even further in time (some of these changes include glowing green eyes, and paler or ruddier skin).[5] (MG 54) For the most part however, they are considered separate races due more to cultural differences more so than because of physical differences[3] (APG 12,123-131).

In World of Warcraft, the high elves closely resemble blood elves appearance-wise (they seem to be the exact same except for the lack of glowing green eyes), but their voices are those of night elves. Taela Everstride at Allerian Stronghold even says, somewhat bemusedly, "I get that a lot... I'm a high elf, not a blood elf. Don't worry, I won't suck the magic out of you."


Highelf buildings

High elven buildings often use a blue/green color scheme, though the destroyed buildings of Quel'thalas from which the blood elves adapted their own architecture were turned red-hued

It would not quite be correct to say that the high elves rejoined the Alliance. To many high elves, they never left.

Nevertheless, they are often aloof and distant from their allies. They keep to themselves and enjoy wandering forests alone or in small groups. They also maintain the Quel'Danil lodge, an outpost in the Hinterlands which pursues their diplomatic interests and Quel'Lithien in the Eastern Plaguelands near the gateway to ruined Quel'Thalas.

High elves in Stormwind copy the humans' style of long-sleeved tunics, billowy trousers and leather boots. Many High elves avoid wearing red clothing, as to dissociate themselves from blood elves. They have also set aside a day of mourning for high elves to remember the destruction of Dalaran with their human friends.

High elves were once strong worshipers of the Holy Light, but this has died down as many have rejected it in favour of arcane magic. Although after the invasion of the Scourge and the break off from the blood elves, many have looked to the The Light, they do so loosely and are much less devout than humanity. High elven Priests are common. The high elves have made significant contributions to this evolving religion, which originated from human cults. Even a few high elves have become paladins, without the help of magic like the blood elves.[2] (WoWRPG 77).

Some high elves practiced druidism such as the rangers of Quel'Thalas, taught by the night elves as many high elves have remembered their ancestry in the forests of Ashenvale.[6] (HPG 41)[7] (W2Man 35)

High Elf War Mage

High elven War Mage.


High elves who embrace the path of religion take on the mantle of the Holy Light, sharing in the same faith as dwarves and humans. While this philosophy does not penetrate deeply into high elven society, those who do follow the path of the Holy Light are much more approachable than most.[2] (WoWRPG 37)


High elves are proficient in archery, divine and arcane magic, as well as swordsmanship. They use guard towers for defense, and their armies take advantage of their natural strengths and typically serve supporting roles when working with other races. The high elves had a special affinity with dragonhawks before the Scourge attacked Quel'Thalas. The dragonhawks would often serve as flying mounts for the elves, but since the high elves abandoned their homeland, they have had to live without these creatures, who remain in the hands of the blood elves. There have been sights of high elves on certain lands on Azeroth with a new breed of Horses they call the Elven Horse. This creature has long pointy ears like their breeders and their mane extend from the horse's head all the way to it's tail. High elven arcane magic focuses on fire in regards of the sun and arcane magic as they are trained in arcane, and they shun and loathe those who practice demonic magic.


In World of Warcraft high elves have glowing blue eyes. Elves seen with green eyes are usually blood elves, who feed upon fel magic.

Magical addiction

All high elves, regardless of class, status or upbringing, are addicted to magic, and all have some small proficiency in it. Unlike blood elves who succumb to it, high elves actively fight their addiction and are required to meditate at least an hour every day to maintain personal control. The high elves are not proud of this addiction, and take pains to keep it a secret. Being close to Moon Wells will satiate the addiction, as will the use of certain magical items.

If a high elf resorts to feeding off something else to sate the addiction, then they cross the line from high elf to blood elf. Contrary to popular belief, magical addiction is not fatal in and of itself (the only elves who have actually died from withdrawal were either elderly, very young, or already ill). [8]

Some have found a way to block the symptoms of withdrawal by use of Sunwell Rings.


The past is a burden to the high elves, yet they maintain naming rituals that are millennia old. Many of the names of elven priests and heroes have become the names used for elves in modern times. The high elves share a connection with the sun that is quite prevalent in their choice of family names.[2] (WoWRPG 37)

  • Male Names: Mariel, Athaniar, Anandor, Tharama, Viridiel, Malanior.[2] (WoWRPG 37)
  • Female Names: Anarial, Freja, Driana, Coria, Alanassori, Melanion, Azshara.[2] (WoWRPG 37)
  • Family Names: Boughstrider, Dawnblade, Lightbringer, Morningray, Suntreader.[2] (WoWRPG 37)

High elven relations


The high elves of Theramore are perhaps the most isolated. Having left mostly before the destruction of Dalaran and Quel’Thalas, they have formed a significant community in the city. They spend a great deal of time hunting the few Undead forces in Kalimdor. Their exposure to the night elves has caused them to develop a great interest in Moon Wells, which they seek to find an alternative solution to their addiction. Even the presence of a hidden Moon Well 50 feet away is enough to replenish their mystical energies and makes meditation unnecessary.

Theramore high elves also have another interest in the continent. They have discussed privately the creation of their own realm on Kalimdor. The northern forests, full of moon wells and lush greenery are most attractive, but their control by the night elves is overly frustrating. High elven expeditions, claiming to be tracking undead, often search for suitable sites.

Wildhammer dwarves

With the Quel'Danil Lodge nearby the dwarven keep of Wildhammer of the Hinterlands, it can be assumed that the high elves have maintained their alliance with the gryphon riding dwarves since the Second war. Wildhammer share the high elves respect for the wilds and nature, and carry a long history of good relations and trust[4] (A&HC 14)[1] (LoC 99)[3] (APG 170).


The high elves have also upheld their initial alliance with the human nations since their call for aid in the Troll Wars and the Second war. High elves can even currently be seen occupying the human city of Stormwind.


Although physically disparate, gnomes share the elves' natural affinity to magic, and many gnomes and high elves used to work together in Dalaran before its fall.[citation needed]


High elves are often prejudiced towards half-elves, though this is starting to change as their presence is becoming more common.[3] (APG 132)

Night elves

High elves get along quite poorly with night elves due to their complicated and turbulent past. As the night elves hold disdain for the arcane using blood elves, so they hold disdain for their high elf cousins. This argument is questioned, though, by the fact that Tyrande had no problem whatsoever working with the blood elves and Kael'thas when she hunted Illidan in the Plaguelands. Kael'thas seemed to feel honoured by the night elves' presence. This one instance of smooth cooperation between the races might be an exception caused by each party's need for survival in the Plaguelands.

The years of conflict between the night elves and the high elves number so many that they make the Alliance and Horde conflict look like children arguing over a toy. When the high elves lost their immortality, they eventually forgot their brethren as generations lived and died, creating legends of histories. The night elves remembered the damage the Highborne brought to the world, and view their descendents as time bombs. When the high elves encountered the night elves, they realized the legends were true and began to resent the fact that the night elves had access to so much power that they refused to use — not to mention the whole matter of exile. Many plot to retake the magically imbued forests for themselves, regardless of the fact that both races belong to the Alliance.[2] (WoWRPG 12)

The creation of a Moonwell in Stormwind's Park District is likely to cause further tension between the two races, as night elves fervently guard them against approaching high elves.[citation needed]

Ironforge dwarves

High elves have an awkward and somewhat distrustful relationship with the Ironforge dwarves, but they do rely on each other in times of war, and have common ties to the Alliance. [citation needed]


Apart from the tauren, with whom the Highborne had had some ancient historical contact, high elves loathe the majority of the Horde's races, having fought against trolls, orcs, and undead in recent wars (though not the same trolls, orcs and undead that now make up the Horde). The recent entry of the blood elves into the Horde has likely made relations worse.

Blood elves

The path by which Prince Kael'thas has chosen to lead the avenging blood elves is one the high elves view with utter disgust and resentment. They strive for disassociation with the blood elves, such as by hiding their magical addictions and avoiding wearing red.[4] (A&HC 68.)

See Also

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