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One could argue that Tolkien's Orcs were the first Dark Elves, given that they used to be elves, and all other traits apply (except maybe for the clans).


As reported by some users in the comments of this question, even if in Tolkien's Legendarium there is not a whole race of typical fantasy "Dark Elves", there are some single individual characters with particular traits, and some places, that could have served as inspirations for the later archetype as popularized in example by the AD&D's Drow. Eöl: He ...


AD&D's Drow race also draws heavily on Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melibone series. Elric, along with some of the other characters from the Melibonean mythos, were featured in the original edition of the Deities & Demigods rulebook.


The first example of the "dark elves" as a distinct dark-skinned, subterranean, evil sub-race of elves may actually be their appearance in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Prior to that, "dark elf" was largely just used as a synonym for evil creatures characteristic of Nordic/Germanic folklore; there was no particular distinction between the Döckálfar (...


The origin of the dark elf / light elf trope can be traced back as far as the 13th century, where Dökkálfar (dark elves)and Ljósálfar (light elves) are mentioned in the Prose (or Young) Edda by Snorri Sturluson. Here, the Ljósálfar are described as "fairer than the sun to look at", while the Dökkálfar are "blacker than pitch". It is unclear whether the ...

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