Last Updated: May 9, 2022
This guide is for the updated version of the Shadar-Kai published in Monsters of the Multiverse. For previous versions of the Shadar-Kai, see our Elf Handbook.
The philosophical opposite of eladrin, shadar-kai are elves who live in the Shadowfell. As suits their home plane, shadar-kai are typically somber.
The updated version of the Shadar-Kai published in Monsters of the Multiverse is very similar to the version in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. Fey Ancestry and Trance were both updated to the new versions, but their theme and defining traits weren’t changed conceptually.
Compared to the Eladrin, the Shadar-Kai trades the ability to change your teleportation’s rider effect for durability. This makes the Shadar-Kai more durable, though certainly less flashy.
Gift of the Raven Queen is notably not a spell, which means that it can’t be counterspelled, works for characters who have trouble casting spells like barbarians, and won’t prevent you from casting a leveled spell as an action.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.
The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
Artificers can’t cast Misty Step, so access to teleportation is very helpful. But artificers also tend to lean heavily on their Bonus Action, so any turn in which you use Blessing of the Raven Queen means giving up whatever you normally do with your Bonus Action (command your homunculus, etc.) for that turn. Trance also gets you an extra tool, which is great for artificers.
Teleportation is a huge asset for front-line martial characters like the Barbarian. Some barbarian subclasses use their Bonus Action every round while raging, but many don’t, so it’s easy to find a build that makes Gift of the Raven Queen easy to use without cutting into your normal activities. The damage resistance is partially redundant with Rage, but Give of the Raven Queen also covers other damage types, making it marginally safer to teleport into crowds.
Fey Ancestry’s provides Advantage on saves against common charm effects which can often take barbarians out of a fighter, and Perception is one of the Barbarian’s best skill options.
Bards don’t have Misty Step on their spell list, so access to teleportation is fantastic. Trance can get you a better weapon option if you need a weapon, but more likely you’ll use it to get proficiency in something like Thieves’ Tools. Bards shouldn’t teleport into a place where they need the Shadar-Kai’s damage resistance, so the Eladrin is typically a better fit.
Clerics don’t have access to short-range teleportation, and they have a lot of good spells with touch range. You won’t be able to use Spiritual Weapon the same turn that you teleport, but sometimes that’s a sacrifice that you need to make. Trance can get you a martial weapon if you insist on using them for some reason, and Perception is a great skill for the Cleric.
Druids don’t get access to short-range teleportation, but can often rely on Wild Shape to solve the same problems. Trance offers access to more weapons, but druids basically never use weapons, so you’ll probably use a tool instead. Perception is a great skill for the Druid.
For Circle of the Moon, the Shadar-Kai’s traits are very appealing since Gift of the Raven Queen works while using Wild Shape.
Most fighters don’t have a use for their Bonus Action every round, so Gift of the Raven Queen is easy to add to their collection of options which you can sometimes use your Bonus Action to activate. Fey Ancestry protects you from common charm effects which can often take the Fighter out of a fight, and free proficiency in Perception is always nice.
Monks lean heavily on their Bonus Action, and options like Step of the Wind make Gift of the Raven Queen’s short-range teleportation less useful. Charm effects are less threatening for the Monk than for most martial characters due to the Monk’s unusually high Wisdom, so Fey Ancestry isn’t huge. Trance offers access to a weapon, but since it won’t be a monk weapon you’ll want to pick a tool instead. That means that the most impactful things that the Eladrin brings to the Monk are proficiency in Perception and in one tool, and that’s just not enough.
Most paladins don’t get access to Misty Step, and paladins are generally locked into melee, so Gift of the Rave Queen is a huge asset. Between Fey Ancestry, immunity to fear, and Aura of Protection, paladins can generally afford to dump Wisdom. Of course, that makes Perception less useful, but on a MAD class like the Paladin that’s still a good trade.
Most rangers don’t get access to Misty Step, and the ones that do need to spend their limited number of spell slots to do so, so Gift of the Raven Queen is great for the Ranger. But rangers also tend to be less durable than other front-line martial characters, so for melee builds you might consider the Shadar-Kai as an alternative.
Trance can get you proficiency in a tool like Thieves’ Tools, and Perception is among the Ranger’s best skill choices.
You can typically rely on Cunning Action to safely move through melee, so Gift of the Raven Queen is really only useful for getting out of grapples. Trance gets you access to a tool or a weapon (whips are great), and free proficiency in Perception adds to the Rogue’s already excellent skill capabilities.
Sorcerers get access to Misty Step, but with such a limited number of spells known, Gift of the Raven Queen is a great replacement. Unfortunately, most sorcerers can’t do much with Trance or with proficiency in Perception. Eladrin is generally a better fit for the Sorcerer since sorcerers shouldn’t rely on the Shadar-Kai’s damage resistance to stay alive, but a shadar-kai sorcerer is still a fine build.
Warlocks get access to Misty Step, but with extremely limited spell slots, Gift of the Raven Queen is a great replacement. The damage resistance will generally only be useful for hexblades, so other warlocks should consider the Eladrin.
Unfortunately, most warlocks can’t do much with Trance or with proficiency in Perception.
The fact that Gift of the Raven Queen is a Bonus Action and not a spell means that you can use it in the same turn that you cast a leveled spell, which is huge for the Wizard. The damage resistance is only reliably useful for the bladesinger, so other wizards should consider the Eladrin. Trance and Perception aren’t great for the Wizard, unfortunately.