Heroes of the New Day
Originally the children of two worlds, Half-Elves have, by this point, somewhat solidified their existence in the hierarchy of the world. Also there’s the fact that there are so many of them. Numerically, Half-Elves are second only to Humans and Halflings in terms of continental population. A lot of this has to do with parental biology:
Elf or Eladrin or Drow + human = half-elf
Elf or Eladrin or Drow + half-orc = half-elf (though almost unheard of)
Elf or Eladrin or Drow or human + half-elf = half-elf
Half-elf + half-elf = half-elf
Half-elf + half-orc = half-elf (though likely a rather messed-up one)
There’s even a theory (though never proven) that if a dragon polymorphed into a human, then slept with an elf/eladrin/half-elf, the kid would be a half-elf. The numerical percentage of elvish blood has nothing to do with it… half-elfdom is just a stable genetic status that tends to come up, and half-elves seem to have inherited the humans’ ability to breed with just about anything. Sure, you may have a darker-skinned half-elf if one parent was a Drow, but statistically she’ll be the same.
Due to decreasing birthrates among elf & eladrin communities, half-elves have been pretty universally accepted as being a part of “The People” in elfland. Many humans look upon half-elves as being less ethereal/alien versions of elves. Add into that the half-elven penchant for Charisma, and they’re generally liked by most.
I don’t really like the Essentials version of the Half-Elf racial power, as it feels very random, letting you occasionally be a little bit better at a bunch of various things. So if you’d like, I’m totally open to allowing the Player’s Handbook version of the half-elf racial power, which lets you choose a 1st level at-will power from a different class and use it as an encounter power. I think that highlights a half-elf’s versatility much better (plus there are some later feats that support this version of the racial power).
Some half-elves, despite their apparent worldwide appeal, still feel caught between two worlds, but a part of neither. The doubt and self-esteem issues can be awful. Most cover this with some loud bravado, but deep down they don’t feel as pretty as the elves, nor as enduring as the humans. In an elven art gallery, the half-elf’s sculpture will always be “very good, for a half-elf” and never just “very good.” To try and counter this, many half-elves will go through a period of identifying more with one culture or the other, trying to “fit in” as an elf or a human.
There are a number of half-elven drug addicts out there, because something about half-elven biology means that beverages and substances that might otherwise have narcotic effects on humans-only or on elves-only somehow are extra potent with half-elves. While this has meant that their pallates are fairly open, allowing them to stomach (and enjoy) a wide variety of foods from many different cultures, it also means that they are much more prone to drug addiction and alcoholism. Just a trick of biology, really, but not one that half-elves like to make known. Combine this with a penchant for self-doubt, and you’ve got a race primed for some miserable existences.