Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
Making them LA +1 is an interesting idea, but it's not something that particularly appeals to me.

Another thing that's absolutely critical here is that elves should have something unique. Having everything an elf can do either be worthless or something everyone else can do -- the way the rules currently portray elves, in other words -- is just as bad as the obnoxious superiority they enjoy in the fluff.

Giving elves a free level of wizard casting in exchange for +1 LA doesn't really fit that bill IMHO.
Well, if you've got a better idea... Maybe something incarnum-related?
With my elf rewrite, I opened up their Keen Senses to everything hidden, not just secret doors. I also granted 'em boosts to the skills I'd mentioned, and I made it so that they're a race of low-grade spellcasters. I use slightly different spellcasting mechanics in my game, though, and their power level is somewhere around an apprentice's.

Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
Fluff-wise, I think the goal is for individual elves to vary. I don't really want to give them a 'hat' at all. That applies to otherworldliness as well -- elves aren't the exact same as humans, but they aren't always that different either.
Basically... each subrace isn't really a 'subrace' so much as it is an elf who picked a certain path over their years? So you could have a wild elf whose parents are a high elf and a grey elf, whose sister is an aquatic elf and brother is a jungle elf. Seems the simplest solution to me without homebrewing up an attempt at remaking the human wheel.