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Author Topic: The Elf Revisited (D&D)  (Read 1777 times)

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Online HunterTopic starter

The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« on: September 09, 2005, 03:32:48 PM »
What do you mean that I'm 110 years old and I can't even do the same stuff as this 16 year old human?
The usual complaint about elves, and a reasonable one.  Here's an alternate viewpoint on the elf race that you may consider using.

Elves average 5 feet tall and typically weigh just over 100 pounds. They live on fruits and grains, though they occasionally hunt for fresh meat. Elves prefer colorful clothes, usually with a green-and-gray cloak that blends well with the colors of the forest.
Elves speak Elven, and most also know Common and Sylvan.
Most elves encountered outside their homes are warriors; the information presented here is for one of 1st level.
Elves are cautious warriors and take time to analyze their opponents and the location of the fight if at all possible, maximizing their advantage by using ambushes, snipers, and camouflage. They prefer to fire from cover and retreat before they are found, repeating this maneuver until all of their enemies are dead.
They prefer longbows, shortbows, rapiers, and longswords. In melee, elves are graceful and deadly, using complex maneuvers that are beautiful to observe. Their wizards often use sleep spells during combat because these won’t affect other elves.

Elf Traits (Ex): Elves possess the following racial traits.
— +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma.
—Medium size.
—An elf ’s base land speed is 30 feet.
—Immunity to sleep spells and effects, and a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells or effects.
(Not reflected in the saving throw modifiers given here.)
—Low-light vision.
—Weapon Proficiency: Elves are automatically proficient with the longsword, rapier, longbow, composite longbow, shortbow, and composite shortbow.
— +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. An elf who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if she were actively looking for it.
—Cultured: All Knowledge Skills are considered class skills due to the lengthy education and cultural training that an elf recieves over the course of his childhood.  In addition, the character gains 4 extra skill points at 1st level and 1 extra skill point at each additional level.
—Automatic Languages: Common, Elven. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Sylvan.
—Favored Class: Wizard.
—ECL +1.

Offline WarDragon

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2005, 12:18:21 AM »
Interesting.  Very interesting.  Moves a bit close to Tolkien's Elves than standard D&D's, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

My only huge beef is the +1 LA; while I see where you're coming from, that is rather taboo for a core race.  Putting the Con penalty back in would go a long way towards removing that.  Maybe give them some kind of very, very minor Cold Iron vulnerabilty, as well (+1 point of damage per attack, maybe?).

Would Half-Elves look any different when bred from this race?  What about the zillion-and-one Elven subraces?

Online HunterTopic starter

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2005, 12:51:51 AM »
That's probably because D&D elves were originally based on the Tolkien model.  *remembers when elves were immortal in AD&D*

The only reason that the +1 LA is even in there is for the sake of game balance.  Besides, do you really think that a race that has a life span of 700+ years is going to have a "weak" Constitution?  Of course not.  It's a silly thought.  Even Dwarves, which have a shorter life span have a Constitution BONUS.  (If anything, the Dwarves are the most unbalanced of the core races but that's another debate altogether.)

If you want an honest comparison, take the difference between a human and a dwarf then double it.  That's about the comparative age/skill difference between a human and an elf.  It's really hard, IMO to make elves too "strong" because of that.  But your basic half elf wouldn't change and any subraces would have similar adjustments compared to the high elf basic model.

After all, consider how much you could do if you spent your first hundred years or so of your life simply learning.  Saying nothing of what you'd have experienced and survived to get there.

Offline Vandren

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2005, 10:24:24 PM »
While I know nothing of the "newest" D&D mechanics . . .

That's probably because D&D elves were originally based on the Tolkien model.

Quite loosely.  :)  Mostly by abilities.  For appearance, they went the 18th/19th century route of quasi-cute short folk versus Tolkien and Celtic/Norse mythology's tall warrior-types (which are the archetypes for Tolkien's Elves, in fact, in Norse myth/legend, Dwarves are simply a subrace of Elves).

After all, consider how much you could do if you spent your first hundred years or so of your life simply learning.  Saying nothing of what you'd have experienced and survived to get there.

This is definitely one of the issues that TSR/WotC/Hasbro never really addressed.  Admittedly, with such a long lived race, the point of mental/physical maturity appears much later than with Humans.  But, that's roughly 100+ years of elementary/middle/high school plus apprenticeship.  Unfortunately, this is an issue that tends to be fudged in order to maintain game balance.  For instance, in GURPS, the starting "average" point limit is 100 for an 18+ year old Human.  An equivalent aged Elf ought to be roughly 400+ points based on lived experience.  So, starting Elves with 100 points would be the equivalent of the six year old Human in terms of maturity or would be the Elven equivalent of the village idiot.

In literary examples, remember that Legolas was considered to be little more than a child.  Yet, he was, with the exception of Gandalf, the oldest and most experienced member of the Fellowship.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2005, 10:26:48 PM by Vandren »

Offline Siegfried

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2005, 08:29:40 PM »
Elves are not the only ones who don't get taken seriously when age and experience come into play.  Most well known fantasy races are long lived.  And what about Highlander: the Immortal?  A human who can regenerate almost any wound, lives until his head is cut off and gains secondary special abilities by being immortal?  After 200+ years of pratice, I think their sword play would be insane.

Offline nick012000

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Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2005, 07:05:53 AM »
Maybe the stuff the elves spend 100 yeqars learning has little consequence game-term-wise? So the elven fighter knows of the zillion-and-one traditional fighting stances of his people, but in battle, the orc doesn't care much whether the elf is using the Kitharandara stance or the Siliantisan stance, but against another elf who know what he's doing, his choice of stance speaks words as far as their ettiquette goes.

Offline Ajoxer

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2005, 01:24:22 AM »
That would actually make a lot more sense- An elf, with those many years, may have a much more in depth idea of how his spellcasting works, or the speed of the sword, but he is not much better at it than the average orc fighter or Human Wizard, just more aware of what exactly it is they're using.

The problem with ECL is that it tends to be deadly for spellcasters- You end up a level behind everyone in spellcasting, but you've still got to get the same amount of Experience. * shrug.* Other people've already mentioned helpful fixes, though.

Online National Acrobat

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2005, 01:16:46 PM »
I simply use the racial age tables from the 1E DMG. It starts all the demi-human races at a much older age, thereby eliminating any sort of issues with their maturity level vs. human standards. I've used it in all my 3E games, and everyone seems to think it works very well.

Offline LordAnubis

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2005, 04:25:38 PM »
The other thing to take into account is the fact that elves are sterotypicly more aloof and whimsical then human's.  For the age part anyways.  Maybe they need the hundred years because they have a racial version of ADD when their younger and can't concentrate?  Or maybe their schooling is just so wide ranging that they need the time to teach everyone everything.  Or worse yet, if the elves have had the same number of generations as human's in recorded history maybe they need 60 years to get through the elven history class.  Imagine learning the history of 70 generations with a 600 year lifespan for each person.

I agree whole heartedly about the elves not having Con penalty, it doesn't make much sense for 700 years of life for a frail species.

You might further balance the character with a diplomatic penality, that they are so "cultured" that they are not well recieved by people they feel to be uncultured.  The "never trust an elf" you get from Tolkien.

And maybe a penality for arrogance, I think everyone's played with a REALLY uppity self important elf before, and looking at tolkien's books that often seems to be a pattern with them as opposed to the exception.


The thing to remember about over powered species, remember that the species power is based off of their combat utility.  Since the Dungeon and dragon campaigns are usually alot of combat, getting a +2 to working with stone or metal isn't much use without a good deal of creativity.  Most dwarves I've seen were fighters and that aspect never came up.  When you make races with the DMG it'll talk about soft bonuses and hard bonuses.  a -2 strength and a +2 charisma needs to be really balanced out with a bunch of abilities because of how much more useful strength is most classes and how limited Charisma is without having some suplimenting abilities or roles.  That is actually the reason Dwarves and Gnomes especially have big long lists of special abilities, because they are mostly soft abilities.

Online National Acrobat

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2005, 04:35:59 PM »
See, I would disagree about some of the abilities. A dwarf's +2 with metalworking comes in very hand for things such as Craft Arms and Armor, Craft Ring and Craft Wondrous Items. Nothing like gaining bonuses to checks that are made when aiding in the creating of magic items. Feats that people really don't take enough advantage of in my opinion.

Offline Jefepato

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2005, 04:42:46 PM »
When you make races with the DMG it'll talk about soft bonuses and hard bonuses.  a -2 strength and a +2 charisma needs to be really balanced out with a bunch of abilities because of how much more useful strength is most classes and how limited Charisma is without having some suplimenting abilities or roles.

Please note that outside of these two exceptions...
1) The gray elf in the Monster Manual, and
2) Forgotten Realms, land of "an elf for every class"
...all races with boosts to any of the three mental stats have a level adjustment.  Even if the race isn't really powerful at all (note the blue, in the Expanded Psionics Handbook).

Clearly WotC does not actually think that Strength is more important than Charisma.

Offline LordAnubis

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2005, 11:25:46 PM »
I agree with the under usage of the crafting of magical items, but you don't actually roll for the crafting, it's just a 1k gp of value every day of work.  If I'm mistaken someone tell me where I can see the truth in that cause I couldn't find anything about using the skill in crafting of magical items beyond just making the base item your enchanting.

And you forgot Gnomes in your exceptions.

The thing to look at though is the ability penalities anything with mental boosts have.  Most of the base classes have physical boosts because they make easier beginning characters.  I could be wrong, but find a race without only bonuses to intelligence and a level adjustment.

And if you can please do tell me so I can see if I'm wrong.  Every once in awhile it's good to be proven wrong, helps keep me from getting too arrogant.

Offline lookatme

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2005, 11:52:26 PM »
Here's my opinion on the constitution issue- While elves have extraordinarily long lives compared to other races, they're still a rather slight and somewhat small race. Taking their long lives into consideration they shouldn't have a straight constitution penalty, as this would affect fortitude save rolls which they shouldn't be penalized on. You'd think if they can resist spells they can handle posion or disease... But rather it seems they should have a HP penalty. Perhaps -1 on HD rolls, or even just a maximum constitution bonus of 2 or 3. Just my opinion, but it seems that with them being smaller and more lightly built their bodies just wouldn't be able to take as much of a physical beating.

Offline ZK

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2005, 12:15:02 AM »
Just give elven women bigger breasts and the world is all fine. ^_^

Offline BlackBox

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2006, 03:23:46 PM »
It would certainly be a plausible explaination to the "spending 100 years learning because of bad concentration" part for the males :P

Online HunterTopic starter

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2006, 03:19:31 PM »
If you really want to stick to the slim and slender viewpoint, change the constitution penalty to a strength penalty.

Offline WarDragon

Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2006, 12:03:14 AM »
Just thought of something; why not change their favored class to Sorcerer?  It seems more in tune with their carefree, Chaotic nature (not to mention the Charisma boost).

Offline robitusinz

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Re: The Elf Revisited (D&D)
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2006, 05:05:44 PM »
The issue with Elves, Dwarves, any other demi-human race, Vampires (whether Anne Rice, White Wolf, or any other source), Immortals, and all other RPG "races" is that no human player (which is all of us) can accurately portray what it's like to be long lifed or immortal.

Think about it.  The whole concept of immortality is completely alien to us.  Our chronicled history is barely 2000 years old!  Consider that some of us have grandparents who are in their 80s and 90s, or had said grandparents, and look at how completely distorted the real world is to them.  My own grandmother doesn't speak English, doesn't drive, and has no idea how to even turn ON a computer.  I doubt that there are many 80 year olds on the internet.  I doubt that there are many 90 year olds into Magic the Gathering.

How is it possible, that in our limited scope of life, we are able to portray these incredibly long-lived beings accurately?  Do you sincerely think that if you lived for 400 years, you would even bother with war?  When your lifespan is that long, or even immortal, what then constitutes a significant portion of your time?  In today's world, if you can't get something done overnight, you're bitching.  At my job, I have month-long deadlines, and even those are "relaxed".  Presidential Summits are about 3 days long, and all the negotiation has to get done in that time.  Think about ultimatums...hell, the war in Iraq is a good example.  If everyone lived for 400 years, don't you think that there'd be plenty of time to discuss things?

The problem with Elves isn't's the fact that no one knows how to play one, and no one will ever use logic in playing one.  If you have a 400 year lifespan, and some human comes and attacks your village, you're not about to go out there, bow slingining and sword swinging.  No...the logical thought is, "'s a human.  Let's go to the neighboring forest for about 80 years, and come back when he's dead."  Especially when you consider that in these shitty fantasy realms, there's BILLIONS of acres of uncharted/unclaimed/unused land.

Bottom line is, if you want to "fix" stats for Elves, it's simple:  Elves have the same lifespan Humans do.  Case closed.  You give them +2 Dex, -2 Con, so that they're basically just another option to min-max whatever stats you need, then throw in some abilities and shit just to pretend their special.  Done.