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View Full Version : What do Elves do before 1st level?



Morghen
2012-05-20, 12:42 AM
Not kidding.

They hit 100+ years of life before they go adventuring, and they've developed NO skills in all that time?

How do you folks fluff that?

Rorrik
2012-05-20, 12:50 AM
Elves lack all ambition and spend their first century learning speech, being potty trained, and otherwise repeating their years in elementary school ad nausium.

At least that's my take. Others might say they are being trained culturally, communing with nature, or ... singing?

Okay, you got me, unless you adhere to my belief that elves are lame sauce, there is absolutely no reason they shouldn't have a lot of bonus practical skills like craft, knowledge, and perform.

Jeraa
2012-05-20, 01:00 AM
How do you folks fluff that?

I don't. Its stupid. Elves in my games have starting ages of 20 years, slightly longer then humans.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-05-20, 01:36 AM
I don't. Its stupid. Elves in my games have starting ages of 20 years, slightly longer then humans.

This. Plus, the idea of a species that's dependent for 100 years just doesn't make any sense. Honestly, I think it's because whoever came up with that idea for elven lifespans thought "Well, I'll just take the human life cycle and scale all of its parts uniformly! What could possibly go wrong?" without thinking through the actual consequences.

Morghen
2012-05-20, 01:59 AM
I don't. Its stupid. Elves in my games have starting ages of 20 years, slightly longer then humans.This sounds like a pretty good idea. Unrelated: Why do Humans get a bump to Intelligence and Wisdom after 50 years of life but Elves have to live to 400 or whatever to get the same bump?


Of course they develop skills, they don't wake up one morning with all of their skills instantly developed, they learn them over a lifespan.So a human who starts with skills X, Y, and Z at 1st learned those skills over 10 years, but an Elf who starts with the exact same skills at the exact same level took 90 years to learn them. Got it.


Wait. No, I don't. That makes no sense.

ChaosLord29
2012-05-20, 02:09 AM
I don't think it's that Elves don't learn anything in that first 100 years are so, so much that it takes elves that long to find their calling. Even in this era with all are advanced education their are plenty of people who are backed into a corner career wise, and that's with 12 years of school and 4-8 years of college of secondary education on top of it.

Think about it, if you had a 100 years to live before you were considered and 'adult' wouldn't you spend it learning and trying everything you could until you found your calling?

Most of the elf traits in the Elves of Golarion companion book are based on just that. They give you advantages based on your previous 'callings' before now.

So you can basically say that Elves spend all that time learning, unlearing and relearning the skills they enjoy/like/show talent in before becoming adventurers or NPCs.

Jeraa
2012-05-20, 02:12 AM
This sounds like a pretty good idea. Unrelated: Why do Humans get a bump to Intelligence and Wisdom after 50 years of life but Elves have to live to 400 or whatever to get the same bump?


I remove that as well. No aging penalties or bonuses at all. Old people are supposed to become senile, and have a hard time hearing/seeing. They actually get better vision and hearing in D&D (as Spot and Listen are Wisdom based). Sure the elderly lose some of their strength, and can't move very well. But this is D&D. No reason the elderly can't be just as fit as they were in their youth.

(Also, the aging effects unfairly penalize non-casters. Its a total of -6 to physical scores, and a +3 bonus on mental scores. Melee characters get almost no benefit from the increased mental scores, but the penalty to physical scores hurts. Meanwhile, casters [probably] don't care about the physical penalty, but the mental bonus improves their casting.)

Mnemnosyne
2012-05-20, 02:49 AM
This. Plus, the idea of a species that's dependent for 100 years just doesn't make any sense. Honestly, I think it's because whoever came up with that idea for elven lifespans thought "Well, I'll just take the human life cycle and scale all of its parts uniformly! What could possibly go wrong?" without thinking through the actual consequences.
A large part of this has, I think, been misinterpretation. At least as far back as I've been involved with D&D, if you look at some of the supplemental materials, elves don't spend a century being children. But since 'minimum age' always said 100+, many people for some reason imagined a hundred years of growing from a toddler through puberty.

The minimum age given for them has always indicated a cultural transition to adulthood, and not a physical one - much like we humans are generally physically mostly adult between 14-18, while most modern societies restrict full 'adulthood' from us until 18-21.

This is unequivocally cleared up in Races of the Wild, page 13, where there's a sidebar talking about elves and adulthood - physically they grow a little slower than humans, but not a great deal.

I do, however, think that with the way D&D's skill system is set up, it presents something of an odd situation in that they were probably doing something over those hundred plus years, and yet have no additional skill points to account for it. I've sometimes considered creating a houserule to give elves and other long-lived races a boatload of extra skill points that can only be spent in Craft and Profession skills, to reflect the many mundane things they learned during their youth.

I should also note that most elf characters I play, I simply start out in their 20's or 30's in order to avoid that very issue.

Shadowknight12
2012-05-20, 03:57 AM
They take things slowly. Very slowly. Very, very, very, very slowly. Why would they rush? It's not like they're going to get old any time soon.

Sure, they learn skills over those 100 years, they just don't hurry. Ever. They take their sweet time to master in a century what a human would master in a decade, because humans (to elves) are frantic bees buzzing about to and fro, never stopping for a moment and scrambling in anxiety every moment of their lives.

An elf takes time for everything. All the things we're "too busy" to do, an elf has time for that. Taking a couple of hours to groom oneself and get dressed is perfectly normal, and eating slowly to enjoy every bite of a meal is expected and commonplace. Why fill our days with activity when we can devote a single day to something and enjoy it/do it properly?

That leaves an elf with very little time during the day to practise a skill. But who cares? They have such a long lifespan that taking several years to master a skill is of no concern.

As for the time it takes an elf to get a mental bonus due to age categories, I rationalise it as a mixture of the same slowness I mentioned and the fact that an elf isn't in any hurry to throw themselves into situations that will give them the wisdom of old age. An old person isn't wise because they're old, they're wise because of all the things they've done and seen in those years. Take two people in their seventies. The old man who's never left his cabin in the woods, interacted with people, read books or done anything to stimulate his mind will never be as wise as the man who's travelled the world and crammed those decades with experiences. Combine that with an elf's tendency to take things slow and you'll realise why it takes them so long to be considered "wise elders."

TheOOB
2012-05-20, 04:21 AM
By human standards, elf society would be very stagnant. It wouldn't be unusual for an elf to say, meditate in front of a tree for a few months, just seeking some sort of enlightenment. The fact is, in all probability, they will die of unnatural causes long before they have a chance of getting close to dieing on old age(the longer you live, the greater chance you have of dieing from accident, disease, or misadventure rather than old age). Why rush twords it, especially when, with a low Con, going out and doing things might get you killed.

For the record, I usually play it that elves are physical mature long before they mentally mature. I usually say they have the body of a teenager around 30, and stop growing all together around 50-60, but elven society want them leaving home until around 100. Since they have low birth-rates, they live very sheltered lives until then, the elders making darn good and sure they are prepared before venturing out.

An elf who grows up in human lands may start adventuring as early as age 40, though they would be at a physical disadvantage.

Tenno Seremel
2012-05-20, 04:34 AM
They are married to tree spirits and can only leave after 100 years. That's why forests are important some of those trees contain elf spirits :smallsmile:

SgtCarnage92
2012-05-20, 04:44 AM
I've always imagined those first 100 years or so in youthful abandon. The elves are a long-sighted race as they don't think of things in terms of years but in decades and centuries. We look at the 100 or so years to "mature" but an elf might just consider a human society a group of adolescents that are forced to do "adult" work. While an elf is physically mature at 20 or so as most of the fluff says, they give them a human lifetime to get all of their reckless abandon out of the way before they finally settle down and find their calling because elves can get away with doing so, it takes time to develop the infamous elven patience. In times of need young elves (those just out of their teenage years) are often trained as soldiers to defend elven lands. Imagine a century worth of having the body of a 20 year old, wouldn't you do everything in your power to take advantage of that? Humans are forced to learn skills quickly because we have a relatively short lifespan. Elves value freedom to such a degree that it creates an atmosphere that doesn't pressure them to find a calling or whatnot. Young elves may try a few things here and there but their interests are flighty at best. I see the point about having additional skill points at start because of their extended lifespans and i may integrate it into my future games.

Omegonthesane
2012-05-20, 05:22 AM
I would be inclined to extrapolate from the slow growth that elves are slow to develop and learn, possibly because of Shadowknight's suggestion of them taking time to savour everything, possibly because they simply cannot process anything they are trying to learn as fast as a human can. I would be inclined to take the "elves need 400+ years to get an aging bonus" as a result of elves being passionate, arrogant, and slow to change, and thus not only slow to learn from their mistakes but quick to become defensive if anyone points out they made a mistake.

That's my take. It probably doesn't line up with a lot of D&D fluff though.

Worgwood
2012-05-20, 05:27 AM
I generally assume that an elf takes about 30-40 years to reach full physical maturity, but is only really considered a contributing, "adult" member of society when he hits 100 or so. Until then, society doesn't have particularly high expectations of them so they're not compelled to do anything that interests them, and most just kind of use it as an extended gap year.

When they hit 100, that's when they need to pick up a trade. They can learn it as quickly as a human can, but I imagine their training would be slow, patient and repetitive. For instance, elven warriors spend might a year learning a single strike with their sword and no other so that when the time comes for real battle, it will be perfect every time. A human doesn't have the lifespan for that sort of process. I also imagine they have a lot more downtime than humans because they are much longer-lived, which gives them the appearance of learning more slowly, though in reality they just have a lot more leisure time.

Solaris
2012-05-20, 07:16 AM
They spend seventy-five years as a teenager, doing what teenagers do. You either remember (or will discover, if still one of them) how useless teenagers are - especially in an advanced, stable culture. Perhaps their brains simply develop differently than a human's, and they really can't pick up advanced skills until the hundred year mark. They're not helpless children before that, but they're still not... skilled. Perhaps they simply don't need to develop that quickly, and so they don't.
A'course, there's nothing wrong with an elven prodigy or one who was raised outside of a safe environment and thus forced to develop faster (much like a human child in a certain environment will mentally mature faster than one in a safe, stable environment).

Ravens_cry
2012-05-20, 07:47 AM
It's as much cultural as biological.
Before a certain age, elves are not allowed to learn certain skills and must put aside the 'children's skills' they learned earlier once they reach of age.

Altair_the_Vexed
2012-05-20, 07:49 AM
Me, I lower the starting age to just 50 (+ the RAW random factors).

That still leaves elves with over half a human life time - in which they've gained only their 1st level skills...

So to address this lag, I take a cue from nature: elven childhood is very long, to let them fully develop.

Some context: we humans have the longest childhood of all creatures, because we have to be born with under-developed brains, because our heads are too small to contain all that adult cognitive power. Kids spend years just learning to use their bodies, let alone learning skills.

Why do we need this long childhood? Why aren't we, like deer or horses, for example, born already able to walk?
We're born with the biggest head that can possibly fit through the birth canal, and it still takes us years to grow a full sized, fully operational brain.

So, back to elves: Elves have a slender body shape. The birth canal is narrower than in humans. An elf child is born much smaller and even more helpless than a human infant. Their development takes longer.
(I'm no paediatrician, so I won't guess at putting numbers on those developmental stages.)
Elves, of course, have a higher average intelligence - which takes longer to develop.

So that's why a 60 year old elf is just about as capable as a 16 year old human.

Solaris
2012-05-20, 07:54 AM
So, back to elves: Elves have a slender body shape. The birth canal is narrower than in humans. An elf child is born much smaller and even more helpless than a human infant. Their development takes longer.

The elven body shape is still well within the possible parameters for a human. Admittedly, not a D&D human (going by the vital statistics, though there is some overlap), but certainly for a real-world human.

Ravens_cry
2012-05-20, 08:24 AM
Again, culture and biology.The age at which a person physically matures , at least to the point of being capable of reproduction, is potentially markedly different than the age of majority.
It might take 'only' 20-40 years for an elf to reach physical development, but culturally, it takes quite a bit longer before one is considered an fully fledged member of society.

Altair_the_Vexed
2012-05-20, 09:05 AM
The elven body shape is still well within the possible parameters for a human. Admittedly, not a D&D human (going by the vital statistics, though there is some overlap), but certainly for a real-world human.
Hmm. I don't see any mention of the birth canal diameter in the vital stats in my book. Have you been playing FATAL? :smallwink:

prufock
2012-05-20, 09:08 AM
You're comparing elves (and other long-lived races) to humans, which I believe is a mistake. You could as easily ask why humans take 15 years to mature instead of one year. The physical and mental development of each race works differently, as I imagine it.

Elves, for example, perceive time as less meaningful because of their long lives, and simply take longer to develop physically. For one thing, maybe it takes them 10 years to grow beyond infancy. As elves progress, they may learn more slowly than humans, but it may also be that they don't have the urgency of humans. It's okay to spend a whole day admiring and considering a beautiful piece of art. It's fine to spend a year crafting a single weapon to make it perfect. They may have philosophical discussions that last for weeks, they might relax over a cup of elven iced tea for a whole day, they may chart the entire root and branch network of a tree as recreation, and so on.

To a human, this might seem to make elves slow learners, but the elves look at humans as missing out on the detail and deeper meaning. Humans with their hasty lives must, by necessity, ignore much of what the world has to offer in order to do anything meaningful in their short years. Elves are not so restricted.

So then, elves that become adventurers are the anomaly. They pick up causes that other elves see as fleeting; they have an un-elven sense of urgency.

Mastikator
2012-05-20, 09:11 AM
I don't. Its stupid. Elves in my games have starting ages of 20 years, slightly longer then humans.

I also concur with this. Aging and growing up are two separate processes. Elves may grow up only slightly slower, but they age incredibly slowly.

TechnoScrabble
2012-05-20, 09:14 AM
Simple:

They're afraid of the dwarves.

And why do the dwarves take so long to come of age?

They have to fight their way through a hell pit with nothing but their fists and a dead carp before they're considered adults.

hamishspence
2012-05-20, 09:14 AM
If drow are physiologically similar to their elven cousins, Elaine Cunningham's Liriel Baenre stories might be informative. In the short story The Blooding it discusses drow aging- and the period between late childhood and early puberty is 15-25 years old.

It's during this period that Drow have to hunt and kill a dangerous creature alone as a rite of passage.

Rallicus
2012-05-20, 09:18 AM
Elves lack all ambition and spend their first century learning speech, being potty trained,


The thought of a 30-40 year elf trying to learn how to use an outhouse frightens me.

But yeah, it doesn't really make sense with D&D mechanics.

Cerlis
2012-05-20, 09:33 AM
A large part of this has, I think, been misinterpretation. At least as far back as I've been involved with D&D, if you look at some of the supplemental materials, elves don't spend a century being children. But since 'minimum age' always said 100+, many people for some reason imagined a hundred years of growing from a toddler through puberty.

The minimum age given for them has always indicated a cultural transition to adulthood, and not a physical one - much like we humans are generally physically mostly adult between 14-18, while most modern societies restrict full 'adulthood' from us until 18-21.

This is unequivocally cleared up in Races of the Wild, page 13, where there's a sidebar talking about elves and adulthood - physically they grow a little slower than humans, but not a great deal.

I do, however, think that with the way D&D's skill system is set up, it presents something of an odd situation in that they were probably doing something over those hundred plus years, and yet have no additional skill points to account for it. I've sometimes considered creating a houserule to give elves and other long-lived races a boatload of extra skill points that can only be spent in Craft and Profession skills, to reflect the many mundane things they learned during their youth.

I should also note that most elf characters I play, I simply start out in their 20's or 30's in order to avoid that very issue.

This is the base of it.

I find evidence (maybe not good one mind you as i barely remember it) but whenever i (rarely) went through encounter tables and premade adventures, low lvl human encounters involved lvl 1s- 3s, while with elven hunters and soldiers where always level 5 or 6. I dont think the original post takes into account that an elven propulation minimum level is probably higher than a human one.

If you went 60 years as a human commoner you might reach lvl 4 by the time you die. Adventuring classes are alot more stressful and involve more information. Yes it might take a bit longer for me to learn how to harness arcane magic, or be comfortable in almost every armor and wield so many weapons without killing myself, than to learn how to exist (which is basically all a commoner does)

Aidan305
2012-05-20, 10:23 AM
I generally have it so that elves have a rather peculiar form of ADD. They've spent those years mastering dozens of professions, but once they reached what they consider to be the pinnacle, they put it aside, and never touch it again, moving on to try something new.

Crasical
2012-05-20, 10:26 AM
Elves spend the first hundred years of their life qualifying for Breadth of Experience (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/breadth-of-experience).

Threeshades
2012-05-20, 10:28 AM
Young template (PFRPG) and 1 level in an NPC class which on maturity will be replaced with a PC class level. Commoner for becoming arcane and most divine casters, expert for skill-monkey classes, adept for clerics, warrior for fighty types.

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-20, 10:32 AM
In my world...

- Elves are basically as mature at age 25 as a 15-year-old human.
- Between the ages of 25 and 100, an elf is expected to be raising a family. They are, themselves, supported by grandparents and great-grandparents. Elven parents basically don't have a job, or rather, their job is their kids, thus explaining their lack of other skills. Time spent not raising kids in these years is basically spent slacking off.
- However, 100 years is a long time, so elves in my world get a +2 racial bonus on all Knowledge checks.
- On reaching 100 and having raised a few kids, they're now considered full adults and can do whatever they want with their lives, including going out and dying in a dungeon somewhere if they really want.

Basically elves have a completely different societal structure from humans. With humans, it's "Childhood/Adolescence -> Adult, where you either have kids/get a job OR run off an adventure -> Middle age, where your kids are adults now but you still need a job of your own -> Old age, where you retire."

For elves, it's "Childhood/Adolescence -> Raise kids and slack off as a sort of extended adolesence -> Adult, where you get some other job(s) as the mood strikes you -> Middle/old age, where you look after elves who are between 25-100 years old who are looking after their kids."

Elves in my world can go off and adventure at earlier than age 100 if they like, but their racial bonus to Knowledge checks is reduced to +1 if they're between 51-100, and they lose it entirely if they're between 25-50. They also face a severe social stigma from other elves, as they're basically seen as children needlessly risking their lives and, more heinously, not raising younger elves.

Rorrik
2012-05-20, 10:51 AM
They take things slowly. Very slowly. Very, very, very, very slowly. Why would they rush? It's not like they're going to get old any time soon.

Sure, they learn skills over those 100 years, they just don't hurry. Ever. They take their sweet time to master in a century what a human would master in a decade, because humans (to elves) are frantic bees buzzing about to and fro, never stopping for a moment and scrambling in anxiety every moment of their lives.

An elf takes time for everything. All the things we're "too busy" to do, an elf has time for that. Taking a couple of hours to groom oneself and get dressed is perfectly normal, and eating slowly to enjoy every bite of a meal is expected and commonplace. Why fill our days with activity when we can devote a single day to something and enjoy it/do it properly?

That leaves an elf with very little time during the day to practise a skill. But who cares? They have such a long lifespan that taking several years to master a skill is of no concern.

As for the time it takes an elf to get a mental bonus due to age categories, I rationalise it as a mixture of the same slowness I mentioned and the fact that an elf isn't in any hurry to throw themselves into situations that will give them the wisdom of old age. An old person isn't wise because they're old, they're wise because of all the things they've done and seen in those years. Take two people in their seventies. The old man who's never left his cabin in the woods, interacted with people, read books or done anything to stimulate his mind will never be as wise as the man who's travelled the world and crammed those decades with experiences. Combine that with an elf's tendency to take things slow and you'll realise why it takes them so long to be considered "wise elders."

Well said, but even in this case, those are not elven attributes that tend to get roleplayed once they become adventurers. As adventurers they suddenly become very human and one would expect them to gain wisdom at the same rate as the others.

EDIT: The previous post is also an intriguing explanation, why shouldn't their society be completely rearranged rather than simply a stretched for of our own.

Analytica
2012-05-20, 11:02 AM
In my world...

- Elves are basically as mature at age 25 as a 15-year-old human.
- Between the ages of 25 and 100, an elf is expected to be raising a family. They are, themselves, supported by grandparents and great-grandparents. Elven parents basically don't have a job, or rather, their job is their kids, thus explaining their lack of other skills. Time spent not raising kids in these years is basically spent slacking off.
- However, 100 years is a long time, so elves in my world get a +2 racial bonus on all Knowledge checks.
- On reaching 100 and having raised a few kids, they're not considered full adults and can do whatever they want with their lives, including going out and dying in a dungeon somewhere if they really want.

Basically elves have a completely different societal structure from humans. With humans, it's "Childhood/Adolescence -> Adult, where you either have kids/get a job OR run off an adventure -> Middle age, where your kids are adults now but you still need a job of your own -> Old age, where you retire."

For elves, it's "Childhood/Adolescence -> Raise kids and slack off as a sort of extended adolesence -> Adult, where you get some other job(s) as the mood strikes you -> Middle/old age, where you look after elves who are between 25-100 years old who are looking after their kids."

Elves in my world can go off and adventure at earlier than age 100 if they like, but their racial bonus to Knowledge checks is reduced to +1 if they're between 51-100, and they lose it entirely if they're between 25-50. They also face a severe social stigma from other elves, as they're basically seen as children needlessly risking their lives and, more heinously, not raising younger elves.

I think this is a very elegant solution. :smallsmile:

For myself, I tend to go in another direction (which does go into houserule territory): there are no 1st-level adult elves as such. If the bulk of the human population is 1st-5th level, the bulk of the elven population (which is also proportionally much smaller) is 5th-10th level. These are generally highly unfavourable multiclasses, maybe including NPC class levels, but still. This would mean you can't play an elf as a first level character unless you are, in fact, playing an elven child.

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-20, 11:24 AM
EDIT: The previous post is also an intriguing explanation, why shouldn't their society be completely rearranged rather than simply a stretched for of our own.

This. This is key. A large part of our society is based on the idea that an entire generation dies every 40 years or so. Further, a lot of humans have a grandparent or two still alive by the time they hit 20, but great-grandparents are rare, and great-great grandparents are almost unheard of.

Elves, on the other hand, can reasonably expect to mee their great-great-great-great grandparents, and it takes centuries for an entire generation to die out. Their society should not resemble a human one, because despite appearances and ability to crossbreed, they are not human. They will not think like humans and they will not act like humans.

Shadowknight12
2012-05-20, 12:38 PM
Well said, but even in this case, those are not elven attributes that tend to get roleplayed once they become adventurers. As adventurers they suddenly become very human and one would expect them to gain wisdom at the same rate as the others.

Why? Elves don't sleep, so they don't have the luxury of doing all the mental processing and rearranging of traumatic events in their sleep. In half the time humans spend sleeping, an elf spends meditating/thinking; and active, conscious thinking is far less efficient than what your subconscious does. Take that and an elf's natural tendency to take things slow and you have an elf taking months to process something a human gets through in a couple of days.

The way I see it, an elf spends week after week processing and overcoming the weight of that one time where he missed a step, plunged into a pit trap and BARELY caught himself on the ledge, narrowly avoiding a horrible death; while a human is over it in a couple of days.

A human can mentally process and learn from things a lot faster than an elf, who will probably end up leaving an adventure with a lot of things to sift through and examine in the following years. And if they go back to their elven life? Well, life just got a hell of a lot slower again, which means more and more dilation between the wisdom-giving events and the wisdom-acquiring itself.

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-20, 01:02 PM
A human can mentally process and learn from things a lot faster than an elf, who will probably end up leaving an adventure with a lot of things to sift through and examine in the following years. And if they go back to their elven life? Well, life just got a hell of a lot slower again, which means more and more dilation between the wisdom-giving events and the wisdom-acquiring itself.

The problem is that this isn't translated into the rules as soon as elves hit 1st level. A 1st-level human wizard and a 1st-level elf wizard take essentially the same amount of experience and learning to get to 2nd level, and 3rd, and so on. Elves don't require extra time between adventures to level up as compared to humans, for example.

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-05-20, 01:07 PM
It's really quite simple. Elves are perfectionists, and the 3e rules bear out the aging discrepancies.

In 3e, anything you can do is a skill or ability check. "Notice something large in plain sight" is a DC 0 Spot check, for instance--a check that cannot be failed by anyone with at least 10 Wis and no distractions, even if they're untrained, but a skill check nonetheless. Most of the time, you can ignore those checks, because they're impossible to fail, so humans and halflings and dwarves and all the rest simply take 10 on them. However, elves cannot abide doing anything less than perfectly, so they take 20 on every single check, which takes 20 times as long as making the check normally.

Every. Single. Check. Walking? DC 0 Balance check. Talking? DC 0 Diplomacy check. Eating? DC 0 Dex check. Using the bathroom? Er, you get the idea. That's why everyone sees elves as being the most beautiful, most awesome, etc. beings out there. Eating a sandwich will take them an hour where it would take a human 3 minutes, but by Corellon it'll be the most-gracefully-eaten sandwich you ever did see!

Now, this only applies when actually taking actions, so while elves trance they're taking no actions and therefore acting at "normal" speed. As well, it's very impolite to interrupt others while they're being awesome, and elves are very fair and equal-minded people, so they spend half their time being awesome at things and half their time patiently watching other elves be awesome at things. So for 1/6 of any given day they're trancing, and for 3/6 of any given day they're not taking any actions, and for the remaining 2/6 of any given day they're taking normal actions but taking 20 times as long to do them. (15 years to reach adulthood * 2/6 of the time taking actions * 20 "take 20" penalty) + (15 years to reach adulthood * 4/6 of the time not taking actions * 1 normal time) = 110 years on the dot.

When an elf leaves home, of course, he realizes that the terribly uncouth and uncultured non-elves don't tolerate such a thing or appreciate his awesomeness, so he has to get by with taking 10 on everything, and essentially starts living life on a human scale. This explains why non-adventuring elves are the mythically beautiful and graceful and awesome elves of legends, while adventuring elves are much more down-to-earth and seem a lot more like humans with pointy ears. The only chance they have to really indulge themselves is while they're out on an adventure--elves trance for 4 hours while his companions sleep for 8, so an elf has 4 hours per day to be the elfiest elf he can possibly be while no non-elves are there to watch and judge him.

According to the DMG, we can assume that there is a 10% chance of having a wandering monster/random encounter per hour. This means that there is a (1 - .9^4) chance that a random encounter happens while an elf is being elfy during the 4 hours he has to himself, or a 30% chance rounding to one significant figure. So he has roughly a 70% chance to be elfy for 1/6 of the day without interruption (sometimes much less, sometimes much more, depending on when he's interrupted, but we can assume it balances out), meaning he acts elfy roughly 1/8.5 of the time. Thus, while humans take 20 years to get from adulthood to middle age, elves take (20 years to reach middle age * 1/8.5 of the time taking elfy actions * 20 "take 20" penalty) + (20 years to reach adulthood * 7.5/8.5 of the time taking human-y actions * 1 normal time) = ~65 years to do so, which puts them at middle age at ~175 years, exactly what it says on the chart.
Conclusion: Given 3e RAW, elves must age at the given rates. So there. :smallcool: Yes, I put way too much thought into this. I was very bored.

Mr.Moron
2012-05-20, 01:20 PM
It doesn't make sense because the concept of an elf (and everything else that lives a bazillion years) is silly. Anything that lives in a way roughly analogous to how a human does, but for 500+ years just isn't going to hold up to any kind of scrutiny. Just handwave it and move on.

Shadowknight12
2012-05-20, 01:26 PM
The problem is that this isn't translated into the rules as soon as elves hit 1st level. A 1st-level human wizard and a 1st-level elf wizard take essentially the same amount of experience and learning to get to 2nd level, and 3rd, and so on. Elves don't require extra time between adventures to level up as compared to humans, for example.

XP =/= old age wisdom. XP is a measure of the things you've had to learn to survive and grow powerful. A child who gets thrust into a jungle does not need to understand what he's doing in order to grow strong and ruthless. That doesn't necessarily translate into a greater insight on life and existence.

Only when you had time to mentally process all the things you've experienced (which, btw, have nothing to do with adventuring, as commoners become wise elders too, just not as worldly as adventurers), that you gain insight into the world and are able to dispense it as an elder.

Palegreenpants
2012-05-20, 01:35 PM
Quoting the Forgotten Realms Wiki:

Elves mature at roughly the same rate as humans, though they are not usually considered past adolescence until they reach 110 years of age.

This is what I generally accept and teach to my players.
If anyone has read forgotten realms literature, you will know that most species of Elves spend their first century learning about their culture and their interests. For example, the drow of Faerun send their young to academies for many years before they are a true part of society. This may differ in some Elvish societies. I have always assumed, that since the Elves spend so much time honing their skills, that they go about things such as combat with a masterful understanding of the skill. Elves, IMO, do not learn more slowly than other races, they just take the time to achieve perfection in what they learn

Kelb_Panthera
2012-05-20, 01:40 PM
It's really quite simple. Elves are perfectionists, and the 3e rules bear out the aging discrepancies.
(clipped)
Conclusion: Given 3e RAW, elves must age at the given rates. So there. :smallcool: Yes, I put way too much thought into this. I was very bored.


This may be the most awsome use of logic & mathematics I have seen all year.

hobbitkniver
2012-05-20, 01:44 PM
I don't. Its stupid. Elves in my games have starting ages of 20 years, slightly longer then humans.

Yeah, I do that too. Generaly, I just ignore the whole "ages" thing because I find it adds very little in terms of fun.

Rorrik
2012-05-20, 01:52 PM
If anyone has read forgotten realms literature, you will know that most species of Elves spend their first century learning about their culture and their interests. For example, the drow of Faerun send their young to academies for many years before they are a true part of society. This may differ in some Elvish societies. I have always assumed, that since the Elves spend so much time honing their skills, that they go about things such as combat with a masterful understanding of the skill. Elves, IMO, do not learn more slowly than other races, they just take the time to achieve perfection in what they learn

If we look at it this way, then an elf at level 1 should at least come with ranks in knowledge to account for his cultural studies, ranks in craft if that is what he pursued, if not then perhaps athletics, or a feat to account for a "masterful understanding" of combat skill.

The point is that if we assume they haven't wasted all that time, they should get some in game compensation for it in the form of a few additional skills and perhaps a feat. That is how achieving perfections is reflected in the mechanics, if they don't get the bonus, then they really are just slow learners.

Solaris
2012-05-20, 01:54 PM
Hmm. I don't see any mention of the birth canal diameter in the vital stats in my book. Have you been playing FATAL? :smallwink:

Cute.


So, back to elves: Elves have a slender body shape. The birth canal is narrower than in humans. An elf child is born much smaller and even more helpless than a human infant. Their development takes longer.

You brought up guessing birth canal by body shape first. I simply pointed out that elves are actually still well within the range of human females, and only a little under the extremely small, thereby invalidating the logic that a different average weight results in a heavily reduced starting brain size, thus requiring a different explanation than 'body shape' for the elf's prolonged adolescence.


If we look at it this way, then an elf at level 1 should at least come with ranks in knowledge to account for his cultural studies, ranks in craft if that is what he pursued, if not then perhaps athletics, or a feat to account for a "masterful understanding" of combat skill.

The point is that if we assume they haven't wasted all that time, they should get some in game compensation for it in the form of a few additional skills and perhaps a feat. That is how achieving perfections is reflected in the mechanics, if they don't get the bonus, then they really are just slow learners.

Why not move the benchmark on what's 'common knowledge' for an elf? It's not the most elegant solution, but it doesn't require any alterations to the race.

Rorrik
2012-05-20, 02:10 PM
Why not move the benchmark on what's 'common knowledge' for an elf? It's not the most elegant solution, but it doesn't require any alterations to the race.

Ah, this would certainly help with things, but not all. Presumably if they have mastered combat to perfection that should also be reflected in their skills. I'm very on board with the "lets change their cultural expectations and organization" plan.

Solaris
2012-05-20, 02:12 PM
Ah, this would certainly help with things, but not all. Presumably if they have mastered combat to perfection that should also be reflected in their skills. I'm very on board with the "lets change their cultural expectations and organization" plan.

If you practice a single stroke a thousand times, you've mastered the stroke.
You still suck at fighting.
I'd say elves just look better while they're doing something, but they've just learned the form of it, not the function.

Rorrik
2012-05-20, 02:13 PM
If you practice a single stroke a thousand times, you've mastered the stroke.
You still suck at fighting.
I'd say elves just look better while they're doing something, but they've just learned the form of it, not the function.

Oooh, I really like that! Okay, I accept your argument.

KnightOfV
2012-05-20, 02:31 PM
Lots of good stuff here. A few things I assume on elf culture, and role playing. Elven lands are pretty much paradise. Standard Tolkienesque elf idea, but elves do not have to worry about crime, about the economy, about starving, about inequality- not the way humans or others do. Their mastery of magic (again, typical elf/ Tolkien fluff) means their home is magically sustained, and magically protected from all but the most dire threats. There is no demand for manual, dull labor or soldiers so everyone in the society can become philosophers/art critics/ nature lovers/ craftsmen and take their time about it. Why go to school 5 days a week? Or work 40 hours? There is no rush, no job competition. Elven lives are completely free of stress- but there is a price. They do get caught up in the idyllic romp that is their life and when something does happen to break it, and they are forced to change quickly, most elves just cannot adapt.

As far as crunch, I'd always assumed elf memories were a little strange. In their homeland, an elf has proper time to reflect, retrain, and retain several skillsets. So an elf that lives 100 years could be a Ranger 1/ expert 3/ Wizard 1. Outside of those protective walls however, such a mishmash of skills will not help- he must focus exclusively on one thing- something elves can do no better than any other race. So the adventuring elf will have to 'forget' his basket weaving and tracking so that he can focus on learning magic at 'human speed.' Elf adventures do not have a zillion craft skills and knowledge bonuses, because out in the human lands they only have time to focus on the things that are immediately important to survival. An elf wizard might have been a master painter and tree expert in his homeland, but here in the human lands he has to focus excessively on his magical talents to keep alive, and his former skills are nothing but a vague memory when he trances

Over time the stress catches up with elves in the world, and they start to long for the peace of their homeland. Living at a human's pace (in my mind) takes years off the elf's extended lifespan as they are forcing themselves to mentally engage well beyond their normal limits.

Anyways, just my 2 cp, obviously there is no right way to play an elf.

Verte
2012-05-20, 03:16 PM
Basically, I'd think that elves would reach physical maturity when they're 25 years old, but wouldn't be considered "adults" by their culture until they've met certain benchmarks that are really time-consuming. For instance, an elf might need to make pilgrimages to a thousand shrines scattered all over the continent in order to be considered an adult. They might also have to prove true mastery in a trade or profession or something. Then, when they've proven their knowledge, they are recognized as "adults" and take on the role of teaching that knowledge to the others of their community (as well as doing whatever they did before).

What this means is that a 1st level elf would be 25 or 30. A 110 year old elf would probably be at least 5th level.

Calanon
2012-05-20, 03:36 PM
It's really quite simple. Elves are perfectionists, and the 3e rules bear out the aging discrepancies.

In 3e, anything you can do is a skill or ability check. "Notice something large in plain sight" is a DC 0 Spot check, for instance--a check that cannot be failed by anyone with at least 10 Wis and no distractions, even if they're untrained, but a skill check nonetheless. Most of the time, you can ignore those checks, because they're impossible to fail, so humans and halflings and dwarves and all the rest simply take 10 on them. However, elves cannot abide doing anything less than perfectly, so they take 20 on every single check, which takes 20 times as long as making the check normally.

Every. Single. Check. Walking? DC 0 Balance check. Talking? DC 0 Diplomacy check. Eating? DC 0 Dex check. Using the bathroom? Er, you get the idea. That's why everyone sees elves as being the most beautiful, most awesome, etc. beings out there. Eating a sandwich will take them an hour where it would take a human 3 minutes, but by Corellon it'll be the most-gracefully-eaten sandwich you ever did see!

Now, this only applies when actually taking actions, so while elves trance they're taking no actions and therefore acting at "normal" speed. As well, it's very impolite to interrupt others while they're being awesome, and elves are very fair and equal-minded people, so they spend half their time being awesome at things and half their time patiently watching other elves be awesome at things. So for 1/6 of any given day they're trancing, and for 3/6 of any given day they're not taking any actions, and for the remaining 2/6 of any given day they're taking normal actions but taking 20 times as long to do them. (15 years to reach adulthood * 2/6 of the time taking actions * 20 "take 20" penalty) + (15 years to reach adulthood * 4/6 of the time not taking actions * 1 normal time) = 110 years on the dot.

When an elf leaves home, of course, he realizes that the terribly uncouth and uncultured non-elves don't tolerate such a thing or appreciate his awesomeness, so he has to get by with taking 10 on everything, and essentially starts living life on a human scale. This explains why non-adventuring elves are the mythically beautiful and graceful and awesome elves of legends, while adventuring elves are much more down-to-earth and seem a lot more like humans with pointy ears. The only chance they have to really indulge themselves is while they're out on an adventure--elves trance for 4 hours while his companions sleep for 8, so an elf has 4 hours per day to be the elfiest elf he can possibly be while no non-elves are there to watch and judge him.

According to the DMG, we can assume that there is a 10% chance of having a wandering monster/random encounter per hour. This means that there is a (1 - .9^4) chance that a random encounter happens while an elf is being elfy during the 4 hours he has to himself, or a 30% chance rounding to one significant figure. So he has roughly a 70% chance to be elfy for 1/6 of the day without interruption (sometimes much less, sometimes much more, depending on when he's interrupted, but we can assume it balances out), meaning he acts elfy roughly 1/8.5 of the time. Thus, while humans take 20 years to get from adulthood to middle age, elves take (20 years to reach middle age * 1/8.5 of the time taking elfy actions * 20 "take 20" penalty) + (20 years to reach adulthood * 7.5/8.5 of the time taking human-y actions * 1 normal time) = ~65 years to do so, which puts them at middle age at ~175 years, exactly what it says on the chart.
Conclusion: Given 3e RAW, elves must age at the given rates. So there. :smallcool: Yes, I put way too much thought into this. I was very bored.

I love you PoDL :smallbiggrin:

Dr.Epic
2012-05-20, 03:38 PM
They sit in their parents basement until they get fired from the fat food restaurant and their girlfriend leaves them. Then they have to reexamine their life and start adventuring.:smallwink:

Andion Isurand
2012-05-20, 03:41 PM
It is my assertion that all elves (and spirit folk) should reach adulthood at 75 years of age, splitting the difference between 50 and 100 as indicated in following passage written by J.R.R. Tolkien...

from Morgoth's Ring, pg. 209

The Eldar grew in bodily form slower than Men, but in mind more swiftly. They learned to speak before they were one year old; and in the same time they learned to walk and to dance, for their wills came soon to the mastery of their bodies. Nonetheless there was less difference between the two Kindreds, Elves and Men, in early youth; and a man who watched elf-children at play might well have believed that they were the children of Men, of some fair and happy people. For in their early days elf-children delighted still in the world about them, and the fire of their spirit had not consumed them, and the burden of memory was still light upon them.

This same watcher might indeed have wondered at the small limbs and stature of these children, judging their age by their skill in words and grace in motion. For at the end of the third year mortal children began to outstrip the Elves, hastening on to a full stature while the Elves lingered in the first spring of childhood. Children of Men might reach their full height while Eldar of the same age were still in body like to mortals of no more than seven years. Not until the fiftieth year did the Eldar attain the stature and shape in which their lives would afterwards endure, and for some a hundred years would pass before they were full-grown.

The Glyphstone
2012-05-20, 03:43 PM
Vaarsuvius said it best - 30 years in diapers.

fergo
2012-05-20, 03:56 PM
It's really quite simple. Elves are perfectionists, and the 3e rules bear out the aging discrepancies.

In 3e, anything you can do is a skill or ability check. "Notice something large in plain sight" is a DC 0 Spot check, for instance--a check that cannot be failed by anyone with at least 10 Wis and no distractions, even if they're untrained, but a skill check nonetheless. Most of the time, you can ignore those checks, because they're impossible to fail, so humans and halflings and dwarves and all the rest simply take 10 on them. However, elves cannot abide doing anything less than perfectly, so they take 20 on every single check, which takes 20 times as long as making the check normally.

Every. Single. Check. Walking? DC 0 Balance check. Talking? DC 0 Diplomacy check. Eating? DC 0 Dex check. Using the bathroom? Er, you get the idea. That's why everyone sees elves as being the most beautiful, most awesome, etc. beings out there. Eating a sandwich will take them an hour where it would take a human 3 minutes, but by Corellon it'll be the most-gracefully-eaten sandwich you ever did see!

Now, this only applies when actually taking actions, so while elves trance they're taking no actions and therefore acting at "normal" speed. As well, it's very impolite to interrupt others while they're being awesome, and elves are very fair and equal-minded people, so they spend half their time being awesome at things and half their time patiently watching other elves be awesome at things. So for 1/6 of any given day they're trancing, and for 3/6 of any given day they're not taking any actions, and for the remaining 2/6 of any given day they're taking normal actions but taking 20 times as long to do them. (15 years to reach adulthood * 2/6 of the time taking actions * 20 "take 20" penalty) + (15 years to reach adulthood * 4/6 of the time not taking actions * 1 normal time) = 110 years on the dot.

When an elf leaves home, of course, he realizes that the terribly uncouth and uncultured non-elves don't tolerate such a thing or appreciate his awesomeness, so he has to get by with taking 10 on everything, and essentially starts living life on a human scale. This explains why non-adventuring elves are the mythically beautiful and graceful and awesome elves of legends, while adventuring elves are much more down-to-earth and seem a lot more like humans with pointy ears. The only chance they have to really indulge themselves is while they're out on an adventure--elves trance for 4 hours while his companions sleep for 8, so an elf has 4 hours per day to be the elfiest elf he can possibly be while no non-elves are there to watch and judge him.

According to the DMG, we can assume that there is a 10% chance of having a wandering monster/random encounter per hour. This means that there is a (1 - .9^4) chance that a random encounter happens while an elf is being elfy during the 4 hours he has to himself, or a 30% chance rounding to one significant figure. So he has roughly a 70% chance to be elfy for 1/6 of the day without interruption (sometimes much less, sometimes much more, depending on when he's interrupted, but we can assume it balances out), meaning he acts elfy roughly 1/8.5 of the time. Thus, while humans take 20 years to get from adulthood to middle age, elves take (20 years to reach middle age * 1/8.5 of the time taking elfy actions * 20 "take 20" penalty) + (20 years to reach adulthood * 7.5/8.5 of the time taking human-y actions * 1 normal time) = ~65 years to do so, which puts them at middle age at ~175 years, exactly what it says on the chart.
Conclusion: Given 3e RAW, elves must age at the given rates. So there. :smallcool: Yes, I put way too much thought into this. I was very bored.

As a non-D&D player, I'm almost ashamed to say this is the best thing I've ever read in my entire life.

BlueEyes
2012-05-20, 04:02 PM
Elves do what RL teenagers do most of the time - party/play/make out/neglect studies, but for 100 years, because they have time and elf society allows it.

Squark
2012-05-20, 04:20 PM
One thing Races of the Wild stressed was that Elves can afford to dabble for a long time; If you invest 5 years in seriously learning pottery, that's a serious commitment, but for an Elf, in the grand scheme of things that's like taking 2 years of sculpting as an elective in high school. One thing you could represent this with is instead of giving all elves proficiency with a couple weapons, you could have an array of options to represent their past interests (like skill points in a perform, craft, knowledge, or profession skill), as well as options to gain proficiency in a selection of elven weapons.

Morph Bark
2012-05-20, 05:30 PM
Obviously in the first 100 years of their lives elves are plants that grow from fertile soil until they "hatch" and then take a speedy 10 years to fully mature and learn all life skills necessary.

Averis Vol
2012-05-20, 05:37 PM
i remember a certain drow ranger who had fought his way out of the underdark by age 30. i'm pretty sure elves are just really lazy.

eggs
2012-05-20, 05:39 PM
Pupate
:smalltongue:

VeliciaL
2012-05-20, 06:18 PM
Several other people have stated this, but I've always figured it was more cultural. Which makes me feel a little sorry for Elven parents who have to deal with what are essentially teenagers for near on a century. :P

As an aside, 4th edition shortens their life spans to about 300 or so years, which would fit a more human maturation rate better. Honestly not sure how I feel about that though.

Rorrik
2012-05-20, 07:58 PM
As an aside, 4th edition shortens their life spans to about 300 or so years, which would fit a more human maturation rate better. Honestly not sure how I feel about that though.

If I remember right, it was only 400 in first edition, the last time I checked a monster manual.

Calanon
2012-05-20, 11:13 PM
As an aside, 4th edition shortens their life spans to about 300 or so years, which would fit a more human maturation rate better.

This is yet another reason why I have a disdain for developers of 4th edition, They think humans live for 300 years :smallannoyed:

This is a little awkward because Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves states that you need to be atleast 450 years old to be an Elven High Mage :smallannoyed: (Well 525 to finish your apprenticeship) eventually at age 1,325 you are finally completely finished with your High Magic training and are finally considered an expert when it comes to the weave and even then compared to a Netherese Arcanist you are still... Not even 2nd rate... more like 3rd rate behind the Red Wizards, but that is a personal opinion... My god the elves suck so much...

The sad thing is that a human can simply accomplish that in a fraction of the time...

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-20, 11:19 PM
i remember a certain drow ranger who had fought his way out of the underdark by age 30. i'm pretty sure elves are just really lazy.

Similarly, Liriel Baenre isn't much older than 30 or 40.

It's been suggested that drow mature faster, but Ellifane (AKA Le'lorinel Tel'e'brenniquet), a moon (high) elf that was just a child when she first met Drizzt under...unfortunate circumstances...tries to kill Dtizzt in Sea of Swords was Drizzt was about 80 and she was probably no more than 50 herself. She's a good enough fighter by that point to at least be considered dangerous by Drizzt.

So...yeah.

Eldan
2012-05-20, 11:28 PM
I once redid the stats for elves. Along with the fluff.

THey are cursed by fey so that they can not dream or sleep, or forget anything naturally. This leaves their brains a cluttered mess and they slowly go insane. To combat that, they spend much of their lives meditating and consciously willing themselves to forget most of what happened to them.

Which ends up making them incredibly strange and very slow learners.

Jeraa
2012-05-20, 11:47 PM
If I remember right, it was only 400 in first edition, the last time I checked a monster manual.

1st edition AD&D had elves living (potentially) thousands of years. A Drow (The shortest lived) who got unlucky on his rolls* could live for 580 years. A grey elf (the longest lived) could potentially live for 2,400 years. The normal elf (high elves) on average could live for about 1200 years.

I don't know how long they lived before 1st edition AD&D.

*1st edition had a table for everything. Including determining the exact age a character would die from old age.

Ashtagon
2012-05-21, 01:46 AM
In the historical age which D&D claims to most closely resemble, a peasant would be considered fortunate to live to 50. John of Gaunt was repeatedly in Richard II as being way past his prime, and deep into old age. At 59. In that age, a youth would be expected to be with a career at 15, and married at 23.

Today, we don't seriously expect young people to choose a career until they finish university age and have had time to experiment with the workforce market age 25 or so before they make a firm commitment to a job. And the average age of marriage has reached 28 in the USA, 29 in the UK.

Elves are just taking the modern trend to the extreme.

Palegreenpants
2012-05-21, 08:16 AM
I think I was misunderstood before. What I was saying was, basically, elves don't take a long time to learn things, they just take the time to make what they learn look pretty. :smalltongue:

Spider_Jerusalem
2012-05-21, 07:47 PM
My gaming group usually uses the "elves start around 20" concept. In the homebrew campaign I'm DMing, elves become adults almost as quickly as humans, and they can age forever.

What I think is really interesting, though, is trying to understand how standard D&D elves get to actually exist as a society. Taking 100 years to mature would be a huge problem for elves. Having a Con penalty and no special resistance to diseases, a huge part of them would just die before becoming adults. On the other hand, living up to 400 years and still being fully capable of reproducing, those naughty elf-guys would get a lot of children. A lot. You see, my grandfather lived in a farm all his life. He had no TV or any other fancy technological thingy to spend time. So, he had 9 children, and that wasn't many for their standards. Imagine now a 400 year-old TVless farmer.

The funny part is imagining these two ideas working together. Elf society would look a little less "ultra advanced high-magical greenpeacers" and a little more "ultra-slow-motion zerg rush".

...we also used to have a joke at our gaming tables. It was the reason why there were no humans at elven Mage Academies. He would come in on his first day of class and hear the professor speaking:

- Here you are, at the High Elven Mage Academy. By 'you', I mean the plural you, and thus adress all of the new students, which you are. Those who created our highly esteemed High Elven Mage Academy chose this specific name for a variety of reasons. 'High' refers to our position, not about our actual height. This 'position' I refer to is not a physical position, such as 'here' or 'there', but a metaphorical position, our place in the great pyramid of living beings. I chose a pyramid to illustrate how the living beings are arranged to show you that the bottom is where most beings are, and the top is where the highest, though few, living beings are. We chose the word 'Elven' to...

- Whoa, man! When are we going to learn actual spells? I'm gonna die of old age before that, ay?

- That may be so, young human. The first thirty years of our program explain the name of our order.

Rorrik
2012-05-21, 08:10 PM
Just throwing this (http://irregularwebcomic.net/123.html) out there.

We all know it's true, the rule to start them adventuring at 100 is to keep them from throwing tantrums in the party and we're all just too embarrassed to roleplay the lack of toilet training.

Andion Isurand
2012-05-22, 01:13 AM
What I think is really interesting, though, is trying to understand how standard D&D elves get to actually exist as a society. Taking 100 years to mature would be a huge problem for elves. Having a Con penalty and no special resistance to diseases, a huge part of them would just die before becoming adults.

This is why my revised version of elves receive, among other things, a +4 racial bonus to saves against all disease, including supernatural disease.

MonkeyBusiness
2012-05-23, 07:11 PM
Elves go adventuring at 100 because they are dissatisfied and feel trapped by the humdrum life of dancing in moonlit glens, or constructing magical doodads, or whatever the hell they have been doing for the first century of their lives. They wonder "is this all there is to life? ", have an identity crisis, get divorced, sell their worldy possessions, and go adventuring.

Just like the rest of us. It is the elvish equivalent of a mid-life crisis. It just takes them an extra 40 to 50 years to get there, that's all.



V @ Archmagi: that's hilarious!

shadow_archmagi
2012-05-23, 07:33 PM
What can a young person occupy himself with for huge, huge amounts of time without learning any life skills?

Clearly, the elves have discovered facebook.

TuggyNE
2012-05-23, 08:00 PM
What can a young person occupy himself with for huge, huge amounts of time without learning any life skills?

Clearly, the elves have discovered facebook.

"That's Gladebook to you, human!"

dsmiles
2012-05-24, 07:38 AM
Late to the party, but:

They hit 100+ years of life before they go adventuring, and they've developed NO skills in all that time?

How do you folks fluff that?
In my campaigns, elves suffer from a form of racial ADD. They can't concentrate on one area until they're psychologically mature enough. Hence, they can't master one skill set. (I also swapped their favored class to Bard, the classic jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type.)

Thialfi
2012-05-24, 07:54 AM
If I remember right, it was only 400 in first edition, the last time I checked a monster manual.

No, in first edition, drow were the elves with the shortest lifespans and they could stretch into 1,200 years. Grey elves could reach 2,000 years. Second edition shortened their lifespans to around 400 years. Of course they added stuff that didn't make sense, like the elf doesn't really die, they just leave the world of man a la Tolkein. Also, the rules stated that the elves do not show their age but then they still suffered the age category penalties for being middle aged and old.

crazyhedgewizrd
2012-05-24, 07:03 PM
i usally go, "so you want to play a elf roll up a 7th level character". In their first hundred years of life they should have perfected one art form, be that swordsmanship, magic, woodworking, pottery, song, or flower arranging.

SSGoW
2012-05-26, 07:55 AM
I always thought that the years spent learning racial bonuses were their childhood to young adult years. Learning to use a rapier, longbow, and learning to meditate (and building a resistance to sleep). Until you learn how to be a proper elf you can't become a first level anything...

Werekat
2012-05-28, 12:22 AM
Also late to the party, but maybe someone will find this fun.

In my homebrew, elvish "babyhood" (will explain in detail later) is until about thirty, 30-60 is childhood, 60-100 (or 110 in grey elven culture) is the age when an elf is a teenager and an apprentice, and thereon after they are adults.

I based my homebrew around the fact that elves do not sleep. Meditation, the very retention of memories is a learned skill - and one that takes an insanely long time to learn. Before they learn, elves are practically animalistic.

At 10 years of age, an elf is physically like a scrawny human child, but a) who doesn't sleep at all; b) who is governed mostly by instinct. (Yes, being a parent thus becomes a full-time job). An empathic link with the parents allows the young elf to not do anything that would likely kill him - or, rather, make his parents agitated, I suppose you could think up a truly horrific childhood story under that sauce. And this empathic link serves as the venue by which meditation and more subtle things, like emotion, are slowly learned.

Let me reiterate: a young elf can survive by itself in the wild as old as two or three, maybe. But if it does so, it will be unlikely to progress beyond its animalistic stage. Young elves learn well only in a group.

At about 30, they learn well enough to actually have something beyond the shining now. An elf at 30 still looks like a 10-year old child, but she now knows what yesterday is, and that tomorrow will necessarily come. The empathic link breaks off, much like the placenta in humans at birth. The young elf is now learning to conduct herself through words and gestures, begins learning what is expected of her by society, including weaponry, as all elves take up arms in time of need. By the age of 60 an elf is able to do combat, but will not be sent into it unless absolutely necessary. They will also have tried out most everyday skills an elf needs.

Detour: elven society is one of generalists. If an elf wants to build a house, they'll go and apprentice themselves to someone who's built a house they like. They'll learn. And then they'll go build their own. It is so in every venue of life except the most urgent ones. Because think about it - if you could spend a relative two months of your lifespan and learn how to build your perfect house, wouldn't you? It is simply easier for them to learn how to make something that suits them than live with another's vision of convenience and comfort. End detour.

Our 60-year old elf will by now have tried his hand at everything from farming to mathematics. At the age of 60, an elf will leave home and start in formal apprenticeships, usually in a foster family with someone that knows the craft they would like to try their hand at. How good they become during that time depends on how quickly they find their own vocation. It is not uncommon for an elf to start learning seriously closer to 100. They're also busy with all the things teenagers do.

Wizardry is plain taught when an elf is at least a 100.

At close to 100, an elf is usually struck by wanderlust, and leaves home to find her own habitat. This is actually the stage where the elven population takes the greatest loss.

This is an active 40 years of learning a vocation, with the same caveat that someone pointed out earlier - "the modern trend taken to the extreme."

As for the leveling problem: an elf can learn extremely quickly under pressure, just as quickly as any human, but it screws with their sense of time and physiology. They'll learn a skill, they'll be able to use it, but be totally unable to explain how they do it, and their memories of the time will likely be a shambles. They're essentially reverting, at least in part, to an earlier stage of their existence - somewhere close to the eternal now of an elven child. After levelling up to 10 in a year, they'll just as likely spend the next 20 years staring at the wall while their mind processes their newfound experiences properly - and the more stressful it was, the longer it'll take. Taking learning slowly makes it much easier and much more profound.

Under this concept, I had an elven archmage at 119. He couldn't remember the better part of the last 10 years, was extremely jumpy and paranoid by elven standards, and plain-out had something like PTSR.

Mechanically I use the Pathfinder crafts system. 2 points invested in a craft mean proficiency. Elves have a higher starting amount allowed to place in craft, but that's about it.

paddyfool
2012-05-28, 10:38 AM
New setting concept:

The "Elven Lands" are a demiplane, out of phase with the rest of the world in time. For every day that passes there, 5 pass in the outside world. Growing up there means that you'll stay young for five times as long... which is the secret to the elves' longevity in the outside world. And to elven power; there are a few very, very old and very powerful elves around. God wizards and the like.

But the kicker is, you have to grow up in the elven lands to be properly instilled with longevity by them. So elves are rarely seen in the outside world until they're 20... or 100, depending on how you're counting.

Where the rest of the world and the elven lands meet stands an elven city, in phase with the rest of the world. Very, very few non-elves have ever passed beyond it into the elven lands proper. Those from the rest of the world who are viewed as friendly may enter the trading quarter of the city. But it's rare indeed that they'll ever see an elven child.

Lord Raziere
2012-05-28, 10:42 AM
I have a very simple answer to the titles question:

Philosophy.

paddyfool
2012-05-28, 11:12 AM
More ideas for my setting concept:

The elven demiplane is actually a fragment of what was once their world. The Drow live on another fragment; unlike the elves, they take back slaves. However, these slaves age and die rapidly, by how time runs in Drow lands, unless brought over as children; as do all who enter the elven lands. Drow thus are far more likely to take children as slaves than adults. Taken at the right age, these children will age "fast" as time is measured in the Drow lands, yet slow down in aging as adults even while not fully psychologically developed. A very few have escaped, to find a world where centuries have passed while they were away for decades.

The rest of the former world of the elves was destroyed in a long-ago mage war. The main elven population and the Drow are the remnants of the two main factions.

Wood/wild elves are the refugees of this conflict, and their aging is only slightly slower than human.

If they have to have dealings with those from the outside world, the very old elves with centuries of experience and arcane knowledge which form the basis for their power will sometimes disguise themselves as "elven gods". Over the centuries, this has led to a conjecture, which in turn has led to a mythology among some of the other races that the elves themselves have the potential to attain divinity.

The main body of elves trade, in the city which straddles the worlds, with fine fabrics and other consumables, many of them luxury items, which seem to stay fresh and new far longer than those made in the prime material plane. Elven weapons and metalwork are also held in some esteem, since they seem to keep their edge and form longer, with less maintenance. In return, the elves are only interested in items made from the more permanent things from the prime material plane, such as gold, stone, ceramics etc. Almost anything else will decay far too fast after being taken between worlds.

EDIT:
More details: The light's dimmer in the elven lands. Hence the eyesight thing. Maybe the war even damaged their sun, or maybe their world floats at a greater distance from their sun, but in a nebula which provides a permanent glow... I'm mulling this one over.

The drow lands... have broken off from the main elven world. Their surface is an inhospitable place, without breathable atmosphere, and they therefore live in the interior, with the only gravity being that they create by their sorceries. (Effectively making these Drow moon-Nazis).

Relations between the main elves and the wood elves are friendly enough... but the latter cannot cross back, unless as babies, for fear of aging; they're now time-synched with the prime material plane.

A diet consisting largely of foodstuffs from elven lands has the side effect of very slightly delaying the aging process for those who consume it. Only by a factor of, say, 1.5 or so; but even this is regarded as a precious boon by the wealthy and privileged.

What this means for adventurers/plots
- A first level elf would have only recently attained the right to travel to the city or beyond, and could have left the city for practically any reason; the world outside would likely be rather strange to him or her, being as it's a different plane and all.
- A mid-level or high-level elf might have done their other adventuring a long time before, then gone home to raise a family, and return to a world which had changed by, say, 150 years while they lived for 30.
- Or they might have lived in the outside world for centuries, and seen nations rise and fall.
- Diplomatic negotiations with the elves can take a long time to resolve, if it's something for which those who live within the elven lands, rather than the city, would need to be consulted
- Adventurers wishing to visit the elven or the drow lands would be well advised to keep their visits brief, and not to visit while pregnant. If they stay for years, they'll grow old uncomfortably fast in that time.

VeliciaL
2012-05-28, 11:32 AM
Awesomesauce

I like this! Mind if I lift some of it for my own homebrew setting?

Personally I'm explaining elven "wanderlust" as more of a social necessity. A disaster left the Elven homeland - something of an island continent - unable to support their entire population, so many Elves go on self-imposed exile in wandering nomadic groups.

Avoiding planes personally, since the whole purpose of this setting is to be more down-to-earth while still featuring the various fantasy races we've come to know and love.

Jay R
2012-05-28, 11:34 AM
It doesn't make sense because the concept of an elf (and everything else that lives a bazillion years) is silly. Anything that lives in a way roughly analogous to how a human does, but for 500+ years just isn't going to hold up to any kind of scrutiny. Just handwave it and move on.

Exactly. The correct response to an unanswerable question is not to ask it.

Werekat
2012-05-28, 12:03 PM
VeliciaL, you are most welcome to any parts of the concept you find intriguing! I am very glad you liked it, and would like to hear what bits and pieces you'll choose for your own homebrew. :)

Wanderlust as a social necessity works, as well. If something like that were to happen in my setting, I'd imagine the wanderers would also be working as scouts for an eventual global relocation.

VeliciaL
2012-05-28, 02:26 PM
VeliciaL, you are most welcome to any parts of the concept you find intriguing! I am very glad you liked it, and would like to hear what bits and pieces you'll choose for your own homebrew. :)

Wanderlust as a social necessity works, as well. If something like that were to happen in my setting, I'd imagine the wanderers would also be working as scouts for an eventual global relocation.

Well the aging process works incredibly well. Thinking about the things that made elves different from humans, I'd already pegged the two biggest differences as their incredibly long lifespan and their need to meditate instead of sleep. It seemed to me that that the former might necessitate the latter; to cope with the longer lifespan and thus buildup of more memories, the elven mind has to sit down and file it properly or else risk losing it. Much of elven childhood could be spent perfecting this skill alone.

As such, your aging process fits my thoughts to a T so far :P

I also like the possibility of "feral elves" being a monster type :P

I like the idea of a society of generalists. I'd already wanted to take elves in the direction of being... it's hard to put a term to it, but almost city-phobic. Elves in this setting would be very magically attuned, especially in regard to nature magic, to the point where they don't need to rely on very large groups and settlements to ward off nature. As such, elven cities are quite rare and on the small side. Most elven society would be organised in smaller family groups.

Heck, I was even pondering making it so that elves never discovered metal working on their own, but learned it from humans. One thing I get tired of is that elves in fiction typically come across as "we're better than you at everything, and prettier too." I wanted them to have something they're definitively bad at.

Scots Dragon
2012-05-28, 02:48 PM
But human metalworking sucks, really. Therefore I suggest that the dwarves taught the elves instead.

Slipperychicken
2012-05-28, 03:56 PM
They get high, braid each other's hair, and whine about their civilization's downfall.

Sheogoroth
2012-05-28, 04:36 PM
Well considering they don't reach adulthood until that age, years 1-18 for humans would be roughly equivalent to that of Elves.
I would imagine with that long of a hormonally imbalanced period, it would be rare for an elf to reach maturity.
Therefor, I would posit that because elves are, for the first hundred years of life, a danger to themselves and those around them they would be purposefully excluded from lawbearing society, likely to perform menial tasks and elementary education.

BlueEyes
2012-05-28, 06:01 PM
i usally go, "so you want to play a elf roll up a 7th level character". In their first hundred years of life they should have perfected one art form, be that swordsmanship, magic, woodworking, pottery, song, or flower arranging.
So I can play a 7th level character in a 1st level game if I take elf? Awesome!
This effing forum, errored me 10 times!

VeliciaL
2012-05-28, 06:46 PM
But human metalworking sucks, really. Therefore I suggest that the dwarves taught the elves instead.

But what WOULD humans be good at then?

*looks at the various half-breeds around*

Oh, right...

crazyhedgewizrd
2012-05-28, 07:16 PM
So I can play a 7th level character in a 1st level game if I take elf? Awesome!

Yes it is awesome when you award exp to the characters background. Since elfs have appenticeships in the decades, that would mean they have done a lot of things.

Lets just say on your 50th birthday you decide to became a ranger and you go into a appenticeship. For the next 50 - 60 years you are a ranger, having learned arts of tracking, knowlegde of plants and animals, healing and hunting.
Now compare with a human who is 8 and spends the next 8-12 years being a ranger and learning the same skills.

The starting ages for all races should be younger than what is in the books, by about a third.

paddyfool
2012-05-29, 11:32 AM
The starting ages for all races should be younger than what is in the books, by about a third.

Humans should start at 10? Really?

crazyhedgewizrd
2012-05-29, 03:36 PM
Humans should start at 10? Really?

Yes, this is a medieval setting that won't be be uncommon for 10 year olds to work. But most of us who grow up in western cultures, would have a negative view on this.

If you look at game of of thrones (novel) about half of the major characters are under 14.

hamishspence
2012-05-29, 03:43 PM
I think D20 Modern used 10 as the minimum character age- though many backgrounds required them to be older.

paddyfool
2012-05-29, 03:54 PM
If you look at game of of thrones (novel) about half of the major characters are under 14.


Well, most of the Stark kids, anyway, at the start of the narrative.

However, I don't want to imagine what a 10-year-old with strength 18 would look like. It's absolutely fine to have adventures with early teen or pre-teen protagonists. But D&D as it is really doesn't support that.

crazyhedgewizrd
2012-05-30, 12:24 AM
However, I don't want to imagine what a 10-year-old with strength 18 would look like. It's absolutely fine to have adventures with early teen or pre-teen protagonists. But D&D as it is really doesn't support that.


Strength 18, 11 year old boy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esrqV8IVorQ

How does D&D not support this?

*edit*

Well, most of the Stark kids, anyway, at the start of the narrative.

King Joffery is 12 and Daenerys targaryen is 13, the world is ran by children

Stubbazubba
2012-05-30, 11:41 AM
Yes, this is a medieval setting that won't be be uncommon for 10 year olds to work. But most of us who grow up in western cultures, would have a negative view on this.

If you look at game of of thrones (novel) about half of the major characters are under 14.

Fantasy settings are hardly medieval settings. They're mostly modern settings with a fantasy paint job. Hence adventurers never die of infection, or pneumonia, or non-magical plagues, even though the lifestyle they undertake would almost guarantee their frequent contact with them. Medieval settings aren't worth saving, generally, so the world has to be roughly as nice a place to live in as ours is for players to get into the idea of saving it.

JohnnyCancer
2012-05-30, 06:55 PM
They live for centuries and, at least in 3.0/3.5, don't even need to sleep much, they probably spend a lot of time staring at clouds, smelling the roses, starting projects and abandoning them a few years in. Adventuring elves are probably outliers, elves who can stand the pace that shorter-lived races function on. A low-level adventuring elf in their youth has probably already done more than an elderly elf commoner.

Solaris
2012-05-30, 07:54 PM
King Joffery is 12 and Daenerys targaryen is 13, the world is ran by children

Joffrey doesn't run anything, his mother does. Also, please note that the kingdom is broken, in no small part because of the incompetent monarchs, while other places run by grown-ups aren't.

You're absolutely right, though. Human characters start their apprenticeships around ten, just like real-world tradesmen did with their guilds. They weren't journeymen until later on.

Rorrik
2012-05-30, 08:03 PM
King Joffery is 12 and Daenerys targaryen is 13, the world is ran by children

The fact that the world is run by children has nothing to do with medieval lifespans and young laborers, it has to do with the fact the world was written for children. While I have no doubt children worked at 10 in a different time, they were not considered soldiers, much less heroes.

Ashtagon
2012-05-31, 12:39 AM
The fact that the world is run by children has nothing to do with medieval lifespans and young laborers, it has to do with the fact the world was written for children. While I have no doubt children worked at 10 in a different time, they were not considered soldiers, much less heroes.

Considering the novels frequently deal with themes of violence and sexuality, I doubt it was written with children as the target audience.

Solaris
2012-05-31, 02:22 PM
Considering the novels frequently deal with themes of violence and sexuality, I doubt it was written with children as the target audience.

Clearly my childhood was much more interesting than yours.

Talya
2012-05-31, 02:59 PM
Does a mallard ask, "What do humans do before 1st level? Seriously, they've had 18 whole years to learn stuff, and they have no skills at all? I'd learned to fly by the time I was two months old. I was swimming long before that."

(Quack.)

riccaru
2012-05-31, 08:54 PM
Short answer: nothing.

Long answer: They start as level 1 in an NPC class. Some trade it in for a PC class, but otherwise they're level 1 commoners or what have you until then.

And you don't get XP for just doing everyday stuff:smallwink:.

TuggyNE
2012-05-31, 09:08 PM
And you don't get XP for just doing everyday stuff:smallwink:.

Oh? All NPCs of greater than 1st level are adventurers, soldiers, or guards, then?

I tend to take the viewpoint that NPCs would notionally gain XP from unusually stressful circumstances in their chosen field, or unusually good performance in same; a merchant, therefore, might gain a level or two in Expert by virtue of exceptionally large deals, arranging to exploit a new trade route, or similar.

Granted, I don't think a farmer can just go out and plow a field, then gain 2 XP, or whatever. Surviving a drought, though? Quite possibly.

Shadowknight12
2012-05-31, 09:17 PM
Oh? All NPCs of greater than 1st level are adventurers, soldiers, or guards, then?

I tend to take the viewpoint that NPCs would notionally gain XP from unusually stressful circumstances in their chosen field, or unusually good performance in same; a merchant, therefore, might gain a level or two in Expert by virtue of exceptionally large deals, arranging to exploit a new trade route, or similar.

Granted, I don't think a farmer can just go out and plow a field, then gain 2 XP, or whatever. Surviving a drought, though? Quite possibly.

This is how I run things as well.

riccaru
2012-05-31, 09:43 PM
Oh? All NPCs of greater than 1st level are adventurers, soldiers, or guards, then?

I tend to take the viewpoint that NPCs would notionally gain XP from unusually stressful circumstances in their chosen field, or unusually good performance in same; a merchant, therefore, might gain a level or two in Expert by virtue of exceptionally large deals, arranging to exploit a new trade route, or similar.

Granted, I don't think a farmer can just go out and plow a field, then gain 2 XP, or whatever. Surviving a drought, though? Quite possibly.


That's why exceptional NPCs are higher than first level. But not every trader is overly successful, nor is every blacksmith making masterwork items. So they stay at level 1. Only by doing exceptional things can they level up.

TuggyNE
2012-05-31, 10:59 PM
That's why exceptional NPCs are higher than first level. But not every trader is overly successful, nor is every blacksmith making masterwork items. So they stay at level 1. Only by doing exceptional things can they level up.

Fair enough. We appear to agree in essence, then. :smallwink:

Blueiji
2012-05-31, 11:04 PM
I didn't have the patience to read the entire thread before posting, so excuse me if this has been mentioned before.

So most of you probably know "Ender's Game", by Orson Scott Card. Orson wrote a parallel novel entitled "Ender's Shadow". Its the same story, but from the eyes of Bean.

Anyaway, to cut to the point, Bean is genetically engineered, he has incredibly enhanced inteligence, but in return his life expectancy is abyssmally low.

The author explains it as a sort of "Tree of Knowledge" vs. "Tree of Life" exchange.

On one hand you can stay in the garden forever, ignorant and blissful, or you can leave, lose your immortality, but be open to more experiences and knowledge.

So perhaps Elves are the polar opposite to a character like Bean. They live exceptionally long, but are a tad slow learning. Over time (which they have plenty of) they absorb the same amount of knowledge as a human, but it just takes a while.

Effectively, they live long because, Elves, as a species, are slow to develop. Both physically (because it takes so long to mature), and mentally (they take much longer to learn things).

- - -

Of course this entire theory is dashed when you point out that a Human and Elf both take the same amount of experience points to level up from one level to the next, meaning that elves learn at the exact same speed as a human.

- - -

So all in all, not the best theory, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

Thanks for listening :smallbiggrin:

MonkeyBusiness
2012-06-02, 06:11 PM
They paint miniatures.

INDYSTAR188
2012-06-02, 09:24 PM
i remember a certain drow ranger who had fought his way out of the underdark by age 30. i'm pretty sure elves are just really lazy.

I'm almost 30 and I'm nowhere near getting out of the underdark. Maybe just lazy.

Solaris
2012-06-02, 09:50 PM
I'm almost 30 and I'm nowhere near getting out of the underdark. Maybe just lazy.

I like it there. Plus, my mom makes kickass spaghetti.
... Oh, not that Underdark. Nevermind, then.

Avilan the Grey
2012-06-03, 07:15 AM
I thought they spent they youth shaking their butts at seedy bars and maybe join a mercenary band somewhere in the galaxy...

Oh wait, wrong elves :smallwink::smallbiggrin:

JustSomeGuy
2012-06-03, 11:34 AM
Strength 18, 11 year old boy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esrqV8IVorQ

How does D&D not support this?

According to wikipedia, at 8 he bench pressed 210lbs. I very much doubt you could extrapolate that to equivalent of str 18 by 11.

JustSomeGuy
2012-06-03, 11:41 AM
Today, we don't seriously expect young people to choose a career until they finish university age and have had time to experiment with the workforce market age 25 or so before they make a firm commitment to a job. And the average age of marriage has reached 28 in the USA, 29 in the UK..

I don't know you or where you're from, but when i left school about half of us went straight into work. I wouldn't presume to guess how many dropped out during college, after college or even during university itself, but i would say between that and apprenticeships and whatnot, we as a society do seriously expect school leavers to chose when they want to start their career.