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    Default What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    To me, the D&D elf is one of the biggest disappointments in the entire game. Even putting aside the fact that they're mechanically weak as a player race, their lore is simply bad. It contradicts itself, it contradicts the rules, and it contradicts what we might expect if elves existed in our world. Highlights include:

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    • Elves refuse to slaughter animals for food because it "disrupts nature", but are perfectly willing to slaughter them for fashion purposes (elves are commonly depicted wearing leather armour of a design that would gain precisely nothing from being made of leather -- in other words, the use of leather serves as a fashion statement and nothing else).
    • Elves try to be self-sufficient, making their own personal weapons and armour. They also happen to favour swords. These are mutually exclusive.
    • Magic of Incarnum would like to inform us that elves make excellent incarnum-wielders. In game, elves take a penalty to the single most critical ability score for incarnum use. And in a stunning violation of WotC's general rule that "there's an elf for that", there is no incarnum elf subrace.
    • Elves adopt a primary style of warfare that relies heavily on stamina and physical endurance, two things that D&D elves do not have in abundance.
    • The famous "diverse range of different studies" that receives no attention whatsoever anywhere within the rules.
    • And of course, there's "so what exactly are these elves doing in the 85 years between becoming an adult and becoming a valid choice for a player character?" problem.


    I'd like to think that elves aren't a dead-end cliché, and I'm pretty sure that they've been shown to work elsewhere (Exalted's jadeborn, for example, are an interesting depiction). So I think it's well worth trying to improve things.

    Before I start, I'd like to see what other people think of elves. Do you have criticisms that I don't? Do you disagree with any of the criticisms I've made? Do you think elves are salvageable through simple touches? Or would you rather see radical surgery?

    A few simple touches might give you something like Warhammer's elves, which follow the main elf tropes but put a lot of effort into being different, and not so much into being "in harmony with nature".

    Radical surgery would potentially leave something that shares little with post-advanced elves beyond the name.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2011-04-25 at 08:10 AM.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Before I start, I'd like to see what other people think of elves. Do you have criticisms that I don't? Do you disagree with any of the criticisms I've made? Do you think elves are salvageable through simple touches? Or would you rather see radical surgery?
    I'll be honest -- I don't really get any of your criticisms.


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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    My comments in green.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Elves refuse to slaughter animals for food because it "disrupts nature", but are perfectly willing to slaughter them for fashion purposes (elves are commonly depicted wearing leather armour of a design that would gain precisely nothing from being made of leather -- in other words, the use of leather serves as a fashion statement and nothing else). Couldn't agree more

    Elves try to be self-sufficient, making their own personal weapons and armour. They also happen to favour swords. These are mutually exclusive.
    I don't get it. You're saying they couldn't possibly find iron by themselves?

    They favour the longbow as a weapon, even though the vast majority of individuals with the D&D elf's build simply wouldn't be able to operate one.
    What's wrong with their physique? They're just as strong as humans, and longbows are no harder to use than shortbows. If you think longbows are hard to draw, you're clearly thinking of composite longbows. I don't know anyone with a shortbow in real life but I know tonnes of women who use longbows and they aren't strong by a longshot.

    Magic of Incarnum would like to inform us that elves make excellent incarnum-wielders. In game, elves take a penalty to the single most critical ability score for incarnum use. And in a stunning violation of WotC's general rule that "there's an elf for that", there is no incarnum elf subrace.
    No comment for this but you're probably right.

    Elves adopt a primary style of warfare that relies heavily on stamina and physical endurance, two things that D&D elves do not have in abundance.
    Absolutely agree 100%. I guess the designers don't move around a lot. Still, while cheesy most of d&d is the same way so there's not a whole lot to do about that.

    The famous "diverse range of different studies" that receives no attention whatsoever anywhere within the rules.
    Yep.

    And of course, there's "so what exactly are these elves doing in the 85 years between becoming an adult and becoming a valid choice for a player character?" problem.
    That's true too. Giving them ranks in random perform, craft, and profession skills could help.
    Do you think elves are salvageable through simple touches? Or would you rather see radical surgery?
    Hmm... well I'm not sure on this one. Radical surgery I suppose.
    Last edited by Mayhem; 2011-04-24 at 08:39 PM.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Rebuild them.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Elves try to be self-sufficient, making their own personal weapons and armour. They also happen to favour swords. These are mutually exclusive.

    I don't get it. You're saying they couldn't possibly find iron by themselves?
    Raw materials aren't really the issue (it is possible to mine in a forest, the real question is whether or not the elves want to) -- the problem lies in the fact that swords are very hard to make. Note that there are very few elves who can cast fabricate.

    Someone who 'dabbles' in craftsmanship might be able to decorate a blade, or even help someone who does know what they are doing, but the bottom line is that swords were expensive for a reason.

    What's wrong with their physique? They're just as strong as humans, and longbows are no harder to use than shortbows. If you think longbows are hard to draw, you're clearly thinking of composite longbows. I don't know anyone with a shortbow in real life but I know tonnes of women who use longbows and they aren't strong by a longshot.
    It actually varies from bow to bow -- different bows do have a different draw weight. The real issue is that the D&D longbow is implied to be the same weapon as the English longbow, which required constant practice and above-average strength in order to use effectively.

    D&D bows are kind of weird anyway -- the composite longbow seems to be more of a mash-up of bows produced by about six different cultures.

    I don't particularly agree with the view that elves are just as strong as humans -- what the rules say an elf is seems to be at odds with what an elf would be on that front.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    As regards swords, Mayhem, forging a sword takes quite a bit of specialized knowledge - maybe that's what they're spending 85 years learning, but the rules show no evidence for that.

    As regards longbows, elves are short according to the rules. They max out at what, 5'6" or so? Effective use of a longbow requires height because the physics of the weapon (assuming it's not composite, in which case what the hell is it doing in a fantasy setting, composite bows?) depend on both, well, a long bow, as well as a long draw distance, to deal damage and be effective at range. Yeah, historically humans were the same height or shorter for most of history - but D&D humans are significantly taller than D&D elves, so....

    Really, I'd be 100% behind an elf overhaul, though I disagree that the primary style of elven warfare involves strength and endurance - I disagree that there is a primary style of elven warfare, in fact. I could say that the primary style of elven warfare involved massive-scale bribery due to hyperefficient industry and cite the incredible production capabilities of Santa's elves as evidence, and that would be just as valid as quoting Tolkein or anyone else.

    I'd be very tempted to simply play on the long life and make them skillmonkeys. Take away the current racial characteristics, ability score modifiers included (especially the bloody trance and everything associated with it), give them racial skills (skills all elves have as class skills) and something like 4 extra skill points per level. And then get rid of the "there's an elf for that" thing!

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Elves refuse to slaughter animals for food because it "disrupts nature", but are perfectly willing to slaughter them for fashion purposes (elves are commonly depicted wearing leather armour of a design that would gain precisely nothing from being made of leather -- in other words, the use of leather serves as a fashion statement and nothing else).
    What? Who told you elves live in 'harmony' with nature, like some good-for-nothing druids? Elves control nature. They shape it to their whim, even create new species to serve them. It only looks like they live in harmony because they're so good at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Elves adopt a primary style of warfare that relies heavily on stamina and physical endurance, two things that D&D elves do not have in abundance.
    If you do guerrilla warfare wrong, perhaps. Elves shouldn't do 'hit-and-run' tactics so much as they should do 'hit-and-fade' tactics. They prepare the battlefield beforehand by ensuring they have lots of hidey-holes, then they take potshots in the middle of the night before dipping out to evade pursuit. If you're operating against humans (or even critters with darkvision), it's a lot more doable than you might think. A knock-down drag-out firefight is a human (or dwarven) idea; an elf is not interested in a fight that goes on longer than a minute or two. I imagine they'd use tactics very similar to those the insurgency uses in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'd also imagine that the elf who gets caught in a fight with a human or dwarf is screwed, if only because the elf can't keep up a fight for as long as the human or dwarf could.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    And of course, there's "so what exactly are these elves doing in the 85 years between becoming an adult and becoming a valid choice for a player character?" problem.
    Being teenagers. Just because elves live long doesn't mean they do anything useful with all of those years. Personally, I'd put an experience penalty on elves to make 'em slow down level gain - but that'd probably require wandering into LA.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainPlatypus View Post
    As regards longbows, elves are short according to the rules. They max out at what, 5'6" or so? Effective use of a longbow requires height because the physics of the weapon (assuming it's not composite, in which case what the hell is it doing in a fantasy setting, composite bows?) depend on both, well, a long bow, as well as a long draw distance, to deal damage and be effective at range. Yeah, historically humans were the same height or shorter for most of history - but D&D humans are significantly taller than D&D elves, so....
    Problem solved. Elves are as tall as historical humans, therefore they can use the historical longbow. Wander too far into this (like saying humans could use better longbows because they're taller) and we start getting into different sword lengths for different wielders. That's just diminishing returns.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    What? Who told you elves live in 'harmony' with nature, like some good-for-nothing druids? Elves control nature. They shape it to their whim, even create new species to serve them. It only looks like they live in harmony because they're so good at it.
    "Elves eat little, and although they are omnivorous, they eat more plants than meat. This is partly because of their affinity with nature (elves believe that a harvested plant causes less disruption to nature than a slain animal)...".

    It doesn't imply strict vegetarianism, but the upshot is still the same -- as far as D&D lore is concerned, elves consider fashion to be more important than eating.

    Being teenagers. Just because elves live long doesn't mean they do anything useful with all of those years. Personally, I'd put an experience penalty on elves to make 'em slow down level gain - but that'd probably require wandering into LA.
    Elves already get the shaft in D&D. I have no desire to make that problem worse.

    Problem solved. Elves are as tall as historical humans, therefore they can use the historical longbow. Wander too far into this (like saying humans could use better longbows because they're taller) and we start getting into different sword lengths for different wielders. That's just diminishing returns.
    Perhaps, although my impression is that elves would still have a lighter build than a human of above-average strength.

    EDIT: It looks to me like you'd need a strength score of 14 just to be able to bench the draw weight of an English longbow. I'm pretty sure the actual strength score needed would be even higher.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2011-04-25 at 06:33 AM.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Being teenagers. Just because elves live long doesn't mean they do anything useful with all of those years. Personally, I'd put an experience penalty on elves to make 'em slow down level gain - but that'd probably require wandering into LA.
    Consider that we as modern humans are "being teenagers" right through to age 21 as often as not these days. Our medieval counterparts left that stage at age 15. We could just as easily ask what we are doing now with those six years. That's what the elves are doing, only more so.

    I just give my elves a bonus 4 skill points at 1st level (no additional skill points at later levels) to account for what they did in their "teens".

    Perhaps, although my impression is that elves would still have a lighter build than a human of above-average strength.
    Of course, I also give my elves a carrying capacity as if they were one size class smaller.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    "Elves eat little, and although they are omnivorous, they eat more plants than meat. This is partly because of their affinity with nature (elves believe that a harvested plant causes less disruption to nature than a slain animal)...".

    It doesn't imply strict vegetarianism, but the upshot is still the same -- as far as D&D lore is concerned, elves consider fashion to be more important than eating.
    I'm aware that's what WotC and TSR put out. I was offering an alternative interpretation.
    Another would be that their leather lasts a really long time, or that elves, while eating less meat than modern Americans, still eat about as much as medieval Europeans.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Elves already get the shaft in D&D. I have no desire to make that problem worse.
    Adding on an LA would also require making them worth the LA - which, at the very least, would mean they'd need to lose the CON penalty.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Perhaps, although my impression is that elves would still have a lighter build than a human of above-average strength.
    Eh. I have a physique that's pretty similar to an elf's (albeit on the top end of their range). I look pretty scrawny, especially compared to most of the guys I work with. When we do combatives, I throw around guys who outweigh me by a good fifty pounds with brute force alone (God knows it ain't technique). Bulk and strength don't necessarily equate. This reflects in the elf's distinct lack of a Strength penalty. I have to work harder for endurance than I do for burst strength, and I'm easier to break than a bigger Joe is - which is in line with the Constitution penalty. I'm a clumsy stumbleduck, though, so at least there's that break. Thus, it seems rather fishy for you to be saying that because elves are skinny, they can't use a longbow.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    Consider that we as modern humans are "being teenagers" right through to age 21 as often as not these days. Our medieval counterparts left that stage at age 15. We could just as easily ask what we are doing now with those six years. That's what the elves are doing, only more so.
    For the most part, full-time education. From 15, you have your last year of school, one or two years of college/sixth form, and three to seven years of uni ahead of you.

    By the time you finish that, you should have learned to cook, if nothing else (the students who try to subsist on peanut butter, chocolate spread, and pot noodles are generally the ones who are only semi-catered and aren't allowed cooking equipment in their rooms).

    Eh. I have a physique that's pretty similar to an elf's (albeit on the top end of their range). I look pretty scrawny, especially compared to most of the guys I work with. When we do combatives, I throw around guys who outweigh me by a good fifty pounds with brute force alone (God knows it ain't technique). Bulk and strength don't necessarily equate. This reflects in the elf's distinct lack of a Strength penalty. I have to work harder for endurance than I do for burst strength, and I'm easier to break than a bigger Joe is - which is in line with the Constitution penalty. I'm a clumsy stumbleduck, though, so at least there's that break. Thus, it seems rather fishy for you to be saying that because elves are skinny, they can't use a longbow.
    There's more to strength than raw muscle mass, sure -- muscle density does play a part. But there's a limit to how far you can get on density alone.

    Note that the D&D rules effectively forbid humans from using longbows effectively as well (a human can't attain the requisite strength score on the average array, and I'm not convinced it's even possible using the elite array) -- it's not just an elf thing.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Note that the D&D rules effectively forbid humans from using longbows effectively as well (a human can't attain the requisite strength score on the average array, and I'm not convinced it's even possible using the elite array) -- it's not just an elf thing.
    Wait, what? Having done archery myself for 3 years, I'd like to hear your explanation on this please.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Rebuild them.
    Refluff them.

    I don't see any problems with the racial traits of elves. All the points mentioned in the first post are contradictions in fluff.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    I actually switched to javelins and shortspears as the default elf weapons. Seemed to make more sense to me.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    For the most part, full-time education. From 15, you have your last year of school, one or two years of college/sixth form, and three to seven years of uni ahead of you.

    By the time you finish that, you should have learned to cook, if nothing else (the students who try to subsist on peanut butter, chocolate spread, and pot noodles are generally the ones who are only semi-catered and aren't allowed cooking equipment in their rooms).
    Yes, that's pretty much what we said. Your brain doesn't really hit 'mature' until around 21-23, so why is it so much of a stretch for an elf's to take significantly longer? They're already plenty unnatural with their stupid-long lifespans, so why not have a prolonged period of adolescence as a side-affect?

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    There's more to strength than raw muscle mass, sure -- muscle density does play a part. But there's a limit to how far you can get on density alone.
    I have the rough equivalent of STR 16. I know a guy who's smaller than me with STR 18 (going by the carry capacity tables and the results of us fooling around in the gym). Mass is highly overrated.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Note that the D&D rules effectively forbid humans from using longbows effectively as well (a human can't attain the requisite strength score on the average array, and I'm not convinced it's even possible using the elite array) -- it's not just an elf thing.
    Where? You can't be talking about composite longbows, the minimum for one of those is +0, STR 10. Regular longbows don't even list a minimum STR score.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Refluff them.

    I don't see any problems with the racial traits of elves. All the points mentioned in the first post are contradictions in fluff.
    If you're going to go to the trouble of refluffing them, you might as well fix the flaws in their mechanics as well. You can rebuild them with better mechanics based on better fluff.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark View Post
    Wait, what? Having done archery myself for 3 years, I'd like to hear your explanation on this please.
    The draw weight of an English longbow (up to 220 lb, according to wiki) matches up to what a strength 14 or 15 character can bench. So it's already out of reach of the 'average' humans.

    And that's the lower bound. The real answer would probably be higher.

    It seems like the actual problem is that the rules consider high ability scores to be harder to attain than they actually would be. Although I'm not entirely convinced that the D&D rules for bows aren't entirely borked anyway.

    Admittedly, Wikipedia does seem to support the idea that 'longbow' != 'English longbow'. So it's not as implausible as I originally suggested for elves to use the weapon D&D describes as a longbow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora
    Refluff them.
    They also get the shaft mechanically -- classes where dexterity is more important than constitution aren't that common, and there are no classes with constitution as a dump stat.

    Automatically pinging secret doors is strictly weaker than stonecunning (a scenario where secret doors don't constitute unusual stonework essentially requires intentional contrivance on the part of the DM).

    The +2 bonus to spot checks is not generally useful unless you're already the highest spot check in the party, and the same goes for listen checks and search checks (for almost all of these, you get one check for every party member and use the best result).

    Nifty colour low-light vision is, well, nifty, but not unique in the slightest.

    Sleep immunity isn't entirely horrible for the first few levels. After that, it's entirely worthless because everyone gets it for free anyway.

    And the free elf weapon proficiencies are next to worthless -- there are very few character classes who could get any real mileage out of those weapons without getting them for free.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2011-04-25 at 08:53 AM.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    The draw weight of an English longbow (up to 220 lb, according to wiki) matches up to what a strength 14 or 15 character can bench. So it's already out of reach of the 'average' humans.

    And that's the lower bound. The real answer would probably be higher.

    It seems like the actual problem is that the rules consider high ability scores to be harder to attain than they actually would be. Although I'm not entirely convinced that the D&D rules for bows aren't entirely borked anyway.
    If "bench" equals "maximum carrying capacity", IIRC that would be 100 pounds for a Str 10 character. 200 for Str 15, 400 for Str 20. Also, you've listed the upper bound rather than the lower.

    Furthermore, hunting bows had a lower draw weight and DnD doesn't seem to distinguish between an "English" longbow and a hunting bow (though I suppose it might be represented by a shortbow).
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark View Post
    If "bench" equals "maximum carrying capacity", IIRC that would be 100 pounds for a Str 10 character. 200 for Str 15, 400 for Str 20. Also, you've listed the upper bound rather than the lower.
    It's the lower bound for the minimum strength requirement. My overall impression is that being able to bench press a given weight does not entail being able to use a bow with the same draw weight.

    Although yes, hunting bows do typically have a much lower draw weight than military ones. It's not as bad a trope as I made it out to be.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2011-04-25 at 08:47 AM.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Another project on the HB forum has suggested the idea of LA +1 elves, too. Here's some ideas rolling around in my head for that (and bear in mind they're not all gonna work with each other):
    - Elves are spellcasters: Give 'em spellcasting as a 1st-level wizard on top of what they receive from classes (this stacks if they're a wizard, making an ECL 2 elf cast as well as a 2nd-level wizard). This has the added benefit of helping to balance out the LA downshift. Of course, it's most of a 1st-level class ability, which is arguably in and of itself worth a +1 to LA.
    - Elves are guerrillas: Elves have Endurance and Run as bonus feats, and if they're not also spellcasters they don't take a penalty to Constitution.
    - Elves are ninjas: Give 'em bonuses in the realm of +2 to +4 to all the movement-based skills, like Jump, Climb, Move Silently, Hide (or maybe just those skills, really). They're arboreal in fluff, let's help make 'em arboreal in fact.
    - Elves are wise: They already have a bonus to Will saves, so a +2 bonus to Wisdom falls in line.
    - Elves are beautiful: Bonuses to Gather Information and Diplomacy as well as a possible +2 to Charisma. Perhaps some sort of charm aura that works similar to the frightful presence mechanic; low enough save DC that PCs could ignore it, high enough that mere mortals could be bewitched by the fey.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark View Post
    If "bench" equals "maximum carrying capacity", IIRC that would be 100 pounds for a Str 10 character. 200 for Str 15, 400 for Str 20. Also, you've listed the upper bound rather than the lower.

    Furthermore, hunting bows had a lower draw weight and DnD doesn't seem to distinguish between an "English" longbow and a hunting bow (though I suppose it might be represented by a shortbow).
    The "longbow" is as much an "english longbow" as a longsword is a "german longsword". In Afrika and South America people are using bows that are as long as the user is tall, which would also fall into the weapon type "longbow", while I think a "shortbow" would be 3/4 of that length and shorter.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    It's the lower bound for the minimum strength requirement. My overall impression is that being able to bench press a given weight does not entail being able to use a bow with the same draw weight.
    I'd say vice-versa, actually. I'm serious lacking in the area of upper body strength, but I can still fire a 100-pound draw longbow with reasonable accuracy and ease. I can only bench about 60 pounds though. Something about the leverage applied to a bow makes it easier.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Raw materials aren't really the issue (it is possible to mine in a forest, the real question is whether or not the elves want to) -- the problem lies in the fact that swords are very hard to make.
    I know swords aren't easy to make, I've even made some myself. I don't see how a creature with around 700 years of adult lifes can't master what our ancestors did with their meager 5-10 adult years .
    You're prefectly justified in saying you don't like how they prefer swords of course, that's just a culture thing. I think it was just one slight conceit to make elf wizards somewhat viable but that's another rant all on it's own . There's also the problem of elves not reproducing a whole lot, so that's a plausible reason for the lack of decent steel weapon smiths.

    It actually varies from bow to bow -- different bows do have a different draw weight. The real issue is that the D&D longbow is implied to be the same weapon as the English longbow, which required constant practice and above-average strength in order to use effectively.
    I did archery for 5 years, so I know they have different draw weights. But that doesn't mean a 5ft long bow can't be fired by a young girl 300m like the d&d stats say they should be able to. 30m, the first d&d longbow increment, is generally where adult archery starts at the local archery club.
    Yora said it better than I ever could.

    You could just change the longbow's range increment, you know a single value, instead of changing everything else .
    Well, how about axing the elves' weapon proficiencies altogether?
    I don't particularly agree with the view that elves are just as strong as humans -- what the rules say an elf is seems to be at odds with what an elf would be on that front.
    If you don't think elves should be as strong, that's cool let's just add it to the list of changes. I can't see fluff in the PHB why though.
    Actually, you could start with these stats from the monster manual as a start which tackle your strength problem and somewhat start on adressing why they aren't smarter.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhem View Post
    I know swords aren't easy to make, I've even made some myself. I don't see how a creature with around 700 years of adult lifes can't master what our ancestors did with their meager 5-10 adult years .
    In the medieval era, swordsmithing simply could not be done 'casually'. Sure, an elf who wanted to be a swordsmith could be a swordsmith. They could get pretty good at it.

    But we're not talking about a few elves who feel like putting their minds to it. RotW implies that Every single elf over the age of 25 is capable of manufacturing semi-decent swords. From raw ore. I don't buy it, and I don't particularly want to buy it -- if true, it would basically mean elves reaching a whole new height of the same obnoxious superiority I'm planning to beat out of them.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2011-04-25 at 11:04 AM.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    The difference, iirc, is that the pull weight of a bow is a measure of the full force required to draw it - whereas weights are measured in, well, weight. I could easily be wrong, though - it's been a while.

    I like the idea of LA+1 wizard-castin' elves a lot.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    My elf-thoughts;
    Stat modifiers become -2 Str, +2 Dex, +2 Cha. Elves are nimble, lean, slight-of-build and have an ethereal, fey presence that many find enticing, if not always traditionally 'beautiful,' but are not sickly or unhealthy or prone to physical enervation in the sense that a Con penalty would suggest. Indeed, being outdoorsly folk with extraordinary lifespans and very low rates of reproduction, a Con penalty is arse-backwards, and, IMO, a failure of flavor to fit function.

    Elven children rarely want any one thing, they want *everything.* It is not always enough to master their innate fey magical heritage and become a sorcerer, or to take advantage of their grace and flexibility to master the arts of the rogue or fighter. For every elf that is able to focus their personal development in this way, there is another than chooses to become a bard, ranger, duskblade, magus or similar class that does not limit them from being both students of the sword and the spell.

    Elves are fickle creatures, living almost entirely in the moment, with little regard for 'tradition' or promises made yesterday. As such, surrounding folk recognize them as inherently unreliable and even dangerous, as dark moods can take an elf like a wildfire, and they can turn on even what seems to be their closest friend over a perceived slight or petulant whim. Their emotions are strong, burning hot, but fast, and moments after lashing out at an ally in a fit of pique, and elf might be overcome with regret. That regret, unfortunately, will fade as fast as the temper did, and by the next day, at the latest, the elf will care nothing for any long-term bad feelings engendered the previous day. Comparisons of elves to cats, sharks or children are not unfair, as they can be calm and fascinating one moment, and selfish and cruel the next. Called out for such behavior, and elf is likely to be perplexed, as it's simply their nature, and what they grew up accustomed to. If an elf ever apologizes, it is a hollow stirring of the air, made for the benefit of someone that doesn't understand how little they carry around such emotional baggage, for good or ill.

    Human druids note that extensive interaction with elven-folk makes for a good regimen of training for anyone who would interact with the fey, who, if anything, are even more capricious, fickle and unsympathetic.

    As a result of this hot-blooded, quick-to-cool, nature, elven warriors are as likely to be barbarians as rangers, with only a few having the discipline or patience necessary to become fighters.

    While it's easy to note that their mercurial natures, unwilling to commit to any one path, sends them disproportionately into careers like bard and ranger, it's also true that the one thing that can be said consistently about elves is that they are contrary beings. While the roles of monk and paladin may seem the last choices the 'average' elf would choose, elves can be as stubborn and contrary as any other, and there will always be the rare elf who 'has to be different' and whole-heartedly embraces such a path, taking the dismissal of his peers as encouragement to continue defying elven 'tradition.'

    While elves are innately magical, through some fey heritage, not every elf is equally strong in this potential, and elven wizards are not unknown, among those whose sorcerous potential is 'weak' or 'thin.' Such elves stubbornly refuse to surrender to the 'weakness' of their blood, and choose to follow less traditionally elven arcane training, to master the magic that *should* have been their birthright. Such elves are more likely to view magic as a servant, that they have beaten into obedience, taking out their frustration at having been born absent the gift of sorcery, and exhibiting great pride in their increased access to spells, compared to a sorcerer of equal experience. Elven wizards are more likely to be adventurers than elven sorcerers, eager to broaden their arcane knowledge (and equally eager to avoid their more innately gifted kin, who may look down upon them for having to 'struggle and work' to master what every elf should be able to do naturally).

    .

    Going in the opposite direction, and making the fluff fit the mechanics (particularly the Con penalty), I'd describe elves as sickly, producing a fair number of children, but being more prone to the death of the mother, or the early death of the children, keeping their numbers low. They would come from some other world, perhaps a fey realm, and be inherently unnatural and out of touch with the natural world. They try and try to either adapt themselves to the material world, or the material world to themselves, but continually fail to do so. The taste of earthly food is barely enough to sustain them, due to their alien nature and difficulty metabolizing the alien flora and fauna of this world, and they constantly endure discomfort.

    Growing up over a century punctuated by the deaths of siblings or mothers, elves grow hard and cold, seeing the natural world itself as out to kill them (which, due to their alien metabolisms, isn't far from the truth), and more accustomed to grief than the healthier races that cannot truly understand how grim and hostile the very world itself seems to them.

    Their weakness as a species (and prideful unwillingness to compromise) has resulted in them being driven out of most civilized lands, and forced to live in the forests or other untamed areas, unclaimed (or, at least, with claims unenforced) by surroundiing nations. The harsh conditions only exacerbate their health issues, as they are often forced to hunt and forage in dangerous monster-haunted wilderness areas, endure exposure to the elements, and be continually exposed to new contagions, the risk of infection, etc. keeping their already low numbers in a constant state of threat. Like many peoples who feel threatened, they have adopted a siege mentality, that only drives away potential allies and alienates their neighbors, accelerating the chances
    of their seemingly inevitable extinction.

    Even if some powerful magic or divinely-empowered change were to transform the entire elven race and make them as hearty and healthy as a halfling or human, allowing their numbers to expand, instead of contract, year by year, their ingrained fear of the outside world and increasingly insular and isolationist 'seige mentality' nature would likely still spell their eventual doom.

    Shows like Alien Nation, District Nine or The Event offer varying examples of 'alien' cultures attempting to live in worlds that are varying levels of incompatible with or unsympathetic to their continued presence, and could serve as guidelines for how to play such an elf, to whom the entire world they live in is alien and hostile.

    I'm less fond of this variation, but it would at least make the 'fluff' match up to the 'crunch.'
    Last edited by Set; 2011-04-25 at 12:44 PM.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Making them LA +1 is an interesting idea, but it's not something that particularly appeals to me.

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

    Giving elves a free level of wizard casting in exchange for +1 LA doesn't really fit that bill IMHO.

    Fluff-wise, I think the goal is for individual elves to vary. I don't really want to give them a 'hat' at all. That applies to otherworldliness as well -- elves aren't the exact same as humans, but they aren't always that different either.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2011-04-25 at 03:20 PM.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Condense elves into specialized separate groups. The high elves are the ultimate poser race. They steal ancient dwarven chain mail, crudely refit it to suit themselves and claim it as their invention. They claim to be the most advanced civilisation ever, but the only thing they ever came up with first was plastic surgery. They make contradictory rules for others, but do not actually follow them.

    Wood elf is also a common form of elf, perhaps the most widespread and one of the few I tolerate. They should utilize every part of every animal they kill and probably be rabidly insular.

    'Elves are superior' is just a bad idea though. It has been hammered onto so many settings by now that it can ruin a very good new setting, in my opinion at least.
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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

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

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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    Fluff-wise, I think the goal is for individual elves to vary. I don't really want to give them a 'hat' at all. That applies to otherworldliness as well -- elves aren't the exact same as humans, but they aren't always that different either.
    Basically... each subrace isn't really a 'subrace' so much as it is an elf who picked a certain path over their years? So you could have a wild elf whose parents are a high elf and a grey elf, whose sister is an aquatic elf and brother is a jungle elf. Seems the simplest solution to me without homebrewing up an attempt at remaking the human wheel.
    My latest homebrew: Majokko base class and Spellcaster Dilettante feats for D&D 3.5 and Races as Classes for PTU.

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    Default Re: What should the elf be like? [3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    Basically... each subrace isn't really a 'subrace' so much as it is an elf who picked a certain path over their years? So you could have a wild elf whose parents are a high elf and a grey elf, whose sister is an aquatic elf and brother is a jungle elf. Seems the simplest solution to me without homebrewing up an attempt at remaking the human wheel.
    I don't really want anyone to end up with a hat if I can avoid it. I'd rather not stick one on the elves, and if I ever get to the dwarves they can expect to lose theirs as well (although the dwarf clichés are actually pretty fun).

    Elves should be different, not superior. This extends to every aspect of their culture and behaviour.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2011-04-25 at 04:44 PM.

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