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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    gkathellar's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Sad and peaceful. Not angsty or suicidal or apathetic, just sad and peaceful. The world is a rough, tough place and plenty of humans feel "ready" to leave it behind by the time they're seventy or eighty. Think of how living for hundreds of years must feel, especially if by the time you're an adult by your cultural standards you've seen a hundred winters. Think of being a twenty-something for two centuries, or an old man for fifty years.

    That's why so many elves avoid other, shorter-lived races. Imagine raising your children alongside human children if you were an elf. Their friends would have gray hair by the time they could be called young-adults, and it would be incredibly hard on them. That's also why elves live out in the wilderness: things are relatively constant out there. Life in a forest can go on relatively unchanging, for millennia.

    Because they live so far apart from other races, elves have developed a cultural mythology of their own superiority. That also helps them deal with the problem of getting attached to shorter-lived creatures. They cling to traditions because these help to distinguish them from shorter-lived races. An elf can proudly claim he uses a sword style that is five millennia old, and even though that's only ten or so generations in elven terms, it certainly sets him apart from what members of most races can boast.

    Elves use festivals and cycles to break up the long centuries on a cultural scale, and as individuals they find projects and goals to focus on. They work hard to make their lives easy, because while elven life isn't any harder than human life, there's certainly a lot more of it. If elves seem gay and flighty to humans, it's because elves are trying really, really hard to live in the moment and not fixate on the passage of years.

    And, if they seem reluctant to involve themselves in the affairs of the world, it's because they have difficulty contextualizing those affairs in terms that matter to them. Overthrowing a tyrant may be the right thing to do, but it gets you caught up in the flow of history in a way most elves don't want to be caught. If human adventurers are exceptional among their race for their willingness to die, elven adventurers are exceptional among their race for their willingness to live.
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  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Incredibly awesome stuff.
    That's a rather interesting take on elves. I had a few things you mentioned in my cultural fluff for elves, but a lot of what you said bears contemplation. I have a subrace or three that could verily benefit from a few points there. Mind if I crib 'em?

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Archpaladin Zousha's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    I'm curious: how much of the traditional "elven arrogance" trope is actually based on the ideas of the game's creators (since nothing I see in the flavor texts suggest they're ACTUALLY arrogant to the point of being snooty to dwarves and humans and the like), and how much was influenced by exaggerating how a human might react to the typical elf (thinking the elf thinks he/she is better than the human and therefore snooty) and then projecting that attitude onto the world at large? And how much was influenced by the portrayal of elves by Games Workshop, particularly in Warhammer 40,000? All the stuff about snooty superior elves I see in my games seems to be channeling the Eldar.

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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    I'm curious: how much of the traditional "elven arrogance" trope is actually based on the ideas of the game's creators (since nothing I see in the flavor texts suggest they're ACTUALLY arrogant to the point of being snooty to dwarves and humans and the like), and how much was influenced by exaggerating how a human might react to the typical elf (thinking the elf thinks he/she is better than the human and therefore snooty) and then projecting that attitude onto the world at large? And how much was influenced by the portrayal of elves by Games Workshop, particularly in Warhammer 40,000? All the stuff about snooty superior elves I see in my games seems to be channeling the Eldar.
    I'm completely unfamiliar with WH40K, beyond the basics found in wikis, articles and the like.

    In my games, elves usually have a reason to be arrogant. If they don't have a reason, they just aren't. In the setting I referenced before, the elves used to be a very fragmented race spread in the wild places of the world. A particularly charming elven hero rose to prominence and united the elves of the world, forming a nobility class (the highborn) and establishing a cruel empire that sought to take over the world. Then he ascended to godhood.

    If it wasn't for the other gods depowering him and another (human, arcane) empire crushing the elves, they would have probably subjugated the entire world. Then you have the inner fractures, too. The snow elves, who never joined in the mania due to a millennia-old slight from the other subraces, the drow, who were the rebels that got exiled for not believing in the imperialistic ideals, and so on.

    So yeah, younger elves aren't that keen on the arrogant superior thing (and might go out of their way to prove that they're definitely not arrogant at all), but the older ones might still cling to their former ways.

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowknight12 View Post
    That's a rather interesting take on elves. I had a few things you mentioned in my cultural fluff for elves, but a lot of what you said bears contemplation. I have a subrace or three that could verily benefit from a few points there. Mind if I crib 'em?
    I'm glad you like it. Go right ahead.
    Quote Originally Posted by KKL
    D&D is its own momentum and does its own fantasy. It emulates itself in an incestuous mess.

    Play Legend. / Legend IRC.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    I think a bit of the elven fluff of them being arrogant also has to do with players. Everyone, raise your hands if you have NEVER met a player who would gleefully use this as an excuse to be a jerk IC to other characters and act superior. And when designers use PCs to build races...Well, at least there is no fluff about elves wearing chainmail bikinis.

    I think one designer for Forgotten Realms even commented that one of the elven groups was shifting to Lawful Evil instead of being Chaotic Good, like they should be. I honestly thought the subrace was supposed to be Lawful Neutral, so that surprised me.

    By the way, second on stealing bits of that fluff. It is a good explanation for why elves might be set apart or act arrogant without making other players want to stab them in the face. Repeatedly.

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    By the way, second on stealing bits of that fluff. It is a good explanation for why elves might be set apart or act arrogant without making other players want to stab them in the face. Repeatedly.
    Cool. Bear in mind that some elves are obviously going to be bigger jerks than others, and only some of them will have justifications for it. One elf might be a genuinely mean person who uses his race's reluctance to deal with humans as an excuse to be cruel and nasty to them. Another elf might really like humans but regard them with a kind of grandfatherly contempt. A third might very well embrace the difficulty of dealing with humanity and forgo the superiority complex entirely. A fourth might just not care.
    Quote Originally Posted by KKL
    D&D is its own momentum and does its own fantasy. It emulates itself in an incestuous mess.

    Play Legend. / Legend IRC.

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    I think there is a difference between just having a race be superior for the heck of it and all characters from that race being jerks rather then having a race that's really just afraid to get attached and comes across a bit awkwardly. Having characters act like jerks just because simply does not appeal to me, and I think would not appeal to the players.

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    When I play elves, I usually dictate how they act based upon how old they are, their profession, and the environment they grew up in. A young elf born around other elves will probably seem slow, flighty, and almost lazy in attitude to the shorter lived races. Conversely, and elf raised among humans or shorter lived races would probably be harsher. Slower to make friends with people, probably a bit nasty in mood. I've always seen it as an act really, because compared to an elf, a human life is a few blinks of an eye. When one is young and raised amongst humans, an elf is probably going to make friends with one. The human will will grow older, whither and grey before the elves very eyes, who is probably horrified at the fact that time has barely touched them at all but their friend is almost dead. Almost dead and there isn't a thing the elf can do about it except watch their friend die. Since elves never sleep, but rather go over their memories, they will always remember them. The pain of their passing will always be fresh in their mind. Imagine an older elf. One who has probably had many friends that have passed of old age. Hundreds maybe. I've always seen that elves aren't really snooty and mean. Just that they are scared to make friends when they already know the outcome, and don't wish to add another face to the many that have already passed.
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  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    When making settings, I prefer to change elves mechanically a little. I like to make them even more long-lived than the PHB ones to really drive home the longevity fluff. As a result, the only first-level elves are children. There are not many in total compared to humans, but if most humans are first-level, most elves are fifth to tenth level. Basically, the races are equal in total hit dice count...

    However, I also make them less focused than humans. That fifth-level elf will be some relatively unoptimized multiclass, because with that much time, they each try to learn all the skills required for their lifestyle. Every elf can weave, forge metal, blow glass, hunt, cast simple healing and utility spells, fight, lead religious ceremonies, sing, and recount mythic history to about the same degree as most non-adventurer human professionals can in their respective fields.

    That goes back to a philosophy of maximizing self-reliance and independence, rather than a pursuit of power. If an elf doesn't like the decisions their tribe is making, they can just go out in the wilderness, build a home, forage materials for whatever they need and make it themselves. As a result, every elf can cover for every other elf in the daily running of their society. Except for the really advanced stuff, there is no division of labour.

    The other cornerpoint is basically mindfulness. Never hurry. There are always multiple choices, and even the things you must do, you do because you choose to act on those obligations. Observe and take in everything. Not denying emotions, but not necessarily acting upon them until they have been perceived from enough angles. If pressed beyond the breaking point, they might snap to the opposite mode, though, and act blindly on fury, but this will not happen within the spectrum of life circumstances the elf has been able to foresee.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    desperately curious about non elven society, but wants to try and remain withdrawn.

    Or thats how I probably would do it if I wasn't always the DM :P

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    In my setting the elves study the world at large. Their races can be broken down as such.

    Wood elves: The best druids, study nature, have a firm belief in keeping the ecosystem in check, but realize that sometimes you have to burn the trees down less the forest fire keep spreading.

    Grey elves: Study of history and kingdoms. Work as political advisors. Chessmasters who are arrogant, but never to the faces of opponents as "pride is only good when bluffing in a game of wyrm poker, and even then the opponent might call."

    Drow: Unholy (NOT EVIL in this setting) elves who are closely tied to the netherworlds. Study the earth and are key researchers of the underdark and the "emotional crystals". Masters of fusion crafting (take a longsword and a rage crystal and put them in a pot to get a flaming longsword).

    Aquatic Elves: Master fishermen and privateers. Often take levels in leviathan hunter to protect ships from the horrors of the deep.

    Wild elf: Hammy beyond all belief. Make great bards and comedians. Although people do get annoyed from them always chewing the scenery.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    I'm curious: how much of the traditional "elven arrogance" trope is actually based on the ideas of the game's creators (since nothing I see in the flavor texts suggest they're ACTUALLY arrogant to the point of being snooty to dwarves and humans and the like), and how much was influenced by exaggerating how a human might react to the typical elf (thinking the elf thinks he/she is better than the human and therefore snooty) and then projecting that attitude onto the world at large? And how much was influenced by the portrayal of elves by Games Workshop, particularly in Warhammer 40,000? All the stuff about snooty superior elves I see in my games seems to be channeling the Eldar.
    Door Number 3: too many descriptions of the-wonders-that-once-were of elvish civilizations. A running theme of elves seems to be a Golden-Age past and a Fallen present. I mean, you've got elves that basically cop to destroying themselves and yet still harp about how great they were. At some point it ceases to be melancholy and just comes across as preening and insufferable.

    The other thing is authors who use superlatives improperly, giving elves the feeling of being a Mary-Sue-ish fantasy race--when description amounts to little more than "everything is beautiful and better because I said so," it doesn't have the effect of validation, but rather sounds boastful or hollow. Technically not the fault of the described, but that's the effect.

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Extremely long, or eternal, life can have serious effects on a person’s psyche. My Elves are either world weary nihilists, believing they’ve seen everything, done everything, and the mortal world can offer them nothing,

    Or sociopathic hedonists trying desperately trying to stave off soul crushing despair by throwing themselves in decadence and vice.
    Last edited by GenericGuy; 2011-07-23 at 02:07 PM.

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by GenericGuy View Post
    Extremely long, or eternal, life can have serious effects on a person’s psyche. My Elves are either world weary nihilists, believing they’ve seen everything, done everything, and the mortal world can offer them nothing,

    Or sociopathic hedonists trying desperately trying to stave off soul crushing despair by throwing themselves in decadence and vice.
    So... exactly like Vampire:the Masquerade/the Requiem, then?

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowknight12 View Post
    So... exactly like Vampire:the Masquerade/the Requiem, then?
    Good catch.

    Yeah, I think we get enough of that in VtM and VtR.
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowknight12 View Post
    So... exactly like Vampire:the Masquerade/the Requiem, then?
    I’ve never played a World of Darkness setting, and was very upset when I found out their “Changeling: The Lost” had similarities to, what I thought, was a original homemade setting I was creating. I was just sick of all "immortal" races behaving like "normal" people, and so I asked myself "how would a long lived person really be like" and that was my answer.

    So maybe a little, but it is unintentional. Funny thing, Elven magic in my setting works by taking energy from their environment, or in a pinch sucking the life out of living beings.
    Last edited by GenericGuy; 2011-07-23 at 02:39 PM.

  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by GenericGuy View Post
    I’ve never played a World of Darkness setting, and was very upset when I found out their “Changeling: The Lost” had similarities to, what I thought, was a original homemade setting I was creating. I was just sick of all "immortal" races behaving like "normal" people, and so I asked myself "how would a long lived person really be like" and that was my answer.

    So maybe a little, but it is unintentional. Funny thing, Elven magic in my setting works by taking energy from their environment, or in a pinch sucking the life out of living beings.
    That is the exact polar opposite of my experience. No immortal race I've ever seen is ever suggested to behave even remotely normal. Every official fluff for immortal races I've seen basically says "YOU ARE IMMORTAL! YOU ARE SPECIAL! ACT LIKE IT!"

    Also, yes, the similarity between VtM/VtR and your interpretation of elves just keeps growing with your every post.

    Btw, what happened to you is called "Parallel development."

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowknight12 View Post
    That is the exact polar opposite of my experience. No immortal race I've ever seen is ever suggested to behave even remotely normal. Every official fluff for immortal races I've seen basically says "YOU ARE IMMORTAL! YOU ARE SPECIAL! ACT LIKE IT!"

    Also, yes, the similarity between VtM/VtR and your interpretation of elves just keeps growing with your every post.

    Btw, what happened to you is called "Parallel development."
    Well I can’t debate against your experiences, but for me whenever people roleplay or write Elves they either make them special by being more arrogant than other races, or have them do mysterious things for mysterious reasons that man was not meant to know (without any real logic or reason for elves to act that way) they’re told to act “otherworldly” so they do it superficially and don’t ask why.

    To clarify, my elves were inspired from Greek nymphs and the more disturbing aspects of fey myths than Vampires.

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Quote Originally Posted by GenericGuy View Post
    Well I can’t debate against your experiences, but for me whenever people roleplay or write Elves they either make them special by being more arrogant than other races, or have them do mysterious things for mysterious reasons that man was not meant to know (without any real logic or reason for elves to act that way) they’re told to act “otherworldly” so they do it superficially and don’t ask why.

    To clarify, my elves were inspired from Greek nymphs and the more disturbing aspects of fey myths than Vampires.
    It's funny, whenever I or my DMs/players roleplay non-human races, it's always drilled to us that we can't make them human. At all. They have to be fundamentally different. No exceptions. And really, "without real logic or reason" is just shallow roleplaying. Good roleplayers figure out the reasons their characters act the way they do.

    Yes, just like Changeling: the Lost and pretty much every take on Fey I've seen.

    Really, there comes a point where you have to inject a little humanity on these creatures, or else the "Banality of Evil" effect starts kicking in. Only it's more like the "Banality of Inhumanity" effect.

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    It all depends on how far down the wheel the character is on how I play him.

    If he is still walking the path of the warrior, then I will play him as more hot headed or impatient. Even if I am playing a weapon master.

    Of if he is walking the path of the scholar then he will slower and want to find out more before committing to an act, this can be true even if he is following a more aggressive discipline like warrior.

    We were talking Earthdawn yeah ?

    If not then I guess my other elves have been.

    Former Ancient Gang members on the run from the gang with a load of stolen money.
    Or a former Aztecnology company man.
    Or even just a wage slave that was lost in the system in the great crash and is now trying to use what skills he has to keep his wife and children safe.
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    Default Re: How do YOU roleplay an elf?

    Well, the average elf is decades older than the average human.

    So I treat them like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons: they're so old, they're generally several years behind the times, and use old-fashioned language and think decades-old innovations are brand new.

    "I'd like to send this letter to the Prussian consulate in Siam by aeromail. Am I too late for the 4:30 autogyro?"

    "If the house catches fire, I want you to call this number!"
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    "Yes! They're new, but they're good!"

    And so on.

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