View Full Version : Dung Elf

2006-03-17, 07:41 PM
I was recently directed to the excellent and fun online game, "ProgressQuest" www.progressquest.com. During character creation, I was overwhelmingly attracted to the available race, 'Dung Elf'. It's just so perfect! Seems like with every new setting, splat book, module, book, there's always some new subrace of elves - they're as prolific a collection of species as beetles. It's an evocative concept, dung elf.

Sufficiently evocative that, yesterday, I went ahead and wrote them up. Behold.
Dung Elf
The Dung Elf is a lesser-known cousin in the Elf family – one which most Elves prefer to remain lesser-known. Many Elves go so far as to claim that Dung Elves are not even really Elves at all, but rather, some relative to the goblins, or perhaps the gnomes.

Dung Elves subsist entirely off of fungi and molds, which they cultivate using natural fertilizers. Small, extended-family clans of Dung Elves select territories where they can raise and manage herds of livestock, for the primary purpose of generating and collecting their dung. (Dung Elves never eat meat. See below.) Dung is collected, mixed with various types of vegetable matter such as straw, grass, mulch, etc. and then aged, moistened, dried, or otherwise treated for various purposes. Dung Elves erect long, low fungus-houses which they use to create suitable environments for growing their molds and fungi. Some Dung Elves take advantage of natural features such as caves to create their fungus-houses, but they never delve deeper underground – they must maintain herds of herbivorous animals, which require an outdoor environment to thrive.

In addition to growing foodstuffs, Dung Elves use their smelly product to construct housing. All Dung Elf buildings are built from adobe bricks, mud bricks, or other varieties of earthen construction. Dung Elves are expert craftsmen with earth, clay, and dung, carefully combining precise mixtures of sand, clay, earth, dung, straw, and other ingredients to produce building materials with the exact desired characteristics.

Dung Elves often use the hair of their herd animals, along with other natural fibers, to weave their clothing. As sheep are a particularly good source of dung (because they can graze in a wide variety of environments), Dung Elves are particularly fond of wool. Their clothes are inevitably either dyed brown, grey, tan, or black, or, they are stained such colors by virtue of their particular industry.

Dung Elves are universally experts with all manner of fungi and molds. In addition to growing nutritious food, Dung Elves also cultivate a wide variety of species used for medicinal purposes. Dung Elves understand and use many powerful curatives, hallucinogens, and even toxic poisons, which, in carefully measured small quantities, can have numerous medicinal uses. In order to cultivate such a wide variety of species of mold and fungus, Dung Elves generally use many different mixtures and qualities of dung and fertilizer, along with several unique types of fungus-houses – some designed for drier mulch, others for cooler or darker environments, others for a richer mixture of fertilizer, and so on.

Physically, Dung Elves tend to be scrawny, thin, and short. While fungi provide sufficient nutrition for subsistence, they are not enough, on their own, to maintain a brawny or high-energy physique. However, due in part to their knowledge and use of medicines, and in part to their exposure beginning in early childhood to a wide variety of pharmacological substances (not to mention close proximity to domesticated herd animals), Dung Elves are very hardy, with iron constitutions and a high resistance to disease and poison. Dung Elves have black, brown, or dirty blonde hair, sunken, hollow-looking eyes, tiny and insensitive noses, small chinless jaws with tiny under-formed flat teeth, and extremely long, pointed ears – so long that some Dung Elves tie the ends together behind their heads, using decorative twine knotwork. (Despite their length, these ears are not especially sensitive.) They stand between 4 feet and 4 ˝ feet tall, and their hunched, wiry frames rarely weigh more than 90 lbs. Their skin is normally a deep tan or ruddy color, due to a combination of constant earthy filth, and plenty of exposure to the sun. Dung Elves normally wear thigh-high boots, combined with loose-fitting cloth garments which are tied at the waist, knees, elbows, wrists, and neck with intricately knotted twine. These garments, normally woven from flax, burlap, or other tough natural fiber, are usually dyed brown, black, or a deep grey color, to help conceal the ever-present dung-stains.

Dung Elves reach adulthood quickly (for elves), maturing by the age of 30, but paradoxically, they tend to live longer than their cousins, typically reaching middle-age at around 600 years, and becoming elderly at around 1,100. Some Dung Elves are reputed to be over 1800 years old. They invariably attribute their long life spans to “healthy living and a good diet.”

Dung Elves are capable of eating and surviving off of vegetable matter aside from fungus, but they find fruits and vegetables extremely distasteful and will always prefer a meal of fungus. Dung Elves are incapable of digesting meat, milk, or other animal products, and will invariably vomit such food if it is forced upon them. They find the concept of eating animals abhorrent and disgusting, and regard all carnivores as threats – perhaps understandable, given their herdsmen lifestyle.

While they spend a lot of time outdoors tending herd animals, Dung Elves also spend a great deal of time in “cool, dark places” cultivating and harvesting their fungi and molds, where their low-light vision is a crucial advantage.

Dung Elves are not warrior-like, and in fact rarely have cause to fight. Other humanoid species tend to avoid them, finding their entire territory to be a foul-smelling and insect-infested place. Further, the only things Dung Elves have which any other species would find of value is their livestock – and indeed, Dung Elves find that when they come into conflict with neighbors, the inevitable result is the wholesale theft of their herd animals. However, dung lasts a long time, and a community that loses their animals can often survive for two or three years without them, carefully conserving their fertilizer stockpiles while new animals are bred, caught, or purchased. Dung Elves are loathe to abandon a territory, but if pressured they will do so, constructing long baggage-trains of livestock hauling great heaping carts filled with their precious fertilizers and hundreds of tightly-sealed earthenware jars filled with their fungus spores. Dung Elves are more likely to leave, than to wage prolonged war, and thus over time, they have mostly been pushed out into territory less desired by other races. Dung Elves do trade with other communities, generally exchanging rare, sought-after varieties of fungus for metals, glass, fabric, cookware, blades, and other useful items.
Dung Elf
Medium Humanoid (Elf)
+2 CON, -2 CHA, -2 STR
Medium: As Medium creatures, Dung Elves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Dung Elf base land speed is 30 feet.
Deadened Smell: Dung Elves have an atrophied sense of smell, making them less susceptible to attacks or effects which cause nausea due to smell. They gain a +4 racial bonus when making saving throws against such affects.
Poison and Disease Resistance: Dung Elves have an incredibly hardy constitution, and treat themselves with all sorts of medicinal fungi and molds, making them highly resistant to poisons and non-magical diseases. Dung Elves gain a +4 racial bonus when making saving throws against poison or non-magical disease.
Low-Light Vision: A Dung Elf can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
+2 bonus on Craft (poopsmith). Craft (poopsmith) is always a class skill for Dung Elves. (Poopsmithing is the skill of creating things out of dung, including adobe and mud buildings, as well as certain kinds of ceramics, a variety of useful mulches and fertilizers, and occasionally decorative sculpture.)
+2 circumstance bonus on Knowledge checks having to do with fungi, molds, and poisons.
Knowledge (Nature) is always a class skill for Dung Elves.
Favored Class: None. Dung Elves are most commonly NPC classes such as Commoner, Expert, or Adept. As PCs, they have no favored class and thus do not ignore any class when calculating XP penalties for multiclassing.
Automatic Languages: Common and Dung Elf. Bonus Languages: Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Sylvan, and Terran.

Originally I had the ability adjustments as +4 CON, -4 CHA, -2 STR. I realized that was probably overpowered for certain classes, however. I do want this to be a LA 0 race, playable as a character class. I'm interested in comments with regards to balancing this.


2006-03-17, 09:18 PM
I'm of two minds about this idea. One is that it is rather lowbrow and yet another stab at elf lovers and the seemingly endless variations of elf. The other is :o WTFOMGROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!! ;D ;D ;D This is PERFECT for illustrating that there are TOO FREAKIN' MANY KINDS OF ELF!!! I say if you want to play an elf, ACTUALLY PLAY AN ELF!! Don't play some wierd thing that has +2 Str and -2 Int and happens to have pointy ears. Granted, Drow have an interesting place (especially in Eberron ;)), but Wood, Wild, Winged, Gray, Ghost, Star, Sun and the rest are excessive. Regular elves are good enough!

BTW, you don't have an aging table.

2006-03-17, 10:09 PM
Poopcraft just makes me laugh. Call me immature if you want, I dont care. Its still funny.

Theyre made of fungus?

2006-03-17, 10:21 PM
I wonder if the King of Town's official Poopsmith is in fact a dung elf. I don't think he has pointy ears, though.

Dark Knight Renee
2006-03-17, 10:31 PM
OMG :o ;D That's AWESOME! That's the most inventive elven (or anything else) subrace I've ever seen.

2006-03-17, 10:41 PM
I'm definately begging my DM to let me play one of these next campaign. And I'm definately taking the Skill Focus; Poopsmith, so I can best represent the strengths of my noble community, and set a good example of what a Dung Elf should be.

Pop Goes the Weasel
2006-03-17, 11:03 PM

2006-03-17, 11:26 PM
Hm, do you think that a Dung Elf with Craft Constuct could make a Dung Golem?

2006-03-17, 11:48 PM
OMGLOL! That is the most awsome D&D race I've ever read. That aside, you did ask for comments on game balance. Having no favored class is rough, and having a -2 charisma with seemingly no counterbalance is also rough. I'd call your dungelf underpowered.

2006-03-17, 11:56 PM
I wonder if I could actually play this as a race. Although I agree, you should give them a favoured class. It's only fair...

I'm thinking Druid.

2006-03-18, 12:00 AM
How about artificer? You could make all kind of poopcraft creations.

2006-03-18, 02:01 AM
I wonder if I could actually play this as a race. Although I agree, you should give them a favoured class. It's only fair...

I'm thinking Druid.
Otyugh animal companion. It so works!

2006-03-18, 02:05 AM
Otyugh animal companion. It so works!

But otyguhs are abberations. It's never going to happen.

I'm really wondering how they interact with myconids, or better yet mold men!

2006-03-18, 02:11 AM
Hmmm, Child of Winter (Eberron druid sect) Dung Elf with giant dung beetle might though.

Poor Otyughs, they get no love. :(

Pop Goes the Weasel
2006-03-18, 02:18 AM
Favored class should be Runeloremaster (I might write it up if you don't first)!!

2006-03-18, 02:27 AM
This is to funny, its just that good.

on a side note, did you realize that you are only adding to the subraces of the elfkind?

Oh, and thay shoud have a favored class, druid probably, with a substitution level for a plant cteature companion. and the dedened smell should prevent them from ever gaining sent (there are a few clases and feats that can do that).

Also, add:

Pervaisive stench(ex): from to many years hanging in damp caverns with fermenting dung, dung elves have a smell around them, that while not sickening, it is mildly disconforting and seems to be imposible to wash out. A dung elf can be detected at double range by any creature with scent. This smell can not be washed out, but it can be masked with strong perfume, applied daily.

2006-03-18, 12:27 PM
I like the dung elves. Really, they rock. They are a little underpowered, though, and Druids need a more prominent place in their society just for playability. Do they get along well with dwarves? I want to play one!

2006-03-18, 01:03 PM
All of a sudden, I like elves again.

2006-03-18, 08:15 PM
Heh, hilarious. I am soo going to have this in my next campaign.

I'd have to agree that the race is somewhat underpowered. I would make the following changes:

1. They should have heightened smell, like dogs or pigs. Being around powerfull smells doesn't necessarily damage your sense of smell, it alters it. Being able to smell trace amounts of compounds would probably help them in their farming (To detect unwated fungi or chemicals) so I'd argue that they should have scent as a racial ability.

2. Given that they spend most of their time growing and tending after stuff I'd make Druid the favored class.

These two things should be enough to fix the underpowred aspect.

In regards to their economic ties to other races you should note that some fungi are extremely valuable from a culinary perspective. Trufles, Boletes and certain Amanitas are highly prized and both the nobility and merchants would pay good money for them. I believe that in Roman times truffles were traded at their weight in gold. Another posible relation with cities/towns would be in the waste management area.

Edit : You could also have some of them cultivate fungi to extract halucinogens from them and sell them to humanoids. On a side note, LSD would make an interesting contact poison: touch, inhaled or ingested and Fort save vs. some series of mental effects...

Edit2 : You could also have them grow a variety of moldy cheeses and possibly make this OK per their dietrary constraints. (They eat milk as kids and then continue eating moldy cheeses). This would give you yet another trade comodity.

2006-03-20, 05:36 PM
I guess I can go with favored class: druid... I am a bit leery of it though. I mentally picture their particular lifestyle as being kind of hard on the environment - have you ever been near a large cattle or (especially) pig farm? Open pits of manure, piles of manure, the ground trampled everywhere... I don't exactly picture these guys as model environmentalists.

On the other hand, if you want them to be playable, they are clearly underpowered. So that's not a bad way to go.

I like the idea they have atrophied sense of smell, though. I think if you wanted to really beef them up and counter the major negatives of the race, you could just set the CON bonus to +4, as I had it originally. The ability to get CON of 22 at start is pretty damn nice I think, probably outweighs a lot of the drawbacks.

Definitely they cultivate rare mushrooms, truffles, and probably lots of fungus-based drugs that could capture high value. It's part of their cultural charm, in fact - they probably put up with their dreary, grinding lifestyle by self-medicating a lot.

As for implementing ProgressQuest classes... I wrote up a description for the Battle-Felon last week as well. I don't like it as much as the Dung Elves, and the PrC I made is probably overpowered as well (I've never made a PrC before). I'll post it in a bit though, in case anyone's interested.

Thanks everyone for all the great comments and feedback!