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View Full Version : Maintaining the Mystery: Banning Elves



Darcand
2009-11-20, 10:31 PM
Elves are frequently billed as mysterious and aloof from the world at large and I have always felt that allowing them as playable characters cheapened the image. To that end I am banning them in an upcoming capaign, and requiring any half-elves be raised by humans.

Any imput? Reasons I shouldn't, things I need to keep in mind if I do this, suggestions to replace them. My group seldom plays much besides humans and dwarves, so I probably won't need a replacement race. Or share a story of something similar you've experianced and how it turned out.

Pharaoh's Fist
2009-11-20, 10:34 PM
http://www.newdimensiongames.com/images/Gamers%20Dorkness%20Rising%202.jpg
"And this is Brother Silence, who is not an elf."

taltamir
2009-11-20, 10:41 PM
if elves and humans can cross breed, then by definition elves and humans are the same species (ex: humans vs gorilla). they are just difference races (ex: caucasian vs latino).
So... are you sure you want half elves around?

Anyways, there is nothing wrong with the idea of banning them as a playable race and making them more mystical... Especially if none of your players wants to play one.

I once had an idea that a mage can achieve immortality via transforming into something other than a lich... if those ascended humans breed with a normal human they give birth to long lived, beutiful, and magically inclined children (aka "elves"). Pointy ears are optional and only occur if said wizard has actually chosen to make his ears pointy when transformed. The various "types" of elves are each descendant from a different wizard... so differences in appearance and abilities depend on the exact details of said magical transformation... As a bonus, some of those immortal uber wizards could still be alive and around.

infinitypanda
2009-11-20, 10:48 PM
http://www.newdimensiongames.com/images/Gamers%20Dorkness%20Rising%202.jpg
"And this is Brother Silence, who is not an elf."

I approve.

drengnikrafe
2009-11-20, 10:53 PM
http://www.newdimensiongames.com/images/Gamers%20Dorkness%20Rising%202.jpg
"And this is Brother Silence, a most stubborn monk who is not an elf."

Best. Movie. Ever. Also, I fixed the misquote for you.

If you haven't seen it, watch it. Lodge seems to have a similar outlook to you, only is more extreme about it. So, in my experience... The plot of this movie, revolving around Cass wanting to be an elf.

Usually, though, I don't ban anything. It's starting to annoy my PCs that don't play stupid things (+6 LA races), so I'm going to need to be a bit less lenient in the future.

taltamir
2009-11-20, 10:54 PM
what is the name of the movie?

drengnikrafe
2009-11-20, 10:55 PM
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

urkthegurk
2009-11-20, 11:38 PM
I do this. Elves in my world are typically too powerful and distant to make good PCs. They aren't totally off limits, but they're the the equivalent of taking a monster class.

There aren't really any races that are required for game balance, but if you're using the standard rules for favored classes, then you should add a race who's favored class is wizard. I'd suggest simply letting gnomes fill in for that arcane position.


if elves and humans can cross breed, then by definition elves and humans are the same species (ex: humans vs gorilla). they are just difference races (ex: caucasian vs latino).
So... are you sure you want half elves around?

That's not entirely true. Separate species can and do produce offspring, see mules for example. Those offspring are usually sterile, but this is not always the case. This true-breeding hybridization is most common among plants, but is not unknown among animal species as well. There are also many examples of plant hybrids that are sterile.

It is not necessary to assume, however, that half-elves can reproduce. A elven mother carrying a human child would struggle with the heavy, thick-boned human fetus, which might grow to fast for the mother to cope with, and a human mother might be overwhelmed by the eldritch activity of the elven baby. Half-elves with face such difficulties with each generation. The best course for a half-elf would be to reproduce with other half-elves, resulting in a race separate from both humans and elves, but genetically linked to both.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-11-20, 11:41 PM
There aren't really any races that are required for game balance, but if you're using the standard rules for favored classes, then you should add a race who's favored class is wizardstop immediately because those rules are terrible.Fixed it for you.

desmond1323
2009-11-20, 11:55 PM
Above post:
Hilarious.
And seconded.

The Glyphstone
2009-11-21, 12:03 AM
I just rewrote the elf fluff for my homebrew setting, but that's a lot more work. I can definitely see banning elves as a playable race working, but it would affect the demographics of your world...restricting them as a race then having elves maintain their prominent 'share' of city or town populations will feel strange if the players want to be elves for some reason.

Tengu_temp
2009-11-21, 12:29 AM
if elves and humans can cross breed, then by definition elves and humans are the same species (ex: humans vs gorilla). they are just difference races (ex: caucasian vs latino).
So... are you sure you want half elves around?


You're applying real world biology to a fantasy world. By this logic humans and dragons are the same species, because they can crossbreed.

As for the OP, I see no issue with that.

Tyndmyr
2009-11-21, 12:40 AM
Above post:
Hilarious.
And seconded.

Indeed. Thirded, and it's awesome.



On the original topic, I suspect elves in D&D are a bit too common to actually be that mysterious. They are a core race after all. So, either you need heavy refluffing, including dumping half elves, or making them extremely rare....or divide out the elves, and have a specific subset of them (high elves or w/e) be rare.

Optimystik
2009-11-21, 12:45 AM
Instead of banning them, just kill all the pointy-eared snobs. Then you won't have to worry about banning anything.

I'll even help you. Just tell me where to release the gas.

taltamir
2009-11-21, 01:56 AM
You're applying real world biology to a fantasy world. By this logic humans and dragons are the same species, because they can crossbreed.

As for the OP, I see no issue with that.

yes, yes they are :)


That's not entirely true. Separate species can and do produce offspring, see mules for example. Those offspring are usually sterile, but this is not always the case. This true-breeding hybridization is most common among plants, but is not unknown among animal species as well. There are also many examples of plant hybrids that are sterile.

If they are just past the aspeciation point they will produce sterile offsprings.
The really borderline cases are lions and tigers. Depending on the gender of each parent you will get either a tigon or a liger. One is minute and one is a giant. And some are sterile and some are capable of breeding.

However, in fantasy humans and elves and dragons etc can all produce true breeding offsprings every time without trouble, therefore they are the same species.

Bogardan_Mage
2009-11-21, 06:41 AM
However, in fantasy humans and elves and dragons etc can all produce true breeding offsprings every time without trouble, therefore they are the same species.
They don't have to. If one is taking a step like banning elves from being a playable race then saying half-elves are sterile is hardly a huge departure from Core. It seems pretty irrelevant to the average D&D party, honestly.

Draxar
2009-11-21, 06:48 AM
However, in fantasy humans and elves and dragons etc can all produce true breeding offsprings every time without trouble, therefore they are the same species.

That's a possibility.

Or, the rules are different there. Remember these seven immortal words of fantasy settings:

A
Wizard
Did
It
Then
Ran
Away

Storm Bringer
2009-11-21, 09:24 AM
That's a possibility.

Or, the rules are different there. Remember these seven immortal words of fantasy settings:

A
Wizard
Did
It
Then
Ran teleported
Away

fixed it for you.


on topic, I can see no reason why elves cannot be banned as a PC race to add to the mystery.

lesser_minion
2009-11-21, 09:32 AM
I don't see why you shouldn't do it, although shadowy and mysterious elves aren't far from arrogant and irrelevant ones.

I honestly have no opinion on how elves should really be handled in a setting.

deuxhero
2009-11-21, 10:12 AM
Just kick elfs out of the campaign world entirely. Can't think of the last time they really added anything beyond being annoying (that includes being jerks) and better than you despite being mentally stunted and growing at 1/7th the pace of a human (not to mention being entirely unoriginal).

lesser_minion
2009-11-21, 10:30 AM
Just kick elfs out of the campaign world entirely. Can't think of the last time they really added anything beyond being annoying (that includes being jerks) and better than you despite being mentally stunted and growing at 1/7th the pace of a human (not to mention being entirely unoriginal).

OK, let's start with the obvious point. The whole "110 years to mature despite gaining no bonuses" is blatantly a mistake on the part of someone who missed the implications. It was corrected in 4th edition along with a decision to cut back the number of different kinds of elf.

Elves shouldn't and don't have to be jerks either.

The trick is to find an interesting way to portray elves that doesn't result in them coming across as arrogant losers or proto-arrogant losers.

AvatarZero
2009-11-21, 10:30 AM
I thought about doing that once. If you do, I'd recommend keeping the rules the same and only changing the fluff. Use the Elf stats to represent Half-Elves, and use the Half-Elf stats to represent humans with a really small amount of elf blood in them. If you want elves to be mysterious, don't give them stats.

Johel
2009-11-21, 10:56 AM
Homebrew setting :

Elvish society in general is chaotic good but you wouldn't call that a society if they hadn't such a long lifespan.

They are one of the few races which doesn't worship gods, seeing them for what they truly are : very ancient and powerful beings who sometime have good ideas but are otherwise more of a annoyance than anything else. Instead, they serves nature itself, calling forth elemental powers or simply setting some mystical links with fairies. That's how one becomes druid.

The old elves are VERY haughty and prideful, mainly because their life was so full of adventures and epic tales (in their opinion, at least) that no other mortal could possibly achieve something close.

The young elves experience at puberty (about 150 years old) a VERY STRONG wanderlust. This is partially motivated by the fact that it's impossible to live near people who keep repeating how awesome they are and how epic their lifes were... and also by the fact that elves encourage individualism. The result is a rite of passage where they choose their surname (usually taking the one of a relative they want to honor) and leave the community to explore the world, learn stuff and have fun. So, they are basically nomads who travel from one elvish community to another while visiting the world.

By the time they turn 300, their wanderlust has died down. They keep traveling but are more likely to seek companionship and to gather in bands. Eventually, when they form couples, they'll settle with other adults and create a new community, where they'll spawn children like rabbits and live for the next 300 years or so.

These communities are always small (barely a village) and don't last more than a few centuries (barely two generations for elves) as no new blood is brought in. When there's not enough members in a community, the survivors will either hit the road again, seek refuge into one of their children's community or isolate themselves completely.

Since young elves don't know much beside their village and the epic stories of their parents (and eventual grandparents), they are good as PCs. If they survive a 150 years long adventuring career, then they'll probably be epic. That's also why our elves have a lot of children : most die during their years of wanderlust. The few who become parents are VERY skilled in several professions, one of which is usually a martial one.

So, for other races, there's no such thing as "The Elvish Kingdom". However, humans have all heard the tales of a few epic pointy-eared adventurers. And they all know that the forests are protected by some mystical guardians. They know that elves aren't gods but see them as immortal nevertheless : a young elf, 150 years old, will wander the Earth for something like 6 humans generations. If he survives that long, he'll then have tons of children who'll probably tell tales of his life when THEY will wander the Earth and become heroes on their own. When a "immortal" hero comes in your town to save it and then, during the celebrations, tells with respect the tales of how his dad saved a whole kingdoms centuries ago, then mentions casually that his dad is still alive, just "retired", that's something humans will make legends about.

jiriku
2009-11-21, 11:02 AM
Restricting certain races from a campaign is a perfectly acceptable means of creating a particular style or atmosphere in your campaign. In a recent campaign I have begun, set in the center of the largest human empire on the continent, the only allowable starting races are humans, half-humans, and human variants. Other races will be allowable for replacement characters only if the players are in a region where those other races are common at the time the replacement character is introduced.

Yukitsu
2009-11-21, 11:09 AM
Just kick elfs out of the campaign world entirely. Can't think of the last time they really added anything beyond being annoying (that includes being jerks) and better than you despite being mentally stunted and growing at 1/7th the pace of a human (not to mention being entirely unoriginal).

I don't get it. You added some things in that aren't actually in the rules, like that maturation rate thing (races of the wild states they are physically and mentally mature at 25) and RPed them as having an annoying personality, and now you hate them because they're annoying and develop really slowly? Seems more like your fault than theirs.

Yrcrazypa
2009-11-21, 12:16 PM
Homebrew setting :

Elvish society in general is chaotic good but you wouldn't call that a society if they hadn't such a long lifespan.

They are one of the few races which doesn't worship gods, seeing them for what they truly are : very ancient and powerful beings who sometime have good ideas but are otherwise more of a annoyance than anything else. Instead, they serves nature itself, calling forth elemental powers or simply setting some mystical links with fairies. That's how one becomes druid.

The old elves are VERY haughty and prideful, mainly because their life was so full of adventures and epic tales (in their opinion, at least) that no other mortal could possibly achieve something close.

The young elves experience at puberty (about 150 years old) a VERY STRONG wanderlust. This is partially motivated by the fact that it's impossible to live near people who keep repeating how awesome they are and how epic their lifes were... and also by the fact that elves encourage individualism. The result is a rite of passage where they choose their surname (usually taking the one of a relative they want to honor) and leave the community to explore the world, learn stuff and have fun. So, they are basically nomads who travel from one elvish community to another while visiting the world.

By the time they turn 300, their wanderlust has died down. They keep traveling but are more likely to seek companionship and to gather in bands. Eventually, when they form couples, they'll settle with other adults and create a new community, where they'll spawn children like rabbits and live for the next 300 years or so.

These communities are always small (barely a village) and don't last more than a few centuries (barely two generations for elves) as no new blood is brought in. When there's not enough members in a community, the survivors will either hit the road again, seek refuge into one of their children's community or isolate themselves completely.

Since young elves don't know much beside their village and the epic stories of their parents (and eventual grandparents), they are good as PCs. If they survive a 150 years long adventuring career, then they'll probably be epic. That's also why our elves have a lot of children : most die during their years of wanderlust. The few who become parents are VERY skilled in several professions, one of which is usually a martial one.

So, for other races, there's no such thing as "The Elvish Kingdom". However, humans have all heard the tales of a few epic pointy-eared adventurers. And they all know that the forests are protected by some mystical guardians. They know that elves aren't gods but see them as immortal nevertheless : a young elf, 150 years old, will wander the Earth for something like 6 humans generations. If he survives that long, he'll then have tons of children who'll probably tell tales of his life when THEY will wander the Earth and become heroes on their own. When a "immortal" hero comes in your town to save it and then, during the celebrations, tells with respect the tales of how his dad saved a whole kingdoms centuries ago, then mentions casually that his dad is still alive, just "retired", that's something humans will make legends about.

That is easily the best elf fluff I have ever seen. It adds a good reason for elves to be haughty, since if you've lived for hundreds of years, you are damn well going to be VERY powerful, and not really care about the round eared people so much that die of old age in about the time that you bake a cake comparatively.

Alex112524
2009-11-21, 12:19 PM
I don't get it. You added some things in that aren't actually in the rules, like that maturation rate thing (races of the wild states they are physically and mentally mature at 25) and RPed them as having an annoying personality, and now you hate them because they're annoying and develop really slowly? Seems more like your fault than theirs.

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#vitalStatistics, according to the SRD, 110 is the adulthood age of elves. It would be even more hilarious, however, if they were to be fully mature at 25, but still need to be over 110 to take a class level/go adventuring. It would mean it takes them at least 85 years AFTER they are fully mature to actually be able to do anything.

Yukitsu
2009-11-21, 12:34 PM
They don't exactly have D&D rules for underaged individuals having different stats, so it's not as though it would make a difference. "Adulthood" is a cultural concept anyway, not a physiological one.

Besides, no one gains levels until they go out adventuring or something. Starting to level at 1 at 110 means that when you start, you're just as green as that 25 year old elf that followed you out of town. Same with a level 1, 95 year old wizard that some people play. Age=/=levels.

lesser_minion
2009-11-21, 12:42 PM
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#vitalStatistics, according to the SRD, 110 is the adulthood age of elves. It would be even more hilarious, however, if they were to be fully mature at 25, but still need to be over 110 to take a class level/go adventuring. It would mean it takes them at least 85 years AFTER they are fully mature to actually be able to do anything.

Elf younglings have to go through a tonne of cultural education which has no in-game effect. They aren't retarded - 80% of elf culture has no in-game effect whatsoever.

Mark Hall
2009-11-21, 12:48 PM
They don't exactly have D&D rules for underaged individuals having different stats, so it's not as though it would make a difference. "Adulthood" is a cultural concept anyway, not a physiological one.


1st edition AD&D did, and that might be an interesting take on it.

In young adulthood (which the define for humans as being between the ages of 14 and 20), you get a +1 to Con and a -1 to Wisdom.

In mature adulthood (humans listed as being 21-40), you add a point of wisdom and a point of strength, giving you a total modifier of +1 to Strength and +1 to Con.

In middle age (humans 41-60), you lose that bonus point of strength and con, and gain a point of intelligence and Wisdom.

So, let's go with the 3e numbers. An elf would be a Young Adult from ages 25-110 (about a human life span)... they have the energy of youth, but a bit less wisdom. Round about 111, they start to fill out a bit, get some tone to their muscles, and lose some of the stupid they've been wallowing in. Once they hit middle age (somewhere around 500, depending on subspecies), they settle in a bit... they lose that point of strength and con they had in their youth, but they gain more perspective, represented by a +1 to Int and Wisdom.

Could these be metagamed? Sure. But the +1 isn't terribly unbalancing.

On the "Age does not equal levels" thing, though, I disagree. In d20, with NPC classes defining the abilities of non-adventurers, you need to give me a reason why your person reached venerable without learning a single, solitary thing, and thus turned an NPC class level into a PC class level, and had nothing left over... but still is justified in taking the bonuses to mental stats that people like to abuse. A venerable dragonwrought kobold? Someone who reached venerable before turning Elan (or whatever the race is that stops aging)? How did you make it through the decades without 14 level one appropriate challenges, but still managed to gain insight and perspective?

While age and level are not necessarily the same thing (I believe that you can see 20th level in about 80 days, assuming you step outside your door and have 4 level appropriate encounters a day... with half a day off when you level), someone who is very old in d20 should have at least 2-3 levels in something, even if it's commoner.

Artanis
2009-11-21, 12:54 PM
I thought about doing that once. If you do, I'd recommend keeping the rules the same and only changing the fluff. Use the Elf stats to represent Half-Elves, and use the Half-Elf stats to represent humans with a really small amount of elf blood in them. If you want elves to be mysterious, don't give them stats.

I like this idea. It works especially well in 4e with the Eladrin available as the aloof, banned snob-elves, leaving the "normal" Elves to fill their usual physical role, but minus the annoying snobbery.

Skorj
2009-11-21, 12:55 PM
I've run a campaign that banned Elves before. I just refluffed the "Elf" stats as "Half-Elf" stats, then made the Elves far more powerful (as others have done above). While just a fluff change, it really did add some mystery to the game.

Also, "species" is a complicated concept. Did you know some mules are not sterile? That lions and tigers could breed and produce offspring? We seriously need a mad scientist to do the latter, so we can see what the result looks like. :smallsmile: Meanwhile, in D&D, humans apparantly can and do breed with just about anything in the Monster Manual and produce offspring.

Edit: somone needs to ban ninjas! :smalltongue:

Tavar
2009-11-21, 12:55 PM
One option that might work is to replace the half-elves statistics with the elves statistics, possibly with some minor changes. Then make the actual elves incredibly powerful and mystical beings. After all, the stats for Half-elves really stink, and the stats for elves really don't reflect their fluff to well.

Edit: wow, ninjaed.

Mark Hall
2009-11-21, 01:13 PM
That lions and tigers could breed and produce offspring? We seriously need a mad scientist to do the latter, so we can see what the result looks like.

Been there. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liger)
Done that. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiglon)

:smallwink:

Gpope
2009-11-21, 01:15 PM
I thought about doing that once. If you do, I'd recommend keeping the rules the same and only changing the fluff. Use the Elf stats to represent Half-Elves, and use the Half-Elf stats to represent humans with a really small amount of elf blood in them. If you want elves to be mysterious, don't give them stats.

Seconding this, although I'm not sure why anyone would ever want to keep the half-elf stats around; their only uses are either 1) creating a gimped character, or 2) breaking the game through diplomacy. Then you take it one step further: elf stats (with maybe somewhat reduced longevity) are the humans with a really small amount of elf blood in them, and real full-blooded elves are just that rare and that powerful.

Mark Hall
2009-11-21, 01:21 PM
And, at some point, you recreate the High Men of Numenor, with their fragment of elf blood that has them living two centuries.

Ormur
2009-11-21, 06:16 PM
Elf younglings have to go through a tonne of cultural education which has no in-game effect. They aren't retarded - 80% of elf culture has no in-game effect whatsoever.

Wouldn't it be fair then to give elves a bunch of racial bonuses to skills in craft and perform, just spreading them over so many different ones that it couldn't be used by the player to earn too much money. Like plus 2 in all the perform skills and a bunch of craft skills.

Somebloke
2009-11-23, 08:23 AM
Why not ban all nonhumans? That gives you free reign as a DM to generate as much atmosphere with elves, dwarves etc. as you want. There are plenty of d20 rule systems out there for this.

My 4th ed campaign uses the stats for nonhumans to simulate broad social groups (peasant hero, noble savage, etc.) So far it has worked brilliantly.

dsmiles
2009-11-23, 08:29 AM
If I may suggest a replacement:

ORKS!!!!!!!....
...wait...sorry, lemme try that one again...
ORCS!!!!!!!

Somebloke
2009-11-23, 08:35 AM
If I may suggest a replacement:

ORKS!!!!!!!....
...wait...sorry, lemme try that one again...
ORCS!!!!!!!

No, on the basis that the DM might want some NPCs to survive more than five minutes.

Acanous
2009-11-23, 08:40 AM
Then paint 'em Red! Red ones go FASTA!!!
Man, now I want to play a game with a group of ORKS!

Beelzebub1111
2009-11-23, 09:46 AM
I find it impossible for my players to play elves as anything but Humans with a +2 dexterity bonus.

dsmiles
2009-11-23, 10:01 AM
Then paint 'em Red! Red ones go FASTA!!!
Man, now I want to play a game with a group of ORKS!

I have Orcs as a PC race in my 4e campaign world, and they are a cross between warcraft orcs and warhammer orks ('cuz red onez go fasta!!)
EDIT: Orcs are not a fungus...