PDA

View Full Version : How do YOU roleplay an elf?



ImperatorK
2011-07-22, 05:07 AM
A default elf (from Races of The Wild, for example). How do you roleplay one? What quirks did your elf have to make him more then just a slim, pointy eared human? How did you emphasize his culture or home region?

Eldan
2011-07-22, 05:13 AM
Time is the key. They don't really perceive it as humans do. Somewhere in their head, they have three hundred years of memories, but most of those are buried and half-forgotten. Seasons change like weeks, days fly by unnoticed. They don't even try to keep up with most things, they change to fast for them to care, or remember.

Immonen
2011-07-22, 05:45 AM
Generally, play them as the haughty jerks who think that they know everything and that they're superior due to their ancient intellect.
Then try to rationalize away how people who spent their time actually studying a given topic (as opposed to briefly looking at it a few times and then parroting whatever they learn in an attempt to look learned) manage to do better than them.
Essentially, elves bluff and do nothing but, and they suck even at that, considering that no elf ever calls them out another on their bluffs in fear of being called out on their own.

Werekat
2011-07-22, 06:08 AM
Ooh. A lot of fun stuff here.

- You don't sleep. Instead, you spend your time actually committing your memory from short-term to long-term. The only dreams you can have are daydreams. In essence, they have absolute memory: they can recall any situation they were ever in while trancing. My favorite elf character somewhat envies other races - they don't have to see everything over and over again, and he's got more bad memories than good ones - but he also recognizes the advantage of being able to glean more from any given situation than the average person.

- You've got sharper senses. A mixed blessing: you can notice things and get out of harm's way quickly - but if you don't, you're in more trouble than most. You're also more susceptible to little things like sensory deprivation and the stresses coming from that, which is difficult in a dungeon. On the other hand, you adapt quickly to different sensory stimulae, and can deal with variety easier.

- I personally play elves as a very kinesthetic race. A lot of the interaction takes place in gestures and touch, barely readable to other races.

- Create cultural symbolism - the setting our group plays in, for instance, uses earrings as an analogy to human wedding rings, their number and placing symbolizing family status (member of family, wed\unwed, looking\committed, number of children, so forth). At the same time, we leave an option for anonymity (a lack of earrings means "I've got nothing to tell the world at large on this topic"). Colors are, on the other hand, a matter of personal preference.

- Play elves as committed by human standards - while a human being might balk at taking years to do something, it does not feel like that long to an elf.

- On the other hand, you're not slow. You can enjoy second and minutes, and react in a fraction. You control your sense of time as well as you do your mind. You just know that most humanoids around you change too quickly for it to be of any use to adapt to them for long. You make easy short-term adaptation (weather and environment, battle tactics and so on), but you try not to make any long-term adaptations (read: several-years-long) based on false assumptions. It's like you wouldn't want to change an established workplan because of a rumor in the workplace - you'd want to check it, and see if it's worth the effort.

- Of course, if something's a threat, react quickly. You know when you've got minutes, months, or years: react accordingly.

- Elves, being an inherently chaotic race, do not interfere in each other's affairs. A family is considered a closed unit, something no outsider should interfere in, unless something very serious is taking place that might affect others adversely.

We've done more, but I have to leave now. So maybe later.

Wulfram
2011-07-22, 06:12 AM
Put on a pair of Vulcan ears?

Ravens_cry
2011-07-22, 06:46 AM
Put on a pair of Vulcan ears?
That's not roleplaying, that's LARP-ing.

Comet
2011-07-22, 06:51 AM
That's not roleplaying, that's LARP-ing.

Live action roleplaying is roleplaying just as much as tabletop roleplaying and now we must fight to determine which is cooler.
Just kidding.

Anyway, Eldan and Werekat had some cool stuff on show here. I've never played that many elves but this thread has reminded me what is actually cool about them.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-22, 07:33 AM
Depends on the setting. In the homebrew setting I'm running, this is mostly how I handle elves:

In general:


They take their time before making important decisions.
They sometimes miss opportunities because they function on a different time scale.
They forget that other races aren't as long-lived as they or the Fey.
They are very clannish and secretive, but also fiercely individualistic.
They have an innate understanding with the even longer-lived dwarves, but they have a love-hate relationship with humans.
An elf is usually very aware of his surroundings and his person. He can usually tell what's going on around him at any given time. Very, very few elves are oblivious.
Many of them still hold ancient views of elves being a superior race and all others being innately inferior. Usually only the eldest of the elves hold these views, as it is widely regarded among the younger generations to be an unpleasant mentality to have.
Death used to be nothing to fear, merely a shedding of this mortal coil to continue life in another realm. After the Rapture, death is a terrible, frightening unknown.


Sun elves:


Life exists to be enjoyed.
Art is the truest form of enlightenment, the highest ecstasy and the purest elevation of the soul.
They are eager to talk, charming and artistic.
They are hedonists and carefree spirits, always seeking the best in life and looking at things with rampant optimism.


Moon elves:


The universe exists to be studied and analysed. Every individual particle has to be carefully examined, its properties recorded and the results archived.
Lore must be constantly improved upon, and safeguarded.
They are intelligent, analytical, cold and detached.
They seek to understand the world and dissect it in tiny peaces, so that they can later change it at will.


Star elves:


Wisdom is the highest quality one can display, followed closely by faith.
Secrets must be kept at all costs, and no bit of lore may be given freely.
In order to truly See, one must be willing to leave the self behind, to cast off that what makes one an individual, and then embrace the cosmos.
They are secretive, aloof, mysterious and wise.
They seek to gain insight and guide others to enlightment, even as they work in mysterious ways to pursue their ineffable goals.


Wood elves:


In life, one must be quick, nimble and witty.
Life is to be seized while it's still moving, to be enjoyed with flair and courage.
They are quick, friendly, gregarious and incorrigible.
They seek to enjoy all the pleasures life has to offer, but they do so with grace and style.


Wild elves:


Might makes right. Only the strongest survive.
Life is dangerous and death is like a vulture circling you from birth. Hunt or be hunted. Guard the pack and the pack will guard you.
They are strong, rough and uncivilised.
They come from hostile environments, facing deadly obstacles every day, and that makes them terribly serious and rather dangerous.


Snow elves:


He who endures, survives. He who survives, has won.
Winter is predictable, but dangerous. Don't laugh at it unless you can endure what it will unleash. Revere the fey, and trust no elf that is not like us.
They are resilient, tough and tribal.
They come from a deadly land, but one that they have adapted to with no problems. They are still serious, but far happier than their wild elven brethren. They are terribly distrustful, however, even if they never believed in the "elves are the superior race" propaganda.


Sea elves:


The sea is dark and cold. Be as the sea with your enemies and as the gleaming sun with your loved ones.
The sea holds many enemies, but none can match the elven might. Trust the waves and trust your heart, you shall have no better guides in the darkness.
They are quiet, withdrawn and vigilant.
They are accustomed to dealing with perils from the depths, and as such, they've taken to show themselves fiercely powerful and cold as ice to strangers, while turning warm and friendly with those they care about. Their enclaves are of tremendous importance, for their culture emphasises having something that is "theirs" in the shifting landscapes of the ocean.


Drow:


Never trust a non-drow elf, especially the highborn ones. They would enslave the world with their mad ascended god and their unbridled tyranny.
Never forget the Exile, where we were cast away for our mercy and bidden to walk the deserts and hide in caves. Monsters, they call us, from their diamond spires. Us, who have never spilled blood. Monsters indeed.
They are bitter, resentful and sometimes hostile.
They are used to hard lives and have been nursing a dark hatred for long, long years. While not evil, the best of them is being slowly devoured by all-consuming spite.


High elves (not a subrace, but a cultural distinction, much like the nobility class):

Always look and act like a sovereign. The world belongs to the highborn, and all creatures are your subjects.
Pity those who are not like you, for they shall never know true greatness. Strive to be a kind ruler, it is your responsibility to look after them.
They are regal, haughty and proud.
While not all high elves behave the same way, it is extremely hard not to adopt the prevailing attitude. Thankfully, the term "high elf" is slowly being dilluted as it no longer means what it used to, so they are bound to disappear in time.


And don't get me started with the fey. Those are a completely different matter.

2011-07-22, 07:36 AM
I play them as pointy-eared humans. :smalleek:

Talyn
2011-07-22, 07:37 AM
Elves can afford to be focused in ways a human can't. Oh, you want to spend ten years of your life learning how to blow glass so delicate you can create a crystal rose? As a hobby? Go for it, you live forever.

There is no such thing as a waste of time to an elf.

Now, mechanically, this generally can't be represented (a level 3 elf expert glassblower is mechanically identical to a level 3 human expert glassblower, to use the example above), but I always play elves as perfectionists. They don't need to be efficient, and therefore they can be aesthetically perfect in everything they do.

Ravens_cry
2011-07-22, 08:07 AM
Live action roleplaying is roleplaying just as much as tabletop roleplaying and now we must fight to determine which is cooler.
Just kidding.

I agree it's role playing. But in my view, costumes have no place at the table. Heck, if I was offered a chance to do, say, a Vampire LARP (I am not the most physical of beings), I would do it and wear a costume appropriate. But if your showing up at a tabletop in Spock ears, no, dude, no.

Elves can afford to be focused in ways a human can't. Oh, you want to spend ten years of your life learning how to blow glass so delicate you can create a crystal rose? As a hobby? Go for it, you live forever.

There is no such thing as a waste of time to an elf.

Now, mechanically, this generally can't be represented (a level 3 elf expert glassblower is mechanically identical to a level 3 human expert glassblower, to use the example above), but I always play elves as perfectionists. They don't need to be efficient, and therefore they can be aesthetically perfect in everything they do.
Conversely for the same reasons, they don't need to be focused. They can afford to learn at leasure, picking up bits and pieces of knowledge and skill. Sure, they could spend ten years focused on that one thing, or they could spend one year in ten and in five hundred years be far more skilled while being equally skilled in as many as ten other areas. The kind of focus you refer to I imagine being something more common for younger elves, when the fires of passion burn hottest. It would also explain why the elf has the same level of skill as a human despite being far older.

DogbertLinc
2011-07-22, 08:53 AM
In one campaign, I NPC'd the elf stereotype straight: Imperialist Hippies who would go on people's doorsteps, explain how they are the superior race, demand to be revered as King-Gods and then proceed to wait it out for them to die.

The players completely freaked out and genocided all elves because "they were going to take over the world". :smallannoyed:

Mastikator
2011-07-22, 09:27 AM
Without any real long term goals, that's how I'd pay an elf I guess.

hydroplatypus
2011-07-22, 09:51 AM
Surprised no one mentioned this yet. Elves live for exceptionally long amounts of time, and as such the average elf intends to actually survive this amount of time. This would lead to the elves having fewer adventurers due to the casualty rate. This makes for interesting characters, as any elf who adventures has to have some justification for doing this. It also leads to elven adventurers being more cautious then other adventurers, maybe considering the non-violent routes more often then the other party members. Basically this is how I am currently playing my elven wizard. He has a back-story that makes him different then most elves, and he is still very cautious, and sort of a coward.

Choco
2011-07-22, 09:54 AM
like Xandir from Drawn Together.

2011-07-22, 10:24 AM
like Xandir from Drawn Together.

Best answer so far.

Ajadea
2011-07-22, 10:24 AM
For whatever reason, PC elves have abandoned their home for a profession with an incredibly high death rate. I've played with this one, including a death seeking elf who sees adventuring as one of the quickest and most useful paths to the grave. Poison is expensive, and an adventurer can help others with their suicidal tendencies.

Elves have low birthrates to begin with, and they are frail, so they are more likely to die as small children. Elves also grow up at about half the rate of a human, so they have plenty of time to be small children. Children are precious to an elf. To an extent, all young things are. Youth is fleeting and fragile. Young things are to be protected. At the same time, the shorter-lived races are far more expendable than the longer-lived ones. This is not at all contradictory. A 15 year old human is not young, though it is still hopelessly naive.

Elves can afford to be precise, to a point of obsession. They have time. Plenty of it. Unless they are adventurers. The adventuring elves are likely to dabble as they travel. They may not have time to fully explore life, but they can take tastes of it and see what might have been, what they might return to.

Trekkin
2011-07-22, 11:24 AM
I usually play them with a matched set of quirks:

1. Ennui. The only reason I can think of an elf from a stable society to go adventuring is because watching trees grow can get rather boring, so my elves are usually the first to complain that their situation is another variant of X and will therefore probably end in Y. Therefore, I'll make it a point to do something totally random but relatively minor once every few sessions to sow the seeds of future chaos.

2. Sensitivity. Elves don't sleep, automatically notice hidden doors and usually spend their time in an environment rich in sensory stimuli, so you'd assume they've got a lot of experience in sorting through their senses. As such, I channel my inner Holmes when something does interest them and ask about seemingly meaningless details.

3. Endorsement of the Gaia hypothesis. This is both my nod to elven naturophilia and my way of moderating the above two such that the character's not a huge sore spot for the party. I just play them to be mindful of the likely impact of their plans on the future--especially on ecological timeframes -- and to be good at systems analysis and predictive modeling, which usually means my elves are at best muted until they arrive at a point they perceive as critical.

Given 2 and 3, I also tend to make them bookies in order to make 1 still more interesting. :smallbiggrin:

Yukitsu
2011-07-22, 12:03 PM
I play them as people who find humans and other races strangely endearing, where adventuring is fun and where a lot of other things are just dreadfully boring. They are usually genuinely enthused about certain things, like "go slay the dragon" but get bored when someone is trying to convince you to go do the heroic thing for moral reasons. Unless that just happens to be "go slay the dragon for moral reasons". I have them view the rest of the party in this sort of semi condescending, overprotective kind of way, kind of like how a really hardcore dog person views his dogs.

My current is an elven prince, so he's just all kinds of snobbery all rolled into 1. He's literally following around one of the other party members because he thinks she's turning into an illithid, and thinks watching the transformation would be pretty cool.

kyoryu
2011-07-22, 12:07 PM
They're immortal (or the next best thing to it). This, to me, is the most important thing to consider.

As a culture, elves have seen other cultures rise and fall. They've seen cities built up, and crumble back down. They see other short-lived races be born and die, generation after generation.

So, what are they going to value? How does this impact their outlook?

In the setting I'm working on, elves do not typically care about things like empires, or war, or anything of that nature. They do however value stories and songs, and certain types of arts (typically, made of metal, or jewelry). Think of things that have lasted hundreds or thousands of years.

They pretty much consider kings and whatnot to be "chieftains." They don't really care about the petty squabbles of others, knowing that whatever great empire is being built, will eventually be destroyed anyway, so who really cares?

They do tend to be cautious due to birth rate and longevity - a human dying early loses, what, 20 years? An elf could lose 20 centuries. Also, humans can only achieve any sort of immortality by accomplishing great things. Elves get the real deal.

They also tend to not pledge life-long oaths. Things change over time, and they know this. And a lifetime is a *long* time. This goes for romantic relationships as well.

My elves are also basically outsiders, and are truly not part of the world, so much of their focus is on returning back to their "home" (which they've been separated from), and as such they are extremely dismissive of the cares of the world they're in, as they consider it to be effectively a dream.

chiasaur11
2011-07-22, 12:22 PM
Be irritatingly arrogant and holier than thou.

Also, like trees.

Elves have some easy marks to hit.

Vultawk
2011-07-22, 12:26 PM
Angry and sarcastic. Everyone's in such a friggin' rush all the time. It's almost like they'll be dead in a few centuries or something.

Varil
2011-07-22, 12:32 PM
The same way I roleplay all the corpses in my campaign ;)

Dienekes
2011-07-22, 12:35 PM
Like humans, there is no central defining personality trait for people so why should I make one for elves? Some are arrogant, some are kind, some are downright evil bastards.

Now culturally I tend to make the important aspect of elves what they are doing about their steady decline. The last song of the elves is pretty standard fantasy fair so I like to toy with it. Some elves write songs about their former glory, some elves say they should attack the growing opposing kingdoms of men, but almost all of them have some ideas about it. The campaign where I really fleshed out elven culture I made a political struggle going on about the need for modernization verses maintaining their forest kingdom.

Now one thing I enjoyed playing with is that they think of themselves as mystical and their ploys are above the understanding of the other races, but really, scratch the surface and they're like everyone else. They want gold, power, lust, they fight for honor and whatnot it's just the packaging that's different and the stakes are generally higher.

BrowncoatJayson
2011-07-22, 12:38 PM
As potential snacks for my Thri-kreen. =) I love playing Dark Sun.

Honest Tiefling
2011-07-22, 12:44 PM
Time is the key. They don't really perceive it as humans do. Somewhere in their head, they have three hundred years of memories, but most of those are buried and half-forgotten. Seasons change like weeks, days fly by unnoticed. They don't even try to keep up with most things, they change to fast for them to care, or remember.

I'm going to quote this, as it is one of the things from the 3rd edition elves I like. I think a big deal was made of this in Races of the Wild. I like the fact that elves can think differently then humans, and this can be a rather easy thing to do. Well, for some people, as I just have issues with attention span and cannot pull off this type of elf very well.

It is also both a strength and a weakness for the race, which more races need to do, through elves are pretty bad for being good at everything to the point of annoyance. Call me an Elf-hater if you want, but I do think they need to have their culture reigned in a bit as they appear to be good at metal work, wood carving, art, magic, music and fashion, all while being in tune with nature. People also tend to forget that they are pretty frail as a race, (Through individuals of course can buck this trend) and should be taking that into account.

Because I am not a fan of elves that are good at everything, I try to instead play a nomad that happens to be good at being a ranger, druid, wizard, or what have you. If my PC is a nomad in the wilderness, they likely don't have a lot of dyes for their leathers and tend to dress in browns and greens. They also might not like sugary things from civilization, as the only sugar they normally get are fruit. Unless they happen to be in a region with a lot of naturally growing spices, they might prefer food to be plain, bland and filling.

They might also not carry around a lot of junk as they have to pack up everything and move. They might be confused or frustrated at being given trinkets, which are essentially dead weight. But they might value gifts, as gifts can increase bonds between tribemates. The gifts might be more along the lines of services, decorating practical items, or food.

These elves aren't going to be great as painting as all they have to paint with is probably mud. Their fashions and foods are going to seem hopelessly quaint to the most urbane of people. And they probably trade for metal weapons or use magic to make them as they might have problems continually setting up a forge. Some nomadic peoples have probably figured that last one out, but it doesn't mean everyone has.

But before playing any different race or subrace I do like to check in with the DM in case they decide to do something different. I like new spins on races, and I also like interacting with the game world not tromping all over it.

Lord Raziere
2011-07-22, 01:24 PM
"Hello, roleplayers, look at your elf, now back to me, now back at your elf, now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped using bow scented body wash and switched to a lightning dagger, he could smell like he’s me. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re on a zeppelin with the elf your elf could smell like. What’s in your hand, back at me. I have it, it’s a net with a big stone insect inside of it that serves as a mace. Look again, the stone insect mace is now a bomb. Anything is possible when your elf smells like lightning dagger and not a bow. I’m on a giant worm.”

My character, Prince Lelk. he's a rogue. Thats how I play an elf.

Lord.Sorasen
2011-07-22, 03:03 PM
I take all the traits of dwarves and do the opposite.

Anderlith
2011-07-22, 05:16 PM
I play them capricious, they change the mind they borrow stuff, but they always give it back when they are legitimately done with it (unlike Kender) & I lend my stuff to others without hesitation. Also I burst into song about random things, like how irksome the Dwarf finds me

Acanous
2011-07-22, 05:37 PM
Perpetually annoyed at all the elf-jokes the humans and dwarves keep telling.
Eventually, an elf gets more thick skinned, but upon first contact (And for a few weeks after) the puns about elf pride parades, tree-hugging, and cracks about gender are going to cause an elf to snap.

gkathellar
2011-07-22, 05:46 PM
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.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-22, 05:59 PM
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?

Archpaladin Zousha
2011-07-22, 06:06 PM
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.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-22, 06:47 PM
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.

gkathellar
2011-07-22, 06:54 PM
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.

Honest Tiefling
2011-07-22, 07:06 PM
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.

gkathellar
2011-07-22, 07:12 PM
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.

Honest Tiefling
2011-07-22, 07:19 PM
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.

Xanmyral
2011-07-22, 07:27 PM
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.

Analytica
2011-07-22, 08:51 PM
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.

claricorp
2011-07-22, 09:51 PM
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

Morithias
2011-07-22, 11:35 PM
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.

Yanagi
2011-07-23, 01:01 AM
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.

GenericGuy
2011-07-23, 02:05 PM
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.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-23, 02:15 PM
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?

gkathellar
2011-07-23, 02:19 PM
So... exactly like Vampire:the Masquerade/the Requiem, then?

Good catch.

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

GenericGuy
2011-07-23, 02:30 PM
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.:smalltongue:

Shadowknight12
2011-07-23, 02:53 PM
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.:smalltongue:

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. :smallyuk:

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

GenericGuy
2011-07-23, 03:17 PM
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. :smallyuk:

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.

Shadowknight12
2011-07-23, 03:24 PM
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. :smalltongue:

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.

Earthwalker
2011-07-24, 08:08 AM
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.

kwanzaabot
2011-07-25, 06:13 AM
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!"
""Uh huh, the fire department..."
"Yes! They're new, but they're good!"

And so on.