First up, the guys over at Reckless Dice were cool enough to give me a shout out, which I really appreciate, if that’s what landed you here, then maybe you should head on back there and comment on one of their podcasts, because they appreciate a kind word as much as me, bless ’em.

This post is about something that is very dear to some people’s hearts and also decidedly UN-dear to others.

ELVES.

Before diving into what’s potentially good about them, I should probably lay my cards out on the table and say that I personally, do not like elves. I don’t like elves for a lot of reasons, some of them reasonably well justified and some of them not so much. Sufficed to say, too many representations of elves are, to my mind, a depiction of an unnaturally hot person with pointy ears and penchant for poetry and lying in the half light of their solarium, looking whimsical and hot. Also, elves are better at everything, always. That second point is the one that gets me most of the time.

However, if you happened to read my “Quite the character” for my online wfrp campaign you will notice my current character is not only an Elf, but I’m having quite a lot of fun playing her. I guess that makes me a bit of a hypocrite, but it also serves to point out that there may not be as much wrong with the actual concept of Elves, rather, it is their representation that seems to stick in my craw.

So let’s put on our robes and our wizard hats and deconstruct one of the most well known fantasy races and see if we can find a way of playing better elf characters. Let’s ask ourselves, what is it about elves that makes them so interesting and different?

1. Elves are hot.

Nope. I don’t accept that at all. I’ll happily accept that they have very angular features and maybe that does something for you, but that doesn’t make them hot. It just makes them angular.

2. Elves are graceful.

So is a ballerina, NEXT!!!!!

3. Elves are tall.

So if I play an ogre character will that make people write slash-fiction about me?

4. You’re not doing this right, Elves are really cool, you need to pay close attention to how amazing they are at stuff.

I’m aware that I’m arguing with myself, trust me, this is going somewhere. If you play an elf character because they can do things better than everyone else, then your not playing an elf, your playing a normal human with an agility bonus. Your not playing to the things that make elves so different from humans, which they are, otherwise, they’d just be a human with an agility bonus, wouldn’t they? Which brings us to our first REAL point.

5. Elves aren’t human.

Maybe they have a fatal allergy to soy beans, maybe they all have a third nipple, but there is definitely something inhuman about elves. This doesn’t mean they’re a shower or arseholes, (that will be covered later) but it does mean that they have developed with a seperate moral system from ours. Basically, take a concept we all understand painfully well. Let’s saaaaaaay, sadness. Now remove it from your life. You no longer feel this feeling, if I call you a dickhead, the insult flies over your head, your feelings are not hurt, because you do not feel sadness, leaving only a mild sense of confusion as to why I have claimed you have a penis sprouting from your forehead. This gives us a bit of an idea of how they act, but it probably isn’t completely accurate. I’m certainly not trying to say that elves are amoral. Maybe some of them are, but they will have a different moral compass and react to some things quite strongly, while reacting to others like they don’t even matter. If you give the character a little forethought, then this can make for quite a striking character quirk.

6. Elves don’t die.

I hasten to add, under normal circumstances. This ties well with both the above point and any reason your character has for adventuring, because as reasons go, it’d better be a good one. An elf that stays at home in said solarium doesn’t run the risk of having nothing to do for the next eternity aside from push up the daisies. I’m also fully aware that in many systems elves don’t live forever, but they certainly live longer than Wurzle T. Wurzle growing turnips out of his ears, so you’re still throwing away an awful lot. Another issue worth considering is, do Elves go to the same afterlife as us? If your looking for a truly interesting take on things, have elves go to a different sort of afterlife than humans, a la Tolkien’s “Elves get to hang around in this hall until hell freezes over, but humans? Ahhhh, they get the mystery bonus prize…” Perhaps living forever isn’t as big a problem when the veil of death is no longer such an issue.

7. Elves are really good at stuff.

Or rather Elves can be really good at stuff. This actually really annoys me, as facts go and I’m sure it annoys a lot of other people. An Elf picks up a paintbrush, oh look, another masterpiece! Elf picks up a sword, behold, a warrior without peer! Elf picks up a tube of KY jelly… The point is that elves get on everyone’s goat because they’re just better at everything. So use it. I see so few people playing Elves that are arrogant jackasses. I understand that elves can be very noble, but they can also be pumped up jerks who laugh at your every attempt to do anything. It’s likely to cause a certain amount of tension, but if you played a well rounded group who all knew their role within said group it’d be proper boring. It’s also a fantastic way of bringing up point five, as the elf struggles to understand why the humans are acting so strangely around him as he hands their ass to them at a game of chess.

Finally…

I still hold that elves are really annoying, because anyone that lives that long is probably going to be a tremendous jackass, but what I’m trying to do here is appeal to those of you that like a roleplaying challenge instead of appealing to people that have a thing for writing appalling slash-fiction, (so help me god if you post any in the comments I WILL FIND YOU and make your world a slash-reality.) and giving you food for thought for maybe your next character down the line. If this happens to spawn some amazing character generation gold, then by all means post something in the comments and I’ll see about doing a “quite the character” on them. Dwarves next time? It’s worth a look right?

 

Thanks for reading!

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