We Need To Talk About Elves

Let me get this out of the way: I am a human supremacist. I think that humans are superior to all the demi-human races: elves, dwarves, halflings, Canadians*, etc.

So what about elves? Why am I so gosh-darn angry about elves in particular?

angry_about_elves
Tempted to edit this with me wearing my luchadore mask, but I’m lazy.

Tolkien knock-offs. That’s why.

The concept of elves has existed for a loooooooooooooong time and they tended to be creatures of mystery… of danger. Otherworldly, even. They weren’t entirely trustworthy. In fact, they were often opposed to humanity and our interests**. They stole babies, could not stand the touch of iron, and were opposed to the Lord Jesus.

Broken Sword
Read this book for a non-Tolkien approach to elves

Tolkien did something different with his elves and that is acceptable. They still had this aura of “otherness” to them. I get the sense while reading The Lord of the Rings that the other races generally did not trust the elves or want much dealings with them.

But most of Tolkien’s knock offs in fiction?

Pretty-haired men who are good with bows and prance around in the forest. As I said on Twitter:

… although I suppose I should have said “English”, not “British”.

Unless you are the next Tolkien, if you write an elf character, go pre-Tolkien with it. Don’t do yet another forest-dwelling, treehouse-making, master-archer, pointy-eared parody.

So far, I have mostly be talking about writing, but where does D&D fit in this?

For one thing, adventurers are more likely than not odd people who don’t fit in with society. Yes, the town’s innkeeper might enjoy the coin that is spent, but the average villager wants nothing to do with the vagabonds who come into town, spend a lot of gold, impregnate their daughters, and leave.

So an elven adventurer can work. He or she (hard to tell which is which!) could easily be in exile (self-imposed or not) from the elven village, which the human adventurers absolutely cannot visit unless specifically invited by the elf king. And the party will be escorted by guards 24/7. And they can only visit approved areas.

Elf

The elf adventurer should always be a bit mysterious and odd. Roleplay some odd habits.

Examples:
– Eat raw meat, rather than cooked.
– Skinny dip. Often.
– Answer personal questions with “Maybe”.
– T-pose while everyone else is sleeping.

Don’t betray the party for no reason, or refuse to give assistance. Just be a little weird.

Be a memorable elf! Don’t be just another woodland archer!

Until the character dies 1/3 of the way until level 2. Then, roll up a real character. Like a human.


* Kidding! I am pretty sure that Canadians are fully human. If you are a Canadian and offended, please do not re-enact the War of 1812.
** I am working under the assumption that everyone reading this is, in fact, human.

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6 thoughts on “We Need To Talk About Elves

  1. Teleros

    The trouble is people always turn the fantasy races into “human but with x”, so elves, goblins, orcs etc get to be misunderstood or just different, instead of evil or otherworldly. Roleplaying a pre-Tolkien or even Tolkien-esque elf requires >0 effort though, so we’re stuck with pretty boys who use longbows a lot blah blah blah.

    Either be a classic murderhobo group with not much interest in RP, or RP properly damnit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So an elven adventurer can work. He or she (hard to tell which is which!) could easily be in exile (self-imposed or not) from the elven village, which the human adventurers absolutely cannot visit unless specifically invited by the elf king. And the party will be escorted by guards 24/7. And they can only visit approved areas.

    This is sort of how I solve the Elf Problem in my games, along with “only Chaotic of Neutral”, and only two known (and three unknown to humans) homelands for elves that others can’t visit — what Lorien was like, except, oh, you have that Ring with you. So, well, ok then, for YOU. And you aren’t really welcome back either, so gotta watch your step with the relatives. You as the Elf are out there on your own, likely only to meet the unwilling, twisted outcasts of your own race outside your homeland. (Hey, both XP and psychic cleansing for long-held frustrations, right?)

    Game World Population
    Humans: 92%
    Dwarves: 5%
    Halflings: 2%
    Other Weird Demihumans + Elves: 1%

    As an Elf, you are probably forever alone, because even if you make friends among the Humans, Dwarves, and Halflings, they’ll be dead before you clear puberty. As an Elf, the opposite human sex doesn’t smell right — at all! Which really goes for the entire breed — phew! Take a bath, Longshanks! And predictability of outcome on pregnancy? Don’t get me started! There are no half-elves in my world — might be an Elf, might be an Orc, might be other Fae or other Children of the Night — you’ll find out after the 5-year gestation — on the Human and on the Elf side. In for a penny, in for a pound!

    Elf. It’s not a contribution; it’s a commitment.

    Liked by 1 person

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