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