Zachary at RPG Blog II writes:

Why Is It…That many games seem to differentiate between so many types of Elves? We now have Sea Elves, High Elves, Aquatic Elves, Dark Elves, Wood Elves, Desert Elves, Tundra Elves, and plenty of others as well. It becomes predictable–an Elf that dwells in the Jungle, one that dwells in the Badlands. One that lives by Rivers, one that lives by Trash Heaps.

This is something that I’ve never really cared for, especially after it really started to get crazy around the time that Unearthed Arcana was published.

In my games, elves are elves. Even drow, though I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually used a drow in a game.

I would use a sea elf “merelf” just like I’d use a merman, though. That is really something different.

I can imagine some “monster” elves, as in encountered by PCs, as having special/different mechanics. Maybe some special tribe of elves all have outdoor tracking skills like a ranger or 10% magic resistance or whatever. But that’s no different than saying that native tribesman humans have +1 on all saving throws due to general toughness or that this clan of hobgoblins gets a +1 to damage due to great strength. I wouldn’t create new full-blown races and would not offer them as options for player characters unless it served a specific campaign.

Finally, I’ll admit that I spent some time pondering two elf races for our homebrew game, green elves and blue elves. But I ditched the whole idea after a little thought. I didn’t see a good enough reason for it.

3 Comments to “Elves”

  1. bat says:

    I do as another on the Goblinoid Games forums does; wood elves are only so because they have access to druid spells. Trickster elves (sort of an offshoot of many sorts of trickster/”teach them a lesson” elves) use illusionist spells. Other elves use magic-user spells (unless they are clerics). And we run from there.

    • Kilgore says:

      I’ve heard and like the idea about elves using druid spells. I suggested (I think on GG forum as well) that someone looking to create race-as-class for the new AEC races use druid spells for half -elves. If we were sticking with race-is-class in our game, we’d probably build an elf-specific spell list for elves, but we’re going with race plus class.

      I also like the illusionist for trickster-elves idea…haven’t seen that one before.

  2. bat says:

    I look for mechanical alterations, such as these, over just cosmetic differences because I don’t see a lot of value in changing the surface without the substance. Plus, it keeps players on their toes, not knowing for sure who they are dealing with. Why not have dark elves like the kind from the Warhammer world? From a distance you cannot tell them from other elves, and if they are dressed like wood elves or high elves you wouldn’t know until one of them snaps that slave collar on your neck.

    As far as elves go, it makes sense to me that elves would have access to druid spells as they are usually considered to be more in touch with nature.