Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Elves of Outland

None of my players in any of the several games I've run over the past year have ever chosen an elf. I suspect it has to do with their stereotypical tolkienesque presentation. I can't speak for them, but for me, the generic presentation of the elf has become quite stale. In order to make the players give the elf another look, I decided to try to breathe some new life into it for my Outland OD&D game. Another side-goal was to try to make humans more appealing, so I've stripped the elves of their magic, making the Magic-User a human-only option. If no one selects a magic-user, so much the better. That would only contribute to the grittier feel I'm going for in Outland. Without further ado, I present the Outland Elf.

Elf by Brynn Metheney
The Elves are savage tribal warriors of the blasted Northern wastelands. They usually range from about 6'2" to 6'8" tall and weigh between 190 and 240 lbs. They are nomadic hunters that have found a way to make a living in a harsh land where life is sparse and fleeting. They wear simple loincloths, and favor the spear and the longbow, as they can easily craft all of these from the inedible parts of their prey. They have developed a resistance to the scorching sun, and can go days without water when necessary. The various tribes are at constant war with each other, competing for the scant resources offered by the land they inhabit. The only time the tribes interact in a nonviolent way is during the first week in spring, when they meet at a sacred, neutral site and trade the females that have come of breeding age in the previous year. This is done only to prevent inbreeding. This also results in all elven children being born in the dead of winter, and those too weak to survive the conditions are forsaken and left as a meal to the wild beasts of the wastelands. Elven endurance is unmatched, and they can run for great distances in the unbearable heat and frigid cold of the wastelands, often tracking their quarry for days with little or no rest.

Advancement: Elves level as fighters, and use the same XP progression and saving throws as the fighting-man. If a human XP bonus is used (I give humans an extra 5% in addition to the normal 5-10% based on prime requisite) then no XP bonus cap is needed. Otherwise, the elf is capped at a maximum 5% prime requisite bonus. Referees may choose to place a level cap on elves, but from a balance standpoint, it shouldn't be necessary.

Elven Quickness: Elves do not wear armor, as it is too cumbersome and impractical. However, they are extremely quick and nimble, even for their size. As a result, elves are treated as wearing armor based on the table below, depending on their dexterity. If they should equip armor or shields of any sort, they lose this bonus and simply use the AC based on their equipment.

  Score            AC
   9-12            as Shield
  13-15            as Leather + Shield
  16-17            as Chain + Shield
    18             as Plate + Shield

Elven Endurance: Elves can run or hold their breath twice as long without experiencing any negative effects.

Wasteland Weaponry: Elves get a +1 to hit with spears and longbows.

That's it! Not a whole lot to it, just a bit of flavor, mostly. Even if you don't want to make this a PC option, they could make for a good NPC encounter to add to your hex tables or whatever.

Most of you will notice these ideas are not completely original, and I am not ashamed of that. The 2E Elves of Athas supplement offers one of my favorite non-traditional take on elves. If you haven't checked it out, it is worth a look, but I can't recommend buying it unless you are actually planning on running a Dark Sun game under 2E rules and using all the crazy options offered. Otherwise, you will find only a small percentage of it's 96 pages to be of any use.

Please feel free to post additional ideas and criticisms for this elf. I'd love to hear other ideas and feedback.

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