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D&D 3E
Elves vs...Well, Any Other Race 
14th-Oct-2004 11:17 am
What do you do to discourage players from always playing elves? It seems like tons of groups end up being an all elf party.
14th-Oct-2004 11:17 am (UTC)
Depends on the setting. For the most part, I make elves highly discriminated against, and if it's my own world, I either make them hunted and slaughtered on sight, or completely nonexistant.

Gods I hate elves
14th-Oct-2004 11:59 am (UTC)
I don't want everyone in the world to hate elves; just keep that feeling of mystery and rejection to it that exists in, say, Greyhawk, for example.

Your icon is hilarious, by the way.
14th-Oct-2004 12:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks! And I've never really seen much of a mystery to them in the Greyhawk setting. In fact, the Greyhawk setting has so little mystery at all, now that I think about it.
14th-Oct-2004 11:21 am (UTC)
Funny that you mention that... the group I just got together has no elves. Three humans, a dwarf, and a tiefling.

Usually, I don't have a problem with elves. I think as far as 3E is concerned, humans are a better choice (depending on class and stats).
14th-Oct-2004 11:48 am (UTC)
I would love if my group turns out like this. I'm considering requiring everyone to be a different race, except humans, who I will allow as many in the group as they want.

I just...get tired...of elves...and half elves...
15th-Oct-2004 06:18 am (UTC)
Elves and half-elves aren't so bad when everyone in the group decides to be something exotic. When there's the potential for tieflings, aasimar, humanoids, and other "not quite normal" races, elves are blessedly normal. :)
14th-Oct-2004 11:23 am (UTC)
Easy enough.

"Please don't play an elf, we already have 1 1/2."

"You've always played an elf--play something else."

"What reason do you have to not be human?"
14th-Oct-2004 11:50 am (UTC)
They're all creating their characters at the same time, and I don't want to think there's favoritism because I allowed the first guy to play an elf, and now I won't allow this next person to create an elf five minutes later because we already have one.

I'm considering either choosing everyone's race for them (which I think might piss some players off), or simply telling them everyone has to have a different race, and if two or more people want the same race, we roll a d20 and the person with the highest number gets it.
14th-Oct-2004 11:53 am (UTC)
Tell the group to sort it out amongst themselves. "I don't want to have a party of all elves, but there can be two. I don't care who does it, just so long as you don't have more than two."

Dicing for them sounds like a spiffy idea, though.
14th-Oct-2004 11:58 am (UTC)
My only thing about having a group discussion about it--while it might be fun to watch--is that I have eight people coming over, all of which have only met each other once or not at all. So, I don't know how the dynamics would be to ask for a discussion among eight strangers (basically) over that, and I know two of them are hardcore elf players, at least. I think four or five of them prefer the elf race.

Dice might mitigate it best...but perhaps I'll let them decide if they want to discuss it or if they want to roll for it. What makes it interesting is I'm allowing about half the races from the Legends and Lairs: Mythic Races book, so if I tell everyone they have to be a different race, they have plenty to choose from other than human if needbe. They just take level adjustments for it.
14th-Oct-2004 11:26 am (UTC)
It's not so much the Elves I'm concerned with. It's the morons who have to play an elven ranger with some kind of bow and a ripoff name like "Legolas Blackleaf" (YES, that was a name one of my PC's chose).

Quite simply.. they die. I kill them the first opportunity that arrises. They roll up a new character exactly the same and I kill 'em again.

The player think sthat I hate yim.. I explained.. I hate his acts of faggotry, not him. If he could come up with an original character, I'll stop killing them for sport.

One of my PC's helps with this. He's a Ranger to whom I've assigned a bonus Species Enemy: "Stupid Ass Legolas Rip-Off Player Characters".

14th-Oct-2004 11:32 am (UTC)
What I've done in the past was simply refuse to let them play an Elf, and if I see a name rip off I tell them to build a new character.

14th-Oct-2004 11:51 am (UTC)
I have a player who told me they wanted to create a dwarf named "Tossme." I hate it when players have to be smart asses about their names, or just generic ripoffs. I'll take Bob over Strider, thanks.
14th-Oct-2004 12:21 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite characters ever was a human wizard by the name of David. So simple, so wonderful, so not at all a pain in the ass.
14th-Oct-2004 11:54 am (UTC)
At least yours didn't make up a list of names like "Anita Man".

Elves aren't bad. But a lot of people play elves like pointy-eared humans. There's a lot more to being an elf than seeing in the dark and a dex bonus. There are all kinds of outlook adjustments.

My campaign has elves looking a little sweeter than most. They are immortal and have a couple of abilities that I have given them along with a +1 level adjustment. If D&D is going to rip off Tolkien I am going to do it right. My halflings have hairy feet and are NOT migratory. To change them like that in the core rules is like Ann Hathaway's singing Queen and violating their music like she did for that damned movie. It's just WRONG. I digress.

But I have yet to have anyone play an elf in 3rd ed. They almost always play either humans or dwarves. Oh, and one half-golem that didn't work out.

Since multi-classing doesn't grab a penalty in my campaigns I have assigned humans and half-elves a +2 bonus to any stat (since that is one of their flag abilities and now it means diddly). Try that as a way for people to come back to playing a human.
15th-Oct-2004 04:21 pm (UTC)
That "Races of Elfycrap" book is gonna come out someday.
14th-Oct-2004 11:49 am (UTC)
The way I normally do it is to allow no more than one elf per party to make the story intriguing as far as npc's and reactions to the person and party itself. I also explain the advantages and disadvantages elves have compared to humans, which can be pretty major depending on the class they are playing. The only exception I might make is aloowing one elf and one half elf, which then brings intriguing conflict between those two party members and the outside world, if role played correctly of course.
14th-Oct-2004 11:53 am (UTC)
It seems no one roleplays their race correctly (especially elves--usually people who choose dwarf roleplay that better), but just pick it for the stats it gives. I think one way to steer people away from elves will be to somehow make it to where it's not just numbers/stat differences/a favored class difference.
15th-Oct-2004 04:24 pm (UTC)
I think you just need to encourage that as a DM. Have NPCs treat them appropriately ofr their race, and give them examples of NPCs played to their race properly. I'm running a campaign where grey elves have dominated iron-fist-style most of the region and all elves, be they high, sylvan, or half- get crap for it.
14th-Oct-2004 11:52 am (UTC)
There are many ways.

Put a limit on elves (1 elf per party) or no elves as PCs at all.
Make elves hated and ridiculed in the setting for your game.
Make elves ILLEGAL in the region the game takes place.
Remove elves from the game world.
14th-Oct-2004 11:54 am (UTC)
I like elves and want them to be in the game with their standard separation from human civilization, but I don't want everyone and their dog running around with that race, so I think I'll just have to restrict it to "one elf per group" rule. I think, to make it fair though, each race will only have one member from it save the human race, where as many players as they want can choose human.
14th-Oct-2004 12:08 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, I'm surprised. I haven't seen the "too many elves" syndrome since Second Edition, when all the additional materials TSR released made elves clearly "Uber."

In 3E, they simply aren't any better, mechanically, than the other races. (And in fact, are notably inferior, mechanics-wise, to several.) I still get elves, but I've never had more than one in an average-sized party, or two in a large party.

Of course, not all decisions have to be mechanical. Lots of people make choices for flavor or role-playing. But if your players aren't roleplaying the races differently, then it seems to me that mechanics can be the only consideration they're making.

Any idea why your players are always choosing elves?
14th-Oct-2004 12:56 pm (UTC)
Everyone loves darkvision, the bow bonus, the favored class, and the long lifespan. I personally think a dwarf is an awesome class, but no one wants to be that short and roleplay a dwarf personality (even though they really, in essence, don't roleplay their elves anyway.)
14th-Oct-2004 01:04 pm (UTC)
The favored class? Really? I have't seen a single elven wizard (except NPCs) since 3E started.

Ditto the lifespan. I've never had a single campaign take more than a couple of years, game time.

The Dex bonus is cool, but it's not that big a deal, especially when you sacrifice hit points for it, and elves don't have darkvision; they have low-light vision, at least in the Rules As Written.

Did you players play a lot of 2nd Edition? A lot of this mindset could be holdover...
14th-Oct-2004 01:51 pm (UTC)
*shrugs* I don't. People tend to play different races. I've made elves discriminated against in my world, but that's how I designed the world. See, I started in Dragonlance, in which elves are stuck-up assholes, and no one would want to play one. So maybe that helps.

I had one party where everyone ended up wanting to play an elf. I said "fine" and made it an elf campaign setting. They started off in the elven kingdom, doing elven stuff... humans were rare.

But if you don't want someone to play something, tell them so. You're the DM, do what you want.
14th-Oct-2004 03:29 pm (UTC)
Well i get bitched at for playing a human at the time. either that or a tiefling.
14th-Oct-2004 03:50 pm (UTC)
When everybody is playing an Elf, I plunge them into a world where Elves are hated by everybody and Gnomes eat their young.
16th-Oct-2004 07:08 pm (UTC)
Sounds good to me! My solution would be to place the campaign in a dwarven town. ::cackles::
14th-Oct-2004 04:03 pm (UTC)
In two of the games I'm involved in at the moment elves are the "big bad", like orcs are usually.
14th-Oct-2004 04:16 pm (UTC)
Let the player characters learn that in their game world, elves aren't "the oldest race" who were given wisdom for the gods themselves, taught all the other races, and are nature's chosen people or anything like that.

Instead, let them discover that elves are the descendants of a cabal of Transhumanist wizards who decided not to use their knowledge of magical genetic engineering for a change, but use it to give their offspring very long life spans, good looks, great senses, and so on. Oh, and they also produced a bunch of servitor species to take care of their every needs, such as treats (defenders of the forests), dryads and satyrs (always eager sex slaves), Giant Eagles and unicorns (great riding animals), and so on.

This puts a whole new spin on "being in tune with nature", and the knowledge that they are the descendants of humans will take some of their luster away - without changing the basics of elven culture (unless the elves learn of this and actually start to believe it...)

I've wrote a whole Pyramid article on this topic, if you are interested... ;)
14th-Oct-2004 09:28 pm (UTC)
That's really, really interesting. I think I will have to play on this idea. If you play video games--this definately reminds me of the Desians in Tales of Symphonia for the gamecube.
14th-Oct-2004 10:46 pm (UTC)
That's really, really interesting.

And it explains quite a few things about elves. I mean, they are basically just what a large group of humans wish they could be - including, apparently, your players. ;-)

If you play video games--this definately reminds me of the Desians in Tales of Symphonia for the gamecube.

Sorry, not familiar - the only computer game I play at the moment is Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (though I plan to get Neverwinter Nights + expansions sometime soon...).
15th-Oct-2004 04:28 pm (UTC)
In Eberron, Elves are the emancipated tools of the giants. In another camapign I was thinking of, elves(gnomes also) were created as the stewards of the fey.
15th-Oct-2004 12:57 am (UTC)
nice article, fun idea. :)
15th-Oct-2004 01:16 am (UTC)
I think I'll make this the default assumption for my setting, too. Sure, it's covered deep in the background of the world - no elf alive today actually knows this - but I like toying with all the usual fantasy stereotypes and twisting them around in Urbis, and that just fits in nicely... ;)
15th-Oct-2004 11:31 am (UTC)
I just want to say that I agree. That is a cool idea :)
15th-Oct-2004 12:56 am (UTC)
I suggest setting them on fire.

(character, character sheet, player, interpret that as you will)
15th-Oct-2004 10:12 am (UTC)
If people want to play elves, let em' play elves. The rules--if followed-- don't give elves any special advantage*.

(*at least in 3.0 and 3.5. AD&D 1 and 2 gave a lot of unfair advantages to elves).

15th-Oct-2004 11:59 pm (UTC)
To all demi-humans, really. Humans got the definite short end of the stick with NO inherent abilities, whatsoever.

I started giving humans a selection of interesting things, like ability and experience bonuses.
15th-Oct-2004 10:14 am (UTC)
"but no one wants to be that short and roleplay a dwarf... "

Actually, depending on what setting your playing in, Elves aren't much taller than dwarves. In fact, many of them are very close to the same height.
15th-Oct-2004 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but they don't look it.
18th-Oct-2004 09:21 am (UTC)

seriouosly, try a campaign setting where elves have a small section of the land (country, world, whatever), surrounded by dwarves. use humans/gnomes/halflings as go-betweens. Elves are extremely reviled by Dwarves for their snobbishness, though the mediators accept them. if they want to adventure, they pretty much have to go outside the elven world, where they have trouble getting an inn, buying equipment, asking directions, etc. if there is a mediator in the party, all communication goes through him. if there is both a dwarf and elf, they are equally shunned. the dwarf is maligned because he should be proud enough not to associate with the elf. the dwarf may try to deny that they are in league.

basically the elf is unwelcome almost everywhere, and their hardship may discourage playing them.

oddly enough, i'm running a campaign right now in a predominantly elven world.
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