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D&D 3E
Wood elves: balanced? 
24th-Sep-2005 05:54 pm
So my powergamer today introduced a Wood elf character. This is a variant in the Monsters Manual which has all the elf abilities but also gets +2str and -2 int (so +2str, +2dex, -2con, -2int total), with no level adjustment.

Does this seem balanced to you? I didn't think so, since most creatures with a +2 to strength automatically get a +1 level adjustment. I managed to work around the fact that the player was basically introducing a new species of elves into my world roleplaying-wise, but I'm still curious about the balance issue. If this isn't balanced, what penalties should I add on there? I'd rather not make it a level adjustment, since I'm not sure it quite earns that (and it requires the player to basically relevel).
25th-Sep-2005 12:11 am (UTC)
hmm I thought they received a -2 Cha as well...but alas...

I believe that it's balanced. Remember that Wood Elves have a different favored class too...unless that's different in your world.

Perhaps the question for you should be in an rp form?
What is really different between Wood and non-Wood elves? What's the Wood Elf's view on civilization? Colonization? Exploration?
What classes are the Wood Elves more likely to take? Druids instead of Clerics? Wizards instead of Sorcerers? Rangers instead of Fighters and Rogues?

It's fine balance wise, but the rest is up for you to decide. :)
25th-Sep-2005 12:22 am (UTC)
Favored class is Ranger instead of Wizard. Which isn't exactly a penalty to counteract the +2 to strength

Of course I'll throw rp restrictions on him. But then almost all races have some kind of rp stuff. But the thing is, he doesn't exactly roleplay a lot so I'm not sure that would balance.
25th-Sep-2005 12:12 am (UTC)
That is a PC that needs to be introduced to falling rocks.
25th-Sep-2005 12:20 am (UTC)
Half-orcs have +2 Str with no LA. I believe what you might be thinking of is a +2 to any mental stat, which many people believe deserves LA. As it is, it may be a little more powerful than normal, but not enough to warrant LA. The one positive and one negative physical stat offset each other, and the -2 Int does a little bit to weaken the other bonus to a physical stat.
25th-Sep-2005 12:24 am (UTC)
But half-orcs have a +2str counteracted by a -2int AND a -2cha to other stats. So that suggests to me that a +2str can't only be counteracted by a -2int. Not to mention that elves get a ton more abilities than half-orcs.
25th-Sep-2005 12:21 am (UTC)
to balance a race, you usually look at all the bonuses they get. Not just stats

Also, I do think they got a -2 to Cha

25th-Sep-2005 12:24 am (UTC)
They probably should, but they don't. Not according to the MM and the srd.
25th-Sep-2005 12:31 am (UTC)
If you think it deserves a level adjustment, and you are DM, it gets a level adjustment. Problem fixed.

And saying he doesn't role play much, shouldn't matter. If he needs to interact to achive goals, role-play penalties matter. If it's just a monster bash, then yes, you need to balance him with something more relevant to his game. Orcs (or whatever the most common opponent in your game is) are often equipped with weapons enchanted specificly to harm wood-elves, right? If a PC in my game ever played a drow, they would be amazed at the number of anti-drow weapons in my world.
25th-Sep-2005 01:05 am (UTC)
Just don't use subraces unless you, the DM, want them in your campaign.
25th-Sep-2005 01:21 am (UTC)
Wood elves are definatly cool. But I don't like the idea of having a PC making a character and introducing it into a campeign without the DMs and other players approval. Especially if he's a powergamer.

Best way to handle those are to slap them with very serious RP considerations to take. Like leaving the forest means never being allowed to return, and everyone outside thinks he's a dark elf.
25th-Sep-2005 04:35 pm (UTC)
To me if someone wants a "wood elf", they will have a regular elf played as a wood elf. No problems.
(Deleted comment)
25th-Sep-2005 12:35 pm (UTC)
All that is a pack of damned lies, though. If mental stats are worth less than physical stats, then why can't you find any core player races with bonuses to mental stats?
25th-Sep-2005 02:07 am (UTC)
So my powergamer today introduced a Wood elf character. This is a variant in the Monsters Manual which has all the elf abilities but also gets +2str and -2 int (so +2str, +2dex, -2con, -2int total), with no level adjustment.

1: Yes, it's a balance issue. Strictly by the numbers you need another -2 in there, either in the abiliity scores or a serious ability penalty.

2: Everything's a balance issue.
25th-Sep-2005 02:59 am (UTC)
I thought any race that has +2 str also has -4 on one stats or -2 on two stats.

Are Wood Elves Xenophobic? I forget..
25th-Sep-2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
That's Wild Elves, I believe, though Wood Elves are supposed to be more insular than regular elves, who aren't known for fraternizing with just anyone.
25th-Sep-2005 03:05 am (UTC)
As I understood it from the 3.0 DMG, a Str bonus could be offset by one physical penalty, or two mental penalties, while Dex and Con could get away with being offset by each other or just one mental penalty, an example being dwarves. Half-orcs take no penalties to physical stats, so an extra mental stat is needed to offset the Str bonus, but dwarves only have a con bonus, so just taking cha is fine. However it's reasoning like that which made me glad they gave hobgoblins a +1 in 3.5
25th-Sep-2005 04:47 am (UTC)
I always found this reasoning weird, because con's a far more important stat than str, if dying's at all an issue.
25th-Sep-2005 05:20 am (UTC)
1. I think it's balanced.. balanced ability scores = + and - =0
2. Tell him he can role play a wood elf, but you are not giving them the adjustments. If they still want to play it, consider it then. If not, they're a munchkin.
25th-Sep-2005 01:53 pm (UTC)
He is a munchkin ;p I told him that I thought it needed another -2 in there (probably to charisma), and he says "oh, well I might as well just play a half-orc then". So I thought about it and was leaning towards it being not balanced, but decided I'd let it ride for this session until I could do some more research and think about it somemore. His character hasn't seemed to be too powerful, but then he's the only warrior in the group so I don't have much to compare him with (he also rolled too well for stats. Damn his powergaming luck).
25th-Sep-2005 02:36 pm (UTC)
Well, coming from my persoanl stance of hating powergamers with every fiber of my being, I would say do whatever you feel comfortable with, and more so, what your other PCs feel comfortable with. Ask them what they think, because he has to play as a party member, not just a PC.
25th-Sep-2005 03:44 pm (UTC)
I always thought if you take a races bonuses and add them to the negatives, so it'd come out, 2+2-2-2 = 0. Since you came out with a 0, the stats are balanced. I could have sworn I've read that in an offical WoTC printing...

but then, I could be wrong.
25th-Sep-2005 05:25 pm (UTC)
That's nothing. Wait until said player (or another) brings in a Grey Elf (also from the MM) Wizard with a +2 Int bonus (and -2 Str). More spells per day and higher spell DCs off the bat.

The Elf-lovers at WotC aren't as bad as they were with TSR, but they've certainly still got some pull.
25th-Sep-2005 06:13 pm (UTC)
Players love to test their DMs.
I would say "Sure you can play that but I am going to change the MODs". Keep everything balanced for your game and done let someone pull that with you.

I wish I could say how to mod it but I currently have not have enough time with 3e to really say. My first run with this system is coming up real soon.
26th-Sep-2005 01:59 am (UTC) - WARNING: RANT
Stat differences to subraces are stupid.

Granted, there are any number of different cultures and civilizations of different races in a fantasy setting. There are High Elves and Wood Elves and Sea Elves. There are Stone Dwarves and Fire Dwarves. There are Deep Orcs and Wild Orcs. Etc. and so forth. But Elves is Elves is Elves.

He's playing a Wood Elf. Great. Favored class is now Ranger or Druid instead of Wizard. If elves still had a +2 to Appraise checks like they used to, I'd say swap it for a +2 Survival or Knowledge: Nature instead. Feel free to swap one of their racial weapon proficiences for a culturally-appropriate alternative. ("Rapier?" says the Wood Elf. "What the hell is that? I just use this here tomahawk.")

But DO NOT change the stats. Even if it weren't an avenue to munchkindom, it'd be racist. You heard me. I'm prepared to accept that orcs are stronger than humans, elves are faster, and dwarves are bulletproof. I'm not prepared to accept that the elves from Tir Noblisse are smarter than the elves from the Spiderlurk. Do Africans have different stats from Europeans have different stats from Asians? No. They have cultural differences (covered by different favored class or skill bonuses), and their skin is a different color (pure cosmetics), and that's it.

Note: humans do not have to have a billion sub-races with custom rules, because that's what their extra skill points and feat are for. "Why, look! I'm from the Sixteen Isles, and so I have 2 points in Balance and two points in Profession: Sailor, and the Endurance feat!" At least, that's what I think they should be used for. And I am always right.
26th-Sep-2005 04:32 am (UTC) - Re: WARNING: RANT
Good point. I totally agree.


What if you consider a subrace like Wood Elf as technically a different race. The same way bugbears and goblins are both "goblinoids" but are different races and have vastly different ability adjustments. So "elf" is like "goblinoid" and the difference between all the damn types of elves are the same as the differences between different types of goblin. Or different types of dragon for that matter.

Of course, I guess that technically changes "subrace" to "subtype", but does the idea still hold? And of course that does nothing to change that elven subraces are simply tools for powergaming, and nothing more.
26th-Sep-2005 11:14 am (UTC) - Ok, I think this is pretty simple.
Subraces being justifiable is really up to the individual DM.. They exist to allow variety and representation towards the standard races and possile evolutionary differences. One way or another though, if you want, grab em.
the point of this whole thing I think is, however, is what should he do now that hes allowed it?
Simple really, watch your ass, and make sure you dont allow him the advantage of simply badgering his way through every difficulty. most power-gamers suffer from the delusion that with enough arrows, any problem is fixable, and if you want to hit this man where the money is, you need to put him in a situation where strength of arm or speed of hand just isnt what counts. Converting power-gamers to serious role-players is a beautiful thing, no?
Keep in mind however, its hard to make such a situation without work. If your up to the task however, it can be really fun. For one, a lot of DM's forget the whole law and order angle. you beat someone up, you get arrested. and if you beat up the cops, fifty show up with mancatcher polearms and lasso's, and a strength of 20 dont help when they got you 8 to one. cops know how to aid another, you know? Take him down a peg, focus a little more on the social and mental pursuit than you normaly would with puzzles and mazes, and maybe next time hell think twice before deciding that hackmaster and D20 are quite similar things.
26th-Sep-2005 01:19 pm (UTC) - Re: Ok, I think this is pretty simple.
Thank you for that :). Yes, the question is what to do now that I allowed it (which, judging from previous comments, may or may not have been regretable).

Your plan was pretty much my idea. I tend to not have "hack-fest" encounters... in the 5 hour session with this character he only managed to make 2 melee attacks ;p. Since I'm kinda liking the wood elf and because he wouldn't play one without the powergaming stuff, I think I'll just work around him.
9th-Oct-2005 04:06 am (UTC)
Just let him have the damn race! It's so simple, the race wouldn't be in the book if it was unbalanced, and what's wrong with having different ability scores...? Surely you're a good enough DM to handle a subrace without stressing...? I personally love powergamers as they give me a chance to increase the stakes and test my abilities as DM... But it's your call, remeber that and you'l be fine...
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