As much fun as I’ve had baiting OSR trolls the last few days, it is time to get down to the not-so-serious business of blogging about 40 year old games.
March Madness starts tomorrow – should be good for a lark.
Today’s topic – D&D elves.
Some people hate elves – the Talislanta RPG was sold on the whole premise of not having them. Other fantasy RPGs have all had their conception of elves shaped by where D&D went with them – from Palladium FRPG to Runequest, the D&D elf warrior-wizard has eclipsed the field.
Personally, I have enjoyed playing with their unique blend of magic and fighting abilities over the years, as well as the associations with characters from fantastic literature like Elric, Corum, and (meh) Drizzt.
Instead of excluding them due to fiat, I thought I’d try to get a few narrative ideas for the lack of elves in a gameworld.
The Reason There Are No Elves In This World (Roll 2d8)
2 EXODUS – Elves once ruled this world, their moldering tree cities and tumbled statuary mute testimony to the antiquity and might of their reign. Legends speak of a doom they fled, but no one knows what it was or where they went.
3 PRIMORDIAL – We are the Elves, or what’s left of them. Something changed and fewer Elf children were born every year until all that was left was us mere mortals. If you could find out why, whether it was a curse or malady, you might be able to bring them back.
4 FAIRYLAND – Elves still exist, but in a realm of faerie that only transects with our own at certain times and places. There are ways to open the gates between the world and invite them back, if you ask the right people or things. Beware, Fairyland has its own rules and reality that can turn against interlopers.
5 KIDNAPPED – All the elves were rounded up by The Big Bad and put somewhere deep in his stronghold for nefarious purposes. Maybe they know his weakness, or the source of his strength. The only way to know is to find them.
6 EXTERMINATED – The old tales tell of the Great War when the elves were hunted down to the last one, but the tales never tell why. Maybe some clue remains in the elven ruins.
7 HIDDEN – They’re here alright, just hidden. They control the seats of power, hiding their true appearance with glamour, holding other peoples in thrall. Now is the time to throw off their yoke!
8 INVISIBLE – You think a lowly adventurer like you could see elves? You have to be at least a lord before they make themselves visible to one such as you. Then they will counsel you in ruling your land.
9 DREAMING – The elves are all off in the dreamworld, where their lord Morpheus called them ages ago. If one dares the kingdom of dreams, one may meet an elf, but if they find you uninteresting you may be trapped in a nightmare forever.
10 BOTTLED – Legend has it that after a great Wizardwar they were all trapped in a magic bottle and flung into the depths of the ocean. If someone could find and release them, they might gain powerful allies. Or else bring doom upon men.
11 DEVOLVED – See all those orcs, goblins, and such. They were elves, but dabbling in the arcane cursed them to attain these forms. A true wizard might be able to find a way to return them to their natural state.
12 RETCONNED – The old treecastles and statuary are there, but no one seems to remember a thing. Passages from old tomes have been erased, NPCs can’t make out the word elf (“Melf? What’s a melf?”), and reality itself seems to be trying to forget them.
13 MURDERED – Killed by another race, but no one’s saying who or why. You’ll get your head caved in just for asking. Better inquire quietly.
14 PERSECUTED – Elves are still being born, but any elven child is killed off at birth. Some say it is just superstition, but any town that lets elven children live comes to no good when they reach puberty at 30.
15 KRAMPUSED – Everyone knows elves live in the Icy Wastes, and come calling once a year when King Krampus travels the globe, leaving gifts and candies for those who have been Lawful, coal and spiders for the Chaotic, and sweaters for the Neutral.
16 IGNORED – Who cares about elves? They ride around in the woods, living in trees, sleeping with animals, dancing in the moonlight. They’re uncivilized, unclean, and sneaking horsethieves! If they couldn’t do magic we’d have driven them off the land already.