Thursday, August 1, 2013

Race as Class: Elves are Weird II

So with all the furor over Random Wizards Troll questionnaire, I got to thinking about race as class a bit.  I'm an AD&D (and ADD) type of guy so race-as-class has never set very well with my worldview, and I've really never seen anyone put up an argument for it that went beyond "I like B/X D&D."  Which is fine, but it's not very intriguing to outsiders. 

I'd be much more interested in Race-as-class if the races were more interesting.  But as is, the B/X race-as-classes boil down to fighter with a few racial abilities that amount to little more than window dressing--except for elves, who get to be magic users who can use plate mail and two-handers.  It's telling that, in the Moldvanian rules, the formula for level titles of the race-as-classes goes like this:
Race name + Fighter level title = Race-as-class level title

Elves manage to be even less interesting:
Fighter level title + MU level title = zzzzzzzz
If each non-human race is going to be a class unto itself, I want them to be much more unique.  So without further ado, here's my proposal for a more elfy elf class.  Bear in mind that I'm using an AD&D chassis for these bad boys.  This also assumes my previous thoughts on weird elves.

  • Fight as clerics, except when using bows--with which they fight as fighters
  • Sneak/hide/climb walls like thieves 
  • Can cast enchantments from MU or Druid spell lists.  This includes such mind-fappery as Charm/Hold Person or Plant or Animal or Monster, Feeblemind, Confusion and Finger of Death, but also, strangely but not inappropriately, Pass without trace, Trip, and Snare.   
  • Will not wear metal armor--including helmets--except elfmail, which--spoiler alert--turns out not to be made of metal at all.
  • Elves max out at 11th level.

Elves, in order to maintain some modicum of what we humans call sanity over their egregiously long lifespans, tend to forget a lot of stuff pretty quickly.  As such, unlike human MUs, they don't memorize spells or study spell formulas in arcane librams or what have you.  And none of that praying or calling upon deities garbage either; being soulless, elves are the least pious of all races.    Rather, in keeping with the Tolkienian approach to elf magic, the elves don't consider it magic, it's just the way things are done.  Once acquired, their spell-abilities become innate powers.  They can use each ability once per day, and they get a new ability every other level (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.).  They don't need to track down some elf to teach them the way, but they do have to return to their native glade or hollow tree or wherever they're from to pick up new abilities.

Here's a complete list of Druid and MU enchantements from which Elves may choose:

Level 1: Animal Friendship, Pass sans trace, Charm Person, Friends, Sleep
Level 2: Charm Person or Animal, Trip, Forget, Ray of Enfeeb'ment, Scare
Level 3: Hold Animal, Snare, Hold Person, Suggestion
Level 4: Hold Plant, Charm Monster, Confusion, Fire Charm, Fumble
Level 5: Feeblemind, Hold Monster

So you get an elf who fights reasonably well--especially with a bow--but is limited by light armor and low-ish hit dice, and has limited spell-like powers, though the ease of accessing their magic is a boon.  Also, they've got advanced reconnaissance skills to boot.  It does rather pigeonhole the elf race, but at least the pigeonhole is more distinct than the F/MU-with-pointy-ears scene.


Anonymous said...

That argument you've never heard goes like this: Non-humans tend to be stereotypes in fiction, so race-as-class reflects that. You could also argue that the original game left so little room for them to be anything else they might as well have been race as class from the start.

Timrod said...

Those are good points, but still not very intriguing.