Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Elf Loathing: How to put an end to the elf scourge in D&D

Even though most fantasy literature portrays elves as humorless, superior dullards who would never be invited to any party that a reasonable person would want to attend, in D&D elves are so laden with mechanical advantages (Dex bonus, +1 w/ bow & sword, infravision, stealthiness, magic resistance, secret door-finding ability, etc.) and deprived of significant shortcomings (they're neither overly short nor unappealingly hirsute) that every munchkin gamer signs up for them right out of the chute.  Seriously, unless you want to run a cleric--and such an unlikely possibility is hardly worth mentioning--there's virtually no good reason not to have an elf.

So how do you keep the pointy-eared d-bags off your gaming table?  Here's how I do it:  Inform your players that the following characteristics apply to elves in your gaming world.
  1. Elven names must be at least 7 syllables long. It's impossible to have a badass character with a really long, douchey name.  To make this rule mechanically unpleasant as well, apply a -5% XP penalty to any elf PC who:
      • fails to correct anyone and everyone who mispronounces or abbreviates the elf's name in anyway on every such occurrence.
      • refers to his/her own elf character with any moniker other than its full, actual name--even in table chatter.
      • Such penalties are, of course, cumulative and permanent.
  2. Elves have OCD.  Remember that "Step on a crack and break your mother's back" business from when you were a kid?  Elves take that shit to heart.  An elf who steps on a crack or seam in the dungeon floor must save vs. parallelization* or immediately flee to his homeland to check on his mother's health.
  3. Elves are chaste.  If neither of the above has done the job, you're going to need to hit below the belt; inform the player(s) that, despite all their sexiness, Elven reproductive rites involve a fortnight spent composing love poems and weaving garlands, after which an actual stork flies in and drops off the new elfling, who likely bears a strong resemblance to Odysseus.  No clothing is removed, no groping occurs, the whole affair is rated G.  Indeed, your parents are traditionally on hand for the entire event.  And if that still isn't enough, you're going to have to drop this bomb: 
  4.  Well, some elves are chaste... Female elves can--and frequently do--mate with humans in the traditional, human fashion.**  "Male" elves, however, are not equipped with the right utensils to do the job.  That's right, Legolas = dick-o-less.  Do you really want to play a Ken-doll?
* Auto-correct often comes up with some pretty cool ideas; parallelization is one of them.
** Which explains why half elves were so prominent in AD&D. 

11 comments:

Jesse Rodriguez said...

This is so good it makes me wish I actually hated elves.

Lum said...

Sadly I don't think your list will do much to discourage lady gamers from playing elves, and they can be some of the worst offenders when it comes to making elf characters.

artikid said...

Real power-gamers play Dwarven Clerics

Roger G-S said...

No resurrection or raise dead. If you want to up the stakes on that, make it so they can't heal magically.

Timrod said...

Seriously Roger? You'd play a Ken doll as long as he could be raised/healed magically?

L. M. said...

Excellent article. I will certainly use these rules in my next DCC campaign.

Stephan Beal said...

While i don't agree at all, here's another option...

To make the names more difficult, they should require sounds which are not used in the gamer's native language. e.g. the German ü has only an approximation in English, and German ö is difficult for the English-speaking tongue to single out (though English has that sound in the words "girl," "bird," and "worm"). Add some Russian or Finnish in there and most English-only speakers will be unable to speak their elvish PC's name.

andrew ferris said...

I don't get it...

1, 2 and 3 are comedic...
was #4 self-referential humor intending to make yourself look immature, insecure and generally a tool with a sick fetish that #3 would undermine? Because it is only funny in the case it says only the most horrible things about the young man who typed it.

Anyhow-- obvious the correct answer is to get rid of a lot of those bonuses as they are really well justified in the first place-- or give bonuses to other things.
Just because something happened to have been written down by the first people to try to come up with the game doesn't mean they are incorruptible and written in stone. Finer tuning is just plain a better option rather than making your game unnecessarily cumbersome, complex and utterly unfun to play after the first 10 minutes.

Adam Muszkiewicz said...

Great post! We all need more elf loathing in our games!

Anonymous said...

>>This is so good it makes me wish I actually hated elves.

This is good? If a DM tried #1, even a just a part of it: putting an arbitrary XP penalty on me for something pronunciation related I'd just walk away.

If you hate elves don't be a bitch about it just run a setting that doesn't have any.

Timrod said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your advice to not "be a bitch about it." I might give it a try some time. In response though, I would like to ask you a question: if the gist of this post had been "I don't like elves so I have removed them from my campaign" would you--or anyone else--have bothered reading it?

That said, what's got Mr. Ferris's undergarments so bunched up?

Mr. Beal, thank you for crossing party lines; the pronunciation idea is brilliant. We'll need to find some Finnish speakers and such to figure out exactly how awkward this might get for elf enthusiasts.