Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Elves of Hazzard

So, funny story.

I recently shaved my winter beard, and having grown long hair and being fair of skin and slight of build, my coworkers started calling me Legolas.  OK, fine.

Today the weather was nice and I found myself sitting on my porch barefoot and shirtless, drinking out of a jug.  And the notion "redneck Legolas" crept over me.

The more I think about it, the more sense it makes for D&D elves (3.x elves, in particular).

They live a really, really long time.  You know who else lives for a really long time?  Socially-conservative old people.  If elves are anything like humans psychologically (and given that humans are playing them, they must be a bit), living to 300 years seems very likely to produce social conservativism.  Especially when you take into account that they live damn near forever and are the firstborn people of the gods (in the Tolkeinesque standard interpretation), a bit of casual superiority complex, racism, and cultural conservatism seem likely.

But, they're Chaotic (Good, but still Chaotic).  If they're not Chaotic on the "social norms" front, they're probably Chaotic on the "respect for authority" front.  Also possibly in the "hold my bourbon and watch this" sense; what use is living forever if you don't enjoy it?  (Related: "renowned for their wine" rhymes with "produces moonshine", which is close enough for me)

Apparently they're all raised to know how to use weapons: gun culture, Southern-style honor culture.

But if they're beloved of the gods, get a bunch of sweet racial bonuses (except the Con penalty; possibly inbreeding?), and only have to sleep four hours a night, why do they live in the backwoods instead of being in charge?  Clearly they're fractious (Chaotic supports this; me against my brother, my brother and I against our cousin, and all three of us against the humans) and possibly have been defeated by the empire of men ("The Elves will rise again").

...  now I kind of want to train a Markov chain name generator on a combined set of elven and stereotypical redneck names, to get things like "Celebrimbubba", "Billrond Junior", and "Fingolforrest".

Meanwhile, in the fantastical, post-magical-apocalypse Deep South, the dwarven vaults are doomsday-prepper / militia compounds, hobbit cartels smuggle pipeweed across the border in apparati of Kwalish, the City State of the Invincible Overlord is basically New Orleans, and giant crawfish suck the heads off of you.

Perhaps the problem with my previous approach to RPGs was taking things entirely too seriously.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reasons to Hire Adventurers

Or, "Why doesn't the duke just send his own henchmen, who are higher level than us?"

* Plausible deniability - dirty deeds are best done by assets you're not too fond of. Adventurers are not known for their discretion, as a rule, but sometimes you're working with what you've got.
* Praetorian Threat - if his domain-tier henchmen are Grudging, maybe he wants to make sure they don't level, and would prefer to keep them where he can see them.
* High risk - if his domain-tier henchmen are loyal and awesome, maybe he's unwilling to risk them dying to a lousy poison save or other bad luck.
* Duke Ackbar - it's a trap to get those damn troublesome adventurers out of the picture once and for all before they become any more of a threat.
* The Test - an experiment to figure out if he wants to keep these adventurers on permanent retainer and start integrating them into his domains.
* Opportunity Cost - the duke thinks that a political rival might hire the adventurers for some useful purpose, so he concocts a mission of marginal utility to him but which keeps them busy and out of the rival's employ for a while.
* The Long Haul - the mission is expected to be long enough that sending his own henchmen would reduce the stability of the realm (or the loyalty of those henchmen).
* "Unique capabilities" - this is the typical, beaten-to-death explanation; adventurers are Special and the only ones who can do the job. Mostly falls apart in ACKS, but there might be circumstances where it applies (ie, party with perma-flying wizard and a horn of blasting can get up to some unusual mischief).