Thursday, January 21, 2021

An Alternate Basic Elf

Last post about redoing the Basic dwarf got me thinking about elves too.  I've been discontent with Basic's elf for a while.  Fighting as a fighter and casting as an MU is cool, and I don't oppose having a class like that, but it has never really felt particularly elven to me.  Casting and fighting is necessarily but insufficient, maybe.

So an alternate proposal:

  • Drop their max armor to chainmail, but leave their weapon selection alone (in Chainmail, elves got to use all manner of magic swords, and I think it fits).  Why do elves make fancy mithril chainmail?  Because they don't wear plate.
  • Drop melee damage bonus, as a mirror of dropping dwarf's ranged damage bonus.  This puts the elf and the dwarf on similar footing in melee, since the dwarf gets damage bonus but less access to magic weapons, while the elf has better access to magic weapons but no damage bonus, and then the human fighter is slightly better than either.
  • Add Hiding in Shadows and Moving Silently as a thief of their level (may I remind you that in Chainmail, elves were invisible?), maybe only usable in leather or lighter armor.  Maybe throw in Hear Noises too, but keep Backstab as just a thief thing.
  • Drop Darkvision; having Moving Silently plus Darkvision is asking for trouble.  Darkvision makes more sense as just a dwarf thing anyway.
  • Swap casting as an MU to something more like divine casting, with an appropriately elven spell list.  Healing, illusions, enchantment, magical music, plant manipulation, etc.  A bit of cleric, a bit of druid, a bit of illusionist, cover all of the elf flavors (high, wood, and dark).

So then we end up with something more like a bard or a ranger than a wizard in plate.  The really thorny bits here are assembling a spell list (I'm not totally happy with this one from ancient days but it might be a starting point) and figuring out the XP value.  Some combination of Wis, Str, Dex, and Cha prime reqs and minimum stats.

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