No elf rangers or druids

I could probably develop this into a more detailed and nuanced argument, but here goes with some thoughts as I kill ten minutes at my desk, when I should be on my way home but have an after-hours union meeting to wait around for.

Just a contrarian thought. Elves always seem to be a go-to choice for rangers because most versions of D&D give rangers some extra skill with bows, and elves have bonuses to hit with long bows at least in AD&D. Rangers are also associated with the outdoors, and elves love nature, right?

Going back to the first instance of rangers in a D&D manual (the AD&D PHB), we just have this laconic description before jumping into their abilities and powers: “Rangers are a sub-class of fighter who are adept at woodcraft, tracking, scouting, and infiltration and spying.” Their powers revolve around killing “giant class” monsters (generally speaking, humanoids/goblinoids, and not including giants but including ogres and trolls), tracking, and some spells. Their increased chance of surprise would make them pretty deadly with bows under first edition surprise rules. But apart from limited druid spells and attracting woodland followers, I’m not really seeing the nature-loving aspect to them. They look a lot more like Tolkien’s rangers, who protected mankind by patrolling the frontiers. Rambo more than Robin Hood.

Why would elves be protectors of mankind? The first edition restriction that elves can not be rangers makes sense in this light, especially if you mix in some of the Poul Anderson ideas about elves being not so friendly to humans.

D&D druids are fleshed out a bit more, but the basic idea is that they are throwbacks to Celtic druids (as described by Julius Caesar?), and worship trees, the sun, and moon. Bearing in mind that AD&D elf characters are always high elves, the shouldn’t be druids. Druids sound rather backward; a refined elven culture certainly wouldn’t be worshiping nature directly, but would have developed a pantheon of gods, as we see in Deities & Demigods. Even if wood elves are allowed per Unearthed Arcana and post-1st edition versions of D&D, wood elves don’t seem any wilder or more primitive than high elves, just different.

Druids are tied, minimally, to a certain kind of semi-barbaric human civilization. (OK, barbaric according to Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, which was propaganda, but we’re buying the myth anyway by making them tree-worshipers). Elves are not Celts or Gauls. Rangers are also tied to human civilization, as a sort of frontier defender of humans. Again, not a role you would see taken by up non-humans.

In this light, half-elf rangers make a little more sense (and really half-orc rangers make more sense than elves, while we’re at it) — half-human outcasts might be deployed to the frontiers, hidden from prejudiced eyes and laboring to defend a wold they are not really accepted by.

So whenever I see people say it just “makes sense” to allow elves to be rangers and druids, I shake my head. It makes sense only if you divorce those classes from they actually represent and focus solely on the “nature” part of their roles. But both classes actually serve humanity; they simply do so on the fringes of civilization, in the wilds.

 

 

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Published in: on December 1, 2017 at 4:27 pm  Comments (3)  
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An elf and I don’t know what

So here’s the elf from the Milton Bradley/GW Heroquest game.  I originally painted him a god ten or twelve years ago, but did his hair grey, which ended up looking very blue.  All that timehe’s been a bench-warmer.  No-one wanted use a blue haired elf as thier PC, and I really can’t blame them.  so finally I repainted his hair as blonde, and maybe someone will put him in, coach!

heroquest-elfIf I had another copy of this figure, I’d definitely give him a pointed cap, like Zelda.

The other thing I photographed is a column I made out of Sculpy a while back.  I keep buying bricks of Sculpy and thinking I’ll do a bunch of cool terrain or monsters and instead I let my daughter make koalas and stuff out of it.   But one time we both worked on projects and I decided to make a sun and moon idol.  I think I was definitely plagarizing John Blanche’s moon faces from his GW work.  I’m not quie sure what I’ll do with this; it could be an idol used by humanoids, or the ancients; it could equally well be some sort of magical trick or trap.

The sunny side

The sunny side

An angry moon

An angry moon

pillar-sideThe nice thing about stuff like this is takes almost no time to paint.  Just a bunch of dry-brushing over black paint.

 

Published in: on February 5, 2013 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Some demihumans

Blame it on Tolkien, but D&D is pretty much a demihuman’s world, in my experience.  I’ve known a few players who always play humans and read the pulps who would have been approved of by Gygax, but most players I’ve known make nonhumans (or “demihumans” as Gygax dubs them).   To some extent later editions of D&D really push the idea that certain demihuman races are “better” or “more iconic” for certain classes.  To some extent all editions of D&D give bonuses to the demihumans that just make them more attractive.  Even back in my hardcore AD&D days, level limits, when enforced or even applicable (most campaigns I’ve played in just didn’t last long enough to hit high levels anyway), did not outweigh the benefits of multiclassing and the logistical advantage of infravision.   It also never hurt that there are tones of cool demihuman figures.  Here are two elves.

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Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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How now brown Drow?

I really hate drow elves.  They just suck.  Spider-demon worshiping freaks.

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Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 9:58 pm  Comments (11)  
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The army of Elfland

Click to embiggen, as usual! This army is chiefly composed of figures I cast with Prince August molds, plus a few Ral Partha elves and a couple of Grenadier figures. One stand of Citadel plastic elves can also be seen in the rear left above. (more…)

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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