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  1. #1
    Junior Member Kell's Avatar
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    Elves: a simpler take

    I have been reading a lot of the threads here about the Sidhelien; and I've seen some pretty awesome ideas for them...but mine have always been much simpler.

    The reason that an immortal elf isn't at LEAST a high level spellcaster: because he doesn't have the potential to be.

    Just because something lives a very long time, doesn't mean that it can become the greatest at anything really. Some things just have a limited potential. Take for example:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methuselah_(tree)

    It is the oldest tree in the world; but so common it couldn't be pointed out by anyone because, well, it is just common. It isn't the tallest, isn't the strongest, isn't the straightest and so on. It's just a tree.

    So it is with elves. Yes, they can live for a VERY long time; but that doesn't mean that they have any special potential just because they live a long time. Perhaps the "average elf" is only as good at swordplay as the average human...because that is their potential.

    Why didn't the elves wipe humanity off the face of Cerilia with their magic? Because they don't have that potential. Even the VERY powerful elf known as Rhuobhe is a 15th level spellcaster. He is easily older than Isaelie of the Sielwode who is only a 13th level spellcaster. It isn't because he hasn't TRIED to master more magic likely...but because he just has reached his potential.

    So, in my Birthright (which is a mix of 1e/2e AD&D only), elves ARE better than the average human...in fact I make them 2HD individuals (which is why they are so good at archery); but not all of them can even cast spells. They ARE magical; but this shows in their natural abilities and resistances and not in any innate ability to cast spells.

    So Elves in Cerilia are long lived, they are magical, they ARE dangerous...but they aren't all on the verge of throwing lightning bolts or even magic-missiles at their foes. Are they better individually than a human or a goblin? Yep. But even an Ogre or an Orog is going to give them a run for their money in a straight up fight because the elf is JUST an elf...even if he is 500 years old.

  2. #2
    I think I agree with you, although I have never read here on the forum or wiki the idea that all elves are spellcasters.
    For me, the intimate relationship between elves and magic is useful in allowing elven history to be explained without resorting to gods or divine blood. In my campaign, elven characters are not required to be of blood in order to be true wizards elven rulers can interact with holding sources as if they were normal holdings (contest, bidding war, etc.).
    They ARE magical; but this shows in their natural abilities and resistances and not in any innate ability to cast spells.
    I don't mind the idea that elves are able to cast one or two cantrips just like drows in the forgotten realms, where they can cast faerie fire and darkness if I remember correctly. This doesn't make them wizards. The idea that elves can automatically cast wizard spells is very reminiscent of old editions, when the elf was a class and not a species.
    Why didn't the elves wipe humanity off the face of Cerilia with their magic? Because they don't have that potential.
    Also, let's not forget that according to the Lore arcane magic was defeated by the divine magic of humans, the gods were the weapon that allowed the elves to defeat. Why weren't elves cleansed off Aebrynis? probably for the same reason -- being a man of faith doesn't automatically make you cast like a level 30 cleric.

  3. #3
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Witness3;92795Also, let's not forget that according to the Lore [AUTOLINK
    arcane magic[/AUTOLINK] was defeated by the divine magic of humans, the gods were the weapon that allowed the elves to defeat. Why weren't elves cleansed off Aebrynis? probably for the same reason -- being a man of faith doesn't automatically make you cast like a level 30 cleric.
    I note that:
    Anuirean history is very likely written by priests/monks of Haelyn - and canon may well reflect the 'recorded history', and thus be very favourable to the church;

    Humans at their best combine near goblin-speed breeding and numbers with near karamhul discipline & fortifications and near sidhe skill at magic and arguably have the best priestly magic of all these races making them very good at war.

    Over the generations a war in which 100 humans die for each sidhe who falls is a certain human victory due to the relative breeding rate and numbers but in a defensive battle humans (particularly nobles in fortifications) would be unlikely to lose numbers at anything like that ratio, so I wouldn't expect that the sidhe could exterminate humanity - drive them back for a time, yes, keep them from expanding into some areas, sure, but drive exterminate a highly populated area? No.

    But... humans invading sidhe woods is also a near sure loss. A high level sidhe wizard can just ward a sidhe realm indefinitely and stop almost all attack, and unlike a human realm the sidhe wouldn't particularly complain about the impact on trade routes, etc. Then there is the military side where sidhe troops are tough, the terrain favours them hugely, and no sidhe realm has a non sidhe arcane caster or leyline as far as I know giving the sidhe a huge spell advantage over humans over time.

    Factor in the politics, the normal driver for war is gaining wealth or land, the sidhe lands would yield little loot, sidhe land is deep forest which is hard to clear or settle. So the main reason left for humans to invade is pride - and that is a hard motive to sustain in the face of heavy losses and repeated delays caused by stacked warding spells.

  4. #4
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    I agree mostly with each post.

    On an individual level, I've often felt that the Sidhe would be well represented with Bard and Druid classes. So when I've statted any individual Sidhe, I haven't shied from using those classes, even multiclassing freely, and allowing common Sidhe to have a few levels. But still rarely up to 10.

    On the macro scale, I agree with much of AndrewTall's assessment. I think also that the Sidhe have a hard time organizing mass armies and resistance; they're too individualistic.

    I don't think either the Sidhe or their realms are well-represented in game mechanics, however. I do think the forests are nigh impenetrable. I see no reason why the magic thrown at invaders wouldn't be ridiculous, and the elven ability to hit and run with superior stealth and archery really would make it a proposition of ridiculous ratios of death (like 100 to 1 or more). To represent that in game mechanics needs work. At least consider the forests fortifications (similar with dwarves, btw, but perhaps to an even greater degree), and delegated realm sorcery allowing spells to be cast every turn in every province. Similarly, battle magic on the field, and also differences in how the militaries are mustered and maintained (Sidhelien realms are rather starved for resources, typically).

  5. #5
    Junior Member Kell's Avatar
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    I don't see Sidhelien realms being starved for resources at all...that is an odd concept to me.

    Without magic they would have at their disposal vast resources to call on and stores of material that they collect.

    Just using the Sielwode as a reference:

    It states plainly there are a vast number of bogs and such all around...iron in plenty would come from there.

    Even without using our human concept of forestry, there would be an abundant supply of wood material on hand for bows, arrows and even construction.

    Sidhe hunters would be the perfect examples of animal stewardship, likely only culling the aged and wounded in their hunts. This places vast amounts of leather, bone, glue and obviously food on the table. Vast amounts of plant matter would be available to them, from medicines to simple food stocks.

    Even if they didn't mine, then stone is to be had in plenty by simply picking it up off the ground. Mortar is easily acquired as well...and no true mining needs to take place. Granted, most of their true stone buildings are probably made by magic...

    Basket weaving, pottery making from clay and more...

    I guess my view on the Sidhelien is that they have AT LEAST a local economy of barter if not a realm-wide economy of guilds.

    Want a sword, travel to that elf that really enjoys making swords nearby. Need armor, I hear the sword-maker's brother really enjoys fashioning chain links for days that result in chainmail. Need a necklace for a gift, there is a neighbor not too far away that has been trading food with visiting travelers for silver and smelting it to make jewelry.

    Etc.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kell View Post
    I don't see Sidhelien realms being starved for resources at all...that is an odd concept to me.
    My point was that standard Birthright rules make Sidhelien realms relatively resource-starved in the currency of the game rules.

    They don't have temples, typically don't have guilds or trade routes, don't have many high level provinces, and I'm not sure elven mentality is such to make high taxation normally make sense, unless significantly reimagined. Further, elven units are at least as costly, and are only marginally better than other units.

    Now, you could reimagine all of those holding types, as well as province levels, to better represent the Sidhelien and to put them on better footing according to the rules, but that's my point: the rules put them at a disadvantage until corrected.

    If you use the alternate rules suggesting income for high level Sources, as well as the rule that elves don't diminish Sources in their provinces, and set the max Source levels (mostly filled) at 9 in old elven forests, that can do much to address the issue without forcing elves to turn their sources into Alchemical factories.

    If you apply the alternate rules for tribal/nomadic peoples (allowing musters for unclaimed province levels, and setting elven max province level in forests at 9, or 10 with rivers) you can address a lot more. Even can make the Gheallie Sidhe make more sense.

    I think it's also quite fair to improve Sidhelien levies/militia, at least as Irregulars as some human realms have, if not better; and have them spontaneously muster if the forest is attacked, and treat forests as having levels of fortification for them.

    And that they can be mustered with RP instead of GB, on a 1-1 ratio.

    I did like the BRCS 3.5e version giving all elven units the Scout property, as well, which also envisions their units as being comprised of significantly fewer individuals.

    And as I mentioned before, I'd see elven "vassal" wizards as custodians of each Source and an interconnected ley network in place, meaning that even though sources may be "held" by the primary Sidhe regent, elven spellcasters in each province could pull off a major realm spell each turn if necessary.

    That brings up another thing: Sidhelien RP doesn't seem like it ought to be bound to the divine bloodline rules the same way. I would think RP would have a different meaning and representation for them, and not be limited to bloodlines, with different metrics for max collection and accumulation.

    But this then could intersect with another problem, particularly for players of elven realms, a similar one to dwarves -- just how should they be played, really?

    To be true to their flavor, I don't think they really should be just like human realms, with a focus on build up and ruling. Even on the Source Regent side, most of these domains should already be in place and mature, and they should know many realm spells.

    They are a slower, longer-lived race, and the above adjustments could mean they could be a terror and go on serious rampages. But they largely don't, because the long term weight of what that could bring down on them could be quite severe. Yet players would be tempted to do it. Especially to make life miserable for Cariele and any other realm with forests.

    Yet do the Sidhe really have the numbers to be expansionists? Even Rhuobhe mostly thinks of destruction and vengeance rather than conquest and expansion.

    A Sidhe realm should play very differently. The question is, how does the system keep up with interesting choices for that, when it is designed primarily for human realms?

    There are similar issues with dwarves and even goblins. Goblin realms I think don't adequately represent their capabilities to be very dangerous through force of arms and numbers, without having to focus on traditional holdings. Dwarven realms might focus more on traditional holdings, but do they have the numbers to justify major expansionism in campaigns, or even to make sense appealing to the people for a major offensive outside of their realms that could cost many lives? And are underground holdings and Orog threats adequately represented in the rules? I don't think so.

    It's a very human-oriented game, and it does that pretty well. Takes some effort for non-human races, I think, to make it work, more to balance it appropriately, and more to really fit the flavor while making it interesting, with enough to do that isn't just human-esque.

  7. #7
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    That brings up another thing: Sidhelien RP doesn't seem like it ought to be bound to the divine bloodline rules the same way. I would think RP would have a different meaning and representation for them, and not be limited to bloodlines, with different metrics for max collection and accumulation.
    Ideally there would be a modest RP collection and retention system for any ruler, but where bloodline makes it much more effective - before Deismaar there were still kings. Perhaps collection linked to charisma bonus, maybe a fraction of level and retention a low multiple thereof?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    But this then could intersect with another problem, particularly for players of elven realms, a similar one to dwarves -- just how should they be played, really?

    To be true to their flavor, I don't think they really should be just like human realms, with a focus on build up and ruling. Even on the Source Regent side, most of these domains should already be in place and mature, and they should know many realm spells.
    agree entirely

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