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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:05 am  
    Aging

    One thing that always drove me crazy was the constant revision of racial life spans. During the course of 3 editions (eh eh), 4 if you count original D&D, we had elves that were aging in completely different ways.
    Which one do you consider canon? I go with 1e, since books like City of Greyhawk clearly state the age of some NPCs and I really don't feel like "retailoring" them to the new trend. I also have nothing personal against having 1000 years old elves, if that was the big point.

    Just for summarizing let's take high elves
    [ young adult/mature/middle-aged/old/venerable ]

    OD&D: didn't find any references
    1e: 100-175/176-550/551-875/876-1200/1201-1600
    2e: 75-109/110-174/175-249/250-349/350-750
    3e: -/-/175-262/263-349/350-750
    Pathfinder: -/-/125-187/188-249/250-450

    Comments?
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 25, 2007
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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 6:13 am  

    I admit I've always had a dim view of 1,000+-year-old elves. Imagine if we had people walking around today who fought in the crusades, who traveled with Columbus, or who guided Marco Polo. Granted, our understanding of history would be radically different (and probably much, much better), but the ramifications of having such people around would be too difficult to predict realistically.

    And given that we're talking about a game here, consider how much power a 1,000+-year-old individual could amass over the centuries. I once DMed a 3.5e campaign that lasted just under a year, and the players reached @ 23rd level by the end of it. In game time, they went from novices to epic-level in just over six months. Under similar circumstances, you'd have to expect there to be elves out there somewhere with 400-500 levels!

    Of course, all this is relatively easy to address within the game. You could easily rule (as did 1e) that elves eventually grow bored and wander off to pursue other (one assumes, non-adventuring) interests. FR and Tolkien both assume that at some point elves grow tired of this world and take ship to the next. Others simply decide that elves' memories aren't as long as their lifespans, and thus they "forget" anything that happened more than a century or two ago, only remembering things before that in their dreams. Some even go so far as to rule that ancient elves may even "forget" class levels and skills over time. Personally, I'm unsatisfied with any of these.

    I realize that we're dealing with a fantasy world, but the logical ramifications of having such ancient characters in the campaign interferes with my ability to suspend disbelief. Perhaps my imagination just isn't good enough. IMC, I've always handwaved the ages of characters, not wanting to deal with the subject in any real depth. I think you've inspired me, though, to give it another look. If I ever get around to writing up anything, I suspect I'll revise the ages for all races except humans downward. I really don't see any reason for halflings to live any longer than humans. Perhaps gnomes and dwarves should live a bit longer (it just "feels" right). And I like the idea of elves being long-lived, just not THAT long. Three or four centuries, maybe?

    But in answer to your original question, I suspect the 1e ages are most accepted as canon. Generally speaking, most Greyhawkers I know tend to go with the oldest source available.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:38 am  

    As stated, I think that the long (1e) lives of elves can be worked with by remembering some of the other personality traits of elves. Elves are fairly xenophobic. They don't want to get too close to people that are going to die relatively soon (from their perspective). This keeps them out of the affairs of men and isolated in their elven communities. They also see a lot of the conflicts that embroil human states as transitory and ultimately of no consequence. This keeps them from engaging in a lot of adventures that would "hook" human characters.

    With that in mind, elves would seem to work best as NPCs rather than PCs, but a good player could pull off an elf PC. He could just be dabbling in a few brief adventures for the novelty before his interests moved elsewhere, remaining aloof and detached from his companions. My only experience was with a human that was reincarnated as an elf, so there wasn't any real problem with the role-playing.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:17 am  

    Yes, there are plenty of ways of working with long-lived elves within the framework of the game. The difficulty (for me, at least) comes not in explaining it through fluff but in reconciling the fluff with the way most players actually play. In over 30 years I have yet to meet a player - and I've played with some excellent ones - who could pull off the detached, aloof, it's-all-going-to-pass-anyway personality you would expect from an elf. If you throw in xenophobia and the various other traits mentioned, such a player is even more rare. And if you include all the not-so-great players, then it just doesn't happen. IME, most play elves like serious-minded kender with swords and spells instead of hoopaks.

    I suspect the idea of long-lived elves was thrown into the game to satisfy Tolkien fans. I really wish EGG would've handled it differently, but what's done is done, I guess. I may have to give this some thought for my own campaign. I don't know yet if I'd prefer to adjust their ages downward, or just rethink the way I use (and insist that players use) elves.
    GreySage

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:50 pm  

    bubbagump wrote:
    I suspect the idea of long-lived elves was thrown into the game to satisfy Tolkien fans.


    Elrond was over three thousand years of age. Shocked

    But originally, elves had limits. For instance, there were certain forms of magic that they simply could not do. I also seem to recall that all the players wanted to be human, because only humans could dual-class in those days. Am I remembering that wrong (Bubbagump)? Confused

    In addition, the long lives of elves made elven "children" very rare indeed. The elves did not procreate at the fantastic rate that humans do -- neither did the dwarves -- thus, every death was hard felt by all "the people." Cry

    For instance; should a couple of hundred elves die in a fight with the forces of "Iuz," it would be a very long time before their numbers were replaced. Sad

    I get the feeling here that the more recent core books (not that familiar with 3e and beyond) have changed all that. Query? Question
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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:08 pm  

    I have noticed that starting elven pc's can sometimes be around 200 years old...at level 1!!!So i guess what thier saying is that for 200 years this elf did nothing with his life at all???Even meanial labor or observation of "how things are done" should have raised his/her level in all of 200 years.Even shoveling horse manure from a stable should be enough to gain even a modicrum of at least 25 experiance points in my opinion.

    However this does come in handy in several forms, such as the 2e haste spell(which ages by one year.) or Iuz's aging spittle where it's probably best to have a long life span rather than wither away due to old age.I would'nt expect many elves to survive a thousand years anyway because of high mortality rates in combat and your basic adventuring hazards.Those who live by the sword...well,you know the rest.

    This raises another question in mind.What about cancer or alzheimers,surely elves arent immune to those conditions as they grow older,right?
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:18 pm  

    In the Greyhawk campaign worlds I've been running since 1e, I have always considered that high end of 1000+ years as achievable by a minority of elves, mostly of the gray variety.

    As for interacting with humans and other short lived races I have always imagined that for an elf it would be like taking a ride on one of the wildest, fastest, sensory overloadingest (?? is that a word) roller-coasters. You laugh, you scream, you love, you cry, but it is over so quickly, what really happened around you during that time? The experience needs to reflected on and remembered over and over again in the next couple of centuries to capture all the subtle nuances of what occurred in that short period of your life.

    Kaltronas, Recoverer of Lost Fax
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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:57 pm  

    AcidArrow wrote:
    I have noticed that starting elven pc's can sometimes be around 200 years old...at level 1!!!So i guess what thier saying is that for 200 years this elf did nothing with his life at all???Even meanial labor or observation of "how things are done" should have raised his/her level in all of 200 years.Even shoveling horse manure from a stable should be enough to gain even a modicrum of at least 25 experiance points in my opinion.


    What the elf was doing for the previous 200 years was learing all the little inticaicies of being an elf.

    Something we, as gamers forget, is that the original elves - the Tolkien elves that Greyhawk elves were based off of - had a lot of culture behind them. Spending a decade learing how to do elven dances precisely correct would not be out of the question. One could also presume spending a year of two at a time learning the basics of some skill, then moving on to do the same thing with another skill... up to a dozen times, looking for the 'right' career. Then spend another decade or two mastering the basics of it, which, of course, must be learned perfectly before the elf is allowed to practice the skills more generally - i.e. by adventuring.

    Quote:
    However this does come in handy in several forms, such as the 2e haste spell(which ages by one year.) or Iuz's aging spittle where it's probably best to have a long life span rather than wither away due to old age.I would'nt expect many elves to survive a thousand years anyway because of high mortality rates in combat and your basic adventuring hazards.Those who live by the sword...well,you know the rest.


    Exactly. You can only get experience from fighting kobolds so long, before you know all their tricks and can't learn anything more. And while dragons are much better teacher, they also tend to be much rougher on their stundents... Evil Grin

    Quote:
    This raises another question in mind.What about cancer or alzheimers,surely elves arent immune to those conditions as they grow older,right?


    Depends on your take of elves, and what happens to them at the 'end' of their lifespans. If they depart for some 'lost elven homeland' then it would not be likely they would be considered physically 'old,' they would just be tired of dealing with all these impatient youngsters running around.

    If, on the other hand, your elves die of old age, then it is quite possible for them to suffer from whatever age-related illnesses you think appropriate.


    Kaltronas, I think you have the right idea there. A decade arond humans would certainly leave an elf needing some private time to assimilate what happened. Happy
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:20 pm  

    The long lifespan of elves shouldn't be a campaign problem. Most people, even among elves, will have NPC classes and will tend to gain experience very slowly compared to adventurers. Sure, an elf adventurer could gain 50 levels per year, but at high levels he would need high-level opponents to gain XP, and adventurers tend to have short lifespans anyway. That 1,000-yo elf is probably "only" a 50th-level expert.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:44 pm  

    They've changed with 4e also, although it's closer to Pathfinder, though they don't get specific, only saying most eladrin live for over 300 years, and most elves live to be "well over" 200 years old. Like Pathfinder they've also changed height - elves being 5' 4" - 6', and eladrin 5' 5" - 6' 1".

    I never did really see why elves needed to mature slower than other races just because they live longer. I guess it may have been a Tolkien thing.
    GreySage

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:15 pm  

    smillan_31 wrote:
    I never did really see why elves needed to mature slower than other races just because they live longer. I guess it may have been a Tolkien thing.


    I don't know that is was a 'slow to mature' thing, so much as a Point of View. Confused

    In a realtive sense; how many 80 year olds do you know that don't think of 20 somethings as kids? Even thirty somethings? Mad

    Its not so much a matter of "lack of respect," as it is an 80 year old view point of "lack of maturity." Which in this life is often true! Laughing Laughing Laughing

    (Sorry if I offend any younger members. Embarassed )

    It would be the same with Elves. Their elders quite probably view them as "children," and no doubt treat them as such. But these younger elves probably consider themselves to be quite mature, especially in comparison to shorter lived humans. Happy

    They quite probably chafe at this attitude just as much as any young human would. Tolerance of such attitudes usually comes with age. Why would young elves be different from young humans in such matters? Cool
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    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:36 pm  

    JHSII wrote:
    Actually I never had a problem with elves or their longevity. I mean, the starting age for an elven fighter is 130+5d6. At most, that's 180 years when the game starts, and that's only about 21 years in human terms. If your campaign lasts for 50 years of game time then the elf is still only about 23 in human terms. Just how fast do the centuries go by in your campaigns?

    I don't see the elves having a stupid I-ignore-it-because-it's-all-going-to-pass-anyway attitude either. Plus, unless they're wood elves they're not going to be xenophobic anyway. If these are the ways you treat people who want to play elves in your campaigns then it's no wonder that nobody wants to play them.


    Then you see my problem. Imagine meeting a young guy today who knew George Washington. Even if he had only the maturity of a human 20-yr-old, his perspective would have to be vastly different if only because of his vast experience with life.

    And concerning the "if these are the ways you treat people" comment, you clearly don't have a clue about how my campaigns are run. I merely commented that I have a conceptual concern about long-lived elves. Yes, I do establish the parameters of what goes on in my games, but I'm far from being restrictive. Besides which, what player would really care if his PC (whom he will likely only play for a few years) doesn't live to be 1,000? Concerning the "it's no wonder that nobody wants to play them" comment, I've found exactly the opposite to be true. In my 30+ years of play I've found elves to be immensely popular, and have run more than one all-elf party. In fact, I'm a little sick of elves, to be blunt. They have their place in the WoG, but they're far from being the "ultimate race".

    As I said before, yes, there are a myriad of ways of handling the long lives of elves. I don't object to any of them as expressed in anyone's game. I just have a personal dislike of the way it's usually explained, and a stronger personal dislike of the way elves are usually played. You need not subscribe to my opinion, nor do I suggest that you do. I simply stated that I have an opinion and what it happens to be.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:17 pm  

    bubbagump wrote:
    ...Others simply decide that elves' memories aren't as long as their lifespans, and thus they "forget" anything that happened more than a century or two ago, only remembering things before that in their dreams.


    You know. That really doesn't bug me. There is some story potential there. The character who awakens from a dream (or trance) with the snippet of an old memory and a sense of foreboding. A remembered long lost love and the echoing ring of steel on steel. Yeah. I kinda like that. There's some meat there... :-)

    Plus, it's not too far off from the "real" world. I'm long past 20 and those days are snippets of high points and lows. Some remembered in dreams or daydreams - some during certain events. But perfect recall? No way. I think that saying a 200+ year old has memories that have faded significantly due to time isn't too much of a stretch.

    I also don't have a problem with the 4e approach of making Elves/Eladrin life spans a lot shorter. The above still could be used. 300 years is a long time to watch the sun revolve around the Oerth. ;-)

    My 2.

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    Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:08 am  

    I believe that environment needs to be taken into account as well. By that I mean the environment in which someone is raised. Not too long ago,(in comparison to the age of man) people as young as 15 ruled countries, today we don't even trust them to drive a car or drink alcohol. I mean, take a look at your grandparents and see what they were doing at the age of 15 and then look at what the 15 year olds of today are doing. We are all still humans and I do not believe that we have "evolved/devolved" that quickly, but it is a matter of what society/ culture expects of them.
    If elves are treated as "infants/ toddlers" for the first 30 years of their lives, how will that affect them?

    There also maybe a physical/ mental development issue. Does it take them longer to learn to walk or speak? A horse or cow will stand within hours of birth, humans take about a year. Insects live a lifetime in the matter of hours or days.

    Sorry, just some thoughts that jumped into my head while reading the posts, so I thougth I would throw some additional variables into the mix.
    GreySage

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    Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:49 am  

    At least in 3e, you're not supposed to gain any experience points unless you're actually challenged. Nobody's going to advance to 100th level unless they face 100th level threats. These are in scarce supply in the Flanaess. And, of course, previous editions have arbitrary level limits.

    I truly don't understand the desire to make elves live shorter lives. Without the idea that these are timeless creatures who've seen ages gone by, they don't feel like elves at all to me. It's their chief story hook, in my mind.

    Note that in 1e, high elves lived up to 1000 years, while grey elves lived up to 2000 years.

    Edit: I don't think 2nd edition elves were supposed to have shorter lives than 1st edition elves; rather, they simply left the world (through the Arch of Sehanine or the like) after centuries of life and continued aging in Arvandor. Although, this is functionally much the same as death, since dead elves typically went to Arvandor anyway, living among ancient living elves for the rest of eternity.

    3rd edition dropped the 2nd edition idea of ancient elves leaving the world without dying, but kept the shorter 2nd edition lifespans. This bothered me, but not as much as the radically shortened 4th edition lifespans.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:31 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    I truly don't understand the desire to make elves live shorter lives. Without the idea that these are timeless creatures who've seen ages gone by, they don't feel like elves at all to me. It's their chief story hook, in my mind.


    I agree. I think this perspective is actually used in From the Ashes to justify the general neutrality of the elves during the Greyhawk Wars. Iuz, Schmiuz. The real threat, one sufficiently nasty to mobilize the elves into full-on opposition, is still on the horizon.
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    Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:33 pm  

    I fully confess, I'm not so worried about making Elves' lifetimes shorter -- I'm using the 4th Ed ages for now, but elves aren't playing THAT important a role, and the agelessness of the elves is as effective for when it does come up when they live three or four times as long as an average human as when they live twenty times as long... but this is of course a matter of taste, and I doubt any two gamers will agree on it.

    I don't think it radically upsets canon in any major ways to lengthen or shrink elven lifespans. Various human sages may disagree; different elves may give different answers, depending on how seriously they feel they ought to take the questions. There's hardly a large collection of dedicated anthropologists out trying to write "Among The Trees: How The Elven Peoples Are," or any such thing, using peer-reviewed observations and hard statistics.
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    Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:20 pm  

    I prefer the idea of 1000 year+ lifespans for elves. I've never really had such lifespan discrepancies come up in any of my games, so I don't think its such a big deal.

    A compromise, and in-game explanation would be to say that only those elves who were 110 (2e mature, 1e young adult) or older before the Red Death of 576 have 1E lifespans, while those born after have shorter ones (the 2e & 3e difference is so minor it can be safely ignored). Those that dislike the 2e Grey Havens solution can say that Vecna's invasion of Sigil in 591 disrupted the path there.

    As for 100+ level elves (in 3x at least), challenges above CR 25 are few & far between, at least on the Prime Material. Of course, I do think that a character should be able to gain a minimum of xp without actively adventuring, as long as they're doing something relative to their class (drilling & patrolling for martial classes, spell research for spellcasters, etc), but I see few long-lived races being so single-minded.

    Regarding memory, modern science, IIRC, tells us that capacity is limited, which is why old people seem to be forgetful--they just have more experiences to remember than young people. It's doubtful ancient elves would have instant recall, perhaps needing several days or weeks to retrieve a long-forgotten memory. Then again, perhaps they have a spell for that.
    GreySage

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    Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:57 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    At least in 3e, you're not supposed to gain any experience points unless you're actually challenged. Nobody's going to advance to 100th level unless they face 100th level threats.


    Wisdom is the judicious use of knowledge, tempered by the "fire" of our experience. As Rasgon points out, no 1000 year old Elf is wise simply because he/she's a 1000 years old. Confused

    At 200 an Elf might be a 5th level "fighter," after he/she's been in 20 battles, defending the "homeland." (Hyperbole used here -- for you "rules lawyers" Razz ) Shucks people, a true adventurer's been in 20 battles by the end of a single adventure! Shocked

    ToEE, ToH, AtG anyone? Happy

    And this premise can legitimately be viewed as the reason most human adventurers are of higher level than the average demihuman population. In the world of D&D demihumans tend to be more xenophobic -- in anything I've ever read -- mostly meaning that they don't leave home adventuring nearly so often as humans do. How many of the elves of Celene gambol about the Flanaess? A hand full, maybe? Confused

    Adventurers have the experience that non-adventuring types don't have, so adventurers possess higher character levels. Cool
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    Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:13 pm  

    My personal take on character advancement is slightly different, and also takes into consideration the fact that many 80-years old mages are just 3rd or 4th level wizards. Why so?

    I believe the answer is inherent "potential". PCs are heroes, they have infinite potential and grow FAST, that's why they reach incredible levels in just a matter of months. They're like "enfants prodige", whose abilities have no genetic peak, but could grow as much as their experience allow them. I know artisans who have been doing the same work for 40 years and have become just "that good", never improving beyond what they managed when they were 25. On the other hand we have plenty of examples of natural talents that become world class experts in just a few years of study. Take a professional boxer, he's got talent, or it has not, and no matter how much he trains, he'll never become a new Joe Louis.

    Being D&D an heroic fantasy game, the concept just fits finely to me. The character also have access to "elite" professions not available to everyone, such as those elite super-trained combatants that are "fighters", the rest are just commoners with swords, or warriors with some combat training.

    This way we have 1000 years elves that are just 4th level "experts". From the DM point of view, however, I would give them some extra knowledge "invisible stats" that just don't fit any game mechanics. I love to work on the non-numerical side of a character sheet (appearance, history, implicit knowledge). I really believe a character sheets only has a fraction of the character on it.
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    Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:00 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    How many of the elves of Celene gambol about the Flanaess? A hand full, maybe? Confused


    To go off on a bit of a tangent--I've always imagined a tradition among young adult male elves to go forth into the world and sow their wild oats among the human populations--this would certainly explain the inordinate number of half-elven children out there.
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    Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:06 pm  

    MToscan wrote:

    I believe the answer is inherent "potential". PCs are heroes, they have infinite potential and grow FAST, that's why they reach incredible levels in just a matter of months. They're like "enfants prodige", whose abilities have no genetic peak, but could grow as much as their experience allow them. I know artisans who have been doing the same work for 40 years and have become just "that good", never improving beyond what they managed when they were 25. On the other hand we have plenty of examples of natural talents that become world class experts in just a few years of study. Take a professional boxer, he's got talent, or it has not, and no matter how much he trains, he'll never become a new Joe Louis.


    It's more likely to be a combination of talent, opportunities for better training (usually at a young age), hard work, environment, and sheer luck. Author Malcolm Gladwell gives many RL examples of this in his book [i]Outliers[i/].
    GreySage

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    Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:29 pm  

    Robbastard wrote:
    I've always imagined a tradition among young adult male elves to go forth into the world and sow their wild oats among the human populations--this would certainly explain the inordinate number of half-elven children out there.


    An interesting hypothesis. And certainly a much better/nicer/cleaner explanation than all the supposed 'human rapine of elven women' that is sometimes so prevalent in fiction novels these days. Happy

    Very nice premise Robbastard. Another idea I'll have to borrow from. Wink
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    Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:40 pm  

    Ok, this is a topic near and dear so I feel an urge to waffle! I do aplogise for digressing a little from the original topic...

    Happy

    For my part I too approve of elves being very long-lived. I do, however, make the distinction in my game of not allowing my players to create an elf of more than 200-300 years of age, and then I insist that a suitably long background be provided for that character. I have used elves in my game of 1000+ years of age, and they were extremely powerful (which in my game is 20th-25th level), but they were always NPC's who provided occasional advice to the younger pc elf and almost never took a direct hand in anything. As IronGolem said, the rulers of the elves take the long view, and won't commit large armies to a war when they fully believe that the worst is yet to come and their numbers are not easily replaced.

    From a 3.5 perspective, as a general rule I tend to stick with only the most talented people of professional classes rising above 2nd or 3rd level over the course of their lives. In an elf or dwarf community I tend to relax this and set the bar a little higher. I also tend to have a much higher proportion of the community as experts rather than commoners.

    A 500 year old elven expert (say, a weaver) might rise to 5th or 6th level as a professional, but he also would know how to play a handful of instruments, compose a sonnet, dance all night, write a book, build a house, hunt, serve as a guard in his community if needs be and perhaps cast a few cantrips and the skill suite would reflect this. But would this individual go adventuring? No, he probably did that 350 years ago and just went "walkabout" to see the world and didn't go anywhere near a dungeon or a dragon Wink

    I do not subscribe to challenge ratings at all, and (no offense intended to anyone) frankly find the idea that a 25th level character needs a 26th+ level challenge to advance quite ludicrous. In Greyhawk as in most campaign worlds the highest level characters almost always turn out to be wizards, and IMHO they would most likely get there by giving adventuring away and concentrating on pure research in solitude, not the other way around. I award the party the amount of xp I believe that they earned after each game session based on how well they perform (not *play*) their characters, not how well they overcame challenges. This is how I can have an average party level of 11 after a solid 8 years of game play- in a 3.5 game!- and my players thank me for my approach.

    To return to mechanics, the way I see it is the warriors, craftsmen and commoners among the elves will mosy on to Arvandor at around 400. They have no agenda to remain and no will to stay in this world when the next calls. Those guys should almost never reach more than 5th or 6th level, and will rarely be hero classes. Will a small army of elven archers with a hundred years of drilling and soldiering kick arse? Hell yeah! But they will do so in comparison with an army of human or orc archers. And the difference in my game would be an army of 3rd level warriors shooting at an army of 1st level warriors!

    So, to conclude the waffling my point is that I think it is *great* that there would be Grey Elves in Celene who might have seen Vecna or the Twin Cataclyms with their own eyes! What a storytelling gift that is! Smile But should pc's be allowed to be those elves? For my part, I think not. Just because an elf can elect to remain on the Oerth for 1000 years doesn't mean that they will find a reason to do so but those that do remain so long make great NPCs and excellent plot devices and advisors.

    Righto. Ta.

    Damien.
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:33 am  

    It's canon in greyhawk that grey elves live for over 1000 years I think before departing for the other place 'across the sea' much like Tolkien elves. The Seer of the Timeless Tree is 400+ and some of the Sentinels of the Colwood may even be over 1000 (experts can probably remind us when Queen Sharafayre was around) although it's unconfirmed that any of her orginal sugjects remain. The only high elf I can think of is over 200 near Highfolk (Cerenellyl or something?). He's gone blind with age but is resisting the call to depart.
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:07 am  

    I think City of Greyhawk boxed has plenty of characters which are way older than 200 years, including gnomes. I will check and get back.
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 6:10 am  

    That's true. Grimmri Fischer from the Fellowship of the Torch was just over 400 when he copped it during the war in Furyondy. And for the record, according to his background he led a very full life of adventure and was only 8th-10th level.
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:31 am  

    Damien wrote:
    he led a very full life of adventure and was only 8th-10th level.


    I think part of that is the setting and part the edition. With first edition ~9th level was your 'Name' level. At that point you had enough power and prestige to start gathering followers and such. I played for years and years in 1st edition and had a 13th level ranger and a half dozen back-up characters all under 8th level.

    In Greyhawk NPCs of over 9th level were really rare... even kings/queens usually were only slightly over 9th level. Only a few notables like the circle of eight were of epic level. Players of 5th or greater level were amazinging powerful in comparison to the NPCs around them and at 9-11th level you started to become legendary.

    When Forgotten Realms came out you couldn't wander into a back hills village or walk into a tavern without finding an NPC with 15-20 levels and I think in direct result player characters had to be of at least those levels in order to shine as heroes rather than being the true heroes message boy. I mean if you get in a bar fight with your 5th level fighter in 1st edition greyhawk your going to own the fight. The same character in 3rd edition forgotten realms is going to be owned by the bartender who is also a 12th level retired fighter.

    1-2nd edition it seemed to take about 100 hours of play to gain a level while 3-4th edition seem designed to level your character about every 10-15 hours of play or so. I think 3-4 edition makes the game more accessible and interesting for gamers more use to the instagratification that we've learned from computer games but I really miss how leveling was a MAJOR milestone for your character and not just a minor mechanic of the game...

    1st edition leveling lead to punching the air in triumph, doing a happy dance, congratulations from the other players, a week spent looking over your new abilities and spells before happily picking them, writing up a new character sheet and 'retiring' your old one.

    4th edition leveling involves logging into WotC character builder adding a level, a feat, and a power and printing out a new character sheet before the next game night... oh and while were in the character builder I guess I'll print out my next level character sheet as well cause I might need that before next weekend.

    1-2nd edition also tended to develop more organic characters... I don't remember ever planning more than a level or two ahead what I was planning to do with a character's development except for maybe major goals like becoming a 1st edition bard. With 3-4th edition most players have their character planned from 1st level to 20/30th level before they even start playing the character... what feats to take at what levels, what prestige class/paragon path to prepare for, etc.
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:19 am  

    We'll have to agree to disagree there, Varthalon. Levelling in 3.5 is definitely a cause for celebration if the DM does his job properly. The highest level character I've had in 3.5 is 10th level after a fairly long game. The highest 2nd ed. character I had was 23rd level after a significantly shorter game. The difference? A great DM in the former case and a crappy one in the latter. To a good game master and the right group, xp is a footnote to a great story.

    And I used to plan out my 1st and 2nd ed. characters assiduously, as did everyone in my group. I'll agree that having to qualify for prestige classes in 3rd ed requires a degree of forward-looking, but so did qualifying for the thief-acrobat class in 1st ed/unearthed arcana as I recall.

    I'll agree that "name level" was a cool thing, and 12th-13th level was about as good as a character could expect to get in a well run game back in the day. I even still play around with using level names, albeit loosely. But I fail to see how that was better in any way. It was merely different. My 3rd edition game has gone for 8 years and the average party level is 11th. They advise Kings, Mages and High Priests, and they have contemplated trying to find a place to build a stronghold or two. They are ranger knights, landed knights & noted wizards. They are Heroes all. And all through the medium of telling a story, not just because they happened to last long enough to get to "Name Level".


    My point about Grimmri Fisher is this: a life full of adventure need not be crawling through twelfty dungeons each year. It could involve being familiar with every tavern from Lopolla to Rel Astra or every forest from the Vesve to the Amedio- and not having to gut a single bad guy unless he really asks for it. I was just illustrating my earlier point that it is not only fine to have a 400+ year old adventurer running around that isn't "50th level" but that it is actually quite reasonable and desireable.

    Hope that clears things up.

    Smile

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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:54 am  

    Varthalon wrote:
    Damien wrote:
    he led a very full life of adventure and was only 8th-10th level.


    I think part of that is the setting and part the edition...and some other stuff


    I can certainly agree with your assessment of how leveling is far less significant (and far quicker) in 3.5e. The first 3.5e campaign I ran suffered primarily because of that one factor. In some cases, my players even had trouble keeping their characters' capabilities straight because they changed so often.

    I've fixed the problem for my own games by drastically reducing the number of XP I award and by reintroducing the "training" concept from 1e. This gives the players more time to think about and get used to their characters' capabilities, it provides a missing element of realism, and most importantly it makes leveling up a milestone rather than a mere mechanical adjustment. It does require a bit of tweaking if one uses published adventures, though.
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:05 pm  

    bubbagump wrote:
    Varthalon wrote:
    Damien wrote:
    he led a very full life of adventure and was only 8th-10th level.


    I think part of that is the setting and part the edition...and some other stuff


    I can certainly agree with your assessment of how leveling is far less significant (and far quicker) in 3.5e. The first 3.5e campaign I ran suffered primarily because of that one factor. In some cases, my players even had trouble keeping their characters' capabilities straight because they changed so often.

    I've fixed the problem for my own games by drastically reducing the number of XP I award and by reintroducing the "training" concept from 1e. This gives the players more time to think about and get used to their characters' capabilities, it provides a missing element of realism, and most importantly it makes leveling up a milestone rather than a mere mechanical adjustment. It does require a bit of tweaking if one uses published adventures, though.



    Well I just got done reading about training in the 3.5 DMG which is something I am definitely incorporating into my game as I think it will not only slow down time a bit but also allow me to separate players from their cash in a less arbitrary fashion. I have also warned them already that when they go to a prestige class they will have to find someone to train them into it.
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:19 pm  

    At the time of the boxed set,
    Glodreddi was 314
    Jawal 400+
    Clannair Blackshadow 612 (!)
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:35 pm  

    Damien wrote:
    In Greyhawk as in most campaign worlds the highest level characters almost always turn out to be wizards, and IMHO they would most likely get there by giving adventuring away and concentrating on pure research in solitude, not the other way around.


    I subscribe to this theory myself. How many times are we told (as players) that we must go to such and such a temple to have our character "raised" or brought back to life?

    Priests/clerics of a sufficient level to cast this spell are located at the temple and are usually "older" priests/clerics. In the "reality" of the game, how long has it been since such priests/clerics went adventuring? Did they really acquire such a spell during their adventuring days all those years ago? Or did they acquire such power only after years of study and prayer at the temple?

    I believe that this is well reasoned. Wink
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    Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:51 pm  
    What is challenging?

    Has anyone stoppd to think that a "challenge" does not necessarily connotate combat? There are skill checks that can be just as challenging a roll. Granted, no PC would ikely want to try to level that way, but given the years hat NPCs have to do it, I think hat it's perfectly reasonable to assume that there are more ways for an NPC to level ... heaven forbid they got XP awards for RPing with te players!! Shocked

    Just another PoV. Happy
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    Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:44 am  

    Varthalon wrote:
    Damien wrote:
    he led a very full life of adventure and was only 8th-10th level.


    I think part of that is the setting and part the edition. With first edition ~9th level was your 'Name' level. At that point you had enough power and prestige to start gathering followers and such. I played for years and years in 1st edition and had a 13th level ranger and a half dozen back-up characters all under 8th level.


    1-2nd edition it seemed to take about 100 hours of play to gain a level while 3-4th edition seem designed to level your character about every 10-15 hours of play or so. I think 3-4 edition makes the game more accessible and interesting for gamers more use to the instagratification that we've learned from computer games but I really miss how leveling was a MAJOR milestone for your character and not just a minor mechanic of the game...

    1-2nd edition also tended to develop more organic characters... I don't remember ever planning more than a level or two ahead what I was planning to do with a character's development except for maybe major goals like becoming a 1st edition bard. With 3-4th edition most players have their character planned from 1st level to 20/30th level before they even start playing the character... what feats to take at what levels, what prestige class/paragon path to prepare for, etc.


    I agree with much of this, although don't forget demi-human level limits as well.

    My campaign started at the end of 1e and we've converted characters to each edition over the years. Some of the players love instant gratification and others prefer organically developing characters, even in the same group. I've never had a group where everybody was getting the same thing out of the game.

    At the moment we 'downgraded' our pcs to level 11 and I'm halving the xp to see how quickly they level - I may even reduce it to a third. However, I'm allowing them to change one thing between each adventure whether they've levelled up or not (and maybe 2 things when they level) so they can make use of the new stuff coming out and the characters don't stagnate.

    I enjoy many of the things in 4e but I was astounded when in a recent article on larger groups, they suggested that some players might be unhappy if they levelled up only every 4-5 sessions! Seriously? I dunno how you could ever run a decent campaign with that kind of advancement. I suppose modern players invest a lot less in their characters' characters?

    Also the assumption in earlier games was that powerful casters would indeed spend time reaerching and creating magic items. They broke the mechanic in 3e when they started charging xp to do this instead of allowing pcs to earn xp doing this. In fairness, the trade of 'game time' for xp wasn't easy to reconcile in earlier editions with the longer-lived demi-humans but the cost involved was the limiting factor so pcs couldn't just take 15 years out to stockpile magic items and new spells.
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    Fri Dec 11, 2009 5:41 am  

    PaulN6 wrote:
    Also the assumption in earlier games was that powerful casters would indeed spend time reaerching and creating magic items. They broke the mechanic in 3e when they started charging xp to do this instead of allowing pcs to earn xp doing this.


    This does seem rather counter productive to the way it should actually work. I mean, years of study and you gain nothing; What no BA, no MA, no PhD? Instead, you're just "spending money" as it were. rolleyes

    Completely unreasonable. Razz
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    Fri Dec 11, 2009 7:16 am  

    Lol - what I mean was it runs counter to the concept of the scholarly wizard, too old to adventure, who is nevertheless a powerful wizard.

    If the only way a wizard can learn powerful spells is by killing, and studying actually costs XP, all the top lecturers at the Universtiy of Greyhawk would have to be a bunch of thirty-somethings because the elderly wizards would be losing levels.
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    Fri Dec 11, 2009 2:36 pm  

    That sounds completely logical. I mean, when was the last time Mordenkainen actually "adventured?" Or Rary? But are they losing levels? Not hardly. Wink
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    Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:25 am  

    Well, I guess 4e resolved this by making magic items simply a gp exercise and by granting xp for skill challenges! High level old coots are back on the menu!
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    Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:04 am  

    In addition to basing my xp on role-playing rather than "challenges", I award my guys xp for making their own spells, and for researching formulae for magical items. I also award xp for my characters involving themselves as "movers and shakers" in the world, as this advances the plotline and makes my job as a storyteller more rewarding. This would seem to be how high level guys and gals ought to get xp, as far as I'm concerned...

    Just to take another perspective and to perhaps state the obvious, xp doesn't need to be the only reward that players get for their involvement. Reputation plays a big part in my game. If a PC is walking down the street or gets into a disagreement over a game of chance, and they overhear someone say, "Have you shot your bolt?!? That's So-and-so the Bold!!! Do you really want to ruin his day?", that is worth thousands of xp to the player! Imagine Mordenkainen or Robilar's rep at this point....

    Just musing...

    Damien.
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    Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:43 am  

    Damien wrote:
    Just musing...


    And good musing, Damien. I like your ideas, you give a Real World flavor to your game. Thanks for sharing them with the rest of us. Happy

    And keep them coming! Wink
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    Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:58 pm  

    Great topic. Since I am currently on a bit of a Spelljammer kick I have to say that what the Spelljammer "universe" does with elves is pretty smart considering the difference in their lifespans and humans. On most worlds humans are the most numerous and powerful race and in the field of magic humans can of course rise to very high levels. Elves being held to much lower level limits (if you use those rules) are therefore restricted to higher level spells including spells that allow planar travel. However, in the Spelljammer universe elves are the most powerful race and they make up for their lack of higher level spell access by having a powerful, unified Elven Navy to project the power of their race. Also, due to the vast distances in wildspace, the long lifespan of elves gives them an advantage in regards to how long it takes to get from place to place over humans.

    Outside of the Spelljammer topic, I think everyone's points about the speed of level advancement for elves is correct though, and I have used most of these ideas myself in my campaigns. Elves are special and their lifespan and general racial outlook on life gives them a long distance perspective over matters on Oerth, whereas humans tend to be more preoccupied with the short term. I look forward to further discussion on this topic.
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