Point/Counter-Point: Half-Elves

Alright.

"Man, it sucks that I'm so good at everything, not to mention attractive, and resistant to sleep and charm."
“Damn this stigma. It sucks that I’m so good at everything, not to mention attractive, and resistant to sleep and charm.”

I don’t feel like half-elves bring much of anything to the table. I feel like Aragorn is the only reason they are even in the rules in the first place, but with that being said I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone play a half-elven ranger. In most cases you’d be better off being a whole-elf ranger instead, and I’ve seen a lot of those. In my experience, the only time half-elves are ever played is if someone wants to play some odd multi-class combination, like a fighter/magic-user/priest. And in those cases, the player wants to play that class combination first and foremost; being a half-elf just happens to be the only way they can do that.

I mean, I suppose half-elven characters could be interesting, I just haven’t seen it. I don’t feel like they really suffer from the “rejected by both races” stigma that is given some lip-service in the racial description and I feel like anyone that claims they do probably shouldn’t make those claims around any half-orcs.

However, my problem with half-elves may not be all their fault. I feel like these guys were just shoe-horned into the rules because they existed in popular literature. I just don’t feel like they were given much of an identity in the process. I wish I had something more to say about half-elves, but I really don’t.

So yeah. If you want to play some combination of a magic-user/priest/something then you should play a half-elf, because you don’t have a choice.

 

NOTE:

Maybe you love half-elves and play them all the time. Maybe in your campaign world you have woven the story of the half-elf into a rich and vibrant tapestry. That’s great. I’m not trying to offend anyone, I’m just talking about my experiences, and I would love to read about yours.

 

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5 thoughts on “Point/Counter-Point: Half-Elves

  1. I do not really have a strong feeling on half-elves one way or the other, but some people seem to like them. They also are a statement on how a setting is treating fantasy genetics, can the various fantasy folk interbreed and if so, what is the result? Half-elf is one of the possible answers.

    1. I’m sure there are a lot of people who have a completely different opinion on half-elves, and that’s fine. It’s probably better even, because that means they’ve probably thought more about them and how to incorporate them into their game world. As for fantasy genetics, I feel like my opinions on that are probably better suited for a separate blog post rather than a comment reply. But you’re right, they are one of the possible answers to the the question of inter-species breeding. Stay tuned for a longer discussion about this topic, and thanks for making me start to think about this a little more intently.

  2. That’s often the problem with half-elves, they don’t bring anything to the table because the setting doesn’t often account for them except for a little lip service. Really, it’s a problem with a lot of mixed blood, or non high fantasy races. That makes them unfortunately just padding. If you can edit them out without significant problems to the setting, you should do so. It’s the principle of trimming the fat.

    I like the idea of half bloods being bred for something [Uruk-Hai]. And also the thought of making them almost guaranteed sterile, like mules, appeals to me for flavor.

    1. I agree with all of this. I’ve been running some old Dungeons and Dragons modules using the Astonishing Swordsman and Sorcerers of Hyperborea rules, which do not include any playable fantastic races by default, and I don’t feel like we’ve suffered any loss of enjoyment because of this. I’m not advocating removing all demi-humans from fantasy games, of course, but it’s worth noting that they aren’t absolutely necessary either, when you get right down to it.

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