About Me

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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Phoenix Elves

Elves are the classical RPG feminine match to Dwarven masculinity.  Thus, Dwarven females have beards, and Elven males are easily confused with Elven females.

Mythologically, Elves and Dwarves have common ancestry, dividing out into separate races somewhere along the way in Norse mythology.  Dwarves retained their Elvish proper names for quite some time after the distinction was established.

Elves, in one form or another, have been the subject of many western civilization stories, and modern gaming draws from several of these sources.  For instance, their famed proficiency with bows & arrows stretches back to at least the 16th century, where the discovery of neolithic arrowheads was attributed to elves, and a sharp pain was called an "elf-shot".

I've drawn upon these and focused on stories connecting elves with nature, as I already have races for Elements and Energy.

Before I get started, I have one promise about Elves in Phoenix:  There will never be a dark elf.  I've heard enough about them to last a thousand lifetimes.  Not convinced?  Let me put it this way: Dark Elves are roughly equivalent to Twilight in my mind.

Mortal Elves

Elves possess graceful natures and natural grace, but are sometimes easily distracted.  They have tight, toned bodies, but even the strongest elf rarely displays bulging muscles.


Mortal Elves have a maximum Dexterity of 25, and a maximum Discipline of 15.  All other attributes have the standard maximum of 20.

(Elves receive all of these)

-5 for all checks which involve socially interacting with non-elf humanoids.

Elven Stride
Elves ignore many natural terrain penalties, including wilderness terrain like forest, brush, and snow, but not man-made debris, oil slicks, knee-deep water, or weapons such as caltrops.

Magical Awareness
Magic violates the basic principles of nature, so it is easily revealed to your senses.  You may detect magical auras by examining a specific item, person, or location and succeeding on a FAI/Average check.  This does not allow you to determine the exact nature of the magic, but it may tell you something regarding its intensity and purpose.  For instance, a magic feather that can teleport you to a sacred temple might be read as “strong displace creature”.

Intensities given are relative to your own power – what is strong for you are Mortal-1 may be weak at Hero-4.

Natural Mind
+5 for all checks which involve handling, riding, or interacting with natural beasts.

Strong Life Force
Life Defense +5.

(Being raised in Elvish culture allows selection of two of these abilities)

Elves cultivate trees to suit their needs – for instance, an Elvish family might encourage a tree to grow in such a fashion that it has rooms inside that the Elves can live in.  This is possible because some Elves are capable of communicating with the trees through communion with the Sentience.

Selecting this ability means you also share that gift of communication.  In addition to long-term housing opportunities, you can also learn information from trees, regarding their general condition, currently perceived dangers, and who has been in contact with them.

Much of the information gained from communing with trees through the Sentience is vague at best and comes from the perspective of an alien life form that has very little in the way of self-awareness, and certainly lacks common cultural grounding.

Gain Athlete and one of its masteries as bonus specialties, representing your outdoor dalliances as a youth.

Some Elves display a strong affinity towards birds.  If you select this ability, you are one of those so blessed.  You speak the language of the birds, and have a special companion.  This companion is a spirit of nature provided as a gift by the Sentience.  Roll randomly to see which spirit you have been gifted with.

If your bird is destroyed, you must perform a ritual at dusk.  Doing so allows the bird to reform at dawn in some spectacular fashion, such as blooming out of a flower, or appearing mid-flight in a flash of light.

Carrion Bird
These birds - such as vultures - are known for their rather disturbing eating habits.  However, their close experience with the dead allows them to recognize creatures that should be dead, but are not.

Carrion bird spirits can recognize and detect undead within a radius of 5m/level, provided they have line of effect.  This may require a FAI check in some circumstances, specifically where the undead are hiding (such as ghouls hiding under fresh earth, or vampires at a masquerade ball).  The bird can communicate to you the specific locations it believes undead are at.

As an action, you can command a carrion bird to dive-attack.  Against most creatures this attack does 1d6 + level martial damage, however, against undead this attack becomes divine damage and gains a bonus of +1d6 (+2d6 at 3rd level; +3d6 at 5th level).  A carrion bird cannot dive-attack more than once every two rounds.

Image courtesy Dmitri Markine

(Additional bird types snipped for this preview)

Gain proficiency in bows, which are always projectile weapons and always manually powered (i.e., not crossbows).  Any doubt as to whether a weapon qualifies is left to the discretion of the GM.

Additionally, you gain one Elvish Bow Trick of your choice at each level, including first level, from the following list.  You can only use one Trick per attack action.

At 4th level, you can use 2 tricks per attack action, where plausible to combine them.

Dual Shot (Attack)
Damage    Half

You can fire two shots simultaneously and in the same general direction.  Use a cone shape to determine if the two targets are in the same general direction.

Any checks required as part of the attack take a -5 penalty.

Point Blank (Attack)
You can fire your bow in melee without penalty.  You are still not considered threatening.

(Additional tricks snipped for this preview)

You can navigate through trees as easily as a human walks down roads.  You can climb up or down any tree at your normal movement rates, unless some penalty applies (such as being covered in oil).  The Elvish trait to bypass many natural terrain penalties applies here as well; an Elf Treewalker climbing up an icy tree will do so with ease.


  1. Most of this looks like generic elf stuff made to fit your rules (treehugging hippies, bows magic), with the exception of the undead idea.

    Is this the intention?

    I do like the bird idea, and the fact you can consider it expendable, meaning you can risk it on cool stuff.

    PS, what about instead of dark elves they could be albino (like the way most real life stuff goes when hidden from the sun for generations).

    Here comes that dastardly pink elf, flee for your lives!!!!

    1. It's obviously similar to foundations, since it is based off of the same origins. My goal isn't to revolutionize the elf, but rather the race - I want race to be more important than in many games. And by "important" I mean constant reminders of that fellow over there being an elf - not just an amorphous blob with +2 DEX. I'm also seeking abilities that require active participation to fully use.

      When most people want to play an elf, after all, they usually want to play Legolas or Drizzt, and I support the former while punching the latter in the face.

      I did move away from some of the "grey elf" magic stuff; these elves do not make better wizards than say, a human, they just happen to notice discrepencies in the natural world better.

      The birds are a great idea and you can thank Baby Bat for originating that idea...

      Pink elves have great potential....

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