HD&D: The Half-Elf

The first results of the recent Design Call are in. Steve has laboured to create an HD&D version of the half-elf. All the details are below, reformatted for inclusion in the body of the post (as opposed to being bundled into a PDF). I hope it’s all legible. I’ll have my say at the end, but for now I’ll let Steve take the floor:

The HD&D Half-Elf

The half-elf has been depicted with two opposite outlooks in previous editions – the isolated loner and the charming socialite. In my view neither of these outlooks should be built into the ‘generic’ half-elf as standard. It is true that half-elves do not have lands of their own and as such have to fit into the lands and societies of others, and that any outsider attempting to fit into another society would either try to charm their way through or to keep their head down and survive on their own. However, I think that each half-elf is an individual and that this should not be prescribed for every member of the race.

I was originally planning to have half-elf specific Racial Traits but after I created a couple I felt that it was making the half-elf two powerful. They already have 6 to choose from (2 human and 4 elf). Looking at all of the pre-4th ed published material, half-elves standard racial traits were always a simple mix of human and elf anyway. I quite like each half-elf to pick one human trait and one elven trait. Consequently I moved the traits I had created up to talents. Of their 4th edition traits Dilettante definitely belongs among talents, and dual heritage among the feats. As mentioned I don’t think all half-elves should be natural diplomats so group diplomacy should be more of an optional feat

I quite like the Social Confidence talent as I think in practice the half-elf player could keep a list of everybody they had bested in the past. I would quite enjoy that anyway, but I do like lists and bookkeeping.

Average Height: 5’5″ – 6’2″
Average Weight: 130 – 200lbs

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 to ability of your choice
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
Vision: Low-light

Unarmed Attack:Punch or Kick (Strength)
Unarmed Damage: 1d4 + Strength Modifier

Languages/Scripts: Any four
Skill Bonuses: +2 (Diplomacy or Survival); +2 to any other skill of choice
Defence Bonus: +1 to Defence of your choice

Racial Traits

Elven Heritage (Half-Elf Trait)
You exhibit one of the traits of your elven ancestor
Continuous Effect | Mundane
No Action

Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Choose one Elf Racial Trait

Human Heritage (Half-Elf Trait)
You exhibit one of the traits of your human parent
Continuous Effect | Mundane
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect: Choose one Human Racial Trait

Racial Talents

Dilettante (Half-Elf Talent)
You take a great interest in other classes and gain an amateur knowledge of how one of them functions.
Varies | Varies
Trigger: Varies
Prerequisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal
Effect:You may choose one Class Talent for another class without the need for purchasing a multi – class feat, Please note that if you wish to take more than one talent from another class you will need a multi-class feat as usual. You are required to meet any pre-requisites for the talent and class as usual. You may also take any class specific feats that have the talent as a pre-requisite as long as you meet all other requirements.
Half-Elf Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Social Confidence (Half-Elf Talent)
Half-elves are always outsiders and have become accustomed to fitting in among other cultures and people either through charm or a thick skin. You are both particularly sure of yourself and particularly difficult to unnerve. This can be unsettling to those who are trying to gain an advantage over you with words.
Varies (See below) | Mundane
Trigger: (i) Somebody attempts to intimidate you. (ii) Somebody attempts and fails to use a social skill against you.
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal
Effects:(i) You gain a +2 bonus to avoid being intimidated, but not when trying to intimidate others. This remains in continuous effect. (ii) If somebody attempts to use a social skill against you (initimidate, diplomacy, bluff, streetwise) and you beat them in an opposed roll, they suffer a -4 penalty to use any of these skills in the future against you or an ally, as long as you are present. This penalty will persist as long as your goals or bargaining positions remain opposed, relative to each other. The penalty could remain in effect for many years, your adversary unable to forget being bested in your previous meetings. This use of the talent requires recharging i.e. only one opponent you beat in an opposed roll each encounter will suffer the ongoing penalty.
Half-Elf Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent.

Outsider’s Alertness (Half-Elf Talent)
After years as a loner without anyone to watch over you, your senses are particularly alert to danger when others would let down their guard.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Trigger: (i) a perception check is required when you are asleep, distracted or fascinated. (ii) An attack is made against you when you would ordinarily lose your dexterity bonus to your reflex defence.
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect: Personal
Effects: (i) You can continue to make perception checks without penalty even when you are asleep, distracted or fascinated. This effect is continuously active. (ii) When an opponent has combat advantage against you because you are surprised, flanked or unaware of them, they do not gain the usual +2 Bonus to Attack Rolls. Special attacks such as a rogues sneak attack which require combat advantage still function, providing they hit. To use this effect again you must take a short rest.
Half-Elf Resolve: You gain 2 additional hit points when you choose this talent

Racial Feats

Additional Elven Trait (General Feat)
Your elven blood shines through more strongly than for a typical half-elf.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite:
Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: You may choose a second elven racial trait

Additional Human Trait (General Feat)
Your human blood shines through more strongly than for a typical half-elf.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite:
Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: You may choose a second human racial trait

Awakened Elven Blood (Half-Elf Feat)
You can exhibit some of the stronger racial talents of your elven ancestor
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: Once this feat has been chosen you may select elven Racial Talents and feats, as if you were a full blooded elf

Diverse Dilettante
You take a broarder amateur interest in other classes
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf, Dilettante Racial Talent, 11th level
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect:You may now choose talents from your first ‘Dilettante’ class as if you had purchased a multi-classing feat. In addition you may choose a single additional class talent for two further classes. Like your first dilettante talent, you are required to meet any pre-requisites for these additional talents

Group Social Confidence (Half-Elf Feat)
When you are within a group, the united façade you exhibit is even more unsettling for others
At Will | Mundane
Pre-Requisite:
Half-Elf, Social Confidence talent
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect:All effected allies receive your +4 bonus to avoid being intimidated. Furthermore you may use your Social Confidence talent, if an opponent attempts to use a social skill (initimidate, diplomacy, bluff, streetwise) against one of your effected allies and is beaten by an opposed roll. The opponent will suffer future penalties to their social skills when you are present just as if it was you that beaten them in the opposed roll. If used in this way, you will need to take a short rest before using the talent again

Improved Outsider’s Awareness (Half-Elf Feat)
You remain alert more frequently
At Will | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf, Outsiders Alertness talent
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: You may use the Outsiders Alertness talent three times before you require a short rest to recharge the power

Lasting Impression (Half-Elf Feat)
When you have beaten an adversary in a war of words, they will not be able to forget it for a long time
At Will | Mundane
Pre-Requisite:
Half-Elf, Social Confidence talent
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: When you have successfully used the Social Confidence talent on an opponent, their penalty for future interactions while you are present is increased to -6

Prominent Human Blood (Half-Elf Feat)
You can exhibit some of the stronger racial talents of your human parent.
Continuous Effect | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: Once this feat has been chosen you may select human Racial Talents and feats, as if you were a full blooded human

Versatile Outsider’s Alertness
You remain fully alert when others would let down their guard
At Will | Mundane
Pre-Requisite: Half-Elf, Outsiders Alertness talent
No Action
Area of Effect:
Personal
Effect: Your attacker loses the +2 Bonus to attack rolls from combat advantage when you are balancing, blinded, climbing, dazed, prone, squeezing or unable to see the attacker.

My Initial Thoughts

Well, firstly thanks very much to Steve for taking the time to do this, and for being the first to submit. Secondly, I’d like to say how much more liberating it is to see this process from the other side. I think I like it. Now onto my critique, I’ll undoubtedly change my mind as the ensuing discussion takes flight.

It was my intention to give the half-elf its own racial traits, to try and give the race a greater identity than simply half an elf. However, your approach works equally well. It will be interesting to see what INdran does with the half-orc. I think we should have a consistant approach to all the various half-races that have cropped up in D&D.

Fourth edition positions the half-elf as the most versatile multiclasser, and the only race that can pick up powers from more than two classes (at least until the bard class was published in PHB2). You are hanging onto that element here, which is a perfectly acceptable way to go.

In the Iourn setting, half-elves are survivors. Whether they live lives of solitude in the wilderness, or whether they live by their wits in urban areas, half-elves need to be supremely adaptable to anything that life throws at them. My initial thought is that it would be nice to have a  racial trait that reflects that in some way. Of course, I’m not sure what it is, so I’m not being overly helpful here.

Perhaps there could be a way to work he ‘Dilettante’ aspect back into the racial traits, perhaps dividing it into two traits. Maybe something along the lines of: “A half-elf selects a second class. He can choose talents and traits from that class as if he had selected a multi-class feat.” That may actually be a slightly underpowered trait, as it would be less powerful than a standard multiclass feat. Hmmm. Maybe the half-elf just gets a free multi-class feat of his choice?

On Racial Attributes

I’m perfectly happy with most of this. The human aspect of the half-elf gives it versatility and this is reflected in greater freedom of where to apply skill and defence bonuses. One prescribed skill bonus is still a good idea, but I like that half-elves still get to choose where that goes. This reflects the Woodsy vs Urban conflict well. I think it’s debatable whether diplomacy or insight is a more appropriate skill, but that’s a small thing.

Regarding ability scores, I think it’s right that the half-elf has one prescribed score and one score that the player can choose. This should be the case with all half-humans. Of course, it may be the case with all races if the trend on the poll continues. However, I don’t think I would have chosen Dexterity.

If I had to think of an ability score that most exemplified the half-elf I think I would have gone for Charisma. However, I may be in the minority here. Thoughts anyone?

On Racial Talents

I shall take these individually if I may. Dilettante is probably not powerful enough to be a talent in its own right. Basically it’s a not-quite-as-good version of a multiclass feat. Talents need to be better than feats. I’ve suggested folding Dilettante down to Racial Trait level; I’m becoming more convinced that would be best.

Social Confidence is very good. It says a lot about the half-elf (or a lot about the half-elf who chooses to take this talent). I definitely want to keep this in the final draft. My only concern is that the mechanics might become a little tricky to remember. Rather than giving the half-elf a +2 to avoid being intimidated, we could just give the half-elf the power to make foes reroll intimidate checks against him. That actually equates to about a +5 bonus, but has the advantage of not increasing the maximum DC the half-elf could attain. It might also be easier to remember than a +2 in certain circumstances.

The other use of Social Confidence is also a good one, and probably required as without it the talent may be slightly underpowered. I’m unsure whether this should apply to Bluff and Diplomacy as well as Intimidate? Maybe I could be convinced on Bluff, but Diplomacy is the skill of convincing people to do things by being nice and reasonable. Should half-elves be against that?

I would increase the penalty from -4 to -5, as bonuses and penalties in blocks of five are more common in HD&D. I would also add that it must be the player’s responsibility to record which NPCs are ‘marked’ with this lack of confidence. But you already convered that.

What I really like is the way the two halves of this talent work together. It’s very hard to intimidate a half-elf, and if you try (and fail) then you are likely to be shaken by the experience, and carry bitter resentment of the failure around with you for some time. Nice.

Outsider’s Alertness could easily be renamed Half-Elven Paranoia, and it could certainly be played that way. Perception checks when “sleeping, distracted or fascinated”… well, I’ll certainly keep the flavour of that, but as the rules for fascination haven’t been set (there may not even be such a term in HD&D) the application may change somewhat. That’s inevitable at this stage in the design process.

The secondary use of this talent is also spot on the money. This makes it useful for all classes, and I like the way that it doesn’t scupper a rogue’s Sneak Attack power. I’m not sure that this needs to be a Recharge power. I think it could work as a “Continuous Effect” without breaking the game. In any event, this is a good, solid talent.

On Racial Feats

On the whole the feats you have devised to alter or augment the racial talents are fine. Improved Outsider’s Awareness is a no-brainer if we keep the ‘recharge’ aspect of the talent (although I’m not sure we have to). Versatile Ousider’s Awareness allows you to retain awareness in more circumstances. This is fine, but the actual circumstances may change depending on the final form of the HD&D rules. Group Social Confidence is interesting. I think it would have to be playtested, but I like the idea a lot. Lasting Impression is also fine, but I would increase the penalty to -10 and make 11th level a prerequisite.

Now we get onto the feats that allow a half-elf to mutliclass and take on the abilities and powers of humans and elves. This is where I think the mechanics fall down slightly, largely because they are dependent on Dilettante being a talent, which I don’t think it deserves to be.

There’s no reason you could have known this, as I haven’t told anyone, but it’s my intention that multiclass feats do slightly more than just let you multiclass. If you take a multiclass feat you can select class talents and class feats of a second class, as if you were a member of that class. You also add one still from that class’s list of favoured skills to your list of class skills. So basically, multiclass feats let you multiclass and give the benefits of a more highly focused Skill Training feat.

I had hoped to approach half-races in the same way. Half-races should be able to select feats that allow them to “multirace” – that is gain access to the racial talents and racial feats of other races. Half-elves, should be able to multirace into Elf or Human. But like multiclass feats, multirace feats need to do more than simply permit multiracing.

My idea is this: multirace feats are limited to certain races. Half-elves could only ever take Human or Elf, half-orcs could take Human or Orc. Arguably, Genbassi could select any multirace feat. Taking a multirace feat gives you several benefits:

Firstly, it let’s you select racial talents and racial feats as if you were a member of that race. Secondly, you gain a racial trait of that race. Thirdly, you can (in the future) select additional racial traits from that race as if they were normal feats.

So, Illyan the half-elf decides he wants some extra skill points. He takes the Human multirace feat (that I might well call Prominent Human Blood). He decides to gain the trait Human Endeavour which gives him one extra skill point per level. He can now also select human feats and human talents as if he was a human. If we wanted to, he could also take the other human trait, Human Perspicacity as if it was a feat. (Yes, obviously there wouldn’t be any point because Human Perspicacity just gives you a feat, but you get the idea!)

The feats you invented (Awaken Elven Blood, Prominent Human Blood, Additional Human Trait and Additional Elven Trait) do exactly the same job. It’s just a slightly different way of presenting the same mechanics. Obviously, I prefer my version or I wouldn’t have mentioned it, but I will throw this open to debate.

Perhaps a half-elf should receive one multiclass feat and one multirace feat as his two Racial Traits? Just a thought.

To Conclude

Inevitably, when you critique something you dwell on the negative points. However, on the whole you’ve given the half-elf a pretty comprehensive package. The mechanics you suggest give the half-elf an identity, and something to hang the roleplaying off – which is what it’s all about. Well done, Steve. Now – when can I have the halfling?

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13 thoughts on “HD&D: The Half-Elf

  1. I really really don’t think ALL half-elves should have a charisma bonus. To justify it, would be so difficult. You can’t take the nurture arguement as a likely majority of half-elves will have grown-up on the fringes of society, trying to avoid notice. Charisma would be the most innapropriate ability for such individuals.

    Furthermore it can not be derived from nature as neither elves nor humans are particularly charismatic. Unless you are saying the humans who choose a charisma bonus are the only ones that an elf would get jiggy with. Plausible I suppose . . . .

    I went with dexterity (as all elves have it) plus any other ability that the individual chooses (as all humans have). The only alternative I would suggest is that they get to choose both like humans can. In Editions prior to fourth half-elves had no ability adjustments like humans. Thoughts?

  2. I suppose it depends on how you view Charisma. Certainly, Charisma can mean cheerfully affable, the life-and-soul-of-the-party sort of Charisma. However, Charisma isn’t only there for children’s parties and swashbuckling, it’s there for the nasty things in life too. A high charisma can equally apply to those who possess a certain aura of malevolence, the sort of grim thug or mob enforcer that you don’t want to touch. Or the grizzled half-elf who has always lived on the fringe of civilisation.

    My point is that Charisma doesn’t necessarily mean someone who is good socially. In D&D Charisma means force of personality and self reliance.

    Personally, I think that charisma works fairly well for the half-elf, at least as well as anything else. I also don’t think that the half-races need to be a genetic merging of the their forebears. Half-elves can be unique. They don’t have to be like elves or humans. They certainly don’t have to inherit their ability score modifiers if we can think of something more appropriate.

  3. Neil says:

    Firstly I’d like to say well done to Steve for making the effort.

    Secondly I question why half breeds are included as a separate race – they are, by their nature, an amalgam of their parent races, there is no, as far as I am aware, magical alchemy which suddenly gifts these half breeds with different abilities from either parent.

    Now some specific comments:

    You say that you don’t think that half-elves should particularly be considered as loners/survivors or socialites, and then proceed to give them talents etc that are exactly aimed at these types!

    The huge problem I have with this package is that you are describing a background, not a race. There is no reason at all why other races couldn’t have similar backgrounds to half-elven characters and yet they would not have access to these abilities, why not? I have played with some half race characters and none of them were particularly persecuted (the whole reason for the loner/ social butterfly thing) so why should they have access to such abilities? It simply isn’t true to say that all Half Elves are always outsiders. Even if it were, the same must be the said for other half breeds.

    I don’t agree with the long term effect of the social confidence talent, why would anyone be particularly upset at being bested by a half -elf as opposed to any other race? It would have to have been an amazingly humiliating encounter to provoke a response after a day let alone a year! Yes there may well be types of PC or NPCs which would react like that, but not everyone.

    The outsider’s alertness is interesting, if you accept the background not race thing, but no penalty when asleep! That is frankly ridiculous, you may have a heightened sense of danger and therefore be a light sleeper but no penalty is wrong.

    Why should half elves multi-class easier?

    What’s with this race resolve thing? Why should you gain HP just for taking a talent? A physical ability might make some sense but anything?

    Finally, the problem with the ability score thing is that you have effectively created two sub-types, the survivor and the socialite. The survivor would have a bonus to INT or maybe WIS but CHA just wouldn’t fit. For the socialite type however CHA would very much fit. This goes back to my original point that you are describing a background not a race. Perhaps this package would fit a class better?

    I apologise for sounding so negative and it may be to do with the whole AD&D system, which I don’t really like.

  4. I’ll field some of Neil’s comments, but everyone else feel free to leap in!

    The ‘race resolve’ is my doing. It’s common to every talent gained for class or race. It’s the way characters gain extra hit points in HD&D. You take fighter talents you get fighter hit points. I’m sure I justified this somewhere else on the blog. It’s got nothing to do with the half-elf build.

    Half-breeds have always been considered separate races in D&D. The half-orc and the half-elf have a well established pedigree. The Darksun setting gave us half-giants and half-dwarves (mul). The genasi are half-elemental, half-human characters. The tieflings and aasimar are also half-breeds. I think that if we’re doing D&D then we keep these races. I’m not sure there’s much of a discussion on that point.

    And I don’t see why the offspring needs to be confined to abilities that only manifest in the parents. This is a blending of two races. It’s doing to create something unique, not a creature that’s just half one thing and half something else.

    Now to play devil’s advocate:

    While I don’t necessarily disagree with Neil’s comment that this is a background rather than a race, I don’t think it matters. Racial talents and racial feats are not just there to cover the obvious genetic differences between the races. They are there to give players the option of choosing interesting abilities that exemplify the typical qualities of that race. They are there to allow you to play as close to the cliche as you want.

    Just as a dwarf’s general outlook provides the scope for racial talents like Unflinching Fatalism, so does a half-elf’s experience and life allow for talents that play up the outcaste angle.

    I think it’s fair to say that half-elves are frequently persecuted in the Iourn setting. And those that aren’t don’t take these racial talents, they’re not compulsory. The only PC half-elf we’ve had in Iourn campaign for any length of time is Illyan Snowmantle from the Crucible of Youth campaign. Do you remember how he was treated by the village at large? He earned their acceptance as the campaign progressed, but I wouldn’t have thought it unfitting for Marc to have taken abilities similar to these talents.

    Outsider’s Alertness plays well into the half-elf’s role. You could also argue that because elves don’t sleep at all (and can happily make perception checks throughout the night) then this ability is not entirely inappropriate for a half-elf.

    I do take Neil’s point about Social Confidence, though. Why should an encounter with a half-elf be so crushing that a foe remembers it years later and is still affected by it? I’ll let Steve justify that one.

  5. Mr Mclean – I had forgotten that charisma was more than just charm in d&d definitions. I think in practice though the nasty malevolent characters you speak of never choose charisma. I can’t think of a single player character like that with a dirty great charisma. With that in mind should I have built Jessica with a big charisma? Doesn’t seem right somehow. But I will bow to popular opinion if that is the way it goes.

    Mr Simpson – What I was getting at is that I didn’t think all half-elves should be prescribed as loners (like 2nd edition) or born leaders (like 4th edition). Each individual should be free to pick which stereotype (if either) they fall into.

    The talents are pitched at talent level rather than trait level because they are optional. They represent very common traits that many half-elves would have developed. If it doesn’t suit a particular characters background then they don’t have to take the talent.

    Regarding social confidence, the simple answer is because it is cool. Half-elves can’t teleport, breath fire or exude magical darkness. They need an edge which would be fun to play. Personally I think it would be a lot of fun knowing that you had a list of NPCs in your pocket. Its either that or telekinesis, which would be hard to justify. Why not say that half-elves as a race have a tendency to rattle others so that they never forget it. I have certainly met people like that in some of Gainsboroughs night spots. I see what you are saying about other races being able to do the same thing, but they already have suitable levels of cool.

    On the outsiders alertness I originally had this based on the listen skill until I realised that it had been amalgamated into perception. I agree that it wouldn’t make sense if perception was purely spotting. There have been quiet a few films where the hero/villain who seemed asleep has flicked their eyes open at the right time. That is the image I had when I thought of the talent

  6. I guess you can play Charisma either way. It’s the ability score that modifies Intimidate, and Jessica was certainly supposed to be an intimidating character. However, having a character who is menacing but also as ugly as sin and a social retard complicates matters. Not that I would like you to think I was besmirching Jessica’s character.

    Perhaps a physical statistic is more appropriate. Perhaps +2 to Constitution (half-elves get that in 4e). Often hybrid races are tougher and more resistant than their forebears. That’s the whole principle between cross-breeding orchids isn’t it? I think I’m happy to be guided on this by the majority.

    Steve, I think that your explanation of Social Confidence is fair enough. Racial traits are there to give particular races a certain edge that isn’t available to other characters. It’s not suitable for every half-elf, but that’s largely the point of making it a talent. If you want to play a half-elf as a wandering “Man with No Name” (complete with cigar and poncho) then this is highly appropriate.

    So why can’t other races do this? Well, why can’t a human who subscribes to the dwarven mindset choose Unflinching Fatalism, or why can’t a hobbit who has been raised by elves share the elven understanding of nature? There need to be lines drawn between the races, and the above can work well for a certain type of half-elf. Shouldn’t a half-orc be good at intimidating? Yes. But let’s give the half-orc equally useful, but different mechanics.

    Outsider’s Alertness makes much more sense if you peg it to Listen. To be honest, I’ve always been in two minds whether merging Spot and Listen into Perception was a good idea. The argument of “it’s one less skill” doesn’t have the same force in HD&D where there are far more skills than there ever were before. I’m not against merging skills per se. Merging hide and sneak into Stealth makes perfect sense to me.

    The trouble with having Perception as a skill rather than Spot or Listen, is that it makes it more difficult to simulate Deafness and Blindness in the game. In 4e, deaf characters get -10 to their Perception checks. That’s a bit of a clumsy mechanic isn’t it? You can no longer have characters who have good vision, but are as a deaf as a post. It bugs me.

    I feel a poll coming on.

  7. Good job Steve. I like a lot of what you’ve got here. I think that Half-Elves are just about the hardest race to come up with a workable definition of.

    I think we need to emphasise the position of the Half-Elf on Iourn. I think the idea that they are always ousiders is entirely appropriate for Iourn. On Faerun or Oerth that isn’t the case but on our world it is, so the mechanics should reflect that. Half-Elves are incredibly rare and strange beings. Humans view them as kind of spooky, fey, ethereal creatures that are similar enough to themselves to be part of society but that are always slightly removed. Elves see in them the grace and beauty of their race combined with the dynamism/brutishness of humanity. From either point of view you can see how Half-Elves could strike awe, wonder and terror into those they interact with. They are familiar yet alien, and that is a striking combination.

    For that reason then, I’m completely in favour of Charisma as the key ability for Half-Elves and I’m behind the Social Confidence talent. I think they could be very imposing and could definitely leave a lasting impression. I would rule with Social Confidence though, that once an opponent has won a social battle against the Half-Elf, the penalty is removed until they are bested again.

    I’m in favour of Perception as one skill. Spot and Listen being separate always annoyed me. Taking both always seemed like a waste of skill points. Also, who takes Listen but not Spot? You can add circumstantial bonuses or penalties to specific types of perception on a case by case basis without having to invent new skills. If you’re in darkness you could take a penalty to visual perception but still use your skill to listen or smell. It also gives you a skill to use for the scent ability.

  8. I concede your point on Perception, Daniel. However, I think making a Perception check at -10 because you’re deaf is a terrible mechanic. I guess a GM would have to decide the circumstances in which a blinded or deafened character can make a perception check at all. It may still be worth putting this to a poll when I have the time.

    However, let me not dsitract from the discussion of the half-elf.

  9. This from Neil:

    I don’t have the time to look at the discussion of Steve’s Half-elf at the moment but I would like to say that, after actually having read the 4e version of this race, I can see where he is coming from now, I don’t agree with it but I see that he simply took the abilities of 4e half-elves and used your race template to come up with something. I also had a quick read of some of the other races; isn’t the Tiefling rather similar in that they are meant to be supremely confident?

    The more I play 4e the more I dislike it, roll on HD&D, even in it’s current, half finished, form it is much better than the pap offered by 4e.

  10. 4E is utter tripe. They may have corrected a few of the things that didn’t work in third edition, but they broke almost everything that did.

  11. Mr McClean – You are thinking of cross-breeding vigour. Orchids and just about all animals and plants produce much greater specimens when interbred lines are once again crossed. I have seen this with wheat where continuously self-polinating plants leads to them getting very small and crap. But then cross-breeding two such hideously inbred parent plants will give you a much more sturdy offspring, even more so than the original generation before self-polination began. However, I don’t think we can apply this to humans and elves as they are two completely seperate races. e.g. crossing a horse with a donkey does not yield the same results.

    In short I am against a Con bonus.

  12. The only criticism I have is that it doesn’t seem very 4th edition. Somehow it was interesting, which doesn’t fit in with any of the texts I own for 4th ed.
    I would be interested to play this half-elf type should it need play testing.

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