D&D General Let us share our Elves and Orcs

Vaalingrade

Legend
Some setting backstory to explain this:

The gods that actually created everything aren't the gods everyone knows or even don't know in the current place in the timeline. There were Creators, who made everything by stealing from the Elemental Realms and built and designed the baseline life. The baselines sapient was something very human-like which they then modified from there. It's possible this original creature evolved naturally on Created worlds and were then transplanted to others.

Then there're the Outer Gods, near-reality warpers who are limited in world creation to essentially copy-pasting Created Worlds and then altering them. Think of them as essentially creating fan fiction of the original Created worlds; these can match or even surpass the original material, but the original template remains. The best they can directly create are smaller parasite planes known as planar moons.

There are also Planar Gods, which are like MtG Planewalkers.

So.

Elves
On a planar moon out there in the universe, an Outer God decided to test the limits of how stupid powerful he could make something off the available sapients. This resulted in the sidhe; essentially gods on that moon, with power-by-consensus over the very environment as well as inherent magic and power of their own.

There were also human-like template species on that moon as well and... well humans gonna human and intermarriage between sidhe and these humans happened. The result was a long-lived people with an inherent mana battery known as the elves, who blend both the technology-building of the non-magical humans and the spellshaping ability of the sidhe.

They're tall, broad shouldered and dark-skinned folk adapted to living in and shaping the ultra-growth forest around them with long arms, limber toes and long multi-directional ears. They live in cities grown by shaping the forest canopy into shelters and bridges and furniture.

In the intervening years, the sidhe found a way to leave the moon, leaving the elves to what they would eventually learn was a world dying because its god got bored and stopped supporting it. Lucky for them, a new Planar God arrived and transported the moon to a new Created World, giving them a means by which to move between those worlds and interact with the also-refugee peoples her allies would bring there.

The elves seeded parts of the world with ultra-growth forests and founded new cities, while others integrated into other societies. Eventually, the offspring of the elves and these new humans brought about the naevin (half-elves) who at the current date of the world the plurality population of the world.

Orcs later.
 

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RhaezDaevan

Explorer
Some setting backstory to explain this:

The gods that actually created everything aren't the gods everyone knows or even don't know in the current place in the timeline. There were Creators, who made everything by stealing from the Elemental Realms and built and designed the baseline life. The baselines sapient was something very human-like which they then modified from there. It's possible this original creature evolved naturally on Created worlds and were then transplanted to others.

Then there're the Outer Gods, near-reality warpers who are limited in world creation to essentially copy-pasting Created Worlds and then altering them. Think of them as essentially creating fan fiction of the original Created worlds; these can match or even surpass the original material, but the original template remains. The best they can directly create are smaller parasite planes known as planar moons.

There are also Planar Gods, which are like MtG Planewalkers.

So.

Elves
On a planar moon out there in the universe, an Outer God decided to test the limits of how stupid powerful he could make something off the available sapients. This resulted in the sidhe; essentially gods on that moon, with power-by-consensus over the very environment as well as inherent magic and power of their own.

There were also human-like template species on that moon as well and... well humans gonna human and intermarriage between sidhe and these humans happened. The result was a long-lived people with an inherent mana battery known as the elves, who blend both the technology-building of the non-magical humans and the spellshaping ability of the sidhe.

They're tall, broad shouldered and dark-skinned folk adapted to living in and shaping the ultra-growth forest around them with long arms, limber toes and long multi-directional ears. They live in cities grown by shaping the forest canopy into shelters and bridges and furniture.

In the intervening years, the sidhe found a way to leave the moon, leaving the elves to what they would eventually learn was a world dying because its god got bored and stopped supporting it. Lucky for them, a new Planar God arrived and transported the moon to a new Created World, giving them a means by which to move between those worlds and interact with the also-refugee peoples her allies would bring there.

The elves seeded parts of the world with ultra-growth forests and founded new cities, while others integrated into other societies. Eventually, the offspring of the elves and these new humans brought about the naevin (half-elves) who at the current date of the world the plurality population of the world.

Orcs later.
Sounds like a sidhe could make for a terrifying big bad.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Are some type of Jotun a common villain like in Norse myths? Or maybe trolls would be better suited for that.
Jotuns for sure, Trolls can be either friend or foe, and there are things like “Void Beasts” which are mortals who have turned monstrous by accepting the power of the ancient beings from before time.

Anyway I’ll get into mixed ancestries later
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Are some type of Jotun a common villain like in Norse myths? Or maybe trolls would be better suited for that.
Oh, also Döragr and Umbylar are alfar adjacent.

Döragr are “dwarves” but aren’t actually all that small, just like mythic dwarves, and are descended from the spirits of stone and root and the deep places of the earth.

Umbrylar are people born of shadow and darkness, and possessing traits of the elemental spirits of the true dark, like vampires, werewolves, and shades/wraiths. (Basically combined 4e Vryloka and shadarkai into a race in three parts, one that can turn into a wolf, another can turn into mist, and the third can turn into a wraith-like being and teleport)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The Elvish heritage is where I added my own unique twist. Elves living 700 years with no apparent worldbuilding conclusions never sat right with me, so I wanted to modify their long lifespan in a way that explains why they either (1) aren't an overpowering force comprised of perfected individuals or (2) aren't a gerontocratic nightmare. The answer was Doctor Who-like regeneration. Every hundred years or so, an Elf experiences what they call a rebirth, where their body and identity radically changes. Their physical appearance, gender, personality etc. can all change radically, and elves often look back to experiences they had before a rebirth like stories told by someone else. This radical change often causes an elf to change interests as well, an Archmage might abandon the study of the arcane and decide to take up archery as their new calling, for instance. An elf can attempt to rely upon their knowledge from earlier lives, but doing so heavily is quite traumatic and might end up dramatically shortening the elf's lifespan (e.g. if you want your level 5 fighter to rely on their time as an archmage in their backstory in the climactic fight, your elf probably won't make it out alive). Elves typically have 5-6 rebirths, which explains the 600-700 year lifespan. One difference from Doctor Who-style regeneration is that a rebirth is not triggered due to grievious injury: You get to have a rebirth only if you naturally reached the end of a lifespan.
Interesting idea. One question: does this affect only their class-based knowledge, or all memory? I ask because those long-lived Elves being founts of setting lore and history can come in very useful for narration and exposition purposes.
I quite like this change, and it allows one player's character to be running around for the next couple of centuries, but that character does not have to dominate the entire campaign setting and might wear quite different faces over time. It also makes aging spells and effects (like the sphinx's attacks) scarier for an elven PC, because they are susceptible to losing their character to aging as much as a human PC. The character might survive aging dramatically, but the PC's concept won't.
I fixed the aging issue by making it that aging effects do the same no matter what your species, relative to that species' average life expectancy. So, if a ghost would age a Human ten years it would age an Elf by 70-ish years or more and an Orc by maybe 6 years. Each species is given a Human Year Equivalent (HYE) value for just this purpose.
 

Ondath

Hero
Interesting idea. One question: does this affect only their class-based knowledge, or all memory? I ask because those long-lived Elves being founts of setting lore and history can come in very useful for narration and exposition purposes.
The idea is that practical skills get muddled behind the veil of a past life, but it's not like they gain amnesia when they get reborn. In fact, I was thinking of flavouring Level Up Elves' Glance the Future gift as not seeing the future, but retrieving a key moment of insight from a past life that is useful to that specific moment. It's like how the Doctor sometimes uses Venusian Aikido (a skill they learned as the Third Doctor) in the new series, but not always.
I fixed the aging issue by making it that aging effects do the same no matter what your species, relative to that species' average life expectancy. So, if a ghost would age a Human ten years it would age an Elf by 70-ish years or more and an Orc by maybe 6 years. Each species is given a Human Year Equivalent (HYE) value for just this purpose.
That's a good idea in general, I think. It's pretty annoying when the party faces a Ghost and the Dwarf character goes "hah, aged by ten years? That's nothing!" while the aarakocra in the party would need to start writing their will. My solution is bringing every heritage to around human years, and then devising a different way of handling it for the exceptional heritages (Elf, Dwarf, Gnome) that have long lifespans:
  • For Elves, like I said, you actually only have a human lifetime, and your character becomes a new person once that's up. So getting aged is still significant for your character arc.
  • For Dwarves, they actually also have human-like lifespans, but they can enter into a sort of "stasis" if they bond with a certain location and a community. They metaphysically form a bond with the location and the life that they have settled in, and this causes them to live unchanged for up to 350-400 years. This is why Dwarven communities are so static and have such strong bonds, because once they find a place and a group that they like, they become unmoving bulwarks of that community. All of this ties with the Dwarven theme of being hard as stone as well. Adventuring, being the opposite of settling down, causes a dwarf to age at the same rate as humans. So dwarven adventurers would still fear aging effects, as those effects hit them while their clock is ticking, so to speak.
  • For Gnomes, I straight up stole the idea of the Bleaching from Pathfinder. Theoretically, a gnome could live forever, being fey-like creatures that gain more vitality the more they have novelty and excitement in their lives. As long as a Gnome keeps experiencing new things, they physically do not age (in that sense, they're almost the opposite of dwarves!). But a sane Gnome can keep up the novelty for 350-500 years at most. After that, things start getting boring and the Gnome starts aging as monotony sets in. So aging effects take you further in the bleaching process, perhaps requiring you to up the notch in novelty to not die of old age. A Gnome that wants to live forever would essentially have to become a maniac who does new and chaotic things just to feel something again. Or they might escape to the Feywild, and that's probably not too different from Option 1.
 

Fifinjir

Explorer
For Exult: Tales of the Final Age

Elves are the guardians of Whisper, the primeval forest. Despite what image that might give, they actually aren’t shoot first and ask questions later; visitors are accepted as long as they don’t go too deep, and can even live permanently in the settlements along the outer edges. However, if a human mother carries a child through her whole pregnancy in Whisper, that child will be born an elf, and other people born in that manner will be decidedly “elfy”. It should also be known that this guardianship is for the outside world’s good as much as for Whisper, many great evils are sealed in its deepest reaches.

Elves sometimes travel away from Whisper for a time. This is seen as a valuable learning experience that allows the elf to bring their new skills back to the forest. “Half-elves” result when an elf sires an offspring outside, even with another elf.

Orcs are the vat-grown alchemical soldiers of Vanallesse. They originated as a means for the goliaths to recreate the true giants of Civilization 0, but while the experiment failed the orcs proved effective foot soldiers. They were under the goliaths’ complete control in the Yulathian Age, and ultimately allowed Vanallesse the upper hand in its war against Rahimo. In the Final Age, however, Vanallessian society is breaking down, and groups of both goliaths and orcs are striking out on their own.
 

Clint_L

Legend
My elves and orcs are just people. There are various groups and communities, speaking various languages - there is no single "orc" or "elf" language. Some live in areas dominated by their species, others are in regions where they mix with other folks. There are warlike bands from both species, but by and large they want to do their own thing and just live their lives. There are a few tendencies that tend to be common amongst each; in particular, the relatively long lives of the elves gives them a perspective that can sometimes come off as wise and sometimes as condescending. The robust build of many orcs lends itself well to physical pursuits, so many go in that direction.

But there are sensitive orc artists and violent elf raiders, learned orc scholars and gritty elf labourers. And vice versa.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
In a post-apocalyptic fantasy homebrew, I have several different homebrew races, including 3 kinds of “Elf”:

Asteraiinen, Svartolaiinen, Vertolaiinen/Sylvaiinen- these are true Fey are among the few to survive the events that reshaped their world. The Asteraiinen manipulate light- esp. starlight- and certain extraterrestrial metals. The Svartolaiinen dwell in the dark underground, similar in some ways to the Drow or Shadar-Ki, but related to neither- they manipulate Shadow. The Vertolaiinen/Sylvaiinen merged their very essence with plants- they photosynthesize and have woody bark...and are wise in the ways of nature.

The same setting has Orcs inspired in part by Nehwon Ghouls. Their flesh is translucent, and they’re cannibalistic. Different tribes have bones of different colors, which also denote certain variations in characteristics.

An entirely different setting had Elves that were crashlanded “Greys” whose high tech lets them mimic legendary elves and manipulate time and space. Their starship, long recycled into a subterranean community (Underhill), still generates extra dimensional spaces and stasis effects.

In yet another setting, aquatic elves had used magic rituals to adapt their people more fully to marine life. So they had both chromatophores (the color changing cells you see in cephalopods) and nematocysts (the stinger cells you see in jellyfish & anemones).
 

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