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General So what colour are your dwarfs and elfs?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So I was reading up on the green children of Woolpit, UK who were found in the town in the 12th Century. They were (apparently) human but green skinned, spoke a strange language and said they came from St Martins Land. Some modern speculation has suggested the story was a garbled retelling of a real event with the children suffering from chlorosis (green skin anemia) and that lead me to investigating other skin colour variations/defects like the blue skinned Fugate family of Kentucky (1820s)

Anyway with all the recent threads on race/ethnicity and colour I got thinking on how Races are depcited in games. SO when you think of dwarves and Elfs how do you see them?

DO you see them as having skin tones of Europe or do they run the gamut of human types (eg would a dwarf being described as Black skinned fit your expectations?).
DO you allow for any skin and hair variation - Green-skinned humans, Blue skinned elves, tan skinned humans with purple hair?
Humans; mostly as RL

Elves; human-tones or shades of blueish grey, sometimes green tinged.

Rock Gnomes; Browns and greys mostly, with hair in various shades of white, grey, orange, red, yellow, and more rarely blue or green, or even jet or obsidian black. Basically, colors of stone.

Forest Gnomes; bark colors, with hair in leaf tones.

All gnomes have eyes like precious gems or crystals.

Dwarves: Dark, usually brown or grayish, rarely pale with yellow undertones.

Halflings; usually darker human tones, very rarely “white” tones, but skin hair and eyes similar to Indigenous and Asian peoples is also common.
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I like the Skittles approach. Players can go with whatever skin tone they want. I get a lot of green and blue elves, and a lot of grey dwarves, or orangey-flamey. Given the option I'd go with a non-realistic skin tone for a human character for sure. I've played more than one albino character just to get around the "use the skin tones in the book" rules in some campaigns (and Elric, I'll admit).
 



doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Humans; mostly as RL

Elves; human-tones or shades of blueish grey, sometimes green tinged.

Rock Gnomes; Browns and greys mostly, with hair in various shades of white, grey, orange, red, yellow, and more rarely blue or green, or even jet or obsidian black. Basically, colors of stone.

Forest Gnomes; bark colors, with hair in leaf tones.

All gnomes have eyes like precious gems or crystals.

Dwarves: Dark, usually brown or grayish, rarely pale with yellow undertones.

Halflings; usually darker human tones, very rarely “white” tones, but skin hair and eyes similar to Indigenous and Asian peoples is also common.
OH!

Goliaths: Have striations of different colors, like sheer cliff face where many layers of sediment have created a multi-hued effect. Often this just makes then bi-colored in shades of grey and brown, but many have thin distinct striations of orange or yellow or red.

Orcs tend toward greens and browns and greys, and like in Wildemount are often two-toned.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
So I was reading up on the green children of Woolpit, UK who were found in the town in the 12th Century. They were (apparently) human but green skinned, spoke a strange language and said they came from St Martins Land. Some modern speculation has suggested the story was a garbled retelling of a real event with the children suffering from chlorosis (green skin anemia) and that lead me to investigating over skin colour variations/defects like the blue skinned Fugate family of Kentucky (1820s)

Anyway with all the recent threads on race/ethnicity and colour I got thinking on how Races are depcited in games. SO when you think of dwarves and Elfs how do you see them?

DO you see them as having skin tones of Europe or do they run the gamut of human types (eg would a dwarf being described as Black skinned fit your expectations?).
DO you allow for any skin and hair variation - Green-skinned humans, Blue skinned elves, tan skinned humans with purple hair?
Now that you made me think about it, I don't think I ever mentioned a default colour for demihuman races.

I also don't usually even mention the skin colour of indivuduals... I typically just say "you enter the tavern and you see an elf in robes and a dwarf in armor". Maybe my unconscious bias is making them white by default. Or maybe I just don't care, just like I usually don't care for the sexual orientation of the NPCs.

I do describe colors for creatures that are far from humans, such as centaurs and minotaurs, or lizardfolk and yuan-ti, and I use different colours.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Generally similar to real life climate. Last game was Egyptian themed so default vwas brown and elves so rare as to not exist.
 

Whatever their players choose.

If I ever write an "official history" of my setting that may change, but I'm trying not to get locked down. If nothing else, I might have a good idea one of these days... 😀
 

FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
I pretty much just default to European skin tones 99% of the time because when I'm thinking about it and when I'm doing something about it don't really overlap much. I should put more effort into this.

I usually have European humans and East Asian humans in my settings, and sometimes I remember to include African and South Asian and American humans. I'm more likely to do this when I'm deliberately doing this, like in Galactic Dragons. I posted recently about human ethnicity in Shroompunk, which runs naturally on a broader spectrum than Earth and includes more variety in undertones. And also more unusual features that would normally be associated with planetouched in standard D&D.

I'm more likely to do Skittles with hair than skin, and more likely with elves than anything else; in Shroompunk, without elves, goblins pick one ROYGBIV color for their skin and another for their eyes. In Galactic Dragons, gnomes have pale white-grey skin-- like fraal-- with pastel-colored hair.
 


Depends on the setting I'm running, though broadly speaking I've always followed the descriptions in the PHBs where dwarves have darker skin, rather than the art, where they're typically viking-pale, and have always enjoyed elves having weird skin tones like pale blue.

Drow I tend to do the reverse and follow the art and describe them as "slate-grey-skinned" or the like, or greyish-purple.

I don't run Tieflings as all looking like Hellboy/the Lord of Darkness from Legend, but rather go with 2E-style variable appearances, so it varies wildly there.

I'm always open to suggestions from players, of course, and I don't think I've ever had to say no there. The most outre request was for some kind of lizardperson with rainbow-sheen scales, which seemed fine to me.

Human-wise the first settings I came across and was strongly influenced by (Taladas particularly) featured a lot of non-white characters, and I grew up in London, so it didn't even occur to me to have most NPCs be white - rather they've always been pretty varied, albeit not necessarily matching up to RL ethnicities at all.

(As an aside, on the "science means underground races should all be pale thing", I think there's bit more going on with D&D there, and legit to not follow that. A sightless race who have always lived in total darkness and don't have darkvision, nor interact with things that do, would indeed presumably be pale, but any other group of creatures, especially ones that only went down there in the last few thousands of years, and haven't necessarily been subjected to selective pressure so severe that skin pigmentation becomes an issue, might not be. I mean, for starters being able to live underground means you must not need to be pale for vitamin D's sake, because your vitamin D - if your species even needs it - must be coming from somewhere else.)
 


Voadam

Hero
Depends on the setting I'm running, though broadly speaking I've always followed the descriptions in the PHBs where dwarves have darker skin, rather than the art, where they're typically viking-pale
Yeah, it is surprising that 3e, where they deliberately had a diverse cast of iconics (hispanic paladin, asian sorcerer, black monk), went with red haired fair skinned Tordek for dwarf when the MM description was
Dwarves favor earth tones in their clothing and prefer simple and functional garb. The skin can be very dark, but it is always some shade of tan or brown. Hair color can be black, gray, or brown.
He could have been a mountain dwarf "have lighter skin and hair than hill dwarves" but viking motif divorced from other descriptions I think is the most likely explanation.
 


Generally speaking, it is the player's choice within the realm of real-world human skin tones. If the player wants something out of that range (like, say, you're playing a Spring-season Eladrin, and want a pale green skin tone) they need to speak with me first.
Are not eladrin those colors by default. In lore.
 


delphonso

Explorer
Dwarves, if subterranian, should be very pale and preferably blind.

I've always been fond of avian elves - harsh sharp features and bright colors either from actual hair color or decoration.
 


Coroc

Hero
So I was reading up on the green children of Woolpit, UK who were found in the town in the 12th Century. They were (apparently) human but green skinned, spoke a strange language and said they came from St Martins Land. Some modern speculation has suggested the story was a garbled retelling of a real event with the children suffering from chlorosis (green skin anemia) and that lead me to investigating other skin colour variations/defects like the blue skinned Fugate family of Kentucky (1820s)

Anyway with all the recent threads on race/ethnicity and colour I got thinking on how Races are depcited in games. SO when you think of dwarves and Elfs how do you see them?

DO you see them as having skin tones of Europe or do they run the gamut of human types (eg would a dwarf being described as Black skinned fit your expectations?).
DO you allow for any skin and hair variation - Green-skinned humans, Blue skinned elves, tan skinned humans with purple hair?
Everything has a slight reddish glow with infravision turned on. Don't believe me? Try it within BG1 or BG2 :p
 

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