WHY are elves so danged cool?


Never underestimate the power of Pretty.

You never see a fat elf, a short elf, a skinny weakling elf. If they are depicted as capable of growing facial hair, it's never anything but full and straight instead of scraggly or uneven. They're never muscle-bound or bulky or veined; they have just the right amount of underwear model muscle to be sleek and strong without looking like they're about to pop from 'roid rage. They don't get acne and never scar. They don't have big noses or get blotches instead of a tan. Their teeth are perfect. Hollywood has nothing on even the average elf. They don't have ugly women, and even if the men might be a little too pretty they can still kick ass, which makes up for a whole lot of Pretty, and they have that singular look that can carry off long hair on a guy and not look like Uncle Frank in a wig on New Years. Even the people who say 'they're too perfect; perfect is boring, perfect is creepy, perfect is stupid' doth protest too much and secretly yearn in their hearts to be even half as nice as an elf.

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Lorthanoth said:
OH yes, when the elves in the Silmarillion are wrong they take wrongness all the way. Feanor and co were full on badasses.
But they fail in a way that appeals to us. Sure, they're wrong, but while being wrong, they still change history, they confront Morgoth heads on and rather try to change the world to their ideal than to accept it. They remain ever defiant - something some of us like, even if it's a flaw.

Humans rather like to fail triumphantly instead of going under silently, for good or for ill. If they fail, they don't fail like the chap who forgets to pay his bills, they fail with a megalomanic bang.

That way, elves embody the way we would like to be, even in their failure - they're humanity's passion and drive magnified tenfold. That appeals to us.

Cheers, LT.


First Post
EricNoah said:
Yes. But only because the truth hurts. *wimper*

Ohhhh, OK -- I'll do the wimpy elf thing and apologize. But only once. For YOU.

"I'm sorry."

Or, translated to your native elvish: "DaHjaj 'oH QaQ jaj Daq Hegh" ... I found a translator on the InterWeb.
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Registered User
Actually, Elvish is quite a beautiful language, at least as far as it exists in fantasy (see Quenya, Espruar, etc.).

IMO, it's because elves (or Melniboneans, or Sidhe, or Vadhagh) are ancient, eldritch, graceful, beautiful, fundamentally alien because of their long lifespans, tragic because they are usually portrayed as in the end stages of their hegemony and cultural vitality, and in most cases allied with magic and the stillness, mystery, and occasional exploding violence of nature.

Potential elf PCs have powerful and interesting role models as well: Elrond, Feanor, Galadriel, Corum, Elric, Legolas, and so on.

That enough?

Incidentally, I am reluctant to post further in this thread because I feel like any positive portrayal of elves will come off as flame bait.


First Post
It is because, for all their supposed grace, wisdom and power, the elves have ultimately failed to live up to their potential, forever fractured and divided as a race. In no way, at any time, has the olven race ever lived up to its potential. Its capacity for powerful magic...its ability to craft artworks of extraordinary beauty...its intimate connection with the land...all these things have not prevented the elves from struggling to survive. Despite their thousand-year lifespans, their frailties and failings, their bitter internal divisions and struggles, have always divided the race. By all accounts, elves could be one of the most powerful races, with their capacity for art, music, sorcery, and swordplay, and their renowned wisdom and philosophy.

But then, there has never been an elven "Golden Age"; instead, life has been an endless struggle against dwarves, humans and orcs for survival, even as the elves are riven and torn apart by their own intra-racial wars and conflicts. Look at the elven chronicles and you will see disputes between elven kings, foolishness and stupidity on the part of the elven gods, hard-fought wars, not all of them victorious, against dwarves, humans and orcs. Elves have formed kingdoms and traditions...but always has this experience been precarious, a potential always dreamed of but never achieved.

The great talents of the elves seem to bring them no joy, as the races of men and orcs, who lack many of the elves' talents, thrive and prosper in spite of this. The long lifespans and memories of elves can thus be as much of a curse as a blessing, for centuries-long grudges and hatreds between elven peoples cause rifts that never have, and likely never will, heal.

The ghosts of the past exist all too keenly for the elves, a sense of what may have been, may yet be, in a fleeting dream so near and yet so far. The elven race appeals to many humans because they are a bittersweet tragedy, a reflective mirror for the human race that allows us to contemplate our own failings...and our own potential.


Elf Witch

First Post
I like elves because they have many traits that I wish I had in real life. For example being long lived so that you have to time to try out different things.

They seem to be the most magical even if they are not wizards the race itself seems more magical in nature than any other.

Because they live so long they often have a better view of what is really going on because they have a larger frame of reference.

1 hp

First Post
It seems a lot of the reasons being given for elven coolness are reason why it would be desirable to run an elf, but not really why elfs are cool.

Except for Numion, who wrote that the purpose of the elf is to flip out and kill people. That's totally cool.

A long-lived, attractive, civilized race that is superior to humans is NOT inherently cool.

To me, the only thing that makes elves cool is that they live in a forest, like monsters.

Can you imagine if elves lived in rectangular brick houses? Brickhouse elves would NOT be cool. Not at all.


First Post
Numion said:
1. Elves are mammals.

2. Elves fight ALL the time.

3. The purpose of the elf is to flip out and kill people.

See, now I really want to play an elven ninja. In a pirate campaign.

Elves do have a certain coolness factor to them. It's the near immortality, for one thing. That, and the whole fey/sidhe connection - the idea that they are somehow more inherently attuned to the natural and supernatural worlds than the other races. Not that it really shows much in the 3.x stats, but given some of the nonsense found in previous editions (Complete Book of Elves, I'm looking at you), that's not an entirely bad thing.


Numion said:
1. Elves are mammals.

In RuneQuest, they're a kind of plant. Bones made of wood, hair that changes color with the seasons, hibernate in the winter. Extra-flammable, possibly. A tendency to accumulate dog urine and squirrels. I thought that was an interesting take.

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