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Dwarves & Elves

Postby Throttle » Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:04 pm

Octavius suggested we make a new thread so let's do that. What role are dwarves and elves going to play in Laketown?

Previously, I always thought these two races were kind of rammed in without having a real place in the roleplaying environment. Gameplay took place nowhere near either race's homeland, they cost so much RPP that there were never enough around for them to have much to do with their own kind, and they were codedly so superior to everything else that it was kind of stupid. Those are the three things I would suggest changing for Laketown.

The first thing takes care of itself: we're quite close to Mirkwood's elves, and also close enough to the mountains that dwarves can make the trip with some regularity, making it feasible for some of either race to settle in Laketown or at least visit long enough to cover a PC's lifespan. Still, how will they fit into the community and what roles can they occupy?

The RPP costs are something I definitely would like to see changed. SOI used to be insane, having races that cost like eight RPP which I'm guessing less than a dozen players ever had. I think ARPI worked well in that regard with an RPP scale of 1-5 and greater incentive to spend it. Since elves and dwarves are close enough to Laketown that it wouldn't be absurd for several of them to frequent the area, having them cost 4 or 5 wouldn't be so bad.

Please don't repeat original SOI's coded power of dwarves and, in particular, elves. It was stupid. It was gamebreaking. Their stats were insane, they started with the best equipment in existence, and they got so many ridiculous perks that they were simply the best characters by orders of magnitude. I don't think the literature depicts dwarves as vastly superior to humans in every regard, and while elves certainly have advantages, the normal everyday elves weren't one-man armies in the books. They should be one or two steps ahead of Men, not ten steps and gifted perfect equipment at creation. I'd also recommend mandating that PC elves must be younger elves so we don't get PCs who are thousands of years old, because that's not something anybody can roleplay believably.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Octavius » Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:15 pm

I'd also recommend mandating that PC elves must be younger elves so we don't get PCs who are thousands of years old, because that's not something anybody can roleplay believably.


What is "young" for an elf in canon?

Arwen seems to be treated rather young; she's two to three centuries old at that time.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Throttle » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:02 pm

A few hundred years, I'd say. Like under 500. That seems to be enough to stave off the insanely old "I knew Isildur" types, while also not requiring that all elves must be described as teenagers.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Feawen » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:51 pm

I know Elendor's handling of elves was that an adult was around 100 years old - but that was still a really young elf.

Also, I know that the truly powerful elves were high cost. I assume you're referencing Traveller/Arandir, who was a Noldo that was born right before the Noldorin Elves left Valinor. So, at least IC-wise, his power made sense...

...But I'd really prefer that we only ever see Silvan Elves and Sindarin Elves in Laketown, outside of the occasional NPC run by staff.

Silvan and Sindarin Elves make up most of the elven population of Middle-Earth, as they refused (or didn't complete) the summons to go into the West. They're also significantly less powerful, though still sturdy in their own right. It would at least force any elf players to work more with those around them.

As for roles:

Emissary (Either to Esgaroth or Mirkwood; it's feasible that you could find elves from Rivendell and Lothlorien in this area, considering the proximity of not only Mirkwood, but Erebor and Smaug the Magnificent)
Scout
Merchant
Teacher
Crafter
Lorekeeper
Siegemaster
...Almost anything a human could do.

Since this takes place in a time near to the events of The Hobbit, it's believable that those in the Elvenhomes would be turning their attention towards Smaug. Doubtful that Gandalf was the only one at the time - even if there was some bickering among the Council of the Wise.

It makes sense for there to be more interest in that area, especially considering the elven understanding of time.

I'll put in some thoughts on dwarves later.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Octavius » Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:37 pm

Dwarves are really key to this region, for obvious reasons. In considering "the dwarven experience" I suggest that you brainstorm in three distinct areas. These are either going to be in-play, or relevant to backgrounds of those in-play. So, thinking it through is good.

What is the lifestyle, beliefs, and roles appropriate for Dwarves in this region immediately after the fall of Erebor? (When the mountain fell, what about those that did not go to Iron Hills? We know they tried to reclaim glories with an assault on Moria. Did any stay to build Laketown and plot to reclaim their home? There is a lost Dwarven Ring of Power in play at this time, too, not insignificant.)

What is the lifestyle, beliefs, and roles appropriate for Dwarves in this region during the long span of Smaug's reign?
(Thorin in the movies recollects he and/or his companions travelling and hiring out as merchant guards in Dunland. They clearly had a diaspora function going on, and longings for reclaiming their lost homeland.)

What is the lifestyle, beliefs, and roles appropriate for Dwarves in this region immediately after the fall of Smaug?
(The mountain re-opens under a dwarven king, they need to resuscitate the halls that Smaug polluted. They are literally next door to Dale and Laketown.)
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Drew7uk » Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:05 pm

I'm no expert in either race, but for both I think most players would like to see a greater presence in the game world than previously (where it makes sense of course) for the real connectivity with Tolkien lore and atmosphere.

For each:

Dwarves - my take on Dwarves at this period is they they are a largely wandering folk with no true direction or larger calling due to their exile after the capture of Erebor. Maybe we'd see a selection of miners, ironsmiths, clothiers, jewelers spread out around Laketown itself - I'd wager more likely crafters than anything overly military orientated. May be interesting to see a small pocket of well played PC dwarves residing in Laketown which may somehow tie into later events.

In terms of events after Smaug's death, are we in dire need of fleshing out those events seeing as it's quite some time away in game/play terms?

Outside that, I'll weigh in a little more on cultural/societal insights soon.

Elves - agreed with Feawen on the Silvan/Sindar presence in the game. I had a chat with Frigga on this the other day and I think we're both excited to see a different take on the portrayal of Silvan Elves - a little more down to earth, prone to making errors in judgement, and largely not charged by the same power as other Elves.

Role wise, agreed on emissary as the general all-round role, as well as anything directly related to the important trade agreements. Herbalist also another viable pick.

I'm excited to see the views of others that've played Elves and Dwarves in previous iterations of the game to hear their take on how these races might be played differently and how they may fit into the game!
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Burke » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:31 pm

Drew7uk wrote:Elves - agreed with Feawen on the Silvan/Sindar presence in the game. I had a chat with Frigga on this the other day and I think we're both excited to see a different take on the portrayal of Silvan Elves - a little more down to earth, prone to making errors in judgement, and largely not charged by the same power as other Elves.


At one level, I think the relative power of elves could be assigned according to how closely they experienced the light of the West. Sindarin elves experienced this most closely, either through living in Beleriand under Thingol (who had been to Valinor) and Melian (who was a Maia), through contact with Ossë (Círdan's people), or in Lindon. The Silvan elves were originally Teleri like the Sindar, but many of them broke off from the journey east of the Misty Mountains. They at least set out Westward following Elwë and Olwë, unlike the Avari.

If I were to rank how I'd expect elves to appear in the game from most to least powerful, I'd put them at:

- Sindar (rare, likely only Thranduil immediate family and a few elite families)
- Silvan (the vast majority)
- Avari (who would likely be rare, since the Avari would almost certainly have been absorbed by the Silvan elves of Thranduil's realm)

As far as elves in relation to men, though, I think the overriding consideration there is that Elves are different beings. Men are spirits-in-bodies; when they die, they pass out of the world. Elves are spirits embodied; then they die, they go to the halls of Mandos, which is still within the real of the world even if sundered from Arda. This gives Elves, by their nature, some elements of control over their physical form that, in game terms as I understand such things, could likely translate as higher dexterity and constitution.

Elves' down sides are likely far harder to put into RPG code. They are conservative to a fault (think of what Fëanor was trying to do with the Silmarlli), they breed only once and don't do so if times are unbalanced (per Tolkien's later writing in Morgoth's Ring, which you can take as canonical or not), and they are, by nature of the marring of Arda, fading--slowly, thanks in part (I'd guess) to the presence, even at a distance, of Elrond's and Galadriel's rings in Arda, but inexorably. Finrod says in "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" that the elves are far weaker now than they were, which I guess could translate as reduced strength, but much of the rest of this would, I think, have to be reflected in non-coded ways of playing the character.

One last comment: please do include Dwarves and Elves, but please be sure to include them so that they are in contact with men. The fun of playing an Elf, which I've done (though not on SoI), is in playing a character that is like but different from the other characters. Elves aren't perfect. They're stiff-necked, and their love for the world has kept them there far longer than the should have remained. They are, at their worst, embalmers rather than preservers, though some of their wisdom comes from knowing how badly that drive to preserve has led to disaster. Those who think beyond the pleasures of the world know how badly they, as a people, have failed.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Brian » Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:45 pm

I think Drew has the right gist of it for the Dwarves. After the fall of the Lonely Mountain those that remained were scattered into smaller bands for a long while who did what they could to keep themselves afloat. After the War with Azog, most of Thorin's people settled in the Blue Mountains to the west of the shire and prospered there, after a fashion. What does that mean for Dwarves in Laketown? I imagine that they would be mostly merchants and traders, possibly craftsmen who come to ply their trade in the town where the demand for their work is likely higher than it is at home. I would imagine they would primarily be from the Iron Hills, though possibly it could be long distance caravaners from Durin's folk in the Blue Mountains; those that have never found the same place of home as they had in the Lonely Mountain, who could never really settled down, and felt drawn back to the area in whatever limited fashion.

As far as Elves go, I would advocate for no Noldor and I'm rather touch and go about the Sindar. As far as any Sindar that would be present they would pretty much be, as was pointed out above, Thranduil's family, or the upper echelon of the "nobility" of the Woodland realm. I can't see much of a reason for elves that wouldn't be from the Woodland realm being present here, even less of a reason than there would be for them to have appeared in Gondor in the timeframe we were playing in. There we had the fall of Osgiliath, the new stirrings of Mordor and a resurgence in its power, all things that would possibly have drawn a certain type there. Here I suppose we have the rise of the Necromancer, but even over the 500 years from SoI2, that time frame was a period of major change for the elves and a large departure of their numbers from Middle-Earth. The story in this area belongs to the Silvan elves, and they should certainly be the focus. They will be easily as interesting and certainly more invested here as this is their land, not thousands of kilometers away as it was in SoI2.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Drew7uk » Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:01 am

As promised, I wanted to elaborate a little further on Dwarves of the period to see if there's any more we can glean from canon.

Brian rightly mentions the Iron Hills, which I'd originally overlooked. Bear in mind that not too long after the events of our time, Dain II sends a well equipped army of 500 Dwarves to aid Thorin at the Battle of the Five Armies - I think we're led to believe that this is the entirety of their forces from the Iron Hills, but women, children, elderly, and other professional crafters would likely have been left behind.

With these kind of numbers in mind, I'd wager quite an impact of these particular Longbeards on Laketown - whether through trade (and caravans as Brian suggested) or through more subliminal means of simply wanting to find their brethren exiled from the Lonely Mountain.

It's also worth bearing in mind that these being Longbeards are of a somewhat more nobler standing than most other Dwarves of the time, so their portrayal there may vary to some degree.

Where it relates to armor and metal in the other thread, I'd love to see Dwarves as the innovators of armor and weaponry, as well as other well practised crafts, leading the way in crafted finery, improvements to armor over time for that region, so on and so forth.

Where both races are concerned, I'd love to see these reserved for special applications or approval periods with staff where the individual player can work with RPAs to create a well rounded character with decent meaning and impact on the current plotlines or environment - channeled to some degree around true plot creation for others. This way, staff can keep tabs on the number of both races in the game at any one point without worrying about obscene numbers, but still keep the quality of RP high without the need to wait for 2-3 years while people accumulate enough RP to play these races.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Icarus » Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:34 pm

As a note, Elves will only be common Silvan. Inspiration for behavior, skill, etc comes from the Hobbit's description of them, moreso than the LOTR. They get drunk, enjoy life, fight, die, fear, love, and are perhaps the most human of the elves.

That is not to say they are mundane, in a magical sense. Nor should it be said of the dwarves that they have no magic about them. But of men, is there not magic? Who does Bard speak to but the Thrush? Even of orcs, does not some corruption seep from their very being?
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Brian » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:43 pm

I think that's a really solid choice Icarus, and will also allow for the Elves to be really textured individuals with passions, quirks, fears, loves, and all the things that are more accessibly human than the lofty, but in many ways detached, sadness of the High Elves.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Drew7uk » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:37 am

Brian wrote:I think that's a really solid choice Icarus, and will also allow for the Elves to be really textured individuals with passions, quirks, fears, loves, and all the things that are more accessibly human than the lofty, but in many ways detached, sadness of the High Elves.


Seconded.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Brian » Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:59 am

Drew7uk wrote:
Brian wrote:I think that's a really solid choice Icarus, and will also allow for the Elves to be really textured individuals with passions, quirks, fears, loves, and all the things that are more accessibly human than the lofty, but in many ways detached, sadness of the High Elves.


Seconded.


As much as I absolutely am fascinated by and in love with that lofty, detached sadness :P .
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Burke » Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:34 pm

Brian wrote:
Drew7uk wrote:
Brian wrote:I think that's a really solid choice Icarus, and will also allow for the Elves to be really textured individuals with passions, quirks, fears, loves, and all the things that are more accessibly human than the lofty, but in many ways detached, sadness of the High Elves.


Seconded.


As much as I absolutely am fascinated by and in love with that lofty, detached sadness :P .


As one of those absolutely horrible people who says "Tolkien's legendarium" with a straight face, I can't agree with this even though I can accept it. I do think that if you're going to have elves, then the passions, quirks, fears, and loves they have don't really make them as much accessibly human as seemingly human and accessible to humans. Though elves and men are probably closer to each other than of the other races (well, elves and orcs bit we don't talk about that), they are still alien to each other.

I've seen Jolly Elf, Sarcastic Elf, Stern Elf, Action Elf, and even Angry Elf work well in MU* settings. I've never really seen Goth Elf or Clumsy Elf work, though, and Evil or Devious Elf is really outside of the canon for the Third Age. Most Silvan elves almost surely think that all of that "stuff in the West" is for people other than themselves to worry about, and the sort of life and attitudes you're all describing for them certainly fits with that. However, I am convinced that what Tolkien emphasizes about elves--their hatred of Orcs/"goblins" (which probably were perverted and bred by Morgoth from captured Elves) and their unwillingness to serve Sauron or his minions in any way--must hold true, or you don't really have elves.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Brian » Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:31 am

I'm going to move the conversation that was growing in the crafting discussion in the Lore forum here and continue it.

MrDvAnt wrote:We're kind of derailing away from crafting to actual questions on the races now but I'll toss in my two coppers. I've never been a big fan of balance between races and classes in role playing games. If everyone is balanced and equal, what's the point of having different races? I think it's fairly natural for people who don't have something nice to be envious of those who do, but that's something that should be overcome on a personal basis, not enforced to the detriment of others. The entire point of giving out RPP or whatever system a particular game uses is that the person who has them should be able to be trusted not to misuse the advantages given by having them. There's been a big emphasis on balance and "fairness" in the last decade or so of gaming. I can't help but feel that it's at least partially a result of the growing feeling of entitlement and instant gratification that each newer generation seems to have. Elves are better than humans in almost every way..that's just the way the world is. We shouldn't nerf them just because some people who cannot play them think it isn't fair.

Wow..I didn't mean to be that long winded. This should probably be discussed in another thread.


I don't think that the races will be balanced, but instead that there won't be as wide a gulf between them. I think this makes sense for many reasons, including canonically. At this point in time, the elves, all of them, are in their fading period. Their powers and potency have been waning ever since the end of the First Age. Thankfully in this setting the only elven race possible to play is the Silvan elves which makes that balancing even more credible canonically. The Silvan elves were never ennobled as the other races were. They are far more wild and rustic than the elves that had the influence of the Exiles. I would say that the Numenoreans were more ennobled in body and mind than the Silvan elves are even. If anything, I would see them having a +1 to con, a +1 to dex, and a +1 to agi if they are 3 RPP and we're working off the 1 RPP = 1 stat boost, and possibly a +2 to dex if they are 4. That's probably all I would do. Those, to me, would be bonuses that make sense, but are still balanced in the framework of the game.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby MrDvAnt » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:26 am

I can certainly agree with that. The Silvan elves were much closer in ability to Men. I wonder if it could be coded so elves can see farther into the distance than humans? That might be a handy little ability to set them apart without being too powerful.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Octavius » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:35 pm

MrDevant - I do like that as well.

One thing I liked in rewatching the Hobbit films recently is the effort they put into normalizing dwarves. They take extra effort to show they are not all exceptional. It is feasible, in that light, to have dwarves repopulating Erebor to be a normal race option (personally, one of my favorite RP excitements)

I see the LOTR doing an injustice in that regard. Only having Legolas and Gimli sets the expectations that they, as the most exceptional examples, are actually a median.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby MrDvAnt » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:19 am

Octavius wrote:MrDevant - I do like that as well.

One thing I liked in rewatching the Hobbit films recently is the effort they put into normalizing dwarves. They take extra effort to show they are not all exceptional. It is feasible, in that light, to have dwarves repopulating Erebor to be a normal race option (personally, one of my favorite RP excitements)

I see the LOTR doing an injustice in that regard. Only having Legolas and Gimli sets the expectations that they, as the most exceptional examples, are actually a median.



Agreed. I was actually kind of upset by the Lord of the Rings movies for turning Gimli into comic relief though. The Hobbit movie did a good job displaying dwarves as having varied personalities, quirks and abilities though. One thing really bugging me about The Hobbit though is Legolas... Sure..he technically would have been in the woods there, but he's not part of the story. I'm also -really- tired of all his BS acrobatics and impossible maneuvers. I'm waiting for him to load 20 arrows onto his bow at the same time and have them all shoot in different directions, bullseyeing 20 different orcs directly through the skull.
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Re: Dwarves & Elves

Postby Emilio » Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:32 am

I imagine that, eventually, they'll make Legolas 20 feet tall and spawns lightning out of his arse. :lol:
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