Elven Ears


Ability Scores and Races

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Sovereign Court

This is a minor pet peeve, but can we have the artwork depict Elven ears as normal sized and pojnty, rather than freakishly huge and pointy?

The artwork in the 2E Complete Book of Elves has it right. Look at page 35, that's perfect.


Here's a fun little challenge:

Find me an original source that describes elves as pointy-eared.

Tolkien's elves (not the be-all end-all of elves, but arguably the "original" as far as D&D is concerned) were never described with pointed ears. I'm actually curious where the pointy ear thing comes from.


toyrobots wrote:

Here's a fun little challenge:

Find me an original source that describes elves as pointy-eared.

Tolkien's elves (not the be-all end-all of elves, but arguably the "original" as far as D&D is concerned) were never described with pointed ears. I'm actually curious where the pointy ear thing comes from.

I believe it's from fairy tales and other such stories. Elves, sprites, fairies were all depicted with pointy ears. When Tolkien wrote of Elves, I guess people carried the pointy ear thing over.


veector wrote:
I believe it's from fairy tales and other such stories. Elves, sprites, fairies were all depicted with pointy ears. When Tolkien wrote of Elves, I guess people carried the pointy ear thing over.

I've long suspected this to be the case. Is there an "elf expert" around who can explain where the pointy ears really come from?

It was probably meant to reflect the feral nature of fey spirits. In the times where those north European mythologies were actively believed (still are in some spots), Elves of all kinds were spirits to be feared and avoided, no matter of the Seelie or Unseelie court. Our current notion of elves would seem quite strange to the pre-Tolkien crowd.

So were pointy ears tantamount to devil horns? Do we know of any earlier art that veector speaks of? Now I'm really curious!

Silver Crusade

toyrobots wrote:
Do we know of any earlier art that veector speaks of? Now I'm really curious!

Check out Arthur Rackham. He's the earliest example I can think of, but that applied more to "faerie"-like elves. The visual just crossed over with artists over the years and it's now something we take for granted.

Also, long ear fan here.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't really like the long ears, either, but I'm afraid it's pretty unlikely that they're going to be changed now with all of the existing art out there...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
toyrobots wrote:


I've long suspected this to be the case. Is there an "elf expert" around who can explain where the pointy ears really come from?

It was probably meant to reflect the feral nature of fey spirits. In the times where those north European mythologies were actively believed (still are in some spots), Elves of all kinds were spirits to be feared and avoided, no matter of the Seelie or Unseelie court. Our current notion of elves would seem quite strange to the pre-Tolkien crowd.

So were pointy ears tantamount to devil horns? Do we know of any earlier art that veector speaks of? Now I'm really curious!

Creatures of faerie in mideval lore frequenty have pointed ears from tall Sidhe to small pixies, even goblins as such. Generally the more feral or chaotic the faeries the tendency is to have long ears up to the WOW night elven style where as the Bright Sidhe tended to the more shorter version but still a defiite point as part of it's otherworldly nature.

Scarab Sages

This has been hotly debated in the past. I don't think the long ears are going anywhere.


Mikaze wrote:


Check out Arthur Rackham. He's the earliest example I can think of, but that applied more to "faerie"-like elves. The visual just crossed over with artists over the years and it's now something we take for granted.

Nailed it Mikaze! Way to elevate the discourse. :)

Any illustration students out there with some time on their hands? Let's get back to fundamentals on this one. I'm curious to find the first documented instance in print that declares: "Elves have pointy ears."


'In print'? That will be a tough requirement to meet!

Lios Alfar and Svartalfar are the inspiration for Elves and Drow mainly, thought the Svartalfar were supposed to be twisted and dwarvish almost and were prodigious smiths. Note that they weren't actually dwarves though. Norse mythology has plenty of dwarves too, of course.

An interesting note is this, as far as I can determine, there is not any mention of long/pointed ears in the old legends. The only real criteria seems to be fairness of form, which is always stated in the eldest legends. What 'fair' is to the norse though is not necessarily what we see as that now.

On an odd note, in Norse myths, often Alfar were given the ability to move through walls or ghost about in other ways, owing to their non-mortal heritage. Just odd....


Maybe this will help...

Tolkien and pointy-eared Elves

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Elven ears being the way they are (and eyes as well) are here to stay; that's one of the looks we've settled on for Golarion and Pathfinder. Smaller pointed ears are for half-elves.


veector wrote:

Maybe this will help...

Tolkien and pointy-eared Elves

Aha! That does, in fact help. This whole time I'd been laboring under false assumptions...

Hm, "leaf shaped", eh? Not quite what I would call the ears of the elves of Golarion, but I suppose this isn't Tolkien, now is it?


More the 'Record of Lodoss War' look. If you've never seen it, its an anime I would strongly suggest! Very much D&D. There are two series, the original OAV series and the Record of Lodoss War TV series. Both are excellent, but I would suggest this order.

Watch Volume 1-4 (of 6) of the OAV, then watch the TV series. This makes the story, which is somewhat disjointed across the two series more cohesive. Then watch 5 and 6 of the OAV. While the storyline and ending are differnt, there are some really cool scenes at the end of the OAV series.

For the record, this is how I like my elves!

Liberty's Edge

Yasha0006 wrote:

More the 'Record of Lodoss War' look. If you've never seen it, its an anime I would strongly suggest! Very much D&D. There are two series, the original OAV series and the Record of Lodoss War TV series. Both are excellent, but I would suggest this order.

Watch Volume 1-4 (of 6) of the OAV, then watch the TV series. This makes the story, which is somewhat disjointed across the two series more cohesive. Then watch 5 and 6 of the OAV. While the storyline and ending are differnt, there are some really cool scenes at the end of the OAV series.

It is worth noting that Lodoss is very D&D because it is D&D. The first two Lododd stories (Parn and Orsin's stories) are replays (think story hours) of Ryo Mizuno's D&D games. Spark's story (the TV show) was played with Group SNE's house system.

Character sketches and illustrations of science fiction author Hiroshi Yamamoto's character in these games (the elf Deedlit) are likely the first example of the large articulated eared elf in D&D.


Krensky wrote:


It is worth noting that Lodoss is very D&D because it is D&D. The first two Lododd stories (Parn and Orsin's stories) are replays (think story hours) of Ryo Mizuno's D&D games. Spark's story (the TV show) was played with Group SNE's house system.

Character sketches and illustrations of science fiction author Hiroshi Yamamoto's character in these games (the elf Deedlit) are likely the first example of the large articulated eared elf in D&D.

I remember catching a japanese commercial for a fantasy RPG on one of the VHS tapes the first time I saw RoLW. The GM had this awesome yellow plastic horned helmet and would shout "Dice, Go!" every time he rolled. The exclamation, though not the helmet, briefly came into fashion around our gaming table.

I have to admit, it looked like fun.


& perpetuated by Drew Hayes' Poison Elves.

"(...), the first Elfquest series is one of the most amazing comic book runs ever. Period. You can blame the length of my Elves' ears on Wendy Pini."


R.I.P Drew...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I love long pointed ears. :)


This is a really funny thread to read. :D

As far as I know from reading folk lore of the northern region, that all the fey type creatures had pointy ears, and smaller the creature is, the longer the ears are.

I prefer having elves with medium sized ears, not ears longer that stick out above the top of the head.

Liberty's Edge

toyrobots wrote:

I remember catching a japanese commercial for a fantasy RPG on one of the VHS tapes the first time I saw RoLW. The GM had this awesome yellow plastic horned helmet and would shout "Dice, Go!" every time he rolled. The exclamation, though not the helmet, briefly came into fashion around our gaming table.

I have to admit, it looked like fun.

If you were watching fansubs of the Japanese originals, it may have been for the Lodoss War Companion, or most likely first edition of Sword World, which had Forcelia, as its setting. If you're interested seeing the other anime for that world, look for the Legend of Crystania film and ova, and the Rune Soldier TV show. The former follows Ashram and Pirotess, and the second is an action comedy unrelated, beyond the world, to the Lodoss stories. It is the primary replay of the Forcelia world as presented in Sword World 1 though.


I love the way elves are portrayed in Golarion - long, pointed ears, and awesome eyes. It ups the elfiness of elves to 11, and more elfiness is always a good thing! ^_^


I really like Elves as paizo depict them. To often elves are just pretty humans with slight pointie ears. Paizos elves feel much more alien than that.

Dark Archive

My players were commenting on those elf ears the other night while rolling up new PF characters. They wanted to know if they would act as stabalizers and provided a bonus to their fly skill. I must admit, it was so damn funny, I made it a house rule: Full-blood elves get +2 racial bonus to fly.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Chinch Bug wrote:
My players were commenting on those elf ears the other night while rolling up new PF characters. They wanted to know if they would act as stabalizers and provided a bonus to their fly skill. I must admit, it was so damn funny, I made it a house rule: Full-blood elves get +2 racial bonus to fly.

Does that mean that dwarves, with their silly huge mop-like beards, get a +2 racial bonus on Profession (janitor) checks?

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

I should point out that the "final" version of Pathfinder elf ears is akin to what you see on Merisiel rather than the Drew Hayes/Poison Elves style mule ears on the elf in the "race lineup" picture from the Beta and elsewhere. The discrepancy is just one (of many) reasons we'll be redoing that picture before the final edition of the Pathfinder RPG.


Long live long ears. I like my elves with long ears. The pathfinder elves do not look like humans with pointy ears or halfelves, I like that

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Erik Mona wrote:

I should point out that the "final" version of Pathfinder elf ears is akin to what you see on Merisiel rather than the Drew Hayes/Poison Elves style mule ears on the elf in the "race lineup" picture from the Beta and elsewhere. The discrepancy is just one (of many) reasons we'll be redoing that picture before the final edition of the Pathfinder RPG.

Yeah; I'm looking forward to seeing a more on-model race lineup piece of art.

Ears and eyes on elves have been one of my crusades over the past several months, to get them all right.

Ears: do not stick out horizontal. Are pointed and long, rising close to the skull to a point just above the top of the skull, at an angle varying between 45º and 80º or thereabouts.

Eyes: Are black, blue, green, violet, or gold; large pupils, larger irises; we should NOT be able to see the whites of the eye; the eye itself is a little bit larger than a human eye.


James Jacobs wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:

I should point out that the "final" version of Pathfinder elf ears is akin to what you see on Merisiel rather than the Drew Hayes/Poison Elves style mule ears on the elf in the "race lineup" picture from the Beta and elsewhere. The discrepancy is just one (of many) reasons we'll be redoing that picture before the final edition of the Pathfinder RPG.

Yeah; I'm looking forward to seeing a more on-model race lineup piece of art.

Ears and eyes on elves have been one of my crusades over the past several months, to get them all right.

Ears: do not stick out horizontal. Are pointed and long, rising close to the skull to a point just above the top of the skull, at an angle varying between 45º and 80º or thereabouts.

Eyes: Are black, blue, green, violet, or gold; large pupils, larger irises; we should NOT be able to see the whites of the eye; the eye itself is a little bit larger than a human eye.

What about skin tone? Merisiel has a pink skin tone. Is that going to be the norm for Golarion elves or are they going to come in different hues(of course drow will be black or blue)?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
toyrobots wrote:
veector wrote:

Maybe this will help...

Tolkien and pointy-eared Elves

Aha! That does, in fact help. This whole time I'd been laboring under false assumptions...

Hm, "leaf shaped", eh? Not quite what I would call the ears of the elves of Golarion, but I suppose this isn't Tolkien, now is it?

Tries to imagine elves with maple or oak leaf shaped ears.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

Eyes: Are black, blue, green, violet, or gold; large pupils, larger irises; we should NOT be able to see the whites of the eye; the eye itself is a little bit larger than a human eye.

Crap! We'll never be able to kill them if we can't see the whites of their eyes!!!

: )


So do they either have few enough nerve ending that folding them up into their helmets doesn't hurt or due their tips just regrow when some bad guy comes along and lops the tips off ? I'd be surprised to *ever* see an elf of a warrior class with two full ears if they stick out a friggin foot or more.

For the record.. I *hate* the long ears almost entirely because of lodoss war.. Stupid anime craptasticizing up my fantasy. I like a good double human sized ear with a broader shell a higher back angled tip and no lobe starting at the eye line rather then the jaw line.


SageSTL wrote:
I don't really like the long ears, either, but I'm afraid it's pretty unlikely that they're going to be changed now with all of the existing art out there...

C:\documents and settings\user\my documents\my pictures\world of warcraft.jpg

Liberty's Edge

Krensky wrote:

It is worth noting that Lodoss is very D&D because it is D&D. The first two Lododd stories (Parn and Orsin's stories) are replays (think story hours) of Ryo Mizuno's D&D games. Spark's story (the TV show) was played with Group SNE's house system.

Character sketches and illustrations of science fiction author Hiroshi Yamamoto's character in these games (the elf Deedlit) are likely the first example of the large articulated eared elf in D&D.

Actually in Japan there appeared a game called "Record of Loddoss Wars" which was influenced by D&D

and yes... this anime DID influence both my first 2 gaming groups where i DMstered

And yes... my players always saw long eared elf because of Deedlit... except the Tolkien Fan who hated the outlook... of small and delicate elfs... contrastring with Tolkien version of Tall and more powerful elves in comparison to humans...

James Jacobs wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:

I should point out that the "final" version of Pathfinder elf ears is akin to what you see on Merisiel rather than the Drew Hayes/Poison Elves style mule ears on the elf in the "race lineup" picture from the Beta and elsewhere. The discrepancy is just one (of many) reasons we'll be redoing that picture before the final edition of the Pathfinder RPG.

Yeah; I'm looking forward to seeing a more on-model race lineup piece of art.

Ears and eyes on elves have been one of my crusades over the past several months, to get them all right.

Ears: do not stick out horizontal. Are pointed and long, rising close to the skull to a point just above the top of the skull, at an angle varying between 45º and 80º or thereabouts.

Eyes: Are black, blue, green, violet, or gold; large pupils, larger irises; we should NOT be able to see the whites of the eye; the eye itself is a little bit larger than a human eye.

thanks for the depiction, i love that look :D

i love the alien and strange looking elves


Is the "Record of Lodoss War" RPG based on the Fusion system?

Weird, the "Record of Lodoss War" anime is one of the few that I really enjoyed watching.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
DarkOne the Drow wrote:
Is the "Record of Lodoss War" RPG based on the Fusion system?

Not the official one. There is a Lodoss RPG based on Fusion made by a fan, but the official game never came to the US. They originally tried to get TSR to make Lodoss an AD&D Campaign Setting, but TSR wasn't interested (a shame.)

The official Lodoss RPG doesn't actually have a system name that I know of, they made their own system.

DarkOne the Drow wrote:
Weird, the "Record of Lodoss War" anime is one of the few that I really enjoyed watching.

People never watch the bonus making of or whatever video that came with the original episodes. Lodoss, was indeed the creators D&D campaign. :)

Check it out.

Record of Lodoss War IMHO should be required viewing for every D&D fan. :)


I think they system they used was sword world. I could be wrong


Ah, you are correct, it is based off the Japanese RPG called Sword World. Lodoss is a region in Sword World RPG Setting.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Garydee wrote:
What about skin tone? Merisiel has a pink skin tone. Is that going to be the norm for Golarion elves or are they going to come in different hues(of course drow will be black or blue)?

Skin tone for elves will range widely. Just as the drow can have dark blue, dark purple, black, or even gray skin, the rest of the elves will have a wide range of skin tones. The standard is Merisiel pink to a pretty deep tan, but there are lighter and darker colored elves as well.

Skin tone's not as important as eyes and ears and frame to make an elf, though.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

VargrBoartusk wrote:
So do they either have few enough nerve ending that folding them up into their helmets doesn't hurt or due their tips just regrow when some bad guy comes along and lops the tips off ? I'd be surprised to *ever* see an elf of a warrior class with two full ears if they stick out a friggin foot or more.

Golarion elf ears are generally six inches to ten inches long; a foot long isn't impossible, but it's unlikely. As I mentioned above, though, they won't "stick out" if I can help it. They'll "stick up."

As for helmets; an elf helm HAS to look different than those of other races, ears or not. Elves have narrow, slender heads; a human helm will be loose on an elf, I suspect. Elf helms account for the ears, in other words, and generally keep the ears inside the helm.

As for them being lopped off... check the elven general on the alternate cover of the first Second Darkness module. She's only got half an ear on the right side precisely because it got lopped off in one of countless fights.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

And for the record, just to show that likes and dislikes are even more complicated... I don't particularly care for Lodoss War; I watched several episodes and the animation and story just didn't do it for me. Yet still, I like elves with long ears! Madness, eh? :-)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

James Jacobs wrote:
And for the record, just to show that likes and dislikes are even more complicated... I don't particularly care for Lodoss War; I watched several episodes and the animation and story just didn't do it for me. Yet still, I like elves with long ears! Madness, eh? :-)

I'm with you. It got a big meh from me after years and years of hearing how great it was.


It must be asked.

Since elves officially do have giant ears, do they have ear fetishes like the Ferengi? Do elves compliment each other by mentioning their lobes as in "you surely have the Lobes for Orc-Slaying"? Are an elf's ears really an accurate measure of other unmentionable assets?

Silver Crusade

Krensky wrote:
and the Rune Soldier TV show.

I'm an odd duck, I actually prefer Rune Soldier Louie over Lodoss War, primarily because it's so much more reflective of what really goes on in a DAD game.

That and it has a female character with 18 STR that actually looks like she has 18 STR.

True story, Legend Of Crystania actually did come about because of drugs.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
And for the record, just to show that likes and dislikes are even more complicated... I don't particularly care for Lodoss War; I watched several episodes and the animation and story just didn't do it for me. Yet still, I like elves with long ears! Madness, eh? :-)

Watched the OAVs or the Serie?

they are quite different in many aspects

Liberty's Edge

DarkOne the Drow wrote:
Ah, you are correct, it is based off the Japanese RPG called Sword World. Lodoss is a region in Sword World RPG Setting.

Sword World is Group SNE's (think WotC) house system. The first edition had Forcelia (which Lodoss Island is part of) as it's setting. The world, however, first appeared in replays (story hours) of a D&D (Cyclopedia) game. The was a Record of the Lodoss War Companion, which as far as I can tell was like Sword World 0. Sword World, however, is set up to take place in the part of the world (the continent north of Lodoss) that Rune Soldier takes place in.

Liberty's Edge

Mikaze wrote:
Krensky wrote:
and the Rune Soldier TV show.
I'm an odd duck, I actually prefer Rune Soldier Louie over Lodoss War, primarily because it's so much more reflective of what really goes on in a DAD game.

Oh, I find Rune Soldier vastly more fun, and I consider the ability to build a caster like Louie an important feature in a game (not that I'd ever play him). It's worth noting that Rune Soldier was based on a RPG campaign too.

Oh, and the order of Priestesses of the God of war dedicated to finding true heroes and latching onto them as advisers, assistants, healers, and (ahem) companions (ahem)? I keep waiting for a game where I can spring that on the paladin. :)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Montalve wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
And for the record, just to show that likes and dislikes are even more complicated... I don't particularly care for Lodoss War; I watched several episodes and the animation and story just didn't do it for me. Yet still, I like elves with long ears! Madness, eh? :-)

Watched the OAVs or the Serie?

they are quite different in many aspects

Yes indeed. If you watched Chronicles of the Heroic Knight then you watched the wrong Lodoss. :)

This is what you want.

Or this.

But definitely NOT this.

Liberty's Edge

SirUrza wrote:

Yes indeed. If you watched Chronicles of the Heroic Knight then you watched the wrong Lodoss. :)

This is what you want.

Or this.

But definitely NOT this.

definitively...

ok.... that concept of the priestess of a God of War indeed sounds interesting in the extreme.... ok i haveright now to many characters... and no Pathfindergame... but i do liked the idea... will have to write it somewhere:D

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Susan Draconis wrote:

It must be asked.

Since elves officially do have giant ears, do they have ear fetishes like the Ferengi? Do elves compliment each other by mentioning their lobes as in "you surely have the Lobes for Orc-Slaying"? Are an elf's ears really an accurate measure of other unmentionable assets?

Do dwarves have beard fetishes? Do halflings have foot fetishes? Do tieflings have tail fetishes?

Some do. Some don't. Same goes for elves.

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