What was the elf doing growing up?


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As a result of another thread its really sunk in just how huge an age gap there is between first level characters using the random starting ages. See here . . .

Human: 17 to 27
Dwarf: 47 to 82
Elf: 120 to 170
Gnome: 49 to 94
Half-Elf: 23 to 38
Half-Orc: 16 to 26
Halfling: 24 to 44

so basically I'm throwing this thread open to people to post their theories of how these various races passed all these years while learning the same amounts of information. Was that ELF playing childhood games for months at a time? Did the half-orc skip several years in the fighter accademy?? Why do nearly human half-elves still take 6 more years to learn the skills their companions do??? As well as posible ideas of how to represent an increased skill set for longer lived races. That is should all elves start with longsword and longbow proficiency regardless of class, should dwarves have 1 rank and profession miner as a class skill?

So people what do you think?

For me I tend to regard the longer lived races as having a better education than humans. What I mean by this is you have the same amount of information covered so an adult human and an adult elf would be have the modern day equivilent of a high school diploma. The difference would be the elven children would never have had a single day of homework since they learn at school and outside can do whatever they like. They have decades to learn this information so the schools don't need to have them studying outside classes. Similarly there's less of a rush to have it all done in a standardized form of here are the year 12's, here the year 7's, here the year 2's. Insted its here are the people studying basic maths, there are the people studying plants and over there are the ones learning history. No one cares if the student's 30, 70 or 100 years old because they learn based on their interest, availability and capacity. Sure the 70 year old may be having more trouble and take longer to learn maths but who cares because they can talk for hours on the various different types of plants and animals out there.


Elf, patrol the woods and amass wealth
Halfling, the shire
Gnome, collecting weird items and move out to attain more
Dwarf, mining and patrolling caves

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Liam Warner wrote:

As a result of another thread its really sunk in just how huge an age gap there is between first level characters using the random starting ages. See here . . .

Human: 17 to 27
Dwarf: 47 to 82
Elf: 120 to 170
Gnome: 49 to 94
Half-Elf: 23 to 38
Half-Orc: 16 to 26
Halfling: 24 to 44

so basically I'm throwing this thread open to people to post their theories of how these various races passed all these years while learning the same amounts of information. Was that ELF playing childhood games for months at a time?

I know that you might find this incredibly hard to believe,, but you're not the first person to bring this up.

The answer is.... there isn't one. The only reason you have a hang up on this is your and others who insist upon evaluating elves as pointy eared Humans.

Elves are NOT human. Don't judge them by Human standards. Thing is... elves DO take a long time to mature, to replace numbers fallen. Which is why they are generally on the declining side long term vs shorter lived races unless they have a major advantage.

Essentially the answer is elves spend those years the growing up the same way the other races spend their shorter amount of alotted childhood to adolescent time. They wouldn't be doing the same things, after all they're elves, but the equivalent result is the same.


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This is why I have all long-lived races age normally up to adolescence, give or take a couple of years (Human at 14, Dwarf at 16, Elf at 18, etc.) and then their immortality factor kicks in. Nothing else makes any sense.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zhayne wrote:
This is why I have all long-lived races age normally up to adolescence, give or take a couple of years (Human at 14, Dwarf at 16, Elf at 18, etc.) and then their immortality factor kicks in. Nothing else makes any sense.

Why doesn't it make sense? Because you're comparing them to Humans? Cats age to adulthood in a year... maybe it's Humans that are the true morons on this planet.


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Because 1st level is the same for all races. There's no logical reason an elf would have to take 120 years to learn the same stuff a human does in 16. The EXACT same stuff, mind you. The elf has no extra skill points or anything.

I also dislike the idea that the game rules say 'you spend 100 years doing miscellaneous crap' when that may not fit the character at all.

So, I let the player pick his PC's age. If he wants his elf to have jumped right in to adventuring, he can be 18 or so. If he wants to invent a hundred years worth of meaningless drivel to perform, he can be 120.


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learning racial weapon proficiency, learning cultural stuff, taking longer to actually physically mature, waiting to be culturally "adult" to be allowed to wander off

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zhayne wrote:

Because 1st level is the same for all races. There's no logical reason an elf would have to take 120 years to learn the same stuff a human does in 16. The EXACT same stuff, mind you. The elf has no extra skill points or anything.

I also dislike the idea that the game rules say 'you spend 100 years doing miscellaneous crap' when that may not fit the character at all.

So, I let the player pick his PC's age. If he wants his elf to have jumped right in to adventuring, he can be 18 or so. If he wants to invent a hundred years worth of meaningless drivel to perform, he can be 120.

And for my book if the difference in numbers is such a big thing, you're focusing on a tree and missing the forest.

I really couldn't care less if a character spent one year in third grade or ten. It's simply irrelevant to me. My night elf character... if you asked her the question she couldn't give you an answer, because night elves don't use calendars and don't keep track of years. and as far as she's concerned her private life is of no Human's concern. Her concerns are where she is right now, and what brought her to her immediate present. And to a lesser degree, where's she's going tomorrow. She lives in the now.... the past is what's burried under yesterday's moonset, and the future waits on tomorrow's moonrise.


Still enters into 'game imposes too much potentially inappropriate backstory on the character'. Not everybody is going to bother with racial proficiencies, care about the culture, or care who thinks they're culturally 'adult'.

And the idea that elves spend proportionate lengths of time developing as humans ... that's, what, 25 years in diapers?


LazarX wrote:
Liam Warner wrote:

As a result of another thread its really sunk in just how huge an age gap there is between first level characters using the random starting ages. See here . . .

Human: 17 to 27
Dwarf: 47 to 82
Elf: 120 to 170
Gnome: 49 to 94
Half-Elf: 23 to 38
Half-Orc: 16 to 26
Halfling: 24 to 44

so basically I'm throwing this thread open to people to post their theories of how these various races passed all these years while learning the same amounts of information. Was that ELF playing childhood games for months at a time?

I know that you might find this incredibly hard to believe,, but you're not the first person to bring this up.

The answer is.... there isn't one. The only reason you have a hang up on this is your and others who insist upon evaluating elves as pointy eared Humans.

Elves are NOT human. Don't judge them by Human standards. Thing is... elves DO take a long time to mature, to replace numbers fallen. Which is why they are generally on the declining side long term vs shorter lived races unless they have a major advantage.

Essentially the answer is elves spend those years the growing up the same way the other races spend their shorter amount of alotted childhood to adolescent time. They wouldn't be doing the same things, after all they're elves, but the equivalent result is the same.

And you might find it even harder to belive but I actually assumed that. I'm just curious what the CURRENT attitude is from people regarding how they handle this age discrepancy. I don't actually care whether they treat them as elves just mysteriously take 10 times as long as a human to learn the exact same stuff or all non-human races gain/lose 1 skill point per 10 years longer/shorter they live. What I do care about is WHY they take that approach.

Funny thing but I don't actually view the races as point/stubby/hairy humans. Hence why I have the elven way of teaching that I gave as an example be very different. They learn the same things in the end but when an elf leaves their schoolhouse they leave their schoolwork behind and find the concept of a child studying schoolwork at home away from the tutors and specialized equipment rather than playing games and enjoying their childhood utterly bewildering. Similarly elves in my home brewed worlds grow the tree's into their homes living in symbiotic harmony with them and when an elf dies the tree's grows over their old home encasing their possesions and body in a living tomb. Kitsune, catfolk and other animal races have a lot less interest in the past/future prefering to just live in the now, dwarves are very literal beings preferring solid function and finding a well built iron object to be more impressive than a shodily built one out of gold and gems.

@Zhayne
My races age quicker/slower their whole lives the difference also accounts for why the shorter lived races like goblins tend to use less good quality items. They don't live long enough in their adult stage to really master/learn things while something like an elf is quite content to do dozens of paintings tossing away the rejects until they get one their happy with because they don't feel any pressure to have it done now.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zhayne wrote:

Still enters into 'game imposes too much potentially inappropriate backstory on the character'. Not everybody is going to bother with racial proficiencies, care about the culture, or care who thinks they're culturally 'adult'.

And the idea that elves spend proportionate lengths of time developing as humans ... that's, what, 25 years in diapers?

If it makes you happy envisaging it that way, I won't stop you. I tend to focus on the parts that interest me more.


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Elven children are morons. So bad they can't be potty trained for decades. It is... An undertaking. Usually, elven children are stored in what is affectionately called 'moron cocoons', cocoons of plant matter and magic that hang from large trees. When the kids finally grow a brain at about a century of age, they are released from the cocoons.


The thing is, elves are weird. I mean, yeah, they look pretty similar to humans. Weird eyes and long ears. Less sexual dimorphism, too. However, elves are vastly different from us. They don't think on us. They don't operate on our clock.

The answer is that they are simply not like us, and I think that's far more interesting. Sure, it's hard for us to wrap our head around being short lived humans in real life, but the idea that elves think fundamentally different to us is way more interesting.


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Previous thread on the subject. Summary: some people can believe in elves who mature very slowly and other people can't.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Elves don't rush their lives like humans do. They take as much time as they need to.

They don't need much time to potty train.

They don't need much time in diapers.

They do take plenty of time in studying their hobbies.

They do take time learning to fight.

They do take time learning to socialize among elves.


Zhayne wrote:
And the idea that elves spend proportionate lengths of time developing as humans ... that's, what, 25 years in diapers?

This is the real reason for low elven birth rates. 25 years of diapers is a heck of a commitment.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

well he was a toddler for 40 years, then he was prepubescent for another 40...

Silver Crusade

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I try to see the races as different, as not just like humans with a few differences. But, I do find it very very very difficult to believe that elves take 100+ years to mature, but start out with exactly the same skill points (and corresponding knowledge of anything and everything, INCLUDING hobbies, incidental knowledge of the world, trades and professions-- because these are ALL quantifiable as skills in the game) as a human of 16-17 years old. Unless elves, gnomes, and dwarves are either morons or have functionally disabled memories up until they are almost mature, they would have had to pick up more background talents/traits/skills than they get.

In home Pathfinder games-- I've generally thrown the starting age calculations out the window and presumed that the races do mature in a similar amount of time (maybe a few years' difference), it's how long they live after that which forms the major difference. I've found it easier than trying to figure out some system for representing additional skills/knowledge gained while growing up to sufficient maturity to be allowed out of the community.

On the other hand-- elves having functionally disabled memories and an inability to recall much of anything beyond the current day's activities in childhood might explain a lot... I hadn't thought of this before, but it's worth exploring.


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The people who say they do what everyone else does but take longer doing it miss the fact that in the typical harsh fantasy world with monsters and everything, nobody gets to relax in the sun for sixty years. Especially not in a race in decline. Those who did would not survive, period. So, if not that, they are doing or learning something. Studying nature for sixty years? Great, that would mean epic levels of Knowledge (nature). Same thing with farming, fighting, socializing, singing, running, swimming, starwatching, reading, sneaking, learning magic, learning about magic, ALL would give you pretty intense ranks in the corresponding skills. Yes, even the perennial favourites reading old elven history and poetry. The problem is not that they go around for a century before starting up, but that they DO NOT LEARN ANYTHING OF VALUE DURING THIS PERIOD. It is what turns it from a case of flat out unrealistic to completely b!@~&*@ insane.

The next problem is that it also makes it impossible to play an elf who did not get this utterly useless "education". Even an elf growing up among humans is completely f&~@ing useless for a century. Even put by humans in the best schools that insane amounts of money can buy, for sixty years, would teach the little moron anything useful. Why? Because if he is a level 1 anything, HE IS AT LEAST A CENTURY OLD. The very rules of the game say so.

It is not enough to say that elves can't be judged by human standards. That is just a cop-out and doesn't answer the question. If they taught their children this way, they would not be like humans, I agree. They would all be very, very, very DEAD.


JurgenV wrote:
learning racial weapon proficiency, learning cultural stuff, taking longer to actually physically mature, waiting to be culturally "adult" to be allowed to wander off

Learning racial weapon proficiency, something a human can do in the fraction of the time by spending his/her extra human feat.

Or conversely, an elf who is a fighter, oh look, I already knew that, does he get anything additional? even a weapon focus for all that extra time? nope.
wasted time.

the game balance for keeping all races and 1st level characters equal, breaks the whole staring age thing.

feats like 'breadth of experience' make a little sense…something the older races should be able to take as a trait, not a feat.

there should be more available to explain what these races do with their 'extended pre teens' so to speak.

Extra traits, skill points, etc… if you character chooses to say, "I spent a century playing tidily winks" because of the character creation choices he made, so be it. But other characters should be able to get more situational bonuses or something to reflect years of doing something else with their time.

Otherwise, yea… the starting ages are a mess.

If a human is 'adult' at 18. you could go with the half elf at 23, the elf at 30, and it wouldn't be so odd… but over a century?


TriOmegaZero wrote:

Elves don't rush their lives like humans do. They take as much time as they need to.

They don't need much time to potty train.

They don't need much time in diapers.

They do take plenty of time in studying their hobbies.

They do take time learning to fight.

They do take time learning to socialize among elves.

And how is any of that reflected in game? because they get to level 2 as fast any anyone else.

so they took a century to get to level 1 and then level to level 16 in a year right along with the humans?

If they took a long time to read a lot, or learn some social skills, even if it was literally worthless in adventuring, there should be still some game mechanic (maybe they get several abandoned professions and have +2 skills in three professions, weaving, fiction writing and lute making)

there would/should be something reflecting what they did with that time an the choices they made.
everything about an elf currently, is inbred/born and not learned.
Sure, the elf starts with some weapon proficiencies, but nothing great for martial elves, who would study those weapons more than elven wizards.
You can trade some of those features out with the ARG, but still nothing that describes what the elf-ling did with its century of boredom.

besides what does a 35 year old elf do, if it's orphaned? found by humans and raised? Oh wait mommy and daddy human dies of old age before incubation is done!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Pendagast wrote:
And how is any of that reflected in game? because they get to level 2 as fast any anyone else.

Levels are metagame constructs and have nothing to do with it.

Studying does not earn XP.


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OUT of Game (there is no DnD/PF mechanic or canon for this) Ive always envisioned an elven sanctuary like Rivendell , Lolthlorien or Gondolin, that is unreachable for the forces of woe, a utopia or shangri-la. This is where the elves mature, in basically a different space time continuum than shorter lived races.

elves who chose to prematurely leave this sanctuary early, before they are mature, are functionally "half elves" even tho they have full blooded elven parents.

Orphaned elves, or any other elf that has for some reason had this century plus of bliss interrupted for whatever reason, has their development as a full elf interrupted, and follows race rules as a half elf.

could be interesting too, taking feats like neither elf nor man, etc.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
And how is any of that reflected in game? because they get to level 2 as fast any anyone else.

Levels are metagame constructs and have nothing to do with it.

Studying does not earn XP.

But then how do level 1 Wizards become Wizards?


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
chaoseffect wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
And how is any of that reflected in game? because they get to level 2 as fast any anyone else.

Levels are metagame constructs and have nothing to do with it.

Studying does not earn XP.

But then how do level 1 Wizards become Wizards?

a PC made his character take wizard levels.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
And how is any of that reflected in game? because they get to level 2 as fast any anyone else.

Levels are metagame constructs and have nothing to do with it.

Studying does not earn XP.

elves don't need xp to learn multiple weapon proficiencies they don't train in in their main classes either.

They don't need xp to get traits that add to skills, or to take racial traits that let them use SLAs.

you're reaching to hard to explain something, that hasn't been explained.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
chaoseffect wrote:
But then how do level 1 Wizards become Wizards?

Because level 1 starts at 0 XP.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Pendagast wrote:
you're reaching to hard to explain something, that hasn't been explained.

You're reaching too hard to make something out of nothing. It doesn't even need explaining.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Pendagast wrote:
you're reaching to hard to explain something, that hasn't been explained.
You're reaching too hard to make something out of nothing. It doesn't even need explaining.

Many, Many people disagree with you; and every single other source with elves, has always had elves being more powerful than humans, which is explained by their longer lives.

Bringing in 'game balance' caused a paradox.

It's not a stretch, its a fact.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Previous thread on the subject. Summary: some people can believe in elves who mature very slowly and other people can't.

Like I said I'm more concerned with the why than the what.

It gets even weirder if you consider intelligence affects how we learn things.

Bob and Bill go to wizard academy.

Bill is a super genius with a 20 intelligence the raw pinacle of human potential. At 27 he graduates knowing the standard cantrips, 5 1st level spells and 6 skills at a very rudimentary level.

Bob is an ordinary guy with 11 intelligence. At 17 he graduates knowing the standard cantrips, 3 1st level spells and 2 skills at a very rudimentary level.

Bob then runs into a brief adventure and gets to 3rd level dealing with a menace to his home village. He now knows more spells than Bill (+2 for second level and + 4 for third level) plus the same number of skills (2 + 2) even though he's only 17 still. Meanwhile Bill is going to spend another decade studying to reach 1st level even though he's significantly more intelligent than Bob.

Then of course you have punishments consider the following . . .

Bill feels ticked off at Bobs rapid progress and murders him in his sleep spending 15 years for murder with a homunculus. If Bill was an elf should he spend a proportionately greater period of time say 150 years? If Bob was an elf should Bill spend more time in prison for the life lost again 150 years or in this case till he dies of old age?

Its a weird problem and yes I know game balance is causing it but I'm curious what others think and why.


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Related to this is all the characters I hear about that somehow start out at only 1st Level in late middle age after having had a lot of life experience in their backstory. This includes the Iconic Wizard Ezren. How come they are so far behind others of their own race?


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I ignore age guidelines. It made my experience better.


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I think of it as like the Obsidian Trilogy handles it.

Elves take the time to learn to do things right. The proper way.

Hence why they spend hundreds of years learning how to properly pour a cup of tea, or plant a garden to maximum aesthetic brilliance, or any number of other useless nonsense no right minded race would possibly spend so much time doing.

Which is why they're a race in decline. They're simply not practical. All flash, no substance.

Even their warriors spend ridiculous amounts of time learning ceremony, and how to properly polish their armor to a beyond mirror sheen and pick out the right colors to complement their hair and eyes. I mean, sure, they're as good a swordsman as any human. But they're PRETTIER, dammit, so that makes them superior.

Dark Archive

Something I've done in the past is give some free skill points at level 1, and increased skill maximums, based on age; but only on fluff skills (Knowledges, Craft Skills, Linguistics, and Profession Skills).

It worked out okay; and didn't create a noticeable imbalance. The interval for additional free skill points went up each time (and the inrease did not go up each time); so elves weren't just getting +50 knowledge/profession/craft skill ranks.

Rynjin's explanation would also help if you just want to try to explain away the sillyness.


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The way I handle elves: normally, ignore the question, since it doesn't usually arise during play.
If I'm trying to make the elf minimum starting ages from the book seem plausible: immature elves have bad memories. There simply isn't enough room in their brain to store decades of experience, so while they can learn things as quickly as a human, they forget things at an equal rate. Over time they get better at retaining the important stuff.

Leveling up during adventures makes less sense than elves. "I've killed a lot of undead over the last two months: as a result, I have gained Knowledge: History, learned how to craft magical items and can survive being shot full of arrows and then falling off a cliff."


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Leveling up during adventures makes less sense than elves. "I've killed a lot of undead over the last two months: as a result, I have gained Knowledge: History, learned how to craft magical items and can survive being shot full of arrows and then falling off a cliff."

No, it makes perfect sense. In the context of tabletop RPG worlds, the superstitions about defeating a foe to steal his power is not superstition, but fact. You kill someone and take their experience for your own, gaining bits of their power. So power is only really accumulated through murder. Which would explain why most PCs are both insanely powerful and insanely murderous.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Elves birthrate are also very low and rare. They take the time to celebrate each birth. The problem is, you are trying to think of it from a human point of view.

Elves operate very differently, they have all the time in the world. While most races operate on a 100-300 years lifespan, Elves reaches easily 1000 years without trying. Many elves can talk with generation of their family that are still alive by the time they reach adult hood, great great grandparents for example. Even in their warfare, they take advantage of their longevity, if for example they are confronted by a band of orcs with let say a strong warlord orc one that happens once every 100 years. They can just go into hiding and wait for the warlord orc to die of old age. When the warlord is dead and the orcs are bickering for who is taking his place, the elves come back and strike.

The elves longevity is their strength and weakness.


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Don't know about your games, but in our, experience isn't gained from murder.


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Anarchy_Kanya wrote:
Don't know about your games, but in our, experience isn't gained from murder.

I always thought that was one of the fundamental design principles of games like this: Kill stuff and then take its stuff (including experience). How do your games normally go, out of curiosity?


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In the Pathfinder XP system, you gain experience from surviving dangers and achieving objectives, whether you kill anyone or not.


True enough, though I don't think I've ever actually met a group of people with a vested interest in doing "pacifist runs" outside of specific plot circumstances. Most of the time surviving dangers and achieving objectives will involve lighting people on fire/stabbing them in the face/beating them until their legs no longer work... and then killing them. At least to some extent. And that builds character. Literally!


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Sissyl wrote:
Elven children are morons. So bad they can't be potty trained for decades. It is... An undertaking. Usually, elven children are stored in what is affectionately called 'moron cocoons', cocoons of plant matter and magic that hang from large trees. When the kids finally grow a brain at about a century of age, they are released from the cocoons.

I've seen this posted before, probably by you, and it's always hilarious. Thanks!


I dont think it really matters. It makes just as much sense as the monsters existing in fantasyland when an real ecology could not really support all of them existing. The elf's learning curve is just a difference type of nonsense. I just handwave them by suspending belief all just the same. The list goes on. Basically it is because the rules say so. If this were a novel those elves probably mature just like humans do. Drizzt(our favorite elf) was sent to fighter school at the age of 16 IIRC, and that is about the normal age. I am sure that even other authors 18 yr old elven women don't look like 2 year olds.

What do elves do when they are growing up? Whatever you want them to do in your version of fantasyland. You can write them up as having a point in their life where they are easily distracted. That way you can have a 30 yr old elf adventure, but at the same time not have to worry about every 300 yr old elf be at least level 15.


chaoseffect wrote:
I always thought that was one of the fundamental design principles of games like this: Kill stuff and then take its stuff (including experience). How do your games normally go, out of curiosity?

It's not. It's just the most obvious and common one, considering that combat is a big part of these games and killing an enemy is easy and has a clear reward - X amount of XP based on the CR. But as Matthew said, in PF you don't get XP for killing, you get XP for overcoming chellenges, which might or might not involve killing or even combat.

My games don't use experience. But other who do, don't equate defeating an encounter with killing every enemy and have CRs for things other than combat.

Quote:
True enough, though I don't think I've ever actually met a group of people with a vested interest in doing "pacifist runs" outside of specific plot circumstances.

Neither did I, but that's not what we're talking about.


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Y'know the ones I never understood? Dwarves.

Look at the OP. Dwarves are fairly long-lived and take 5 decades to hit 1st level. Unlike Elves or Gnomes however dwarves are depicted, at least by the fluff, racial bonuses and Golarion-specific religious focus as being studious, hard-working crafting types. Are they spending 2 decades just mastering how to hold a hammer or looking at rocks?

For all these races, I favor a more mystic approach. They actually live several lives. They are not Time Lords; they do not regenerate. They mature and go off on their first life adventure, or their second or what have you. Some die on these; they are not PCs. Others accumulate miraculous success transcending their race; these are not PCs either.

PC characters are elves, dwarves and gnomes who fall into the average for their races. They have 2, 3, 4, maybe even 5 lifetimes worth of experiences, each time going to some central repository and downloading these into a collective consciousness. Each time they retain maybe a fraction of their knowledge. By the time they are being played as a PC they are off on another whirlwind adventure at the end of which they will either die or be allowed to continue on. They have reached an age where their mental maturity is able to deal with the extreme length of their lifespan.

If this process wasn't followed by the "Elder Races" they would be teenagers with MASSIVE amounts of levels. Imagine if the races learned at the same pace. You could have an elf with the mental maturity of a 10 year old and 20 levels even of an NPC class. I'm just imagining one of my daughters with 20 levels of Adept: "Why'd you call me a name you Jerkhead! YOU'RE A TOAD!"


True answer? This matter is just a fallacy produced by the need for game mechanics to bring all the races to the same table without having an Elf PC start as a 20th level character while the Human PC just learned how to not drop his sword.
If things wanted to make actual sense, Elves, Dwarves and such should start game at higher level (or at ages that are the Human equivalents of, like, 5 years old) or at least with racial hit dice and a number of abilities. But that wouldn't allow them to be playable on par with Humans.

If we want to try and cover the hole with a carpet, we can make up a lot of things. For example:
Elves - other than spending much more time than Humans indulging in pleasant times and such, whatever they learn, they take the time to learn to do it beautifully (art, combat, magic... everything);
Dwarves - as above, in their own style, and maybe their young also spend a lot of time getting used to fighting on par with other races, given their not-really-helpful build (unless one plans to get a job as a rock) and shorter arms and such;
Gnomes - with their natural curiosity, "waste" a lot of time constantly getting interested in one trivial thing or another, only to abandon it after a short time...
And so on.

Sovereign Court

Elves are in eggs for their first 80 yrs. Duh!

In my homebrews I always have the average dwarf / elf warrior be level 4-5 vs a human average of 2. Though of course, since there are more humans - they have more outliers who're higher than the average.

Though remember - NPCs don't level like PCs do. Also - think real life - how many people really improve themselves much past age 25-30?


Keep in mind that humans are not the baseline for races like they were in other editions. Humans have their own advantages and are the dominant race in most campaigns because of these traits. When you are comparing the races look at the theoretical base race. This would be someone with no racial traits.

Of all the standard races Elves are the only one to get a bonus to INT. True Humans, Half Elves, and Half Orcs can choose to get a bonus, but not all of them get it. Humans are supposed to be diverse and when a human chooses to gain the bonus to INT it is probably because of natural genius rather than culture. Half Elves and Half orcs get this from their human parents.

Actually elves do start knowing more than other races. They get a +2 INT so start with 1 more skill point and +1 on all INT based skills. They have also been trained in magic as they get a +2 on caster level checks to overcome spell resistance and +2 on spell craft to identify magic items. They trained in the use of 4 weapons. They are also trained observers getting a +2 bonus on perception. Of all the racial traits the only one that seems to be purely physical is low light vision.

Compare a baseline 1st level commoner to an elf 1st level commoner and you see they have a lot more they can do. The baseline commoner has 10 in all stats, the elf has a 12 INT, and DEX, but has a 8 in CON, all other stats are 10. The Baseline commoner gets 3 skills and knows 1 language; the Elf gets 4 skills and knows 3 languages. The Elf gets +2 Perception and is better at any craft he picks up due to his INT. The baseline commoner uses a club or a dagger in combat, while the elf is using a long sword and a long bow. The elf also traded out the elf magic for Envoy since he is not a caster. He can cast 3 0 level spells and 1 1st level spell per day. He also gets +2 saves vs Enchantments.

So the starting elf commoner gets more skills and is better at them than the baseline. He speaks more languages, and spots things a lot better. He uses good weapons and has the ability to cast spells. It sounds like this character spent a lot of time training with weapons and magic. How long does it take a normal character to learn to cast spells? How long does it take to become proficient in martial weapon?

A starting elf wizard gets the equivalent of 6 feats. 4 weapon proficiencies, spell penetration, and +2 with 2 skills. If you are playing a character that gets martial weapons as a class feature then you don’t get as much, but all elves can use these weapons.


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Lots of people claim physical maturity comes as early as with humans, too. The concrete problem here is that it doesn't account for different backstories. What would you say to a player who wanted his character to have been enslaved after a raid on his elven village at age twenty. Since then, the elf has fought tooth and nail in the arena and learned to become a lvl 1 brawler.

-"Sorry, you can't play an elf who hasn't gone through the massive time waste?"
-"Sorry, that is not a possible backstory, since all elven villages are protected by spherical walls of unobtainium?"
-"Sure, you are now a level 43 brawler after eighty years in the ring?"
-"Sure, only your character has been the mascot and laughing stock in the ring for eighty years without a single win since elves can't learn until they are 100?"
-"No because ultra-powerful elven commandoes rescue you and offer you an eighty year training program of becoming a lvl 1 brawler?"

Please, what would you say? Perhaps one could hope for "Sure, let's ignore the fossil age table and get you a character you'd enjoy playing."


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Sissyl wrote:
Please, what would you say? Perhaps one could hope for "Sure, let's ignore the fossil age table and get you a character you'd enjoy playing."

Either that or: "Please cross out the bit about you being twenty when you were enslaved because that doesn't make sense given that you rolled your starting age and you are now 106. In my game-world, a 20-year old elf is physically mature but too scatterbrained to learn to fight well, and you would never have survived the harsh rigors of the fighting pits of the Q'trath Dominion. The rest of your backstory is fine."

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