Drow or Half-Drow as playable in PFS


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Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
deusvult wrote:

Since you're drawing lines, what about coal (instead of black) skin and light grey (instead of white) hair?

Dark blue skin and platinum hair?

Dark Grey skin and colorless hair?

I'm not trying to poke an argument; I'm just pointing out that it's indefensible to set that aribtrary standard, especially just for elfs/half elfs.

We have talked before right? If you're calling what I'm saying indefensible then yes, you're poking an argument out of me.

Yes the line is blurry. Yes the line is arbitrary. Setting it is a DMs job. Wolves and Coyotes both exist, even though you have the eastern coyote, the red wolf, and the occasional outright wolf coyote offspring.

No loki, you do not get to keep your head

Well then, let's conduct a thought experiment. I show up at your table with an elf. The background is, say, "I'm totally not a drow, but persistent slander against my house is that there is some drow blood in our veins since occasionally a scion is born with black skin and white hair. I'm one such unfortunate, and got sick of the ridicule and ran away to join the pathfinders."

What part(s) do you force me to change, and then what do you cite to justify yourself when I unsurprisingly retort with "you can't make me change that"?

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How does one have colorless hair anyway? Like fiber optic cables?

Kind of like a half albino, I guess. The skin has pigmentation but not the hair.

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deusvult wrote:


Well then, let's conduct a thought experiment. I show up at your table with an elf. The background is, say, "I'm totally not a drow, but persistent slander against my house is that there is some drow blood in our veins since occasionally a scion is born with black skin and white hair. I'm one such unfortunate, and got sick of the ridicule and ran away to join the pathfinders."

What part(s) do you force me to change, and then what do you cite to justify yourself when I unsurprisingly retort with "you can't make me change that"?

As a practical matter it probably depends on whether we're doing a social scenario or a dungeon crawl. The oozes really don't care what you look like so if we're doing the Great varisian Door Smasher I'm going to give you "That look" and move on.

If you're invited to dinner then yes, we're going to have to send your elf to the barber before hand. If you say you can't make me change that the extent of my citation is going to be "no reskining". You can hem and haw that you haven't reskinned. The argument that you haven't reskinned as a drow even though you admit you look like a drow is specious enough that I'd be glad you were identified as a a deep fried rules lawyer so I knew to start checking the rest of your character out.

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How does one have colorless hair anyway? Like fiber optic cables?
Kind of like a half albino, I guess. The skin has pigmentation but not the hair.

So.. white. Im male. If its not in the crayola 8 box, it doesn't exist.

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
deusvult wrote:


Well then, let's conduct a thought experiment. I show up at your table with an elf. The background is, say, "I'm totally not a drow, but persistent slander against my house is that there is some drow blood in our veins since occasionally a scion is born with black skin and white hair. I'm one such unfortunate, and got sick of the ridicule and ran away to join the pathfinders."

What part(s) do you force me to change, and then what do you cite to justify yourself when I unsurprisingly retort with "you can't make me change that"?

As a practical matter it probably depends on whether we're doing a social scenario or a dungeon crawl. The oozes really don't care what you look like so if we're doing the Great varisian Door Smasher I'm going to give you "That look" and move on.

If you're invited to dinner then yes, we're going to have to send your elf to the barber before hand. If you say you can't make me change that the extent of my citation is going to be "no reskining". You can hem and haw that you haven't reskinned. The argument that you haven't reskinned as a drow even though you admit you look like a drow is specious enough that I'd be glad you were identified as a a deep fried rules lawyer so I knew to start checking the rest of your character out.

Well, I think that more or less concludes the experiment. If I understood you correctly, in both cases you agree you wouldn't have cause to change the character. In the former, it wouldn't matter and you'd just roll your eyes. I can empathize completely; I'd do much the same under similar circumstances if I found the background uncompelling. "this guy is just missing the vampire template and an adamantine katana to complete the trifecta..."

In the latter case, you seem to contemplate then back off from imposing out-of-game sanction. I agree that it'd totally be within reason to insist that since *I* insisted on looking like a drow that you'd be imposing circumstantial penalties on social skill checks. I'm 100% on board with you there. However, I'm not on board with the pre-game argument about reskinning. I'm convinced that not only would you lose the argument against a RAW IS LAW type, it'd be a violation of one of the primary GM rules to even try in the first place: don't pick a fight with someone who cares more about the outcome than you do.

You admit that even in the latter case, you'd allow my hypothetical elf with black skin and white hair but just assume I'm a munchkin type and audit/stealth audit me. Fair enough, but you're still letting me play my elf-thats-not-a-drow-that-looks-like-a-drow.

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Well, I think that more or less concludes the experiment. In both cases you agree you wouldn't have cause to change the character.

No.

I might force a change on the character or your finding another table. Hence "send the elf to the barber". If there were other limited options I might instead be inclined to throw in a few jokes about your roots showing or your body paint running.


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**munching on popcorn**

Whatever happened to "if it harms none, do what you will"?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also keep in mind that Drow are boogymen in the setting most people dont believe them to exist and if memory serves the issue of the chronicles that coverd them was largly seen as a work of fiction. None of that really works if you have an actual drow/half drow living and working inside the society.

Silver Crusade

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The whole time this argument discussion about reskinning was going on I was thinking about the "elf" argument from gamers 2 part of which BNW just linked.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
deusvult wrote:


Well then, let's conduct a thought experiment. I show up at your table with an elf. The background is, say, "I'm totally not a drow, but persistent slander against my house is that there is some drow blood in our veins since occasionally a scion is born with black skin and white hair. I'm one such unfortunate, and got sick of the ridicule and ran away to join the pathfinders."

Well going by whats written in setting books said house would probably have been exterminated long ago by the group of elves who's entire purpose is to keep the Drow a secret

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Quote:
Well, I think that more or less concludes the experiment. In both cases you agree you wouldn't have cause to change the character.

No.

I might force a change on the character or your finding another table. Hence "send the elf to the barber". If there were other limited options I might instead be inclined to throw in a few jokes about your roots showing or your body paint running.

Well then, I did indeed fail to understand you. With that revelation in mind, I suppose the experiment is still on.

If you're willing to go to the "nuclear option" of kicking a player over a background/appearance description and potentially facing your VO's eventual "WTF is going on", then here's my next question in the thought experiment:

What detail(s) about the example PC I mentioned would have to be changed, and how far, for you to not be willing to exercise that nuclear option? Would some lighter shade (like grey) skin be sufficient, for example? You mentioned your line was looking like a drow. How much like a drow? "Exactly" isn't ok in your book, I get that. What about merely "drow-like"?

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Tsriel wrote:

**munching on popcorn**

Whatever happened to "if it harms none, do what you will"?

By playing PFS I've agreed to run a game within the rules. While there are certain things i can interpret, argue, or rules lawyer in a players favor the rule is clearly no reskinning and no drow. This is clearly reskinning into a drow. Arguments to the contrary are bad enough for me to toss my distaste for epistemic nihilism into the batch.

It hurts the cannon of the world when this happens, which is a mild annoyance to a lot of people compared to a mild annoyance to one person.

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deusvult wrote:


If you're willing to go to the "nuclear option" of kicking a player over a background/appearance description

Less the description and more the argument and the blatant rules lawyering really. While I have some respect for creative rules lawyering, outright epistemic nihilism is one of my pet peeves.

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and potentially facing your VO's eventual "WTF is going on", then here's my next question in the thought experiment:

There are advantages to DMing in the boonies besides the lovely banjo music. We're an autonomous collective.

Judging from the reactions here though, your argument doesn't seem to be getting much traction. My response would be "He was trying to play a drow".

Because you're trying to play a drow.

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What detail(s) about the example PC I mentioned would have to be changed, and how far, for you to not be willing to exercise that nuclear option? Would some lighter shade (like grey) skin be sufficient, for example?

1) Make up, a disguise check of some sort.or

2) Failing that if I have had pizza take out the crayola 8 pack , pick hair or skin and point to a different color other than white for the hair or black for the skin. If i haven't finished the pizza yet do both. I just need plausible deniability really


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Tsriel wrote:

**munching on popcorn**

Whatever happened to "if it harms none, do what you will"?

Well it depends on what you want to define harm as. Generally speaking I'm all for players giving other players the discretion to define their own characters. It does rather hurt the immersion of the game though if someone comes in with a character that boarders on being barred from the game and then shows that they have no idea how that character should operate in the society that we're playing.

In a home game I would have the time to talk to the player to get a sense of if they can handle a Drow or Drow-like character. For a PFS game there's really no reason to give that latitude to strangers and players I barely know when it risks making the game less fun for everyone around.

To put it another way, there are a fair number of races in Golarion that I would love to have the opportunity to play in a game. I feel a lot better trying to find legit ways to do so as opposed to wonky work arounds to try to capture the flavour of a certain race. Everyone is facing the same restriction, throwing up your arms and saying it doesn't apply to you doesn't do much to endear yourself to me.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Tsriel wrote:

**munching on popcorn**

Whatever happened to "if it harms none, do what you will"?

By playing PFS I've agreed to run a game within the rules. While there are certain things i can interpret, argue, or rules lawyer in a players favor the rule is clearly no reskinning and no drow. This is clearly reskinning into a drow. Arguments to the contrary are bad enough for me to toss my distaste for epistemic nihilism into the batch.

It hurts the cannon of the world when this happens, which is a mild annoyance to a lot of people compared to a mild annoyance to one person.

Arbitrarily speaking, I'm not the type to tell people how to play their character. I genuinely think that no one has the right to pigeonhole another person into what style or personality of character they are playing. (Mechanical statistics not withstanding, of course.) Reeks too much like bullying if you ask me. Besides, its much more fun to RP through these kinds of situations.

Anyway, carry on. *munch munch*

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Tsriel wrote:
Arbitrarily speaking, I'm not the type to tell people how to play their character.

If he wants to have his character put on black paint and dye his hair white and start making funny drow hand signs I'm not going to stop him. (One of my npc's might with a crossbow bolt though) This is one case where an appearence can have a HUGE impact on the game, particularly in a social setting.

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I genuinely think that no one has the right to pigeonhole another person into what style or personality of character they are playing. (Mechanical statistics not withstanding, of course.) Reeks too much like bullying if you ask me. Besides, its much more fun to RP through these kinds of situations.

Enforcing a rule is not bullying. Its part of a DMs duties.

Sovereign Court

p-sto wrote:
Tsriel wrote:

**munching on popcorn**

Whatever happened to "if it harms none, do what you will"?

Well it depends on what you want to define harm as. Generally speaking I'm all for players giving other players the discretion to define their own characters. It does rather hurt the immersion of the game though if someone comes in with a character that boarders on being barred from the game and then shows that they have no idea how that character should operate in the society that we're playing.

In a home game I would have the time to talk to the player to get a sense of if they can handle a Drow or Drow-like character. For a PFS game there's really no reason to give that latitude to strangers and players I barely know when it risks making the game less fun for everyone around.

To put it another way, there are a fair number of races in Golarion that I would love to have the opportunity to play in a game. I feel a lot better trying to find legit ways to do so as opposed to wonky work arounds to try to capture the flavour of a certain race. Everyone is facing the same restriction, throwing up your arms and saying it doesn't apply to you doesn't do much to endear yourself to me.

What you say is reasonable at face value. And despite advocating generally in the OP's favor, I completely agree that there definitely is some dimension of poor sportsmanship if a player insists "I'm playing a drow!". I make a distinction between that and "I'm playing a character that looks like a drow!", but I can maturely agree to disagree with those who might not.

Yet, at the same time, consider by extension what you're saying: You advocate that the table-GM gets to decide what is and is not "good for the game". No, that's actually the exclusive domain of the Campaign Staff. Maybe it's a fair argument to debate whether a character's appearance is fairly RAI'd under the reskinning rules umbrella, but consider you're assuming the role of the campaign staff rather than a table GM when you do so.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Enforcing a rule is not bullying. Its part of a DMs duties.

You say "enforce", I say "bully". *shrug*

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deusvult wrote:
Yet, at the same time, consider by extension what you're saying: You advocate that the table-GM gets to decide what is and is not "good for the game". No, that's actually the exclusive domain of the Campaign Staff. Maybe it's a fair argument to debate whether a character's appearance is fairly RAI'd under the reskinning rules umbrella, but consider you're assuming the role of the campaign staff rather than a table GM when you do so.

The campaign staff have said that reskinning is bad for the campaign, so don't do it.

The campaign staff has said playing drow is bad for the game, so you can't do it.

The table dm is doing exactly what the campaign told them to do by not letting players reskin to drow.

It is part of the table dms job to follow the campaign staffs rules even when,especially when, players have some cockamamie rules argument for why their blatant violation of the rules isn't a rules violation.

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Tsriel wrote:
Arbitrarily speaking, I'm not the type to tell people how to play their character.
If he wants to have his character put on black paint and dye his hair white and start making funny drow hand signs I'm not going to stop him. (One of my npc's might with a crossbow bolt though) This is one case where an appearence can have a HUGE impact on the game, particularly in a social setting.

Now that you've mentioned the makeup thing a couple times, I'll point out I mentioned that as an option for GMs to reconcile with allowing a black and white elf a good long time ago upthread. If it amuses you to just think of the PC as being a Drow Fanboi then that's better than telling the player to GTFO your table. You both win.

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Tsriel wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Enforcing a rule is not bullying. Its part of a DMs duties.
You say "enforce", I say "bully". *shrug*

And you should know better.


deusvult wrote:


Yet, at the same time, consider by extension what you're saying: You advocate that the table-GM gets to decide what is and is not "good for the game". No, that's actually the exclusive domain of the Campaign Staff. Maybe it's a fair argument to debate whether a character's appearance is fairly RAI'd under the reskinning rules umbrella, but consider you're assuming the role of the campaign staff rather than a table GM...

Well since the guide to organized play is already being quoted I will say that I think the following does give me a bit of discretion as to what flies at my table

Quote:

As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and

responsibility to make whatever judgements, within the
rules, that you feel are necessary at your table to ensure
everyone has a fair and fun experience. This does not
mean you can contradict rules or restrictions outlined in
this document, a published Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
source, errata document, or official FAQ on paizo.com.
What it does mean is that only you can judge what is right
for your table during cases not covered in these sources.

And no it doesn't leave players completely helpless to the whims of whomever is running the table since there is the obvious method for taking up an issue with the local venture officer should my ruling be considered out of line. As a player I am willing to concede on points of contention between myself and a GM as a sign of respect to an individual who volunteered his or her time to make sure I have game to play. I would expect players to do the same for me and in the event that they feel I'm being unreasonable there is a clear recourse for players to take.

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deusvult wrote:


Now that you've mentioned the makeup thing a couple times, I'll point out I mentioned that as an option for GMs to reconcile with allowing a black and white elf a good long time ago upthread. If it amuses you to just think of the PC as being a Drow Fanboi then that's better than telling the player to GTFO your table. You both win.

And if he insists no, its not make up?

At this point i have a player that

1) Is grossly violating two clear, explicit campaign rules

2) Is insisting on grossly violating two clear, explicit campaign rules when they're pointed out.

3) Is willing to disrupt the parties attempts to succeed at the scenario

4) Insists on some horrible rules lawyering

5) Is not willing to compromise or work with me at all.

6) Won't accept my authority to make rules judgements on something as simple as what species you are. What the heck is this guy gonna be like once combat starts?

Its not just about the drow at that point.

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
deusvult wrote:


Now that you've mentioned the makeup thing a couple times, I'll point out I mentioned that as an option for GMs to reconcile with allowing a black and white elf a good long time ago upthread. If it amuses you to just think of the PC as being a Drow Fanboi then that's better than telling the player to GTFO your table. You both win.

And if he insists no, its not make up?

There's always the look to the rest of the players and nodding slowly while mentioning "that character is obviously craaaaay-zeee" before moving on to an actually productive topic.

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At this point i have a player that

1) Is grossly violating two clear, explicit campaign rules

Says you.

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2) Is insisting on grossly violating two clear, explicit campaign rules when they're pointed out.

Again, says you. The player would more than likely disagree. While your opinion as GM may trump his as a player in a rules-legality sense within the context of your table, it doesn't in a real world sense. Picking a fight over that principle is likely going to result in one of two outcomes: you kick him off the table or you acquiesce. It's a terrible option to pursue when you could instead have chosen a win/win strategy.

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3) Is willing to disrupt the parties attempts to succeed at the scenario

I have a hard time with this. That's totally YOU, in this hypothetical situation, causing a disruption by making the appearance an issue.

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4) Insists on some horrible rules lawyering

If he's going "RAW IS LAW and the reskinning rules don't cover appearances!" perhaps I'd agree with you. But then again I'm notoriously big on RAW not always being LAW, and I can't help but enjoy seeing someone besides myself insist that RAW IS LAW is indeed the wrong way to look at it. Still, so long as the player isn't trying to actually play a Drow and is instead only playing a non-drow elf that looks like a drow, I categorically disagree that there's rules lawyering going on.

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5) Is not willing to compromise or work with me at all.

It takes two to refuse to tango. And in all fairness, asking a player to change his character is a bigger deal than asking the GM to accept it.

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6) Won't accept my authority to make rules judgements on something as simple as what species you are. What the heck is this guy gonna be like once combat starts?

Its not just about the drow at that point.

I don't understand how this hasn't been clear but I haven't been advocating playing a drow, but playing a regular elf or half elf that happens to merely look like a drow.


deusvult wrote:
I don't understand how this hasn't been clear but I haven't been advocating playing a drow, but playing a regular elf or half elf that happens to merely look like a drow.

Sorry if it seems like we're coming off as being intentionally dense for the purpose of disagreeing with you but given that nothing published by Paizo or stated on this forum suggests that it's remotely possible for such an elf to exist without actually being a drow, it seems like enough of a reason for a GM to be resistant to the idea.

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Deusvult wrote:
Says you.

Its part of a dms job to say so.

Just because you have an argument to the contrary does not mean that there is no argument. You're assuming a perfection in the rules that simply isn't there.

The player base for this game is rather (in)famous for rules lawyering chicanery. Someone looking at a rule and applying rules lawyering chicanery is not unexpected. Its reglar part of a dms job to look at that pile of horsefeathers and say "No"

You're either saying that your argument is good enough to override the person that has to judge the rules or that any argument a player makes lets them do what they want. Those are both clearly false. The argument is terrible and herding cats is what a dm is for.

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Again, says you. The player would more than likely disagree. While your opinion as GM may trump his as a player in a rules-legality sense, it doesn't in a real world sense.

It will for some time.

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3) Is willing to disrupt the parties attempts to succeed at the scenario

I have a hard time with this. That's totally YOU, in this hypothetical situation, causing a disruption.

Not at all. Remember I said I'd only bother with more than an eyeroll and a The Gamers reference if it was a social scenario? If you look like a drow and walk into a gathering where someone might recognize you then you're at best giving the party some heft penalties and at worst you've just set off a torch and pitchfork boon to the economy.

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4) Insists on some horrible rules lawyering

If he's going "RAW IS LAW and the reskinning rules don't cover appearances!"

Which isn't raw. That argument doesn't make it out of the word word "reskin" unles you want to argue its a prohibition on going silence of the lambs on your character.

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It takes two to refuse to tango.

No. It doesn't. Appeal to moderation.

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And in all fairness, asking a player to change his character is a bigger deal than asking the GM to accept it.

He's asking me to break the rules. Blatantly. If you aren't good enough to get me plausible deniability you're not good enough to walk a drow through tea and crumpets.

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Well perhaps I haven't been clear but I haven't been advocating playing a drow, but playing a regular elf or half elf that happens to merely look like a drow

The definition of reskinning. Not allowed.


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deusvult wrote:
I don't understand how this hasn't been clear but I haven't been advocating playing a drow, but playing a regular elf or half elf that happens to merely look like a drow.

How is this any different than a regular dog that happens to merely look like a pig?

You know, the very example that got the "no reskinning" rule created in the first place?

-j

Sovereign Court

I think you and I BNW are at (or perhaps long past) the point we should agree to disagree.

Sovereign Court

Jason Wu wrote:
deusvult wrote:
I don't understand how this hasn't been clear but I haven't been advocating playing a drow, but playing a regular elf or half elf that happens to merely look like a drow.

How is this any different than a regular dog that happens to merely look like a pig?

You know, the very example that got the "no reskinning" rule created in the first place?

-j

Actually, an excellent question.

The differences include:

1) RAWness, as it's a big thing in alot of PFS minds. One's character's appearance is neither an item nor an animal companion. And thus not covered by the reskinning rule. Granted, it's chicanery as BNW called it recently, or even deep fried rules lawyering as he called it earlier. However, by any reading of the rule (that ignores RAI at any rate) it's completely correct. If the RAW IS LAW isn't your thing, then read on for more reasons.

2) It's not accurate to say that "the dog looks like a pig" is comparable to "the elf looks like a drow". In the former, it's two different types of things. In the latter, it's a general thing and a specific kind of that same general thing. It's not changing apples to oranges, like dog to a pig is. It's saying the apple resembles a specific kind of apple.

3) It was claimed upthread that non-drow elfs can never have drow coloration. I don't know if that's true, but I suspect it isn't. If drow can express black skin and white hair, I don't know of any compelling reason why non-drow elfs cannot.

and finally, the reason for me that is the deal-sealer:
4) "looking like a drow" is a continuum whereas the "dog that looks like a pig" is a binary condition. The pig/dog thing that was banned was a dog that didn't look like a dog, it looked only like a pig. Whereas an elf with black skin and white hair may look like a drow, but it certainly also looks like an elf. So does an elf with dark grey skin and light grey hair. An elf with dark blue skin and platinum hair looks "drow like" but not necessarily exactly like a drow. It's impossible (well, possible, but logically indefensible) to draw a line on the continuum and say this side is OK and that side is not OK.


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deusvult wrote:


3) It was claimed upthread that non-drow elfs can never have drow coloration. I don't know if that's true, but I suspect it isn't. If drow can express black skin and white hair, I don't know of any compelling reason why non-drow elfs cannot.

Drows were elves that were evil to the point that it manifested outwardly altering their appearance. I have a hard time imagining how this would happen to a normal elf by chance of nature.

And this isn't to say that it makes the concept of a Drow that eventually found their way back to good impossible but it does sort of dampen the validity of the idea of an Elf that just happens to look like a Drow.

Sovereign Court

p-sto wrote:
deusvult wrote:


3) It was claimed upthread that non-drow elfs can never have drow coloration. I don't know if that's true, but I suspect it isn't. If drow can express black skin and white hair, I don't know of any compelling reason why non-drow elfs cannot.

Drows were elves that were evil to the point that it manifested outwardly altering their appearance. I have a hard time imagining how this would happen to a normal elf by chance of nature.

And this isn't to say that it makes the concept of a Drow that eventually found their way back to good impossible but it does sort of dampen the validity of the idea of an Elf that just happens to look like a Drow.

Even if it is extremely unlikely, that means it's improbable but possible. And what are PCs if not the exceptions to the norm?

Besides, probability of biologically expressing a black-skin white-hair phenotype is besides the point.

If drow are that color because of metaphysical/magic reasons, then let's not forget that magic can do all sorts of wierd stuff- sorcerer bloodlines are way wonkier than skin color. If drow can turn black because of their evil, someone else can turn black for some other reason. Speaking of: let's not overlook curses- it'd be pretty within the power of magic in the setting to make someone be born looking like a drow.


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I always prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I'm assuming that some people here have gotten so caught up in arguing that you're not looking closely at what you're saying. But, well... look at what you're saying.

The rules don't allow playing as Drow, true. But if someone's playing a dark-skinned elf (whether they imagine their character as a Drow or not), I don't see that the rules stop them. I don't see that the rules should stop them. In fact, I see no way that such a rule could be anything but a horrendously bad idea.

Think about it for a moment. If your argument comes across as "Playing dark-skinned characters shouldn't be allowed, and I will prevent them from playing at my table," is there any interpretation in which that doesn't sound horrible?


Second Darkness describes it a rare confluence of events that involved the intervention of Rovagug. It goes on to say that the transformation is still possible in modern Golarion but very rare. So generally speaking by the course of random chance an Elf is not made to look like a Drow without becoming a Drow.

In terms of curses and such, sure I guess that anything is possible but it feels like reaching for something very unlikely for the purpose of making a character that really shouldn't exist by conventional means. I have to ask if it's really worth the effort when making friends at the local PFS meets and joining a home game might offer the opportunity to do something a lot more meaningful with the idea.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Premier Event Coordinator

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PLAYER: "My character has black skin, long white hair, and pupil-less eyes"
GM: "So you're playing a drow elf?"
PLAYER: "No, the rules say I can't so I just LOOK like a drow"
GM: "Okay, so you're an elf. Got it. Elves are extremely common in Golarion so I'll set the DC to identify them at DC 5, easy for any commoner with a take 10. You will be treated like any other elf (or human or whatever) with skin/hair color variations"

So, as a GM, I really don't care if you SAY your character looks like a drow, or an orc, or a carrot. You are what you are, and I get to decide what it takes to identify you as what you really are. I do this not to diminish your character concept, but to lessen the disruption an unusually exotic and typically evil creature will have on a campaign where I do not have complete control over the environment to react in a way I feel would be more appropriate. In a home-game, go for it. Just know that there will be times when it will certainly bite your character in the arse. However, in PFS, I do not have the time, nor the creative freedom to deal with your character's uniqueness.

It would be easy to call an elf that looks like a drow, a drow, and as a truly evil creature (commonfolk perspective) have the townsfolk rally the pitchforks. However, we also have nagaji, goblin, half-orcs, etc. that could, depending on circumstances, garner similar response. Those are explicitly acceptable for PFS so it would be poor form to punish a player for building a perfectly legal character.

OTOH, the intent of the no reskinning rule is fairly clear. You should not be attempting to play something that is banned by describing yourself as that item/race/etc. Sure, it does not specifically reference race in the rekinning rule, but we should know better. It borders on jerkish behavior because you are intentionally creating something that skirts the rules and more importantly will create a burden on the GM to adjudicate. Your intent may not be to disrupt the game, hell it would be an awesome character concept, but that is how it will often be perceived. You should work WITH the GM and the other players, not against them, to enhance the game. IMO, intentionally trying to play something that is essentially banned is working against that.

Explore! Report! Cooperate!


Exultation wrote:
Think about it for a moment. If your argument comes across as "Playing dark-skinned characters shouldn't be allowed, and I will prevent them from playing at my table," is there any interpretation in which that doesn't sound horrible?

I'm sorry but this is an unfortunate side effect of having to deal with a lore that states elves with pitch black skin are so because of evil influence. Personally I'm willing to live with it because no other race in the game seems to have any similar restriction on their pigmentation.

If you want to write Paizo to tell them they should rethink their lore because it screams of racism you have my full support but I don't have enough interest in the matter to get involved myself.

Sovereign Court

p-sto wrote:
Exultation wrote:
Think about it for a moment. If your argument comes across as "Playing dark-skinned characters shouldn't be allowed, and I will prevent them from playing at my table," is there any interpretation in which that doesn't sound horrible?

I'm sorry but this is an unfortunate side effect of having to deal with a lore that states elves with pitch black skin are so because of evil influence. Personally I'm willing to live with it because no other race in the game seems to have any similar restriction on their pigmentation.

If you want to write Paizo to tell them they should rethink their lore because it screams of racism you have my full support but I don't have enough interest in the matter to get involved myself.

I think that poster was alluding to a something like the situation of a player having an elf with dark-coffee, nearly black skin created for an African/Garundi vibe being shot down because of it being too close to being drow-like, and the hard feelings that would conceivably cause.

Even if your table is full of players with white faces, taking it upon yourself to "protect the table's integrity from dark skinned characters" can easily come across in a very uncomfortable way.


Elves are generally fair skinned, Half-Elves bearing the influence of their heritage are usually more pale than humans but can easily be darker skinned than their elven cousins. I'd certainly feel like a jerk for suggesting the change but a mocha Half-Elf would probably be more lore appropriate.

And it may not be the method of high imagination but I generally do look through the guidelines for each race when determining their appearance. Samsarans have pale blue skin with black hair. Varying shades of blue I would imagine happen all the time but I would have a hard time accepting a blonde Samsaran with rosy pink cheeks as much as I would have a problem with a dark skinned elf.

2/5

Maybe play an elf with an identity crisis.

Good one is a merry elf.
Bad side 'thinks' he's a plotting drow, with a pigment malfunction.

Could be done perhaps with the possessed oracle, which suggests split personalities.
Possessed oracle.

Or an alchemist with the jekyll & hyde syndrome.

Silver Crusade 2/5

If you use disguise self or a Hat of Disguise to do this, most of the issues go away. You could still be considered to be sabotaging the party, but the coloration is mechanically sound and not a reskinning issue.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
p-sto wrote:

Elves are generally fair skinned, Half-Elves bearing the influence of their heritage are usually more pale than humans but can easily be darker skinned than their elven cousins. I'd certainly feel like a jerk for suggesting the change but a mocha Half-Elf would probably be more lore appropriate.

And it may not be the method of high imagination but I generally do look through the guidelines for each race when determining their appearance. Samsarans have pale blue skin with black hair. Varying shades of blue I would imagine happen all the time but I would have a hard time accepting a blonde Samsaran with rosy pink cheeks as much as I would have a problem with a dark skinned elf.

The Ekujae, descendants of elves who remained on Golarion during and after Earthfall, live throughout the jungles of Garund, especially the Mwangi Expanse. While we have very little information on their exact appearance, given how much other elves seem to echo human appearances in their region (compare Snowcaster to Ulfen or Jadwiga), it's not unreasonable to assume that ebony-skinned elves from the surface are possible.

Hopefully Inner Sea Races will give a little more detail on this subrace. :)


May not be much to go on but the Wild Elf depicted Elves of Golarion looks quite white. I`m not sure if it would be a step forwards or backwards if in addition to the evil elves the other option for black elves is a group of jungle dwelling elves which are frequently referred to as primitive and hunted by slavers.

Perhaps we can just admit that Paizo dropped the ball here. Whether or not we move on is a different matter.

Silver Crusade

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p-sto wrote:

May not be much to go on but the Wild Elf depicted Elves of Golarion looks quite white. I`m not sure if it would be a step forwards or backwards if in addition to the evil elves the other option for black elves is a group of jungle dwelling elves which are frequently referred to as primitive and hunted by slavers.

Perhaps we can just admit that Paizo dropped the ball here. Whether or not we move on is a different matter.

Elves of Golarion and early art of the Ekujae have been called out as being quite inaccurate. A common problem amongst many professional fantasy artists(not all, but many) is that if they don't get specific instructions to draw someone as something other than white, you get back a white character. Sometimes even WITH specific instructions.

For a much more accurate example of an Ekujae half-elf, look up the first volume of Mummy's Mask. Idorii is a fantastic example of what Ekujae are supposed to look like.

Elves haven't been locked into "generally light skinned" for a long time now. Unfortunately it takes a lot of artists time to catch up with that.

Another non-Pathfinder-specific example of what an Ekujae half-elf could look like.


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The ARG notes that Golarion elves physically change to reflect their surroundings, and that their coloration is even more diverse than humanity's. If anything, pale elves should be the anomaly in anything but an arctic-type setting.

But I think the specific issue of what color elf matches what terrain could overtake what I see as the larger issue, so I'll restate it more generally: the PFS campaign provides rules for which mechanical choices are allowed in character creation, and which are not. However, beyond the actual mechanics of race, class, equipment, and so on, the rest of the character is for the player to determine. This includes the character's hopes, dreams, goals, and personality, and also the character's physical appearance and backstory.

To attempt to stretch the reskinning rules so as to forbid players from making those decisions does a great disservice to the game. If a GM can decide that a character's skin color (or gender or sexuality or political views or whatever else) is "wrong" and bar the player from the table on those grounds, then something has gone horribly askew.

So again I say, if you're going to make an argument here, please look at what you're saying and consider carefully the implications.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
p-sto wrote:

May not be much to go on but the Wild Elf depicted Elves of Golarion looks quite white. I`m not sure if it would be a step forwards or backwards if in addition to the evil elves the other option for black elves is a group of jungle dwelling elves which are frequently referred to as primitive and hunted by slavers.

Perhaps we can just admit that Paizo dropped the ball here. Whether or not we move on is a different matter.

They've frequently said that a lot of Elves of Golarion was not what they had in mind for Golarion (elf trance, the Brightness). That's why I didn't reference it - hard to tell what's still canon. :)

That, Second Darkness, and (to a lesser extent) Heart of the Jungle are the most recent reference materials we have. I'm hoping we get a clearer vision in ISR.

And as for problematic depictions of race, I'm not sure that making demon-worshipping drow the only "black" elves would be much more progressive... :)

hits Preview

And I have been totally ninjaed by Mikaze, who made my point (only far better). <3

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
p-sto wrote:

May not be much to go on but the Wild Elf depicted Elves of Golarion looks quite white. I`m not sure if it would be a step forwards or backwards if in addition to the evil elves the other option for black elves is a group of jungle dwelling elves which are frequently referred to as primitive and hunted by slavers.

Perhaps we can just admit that Paizo dropped the ball here. Whether or not we move on is a different matter.

Elves of Golarion and early art of the Ekujae have been called out as being quite inaccurate. A common problem amongst many professional fantasy artists(not all, but many) is that if they don't get specific instructions to draw someone as something other than white, you get back a white character. Sometimes even WITH specific instructions.

For a much more accurate example of an Ekujae half-elf, look up the first volume of Mummy's Mask. Idorii is a fantastic example of what Ekujae are supposed to look like.

Elves haven't been locked into "generally light skinned" for a long time now. Unfortunately it takes a lot of artists time to catch up with that.

Another non-Pathfinder-specific example of what an Ekujae half-elf could look like.

I love that second piece of art. Gonna go build an Ekujae girl now. Possibly for PFS. :P

Silver Crusade

Kalindlara wrote:

I'm hoping we get a clearer vision in ISR.

Talking with the Paizo folks at GenCon last year, I highly suspect you're in for a treat. :)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:

I'm hoping we get a clearer vision in ISR.

Talking with the Paizo folks at GenCon last year, I highly suspect you're in for a treat.

squee


Well the content on the Ekujae, is quite enlightening. Thank you, I will keep that in mind for the future. I still don`t see how a white haired dark-skinned elf is possible outside of Drow though.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

deusvult wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
deusvult wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
Making your half elf, half drow is not allowed per the reskinning restrictions.

That's true, but so long as you gain no mechanical benefit from being drow there's nothing stopping you from making your half elf have coal-black skin and shocking white hair or using a Drow mini on the battle mat.

In other words, +1 to what Paladin of Baha-who? said.

In this case, that's exactly what the reskinning rules say you can't do.

Unless I'm missing another rule, the entirety of the reskinning rules are as follows:

PFS FAQ wrote:

Can I re-skin or re-flavor an animal companion or item?

You may choose a specific type of animal companion from any of the base forms listed on pages 53–54 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook or a legal Additional Resource but may not use stats for one base form with the flavor of another type of animal. Thus, a small cat could be a cheetah or leopard, as suggested, as well as a lynx, bobcat, puma, or other similar animal; it could not, however, be "re-skinned" to be a giant hairless swamp rat or a differently-statted wolf. If a GM feels that a re-skinning is inappropriate or could have mechanical implications in the specific adventure being played, he may require that the creature simply be considered its generic base form for the duration of the adventure. A player may not re-skin items to be something for which there are no specific rules, and any item a character uses for which there are no stats is considered an improvised weapon (see page 144 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook).

So, going by that there is no restriction from saying your half elf has drow ancestry. The rule doesn't even address race at all. Even if you RAId it to extend to race, all it says is the GM can just say "No, no you're not really. Everyone just thinks you're crazy or something for insisting such a thing." Hell, if you wanted to you could say your half-orc was really some sort of...

Yes there is. Having Drow ancestry has game mechanics. You can't redskin something into something else that has its own mechanics.

Silver Crusade

p-sto wrote:
Well the content on the Ekujae, is quite enlightening. Thank you, I will keep that in mind for the future. I still don`t see how a white haired dark-skinned elf is possible outside of Drow though.

Dark-skinned, white haired half-elves are actually easy as pie: Garundi have a small but still much much higher than the norm chance of having stark white hair.

Basically, the Ororo Munroe hair gene. :)

The most famous Garundi with this trait is...well...Nethys. But people should note that Garundi have a wide range of skin tones, including that possessed by the iconics Seelah, Alahazra, and Quinn.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Take a look at the sample Garundi from Humans of Golarion as well.

Also, Andrew, I think your autocorrect had an accident...

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Also, I (as my avatar) would like to remind you that elves always have normal human hair colors. :D

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