Musculature and Fat on elves


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Just wondering but is there an actual reason elves aren’t fat? I’m not even talking obese either because if you factor in a bit of realism then most humans won’t be fat. However, why can’t elves get a little chubby? Why do they always look like they’ve been fasting? I’m sure there have to be elven shop keeps or bartenders who have a pounch or a beer gut. Conversely you don’t see many elves with huge muscles. Idk if there are gladiators but they want to look strong for the fans I’d think. And if we meet in the middle why are there no dad bod types? A dockworker with a muscle gut and a bit of brawn on the arms and legs who has a loving shoanti wife who decided to stay in his hometown and an optimistic half elven child waits for him at home. You meet him using the a home in every port feat and stay with them for a night. Why can’t that be a thing? Also, if you want an obese character then why not a elvish shadow leader of a gang that uses bribes to get political influence and uses its strength to assert and maintain power. He claims to be a devout follower of calistria but that manifests in a largely hedonistic lifestyle. Think hedonismbot but lawful evil. You could take him down using a information network through a network of local calistrians but he has his own so it’s an information war taking the party to locations to get more evidence to show the government and temple of calistria.

I’ve been told it can’t and I’ve tried to find things on it to justify the “can not” but it seems inconclusive aside from a blurb on the wiki saying citation needed. Obviously these are mostly npc ideas but the dockworker idea I like as he can be a very wholesome player character I feel. I’m really looking for an answer.


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That Ancestral penalty to Constitution and a lot of fatphobic fantasy genre inertia keep most elves pretty slim in art, but I don't think anything precludes them from putting on weight or muscle like anyone else.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

To be honest I've only started seeing chubby humans being normalized in Pathfinder art in like the last five years or so.


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Ooh... I wonder how elves carry fat... It's so hard to picture since so much of their visual identity is 'tall slender humans' but it would be really neat to see if they carry it in a slightly different way than a human body might? Just minor distribution differences perhaps.


keftiu wrote:
That Ancestral penalty to Constitution and a lot of fatphobic fantasy genre inertia keep most elves pretty slim in art, but I don't think anything precludes them from putting on weight or muscle like anyone else.

I was under the assumption that the negative in con was because of disease. Humans can adapt very quickly and pass on resistances to many diseases while being carriers for them being so populace, and since elves have such long life spans it would mean that a plague humans suffered from a hundred years ago, deadly or not, would still affect an elf where as the generation’s of humans after succeed more at driving away such ailments.

My former DM said they physically couldn’t be fat and that the negative in con meant they didn’t have the bone density. However in PF1 there’s a blurb that says they are skinny bone wise but their bones are sturdy. So to me it seems it should be read more as narrower hips and shoulders and overall bone structure than anything else.


Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
Ooh... I wonder how elves carry fat... It's so hard to picture since so much of their visual identity is 'tall slender humans' but it would be really neat to see if they carry it in a slightly different way than a human body might? Just minor distribution differences perhaps.

In a previous reply I suggest their bone structure is different. A human who is 220 might look wider than an elf who is 220 or the elf who is 220 might look like a person who is 235. I think they have narrower hips and shoulders which also might help make them look less sexually dimorphic.


Just been pondering this for a good month if that wasn’t clear. Also the only npc in my original description I thought of was the lawful evil mob boss elf.


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I mean "throughout the entire history of the fantasy genre, there have been very few fat people visible, and when they do crop up it's generally in order to signpost vice" is hardly controversial if you've been paying attention.

I am generally of the opinion that your character looks like whatever you want them to look like, so height, weight, hair color, body type, whatever is whatever you tell me it is (within some reason), and all characters are equally competent modulo what the character sheet and dice say.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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We generally avoid this for our elves—they also don't get wrinkled as they age. Elves are not humans. It's important to have a wide range of skin tones for elves (and dwarves and halflings and gnomes, etc.) but we try to keep our elf/dwarf/halfling/gnome silhouettes pretty identifiable, since that (along with other visual markers, like hairy feet or pointed ears or whatever) is important from a game brand issue (we want our elves/dwarves/gnomes/halflings etc. to be identifyably Pathfinder, while remaining at the same time obviously elves/dwarves/etc.). For the same reason we avoid doing 6-foot-tall halflings or gnomes, or super skinny dwarves, or goblins with non-sharp teeth, etc.

Despite the ever-expanding range of ancestry options in the game, Golarion does remain a humanocentric world, and when it comes to representation it's through our human characters that we're doing the most of the focus and work on.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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That all said... we HAVE tried to do art of overweight elves, for example, before, but the results end up looking more like we're trying to be funny or cute. As someone who's struggled with obesity for decades (thanks, pandemic, for disrupting my largest weight loss ever), overweight elf art often, to me, feels like the artist is making fun of me. That is CERTAINLY my own insecurity and shame over my weight manifesting, but it's worth noting that art of overweight humans or halflings or dwarves doesn't trigger me that way.

So... maybe some day that might change, but for the moment... body diversity is something we tend to focus on representing with our human characters, because when you start doing that with non-human characters it can really quickly get gross and have the wrong effect on the people you're trying to include.

It's a pretty sensitive topic, and I hope that folks understand—this wasn't an easy post to write for me but I wanted to get it out there so people know that it's a lot more complicated than it sounds to significantly change body shapes for non-human creatures.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Captain Morgan wrote:
To be honest I've only started seeing chubby humans being normalized in Pathfinder art in like the last five years or so.

Yay! We started working at this even further back with body-positive characters in older adventure paths like Mummy's Mask or even all the way back to Second Darkness (where we DID have an overweight drow elf, but I'm not sure that was the best call). And of course, the iconic occultist from 1st edition, back with Occult Adventures in mid-1st edition.


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That being said, understanding the reasons behind "Paizo's art rarely shows fat elves, etc." is different than saying "Elves cannot be fat or muscular". Since if someone who is playing an Elf barbarian, for example, wants to describe/draw them as being really muscular but with a gut there's nothing in the setting that says "Elves can never ever be like that," right?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
That being said, understanding the reasons behind "Paizo's art rarely shows fat elves, etc." is different than saying "Elves cannot be fat or muscular". Since if someone who is playing an Elf barbarian, for example, wants to describe/draw them as being really muscular but with a gut there's nothing in the setting that says "Elves can never ever be like that," right?

100% absolutely positively correct all the way. If you want your elf to be really muscular or overweight, or a dwarf to be thin, or even a gnome to be unusually tall as a human... you 100% can do that in your game.


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I mean, we've been playing fast and loose with "you can take the armor off that baddie you just killed and it will fit you fine" regardless of the relative size of the people involved for a while, so "having there be very few rules attached to size" makes a lot of sense.

Like IRL plate armor had to be fitted to exactly the person who was going to wear it. But realism isn't necessarily a positive thing in a game context.


Whatever the narrative needs.

In the Riftwar Saga (which is in turn based on an early D&D campaign), the elves didn't need more musculature for superior strength (often surprising humans). Given how strong small-sized Ancestries can be in Golarion, muscle mass and muscle strength are only as correlated as suits the Ancestry, so elves could fall on the "lighter, yet just as strong" side.
It could also be like those deceptively skinny guys who when they flex their muscles bulge.

In many other settings, elves have different diets & metabolism (which is where my mind first went) or remain constantly active, athletics being inherent in their lifestyles. And if one ties them strongly to Fae (which in Golarion is more a thing for Gnomes, so elsewhere) that's a whole other source of inhuman essence/nature/etc which throws off reasoning based on human norms.

I have linked the Con penalty to frailty, seeing as low-Con goes way back to when they were both shorter and still skinnier than humans. How that jives with their longer lifespans and active lifestyles, I don't know.

Interesting point though about elves looking like caricatures when enlarged. I wonder about the psychology there as I think the seeming likely applies to more than just you, James. Unless you're an elf, of course. :-P


James Jacobs wrote:

We generally avoid this for our elves—they also don't get wrinkled as they age. Elves are not humans. It's important to have a wide range of skin tones for elves (and dwarves and halflings and gnomes, etc.) but we try to keep our elf/dwarf/halfling/gnome silhouettes pretty identifiable, since that (along with other visual markers, like hairy feet or pointed ears or whatever) is important from a game brand issue (we want our elves/dwarves/gnomes/halflings etc. to be identifyably Pathfinder, while remaining at the same time obviously elves/dwarves/etc.). For the same reason we avoid doing 6-foot-tall halflings or gnomes, or super skinny dwarves, or goblins with non-sharp teeth, etc.

Despite the ever-expanding range of ancestry options in the game, Golarion does remain a humanocentric world, and when it comes to representation it's through our human characters that we're doing the most of the focus and work on.

And I can understand that that’s why the art doesn’t exist. Elves in Pathfinder are pretty distinct just facially to me and I appreciate the art you guys produce a lot. It’s the problem of my dm not allowing it in a private campaign for petty reasons and trying to justify it. None of it reflects on the company in anyway. To me just because there is no art does not equate to “it can’t be done in a homemade campaign or be a player character”. (Though feel free to correct me as I read that as “we don’t produce art of it due to the challenges and we want to make characters identifiable at a glance”) Thank you for taking the time to reply Mr. Jacobs, hopefully one day you guys can crack the code to it, but you don’t have to. This was never intended as a criticism of your art or the company. It was a question born from a heated argument and trying to understand it is all. I want to learn about golarion and the rest of the pathfinder universe.


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I just presumed it had to do with a combination of genetic structure and diet as to why elves are not fat, but I do feel that the fact they are not human is enough as to why they don’t vary as much as humans do.


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I liked the elf that was presented in the Lost Omens Grand Bazaar book.

That said, I think an argument can be made that elves are more likely to be health-conscious given their long lifespans, and their diet is more fruit, nut, and vegetable-based by comparison. So from a cultural perspective, overweight elves are just less common.


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James Jacobs wrote:

That all said... we HAVE tried to do art of overweight elves, for example, before, but the results end up looking more like we're trying to be funny or cute. As someone who's struggled with obesity for decades (thanks, pandemic, for disrupting my largest weight loss ever), overweight elf art often, to me, feels like the artist is making fun of me. That is CERTAINLY my own insecurity and shame over my weight manifesting, but it's worth noting that art of overweight humans or halflings or dwarves doesn't trigger me that way.

So... maybe some day that might change, but for the moment... body diversity is something we tend to focus on representing with our human characters, because when you start doing that with non-human characters it can really quickly get gross and have the wrong effect on the people you're trying to include.

It's a pretty sensitive topic, and I hope that folks understand—this wasn't an easy post to write for me but I wanted to get it out there so people know that it's a lot more complicated than it sounds to significantly change body shapes for non-human creatures.

Mr. Jacobs, thank you for sharing that. I too understand how hard weight loss can be. The pandemic did me no favors either. You did not come off the wrong way in your last post and I honestly appreciate it. Thank you.

That being said I feel like this post can help people with npc ideas for the future at least and hopefully lead to a trove of beautiful and inspiring ideas.

Also the uncanny valley is a hard one to traverse x.x


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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:

I liked the elf that was presented in the Lost Omens Grand Bazaar book.

That said, I think an argument can be made that elves are more likely to be health-conscious given their long lifespans, and their diet is more fruit, nut, and vegetable-based by comparison. So from a cultural perspective, overweight elves are just less common.

People can be chubby or fat without being unhealthy.


Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:

I liked the elf that was presented in the Lost Omens Grand Bazaar book.

That said, I think an argument can be made that elves are more likely to be health-conscious given their long lifespans, and their diet is more fruit, nut, and vegetable-based by comparison. So from a cultural perspective, overweight elves are just less common.

Oh, agreed! I don’t think they are common and I think elves in fantasy have a pension towards aesthetics more too so that is a factor to me too. It doesn’t mean “can’t” though and that’s where I’m at and why I’m asking and trying to learn. Golarion is great, but I want to and need to learn about it more. I’m very thankful that people like you can come in and answer my questions like this.


keftiu wrote:
Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:

I liked the elf that was presented in the Lost Omens Grand Bazaar book.

That said, I think an argument can be made that elves are more likely to be health-conscious given their long lifespans, and their diet is more fruit, nut, and vegetable-based by comparison. So from a cultural perspective, overweight elves are just less common.

People can be chubby or fat without being unhealthy.

And that’s where I was going with my post. I’m not talking about unhealthy but I am at least saying there can be more. James Jacobs makes a great point on the uncanny valley part and I appreciate it a lot!

In another comment in this thread I do make a point that elves do prefer aesthetics in fantasy and I believe that can be a factor along with diet but what if an elf lives among a largely human population and marries a human. Does that hold sway on how graceful the person in question looks still or would said elf adopt a more human lifestyle or habit. I think it’s uncommon or rare and maybe a surprise to see but I don’t think it can’t happen. There isn’t any art made by paizo is all and that’s fine. It has no bearings on the game at all. Especially when a big part of the game is creation.


Lucerious wrote:
I just presumed it had to do with a combination of genetic structure and diet as to why elves are not fat, but I do feel that the fact they are not human is enough as to why they don’t vary as much as humans do.

Well that is true and a good point but that being said a Neanderthal could be skinny and dainty. Would a Neanderthal be skinny or dainty? Unlikely as the time when they existed required more musculature and fat to survive, but if they had survived into our modern day they’d look a lot different then back in the Stone Age. The only factor that would make a dainty Neanderthal look different is the robust bone structure they naturally have.

As to why they don’t vary different? I’m not sure what you mean but if it’s the dimorphism in elves then as far as I’m aware it’s baked in and it’s fine. It’s pretty unique too.


keftiu wrote:
People can be chubby or fat without being unhealthy.

Yes, people can naturally have different body shapes. But to call them chubby or fat is uncalled for.


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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
keftiu wrote:
People can be chubby or fat without being unhealthy.
Yes, people can naturally have different body shapes. But to call them chubby or fat is uncalled for.

Terminology is indeed quite a sensitive subject in this area for a lot of people, but bear in mind that there is quite a large number of body-positive folks who do prefer the terms 'chubby' or 'fat' - not everyone will be comfortable with the same terms, but in general the idea is to stop treating 'fat' like a bad word. These people tend to find the usual euphemisms more annoying and possibly upsetting.


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Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
keftiu wrote:
People can be chubby or fat without being unhealthy.
Yes, people can naturally have different body shapes. But to call them chubby or fat is uncalled for.

I think treating "fat" as an utterly verboten word does far more harm than using it. It's just a descriptor of something natural and normal; acting like it's the worst thing someone can possibly be serves to further societal fatphobia, not combat it. The more it can be normalized, the lesser the stigma - it’s only negative if you frame it as such, and I’m not sure why you would.

Fat people exist! I'd like to see more of them in fantasy, in roles other than monstrous parodies, gluttonous nobles, and cowardly merchants.


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Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
Terminology is indeed quite a sensitive subject in this area for a lot of people, but bear in mind that there is quite a large number of body-positive folks who do prefer the terms 'chubby' or 'fat' - not everyone will be comfortable with the same terms, but in general the idea is to stop treating 'fat' like a bad word. These people tend to find the usual euphemisms more annoying and possibly upsetting.

Thank you Sibelius - I hadn’t thought of it that way before.


LoreLurker wrote:
keftiu wrote:
That Ancestral penalty to Constitution and a lot of fatphobic fantasy genre inertia keep most elves pretty slim in art, but I don't think anything precludes them from putting on weight or muscle like anyone else.
I was under the assumption that the negative in con was because of disease. Humans can adapt very quickly and pass on resistances to many diseases while being carriers for them being so populace, and since elves have such long life spans it would mean that a plague humans suffered from a hundred years ago, deadly or not, would still affect an elf where as the generation’s of humans after succeed more at driving away such ailments.

I imagine that weak immune systems lead them to be thin. Do you know why "barbarians" were depicted as tall and muscular? Actually, they were normal size. The ancient city dwellers were the ones that were small and puny.

Why is that? Well, in an ancient city, you got your water that is down stream from where 500 other people dump their chamber pots, and your meals consisted 98% of a single staple crop. In comparisons, barbarians had a varied diet, and they lived in smaller social groups with plenty of living space.

While elves probably do not haven these issues, their general weak immune system leaves them vulnerable. sidenote- I imagine dwarves have a con bonus because tunnel life made the specifically adapt in opposition of this problem.


Paizo: Please don't remove posts without explanation. It is difficult to know which of the community guidelines were broken, if any, when posts simply disappear. And even more difficult to avoid repeating offenses that are not known to have happened in the first place.


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Masked Participant wrote:
Paizo: Please don't remove posts without explanation. It is difficult to know which of the community guidelines were broken, if any, when posts simply disappear. And even more difficult to avoid repeating offenses that are not known to have happened in the first place.

I was on lunch break at the time so I can't be certain, but going by what I saw earlier I would guess 'Personal Harassment' might have been the reason. At least, that's the one that seems most probable to me; there could have been something I missed caught up in the reply chain.


lemeres wrote:
LoreLurker wrote:
keftiu wrote:
That Ancestral penalty to Constitution and a lot of fatphobic fantasy genre inertia keep most elves pretty slim in art, but I don't think anything precludes them from putting on weight or muscle like anyone else.
I was under the assumption that the negative in con was because of disease. Humans can adapt very quickly and pass on resistances to many diseases while being carriers for them being so populace, and since elves have such long life spans it would mean that a plague humans suffered from a hundred years ago, deadly or not, would still affect an elf where as the generation’s of humans after succeed more at driving away such ailments.

I imagine that weak immune systems lead them to be thin. Do you know why "barbarians" were depicted as tall and muscular? Actually, they were normal size. The ancient city dwellers were the ones that were small and puny.

Why is that? Well, in an ancient city, you got your water that is down stream from where 500 other people dump their chamber pots, and your meals consisted 98% of a single staple crop. In comparisons, barbarians had a varied diet, and they lived in smaller social groups with plenty of living space.

While elves probably do not haven these issues, their general weak immune system leaves them vulnerable. sidenote- I imagine dwarves have a con bonus because tunnel life made the specifically adapt in opposition of this problem.

Well they’re thin cause their bone structure is like that naturally. They’re not depicted as weak in any regard but rather graceful. A 10 point buck is massive but it runs gracefully. And yeah I imagine this is why dwarves have a con bonus too. Keeps them from saying “I got the black lung pa”


Masked Participant wrote:
Paizo: Please don't remove posts without explanation. It is difficult to know which of the community guidelines were broken, if any, when posts simply disappear. And even more difficult to avoid repeating offenses that are not known to have happened in the first place.

What post was removed?


keftiu wrote:
Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
keftiu wrote:
People can be chubby or fat without being unhealthy.
Yes, people can naturally have different body shapes. But to call them chubby or fat is uncalled for.

I think treating "fat" as an utterly verboten word does far more harm than using it. It's just a descriptor of something natural and normal; acting like it's the worst thing someone can possibly be serves to further societal fatphobia, not combat it. The more it can be normalized, the lesser the stigma - it’s only negative if you frame it as such, and I’m not sure why you would.

Fat people exist! I'd like to see more of them in fantasy, in roles other than monstrous parodies, gluttonous nobles, and cowardly merchants.

I mean my dockworker idea was meant to be a guy who is a hood and hardy person and is the lead on his team. He’s actually a great family man and pretty brave and he takes care of his family and crew. That was my vision anyway.


keftiu wrote:
Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
keftiu wrote:
People can be chubby or fat without being unhealthy.
Yes, people can naturally have different body shapes. But to call them chubby or fat is uncalled for.

I think treating "fat" as an utterly verboten word does far more harm than using it. It's just a descriptor of something natural and normal; acting like it's the worst thing someone can possibly be serves to further societal fatphobia, not combat it. The more it can be normalized, the lesser the stigma - it’s only negative if you frame it as such, and I’m not sure why you would.

Fat people exist! I'd like to see more of them in fantasy, in roles other than monstrous parodies, gluttonous nobles, and cowardly merchants.

That's kind of where they'd be most likely to pop up though. The rich and bakers/inkeepers/tavern owners/other people that work with cooking food.

The baseline salary isn't very high and most work is hard.

(Not just talking a historical perspective here, a skilled hireling is poor already and most people probably count as unskilled.)


Guntermench wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Vardoc Bloodstone wrote:
keftiu wrote:
People can be chubby or fat without being unhealthy.
Yes, people can naturally have different body shapes. But to call them chubby or fat is uncalled for.

I think treating "fat" as an utterly verboten word does far more harm than using it. It's just a descriptor of something natural and normal; acting like it's the worst thing someone can possibly be serves to further societal fatphobia, not combat it. The more it can be normalized, the lesser the stigma - it’s only negative if you frame it as such, and I’m not sure why you would.

Fat people exist! I'd like to see more of them in fantasy, in roles other than monstrous parodies, gluttonous nobles, and cowardly merchants.

That's kind of where they'd be most likely to pop up though. The rich and bakers/inkeepers/tavern owners/other people that work with cooking food.

The baseline salary isn't very high and most work is hard.

(Not just talking a historical perspective here, a skilled hireling is poor already and most people probably count as unskilled.)

I think it’s more common in larger towns and cities. Especially ones with an industrial capacity or ones the act as distribution points. You won’t need to go far for work and leads to a more sedentary lifestyle. Parts of jalmeray and absolam come to mind immediately.


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I like the notion of fat elves and thin dwarves being quite rare due to their physiology, but not so unheard of that players and GMs couldn't introduce such a character if they wanted.

For example, I'm currently playing a 400 year old dwarven matriarch who is described as being "nearly as thin as a human" in her old age. I would be pretty put off if someone said I couldn't describe her as such.

Like, who the heck goes out of their way to limit a game of imagination?


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There's probably nothing making it impossible. It's just uncommon.

Liberty's Edge

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I also want to just mention that the difference between the kind of calories/fats/sugars that is/was contained in the food that folks in a non-industrialized society/world versus the kind of food we have today is so DRASTICALLY different that it bears drawing attention to.

Even 50 years ago the kind of food that people ate had at LEAST 25% fewer calories, less fats, carbohydrates, and sugar. People also consume way more food in a given day on top of those enriched calorie/fat/carb/sugar numbers.

Additionally, people in general even in this timespan are spending WAY less time doing physical activity in general and as part of that, they use fewer calories and convert more of the carbs and sugars they consume into fat. Back in the '60s and 70's people were considered overweight or fat at thresholds FAR less heavy than we evaluate things today and that's still in the era of electricity, running water, mass communication, globalized industry, and automated transportation. Take away ALL of those things and the amount of work/effort put in by every single individual (other than perhaps the most cushy-lived individuals such as nobility and the super-wealthy) where they're burning energy and calories is going to simply dwarf what we expend in modern society meaning there will absolutely be far fewer overweight individuals and those who are overweight will weigh far FAR less than what we can achieve today.

Consider someone today who has an extra, say, 20 pounds of fat, to us that is really not that much at all, hardly noticeable in western society. Transport that person back 500 or so years (perhaps even further in some ways) and that person is almost CERTAIN to be in the top .05% weight for people the same height as them.

What we could consider being chubby/fat, in a setting like this, would absolutely be viewed as being morbidly and dangerously obese and individuals who ARE obese by modern standards would either simply never exist in the setting or only exist because they have a very serious genetic disorder enabling it plus a support system of servants/family who labor to bring them a nonstop flow of food, again, this is something that very VERY few people in such a setting could ever even afford to do.

In short, I think it is important to keep in mind that when someone would describe, say, a "fat elf" then you need to consider what perspective you're looking at it from, a modern one in which you'd need at least an extra 25-50 pounds, or from a setting driven one where a mere 10 extra pounds would easily qualify them as being abnormally large.


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I refute pretty much all of the above entirely, because this is a setting with magic, almost wholly divorced from any notion of historicity. In a world with goodberries and Ghorans, I don’t see any reason to assume food is somehow worse. As for the assertion that Golarion would be massively fatphobic… I don’t think that has any roots in the text whatsoever.

Acquisitives

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Obese guy here, now wanting to play a plump elf because I'd never considered it. Did play a jacked one in Fall of Plaguestone however. I miss Vespa. Fun character to play.

Liberty's Edge

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Yeah, advocate for whatever you like but obesity in terms that we discuss today is a scale nowhere even CLOSE to what it was considered historically and denying it is just burying your head in the sand in a pointless effort to be sensitive toward modern overweight people.

Feel free to call it fatphobic or whatever but if someone like my mother who stands a mere 5'8 at 190 pounds would have been considered fat or obese by standards prior to at least the mid-1900s and someone like my brother who is 6'3 and over 350 pounds would have been considered an extreme anomaly and one who would only ever have been able to achieve this by way of extreme wealth in terms of both finances as well as time to spend consuming the amount of food it would take to gain that weight instead of doing physical labor/activities.

Magic, while it can explain things like preventing famine and offering limited amounts of magically conjured food that could/would be distributed within various church communities, but even then that wouldn't even come CLOSE to providing the kind of extra calories/carbs/sugars and fats that we have in our modern genetically bioengineered and processed foods.

For an elf to be the kind of weight where one might judge them by modern standards as fat in a setting like this they'd absolutely be considered an extreme outlier and have to consume at least twice (or more) as much of the kind of food they'd have access to versus what we can pick up from just about any western grocer or convenience store. The food we eat today is almost NOTHING like what our ancestors had even 3 generations back, and that's just facts.


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It's possible to both respect overweight people and recognize that modern diets kinda suck. It's a systemic issue more than it is an individual one anyways.


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Themetricsystem wrote:
The food we eat today is almost NOTHING like what our ancestors had even 3 generations back, and that's just facts.

“Facts” that have nothing to do with Golarion, a fantasy setting with druids, space aliens, tangible gods, and nanomachines, just to name a few points of divergence. Leaning on any notion of the historical is always going to look silly in a world where Ice Age hunter-gatherers live one nation away from people with plasma rifles.

Why should we assume crops are comparable when you can literally ask celestial beings to bless your harvest? In a world with fleshwarping and alchemy, why wouldn’t those skills be turned towards food? Furthermore - why dedicate this much text and brainpower to a notion that’s nowhere in the books? You can insist it until the cows come home, but until a Lost Omens source tells me that the Inner Sea’s folk have a wildly skewed perception of bodies, I’m going to call this out as the headcanon it is.

Liberty's Edge

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We can assume that because the lore doesn't talk about that at all... there is no mass transportation for food goods described, industrial forms of refrigeration, any mention whatsoever of processed and enriched foods, nor many references to such things as those variables you mentioned being present on any major scale in the published works. There is no widely available easy and fast mode of transportation, practically no mechanically assisted labor, or even commonly available plumbing for clean fresh water which cuts down on hours of work every day for each and every household it is installed in.

The hoops you're jumping through to justify your position are... bizarre to me, to say the least. I think that you're electing to ignore everything in favor of trying to use "soft words" in order to ensure you don't offend real-life overweight people which... is not what is being discussed. I suppose maybe it would be best practice to clarify here that this is not at ALL what I'm talking about here, and in fact if anything I would hope they'd understand that I'm being generous in that we do not (and should not) have the same kind of standards for weight/obesity today that was normal and expected in any pre-modern globalized society that lives rich off the land with endless bread and circus. My brother who is 6'4 and pushing 300 pounds would not have been considered fat, like he is today, 100+ years ago, he would have been considered dangerously and clinically obese by the norms of society and I just... don't see any support in the system anywhere to suggest the scale of obesity we see today could ever come about within it.

If this comes off as insensitive to anyone here, I must offer my apology as my input was never meant to offend in any way.


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keftiu wrote:
“Facts” that have nothing to do with Golarion, a fantasy setting with druids, space aliens, tangible gods, and nanomachines, just to name a few points of divergence. Leaning on any notion of the historical is always going to look silly in a world where Ice Age hunter-gatherers live one nation away from people with plasma rifles.

Let’s not look for reasons to be offended at each other.

The original critique was why fat elves did not exist. We agreed that they do. We then seemed to move into a discussion of whether there should be “more”. (Or I’m reading that wrong.) All of this ties into “realism”, so it is 100% fair to bring real-world examples to the argument.

But hey - this is a fantasy game. Almost all PCs and NPCs are going to be idealized versions of themselves. And like any other personality or physical trait, you generally want a story reason assigned to whatever choices are made.

As a positive shout-out, I’d like to point out Dougie McDougal from the Roll For Combat actual play podcast Agents of Edgewatch.

Dark Archive

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I'm super tired and should go to sleep before I misread something, but I find this conversation about "past standards of fat compared to modern standards of fat" just confusing. Because even nowadays, even though chubby, fat and obese are different, people don't have same idea of what each of those means precisely.

In general, people don't have same idea of what it means to be overweight because it can be anything from "thin person that is somewhat over weight limit" to "person who isn't really overweight, but looks kinda chubby". There is even difference between countries. For example America's and Finland's standards for "very overweight" are rather different.

Also in general trying to explain that "well of course overweight people of modern scale wouldn't exist in fantasy world, only rich people could afford that much calories to be even close because nowadays we can produce even unhealthier food cheaper" is just kinda weird because 1) all fantasy shenanigans throw out real life comparisons away. Like do fantasy desserts have same amount of calories? Are they healthier despite looking like 90% sugar? Is monster meat super high calories? 2) How does it really affect amount of NPCs or PCs that are plump, chubby or fat? Do you really need to justify it with your backstory? And even if you did, nothing prevents character having enjoyed fine life before going on adventure and afterwards with buying more fine meals with adventuring riches. Usually you aren't required by GM to justify your characters having superhero physique so why would you need to specially justify it in setting in this case?


"CorvusMask” wrote:
Usually you aren't required by GM to justify your characters having superhero physique so why would you need to specially justify it in setting in this case?

Just to be clear and avoid further argument, this was not my point at all. I 100% agree with this statement.

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