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Why not let elves replace clerics in OD&D?

thedroid

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Two things have never felt right to me about the character classes in OD&D (or the blue Holmes book, which is what I started with):

1. The existence of Clerics. They are obviously Christian archetypes, though odd ones: a priest in plate mail who won't shed blood but has no problem whatsoever with crushing your skull in. They make every village church into a local hospital. They don't really show up in fantasy literature and seem to have arisen from a need for a "medic" character class and/or someone to hunt the undead.

2. The fact that elf magic and human magic are the same thing. There ought to be something exotic about the magic of elves, in my mind. There would be some overlap, but elves throwing fireballs at orcs or using wands and staffs or levitating or turning someone into a frog or studying their spell books doesn't really fit my concept of them, which, admittedly, is informed mostly by LOTR, but that seems to be the source of D&D elves.

So I was looking at the cleric's spells and thinking that they are more in line with the magic of elves as presented in Tolkien. The elves are healers, they offer blessings, resist cold and fear, speak with animals, find traps, create food and drink, etc.

I'm thinking about killing two birds and house-ruling it this way: Elves can be either wood elves (fighters) or high elves (clerics). Instead of turning or destroying the undead, high elves would roll on the turning table to see if the undead attack them or not. They would be restricted from wearing plate mail, to balance the fact that I would let them use edged weapons and bows. This also eliminates the elf's slow advancement due to be a multi-classed character. And it allows for "non-magical" elves.

Magical healing would be normal among the elves -- which feels like it fits with their long life spans -- but nonexistent in human communities, except through potions and such made by elves. Being an "elf-friend" would be of great advantage to most characters for this reason.

It doesn't feel as though this would unbalance the game, since the character class already exists. I'm just moving it to a different race for "flavor."

I would probably keep the evil cleric as an NPC character class called the necromancer, using all the reversed cleric spells.
 

Allandaros

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Rock on! Dubious about the "turn undead to see if the PC doesn't get attacked," though. That just winds up being a hugely weaker version of turning, given that it presumably only applies to the PC and not to their friends.
 

thedroid

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Yeah, I'm not quite sure what to do with that. Open to suggestions.

Having elves turn/destroy undead doesn't feel exactly right to me, so I was going for some sort of immunity, like the way they're immune to the tough of ghouls. But I'm not sure how they'd be immune to skeletons or zombies unless the latter just don't attack them. I was thinking a weaker "turning" power would also help keep balance since elves would be able to use missile weapons and swords and also have some racial abilities, like finding secret doors. And if you have a party member who can wade into a group of skeletons or zombies and hack away without fear of being attacked, that's still pretty good.
 

Mock

Force 5 Wrongnado
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I really like this idea. With regard to turning undead, as Allandaros' post suggests, maybe you could just let the ability protect allies as well (maybe, 1d4 allies in addition to oneself? Or just a flat number like "you and one ally," staging up as you level up).
 

ResplendentScorpion

neither glitter, nor substance
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D&D elves have almost nothing in common with LOTR elves.
Otherwise feels like a good change, at least thematically.
 

thedroid

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Maybe it isn't too unbalanced or weird to just let high elves turn undead normally.

I know it's controversial to point out similarities between D&D and LOTR. Let's just say that's how I see them.
 

Allandaros

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Yeah, I'm not quite sure what to do with that. Open to suggestions.

Having elves turn/destroy undead doesn't feel exactly right to me, so I was going for some sort of immunity, like the way they're immune to the tough of ghouls. But I'm not sure how they'd be immune to skeletons or zombies unless the latter just don't attack them. I was thinking a weaker "turning" power would also help keep balance since elves would be able to use missile weapons and swords and also have some racial abilities, like finding secret doors. And if you have a party member who can wade into a group of skeletons or zombies and hack away without fear of being attacked, that's still pretty good.
Oh! I was thinking of it as the equivalent of a sanctuary spell - "they won't attack you, but will attack if you interact with them." Having the undead just totally ignore them completely, even if they're attacking, is much stronger. Gets kind of awkward when interacting with wraiths or vampires or other sentient undead, though.
 

thedroid

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Oh! I was thinking of it as the equivalent of a sanctuary spell - "they won't attack you, but will attack if you interact with them." Having the undead just totally ignore them completely, even if they're attacking, is much stronger. Gets kind of awkward when interacting with wraiths or vampires or other sentient undead, though.
Yeah, it's too complicated.

I should probably just keep he normal ability to turn undead or dispense with it altogether.
 

fjw70

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I like the idea a lot. Good job.

I would be okay with elves keeping the turning abilities as is. It reflects a "presense" for elves that the undead do not like and is potentially harmful for them.
 
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