Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Half-Elf and Half-Orc

H is for Half-Elves and Half-Orcs
Half-Elves and Half-Orcs are both included as character options in the original rules – 3E, 3.5E, and later Pathfinder – used for the Toldara campaign.  These two races are not available in the B/X rules so I was faced with a decision.  I could just delete them from the options available to players.  I did not want to do that because it seemed like retroactive restrictions being put in place.  The other option was to do a B/X version of both of these races.  Of course, in B/X these two races will become demi-human race-as-class listings.  My initial thoughts on these two races are listed below.
Half-Elves appear to be human at first glance.  Upon closer inspection an experienced eye can see the differences.  A half-elf tends to be about the same height as a human of similar age but the ears are slightly pointed, the eyes are somewhat wider, and they can not grow a beard.  Half-Eves tend to share their elven parents fascination with magic.   
Half-Orcs remain a mystery in the world today.  Many rumors persist about their origins but none know for certain.  Some believe they came about from the spoils of war, some believe they are the results of a magical experiment gone wrong, and still others believe they were created from a moment of divine retribution in the ancient past. 
I am still working on these two races.  I want to avoid the Half-Elves as just "humans with an advantage" and portray them as a mixture of the two races.  I am not sure about giving them infravision with a limited range - say 30 feet - or just eliminating it altogether.  They will have a reduced ability to find secret doors and instead of being immune to being paralyzed by ghouls like their elf parent will have a 2 in 6 chance or maybe a better saving throw; something to think about.  I am not sure whether to give them reduced spell casting ability or let them have natural spell-like abilities that would improve with levels.
Again, I want the Half-Orc to be something more than "ugly and rude".  There should be a little more characterization to them or they might as well just stay as monsters.  I am thinking the Half-Orcs will basically be a B/X version of a barbarian with berserk rage. 


  1. Back in the AD&D days half-elf was one of the only "demi-humans" I would play. I far preferred humans.

    I don't think I played a half-elf, half-orc or even a halfling (ha! see what I did there....) in 3.x.

  2. Two comments off the top of my head.

    1. Half elves: give magic like the elf but...clerical instead of arcane. Or maybe, full access to clerical and limited to arcane as well. that is, they get spell slots as an elf; they choose from cleric lists as normal and minus one spell level for arcane.

    So, a half-elf could use 1st lvl Clerical spells at 1st and 2nd level level but no magic user spells. At 3rd level, the half elf can choose from 1st/2nd level cleric spells and 1st level magic-user spells. that might be too complex though.

    Limit to 10th level like the elf.

    2. Half Orc: berserk rage, excellent idea!