Feb 7, 2013
Hail to the Dwarf
I truly was infatuated with the idea an elf. A Tolkien elf, that is. A David Bowie-like god on earth. A magic missile throwing, whispy haired fae creature of the woods with a blade as sharp as the points of his little ears, which, by the way, had to be eight to twelve inches long because I was an edgy elf. I was a cool elf.
Male elf, female elf, it didn't matter. Their natural androgynous beauty, immortality, and ethereal otherworldly knowledge made them the perfect vehical for my adolescent angst. And I drove them hard, playing them full throttle as arrogant know-it-alls. It didn't hurt that the females were always supermodels and the men bad-asses.
From a max/min perspective it's hard to go wrong with elves in B/X. Especially in the first eight levels. Most of the games in which I played rarely got beyond level ten anyway, so the level-capping that restricts elves wasn't so restrictive for yours truly. The infravision, natural grace, increased awareness and ability to fight and cast spells makes them, early on anyway, the most imbalanced of the classes. If you care about that kind of thing, that is.
So, it's kind of funny that I've now turned to the dwarf side in my middle age. Pudgy, slow-moving, and locked into rigid skill sets such as gemsmithing or mining. Dwarves are taciturn and stuck in their ways. Wait, I'm still talking about fantasy dwarves here, okay, not anyone in the real world.
Dwarfs in my campaign world are more earthy than elves. Sure elves are from the forest and speak the language of the trees and other such namby pampy nonsense, but they also seem aloof from it all at the same time. Dwarves, on the other hand, are right down (literally) in the dirt. They're in the muck, the heart of the earth, the heat of experience in the world. They're tough, hard working, and querrelous, but unparalleled in their allegiance.
Come hell or high water a dwarf will do what he or she thinks is right. He takes some value in aesthetics, as well; a finely tucked beard, a tastey brew, or a well-cut gem. But such value isn't an affect. A dwarf is true to himself and to the earth. He's not afraid to roll his sleeves above his burly arms and get to work. To make a lasting impression of himself through action or the indelible longevity of stone.
I think we need more dwarves in the world.