Dragon's Eye View: Nature vs. Nurture

Are you ready to tackle the topic of diversity in nonhuman races? Jon is, and he’s very interested in what you have to say.


Dragon's Eye View: Nature vs. Nurture

Discuss this article here. 

All around helpful simian

It would have been nice if we could actually see the images that were supposed to be embedded in this article.

 
Fat elves? *shudder*

Danny

this is the third week in a row that the images have been broken. you'd think they would have done something about it by now. at this point they might as well not even bother throwing this article up at midnight.


also, please say no to fat elves. it's a silly and pandering concept. 
Part of the issue here may be that people are taking a worry about "fat elves", and applying it more broadly to all the humanoid races.  But what if elves are the exception rather than the rule?  What if elves have a narrow range of body types, but other races much more?  I don't want to see fat elves any more than the next guy - but I can easily picture overweight halflings and delicate halflings, or potbellied dwarves and washboard-abbed dwarves, or Shreklike half-orcs and bodybuilder half-orcs.  The body types may be different from humanity's, because the race's fundamental proportions are different:  no dwarf is ever going to be described as "thin" by a human, because there's a broadness to their structure that has nothing to do with diet and excercise.  But they can be no less varied in their own ways.

So elves, with their uniformly healthy looks, may be the anomaly here.  Maybe that good health is another aspect of the fey quality that lends them long life and extended youth.  Or maybe their culture is simply more moderate - I find it hard to picture them chowing down on large quantities of fatty foods.
Part of the issue here may be that people are taking a worry about "fat elves", and applying it more broadly to all the humanoid races.  But what if elves are the exception rather than the rule?  What if elves have a narrow range of body types, but other races much more?  I don't want to see fat elves any more than the next guy - but I can easily picture overweight halflings and delicate halflings, or potbellied dwarves and washboard-abbed dwarves, or Shreklike half-orcs and bodybuilder half-orcs.  The body types may be different from humanity's, because the race's fundamental proportions are different:  no dwarf is ever going to be described as "thin" by a human, because there's a broadness to their structure that has nothing to do with diet and excercise.  But they can be no less varied in their own ways.

So elves, with their uniformly healthy looks, may be the anomaly here.  Maybe that good health is another aspect of the fey quality that lends them long life and extended youth.  Or maybe their culture is simply more moderate - I find it hard to picture them chowing down on large quantities of fatty foods.

Agreed.

But the article did open with mention of fat elves. 

Danny

This is mildly frustrating. I'm interested in this topic, however, I'd really rather be able to make commentary on the accompanying art at the same time...
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
Oh, for crying out loud, this is what, the fourth or fifth time the art column has failed to have the art in it?

Get it together.  If this is the quality control we can expect from this edition, I weep for it.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I am always amused by articles about political correctness in fantasy gaming, but this has got to be the most hilarious one I have ever read. I literally pray that you put fat elves in 5e. Please don't forget the anorexic halfling with body issues or the flabby breasted half-orcs that bleach their facial hair. 5e can be a great tool to teach kids about these issues! "See Billy, the half-elf has a "glandular" problem too, just like you! Use that McDonalds french fry as your mini sweetie!"
But the article did open with mention of fat elves.


And I'm saying that may be inadvertently misleading.
Art is up.

The Polar Owlbear and DiTerlizzi's Owlbear  Grizzly are aweosme!

The Sun Owlbear and the Elves not so much....

I prefer my Elves thin and my Dwarves chubby personally. 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

My next Elf is going to be rotund.
That article was way too PC IMHO.

These new forums are terrible.

I misspell words on purpose too draw out grammer nazis.

My two choices. 

First, we have never dealt with "body type" in our characters, regardless of race.  30+ years, we get lots of description and personality and style and clothes, and never once have I ever seen anything concerning "fat, skinny, or ..." characters.  To us, it has very little value.

Second, I prefer a single monster picture in the MM, or if you must a picture of 3-4 in a group with some environment differences.  What I'd prefer more is a good "description" of the differences by region.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

Reading the article and the responses reminded me of 2 characters from the Forgotten Realms novels. The first is the Dwarf aide to Lady Illustrial of Silverymoon. He was a tidy, well kempt and thoroughly UN-Dwarfish Dwarf. The other is Drizzt. Both are examples of how stereotypical we have made certain races, and how stepping outside of that can be refreshing. Now, in the case of Drizzt, he has become a stereotype himself. But that aside, at the time he broke the mold for what a Drow was.

I know both of these examples are mostly personality and not physical (although Drizzt has uncommon eyes for a Drow), I would not have a problem with differing body types for humanoids. Fat elves, skinny Dwarves, etc etc make the environment more real. As a PC, I think body-type can be a fun thing to add more realism to a character, but shouldnt be random - Oh man, my Barbarian is 5'1" and 400 lbs, this SUCKS.
other races might have difrent ways they body change gaining weight, an elf might gain a pot belly but not much fat on other parts of the body.
 
when it comes to difrent looks of monsters it could be very intresting, but maybe just have the standard version in the MM.
and have alternative art in books like sandstorm or frostburn  that concentrated on a specific climate 
There as never been an acceptance issue concerning body types and D&D.  If you want to see obesity, look around the table.

The true art issue negatively affecting participation is the stripperific depictions.  It's driving women out, and reinforcing the dateless nerd stereotype.
well, heres hoping 5e dwarven women are bearded, but in the end it doesnt matter bc they are bearded in my campaigns and always will be. always.
always.

Because, as we all know, Dwarves are immune to shaving.

Part of the issue here may be that people are taking a worry about "fat elves", and applying it more broadly to all the humanoid races.  But what if elves are the exception rather than the rule?  What if elves have a narrow range of body types, but other races much more?  I don't want to see fat elves any more than the next guy - but I can easily picture overweight halflings and delicate halflings, or potbellied dwarves and washboard-abbed dwarves, or Shreklike half-orcs and bodybuilder half-orcs.  The body types may be different from humanity's, because the race's fundamental proportions are different:  no dwarf is ever going to be described as "thin" by a human, because there's a broadness to their structure that has nothing to do with diet and excercise.  But they can be no less varied in their own ways.

So elves, with their uniformly healthy looks, may be the anomaly here.  Maybe that good health is another aspect of the fey quality that lends them long life and extended youth.  Or maybe their culture is simply more moderate - I find it hard to picture them chowing down on large quantities of fatty foods.

Pretty much this. Although I CAN picture them chowing down food, I always imagined them being like those people who can do that and not have it affect them that much.

Kind of like that scene in the extended version of LotR where Legolas and Gimli had a drinking contest. After a long while Legolas was like, "my fingers are getting a little tingly, *looks off into the distance with a concerned expression* I think it's starting to get to me." Right then Gimli falls over drunk as hell. Not a good depiction of Drawfs (Gimli would of won in D&D world), but a good one of Elves, IMO. The stuff they take in just doesn't hit them as hard as it hits us.

I expect to see thin elves, stocky dwarves, and towering goliaths because that's how the D&D lore presented to me has said that they were created.  Corellon Larethian made elves to be lithe and fair.  Moradin made dwarves to be short and stocky.  Kavaki the Ram-Lord made his goliaths to be towering.  Humans, as the outliers and the basic fantasy hodgepodge mutt race, don't really have a deity that can be pointed to as their chief designer and as such display a wide range of body types (also as a product of being the fantasy equivalent of a universal breeder race).

On a less divine intervention path, I just assumed elves had a high metabolism and good dieting practices passed down through generations wise in the ways of keeping a long lived body in shape.  If you shove an elf in a box and force feed it lard veal-style will it get fat?  Sure, but on their own, elves are more like the wild deer than the fatted calf; taunt and mobile, muscled and lean.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Pretty much this. Although I CAN picture them chowing down food, I always imagined them being like those people who can do that and not have it affect them that much.

Kind of like that scene in the extended version of LotR where Legolas and Gimli had a drinking contest. After a long while Legolas was like, "my fingers are getting a little tingly, *looks off into the distance with a concerned expression* I think it's starting to get to me." Right then Gimli falls over drunk as hell. Not a good depiction of Drawfs (Gimli would of won in D&D world), but a good one of Elves, IMO. The stuff they take in just doesn't hit them as hard as it hits us.


Elves just seem more restrained, really.  I'd say from his body language in that scene that Legolas was totally plastered too, but he's one of those quiet drunks who doesn't show it.  I can't see any amount of alcohol breaking that aloof elven grace, but yeah, he should have gracefully drifted off to sleep long before Gimli had to call it quits.  In any case, he was in atypical circumstances, hanging out with a dwarf.  The elves' own culture is definitely "sip a glass of wine", not "quaff your fifth tankard".  And by the same token, it's "delicate, artfully prepared meals", not "a leg of red meat in each fist".  Hence all the svelte figures.

Actually, one of my longest-running characters is an alcoholic elf who does show it.  But the conceit of that setting is that real elves are basically rednecks (being people who live in the woods and like shooting things), and the cultured "high elf" image is a myth circulated among human-raised half-elves to romanticize their heritage.  So he's a source of shattered dreams and neverending disappointment to the fangirly sorceress... ah, good times.  He's still skinny, though.
well, heres hoping 5e dwarven women are bearded, but in the end it doesnt matter bc they are bearded in my campaigns and always will be. always.


Now you're talking !

My Warlord in LFR, Ol'ma is  a Dwarf very proud of her beard! Tongue Out

PS I had a very hard time finding a portrait of a bearded female Dwarf that i had to commission one from the pros in D&D Developpement :P

[sblock]

Thunla Shieldmaiden (Ol'ma)



====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======

Tunka Shieldmaiden (Ol'Ma), level 2
Dwarf, Warlord (Marshal)
Build: Bravura Warlord
Warlord Option: Battlefront Leader
Commanding Presence Option: Bravura Presence
Crusading Zealot (Crusading Zealot Benefit)
Theme: Noble

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 14, DEX 8, INT 12, WIS 10, CHA 16

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 16, CON 12, DEX 8, INT 12, WIS 10, CHA 16

AC: 19 Fort: 16 Ref: 14 Will: 15
HP: 31 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 7

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +7, Diplomacy +9, Heal +6, History +7

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics –3, Arcana +2, Bluff +4, Dungeoneering +3, Endurance +2, Insight +1, Intimidate +4, Nature +1, Perception +1, Religion +2, Stealth –3, Streetwise +4, Thievery –3

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Noble Utility: Noble Presence
Dwarf Racial Power: Dwarven Resilience
Warlord Feature: Battlefront Shift
Warlord Feature: Inspiring Word
Warlord Attack 1: Direct the Strike
Warlord Attack 1: Commander's Strike
Warlord Attack 1: Vengeance is Mine
Warlord Attack 1: Bastion of Defense
Warlord Utility 2: Shake It Off

FEATS
Level 1: Bolstering Inspiration
Level 2: Lend Might

ITEMS
Chainmail x1
Adventurer's Kit
Heavy Shield x1
Throwing hammer
Chieftain's Lance +1 

BACKGROUND 
Thunka Blackhammer, aka Ol'ma is a female Dwarven warrior of a kind. She reach 4 and a half and weight over a 180 lb. and have reddish hair braided as well as her short beard that she maintain with care. She speak with a harsh deep voice and is easily mistaken for a male, and rarely correct those who think so of her. Ol'ma (a nick name she inherited that stands for old mama) was born in Mirabar in 1437DR and acted as a Hearthguard, or Shieldmaiden, for a portion of her stay, until she left to seek fame, fortune, and love. Born of noble blood from Blackhammer clan, she bears herself with the prestance of a queen, and the mean look of a Battlerager. She is a skilled tactician and oversee the battlefield, direct orders and takes great care of all her darling.  

====== End ======

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Nonhuman races should have an archetypical visual representation as defined by the PHB and MM.  This is the default “norm” from there players can adjust height and weight according to their view of their character.  Ranges for these are given with the PHB races (and for other “playable” races when they are made available). 


While 4E has ranges and the older editions had random tables for height and weight determination, these are often ignored by players and completely forgotten once play begins.  The PC is often an “elf” or “dwarf” without added details leaving others to surmise the PC appearance that would default back archetypical look. 


Just look at Chris’ Iomandra campaign where not one of the players added physical descriptions [Height/Weight] beyond Race/Class.  Some would include gender, hair, eyes, and clothing styles in the write-up, but not often.


Just try to envision [or draw] one of these PCs based on these write-ups alone without using any other reference sources.


I played a Dwarf warlock (infernal) was taller than most dwarfs, broad shouldered, but rail thin and ungainly.  He was described to others as a bearded, 7th-8th grader (US) wearing professional football shoulder pads.  This and the fact the he always talked directly to Moradin (his demonic patron) before deciding on an action only highlighted his strangeness and made role-playing him enjoyable.  This further allowed the other players to imagine him outside the stereotype.


I find that a random Height/Weight table makes the player pay more attention to this fact at the start and possible gives them a different prospective when playing, but ultimately most players believe in heroic proportions pictured by the archetype.

There as never been an acceptance issue concerning body types and D&D.  If you want to see obesity, look around the table.

The true art issue negatively affecting participation is the stripperific depictions.  It's driving women out, and reinforcing the dateless nerd stereotype.



I'm actually quite glad that at my table, we have two guys who would be considered obese and look it. One other is probably considered obese, but has just as much muscle due to a physical job and playing softball, so he doesn't really look it, he just looks big. As for the rest of us, we're all average at most - some of us have started doing 5K mud runs, for instance, or have done P90X, Insanity, and/or are going to do Crossfit training next summer.

As for the dateless thing, we have folks in relationships, folks in burgeoning relationships, married, and single.

I'm not sure I have a point here other than to just realize that my group is all manner of awesome. #Humblebrag

(Okay, that's not a humble brag at all. I lied. It's straight up bragging.)

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

I'm not sure I have a point here other than to just realize that my group is all manner of awesome.

If I had a point twelve hours ago, I've forgotten what it was.

That tubby elf has a certain panache, I like it.
Actually, I would expect races with copious quantities of magic to be either more "Beautiful" (I use magic to be pretty, because I can) or alien (I use magic to transcend silly biological limitations).

Regardless, when designing the look for races, they need to decide what makes a Dwarf a Dwarf, what makes and Elf an Elf. Within those parameters, have fun. I personally don't expect adventurers to be morbidly obese or dangerously thin, barring magic. There may be leaner, or paunchier individuals, but the full extremes are unlikely to see a lot of adventure time. As for the Fat Elf... yeah... no. While it is sorta funny, the level of pragmatism fail in having an adventuring party memeber who doesn't even understand how to size clothing for their body to accomodate stairs, much less dungeon exploration, is silly... at best. That it's thinly vieled ridicule of the over-weight, played for cheap laughs, is even less inspiring. As far as I am concerned (and YMMV) it failed the keep it classy clause.

Regardless, the Owlbear minis are adorable, my neice is demanding a set... and the Snowy Owl-bear is cute... which she has now requested her Ranger have one as an Animal Companion... 
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.