Thursday, October 13, 2011

To an Elf, people are just like dogs.

     I've been gaming for a very long time.  Long before I rolled a ton of d6's on a table top for a wargame I was rolling d20's on a D&D night to keep my character alive.  Like any good pinball wizard I've played them all.  My first character was a Paladin named Max.  I named him after my new puppy that I was crazy about.  As you can imagine, naming things after that dog became a habit of mine.  His stats were pretty memorable; 18-95 strength (after all nobody ever believed an 18-00), 17 dex, 18 con, 9 intelligence, 12 wisdom and 17 charisma.  They were bullshit stats but I didn't care and neither did the rest of the party.  We needed a tank and I was it.  Although that character is still alive I don't play him anymore.  He's stuck in some dungeon trying to keep his Vampirism under control.
     Since then I've had plenty of more memorable characters.  A few of my favorites were a Hobbit thief named Ross that the party decided to entrust with the loot after every adventure (big mistake), a Human fighter named Vinnie that never used a weapon (he just punched and body slammed his way through 2nd edition AD&D rules), a drunken Dwarf named Ghaston with a life long ambition to found a brewery, an evil Necromancer named Cranius who forged a friendship with a Knight of Solamnia.  One of my absolute favorite was a Swashbuckling Grey Elf named Tom Juan Demarco.
     Tom was an interesting Elf.  He had a very long back story that took 2 DM's to fully form but it largely revolved around being raised in a Human world.  He was forever out of place.  It wasn't until I reached 15th level that the a DM finally understood what I wanted in the character.
     When I first created this character I was faced with the following numbers to use for stats; 16, 18, 12, 16, 10, 14.  We were still pretty generous for stats but not as bad as the noobs we once were.  The first DM looked at those stats and assumed that I would make an Elvish wizard.  Grey Elves make great wizards due to the bonus to their intelligence.  That thought didn't appeal to me, I wanted to run a different kind of Elf.  I had a desire to break the mold of typecasting and make an Elvish fighter who fought like a Human.  So Tom was born with 14 strength, 18 dexterity, 12 constitution, 16 intelligence, 10 wisdom and 16 charisma.  I was making a character to role play with.  The DM was looking for characters to roll play so I made a few changes and Tom swapped his strength and charisma score.  To fight with I gave him a Rapier, a whip and a set of throwing daggers.  Armor?  Tom didn't need any armor.
     He was a very challenging character to take on a dungeon crawl.  He was miserable at monster killing which unfortunately made up the vast majority of my early encounters. I admit that my old Dwarf would have been much better in those adventures.  But what Tom lacked in killyness was flair.  His whip was for snapping in his opponents eyes to blind them or take their weapon away and the rapier was for for the kill.  I developed a signature move that revolved around carving a "T" in my opponents forehead during the heat of battle.  You have no idea how many times I got pounded for doing that.  Small weak Elves should not piss off big angry Orks.
     But I survived.  Only one encounter ended badly as I usually played it safe.  The whip was also for keeping distance from my opponent.  I was role playing a life story of an Elf who knew a lot about mortality.  A Grey Elf in a Human world knows a lot about death.  According to the Player's Handbook Elves become adults around age 125 and live up to 500 years.  Grey Elves live even longer.  What my second DM finally understood is that because Tom lived in a Human world by the time he became a mature young adult he had already seen at least 6 generations of Humans born, grow up, live their lives, get old and die.
     Think of it, how would your perspective on life be if the friends you had today were the great great great grandchildren of friends you used to spend time with.  In time he would know their great great great grandchildren as friends.  How tight of a bond would he have with humans when their entire lives would flash before him?  The answer is very clear to me, to understand one only has to own and love a dog.  Their lives flash before our lives and do we love them any less?
     The picture on the left is my dogs.  Max is on the left and Kaylee is on the right.  Max passed away 2 years ago and Kaylee passed away a four days ago.  Despite knowing them only a fraction of my life I'm stricken with grief over their loss.  From newborns who looked like a hairy sausage to elderly canines with bad gas I loved them with all my heart.  I have a new dog named Jack who looks just like them and he's a brat.  I love him and in 12 years I'm going to mourn his loss too.

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