Someone asked, so here we go, the first in what will probably be a number of lore and speculation fueled screeds about monsters, specifically underappreciated/potential player-race monsters that don’t get the love that they deserve. This all started as a commentary on how in-game characters like Mordenkainen and Volo are, at best, unreliable and biased narrators and witnesses to the events, monsters, and races they describe. Basically, they can’t be trusted, only the stat-blocks can. Then it turned into a rant on how awesome Gnolls are. So, this is the supporting, hopefully more readable post to support my Twitter craziness.
Elves. One of the founding player races in Dungeons & Dragons, they’ve always been a source of consternation for me, while at the same time being one of my top five favourite non-human, non-monstrous player races. But they have a convoluted history with a lot of internal inconsistencies in D&D, and one that is becoming more convoluted with the upcoming release of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. So it’s time for an intervention, because D&D has a serious elf problem. and by “elf”, I mean Eladrin.
Over the years, whenever a new “ethnic” campaign setting was in the offing at TSR, it almost inevitably ended up being bolted onto the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting to give more “options” to players (read: to have their characters not come from said “ethnic” setting). Kara-Tur, the setting of 1985’s Oriental Adventures was later added to the setting as the eastern half of the Eurasian style main continent, opposite to the European themed Faerûn. Zakhara, the setting of the 1001 Arabian Nights themed setting of Al Qadim was added in 1992, as a large peninsula dangling south, midway between Faerûn and Kara-tur. But prior to that, in 1991, the Maztica boxed set was released, and gave the Forgotten Realms a pre-contact “Americas” region. Things went sideways fast.
In 1985, TSR’s board of directors removed Gary Gygax from the company, and after some litigation about intellectual property rights over characters and the Greyhawk campaign setting, which ultimately led to a payout, the company embarked on a new era in gaming. They’d learned a bit from the development of 1e AD&D, and the Satanic Panic that they’d been dragged into. Then, in 1989, they released the first book for 2e AD&D.