Elven abilities

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zontoxira
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Elven abilities

Post by zontoxira » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:55 pm

I was poring over my PHB 2e revised the other day, in an attempt to run a mini campaign using only the core three books and doing without most of the optional rules (encumbrance, proficiencies, weapon speed etc.). I've also thought of incorporating the ability score modifiers from the Basic set, instead of the usual ability score tables of PHB, which I've always found cumbersome. So far, I came upon this strangely written ability of the elves, their magic resistance:
Elven characters have 90% resistance to sleep and all charm-related spells.
My instincts tell me that the elf's resistance kicks in whenever a spell that creates a sleep or charm effect is cast upon them. However, a few in my gaming group insist that the elven reistance applies to all enchantment/charm spells, which I find quite overpowered. I looked at PHB 1e to see the origins of this ability and it is stated that elves gain this resistance "on sleep and charm spells". This, from what I can tell, limits the elven resistance to two particular spells.
Has there been any official ruling on this matter?

Another issue, albeit a minor one, is that elves gain +1 on their attack rolls when wielding shortswords, longswords, and bows. Not having proficiencies, this ability for an elven mage or cleric would be redudant, since they aren't allowed to use such weapons. Would someone rule out that elves are proficient in those weapons, even if their class does not allow them to use?
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Ashtagon
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Re: Elven abilities

Post by Ashtagon » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:06 pm

Back in my 1e/2e days, I always ruled that "charm-related" meant spells with "charm" in the spell name.

iirc, various 2e books rule that elven clerics have variant weapon proficiencies, which would make the elven attack bonus still relevant, although elven mages are still out of luck. I wouldn't grant them proficiency in those weapons though. Clerics and wizards aren't exactly hurting for power.
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AuldDragon
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Re: Elven abilities

Post by AuldDragon » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:55 pm

Sage Advice in Dragon #242 has a god answer:
"Yeah, its an old question, one the Sage has answered before, but here's a better answer: An elf's resistance applies to spells and spell-like effects that allow continuing control over the recipient. These include charm person, charm monster, domination, fire charm, a vampire's charm gaze, a harpy's song, and many others. An elf's resistance does not apply to effects that allow limited control or impose a disability, such as command, hold person, suggestion, quest, or geas. Nor does an elf's resistance prevent outside influences from usurping control of the body, such as magic jar. Any effect that causes the recipient to fall into an enchanted slumber, such as the sleep spell or the sleep effect of the eyebite spell, is subject to elven resistance. If an opponent uses a command or suggestion spell to induce an elf to fall asleep, the elf does not gain the benefit of his resistance, but the resulting sleep is not 'magical' sleep, and the elf can awaken in response to loud noise, general discomfort, or the like."

One confirming clue is that sleep and charm in the description in the PHB is italicized, which specifically indicates magical effects; the schools and spheres are never italicized.

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Re: Elven abilities

Post by JamesMishler » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:12 am

Back in my 1E/2E days (and using Labyrinth Lord), I let characters use ANY weapon that they might be able to get their hands on; "allowed" weapons listed by class were weapons with which they could gain proficiency, as per the proficiency system.

Thus a magic-user might pick up and swing a sword but suffers the -5 non-proficiency penalty while wielding it; he could never gain proficiency in the weapon, as it was not on the magic-user "allowed weapons" list.

So elf clerics and magic-users gain a +1 to hit with short swords, long swords, and bows, but still suffer the non-proficiency penalty when wielding them.

Interestingly, in 1E, if you wield a magic weapon, it grants you proficiency in the use of that weapon, so you do not suffer a non-proficiency penalty. I think this may have been why Gary was so adamant that intelligent magical swords would only allow themselves to be wielded by fighters, never by others; a common +1 magical weapon can be wielded by even a magic-user, but its intelligent brethren would never allow such an indignity!

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Re: Elven abilities

Post by zontoxira » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:15 am

@Ashtagon yeah, in the end, I would rule that sleep and charm denote spells that impose those two conditions on a character. Priests of specific mythos could wield swords and other weapons, but there's always this odd wizard character who insists on carrying a longsword around, along the lines of some bearded guy with a pointy hat and white robes.

@AuldDragon so SA confirms what I said earlier. Thanks Auldie!

@JamesMishler right, this is the proficiency system that I've been using all along, but now I don't plan to, seeing that it's actually optional and usually makes games bit more complex (I could do with secondary skills though, to give more depth to a character's background). So a class wouldn't be able to wield any weapon not allowed to. A house rule I could think of is to allow elf characters to be able to wield such weapons, as if being proficient in those, but without any bonuses.
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