That’s the dwarf out of the way. I’m going to try to get through the rest of the RSRD races, hopefully tonight. I hope you’ll excuse the lack of commentary in exchange for more (draft) content.
RSRD Elf Traits
- +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution.
- Medium: As Medium creatures, elves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Elf base land speed is 30 feet.
- Immunity to magic sleep effects, and a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells or effects.
- Low-Light Vision: An elf can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
- Weapon Proficiency: Elves receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the longsword, rapier, longbow (including composite longbow), and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats.
- +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. An elf who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if she were actively looking for it.
- Automatic Languages: Common and Elven. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, and Sylvan.
- Favored Class: Wizard. A multiclass elf’s wizard class does not count when determining whether she takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.
Converting to Echelon Cornerstone Talent
We already have the traits, so moving to Step 2.
Step 2: Make a Note of Hit Dice, Level Adjustment, and Challenge Rating
No racial Hit Dice, no Level Adjustment, Challenge Rating comes from class levels. Basic or Expert cornerstone talent.
Step 3: Examine Ability Score Modifiers
Elves get +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution. I’ll want to look for something that suggests nimbleness and agility, and maybe a bit of frailty.
Step 4: Review the Other Traits
As for the other traits,
- Medium size is the baseline.
- Base land speed of 30 feet is baseline.
- Immunity to magic sleep effects and +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells or effects — might be modeled as a tendency to take Iron Will, but this is more limited and might be worth considering doing something else. Let’s wait and see.
- Low-Light Vision is much like Darkvision, might be a talent on its own or might be folded into the race, it’s certainly a common thing.
- Weapon Proficiency, straight-up talent. Elven combat style provides the martial training, not every elf need have it.
- The racial bonus to various perception checks might still fit, but I can imagine a talent ‘Perceptive’ that might do something similar (and could conceivably be a cornerstone talent of its own, actually, under the ‘split skills’ model).
- Automatic languages goes away.
- Favored class goes away, but I’ll note that in principle they have a connection to magic.
This leaves me with the following that might be considered part of the cornerstone:
- Immunity to magic sleep effects and racial bonus against enchantment spells or effects.
- Low-Light Vision.
- Racial bonus to perception checks.
Step 5: Build the Cornerstone
Elves don’t really get much that isn’t already another talent, do they?
Okay, I want perceptive, agile, somewhat magical.
Low-Light Vision is in, I think I might keep the perception bonuses and magic door finding, those cover perceptive.
Agile… nothing there beyond the +2 Dexterity bonus says ‘agile’, except maybe the weapon proficiencies. I’m going to have to look elsewhere. In my Traits document I find (from different traits):
- Tree Runner: From a young age, you have spent as much time climbing trees as wandering the forest floor. You gain a +4 bonus on all Climb checks and retain your active bonus to defense while climbing.
- Lithe Acrobat: You gain a +2 bonus to all Tumble checks. In addition, you can use Tumble to move at your normal speed without penalty.
- Light-footed: You gain a +2 bonus on all Balance and Move Silently checks. You do not become flat-footed when you are balancing, and you retain your active defense bonus in these circumstances.
Of the three, I think I like Light-Footed best. As much as I appreciate the thought of an acrobatic elven fighting style (and I do!), I remember Legolas walking on snow without leaving footprints. Let’s go with that.
Finally, for the magic component, the immunity to sleep and resistance to enchantment will fit well enough.
RSRD Elf Cornerstone Talent
- Low-Light Vision
- Perceptive (+2 to Spot, Listen, Search checks, gets a passive check — Take 10 — if passing near a secret or concealed door).
- Unsleeping mind: immune to magic sleep effects, +2 bonus to saves against enchantments, needs only four hours sleep per night and does not take the -10 penalty on Listen checks while sleeping.
- Light-footed: +2 bonus to Balance and Move Silently checks, and does not become flat-footed while balancing.
I’m trying hard to consider this an Expert talent rather than a Basic talent, and it’s difficult. If I were to remove Unsleeping Mind it would certainly be a Basic talent, there just isn’t much here.
I’m sure I’ll say this more than once, but RSRD races are really quite insipid. They make a difference in a few small ways (notably the ability score bonuses) but much of the rest of their benefit either doesn’t apply, gets lost in the noise (+1 racial bonus to anything is kind of lame), or is overly generic. I’d rather see races with some notable ability. I expect to rebuild many of these in the end.
In fact, I think I’ll stop working on RSRD races for now. I will come back and build cornerstones for races with the same names, but I think I will base them off the richer information available from other settings. These are just too generic and mild to be of interest to me, I want races that matter.