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So I'm creating a character to try the new patch with, and something has come up that came up with the first character I created, but I moved past it.

All the options for female elf heads have Caucasian features.

There are other racial options for other races, but literally all the female elves look Caucasian -- even changing skin tone, it's not really possible to make a female elf have features common to people of African, East/Southeast Asian, Indigenous, or Latinx descent.

I know that to some this might seem like a nitpick, and honestly, I really hesitated before bringing this up. I thought of it with the first character I created, but I know that things like this can create static sometimes, and people can get defensive / offended.

And I'm not trying to make anyone feel any type of way.

It's just the fact that growing up a brown geek girl, I didn't get to see many heroes who looked like me. I felt lucky if I got to see a female protagonist in the books, movies, and TV shows I was interested in.

It's weird not to see yourself reflected anywhere.

There's this amazing quote by the Dominican-American author, Junot Diaz, about representation:

[i]"You know how vampires have no reflections in the mirror?" the Pulitzer Prize-winning author asked. "If you want to make a human being a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.

"And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me?’ That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me was this deep desire, that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors, so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it."[/i]

This quote resonated with me so hard; as a weird kid from a messed up home who listened to weird music and was into weird things, it made me even weirder that I was brown. The stories I escaped in were almost always about kids like me -- isolated, broken, difficult homes, different than others, but they ended up being special in some way. They ended up finding magic in some way. They ended up escaping and growing and becoming magic themselves in some way.

They were always white.

It's different with books though -- most of the time, authors don't put so much emphasis on describing characters' physicalities in such exacting detail that you can't imagine them a little more how you want to see them. And in the end, you connect with the characters that someone else created because despite the cultural or racial differences, there's still this very deep, important, fundamental thread of connection that makes that character resonate with you on a level just as profound as race, as culture, as ethnicity.

And on TV and in movies, again, I was grateful to see girls start to kick butt sometimes, to wield swords, to save the day.

But again, they were mostly white.

Sometimes it feels hard to explain why this matters to people who haven't experienced it. When you've lived your whole life in a world where the heroes look like you, talk like you (or like your ancestors), sound like you, have similar cultural experiences to you, most likely, you've never considered what it might be like to live in the absence of those heroes. And that's natural; that's normal.

And this has been slowly changing over time, but for the most part, the heroes and heroines in high fantasy tend to be on the paler side of things.

And I'm not mad at that. I can invest just as fully in a white character with a posh British accent as any other (lol, I mean, some of my favorite characters are white with British accents :D).

But also, when playing a video game in the RPG genre, it's a unique opportunity to live out a certain type of fantasy -- to create and be the hero of your imagination, to inhabit a world made of magic in a body, with a face, that reflects whatever ideal (or anti-ideal!) you want.

Elves, in general, have always been a source of fascination to me. There are so many interpretations of them across so many texts and media, but one consistent theme is that they're these immortal, otherworldly, almost transcendent beings, made of magic, light of hand and foot, graceful, dexterous, with something elegant to them no matter how roguish or Drow-ish. At least, that's how they live in my imagination.

So rarely do people of color get to see themselves in such elegant roles.

I love playing elves -- I play other races, too, but elves are usually near the top of the list in terms of order.

So it's kind of disappointing and disheartening to see that it's not possible to play a female elf whose face isn't a reflection of Caucasian standards of beauty / Caucasian features, but rather shows someone who looks a little more like me -- Latinx, North African, a mix of ingredients that don't reflect the thin, petite noses and wide, round eyes of white female beauty, but rather a different kind of beauty... one just as capable of elven grace and dexterity and mastery of magic.

There are some gorgeous, diverse faces across the other races available for play, but those faces are not available for a female elf of any kind -- or even a half-elf. And that's really, really disappointing -- and I'm not sure why it is. Why can Tieflings, humans, dwarves, and halflings have features that resemble those of other races, but not elves?

I'm hoping that in the future, more options will be added to the female elven faces available to reflect greater diversity and allow everyone to be able to enjoy the fantasy of being an elven hero.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

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You lost me at "Latinx."


I don't want to fall to bits 'cos of excess existential thought.

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Why?

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I fully support a greater range of racial diversity. I would also like just... more variety with the elves in general. 3 of the heads look almost the same? I'm hispanic and have a small round face and would like some options that even vaguely reflect that. A couple of the dwarven faces come close but they look super white/irish. (I'm half Scottish and my mom looked like that but I don't lol.)

I think one of the elven heads at least looks east Asian.

Really, this is why we need sliders and head parts. I like how well the heads are crafted but the problem is that without sliders they will only ever cover a very narrow range of people.

I also think there should be more options for hair types. Most of the hair available is very straight. More wavy, curly, and afro-centric hair would be very welcome. (Even if it comes later down the line--Animal Crossing got around to it and I'm so happy with those devs!)

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The fact that they are all apparently scanned off real people probably tells you something about the diversity level in the office lol.

If it was handled via sliders, this would mainly come down to controlling the height of the bridge of the nose, since that is what creates the epicanthic fold around the eyes in an actual human skull. The next most important slider would be for controlling cheekbone height.

They're probably not going to get at the levels of diversity desired by just scanning, unless they are scanning like hundreds of heads. Which they could also do I suppose. But it seems like it'd be simpler to start with basic skull shapes, or at least try find models that demonstrate more of the variety we see out in the world. So they don't end up exacerbating the issue by scanning in a bunch of real heads that just end up looking essentially the same as what they already have. Everything vaguely described with reference to geography or race is better understood with reference to the human skeleton and skull. Sure cephalometry isn't like a real deal science, but its useful for artists and illustrators. Associating the skeleton/skull or facial features in general with ethnicity or race is pretty sketchy territory and has a very fraught history. Its easier to talk about it in terms of abstract structures like just the basic shapes of the bones where the cartilage attaches, more the way its done in forensic anthropology. Since that's what's really going on anyway.

To be specific, what is missing from the female elves right now would be more skulls with a wider nasal aperture=lower bridge, more distinctly rectangular or circular shaped orbits, wider set jaws=lower cheekbones, and more variety in the shape/width of the teeth. Which is just another way to say that simply adding more hairstyles or darker colors to the skin tone palette isn't exactly doing the trick hehe.

One of the reasons facial sliders usually suck in other games is because they don't take into consideration how features relate to each other and the underlying structure, but instead treat them all independently like its Mr Potato head.

The various/diverse facial features we recognize that aren't just melanin on the surface are mostly down to the skull. The female elf skulls right now all have what would be called "European" skull features, at least by 19th century standards. Narrow nasal apertures, aviator orbits, and narrow jaws=high cheekbones. You know, like its Vogue magazine (for most of its history), just with really long and pointy ears hehe.

If scanning real people, would be nice to see them put in a bit more effort during the next round of casting calls.


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Agreed, there's nothing lost by adding a greater diversity of character models and appearances and so much gained.

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Also, what's the purpose of restricting certain faces to only one of the available D&D races?

Like they go through all this effort to scan a human face and fashion a 3d model out of it, but then make it available only for Humans, or only Halflings, or only Dwarves? It seems highly inefficient, and a bit of a waste. Its kind of annoying as well, how everything in the appearance menu resets if you decide to switch from say an Elf to a Half-Elf midway through the char creation process. I get that heads can be subbed in rather easily with Mods, but why not just have every face available to every D&D race by default?

Sure Gith are oddballs, but we know those aren't just 1:1 scans of real people. Even there, the game could just Githyankify whatever basic face model you chose by giving them a snub nose and gaping maw. You know, the way long ears are tacked on for Elves, or horns tacked on for Tiefs. All the faces for all the races just seems like it would be a way better use of the art work their modelers have already done.

Like the OP mentioned...

Originally Posted by Saturdiva


There are some gorgeous, diverse faces across the other races available for play, but those faces are not available for a female elf of any kind -- or even a half-elf. And that's really, really disappointing -- and I'm not sure why it is. Why can Tieflings, humans, dwarves, and halflings have features that resemble those of other races, but not elves?


If the head model already exists, we should just be able to use it for any of the D&D races available in the game.



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Hard disagree, sorry. Elves traditionally have features most reminiscent of Caucasian faces (maybe with a dash of Asian features) and introducing other ethnicities would make them seem even more "humans with pointy ears" than they already are. However, I think elves should have mostly elven features, that is alien and non-human, rather just pointy ears slapped on a Caucasian face. Imo non-human races shouldn't reflect human ethnicities, and certainly not a 1-1 mapping of all of them. In-game humans and half-humans, sure, why not.

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Traditional according to what tradition though? Like an Alan Lee painting? D&D illustrations from the 1970s? The imps from Shakespeare or German folktales? Tall ethereal things so white they're glowing, like the Tuatha de Danann of Ireland? In Tolkien they don't even have pointy ears. The tradition is all over the place.

In any event we're still talking custom character options here right? Not changing the look of a prominant Elf companion, or the majority of Elf NPCs we encounter. So it really only affects the protagonist. Many people are just going to want a PC that looks like an idealized version of themselves. Still others are just going to play as an Elf for metagaming reasons, because they want dark vision or a bonus cantrip or whatever, not because they want to look like an alien Vulcan per se. For Tav the more options the better.

The OPs concerns are legimate, and anyway what's a few more head models really, when anyone who doesn't like what they're seeing can just skip to the next head like Mombi?

I've made a couple dozen toons for BG3, but have probably used the same couple faces every time. Its all mirror mirror on the wall isn't it? Just with a different haircut lol.

I don't know, I just can't see the harm. As noted they've already gone all-in for the 'Elves are just humans with pointy ears' aesthetic, so they might as well take it to its logical conclusion.


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Originally Posted by Black_Elk

In any event we're still talking custom character options here right? Not changing the look of a prominant Elf companion, or the majority of Elf NPCs we encounter. So it really only affects the protagonist. Many people are just going to want a PC that looks like an idealized version of themselves. Still others are just going to play as an Elf for metagaming reasons, because they want dark vision or a bonus cantrip or whatever, not because they want to look like an alien Vulcan per se. For Tav the more options the better.

This. So much.

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Originally Posted by Black_Elk

I don't know, I just can't see the harm. As noted they've already gone all-in for the 'Elves are just humans with pointy ears' aesthetic, so they might as well take it to its logical conclusion.

+1

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Right on, glad that made sense.

But just to indulge Uncle Lester's points a bit, if they wanted to go with the Alien Elf look, like say more Elrond from the 80s Hobbit cartoon, rather than Elrond from the Peter Jackson LotR films, they'd need to completely change the shape of the underlying skull. Basically compressing and elongating the lower part of the skull like an El Greco painting.

A freakishly narrow chin and jaw giving extremely high cheekbones, triangular shaped orbitals for the eyesockets, and a very narrow nasal aperture. But they clearly did not go that direction with their aesthetic at all, otherwise our elves would look much more like the Gith do currently than anything a normal Human skull would produce.

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To the OP, thank you for sharing your insights and suggestions.

Speaking freely, I'm not sure where I stand on this; on the one hand, I wouldn't wish to limit someone's enjoyment of the game and I agree with one of the posters above, I can't see the harm. We play these games to role play after all and that is inherently a unique perspective to us all. Personally I don't care for seeing my visual characteristics represented in the characters I make, other than their personalities but I appreciate that is just my own opinion and basically irrelevant.

On the other hand I'm a bit torn on the subject of elves. As far as I know, and I am happy to be corrected on this by the many people here with far more knowledge on the matter, that elves are generally portrayed as having ethereal features, in that they look really quite different from humans? And we are talking DnD elves here, so although they are inspired by myth and Tolkien, etc. it seems appropriate to use the DnD portrayal of Elves as reference?

In conclusion, it wouldn't really bother me other than from a purely 'traditional' sense, which again, is probably irrelevant.

To digress, if anything at the moment I find the Elven heads, particularly the male ones, far too human looking with chiselled jaws etc.




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Originally Posted by Saturdiva


All the options for female elf heads have Caucasian features. There are other racial options for other races, but literally all the female elves look Caucasian -- even changing skin tone, it's not really possible to make a female elf have features common to people of African, East/Southeast Asian, Indigenous, or Latinx descent.


Elves arose from the myths and legends of people with caucasian features, so them having caucasian/european features is just natural and normal. Insisting that elves should somehow conform to our modern sensibilities about race and ethnicity is like drawing a fedora and shades on the Mona Lisa and putting a joint in her mouth so that she is more cool.

Originally Posted by Saturdiva


It's weird not to see yourself reflected anywhere.


You aren't supposed to see yourself reflected in a completely different species tbh. Just imagine how messed up would it be if someone saw themselves reflected in a gnome or a lizardfolk. The only reason you bring up elves because they are the pretty race. and everybody wants to be pretty.

Originally Posted by Saturdiva


There's this amazing quote by the Dominican-American author, Junot Diaz, about representation:

"You know how vampires have no reflections in the mirror?" the Pulitzer Prize-winning author asked. "If you want to make a human being a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.

"And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me?’ That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me was this deep desire, that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors, so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it."


This quote resonated with me so hard; as a weird kid from a messed up home who listened to weird music and was into weird things, it made me even weirder that I was brown. The stories I escaped in were almost always about kids like me -- isolated, broken, difficult homes, different than others, but they ended up being special in some way. They ended up finding magic in some way. They ended up escaping and growing and becoming magic themselves in some way.


That quote is messed up. No-one should seek to judge himself or herself based on external validation of fallible human beings. You are who you are and you should learn to be happy with who you are regardless of what the world thinks. If you seek validation from outside you will never be happy because most people will never care for you, no matter who you are.

Originally Posted by Saturdiva

But also, when playing a video game in the RPG genre, it's a unique opportunity to live out a certain type of fantasy -- to create and be the hero of your imagination, to inhabit a world made of magic in a body, with a face, that reflects whatever ideal (or anti-ideal!) you want.


Then why do you want to live out your reality in a game? It's like you treat your own life as a fantasy that has no place in reality. If you really believe this, then for your own sake, you must change it. You should be able to be who you are IRL, and if anyone's stopping you it's probably you.

Originally Posted by Saturdiva

I'm hoping that in the future, more options will be added to the female elven faces available to reflect greater diversity and allow everyone to be able to enjoy the fantasy of being an elven hero.

Elves are already incredibly diverse as it is. If you need a skin color change and a different nose structure to enjoy being an elven hero... well excuse me but that's just very shallow.
You enjoy being an elven hero because of the history behind elven culture, which some games can write pretty well. It's not about looks, never was.

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Originally Posted by Saturdiva
So I'm creating a character to try the new patch with, and something has come up that came up with the first character I created, but I moved past it.

All the options for female elf heads have Caucasian features.

There are other racial options for other races, but literally all the female elves look Caucasian -- even changing skin tone, it's not really possible to make a female elf have features common to people of African, East/Southeast Asian, Indigenous, or Latinx descent.

I know that to some this might seem like a nitpick, and honestly, I really hesitated before bringing this up. I thought of it with the first character I created, but I know that things like this can create static sometimes, and people can get defensive / offended.

And I'm not trying to make anyone feel any type of way.

It's just the fact that growing up a brown geek girl, I didn't get to see many heroes who looked like me. I felt lucky if I got to see a female protagonist in the books, movies, and TV shows I was interested in.

It's weird not to see yourself reflected anywhere.

There's this amazing quote by the Dominican-American author, Junot Diaz, about representation:

"You know how vampires have no reflections in the mirror?" the Pulitzer Prize-winning author asked. "If you want to make a human being a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.

"And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me?’ That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me was this deep desire, that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors, so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it."


This quote resonated with me so hard; as a weird kid from a messed up home who listened to weird music and was into weird things, it made me even weirder that I was brown. The stories I escaped in were almost always about kids like me -- isolated, broken, difficult homes, different than others, but they ended up being special in some way. They ended up finding magic in some way. They ended up escaping and growing and becoming magic themselves in some way.

They were always white.

It's different with books though -- most of the time, authors don't put so much emphasis on describing characters' physicalities in such exacting detail that you can't imagine them a little more how you want to see them. And in the end, you connect with the characters that someone else created because despite the cultural or racial differences, there's still this very deep, important, fundamental thread of connection that makes that character resonate with you on a level just as profound as race, as culture, as ethnicity.

And on TV and in movies, again, I was grateful to see girls start to kick butt sometimes, to wield swords, to save the day.

But again, they were mostly white.

Sometimes it feels hard to explain why this matters to people who haven't experienced it. When you've lived your whole life in a world where the heroes look like you, talk like you (or like your ancestors), sound like you, have similar cultural experiences to you, most likely, you've never considered what it might be like to live in the absence of those heroes. And that's natural; that's normal.

And this has been slowly changing over time, but for the most part, the heroes and heroines in high fantasy tend to be on the paler side of things.

And I'm not mad at that. I can invest just as fully in a white character with a posh British accent as any other (lol, I mean, some of my favorite characters are white with British accents :D).

But also, when playing a video game in the RPG genre, it's a unique opportunity to live out a certain type of fantasy -- to create and be the hero of your imagination, to inhabit a world made of magic in a body, with a face, that reflects whatever ideal (or anti-ideal!) you want.

Elves, in general, have always been a source of fascination to me. There are so many interpretations of them across so many texts and media, but one consistent theme is that they're these immortal, otherworldly, almost transcendent beings, made of magic, light of hand and foot, graceful, dexterous, with something elegant to them no matter how roguish or Drow-ish. At least, that's how they live in my imagination.

So rarely do people of color get to see themselves in such elegant roles.

I love playing elves -- I play other races, too, but elves are usually near the top of the list in terms of order.

So it's kind of disappointing and disheartening to see that it's not possible to play a female elf whose face isn't a reflection of Caucasian standards of beauty / Caucasian features, but rather shows someone who looks a little more like me -- Latinx, North African, a mix of ingredients that don't reflect the thin, petite noses and wide, round eyes of white female beauty, but rather a different kind of beauty... one just as capable of elven grace and dexterity and mastery of magic.

There are some gorgeous, diverse faces across the other races available for play, but those faces are not available for a female elf of any kind -- or even a half-elf. And that's really, really disappointing -- and I'm not sure why it is. Why can Tieflings, humans, dwarves, and halflings have features that resemble those of other races, but not elves?

I'm hoping that in the future, more options will be added to the female elven faces available to reflect greater diversity and allow everyone to be able to enjoy the fantasy of being an elven hero.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.



This is a beautiful post. You got me with this one. I understand now more than ever before why this issue is important. I'm sure there are many, many people who feel as you do, so thanks for taking the time to give voice to their perspective.

Anyone who comes along with that "I don't see why it's a big deal anyway" or "hurr durr SJW agenda" or the usual crap that people post when someone kindly asks for some more representative appearance options for non-white people in video games is already pre-emptively shut down by this great original post.

Let's keep this on the first page.

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Originally Posted by Tzelanit
You lost me at "Latinx."



okay boomer

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Originally Posted by Firesnakearies



This is a beautiful post. You got me with this one. I understand now more than ever before why this issue is important. I'm sure there are many, many people who feel as you do, so thanks for taking the time to give voice to their perspective.

Anyone who comes along with that "I don't see why it's a big deal anyway" or "hurr durr SJW agenda" or the usual crap that people post when someone kindly asks for some more representative appearance options for non-white people in video games is already pre-emptively shut down by this great original post.

Let's keep this on the first page.


But we already have racial options... My problem is not the SJW agenda, my problem is that you guys are once again unironically turning all other races into humans.

HUMANS ARE DIVERSE THEREFORE ELVES MUST ALSO BE DIVERSE EXACTLY THE SAME WAY HUMANS ARE DIVERSE!
And I just disagree with the statement above. Elves are their own species. You just want to impose your very specific idea about diversity on another species to make yourself feel better about the issue.
At this point I just think elves should look a bit more pixie-like to hammer home the point that they are not human so people stop treating them as human.

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Originally Posted by Eldath
Originally Posted by Saturdiva


All the options for female elf heads have Caucasian features. There are other racial options for other races, but literally all the female elves look Caucasian -- even changing skin tone, it's not really possible to make a female elf have features common to people of African, East/Southeast Asian, Indigenous, or Latinx descent.


Elves arose from the myths and legends of people with caucasian features, so them having caucasian/european features is just natural and normal. Insisting that elves should somehow conform to our modern sensibilities about race and ethnicity is like drawing a fedora and shades on the Mona Lisa and putting a joint in her mouth so that she is more cool.

Originally Posted by Saturdiva


It's weird not to see yourself reflected anywhere.


You aren't supposed to see yourself reflected in a completely different species tbh. Just imagine how messed up would it be if someone saw themselves reflected in a gnome or a lizardfolk. The only reason you bring up elves because they are the pretty race. and everybody wants to be pretty.

Originally Posted by Saturdiva


There's this amazing quote by the Dominican-American author, Junot Diaz, about representation:

"You know how vampires have no reflections in the mirror?" the Pulitzer Prize-winning author asked. "If you want to make a human being a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.

"And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me?’ That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me was this deep desire, that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors, so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it."


This quote resonated with me so hard; as a weird kid from a messed up home who listened to weird music and was into weird things, it made me even weirder that I was brown. The stories I escaped in were almost always about kids like me -- isolated, broken, difficult homes, different than others, but they ended up being special in some way. They ended up finding magic in some way. They ended up escaping and growing and becoming magic themselves in some way.


That quote is messed up. No-one should seek to judge himself or herself based on external validation of fallible human beings. You are who you are and you should learn to be happy with who you are regardless of what the world thinks. If you seek validation from outside you will never be happy because most people will never care for you, no matter who you are.

Originally Posted by Saturdiva

But also, when playing a video game in the RPG genre, it's a unique opportunity to live out a certain type of fantasy -- to create and be the hero of your imagination, to inhabit a world made of magic in a body, with a face, that reflects whatever ideal (or anti-ideal!) you want.


Then why do you want to live out your reality in a game? It's like you treat your own life as a fantasy that has no place in reality. If you really believe this, then for your own sake, you must change it. You should be able to be who you are IRL, and if anyone's stopping you it's probably you.

Originally Posted by Saturdiva

I'm hoping that in the future, more options will be added to the female elven faces available to reflect greater diversity and allow everyone to be able to enjoy the fantasy of being an elven hero.

Elves are already incredibly diverse as it is. If you need a skin color change and a different nose structure to enjoy being an elven hero... well excuse me but that's just very shallow.
You enjoy being an elven hero because of the history behind elven culture, which some games can write pretty well. It's not about looks, never was.

lmao this is so cringe keep posting.

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I think the very idea is cringe so there you go lol.

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As a Swede, I am hardly unbiased on the issue. Scandinavian history, folklore, and mythology hardly ever gets any serious representation (just look at what they've done to my beautiful trolls) and is often regarded with contempt, ridicule, and looked down the nose on (see anything that includes "Vikings"). Anything that makes elves more generic than they already are will make me feel sad about it.

And I'm not saying DnD elves aren't already genericified to hell. They are, and I dislike that. So yeah, I basically balance back and fro between being sad about that and this opinion:
Originally Posted by Black_Elk
I don't know, I just can't see the harm. As noted they've already gone all-in for the 'Elves are just humans with pointy ears' aesthetic, so they might as well take it to its logical conclusion.


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