As I mentioned way back when, I wanted to do a Holmesian write-up for half-elves the same way I did for the various subclasses mentioned in his Basic text. Unfortunately, while I can understand why such a player race might exist (and it provides interesting role-playing possibilities in elf-human relation scenarios), mechanically, it's kind of...meh.
At least, when you consider it in light of my decisions on demihuman classes, level limits, and the absence of multi-classing. I mean, here's what a half-elf gives you:
Infravision (as an elf)
Extra languages (as an elf)
Secret door spotting (as an elf)
Now, in a game of OD&D or AD&D, there's some incentive to play a half-elf. Additional class options not available to elves (including the cleric, ranger, and druid). Additional multi-classing opportunities (which I'm not using). Higher levels to be gained in some classes...well, really only fighter and assassin (+1 level each). If one uses the optional bard class in 1E AD&D you also have a great incentive to be a half-elf (my long-running AD&D character was a half-elf bard).
I'll probably end up going "off-book" again when it comes to this hybrid species. Considering my current race-class restrictions:
- All elves are combo fighter/mages (no, there are no "elven thieves")
- Dwarves may be either fighters or thieves
- Halflings may be either fighters or thieves
- No demihuman may belong to a subclass
Furthermore, if I decide to include half-orcs (a strong temptation) I need to apply some consistency to how a semi-human hybrid functions. If the half-elf's human nature gives him the ability to participate in human-restricted classes, the same should be true of half-orcs, right? But while the original PHB rules provided a bit of parity (similar levels and classes) there were some inconsistencies (cleric for both, yes; druid, no...and no ranger or magic-user options for the half-orc).
ALSO, I really dislike the idea of giving a character the ability to be a subclass but not the class. For example, I'm tempted to allow half-orc witches (that "earthy magic" thing) but half-orc magic-users? I guess I'm stereotyping the fantasy subhuman here, but I don't see half-orcs scribing scrolls like a Holmesian mage.
|Less viable than a half-elf|
"more patient, sure-footed, hardy, and long-lived than horses, and...less obstinate, faster, and more intelligent than donkeys."
However, that's not to say they're as fast as a horse, nor as tough and easy to care for as a donkey. They aren't and they aren't. But what they are is their own thing...their own hybrid species.
Tolkien half-orcs were taller than (normally squat) orcs...which could simply mean they had better posture...and no fear of sunlight. Tolkien half-elves were required to choose whether to live as elves or humans, though those who chose humanity were still blessed with abnormally long lifespans (well, abnormal compared to a normal human). In Tolkien, half-orcs were inherently "bad" and half-elves inherently "good," unlike humans who might go over to either side...and until 3rd edition D&D, I never did see a half-orc of good alignment (probably because they were so often multi-class assassins, with an evil alignment restriction).
*sigh* Have I ever mentioned how little I like infravision?
All right, I'm going to have to chew on this for a bit...I'll try to get something written up tomorrow (either for one or both). Later.
[EDIT: while I did "write up something tomorrow" this post was written several days ago, as was its subsequent follow-up. I have half a dozen posts scheduled to roll out on the blog in anticipation of my writing restrictions while traveling. However, I am still looking for comments and feedback on these thoughts.]