Posted by: Sean | January 19, 2009

Theme Week Non-Player Races: The Quibble with Quel’dorei

So, let’s get it out of the way then. High Elves, right? Probably they’re the most requested new race to the game – I’ve heard people even complain about the gnomes because they ‘took the place of the high elves’. (Potentially true, I’d be intrigued to know the design decisions behind all the race choices.) The high elves appeal to the romantic; they’re elegant and graceful, beautiful and strong. But they are not, however, a selectable race in Warcraft.

Which doesn’t stop people playing them, of course.

Generally, people play elves in one of two ways. Either they select night elves as their race (the “Sylvanas Windrunner” method) or blood elves and then use FlagRSP pr MyRoleplay to state that they’re a high elf, using description as appropriate.

Frankly, both methods have problems, but one has more than the other. Which one? Stay tuned.

The Alliance Way and the tiny problems therein.

Playing a night elf to high elf solves a few problems. Mainly, you’re at least in the right faction – this is a huge plus, make no mistake. But it’s offset by a doozy of a problem – You just don’t look like a high elf. You’re … purple. Your ears are the wrong shape. Sure, you have a FlagRSP description saying this isn’t the case, but what about for people who don’t have FlagRSP? And even if they do, their first impression of you is going to be ‘night elf’. We never could quite get over thinking of Sylvanas as a high elf, and we won’t do that for you either.

The second problem is a little bit less worrisome, but it is worth mentioning: The high elves were a sorcerous race. Sure, they had priests, warriors, and hunters as well. (Not druids, though – If you play a high elf druid you’re doing it wrong.) But the most iconic high elf race is denied to you if you play a high elf this way.

Overall, it’s a really tricky way to play a high elf, but I’ve seen it done before.

The Horde Way and the tiny problems therein.

The blood elves have a big comparative advantage right off the bat: They look like the high elves, mostly. Just the niggling matter of those burning eyes… none the less, they’re workable. You still have the basic assumption issue, but it’s lesser, and there’s even a nice in-character analogue, since let’s face it: Seeing an elf like that in the horde, and anyone’s going to think blood elf at first.

But, of course, the big problem – Why are they in the horde at all?

Believe it or not? Not so big a problem. Look, there’s… what? Maybe a thousand high elves, total? There are fewer high elves than gnomes. At those levels, you can’t say the ‘high elves are part of the Alliance’, you can only say ‘There are high elves in the Alliance.” Most are, it’s true. But there could easily be dozens high elves in the Horde. Maybe even hundreds. You just happen to be one.

The True Problem

Which brings up the problem, the real problem with all of this, and why so many people look down on those who do it.

It reeks of Mary-Sue.

The whole sense that most people get from it is that you’re doing it to be different. To stand out. To say, “Hey, check me out, I’m special!” And that is the way of Mary-Sue.

It’s possible to avoid this. It’s possible to really want to play a high elf. If you’re dead set on doing it, I’d suggest going the Horde route, where the appearance issues aren’t so severe. And there is merit to the idea of NPCing a high elf temporarily for a plot, either either a night elf or a blood elf.

But overall, why not just play a blood elf? They are high elves for most intents and purposes now; even the addiction plot has had a lot of the sting pulled out of it. The only difference now is cultural, and even that is slight.

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Responses

  1. When it comes to people wanting to play a high elf, up until now its been very hard. But luckily, we now have death knights.

    And what a wonderful class it is. With it, the glowing eyes of blood elves is not an issue. Being amongst the Horde is not a problem and even better, its supported by lore. As with so many high elves dying in the Third War, it be easy to say many of them found themselves in the ranks of the Scourge as death knights. And of course, playing a half elf be easier as well with the class.

    As for the population issue. I did the math and there would be a maximum of 2,481 high elves; most of which be in Stormwind. With about 500 or so elsewhere.

  2. Roleplaying a Death Knight high elf also brings the bonus of having it easier to explain the faction change. After all, Sylvannas is the head of the Undead and they have some normal dead elves as well in there.


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