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 Larian's interpretation of FR's elves?
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Azar
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Posted - 07 Sep 2021 :  01:39:53  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I must say that I am disappointed with BGIII's elves. Is Larian taking a page from official 5e interpretations or are they doing their own thing? Anyhow, if you cover up their elves' ears, 98%+ of those pureblood elves look straight-up human. The only real exceptions that I have seen are the Drow...and that's not saying much. Hell, in some instances, the half-elves appear strangely more elfin than regular elves.

What's going on? Are their artists lazy? Are people nowadays just much more sensitive to the so-called "uncanny valley" and are put off by elves that actually resemble D&D elves with their chiseled vaguely otherworldly features, angular facial profiles, slightly larger/slanted/almond eyes, et cetera? It should be noted that elves are not the only race affected; even goblins now look more human. This may seem like a petty detail to fixate on, but - for me - the immersion in a game's fantasy world (using an established setting, no less) is weakened when the developers literally went with the "Elves are humans with pointy ears" path of least resistance that we tend to joke about.

P.S. My information may be obsolete; I do not know if an especially recent patch has resolved this issue.

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Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.

Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 07 Sep 2021 :  03:18:52  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's fairly common, in fantasy art, that elves are just pointy-eared humans.

Sometimes with some insanely pointed ears.

It's easier on the artists and allows them to maximize the sex appeal.

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Azar
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462 Posts

Posted - 07 Sep 2021 :  10:14:18  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

It's fairly common, in fantasy art, that elves are just pointy-eared humans.

Sometimes with some insanely pointed ears.

It's easier on the artists and allows them to maximize the sex appeal.



Man, if that's the case, someone like Miss Moonblade would be considered butt-ugly . I know, I know...this is one artist's interpretation and not even a recent one at that, but you can see the rendition and clearly arrive at an unmistakable conclusion: "Yeah, she is a half-elf." What's puzzling is that several features attributed to the sylvan folk have historically been - by human standards, anyhow - considered attractive. Certainly, they possess an exotic factor relative to baseline humanity whether or not they're regarded as universally winsome.

Individuals have argued (long before Larian's turn at the wheel, mind you) that this shift in fantasy art is spillover from Jackson's Lord of the Rings live-action adaptations. After all, if those elves sold well, why not go with the winner, right? Of course, D&D and to some extent Mr. Greenwood were both inspired in part by Tolkien, but there has clearly been a bit of divergence since then. Speaking for myself, the idea that D&D is little more than a Middle-Earth simulator is a tiring one.

Again, not a biggie; it's simply a bit of a bummer. We have perfectly good written descriptions going back close to forty years plus excellent pieces over multiple editions of Dungeons & Dragons and yet a group tasked with carrying on the legacy of a seminal RPG series is sacrificing verisimilitude by taking the easy way via humanization. IMO, the works that truly endure are those rife with the little details that lend the biggest distinction.

P.S. Rumor has it that specific Tel-quessir from Baldur's Gate and/or Baldur's Gate 2 are slated to return. Will these fan-favorite characters be making an appearance "as is" (and thus stick out like a sore thumb) or will they be altered to conform to Larian's standards?

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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sleyvas
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Posted - 07 Sep 2021 :  14:28:06  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
They've been drawn that way for a long time though. Look at Laurana in Dragonlance.

That being said, Azar, I get what you mean. I really do like it when they make the elves have the longer face look with larger, angled eyes, etc... as it sets them apart. At the same time, since you mention Lord of the Rings, that's a perfect example where making them less alien looking allows them to be more easily played by a human with ear add ons without a loss of realism.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Eldacar
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357 Posts

Posted - 07 Sep 2021 :  15:18:08  Show Profile Send Eldacar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Azar

I must say that I am disappointed with BGIII's elves. Is Larian taking a page from official 5e interpretations or are they doing their own thing? Anyhow, if you cover up their elves' ears, 98%+ of those pureblood elves look straight-up human. The only real exceptions that I have seen are the Drow...and that's not saying much. Hell, in some instances, the half-elves appear strangely more elfin than regular elves.

The issue with half-elves seeming more elf-like than elves has been raised with Larian, I think on their official forums somewhere. To my knowledge they are still looking at it, or the designs may change between "now" (i.e. when it was raised) and release date (I don't think it has a confirmed date one yet).

It is worth noting that what's out so far is only Early Access. But a very simple switch would be to just swap the current BG3 half-elf textures with the elf textures and make a couple of extra mildly cosmetic alterations.

Larian seems more put out by the vast majority of players not actually playing elves or half-elves or tieflings or dwarves at all. Instead the most common choice so far is a "Good-aligned" Human Male Cleric of Selune or some other Good-aligned god (and of largely unremarkable appearance; brown hair, caucasian tanned, etc.). I would be interested in seeing, actually, if that Cleric popularity changes when they get around to adding Paladins.

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Sometimes with some insanely pointed ears.

In more recent times I think a lot of fantasy art has been influenced by Japanese anime, as well as Warcraft elves, which an entire generation of 20-30 somethings has grown up on and which often present "human but with extremely exaggerated ears" (and sometimes/often exaggerated other things as well) as an elf. There is a reasonably long history of large ears (far moreso than the elves of Tolkien's works) in Japan, going all the way back to Record of Lodoss War (which is very much a D&D-esque fantasy) and the character of Deedlit (pictures on Google here).

"The Wild Mages I have met exhibit a startling disregard for common sense, and are often meddling with powers far beyond their own control." ~Volo
"Not unlike a certain travelogue author with whom I am unfortunately acquainted." ~Elminster
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AuldDragon
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USA
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Posted - 07 Sep 2021 :  16:04:09  Show Profile  Visit AuldDragon's Homepage Send AuldDragon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eldacar

In more recent times I think a lot of fantasy art has been influenced by Japanese anime, as well as Warcraft elves, which an entire generation of 20-30 somethings has grown up on and which often present "human but with extremely exaggerated ears" (and sometimes/often exaggerated other things as well) as an elf. There is a reasonably long history of large ears (far moreso than the elves of Tolkien's works) in Japan, going all the way back to Record of Lodoss War (which is very much a D&D-esque fantasy) and the character of Deedlit (pictures on Google here).



Lodoss War isn't just a D&D-esque fantasy, it is literally based on what amounted to a campaign journal (that was then novelized) of a BECMI campaign. :)

Jeff

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Azar
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462 Posts

Posted - 07 Sep 2021 :  23:58:11  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

They've been drawn that way for a long time though. Look at Laurana in Dragonlance.

That being said, Azar, I get what you mean. I really do like it when they make the elves have the longer face look with larger, angled eyes, etc... as it sets them apart. At the same time, since you mention Lord of the Rings, that's a perfect example where making them less alien looking allows them to be more easily played by a human with ear add ons without a loss of realism.



Yeah...walking away with the impression that "Laurana equals human" takes no effort. Here's an Elmore piece from the 80s where she is obviously not human -> Art. Don't get me wrong: when it comes to accurately depicting elves, D&D art hasn't been fully consistent over the years. However, you can still locate examples from each decade that are solid portrayals.

quote:
Originally posted by Eldacar

Larian seems more put out by the vast majority of players not actually playing elves or half-elves or tieflings or dwarves at all. Instead the most common choice so far is a "Good-aligned" Human Male Cleric of Selune or some other Good-aligned god (and of largely unremarkable appearance; brown hair, caucasian tanned, etc.). I would be interested in seeing, actually, if that Cleric popularity changes when they get around to adding Paladins.


Occam's Razor? Maybe players are going with characters that resemble themselves?

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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TKU
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USA
94 Posts

Posted - 08 Sep 2021 :  07:43:24  Show Profile Send TKU a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Curiously, the Elves Larian designed for their Divinity series are pretty non-standard with some anatomy proportions that really could not be mistaken for human and which really don't conform to closely with what many would consider 'conventionally' attractiveness-so if anybody would have done the elven facial features justice, Larian would seem to be a studio that might have done that.

I suppose we might point in a number of directions here as to why they didn't. IIRC they used face scanning technology to create a lot of the head models used in game-that might have had an impact. Earlier games just used art portraits to convey appearance or conventionally modelled 3d heads rather than scanned ones. There are certainly people out there with angular faces and/or eyes that could work as face models for elven characters, but perhaps that was considered too low a priority to bother? Maybe it is true that they just didn't think the characters would be as photogenic in the cutscene and animation-heavy route Larian has chosen. I know the angular-faced elves of the Elder Scrolls setting got made fun of a lot when Skyrim came out for not being 'pretty'-so if they thought it would impact the success of the game, or if WotC gave them some sort of 'style guide' to follow...who knows?

All I know is, the visual cues identifying Asterion as a Elf and Shadowheart as a Half-elf are more subtle than those identifying those two as a supposedly covert vampire spawn and cleric of Shar-respectively. And that feels very weird to me.
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Azar
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462 Posts

Posted - 08 Sep 2021 :  12:54:50  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by TKU

I suppose we might point in a number of directions here as to why they didn't. IIRC they used face scanning technology to create a lot of the head models used in game-that might have had an impact. Earlier games just used art portraits to convey appearance or conventionally modelled 3d heads rather than scanned ones. There are certainly people out there with angular faces and/or eyes that could work as face models for elven characters, but perhaps that was considered too low a priority to bother? Maybe it is true that they just didn't think the characters would be as photogenic in the cutscene and animation-heavy route Larian has chosen.


Once upon a time, animators had to craft their character models/faces from the ground up. Scanning technology has absolutely made the process cheaper and easier, but at a cost: a human countenance is favored precisely because it involves less work. Consequently, there's more homogeneity and less diversity when it comes to faces across various species even vaguely humanoid. I am most definitely not a fan of the Ink Suit Actor trope .

quote:
Originally posted by TKU

I know the angular-faced elves of the Elder Scrolls setting got made fun of a lot when Skyrim came out for not being 'pretty'-so if they thought it would impact the success of the game, or if WotC gave them some sort of 'style guide' to follow...who knows?


In all fairness, the elves of The Elder Scrolls have faces keen enough to sculpt diamond; the elves of the Realms don't possess miens quite that sharp. Also, the Bosmer (i.e. wood elves) sport some rather insectile eyes...much like elves of Pathfinder.

quote:
Originally posted by TKU

All I know is, the visual cues identifying Asterion as a Elf and Shadowheart as a Half-elf are more subtle than those identifying those two as a supposedly covert vampire spawn and cleric of Shar-respectively. And that feels very weird to me.




Speaking of which? The decision to make ALL half-elves look like "Humans with pointy ears" isn't exactly satisfying either. Some specimens will live up to that expectation, true, but I don't think the average example is so consistently neatly split between both sides of their ancestry. A given half-elf - for example - may feature ears closer to human normal while their eyes obviously resemble those of an elf.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
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Posted - 10 Sep 2021 :  00:16:40  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you rely on the computer games for anything of substance or coherence in the Realms you will almost certainly be disappointed.

-- George Krashos

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Azar
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462 Posts

Posted - 10 Sep 2021 :  01:24:43  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

If you rely on the computer games for anything of substance or coherence in the Realms you will almost certainly be disappointed.

-- George Krashos



Early on (particularly with the Eye of the Beholder trilogy) up until the turn of last millennium (the Baldur's Gate duology) they were rather decent. Of course, there was less established setting material to take into account back then and companies weren't trying to broadly market their games to the point where each title felt stretched thin and/or imitative (specifically, of popular contemporary films). Those games were more often in the hands of geeks instead of executives.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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Eldacar
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Posted - 10 Sep 2021 :  14:52:35  Show Profile Send Eldacar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Azar

Early on (particularly with the Eye of the Beholder trilogy) up until the turn of last millennium (the Baldur's Gate duology) they were rather decent.


Icewind Dale as well, and Heart of Winter. Less so IWD2, I think.

The Baldur's Gate games were helped because of how they (I think I've mentioned this before) drew liberally from the AD&D material, to the point where most of the in-game books you could read setting lore from were a C&P job from the sourcebooks. Admittedly they changed some things (e.g. the Cowled Wizards going from an underground organisation to an official part of the Amnian government), but I didn't mind then and I don't mind now, to the point that "my" home Realms campaigns deliberately reflect events or things that appeared in the BG games.

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"Not unlike a certain travelogue author with whom I am unfortunately acquainted." ~Elminster
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George Krashos
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Australia
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Posted - 11 Sep 2021 :  05:59:57  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Azar

quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

If you rely on the computer games for anything of substance or coherence in the Realms you will almost certainly be disappointed.

-- George Krashos



Early on (particularly with the Eye of the Beholder trilogy) up until the turn of last millennium (the Baldur's Gate duology) they were rather decent. Of course, there was less established setting material to take into account back then and companies weren't trying to broadly market their games to the point where each title felt stretched thin and/or imitative (specifically, of popular contemporary films). Those games were more often in the hands of geeks instead of executives.



Apologies, but I'll have to disagree with you. The plots of 90% of the computer games were/are average to terrible. Take Eye of the Beholder II - a red dragon in disguise is assembling legions of skeletal warriors to attack Waterdeep. Hardly riveting stuff. Its sequel is ten times worse in terms of plot however. A lich named Acwellan "rules" Myth Drannor ... precisely the "stretched/thin" point you make above.

-- George Krashos


"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Azar
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Posted - 11 Sep 2021 :  09:52:21  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Eldacar

quote:
Originally posted by Azar

Early on (particularly with the Eye of the Beholder trilogy) up until the turn of last millennium (the Baldur's Gate duology) they were rather decent.


Icewind Dale as well, and Heart of Winter. Less so IWD2, I think.

The Baldur's Gate games were helped because of how they (I think I've mentioned this before) drew liberally from the AD&D material, to the point where most of the in-game books you could read setting lore from were a C&P job from the sourcebooks. Admittedly they changed some things (e.g. the Cowled Wizards going from an underground organisation to an official part of the Amnian government), but I didn't mind then and I don't mind now, to the point that "my" home Realms campaigns deliberately reflect events or things that appeared in the BG games.



The Icewind Dale games were also worthy of attention; I found them to be more on the "hack-and-slash" end of the spectrum, but that sort of experience has its own appeal. One neat moment in Icewind Dale 2 was when you battled the avatar of an underrepresented god.

quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

quote:
Originally posted by Azar

quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

If you rely on the computer games for anything of substance or coherence in the Realms you will almost certainly be disappointed.

-- George Krashos



Early on (particularly with the Eye of the Beholder trilogy) up until the turn of last millennium (the Baldur's Gate duology) they were rather decent. Of course, there was less established setting material to take into account back then and companies weren't trying to broadly market their games to the point where each title felt stretched thin and/or imitative (specifically, of popular contemporary films). Those games were more often in the hands of geeks instead of executives.



Apologies, but I'll have to disagree with you. The plots of 90% of the computer games were/are average to terrible. Take Eye of the Beholder II - a red dragon in disguise is assembling legions of skeletal warriors to attack Waterdeep. Hardly riveting stuff. Its sequel is ten times worse in terms of plot however. A lich named Acwellan "rules" Myth Drannor ... precisely the "stretched/thin" point you make above.

-- George Krashos





Well, I never claimed that any one game featured an award-winning story , but at least all of those titles contained canon FR lore and left beginner players all the richer with setting details once they finished their adventures. Anyhow, I should have clarified what I meant: "stretched thin attempting to please everyone". As the maxim goes, "When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one."

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Lord Karsus
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Posted - 11 Sep 2021 :  16:11:07  Show Profile Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
-Minus the obvious changes in certain parts of physiology, I always picture Elves as very Kaminoan.

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Azar
Senior Scribe

462 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2021 :  00:11:58  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lord Karsus

-Minus the obvious changes in certain parts of physiology, I always picture Elves as very Kaminoan.



Hm...a little too slender for my tastes.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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Azar
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462 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2021 :  03:18:30  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Lee Moyer draws respectable elves and half-elves: willowy and vaguely otherworldly without coming off as unholy abominations or bargain-basement Halloween costumes.

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Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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Gyor
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Posted - 12 Sep 2021 :  17:08:00  Show Profile Send Gyor a Private Message  Reply with Quote
They use human models.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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Posted - 12 Sep 2021 :  17:27:24  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gyor

They use human models.



I fail to see the relevance, here. A lot of fantasy art uses human models... But unless those human models are actually wearing armor or casting spells or standing next to a dragon, then the artist is only using those models as a starting point, and changing details to match their vision.

If magical effects and other fantastic elements can be added to the baseline established by a human model, then surely a rounder human face can be planed down to an elven one. They can add elf ears, why can't the tweak the cheekbones at the same time?

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Azar
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462 Posts

Posted - 12 Sep 2021 :  23:08:37  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gyor

They use human models.



If we were discussing an actual film with human actors, I could sort of see where you're coming from, but even then proper casting, prosthetics and/or laser-focused CGI goes a long way. However, with video games, there are fewer excuses; three-dimensional computer-generated models are far easier to adjust.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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Azar
Senior Scribe

462 Posts

Posted - 16 Sep 2021 :  10:06:48  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One of the sillier arguments I've seen for Larian's elves essentially boils down to "Elves looking that way* is a stereotype.".

* In other words, the proper/canon/official way.

.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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