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BECMI to 5E elf conversion thoughts

by Stefan Beate

Another problem is the original Elf Class. To keep in the spirit of the Known World, Elves would have to be able to cast arcane spells and fight. While the Eldritch Knight adresses that, this class starts spellcasting only at third level and severely limits the available spells, which differs from the Elf class.

In fact, one point of the Known World Elf is that any Elf, no matter how lowly, knows to cast at least one spell. This is adressed with the high elf racial description in the 5e PH, as every High Elf is able to cast a Cantrip. If you introduce other Elf races, like the Wood Elf, you might want to change their racial description to give them one cantrip as well. While most "everyday" Elves will probably have Mage Hand, Mending or Prestidigitation as cantrip, the fighters will probably have something like Blade Ward or True Strike. It is good enough IMO for "normal" elves.

Still, this does not adress the problem with other elves. Have a look at the Karameikos Elvenguard (GAZ1, p. 26): "The Elvenguard is led by a 10th level elf captain; the officers under him average 4th level; the troops are typically 2d level. They wear chain mail and carry swords, daggers, and longbows." They number 122.

So, represent that force with the Eldritch Knight would mean that the troops have only one cantrip each - not bad, but surely not the same as being able to cast two first level spells (imagine 120 spell casters casting first sleep on an enemy army to weed out the rank and file troops, and then magic missile on those individuals still standing - probably the officers). It only gets worse - the old 4th level Elf had 2/2 spells, the EK would have three at 1st level. No more Mirror Image or Invisibility. And donīt get me started on the 10th level Elf captain (I only noticed now that he has the fourth-highest arcane caster level in Karameikos, being 10th level, but we donīt even know a name).

Multiclassing: This would assume that every elf has at least 13 Str or Dex, and 13 Int. At 2nd level, with fighter 1 and wizard 1, they would be close to the original. After 2nd level, if they would continue to advance as wizards only, they would reach the spellcasting capabilities needed to come close to what they originally were, but would hamper their fighting prowess, of course. Spreading levels evenly would hamper spellcasting seriously, and give not that much of a fighting ability. Still not a close representation of the Elf.

Gestalt character: as was an option in 3e, you might consider allowing elves (only) to progress in both classes simultaneously, perhaps stopping progress in one or the other at level 10. If you are feeling stingy, you might even require to split XP even after level 10 is reached. This might actually be the closest representation. I would give this a d8 hd for levels 1-10, and then according to class afterwards. Another consideration is the necessity of minimum attributes as with multiclassing. I did not check this for any problems that might occur.

Forester class or substitute: looking at the bard and the sorcerer, both have full spell progression. The bard has a d8 hit die. Perhaps taking the sorcerer spell list and number of spells known, the d8 from the bard, and getting rid of pretty much every other special ability, and replacing these with weapon and armour skills, would come close to the old Elf class. Getting rid of sorcerer points and sorcerer origins would be needed to avoid overpowering the class. Maybe the number of spells known of the bard class would be ok as well, this are not so many more spells. This is similar to the Gestalt idea above, but with some possible balance issues.