I'm not exactly against people playing elves, and it's not so much that I want to discourage people from playing them, but rather, I don't want my games to get "all elf-ed up." Elves don't have to suck, but when folks look at elves and only think of Tolkeinian tree-huggers, that's the shit that I just won't abide. I think that Elf Loathing should really be a thing, so here are the ideas that I tend to use in my games to keep elves from running rampant and being everyone's go-to choice for lame frippery.
- Elves are basically Melniboneans. Seriously. They fight, they cast spells, and they probably do some awful shit along the way. Melniboneans are a corrupt, decadent race that doesn't much care about what happens to anyone but good ol' Number One, so elves should be prepared to sell out anyone who gets in their way and expect that all other elves will do the same.
- While elves come from the Dreaming Dimension, humans aren't the only species that dream, so elves are injected with all sorts of weird shit from the dreams of every sort of sentient creature. The DM is in his rights to ask the player to explain things in "dream logic," ruling out parts that are too normally logical and making the player try again.
- As per the DCC RPG, all elves are allergic to iron, always. They don't get to use iron or steel weapons or armor, which means most of the stuff out there. Sure, I'll give them the one-time bonus of being able to buy a mithril suit of armor and a weapon, but just once. The nature and severity of the iron allergy is totally in flux, since elves themselves are mercurial, and I get to change what that means for each situation.
- Sure, elves get horns at 4th level, but they could get other weird mutations at 4th level as well due to their exposure to the Waking World and the iron that they're allergic to. Make the player tell you how his elf is clearly something other than human -- as in, what's specifically inhuman about this elf? -- or roll on one of the many awesome mutation charts you've probably got lying around.
There's four ideas to keep
folks from playing elves in your game the amount of elfishness in your games to a minimum. If you have ideas, blog them. #ElfLoathing really should be a thing... Also, if you want more like I just mentioned, Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #4 (due out... some time) will pretty much be full of it.