In Defense of the White-Box Alternate Elf.
House Rule: Elf Variant
Some Referees may want to allow the Elf to advance as a blend of Fighter and Magic-user instead of switching back and forth. In that
model, the following abilities and advancement
table might be used instead:
Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Elves would have the advantage of both magic and armor at the same time, so the Referee may limit the Elf to chain mail. Elves may not use shields when casting spells. Elves may not use two-handed weapons (two-handed sword, pole arm) when casting spells.
Hereditary Foes: Elves gain an extra
+1 when fighting orcs, undead, and magical creatures.
Keen Detection: Elves are good at spotting hidden and concealed doors.
Saving Throw: Elves get +2 on saving throws vs. magic.
Languages: For campaigns that give
each race its own dialect, Elves should be
able to speak with gnolls, goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins.
I’m not going to lie; my favorite version of Swords & Wizardry Core Rules is the Third Printing. There is something about that edition that I absolutely love that is just missing from the Fourth Printing despite the inclusion of more monsters and the thief. However, the Third Printing did have something that I always found upsetting (and this is coming from a dwarf lover mind you) and that was the presentation of the elf.
In the Third Printing you could chose to be the “Adventurer” (much like there is the Dwarven Warrior) instead of either the fighting-man or magic-user (ignoring the appendix) and be limited in level. However, this left the Elf with almost a split personality as on any given day they had to pick between being either a fighting-man OR a magic-user. To me this left much to be desired because a) That’s a lot of extra gear the Elf had to lug around b) It made the party too heavy or too light in any direction on any given day and c) it just seemed … limiting to me.
So when it came time for me to run my own game over at roleplayinggames.net (Age of Wanderers if your Interested), I began to both search for and develop my own way of making a better Elf race/class. Whether fortunate or unfortunate my time was not as free then as it is now, and I found the Swords & Wizardry White Box first. Imagine my surprise when right there, on the same page as the Elf is the “House Rule: Elf Variant”. The option was almost perfect and I immediately presented it to prospective players with very little rules changes. The rules changes I did make where more to clarify the spell accruement/allotment per level. To me this, while not being the classic Tolkien Elf, was more in-line with the fantasy High-Elf I had come to know over the years through things like Shadows of Mystara and Records of Lodoss War.
The White Box variant Elf was also more consistent in her play style then the as is Third Printing “Adventurer” Elf in that she was a known factor to the party every day of the week, and scenarios of players screaming at the Elf to “put the gnoll to sleep” weren’t meant with a stammered. “Sorry, I chose poorly today!”
Elf Varient: Matt finch and Marv Breig
Elf artwork from Capcom's "Dungeons and Dragons: Tower of Doom"