It’s D&D!

Terrible title. I’ve been having an amusing conversation online with some friends about how to pronounce “D&D words.” Words like Drow and Mordenkainen and Corellon. This mainly happened because I was watching a video of Jeremy Crawford talking about stuff in the newest 5th edition book.

In the video, Jeremy Crawford pronounces Drow as in “brow.” Now, I know that is the currently canon way to pronounce it, but it always sounds wrong to me because I grew up with a playing group that always said, drow as in “crow.” Now – I generally hate the drow period, so I don’t really care how anyone says it, but the other two were more surprising to me.

Crawford (and the other guy in the video) say, Mordenkainen as “mor-den-kay-nen.” That… gave me a little cringe. Pretty sure this has always been mor-den-kine-en,” right? It should be. He also pronounces Corellon as “cora-lon” instead of “cor-ellon” which is how I’ve always heard it/used it.

Don’t get me wrong, I rarely play games in any established D&D world, so I make up my own names… but it does make me wonder how many other names I’d end up being at odds with in a conversation with a younger D&D player who learned their pronunciation from Crawford and his generation of designers… Makes me feel old.

More important, in reading through the Tome of Foes, I was struck by how radically different I tend to run the game than the established canon. I tend to hate the nigh-immortal elves and dwarves of D&D. I’m not a fan of half-elves. Mainly because of weirdness like the “do they have half-souls” as pondered by the Tome of Foes in a sidebar. Seriously – the idea that there are a set number of elves and that every new elf is really an old elf… was just mind-boggling to me.

It has always been more my speed to run elves and dwarves as more traditional immortals in the sense that they grow up like every other being in the world… they have a normal adolescence, a normal say, first 30 years or so… and then they settle in to the long slog of their insane lifespans. I tend to think of them more as reaching a point where living among mortals begins to weigh on them and that’s why the world isn’t run by infinitely powerful elves with 30 year old physiques and 500 years of life experience. They are forced to retire under the weight of their emotions and memories.

This also has the benefit of allowing for humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, etc. to actually grow up together and form friendships prior to adulthood… It always seems strange to me that a 60 year old elf who has just been declared an “adult” would consider a sixteen year old human a peer. Of course, the game mechanics compound this oddity because the sixteen year old human is just as competent as the elf who is nearly 45 years their senior. Early elf life must be boring as all get out.

This was explored in a somewhat interesting way in Mass Effect with Liara being barely an adult in her society (at 105) but she’s an incredibly competent scientist by human standards – as befits her considerable experience. And the unique oddity of Asari reproduction creates an interesting story reason for them to postpone having children as well as choosing other species for partners.

Eh, I suppose that my assumptions about D&D are an outlier… But they are mine, so really who cares?

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