A topic of Firstborn, for Firstborn

Honestly, anyone can comment about this.

I’m playing an elf ranger. So, I have Firstborn as a trait, and I don’t really care for it. I really like the Ranger as a class, despite that I kinda want both the class features and new spells. But anyway.

I don’t know what to do with Firstborn, and I’m thinking of whether there is a means of losing that trait which seems to be linked with the lore of elves. If I lose the trait, does that diminish my elf-ness? Could I even become a short-lived human?

Aside from considering the Human Strider stock and class (no insult intended, but that’s not what I want to ask about), how might I change over time to replace Firstborn with something else, and should there be something linked to my elf-ness that is similarly lost without that trait?

I’d use it when acting in darkness or starlight, revealing oneself as a true elf lord to overawe mortals, resisting illness, striding across snow and all the other little stuff that makes an elf an elf.

There’s no rule about it, but my personal feeling is that a character that loses the trait granted by their class can no longer be an adventurer. But that’s just me.

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Yeah, as Thor said, I think of Firstborn as covering everything related to being an elf. I would think it would apply to anything that falls within elven nature descriptors.

As for losing the trait, I would say you could ditch it during winter following the normal rules for updating traits. I wouldn’t call for any special effect (though I see Thor’s reasoning): it would simply suggest that being an elf is no longer central to who this character is.

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The way I run it is that in Winter Phase you can remove any trait that does not fit, but I do not allow the characters to remove the fylgja trait without forever severing the connection to the animal guide. I’ve never had anyone try to remove their racial trait before though.

I think you raise a good question in that what would be the circumstances in the fiction for that removal. That seems like a cool story to explore with that kind of character (fading away from the histories and losing your connection to your kin).

When I am a player, it is usually an elf. I personally love First Born. It’s great at earning checks in just about any social situation because you can always ham up the insight aspect to make matters worse. On the flip side, I find it good for certain Lore Master tests. If the situation allows, coupled with a tapped Remembering nature, you can’t lose.

I know you’re playing a ranger, but in my Elven Herald class, I replaced First Born with the Champion starting trait because they are not as connected to their past/kin for that very reason. Rather, the heralds focus on the present and future, which is very strange to their kin. It really does make them outsiders and is an important part of the class concept. It is almost like they are another alien race because of it.

I see no reason you couldn’t drop the First Born Trait, if it just doesn’t work for you. Drop it during the Winter Session as normal, but talk with your group and your new Trait should probably reflect losing First Born. Outcast or something along those lines. Or anything based off of the way you’ve been playing the character outside the elf spectrum. Either way, as GM, I would make sure that other elves detect something off about you. Maybe your habit of treating other stocks as equals rubs traditional elves wrong. It would be a good story telling tool, though.




Whoa! But, is it a trait based on my Stock, or on my Class?! Because, if it really is meant to affiliate to my Class, and any common elf wouldn’t likely call upon that aspect of self-identity, then it alters the conversation.

Yet, I imagine a domain less conflated between stock and class in which the First Born is an attribute of being an Elf, and my Ranger ways are part of being a social deadbeat who walked away from the typical customs and history of elves. So, I think of being First Born as an aspect of being an elf, and would like to somehow intermingle too much among other stocks of the world, and lose the First Born attribute while retaining the adventuring spirit of Ranger.

Hmmm. I may have to reread that reddit AMA to refresh on topics of design. I tend to not conflate stock and class so closely, and appreciate the many other classes available.

Truly, this is what I’ve been thinking of. We’ve been in contact already with Gorloga, and I was given a chance to trade my adventuring companions for entry into the realms below. I resisted the trade to be loyal to my adventuring companions, and I’m not certain what my next confrontation with Gorloga will be!

I’m still hopeful for growing my spell-slinging ways, but that whole encounter with Gorloga was so revealing about who I want to become.

this is a bit disconcerting to me. I don’t want to be an outcast among my own kith and kin. I just don’t need to be a long-lived, standoffish snob such as is seen of Tolkien’s elves. I’d like to be more like jovial and genial.

But, I agree I want to treat the other stocks as equals. I did gain Jaded while responding to the Nature questions, and I’ve treated that as being jaded by the xenophobic and isolated customs as well as the generally ungenerous attitudes about other stocks and their problems.

Of course, we haven’t spent much time talking about the elves, so I’m kind of inventing my own backstory all the time.

There’s no mechanical difference here so there’s no real problem. It’s just a bit of reskinning, have fun.

This is true, but also keep in mind what First Born is meant to represent. It’s your elfness.

In the core Torchbearer rules, non-human stocks are basically classes. That’s just part of the old-school charm. Expansions like Fearless and Freebooting may play around with this, but if I were your GM and you gave up the first born trait, I would interpret that as giving up some of your essential elf-ness.

And that’s something that actually happens in Tolkien from time to time, so that’s how I’d roll with it.


I think there are a couple ways to go about this. You could give up Firstborn, but in doing so you would need to replace it with something else fitting for that loss. Fated to Die, Doomed, Accursed, Twisted for example. To some degree the definition of these traits would draw on the fiction of losing Firstborn, so that would be a factor in how you used it. In some ways being Firstborn means that nature bends to your elf nature. With something like Twisted it would rebel against you. This is kind of going the Dark Elf route Jared was hinting at.

Another option is to keep Firstborn but use it differently. Use it against yourself. Make your character conflicted with their elven heritage. Perhaps they are sick of high born elves letting the world fall to darkness because they can’t be bothered to leave their hiding places. Maybe your character identifies more with human woodsmen, or merrymaking halflings, etc. Keep Firstborn and drop Jaded for ‘Disillusioned’ or ‘Running from my destiny’. This would allow you to remain in good standing with your elvish kin (relatively) and still be rebelling against their aloofness.

Everybody wringing their hands but I’d say that the traits are like the least impactful thing you could homerule about a class.

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I like what Paul said above. If you don’t want to be an elven outcast, keep Firstborn and just change the way you use it. You try to fit in with humans and halflings, but, being Firstborn makes it difficult, (use against in social interactions, even though you’re trying). Even interacting with other elves, they can sense your reluctance to accept your culture, (again, use against in social interactions). You don’t have to drop Jaded. Keep it. It works for this. Your don’t have to change anything except how you use what you already have.


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