Beyond the Tree: putting characters into scale

Playing on a roleplaying server can have some rather curious side effects, especially if you take the time to look around various character descriptions. One thing that I find tends to consistently amuse me is when players guesstimate the heights and weights of characters effectively “from the hip”, without any reference to speak of. Part of the problem is that we have only a single reference for just what kind of heights and weights we can expect out of characters, and that’s the most recent Warcraft pen and paper RPG sourcebook, so there’s always a question how much Blizzard actually take those numbers into account. Still, since I’ve had numbers for the cast of Beyond the Tree around for awhile, it inspired me to share in case anyone finds it interesting, for whatever reason.

Bear in mind that these numbers are mainly rough estimates based on the numbers for height and weight provided by the RPG sourcebook, adjusted to what I felt made sense. It’s mostly there to provide a sense of relative scale of the characters and provide a rough idea what it’d be like to come across them.

Being about two meters (203 cm, or 6 feet 8 inches) tall and just about 100 kg (~220 lb), I always envisioned Te’len as rather average for a Night elven woman. She’s fit, but not to the degree of a trained Sentinel, a little rounded along the edges, but not immensely so. Druid or not, I always felt that Te’len was a young woman first, druid second, and her physique reflects that. She’s still taller and heavier than most humans she’s bound to ever meet on account of being a Night elf, but it’s not an advantage she’s used to pressing.

At aproximately 222 cm (7 feet 3.5 inches) tall and weighing in at roughly 135 kg (~300 lb), Hani Foonmall is anything but little, and nowhere near average. Typically described as being between a half to a full head taller than the average Night elven woman and built like a bipedal nightsaber, Hani is very much intended to look physically imposing – strong, quick and near tireless, a relentless predator. She’s the physical epitome of a Night elven warrior and Sentinel, making her dismissal all the more a mystery.

Tiny is Tiny, as the statement goes, and being only about half a meter (1 foot 8 inches) tall and little over 5 kg (11 lb), Tiny is about the size of a house cat. Though I tend to describe her as shrunken down to 1/4’th size (her model is 25% the scale of that of Te’len), she’s actually intended to be shorter than Te’len when at full size, so it’s actually a little less than that. Otherwise, she’s largely built as Te’len, though perhaps a little less soft-edged; I estimated her weight to about that of a house cat – mass doesn’t scale linearly, and it seemed to make sense seeing how Hani (and now Te’len) walk around balancing her on a shoulder.

Finally we have Areen, who at just a little under a meter (96 cm, or 3 feet 2 inches) and about 20 kg (44 lb) is a somewhat average gnomish woman. While I imagine she’s a little heavier than average for her height, being a practiced melee combatant, she’s neither all that much larger or smaller than the typical gnome. That said, more than anyone else in the cast, Areen is the one most likely to weigh a whole lot more “in action” (so to speak) than noted here by virtue of her suit of armor.


29 Responses to “Beyond the Tree: putting characters into scale”

  1. 1 Martinus Ursius
    August 6, 2010 at 11:26

    I find the weight of Te’len and Hani a bit too much. Let’s compare humans to night elves. The average male human is approximately 180 cm tall and around 75-80 kg in weight, that is if they are in good shape, musculant enough to withstand average punishment from hand-to-hand combat. The average woman is around 160 cm tall and around 50-55 kg in weight. (side note: don’t ever say they are more than 60, or else they beat the everliving soul out of you<- life experience).
    In comparison to human physiology night elves are slim. Strength is not their main attribute but agility and speed. So it is hardly imaginable, that a night elf woman would be above 95 kilograms in weigth, mainly because of their physioligy. Since they are way above 200 centimeters in height, but also very agile, i can only assume their bones are a bit more lighter, than an average human skeleton.
    If they would be as heavy as you tell us, they could not even move as swift and silent as anticipated from the average elf, since they would be much more bulkier, and their body could take much more punishment than a human. But then they would not require ranged combat, so they would be more melee-oriented, not using throwing weapons like glaives, or ranged weapons, but longswords, two-handed weapons, and would wear heavy armor, instead of leather and chainmail.

    So in the end, the average elf woman should be around 65-75 kg, males are approx. 15-20 kg heavier. Warriors should be around 80-85 kilograms as females, and 100-110 kg as males.


    • 2 Nhani
      August 6, 2010 at 12:30

      Weight does not scale linearly with size or height – this is an important thing to note: you can’t just extrapolate Night elven weights from humans because they’re on a different scale and physique, nor is the difference between speed, agility and strength really about weight.

      To make a few examples using felines, Cheetahs aren’t really any lighter than other felines about the same size – what makes them fast is not weight, but muscle distribution. There’s basically two types – one that’s very fast but lacks stamina, and one that’s slower, but can work for much more extended periods. The Cheetah is a sprinter and can run at incredible speeds, but can’t hold them for very long. Compare this with the slightly larger (~16% larger, ~20% heavier) Leopard, which can only run at half that speed, but can do so for much longer, and is a much better climber.

      As an extreme comparison, Lions are about 44% larger than Leopards, but weigh a staggering 225% more.

      While it’s entirely possible the numbers in the sourcebook are slightly skewered, I’d say the average Night elven woman will weigh about the same as a human male, at least; they don’t have the thin, wiry physiques of high elves. So while my estimates may be a little too high, I’ll say yours are definitely too low. If anything, your average for a female night elven warrior would be what I’d call minimum for the average night elven woman.

    • 3 Arafor
      August 7, 2010 at 07:49

      Well, if you think logically about it, if anything, nightelves should have heavier skeletons then humans.

      Due to their length, weight and speed they need a very strong skeleton since their body is taking severe punishment from their movements. Even more so since they live in a forest area and are known for nimbly taking split curves and using their surroundings to the max.

      With their length: a skeleton of the same material and weight of a human simply wouldn’t hold. Even if you adapted the weight of the skeleton to their seize it would get worn out eventually and nightelves would become very prone to break their legs around the age of 60 years old (yes, we have to take into account that nightelves have been immortal,as well.)

      Due to the time it takes for them to mature it would be more plausible for their bodies to try and build bones that takes longer time to build up, but that is more compact, and thus heavier.

      But it would probably also be thicker at some areas then the average human skeleton. Due to the stress placed on their bodies, it would likely be a bit thicker particularly in their legs, hips, spine (due to lacking support from their thin waists) and their shoulders while it would probably be thinner in their arms.

  2. August 6, 2010 at 14:31

    Thing is though if Hani is about 130 kilo’s and slightly over 2 meters high, how much of it are muscles? I’m about 100 KG’s and i’m 180 cm’s, and i’m a rather ‘heavy’ guy, so how does that work?

    I dont mind the Hight and Weight ratio here, none at all, just a bit puzzling to see Night elves look that skinny despite their weight. Could be my bad for not seeing it very well because of the models and the like…

    • 5 Nhani
      August 6, 2010 at 15:25

      Part of it is the art style – it’s definitely exaggerated to a significant degree, but I think a whole lot of people just think of the non-human races as humans at different heights and leave it at that, which isn’t very representative. Of course, at the end of the day, these are sourcebook numbers, and they may be off as I have no idea how they decided on them, but I definitely think Night elves are a fair bit heavier than most people seem to think.

      Think of it this way – Hani is almost a whole half meter taller than you, and likely has both broader shoulders and more powerful limbs to boot. While Night elves have comparably thinner waists to humans.. in actual measurements I think they’d be about the same, and it’s instead that their upper torso is noticeably broader. In a way, I think it might be that people think of Night elves as having the build and weight of taller humans, where it might actually be more sensible to think them closer to the weight and build of taller orcs.

  3. 6 LolDrood
    August 6, 2010 at 15:43

    Do also keep in mind that night elves aren’t human, and could have very different skeleton and organ constructions; putting them on a human scale is inherently flawed.
    Even in a 250-350 pound range, you’re still very capable of have a fast and agile being, with honed placements of fast-twitch muscles and a nervous system designed for faster reaction times. Besides, Nelfs are fast and agile when compared to other beings of a similar size and mass, such as satyrs, orcs, tauren, naga, etc. Which is what really matters.
    IIRC, gnomes actually have a slightly higher base agility in WoW then nelfs do.

    • 7 Algorithmix
      August 7, 2010 at 21:37

      While there are certainly physiological differences between night elves and humans, it is likely that these differences are not that great. Why? Recall that high elves and humans can reproduce. If this is possible it must mean that they are compatible enough in terms of genetics (or whatever passes for it in WoW), which again translates into similar internal organs, reproductive organs, bone and muscle structure and composition and so on.

      Given how closely night elves are related to high elves, it stands to reason that humans and night elves can reproduce as well, which means that the above holds true for them. So, basically, humans and night elves cant be that different.

      • 8 Nhani
        August 7, 2010 at 21:59

        Orcs and Humans can reproduce, they’re of completely different body builds, from completely different worlds. Orcs and Draenei can reproduce, yet again in spite of completely different body builds and entirely different worlds and life spans – and do bear in mind that this is with Orcish blood being red and Draenei blood being blue.

        (as an interesting aside, as I recall High elven blood has always been depicted as red, while Night elves were shown having purple blood in WarCraft III)

        So while I could argue that genetic evidence suggests that in real life, humans actually interbred with Neanderthals (which, while shorter, were both notably stronger and had a more dense and robust bone structure) some tens of thousands of years ago.. let’s face it, going by the terms of the lore provides, the ability for two races to interbreed doesn’t really say all that much – if anything at all – in regards to how physically similar they are.

        • 9 wowplayer
          August 9, 2010 at 00:42

          it only says that they were created similarly so maybe the titans never figured that there would be portals between worlds made by what they created so they decided to use what worked instead of realizing that a world with magic can create portals therefore allowing interbreeding… or maybe that was the plan to begin with /end lore theory

        • 10 Aldrius
          August 9, 2010 at 23:06

          Well actually Orcs have black blood.

          (Proudmoore: “Death to the black bloods!” and then the WarCraft 3 Intro shows the pool of blood with black orc blood combining with red human blood when they are both killed.)

          • 11 Nhani
            August 9, 2010 at 23:17

            That’s actually a point, I’d forgotten about that aspect of the intro; curiously enough, in-game, WarCraft III shows them with red blood – albeit a few shades darker than that of humans. That does beg the question as for why the change within the same game, though..

            • 12 synchronizor
              October 1, 2010 at 02:06

              5 kilos sounds pretty heavy for Rei. The way scaling works, three-dimensionally scaling a shape by a constant factor means the volume is changed by the cube of the scaling factor.

              Take a cube for example; if you shrink it by a factor of 1/4, its height, width, and depth will all be one-quarter of what they were before. It’s volume however, since it is calculated by multiplying the three measurements together, will decrease by a factor of (1/4)^3, or 1/64. Assuming the shrunken cube is made of all the same materials (i.e. total density stays the same), its mass will also be 1/64th of what it was originally. A cube is a simple shape that makes this principle easy to visualize, but it holds true for any three-dimensional shape.

              If Rei’s mass was, for example, 100 kilos before she was shrunk, she should have a mass of a little over 1.5 kilos at 1/4 size. Working the other way, with a mass of 5 kilos at 1/4 size, she would have clocked in at a whopping 320 kilos before her transformation.

            • 13 synchronizor
              October 1, 2010 at 02:07

              I have no idea why the above was put here, and not at the end of the comments, but here it is anyway…

            • 14 Nhani
              October 1, 2010 at 07:31

              hah, well that’d make it a good but malplaced point, then!

              Tiny’s weight was really the only one I threw from the hip, and I got it pretty much by thinking “well, she’s the size of a cat, so I’ll take about that in weight, too.”

              Practically, a cat has a tad more circumference than her for the same height/length, so she’s probably closer to 1.5 – 2 kilograms, yes.

  4. August 8, 2010 at 13:25

    Great post. It does seem to be a view held by the majority that because a Night Elf female has a generally lithe and agile figure she cannot pack a good punch if it came to that. It even seems that people use the hit and run tactics of the Sentinels as a reason why they could not possibly stand toe to toe with others. But i’d say from the weight given that it would probably be recommended to avoid a one on one fight with a Sentinel. If one threw all of her body weight behind a punch (which given the Kaldoreis fighting style wouldn’t likely happen, but this is hypothetical) i’d say that if the punch landed against a Human male it would hurt, a lot…and not be as laughable an attempt as many people seem to think it would be.

  5. 16 Fokker
    August 8, 2010 at 14:13

    Ablity to actually have taller or shorter character ingame is something that I’m going to miss when I finally start playing on official RP servers…

    • 17 wowplayer
      August 9, 2010 at 00:44

      lol private servers?

      • 18 Fokker
        August 9, 2010 at 22:39

        Unfortunately. Altough, it’s all quite serious there, and you can have some nice experiences, because of wider possibilities. You can play as basically anything you want (as long as your request is accepted), and as I said, you can have your character’s scale modified.
        But the average online player count is like 70. Gah. I really want to see how stuff’s like on officials.

  6. 19 Aldrius
    August 9, 2010 at 23:08

    Sorry, don’t have much to say about character heights.

    Don’t know if you’re avoiding Cataclysm spoilers but as I’m in the beta I posted a rather lengthy response post on the first two Night Elven zones, Darkshore and Teldrassil, you can read it here:


    Thought you might be interested. ^^

    • 20 Nhani
      August 10, 2010 at 07:53

      It was definitely interesting; not all positive, but interesting. I’m still hoping we’ll get to see Tyrande assert herself, but.. it’s starting to sound less and less likely.

      • 21 Aldrius
        August 11, 2010 at 17:44

        My biggest hope right now for Tyrande is Winterspring. (Perhaps a pronged attack against the Twilight’s Hammer at Hyjal)

        But I’m not sure how likely that is… she really should have been in Ashenvale. But so far she hasn’t been.

        • 22 Nhani
          August 11, 2010 at 17:57

          I’ve been keeping up with the thread, actually – seen what various responses and input there has been. Observation so far seems like the WarCraft III Tyrande is long since vanished into the ether, replaced by some.. mockery.

          While I’d love to be wrong, I don’t really expect to.

          • 23 Aldrius
            August 11, 2010 at 22:26

            I dunno. Pre-Cataclysm I’d never have guessed that Sylvanas would be back to her TFT characterization.

            Nor would I have guessed that they’d actually have prolonged well-written arcs and good story development.

            And after the huge resuscitation they’ve given to the Night Elven race on the whole in Cataclysm. (Also, which I totally didn’t expect.) I’m willing to believe that Blizzard might surprise me. Especially since out of all the racial leaders, who ARE doing stuff. (There isn’t a single racial leader except the Tauren one who isn’t doing something. Even VOL’JIN has a lot of content.) I’m expecting the same from Tyrande.

            Now she might end up doing something and it might just be this… new… fake Tyrande. Or they might pull a Sylvanas, and suddenly the character I knew from long-ago might return in all her multidimensional glory.

            I wouldn’t rule it out in any case. Because Blizzard has surprised my unbelievably low expectations too often with this expansion.

            Also I invite you to post your own thoughts in the thread if you want to. ^^ Up to you of course. Think you’d have a lot to add, though.

            I’m almost done Ashenvale and will probably be posting my thoughts on the zone tonight some time.

            • 24 Nhani
              August 11, 2010 at 22:41

              Well, with Tyrande it basically comes down to a fair bit of Blizzard seeming to be Knaak-fans (including Metzen) and Metzen himself having declared Malfurion as one of his favorite characters.

              I’d suspect anything major done on behalf of the Night elves will be done by Malfurion, not Tyrande, both on account of avoiding having “too many” night elves in spotlight, and because.. let’s be honest.. this kind of characterization of Tyrande is nothing new.

              I might still be pleasantly surprised, but let’s face it. Blizzard have stomped on such expectations for years now. Even last she did something major – Eranikus – her involvement seemed to boil down to “Come Eranikus, surrender to the power of Love!” which in hindsight really rubs me the wrong way. I’d love to see her assert herself, but it really sounds like she’ll be doing nothing but playing second violin to Malfurion.

          • 25 Aldrius
            August 23, 2010 at 06:17

            I know Metzen is a big Furion fan, but I think if RoC and TFT prove anything, it’s that he’s perfectly willing to let both have their space. RoC Night Elf campaign is very much Tyrande’s story, even though Furion gives it it’s triumphant end (the whole ARCH of it is Tyrande’s, we see A LOT more of the plot from her perspective, and most of what happens is due to her folly or insight), and TFT is really mostly about Illidan more than anybody else.

            Actually, thinking about that it’s rather amusing. Maiev, Furion and Tyrande really only exist in the TFT Night Elf campaign to give Illidan some context. Maiev and Tyrande go through pretty extensive character arcs, and Furion is obviously a major player. But in terms of the broader arc, Illidan is the one who goes on to be in the rest of the game. Illidan is the one whose actions drive the plot of that campaign for the most part. Illidan is the one who I think has the most plot to move onto after it’s over.

            Also, the Tauren leader actually does do something in the game. As I’ve recently found out. So now Tyrande is literally the only racial leader who does absolutely nothing. And there’s no reason for her not to. Orcs have both Thrall and Garrosh involved in things, so it’s not like a race can’t have two racial leaders involved in things and with Furion ‘going neutral’, that leaves Tyrande.

            And there’s a new discovery. The main Night Elf outpost in Felwood? It’s called “Whisperwind Grove”.

            I’m STILL not ruling out that she’ll be Knaak’s mockery, but at the same time… I’m pretty hopeful. They’ve handled all the other major characters beautifully, as far as I’m concerned, and I thought they did a terrible job in Wrath of the Lich King.

  7. 26 gryffyn
    August 22, 2010 at 15:19

    If you look at National Basketball Association players they have builds similar to night elves but are “hopefully” human. The verdict is still out on Dennis Rodman.
    The typical NBA center is about 7ft tall and between 250 to 300lbs but they don’t look at all that bulky when you stack them up against American Pro football players. The difference is the type of muscle needed for their sports. Pro football is intense enormous amounts of strength and speed for very short periods of time, usually less than 10 seconds on average. Basketball players are always moving, running jumping.

    With her size and weight and leverage Hani would probably send most humans flying like a kicked house cat if she slammed them with a shield bash. Also we must take into account training. Watch your typical guy who gets into a brawl and then watch (in person hopefully) how a trained heavyweight boxer moves. They are scarey fast with their hands and can pounce on you like a feline predator. Warcraft equals out the various races for playability. If a tauren were to hit you with one of their massive weapons they would one shot even the biggest human and turn a gnome into a mass of reddish goo. So…its almost impossible to make comparisons in WoW terms. RPG..perhaps.

  8. 27 Griffindor
    October 14, 2010 at 20:19

    will tiny ever go to full size in the comic??

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