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Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species [closed]

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:34 am
by Saruna
It's pretty common in fantasy to see half-elves running amok. They might be outcast, sure, but beyond social injustices they've usually got the best of both worlds. Fantasy often doesn't leave room for genetic mutations or odd freak crossbreeds. Fantasy, unless you're talking low fantasy in which case multi-race/species settings typically don't exist, usually just isn't dark enough to worry about it -- why overly complicate the world unless it is necessary to your main characters, right? That's where we come to Thar, where one of its selling points is to give the players room to be dark, with as many or few trappings of fantasy as can be made to fit into the setting.

Still, it's something that we haven't really ever discussed before. What does happen when you mix a dwarf and a troll? Do human-elf halfbreeds really just look like humans with kinda-maybe pointy ears without anything else going on under the hood? Can anything breed with anything? Can halfbreeds produce viable offspring, or are they not able to produce offspring?

So here's some information to lay down to start the discussion off: gnomes, shifters, elves and dwarves are all magical mutations of humans. We have tied them to ancient cultures that, for one reason or another, died out pretty early on. In Pal Tahrenor, however, magic got to them before the changing world could, giving them enough of what they needed to keep going and slowly (likely with branches dying out) become what they are today. Some are more inherently capable of magic, like elves. Dwarves aren't. Gnomes are a bit in between.

The rest of the intelligent species, unless there is an outcry to have them mutate from humans as well, came from the Astral Planes. In the case of trolls, there's already established setting to say this freakiness allows them to breed with anything. . .but what happens?

The goal here isn't to lay down a set of laws that must be followed at every step. The goal is to set ideas and guidelines: the majority of elf-dwarf halfbreeds might die early due to their conflicting natures breaking down their biology with a form of magical cancer, most of them dying in their 30s or 40s. That doesn't mean all of them have to. The purpose is to add some depth to the world, and explore what horrifyingly terrible things we might do to all the little children in Pal Tahrenor who never asked to be the product of two aberrant parents who wanted to get their freak on.

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:56 am
by Niabi
Saruna wrote: The purpose is to add some depth to the world, and explore what horrifyingly terrible things we might do to all the little children in Pal Tahrenor who never asked to be the product of two aberrant parents who wanted to get their freak on.
Hahaha, I love it.

Yes, it's established in the setting that Trolls can and do breed with just about anything they can get their hands on. Something that hasn't been mentioned in the setting, but has come up in just about every troll character we've had is that most of the troll halfbreeds result from a male troll taking a liking to a female of another species. The resulting birth just about never turns out well for the mother and in the case of Taal:
During the pregnancy, his mother tried to self abort on several occasions, but with no success due to the child’s ability to heal, even in the womb. In her horror and shame, she had damaged herself to such a degree that she died of infection during childbirth.
I think this would be an interesting concept to explore.

I'll come back to this topic later with thoughts on other halfbreeds.

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:10 am
by Saruna
Trolls need more love, man.

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:15 am
by Katona
So we're considering shifters as their non-human forms, for this topic, right? Or is it different for someone who's a normal half-troll or gnelf compared to the shifter variations?

I have several characters I'm working on who are of mixed humanoid races so I'm very interested in seeing how this turns out.

How common are "mutts", those of unknown racial ancestry? I guess that's partly determined by how well half-breeds can reproduce, though.

With races very different from each other -- like troll-human, or faerie-dwarf, or anything like that -- I would imagine people would make them turn out quite differently between characters, so would it be fair to say those particular types of mixes are more random because of the fact they're produced by magic?

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:09 am
by Breda Dreaughan
To me it would make sense if at least some percentage of the half-breeds were unable to reproduce, because it ties to the laws of biology in our world (think mules, ligers and so on). If all the half-breeds can reproduce as they like, wouldn't the world be overrun by mutts? At least areas such as our dear shanty town.

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:45 pm
by Saruna
I did leave Qamra's status as "mutt" open, so it could just mean she doesn't know the race/species of either parent and is herself a halfbreed -- so we don't have to let most of them be able to breed! Too, while in her history (and in her opinion) the reason why she doesn't have any biokids is because she's been careful, when in reality she is sterile.

Oooor we could go the fun route of a halfbreed's children not being able to breed across the board, 100%, which would let people play quarters if they wanted to, but wouldn't lead to further abnormalities. Or it could be something like halfbreeds have a 50% chance of hanving their own babies, whereas third or quarter-breeds have a 0% chance. That, coupled with visible signs of deformity or health issues would give parents of different species a solid, viable reason to not mix very often.

Which is an assumption I've been sorta. . .rolling with: for most species, cross-breeding is considered distasteful or taboo. And, if you look at most of our halves, you'll see that their parents gettin' it on was somehow exceptional circumstances (rape, fairy seduction, feels-so-good-but-so-wrong sort of thing).

Aaaand we could go by viability for elves/gnomes/dwarves. I had written in notes that dwarves came from the Malta Temple culture, around 3600-2500BC, which would put them very, very distant from their human forebears and from elves and a bit closer. Gnomes came from the Bell Beaker trading culture, around 2150BC. Elves came last, coming out of the mythical Tartessos around the middle to end of their supposed run in real world terms, around 900-700ish BC.

So maybe due to how "close" elves are to humans there's less chance of weird genetic disorders/magical diseases there. Maybe in general dwarves/elves/gnomes have a little bit of an easier time mixing with humans as humanity is the common ancestor, but with each other there's more likely to be problems?

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:19 pm
by Three
My first instinct is that if one has the blood of two species, they aren't able to add any more to the mix, with varying degrees of bad depending on the species involved if it's attempted (or we could even say it wouldn't work at all). For example, we have a half-elf. That half-elf can breed with humans and elves and other half-elves, but no other species.

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:51 am
by Katona
Well I think if we were going with half-breeds only breeding with related species, we'd have to still also include magical breeding (trolls and faeries), because... I just see that as bypassing most typical rules of biology or something? But there are other reasons for those not to occur as often anyway.

I like the idea of half breeds having less chance but still being able to have kids. And also, I like the idea of scenarios like, say, a human with a hint of elven ancestry, or other things like that. And that if their great great grandma was a different race, or something like that, it wouldn't affect their ability to have kids with someone who's in the same situation with a third race. Or like anything of that variation -- basically, if it's diluted enough, it shouldn't cause problems, I guess?

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:34 am
by Metarie
I think that the ability to cross-breed should not be limited for at least human/elf/dwarf/gnomes because of the common, human ancestor on the tree.

Assuming the common human ancestor, it becomes a dominant/recessive and traits thing.

As for the creatures from the Astral, a child resulting might be because, you know, magic happens. I like the idea that not every consummation takes, but that is true for humans as well.


And, wait... Tartessos?? I thought it was Darleone. When did that get decided and where was I. Wow... X.x

Re: Halfbreeds: An Open Discussion of Species

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:05 am
by Saruna
yeah, the elves showed up before darleone was geographically present (900BCE vs the . . .what, 300 ish when the war climaxed and all the geography shifted?) -- tartessos is the magical mythlike place that scholars all disagree with, some think it's the roots of the atlantis myth (or an atlantis city) -- and it's on the southern tip of spain. Sooo, it makes sense that once they transcend humanity they'd be the ones like 'later homies' and claim their new human free homeland.