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    Canonfire :: View topic - Demi-elves, demi-orcs & humans
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    Demi-elves, demi-orcs & humans
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 30, 2022
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    Sat Jul 15, 2023 4:55 am  
    Demi-elves, demi-orcs & humans

    Hello everyone, for my 100th post, I address the issue of half-elves and half-orcs. I prefer to call them half-bloods.

    I read that WotC wants to delete these two species (racism problem?). They must not have seen the movie Warcraft where the half-orc is an important intermediary for peace between humans and orcs. Therefore, important character of the film. Unless the mixture of species is no longer relevant?

    My reflection: how do half-elves and half-orcs exist? do elves, orcs and humans share the same gene pool to make children? if the orcs are fallen elves, no problem. But why and how are elves and humans so close? What parentage?
    Have you developed explanations for the world of Greyhawk?
    Jacques
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    Joined: May 12, 2005
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    Sat Jul 15, 2023 10:05 am  

    “Humanoid Races in Review” way back in DRAGON #44 had an interesting take on the genetic relationships among men, elves, and orcs.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 12, 2008
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    Sat Jul 15, 2023 4:42 pm  

    Both half-orcs and half-elves are in Lord of the Rings. Which makes sense, since LOTR orcs are the descendants of elves corrupted by Morgoth. If elves can breed with humans, then so could their corrupted descendants.

    As to how it happens? Magic. Fantasy. Don't try to make it scientifically accurate or you lose some of the flavor of the game.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Sat Jul 15, 2023 6:42 pm  

    IMC, the human pantheons of gods were the first to create their own mini-me's, but they were crude (neanderthals) and needed eons to evolve to the point they are now. The elven pantheon copied the human pantheon's efforts, but learned a few things from their mistakes. Thus, elves were created from the same raw materials and blue prints that the humans were, but they were given longer life, etc. There were less beneficial consequences to those changes, as well, including the various aspects of their attitudes and psyches that prevent them from attaining 100s of levels in any class, which one would expect of such a long-lived race.

    And, the orc pantheon did the same thing, copying the human blue print (genome) to create their own mini-me's. But, they made 'improvements' that were very different from those the elves made. Orcs turned out to be vicious, quick to reproduce, and without agency (fixed alignment), as desired by their creators, but the side effects of those alterations gave them a shortened life-span and made it much more difficult for them to retain the type of experience necessary to gain more than a few levels in any class skill - and even that proved extremely difficult.

    The other demi-human and humanoid pantheons saw the results of these first three and decided to create their own mini-me's from scratch. All of them shared some qualities of their predecessors, but none could reproduce with them because they originated from completely different stock.

    SirXaris
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Jul 16, 2023 1:27 pm  

    Given that elves and orcs explicitly have creator gods (although canon doesn't seem to say which god created humans-my Greyhawk has different peoples attributing it to Beory, Istus, etc.) it can probably be said that at least some of this is possible due to divine fiat. Some sources give stout and tallfellow halflings as being descended from intermarriage between hairfoot halflings and elves and dwarves, so we could potentially add them to this mix.

    As I see it, the creation gift that Beory gave the gods in exchange for their help fighting the Imprisoning War against Dread Tharizdun, as well as the general humanoid forms of many of the gods themselves, gives them enough "commonality" among their creations that they can interbreed to a certain extent. The 1E Monster Manual also says that orcs will breed with "anything", with the resulting off-spring being the likes of orc-goblins, orc-hobgoblins, etc. and more specifically creatures like ogrillons.

    The catch, though, is that such intermarriage usually ends up eliminating one parent's racial traits over the generations. Thus, if you're a half-elf and you reproduce, you're going to give birth to a human or an elf depending on who the other parent is. The only way a half-elf could bear another half-elf is if the other parent is half-elven too.

    Some races also simply can't interbreed, no matter what. The 1E Monster Manual explicitly says orcs can't interbreed with elves. and elves probably can't interbreed with dwarves either. Elves and orcs may be the races that are most fecund with humans-it may well be that dwarves, gnomes and halflings simply can't interbreed with the taller races most of the time. They can certainly lay with each other, but they shouldn't expect any children to result from it.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 05, 2002
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    Sun Jul 16, 2023 8:06 pm  
    Re: Demi-elves, demi-orcs & humans

    Docjacques wrote:
    I read that WotC wants to delete these two species (racism problem?). They must not have seen the movie Warcraft where the half-orc is an important intermediary for peace between humans and orcs. Therefore, important character of the film. Unless the mixture of species is no longer relevant?


    My understanding is that WotC is not eliminating the concept of half-orcs and half-elves. Rather, they are removing the idea that they qualify as a rules-based lineage category.

    That is, if your character concept is that one of your parents was an orc and the other was human, that is still fine and supported. But a PC in that situation would not receive 'half-orc traits' for their racial features. Rather, they would choose the lineage traits for humans, or orcs, or more rarely use a customizable system that would take some of each and combine them with experiences.

    As far as I know, the rules never had a separate category for the abilities one got as a 'three-quarters elf'. Yet PCs have existed at least from 1st edition and perhaps longer who had one parent as an elf and the other a half-elf. Such PCs would have the 'racial traits' of one of their parents and not the other. It is that approach that WotC will be using moving forward, but applying it to what have heretofore been called half-orcs and half-elves.
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jul 17, 2023 3:23 am  

    Thanks to DM Prata for the DRAGON article n° 44 (I revised my genetics).

    Sir Xaris is right. Too often I start from Tolkien's world. I really like the idea of starting from humans and variations of their genetic heritage to give elves or orcs. Especially in the human-centric world of Greyhawk.

    Thanks Kirt. I have a hard time understanding WotC's will regarding half-orcs and half-elves. Sorry !

    Jacques
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    Mon Jul 17, 2023 8:11 am  

    Docjacques wrote:
    Thanks Kirt. I have a hard time understanding WotC's will regarding half-orcs and half-elves. Sorry !

    No need to apologize! It was a question asked in good faith and different people here are able to address different aspects of it. That is the purpose of a discussion forum, and we are glad for your participation.
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    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Jul 17, 2023 12:32 pm  

    I treat the human, demi-human, and humanoid races as a species complex, all capable of interbreeding, but doing so or not based on various cultural restrictions.
    I consider Gnomes to be a Dwarf-Elf mix, Stout (Deep in 3.5) Halflings to be a Dwarf-Halfing mix, and Tallfellows to be an Elf-Halfling Mix.
    Beyond that, mixes with Dragons are possible, and the existence of Mongrel Men makes mixes with Lizard Men, Bullywugs, and others apparently possible as well. How far you take those is up to you.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Mon Jul 17, 2023 8:40 pm  
    Re: Demi-elves, demi-orcs & humans

    Kirt wrote:

    As far as I know, the rules never had a separate category for the abilities one got as a 'three-quarters elf'. Yet PCs have existed at least from 1st edition and perhaps longer who had one parent as an elf and the other a half-elf. Such PCs would have the 'racial traits' of one of their parents and not the other. It is that approach that WotC will be using moving forward, but applying it to what have heretofore been called half-orcs and half-elves.


    Actually, I believe this rule (attitude?) comes from a Dragon Magazine article (or Sage Advice column, perhaps?) from way back in the AD&D or 2nd Ed. times. I remember that it specifically stated that if a PC has more than half of its lineage in one particular race, it counts as a full member of that race for game (stats) purposes.

    I know that because I based at least two of the PCs I played through the years on that rule. Sir Xaris is fully human, but his wife, Lady Xristine, is a half-elf. That makes all their children 1/4 elf, 3/4 human. For game purposes, they count as human, but I have the luxury of describing their physical appearances however I like. Thus, their oldest child, Alejander, appears to be an extremely tall, red-headed, elven female. Despite her looks, she lacks any elven racial traits, like infravision, and has ability scores and class levels solely as a human.

    I also played a 1/4 orc, 3/4 human monk that appeared to be a very well-groomed orc. Was lots of fun to role-play. Happy

    SirXaris
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    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Jul 18, 2023 8:38 am  
    Re: Demi-elves, demi-orcs & humans

    SirXaris wrote:
    Kirt wrote:

    As far as I know, the rules never had a separate category for the abilities one got as a 'three-quarters elf'. Yet PCs have existed at least from 1st edition and perhaps longer who had one parent as an elf and the other a half-elf. Such PCs would have the 'racial traits' of one of their parents and not the other. It is that approach that WotC will be using moving forward, but applying it to what have heretofore been called half-orcs and half-elves.


    Actually, I believe this rule (attitude?) comes from a Dragon Magazine article (or Sage Advice column, perhaps?) from way back in the AD&D or 2nd Ed. times. I remember that it specifically stated that if a PC has more than half of its lineage in one particular race, it counts as a full member of that race for game (stats) purposes.


    You may be thinking of Gygax's article in Dragon 29?

    From the Sorcerer's Scroll wrote:
    Of late I have seen several different treatments of half-ogres, and the suggestion that this type of creature is a viable and worthwhile racial type for player characters has thus gained some small popularity. This subject also touches upon another, closely related matter, the whole gamut of cross breeds which could possibly be included in AD&D.

    Dungeon Masters must be apprised of the potential can of worms they will be opening by allowing these mixtures in their campaigns. The character races in AD&D were selected with care. They give variety of approach, but any player selecting a non-human (part- or demi-human) character does not have any real advantage. True, some of these racial types give short term advantages to the players who choose them, but in the long run these same characters are at an equal disadvantage when compared to human characters with the
    same number of experience points. This was, in fact, designed into the game. The variety of approach makes role selection more interesting. Players must weigh advantages and disadvantages carefully before opting for character race, human or otherwise. It is in vogue in some campaigns to remove restrictions on demi-humans—or to at least relax them somewhat. While this might make the DM popular for a time with those participants with dwarven fighters of high level, or elven wizards of vast power, it will eventually consign the campaign as a whole to one in which the only races will be non-human. Dwarves, elves, et al. will have all the advantages and no real disadvantages, so the majority of players will select these races, and humankind will disappear from the realm of player character types. This bears upon various hybrid racial types as well.

    In designing ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, I considered the possible racial mixtures. Should half-dwarves, half-gnomes, and half-halflings (and is a half-halfling a quartling, perchance?) be allowed? How about dwarf-elf, dwarf-gnome, dwarf-halfling, elf-gnome, elf-halfling, and gnome-halfling crossbreeds? Then there are tri-racial mixtures. Those involving humans and orcs add still more confounding factors. And now somebody decided that ogres could cross with humans! Could they cross with elves also? How about hill giants interbreeding with humans? with elves? with ogres? with ettins? Why leave out goblins? hobgoblins? gnolls? bugbears?

    Because of the potential for absolute madness in the game, I included only the half-elf, hoping that the rest would not arise to plague the placid waters of racial selection, but it is apparent that it was not meant to be.

    Consider the various factors which must be taken into account when designing a race for game purposes...[enumeration of six factors]...Now consider the possible cross breeds, and multiply your DMing woes by a thousand! As surely as you allow a single player to select a non-standard hybrid, another will come along asking for some special cross breed which he or she envisions to be “logical”, meaningful, and fun to play (read advantageous for the player in question!).

    ...[details about the proposed half-ogre and their proper use in a campaign]...

    It is important to reiterate that hybrids not shown in PLAYERS HANDBOOK should be generally rejected in the well-run campaign. The device is that of players seeking to gain some advantage for themselves by choosing a racial mixture which they believe will have greater advantages (with fewer drawbacks) than those of the character races given in AD&D. If exceptions are to be made, be certain that you the DM, consider each thoroughly prior to admitting it into the milieu. Each exception must be detailed as was done for the half-ogre, above. Do so privately, and if after listing its parameters you find that the hybrid is unacceptable, disallow its use—or go back and restructure the characteristics, being careful to use the examples of the PLAYERS HANDBOOK as a guide. Then, and only then, should a player be allowed to have such a hybrid racial type to choose from. Lastly, if thereafter many of your participants suddenly express a desire to start characters of this
    particular racial mixture, you can pretty well rely upon the fact that you
    blew it.

    ...[reflection on why the game is designed to be humanocentric]...

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    GreySage

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    Tue Jul 18, 2023 9:15 am  

    Thanks, Kirt! Smile

    It may have also been a conclusion my players and I came up with to deal with issues like this by simplifying such things. The only 'advantage' my quarter-non-human PCs have is in their role-playing ability to appear as a member of another race. Of course, that proved problematic when it came to role-playing more often than it did beneficial (at least with respect to my quarter orc). Happy

    SirXaris
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