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Half and half

14th Sep 2015, 7:08 AM

Half and half
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kidra on 14th Sep 2015, 7:08 AM

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So I was thinking over the weekend about the "half" races, aka half elves and half orcs. And I got to wondering, why are there no half dwarves? Or half gnomes? And why is it that the other half is expected to be human? Any don't we have a half orc, half goblin?

Then you also have races like aasimars and tieflings, which always seem to be humans that have a touch of the outsider race. So do all aasimars become magically the same, regardless of how the rest of their ancestry is? So is there a chance of a gnome having a baby that ends up growing six feet tall?

RPG genetics are weird...



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Griffin on 14th Sep 2015, 7:19 AM

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Actually, Assimars and Teiflings have in their racial descriptions that the races basically have no set appearance, and it depends on player and GM what they look like

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kidra on 14th Sep 2015, 8:04 AM

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While that's true, I guess I'm also thinking about the mechanics behind it. For example, could there be a small sized aasimar or tiefling?

TheManNowDog on 15th Sep 2015, 5:36 AM

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In Pathfinder, Yes!

Phosphora on 16th Sep 2015, 2:32 AM

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Oh, yes - there can indeed be 'small' Aasimar. The description (at least for Pathfinder) states that Aasimar can come from any stock (though yes, some descriptions start with 'humans') but that no matter what their stock race, their new race is 'Aasimar', and the stats are unaffected by what their parent stock are, except for size - yes, the rules state you can have an Aasimar of any size. I had a ratkin Aasimar, once, as a matter of fact - and all the alternate racial traits that Aasimar have are great for adjusting your Aasimar to suit their earthly race.

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Disloyal Subject on 14th Sep 2015, 8:52 AM

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For simplicity's sake, I figure humans are the main mortal race xenophilic enough to need hard stats for halfers. Dragons, celestials, fiends, and more have templates, but humans seem to be the main one that treat crossbreeds as subraces.

I actually ended up using something plucked from the mess that is the D&D wiki (or one of them) for half-dwarves, though I expanded on it a bit. To make a medium story short, robust Dwarven immune systems usually treat other species' cells as pathogens and attack them, and even when that's avoided, Dwarven biochemistry is more acidic than a human's, so conception is extremely unlikely even when Dwarves' isolationist tendencies don't prevent an interspecies romance.
I statted them anyway, because half-dwarves are an awesome concept IMO that deserve to be used outside of Dark Sun.

Hiei82 on 14th Sep 2015, 9:06 AM

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I think that it's one of the holdovers from the Tolkien era. We know there are Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Humans, and Hobbits. Aragorn was specifically mentioned as having the blood of elves in him so that means half-elves must be possible. Half-Orcs came about either as an extension of this (Orcs are corrupted elves after all) or it came out of the need to allow players to play as "Orcs" even though they're an inherently evil species in Tolkien's world.

the other species were created by different angelic beings (where elves and humans were made by the big God of the universe) and were therefore incompatible (Dwarves were a sort of living stone for example). The exception to this is Hobbits who are a sub race of humans. They theoretically should be able to reproduce with elves and humans, but maybe that was one of the things that was lost when the Tolkien Estate sued TSR, preventing them from using Hobbits (creating the halfling).

Gnomes were a later addition. As the game changed, that was just one of the things that just stayed the same with no one really thinking to question it or bother changing it.

At least that's how I've always thought about it.

GAZZA on 14th Sep 2015, 6:46 PM

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Well, Dark Sun introduced half dwarfs and even half giants. 3rd edition half dragons, half celestials, and half fiends can have the other half as any humanoid I think.

But leaving that aside, what always really bugged me were questions about what happens if a half elf mates with a human, an elf, or another half elf. I believe the official answer is that you get a human or a half elf in each case; only way to get an elf is to breed two elves.

Here's the thing - in my opinion, the answer should be "all half breeds are sterile". (Which to be fair was the case in Dark Sun with Muls). If they are not, then we have two individuals producing fertile offspring, which is the definition of being the same species. That means that elves and humans are not different species after all.

You CAN run with this. I mean, Vikings and Zulus are the same species as well, but look fairly different and have different genetic predispositions to certain traits. Nothing as dramatic as "ability to see in the dark, generally enhanced senses, and facility with bows" compared to "greater learning acuity", but not quite unbelievable. But most players seem to want to keep elves and humans as completely different species AND still allow half elves to be fertile (magic not required). Yes, yes, why complain about fertile half breeds in a world with fireballs, OK, but still.

From my own perspective, I have always strongly disliked the huge number of sentient species in D&D. I find it makes cliches and stereotypes very difficult to avoid, because if you never meet many of any given sentient being you are never going to realise that they have any depth or breadth. Which is why "all" goblins and orcs are evil, "all" gold dragons are nice people that fight their "evil" brethren, and "all" illithids are slave takers...

My current campaign has only humans as playable characters (I still have some monsters like dragons and beholders around), but to allow my players the best of both worlds they can use the mechanics of whatever PC race they want. One of the PCs, for example, comes from a line that has developed night vision and heightened perception; he uses the Elf mechanics, but he's still human as far as the setting is concerned. Essentially the PC "races" become human subraces instead. It does mean no slaughtering kobolds or orcs at low levels, but that sort of thing always struck me as a lot more enjoyable in video games than table top.

Kaze Koichi on 15th Sep 2015, 3:35 AM

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Is the picture inspired by "glass literally half-empty" strip from xkcd?

As for actual question, I'm sure some people would like to play the most ridiculous combinations of half rases. Forget half elf-dwarf, how about half gnome-giant?

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Otaku on 15th Sep 2015, 3:41 AM

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Well there are, just not in the main D&D books. Or perhaps even most D&D settings. Generally if something is lacking in D&D it just means it simply didn't work well with game mechanics or enough players haven't made the desire for it clear. I mean I can see a lot of players whom would object to it because it doesn't fit their "view" of the game.

So for those of us that aren't purely beholden to D&D and its imitators, half dwarves are already a thing. Not even just in RPGs but in literature! C.S. Lewis had half-dwarves after all; they had some of the hardiness of dwarves but otherwise appears to simply be very short people... and often passed themselves off as such. This was introduced in Prince Caspian. Doctor Cornelius is revealed to be one as eventually is Caspian's nurse.

Otherwise... yeah in a lot of settings this element is used to help give dwarves a more "non-human" feel, perhaps because a lot of gamers are perfectly comfortable with a race of largely subterranean dwellers that like to eat, drink and work hard (almost obsessively). XD

Addendum: A homebrew setting I never quite finished (and thus never ran) intentionally had the major races all ultimately be interrelated and thus (though many wouldn't happen completely "naturally" due to other factors) a wide variety of hybrids were to be allowed.

This was a good excuse to allow for differing "interpretations" of different races to exist (with one iteration being the "core" version while others were actually hybrids), besides making it clear that this was pretty clearly an "almost anything goes" setting.

Hin on 15th Sep 2015, 9:31 PM

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My theory (with no citations at all) is that half-breeds are like mules or ligers and are infertile.
And that only humans can produce half-breeds due to because magic.

The Froggy Ninjs on 27th Sep 2015, 10:55 AM

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I always thought humans were basically the blank slate of the universe so only their children could be half breeds. And everyone else is like a pokemon.

The Froggy Ninjs on 27th Sep 2015, 10:55 AM

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I always thought humans were basically the blank slate of the universe so only their children could be half breeds. And everyone else is like a pokemon.
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