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Old 07-30-2023, 06:39 PM   #1
Žorkell
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Default Just some random Elf related musings

Assuming a fairly typical generic fantasy world here such as Forgotten Realms.

The offspring of elves and humans are half-elves.

How about if an elf has offspring with a half-elf? Is the human bit bred out or do we get three-quarter elves?

But if a human has offspring with a half-elf? Does that result in a human or something else?
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Old 07-30-2023, 06:50 PM   #2
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Default Re: Just some random Elf related musings

Given that 'half-elf' remains a distinct category, I expect it does not breed true, which means 50% chance to match either parent, or half-elf + half-elf actually gets you 25% for full elf or full human.
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Old 07-30-2023, 07:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: Just some random Elf related musings

Half-elves might be sterile. (Mules / hinnies are the obvious if unflattering comparison.) If so, there aren't any offspring about whom to ask such questions.

For the purists, mules are 100% sterile. There are very rare exceptions. If you want to go by those few, all three results (by chromosome count, in the equine case) have been recorded. That it, you might get any one of {elf, half-elf, human} from a half-elf with either other group. But there aren't any quarter-elves, eighth-elves, and so on.
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Old 07-31-2023, 04:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Just some random Elf related musings

Canonically, in Mystara...

Elf is a dominant trait... half-elves and elves use same stats. Unless most of the lineage is human, the result is an elf. (Elves of Alfheim). No guidance is provided on Elf - Shadowelf pairings, tho' it's implied any such would most likely be non-consensual.

No other Mystarran races seem to successfully interbreed, aside from goblinoids... for which I'd need to reread the Orcs of Thar supp.
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Old 07-31-2023, 05:32 AM   #5
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Default Re: Just some random Elf related musings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Žorkell View Post
Assuming a fairly typical generic fantasy world here such as Forgotten Realms.

The offspring of elves and humans are half-elves.

How about if an elf has offspring with a half-elf? Is the human bit bred out or do we get three-quarter elves?

But if a human has offspring with a half-elf? Does that result in a human or something else?
If you must have half elves (perhaps not one of Tolkien's better ideas) then I would suggest that the half elf traits apply when you have equal numbers of elven and human ancestors, and otherwise you follow the ancestor majority - so half-elfxelf = elf, half-elfxhuman = human, half-elfxhalf-elf=half-elf.
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Old 07-31-2023, 06:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Just some random Elf related musings

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If you must have half elves (perhaps not one of Tolkien's better ideas) then I would suggest that the half elf traits apply when you have equal numbers of elven and human ancestors, and otherwise you follow the ancestor majority - so half-elfxelf = elf, half-elfxhuman = human, half-elfxhalf-elf=half-elf.
Note that in Tolkien, Elrond and Elros were given the choice to count as elves or men. Elrond chose elf and was still around at the end of the Third Age, when he departed for the West; Elros chose man and became the ancestor of the Numenorean kings, who were men of superior intellect and longevity, but still mortal. That superiority was still around in Aragorn, several thousand years later, so not subject to dilution. On the other hand, it doesn't seem to have spread out to a large share of humanity.

And Elrond's children had the same choice; after living several thousand years at Rivendell, Arwen chose to become mortal, giving her place on the ship West to Frodo.
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Old 07-31-2023, 11:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: Just some random Elf related musings

ISTR that in AD&D there's a note somewhere to the effect that for stat purposes, the child of a half-elf and an elf is an elf, the child of a half-elf and a human is human, although in GURPS terms they might experience a mild Social Stigma depending on how the local elves feel about human ancestry and vice versa. The same applies to half-orcs, which now leads me to wonder what the offspring of a half-elf and a half-orc would look like, statwise or otherwise
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Old 07-31-2023, 01:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
On the other hand, it doesn't seem to have spread out to a large share of humanity.
I'm not certain if Tolkien had a proper grasp on how closely-related the bulk of humanity is once you go back several generations (for example, I believe pretty much everyone of Western European descent is a direct descendant of Charlemagne, while there's a similar situation in East Asia with respect to Genghis Kahn)... but then neither did his contemporaries. There's also the whole "line of kings" idea he was drawing on for Aragorn - I think there's an indication that each of them only had a single child, a son, going at least as far back as Isildur and possibly further. Having a single claimant to the throne was what Tolkien was going for.

...

My own inclination, if having half-elves as an identifiable and reliable thing (I'm more inclined to have each hybrid - of any pairing, be that elf and human or orc and dwarf or whatever - be a unique blend of each parent species, and with such hybrids being fairly rare; that, or have identifiable hybrids not exist, with a human/elf pairing being able to produce only more humans and elves), would be to have essentially 5 grades for any given pairing; for a human/elf pairing, these would be Human, Elf-blooded Human, Half-Elf (or Half-Human, to elves), Human-blooded Elf, and Elf. Where a given hybrid falls would depend on what the player decides, but generally speaking I'd consider anything 95% human or more to be Human, anything between 95/5 and a 65/35 split would be Elf-blooded, anything between 65/35 and 35/65 would be Half-Elf, anything between 35/65 and 5/95 would be Human-blooded, and anything 5% human or less would be Elf. Half-Elves would have a template basically right between that of Human and Elf, while the -blooded versions would be variable between Half-Elf and whichever side they lean toward.

So, throwing stats out there, let's say Humans are just GURPS default, while Elves have ST -2 [-20], DX +2 [40], Beautiful/Handsome [12], Magery 2 [20], and Dependency: Mana (Weekly) [-10]. Half-Elves are ST -1 [-10], DX +1 [20], Attractive [4], Magery 1 [10], and Dependency: Mana (Monthly) [-5]. An Elf-blooded could have ST between +0 and -1, DX between +0 and +1, Average or Attractive appearance, anywhere from no Magery to Magery 1, and between no Mana Dependency and a Yearly, Seasonally, or Monthly Dependency. A Human-blooded could instead have ST between -1 and -2, DX between +1 and +2, Attractive or Beautiful/Handsome, Magery 1 or Magery 2, and either a Weekly or Monthly Dependency. An Elf-blooded could "win" the genetic lottery and wind up with DX +1, Attractive, and Magery 1 (and nothing else) from their template... or lose it and wind up with only ST -1 and Dependency: Mana (Monthly).
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Old 07-31-2023, 01:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Just some random Elf related musings

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
On the other hand, it doesn't seem to have spread out to a large share of humanity.
It's possible it follows some weird inheritance method that keeps the number low and somewhat clustered but non-zero (this is rather hard to justify with normal genetics, but it happens just fine with social inheritance -- the number of people you bother tracking in a royal family remains fairly constant, for example, because no-one really cares about the people who are 200th in line for the throne. Presumably magic can do the same thing).
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Old 07-31-2023, 01:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: Just some random Elf related musings

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
I'm not certain if Tolkien had a proper grasp on how closely-related the bulk of humanity is once you go back several generations (for example, I believe pretty much everyone of Western European descent is a direct descendant of Charlemagne, while there's a similar situation in East Asia with respect to Genghis Kahn)... but then neither did his contemporaries. There's also the whole "line of kings" idea he was drawing on for Aragorn - I think there's an indication that each of them only had a single child, a son, going at least as far back as Isildur and possibly further. Having a single claimant to the throne was what Tolkien was going for.
Isildur had a younger brother, Anarion, I believe.

However, I do have the impression that Tolkien though in terms of the patrilineal genealogies of the Old Testament. If Elros had a daughter, or Isildur had a sister, their elven heritage didn't count for their children and later descendants. Or at most it gave them a trace of elven ancestry. They weren't comparable to Aragorn, in whom the Numenorean heritage had much greater strength. Of course, when Tolkien was born, Mendel's work had been forgotten and not rediscovered . . .

All of which is rather as Anthony is suggesting.
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