This idea came about from a discussion held around the gaming table shortly before play commenced last night. How do genetics work in roleplaying games?
We are told that a human and elf/orc pairing ALWAYS produces a half-elf/orc, and not a human with the traits of either, and that no matter what happens the child of this offspring will be a half-elf/orc. So are human genes weaker than those of other races? And what happens when/if a half-elf and a half-orc mate? What will that child be? Admittedly, this is very unlikely.
It seems to be an unspoken assumption in fantasy rpgs that humans will mate with only a few of the fantasy races (i.e. elves and orcs) and produce offspring, and I want to know why this is. Many races in most of the more popular systems and settings are humanoid, look mostly human, and are in frequent contact with humans. So why don’t more human/other pairings happen? I can understand why human/minotaur relationships don’t happen, but human/dwarf or even human/Halfling relationships should be possible. Both romantically and sexually.
It seems logical to predict, based upon precedent, that the children of these pairings would be half- dwarves/ half-halfings (which is a mouthful and should be referred to as a Quarterling, the obvious joke to make) and would be more dwarf/halfling than human. Of course, what this would mean personality-wise and culture-wise is up to the person writing the rules, but why haven’t these things been considered? Or if they have, why aren’t they at least admitted to being possible?
In the spirit of honesty, I am no expert on fantasy settings, I run horror and urban fantasy games more than I do fantasy and it is possible that there are caveats and fluff about this subject that I am simply unaware of, but I’m just curious.
My main question is; why don’t the half-elf/orc/whatever genes get watered down over time through pairings with humans? Or why don’t the human genes get watered down over time by pairings with the other parent race? Half-whatevers producing half-whatevers ad infinitum just seems strange to me.
But then, maybe it is because, as a roleplaying game, the emphasis is upon relatively short term play rather then the long term effects of things like this. Maybe this should be considered.
What do you think? Do genetics work satisfactorily for you in the context of a roleplaying game? Do you have any answers for me? Or any questions? Feel free to write them in the comments, or email them to us and we’ll try to get back to you.
Hope you enjoyed this brief article and thanks for reading.