I really don’t know how they settled on “half elves are super smexy” in Pathfinder. Pathfinder elves are weird and alien looking, which I like. They kept classic markers of fantasy elves, tall, slender, angular, but they played it up to the point where it’s kind of weird and off-putting. They kept the large angular eyes, but they don’t have whites. They look alien, and kind of…insect-like.
Then we get to the half elves and they’re all super sexy, and I’m just like, WHY DON’T YOU LOOK WEIRDER!?
This is an awesome point. It would be fascinating to see someone take the odder sides of both races for a half-elf, but it also raises some questions for me.
Half-elves have been iconic as the born-adventurer citizen-of-nowhere ever since Dragonlance, but with the new, more alient direction of the elves in Pathfinder and some Punnett squares you could have a whole new take on them.
With a lifespan of centuries we could assume that humans and elves have been interacting, and therefore cross-breeding, for centuries or even millenia before any currently occurring campaign setting. By this concept once could suggest that there may be some latent or recessive genes from non-human races in many human family trees who may have mixed at one time with an elf, orc, outsider, dragon or anything else.
The challenge with the new designs here is that the text suggests that half-elves are equally unwelcome in both human and elven society, but if their appearance is more toward the societal standard of human beauty (the larger eyes, lither frame, and exotic features) then wouldn’t they be more accepted in human society. Likewise, the lack of elven characteristics could explain why they are not welcomed by elven societies.
As of this point in my reading I have never read in a product from Paizo about a half-orc who’s non-orc parent was anything but human. This can be suggestibly explained by the cultural differences between orcs and elves.
If we were instead to take the concept that many human traits are dominant, this could explain why so many human characteristics come through in half-elves. If we also take the concept that orc traits are dominant over human traits it would explain why half-orcs are so much more orcish looking than humans.
Yet as we consider this concept with the basic genetic concept of Punnett Squares which show that through mixing you can have organisms showing more recessive traits than dominant traits, it would be possible to have much more human looking half-orcs and much more elven looking half-elves. Other effects could include a half-elf who would have a vastly-extended lifespan.
From these concepts you could have what would be very strange looking half-elves who would be much more welcomed by elven society, as well as much more outcast from humans, and half-orcs who would look much more human and be far less feared than their stereotypical counterparts.
In both of these cases however, it would only be in rare cases where the non-gene-dominant parent carried these recessive genes from a previous ancestor. This makes these characters extremely rare, and a lot of fun to play. It also makes me think that if I played a half-orc with an elven parent that no matter what genes won out I’d be one weird looking love child.
Disclaimer: I shortened geekgirlsmash’s post to help with the length mine turned into. I removed a reference to Defiance which I haven’t seen and really should. Also I am not a geneticist and all my genetic knowledge I bring to the table is me remembering back to Sophomore year of high school over a decade ago.
Until next time, May your Crits be many, and your Botches be few.