The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesnoth?

For writers working on documentation, story prose, announcements, and all kinds of Wesnoth text.

Moderators: Forum Moderators, Developers

The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesnoth?

Postby eyerouge » October 3rd, 2010, 4:19 pm

(Moderator Note: This topic has been split from Kitty's art thread. The original thread can be found [url=http://wesnoth.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=23420])

Wonderful work as always Kitty! Truly amazing stuff all throughout your thread :)

I have a quick question: Is the below an Elf? Please notice I am not ironic - I have always played MP and never the campaigns, so I am not familiar with the history of the character, if he's full-elf/half-human etc.

Image

If so, and also by looking at http://forums.wesnoth.org/download/file.php?id=44489 I'd like to ask if these latest(?) renditions of elvish units should be considered as a "new/revised standard" when it comes to how elves will look like from now on when they're created?

Reason I'm asking is that I'd like to know what to give our artist as a reference and what style he should try to adopt for the cardgame. I hope this doesn't makes this off topic as it's not my intention - it's a question about style and plans for the future. I myself am not an art critic and am clueless about these issues, but I get the feeling that the above two images do somehow differ in some ways from many of the elves in mainline. My very feeble laymen opinion and guess would be they feel more "advanced" and more detailed than some of the previous ones, that feel somewhat more "flat" and "cartoony" compared with these ones.

Please notice I don't imply anything normative with the above. To me it's just a matter of understanding what the future looks like and if the latest elves depicted would represent it fairly accurate when it comes to style. I'd like WT to be on par with what you create (when and if ever possible) and an answer to this question would help.
User avatar
eyerouge
 
Posts: 380
Joined: June 29th, 2007, 4:37 am
Location: wtactics.org

Re: Kitty's random stuff: Liberty

Postby Reepurr » October 3rd, 2010, 4:20 pm

Eyerouge, that's the image for an entirely elvish campaign, so you would assume that it's a full elf. That coupled with the really pointy ears...
"What do you mean, "a dwarvish dragonguard with marksman is overpowered"?"

Story of a Drake Outcast | The Nonsense Era
Played HttT-Underground Channels? Thought it was rubbish? Help us develop it here!
User avatar
Reepurr
 
Posts: 1088
Joined: August 29th, 2010, 5:38 pm

Re: Kitty's random stuff: Liberty

Postby eyerouge » October 3rd, 2010, 7:32 pm

Thanks for the clarifications - I now know that it is indeed an elf, as suspected. :) And as a bonus we got to discuss some genome as well...

While hinted in thespaceinvaders well put reply, I would still be interested in hearing Kitty's (or anyone's really, if that person knows the "official answer") thoughts on the subject at hand and the answer to my question if it's the revised look of the elves that we should try to mimic.
User avatar
eyerouge
 
Posts: 380
Joined: June 29th, 2007, 4:37 am
Location: wtactics.org

Re: Kitty's random stuff: Liberty

Postby Jetrel » October 5th, 2010, 9:12 am

thespaceinvader wrote:Indeed. Half-breeds DO NOT HAPPEN if I have anything to do with it. The whole concept of a half-breed is ludicrous.


Indeed.

The problem with half-breeds is it really, really grounds things that are supposed to be fantastic and alien. It firmly establishes elves/dwarves/etc as being biologically similar to humans. The problem is that this locks out all of the awesome stuff that makes fantasy worthwhile. Like, if you look at much more traditional "fair folk" literature, most of the fair folk were horrifying, amorphous things that were only assuming human form and speech for the purpose of interacting with them. At other times, they were transient things that didn't exist in the real world, and would only fade into existence during conditions that causes the real world and the world of magic to overlap (full moons, storms, etc).

In a lot of fiction, dwarves literally were born from stone, and sometimes were entirely made of stone - the gnomes in "Wizard of Oz" were this.



:doh: There are ideas out there that are just plain [censored], like the idea of half-vampires. Since I'm sure some readers are confused, the reason that's dumb is because vampirism isn't a race; vampirism is a contagious curse that afflicts members of other races. It's binary; it's like being pregnant, where you either are or aren't, but there's no middle ground.
Play Frogatto & Friends - a finished, open-source adventure game!
User avatar
Jetrel
Art Director
 
Posts: 7240
Joined: February 23rd, 2004, 3:36 am
Location: Midwest US

Re: Kitty's random stuff: Liberty

Postby thespaceinvader » October 5th, 2010, 9:31 am

Indeed.

My problem with it is twofold:

Firstly, I'm a biologist. Elves and Dwarves and Humans are different SPECIES. By definition, that means that they cannot interbreed (or, at best, they can produce only sterile offspring, but even that is unlikely).

Secondly: If we're going to make them different races (as opposed to species), fine, but that kind of limits the amount of different races we can have within each species. What about wesnoth's equivalent of the chinese, the arabs, the australian aboriginals, africans, Bornean pygmies etc etc etc? What about the elvish and dwarvish and orcish equivalents of the same? This is the sort of concept I explore in BfM, which i really must update. Dwarves could easily have been human northmen. Elves, human forest-dwellers. Orcs, human barbarian tribes. Etc etc etc. The amount of sentient species in fantasy always bugs me - it's rarely explained how they managed to all come about - from our own history, particularly given that they ALWAYS have some ancient grudge against one another, it's difficult to believe that one species wouldn't have wiped all the others out, and diversified.

In so many fantasy worlds, elves, dwarves orcs etc are just an assumed part of the scenery. Authors simply don't think through why they're there, they just ape Tolkien (who DID think it through and explain it) and assume that fantasy=elves orcs and dwarves as well as humans.

It bugs me.
http://thespaceinvader.co.uk | http://thespaceinvader.deviantart.com
Back to work. Current projects: Catching up on commits. Picking Meridia back up. Sprite animations, many and varied.
User avatar
thespaceinvader
Retired Art Director
 
Posts: 8414
Joined: August 25th, 2007, 10:12 am
Location: Oxford, UK

Re: Kitty's random stuff: Liberty

Postby Velensk » October 5th, 2010, 1:30 pm

thespaceinvader wrote:it's difficult to believe that one species wouldn't have wiped all the others out, and diversified.


I don't find it so hard to believe as all that. Consider that for the most part they all seem to prefer to live and fight in different regions. In order to completely wipe each other out they would have to leave their preferred regions to fight in the areas preferred by their enemies. We all know how that tends to work out given Wesnoths 'physics'.

The humans in the west were doing fine and mostly interacting with themselves until they started having problems with orcs and undead at which point they traveled east. In the east the primary sentient races were elves, dwarves, trolls and saurians. With the exception of dwarves and trolls none of them would really be in much competition for land nor able to run down and finish off the others in their own landscapes if they were. The naga and mermen do have some sort of grudge but given that they live in the ocean I doubt that either seriously needs to wipe the other out to survive or even thrive.

I agree that they could easily have all been human variants but frequently I do not believe that it would be an advantage for them too be.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
Velensk
Multiplayer Contributor
 
Posts: 3974
Joined: January 24th, 2007, 12:56 am

Re: Kitty's random stuff: Liberty

Postby A-Red » October 5th, 2010, 11:35 pm

thespaceinvader wrote:Dwarves could easily have been human northmen. Elves, human forest-dwellers. Orcs, human barbarian tribes. Etc etc etc.


Then why not treat them as such, and consider half-breeding a possibility? There are fifteen or so mainline campaigns, and all of them treat elves, dwarves, and orcs in the same way that they would treat different human cultures. There's nothing to suggest that they are very biologically different from each other. Elves are *not* spiritual beings assuming human form. Dwarves are *not* made of stone. Not unless you want to scrap all of mainline and start from scratch.

All in all, I'm against it too, for more connotative reasons. Half-elves tend to be firmly in the domain of trashy fan-fiction, although admittedly D&D hasn't handled racial mingling too poorly, especially in that they own the trope and most everyone is copying from them. You can make anything good. You can also make anything bad. Jetrel's points about the potential of different species are excellent, but according to all evidence, Wesnoth is not a world that makes use of that potential. So far, I don't buy the arguments being made for species vs. race.
User avatar
A-Red
Art Contributor
 
Posts: 495
Joined: May 6th, 2009, 1:21 am

Re: The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesn

Postby catwhowalksbyhimself » October 6th, 2010, 1:45 am

Looking similar on the outside does not mean they are at all biologically compatible otherwise. Beside, elves are repeatedly said to be fairie, which makes them closer to Woses then to humans, humanlike appearance aside.
catwhowalksbyhimself
 
Posts: 411
Joined: January 23rd, 2006, 8:28 am

Re: The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesn

Postby Mica » October 6th, 2010, 2:25 am

Even if we were to introduce half-breeds to Wesnoth, it'd just add more work for the artists. You'd need half-everything portraits, because halfies would look different than both their parents, it'd be a combo, not only one of each. And then what would we do about sprites? And then there's the possibility of including them in factions and campaigns and reworking everything.

It's just something I personally don't want to see.
Mica says one who cheats, cheats himself.

You are an Elvish Shyde - Beautiful, natural, and helpful, though sometimes under-appreciated.
User avatar
Mica
 
Posts: 577
Joined: December 4th, 2007, 5:18 pm

Re: The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesn

Postby johndh » October 6th, 2010, 3:50 am

While I wouldn't want to see it happen in Wesnoth, I could imagine humans being able to breed with dwarves, as they seem the most similar biologically. Really, what is a dwarf other than a shorter, tougher human with a different habitat and culture? They're easily similar enough to be the same species, but easily different enough to not be (think: wolves and foxes). Come to think of it, there's something about lesser orcs and goblins being a hint at a weakening of the orcish bloodline, and lesser orcs do have quite a resemblance to humans... :whistle:

Elves just have too strong of a magical/faerie nature for human-elf hybrids to make sense. While they may superficially resemble humans, their iron allergy, supernaturally-long lives, and other magical traits suggest to me that they'd be no more genetically compatible with humans than humans are with scarecrows. Obviously, no breeding with drakes, saurians, trolls, merfolk, woses, or nagas, I should hope.
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.
User avatar
johndh
 
Posts: 591
Joined: June 6th, 2010, 4:03 am
Location: Music City

Re: The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesn

Postby Sgt. Groovy » October 6th, 2010, 4:44 am

Jetrel wrote:The problem with half-breeds is it really, really grounds things that are supposed to be fantastic and alien. It firmly establishes elves/dwarves/etc as being biologically similar to humans. The problem is that this locks out all of the awesome stuff that makes fantasy worthwhile.


I'm not sure about that, lot of folklore and mythology has fantastic creatures interbreeding with humans occasionally, and the offspring generally tend to be humans with some supernatural characteristics, making them either revered or feared among their kin. Take Greek mythology, for example, where the Gods are having kids with humans.

It could be a general rule that the hybrids are sterile, and that's why there are no communities of hybrids, but they could exist as one-off characters (but then again, if we open that door, soon everyone will have a half-breed as the main character of their campaign, and competing over who can come up with the most outrageous pairing (mudcrawler x drake, anyone?)).
Tiedäthän kuinka pelataan.
Tiedäthän, vihtahousua vastaan.
Tiedäthän, solmu kravatin, se kantaa niin synnit
kuin syntien tekijätkin.
User avatar
Sgt. Groovy
Art Contributor
 
Posts: 1471
Joined: May 22nd, 2006, 9:15 pm
Location: Helsinki

Re: The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesn

Postby Eleazar » October 6th, 2010, 5:13 am

As a fan of science fiction and biology, the standard fantasy races seem too similar to really consider as separate species-- though as has been mentioned, a few authors (like Tolkien with multiple creations/adaptations by various powers) have a good explanation for their set up.

But Wesnoth is what it is. We could add in the concept of half-breeds, but that would only tend to make it even more generic fantasy. Keeping elves and humans etc. non-mixing makes sense for a KISS game anyway.
Feel free to PM me if you start a new terrain oriented thread. It's easy for me to miss them among all the other art threads.
-> What i might be working on
Attempting Lucidity
User avatar
Eleazar
Retired Terrain Art Director
 
Posts: 2481
Joined: July 16th, 2004, 1:47 am
Location: US Midwest

Re: The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesn

Postby thespaceinvader » October 6th, 2010, 9:30 am

That's another reason. That's actually probably the overriding reason for avoiding half-breeds, actually. All fluff aside, putting them in has at the very least the potential to quadruple the workload for art and units. More, if we allow them all to interbreed with each other as well as humans.
http://thespaceinvader.co.uk | http://thespaceinvader.deviantart.com
Back to work. Current projects: Catching up on commits. Picking Meridia back up. Sprite animations, many and varied.
User avatar
thespaceinvader
Retired Art Director
 
Posts: 8414
Joined: August 25th, 2007, 10:12 am
Location: Oxford, UK

Re: The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesn

Postby boru » October 6th, 2010, 5:12 pm

This completely destroys my plan for a half-merfolk campaign :(

They were going to be "hoppers" with one leg and half a tail. Ah well, it saves me a lot of spare time, anyway.
“It is written in my life-blood, such as that is, thick or thin; and I can no other.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

My campaign: Swamplings - Four centuries before the founding of Wesnoth, the first wolf rider emerges from a tribe of lowly swamp goblins.
User avatar
boru
 
Posts: 788
Joined: November 19th, 2009, 11:02 pm

Re: The Origin of (Wesnoth) Species, or: Half-Breeds in Wesn

Postby pauxlo » October 6th, 2010, 7:05 pm

Ah, there still is the possibility of a crazy wizard doing strange stuff.
User avatar
pauxlo
 
Posts: 1005
Joined: September 19th, 2006, 8:54 pm

Next

Return to Writers’ Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests