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Is my fantasy race/species too easily exploitable?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by SinghSong, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. SinghSong

    SinghSong Minstrel

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    So, in this particular world-building exercise, when coming up with the five species/Races in this world, I basically equated humans to rats (rattus rattus, i.e, Black Rats), and drew analogies between other species to come up with most of the distinguishing traits which differentiate them from one another. So I've basically got a pseudo-orc/ogre species based on rattus norwegicus, aka Brown Rats, with a psuedo-dwarf species based upon the (European) Rabbit, a pseudo-gnomes/halfling species based upon Pikas, and a few different pseudo Elf/Fae/Faun species based upon a few different types of Hares.

    And it's the last of these that I'm asking about- because one of the primary, central distinguishing characteristics of Hares, is that they're extremely prococial, and don't bother with burrows or warrens. Instead, hares are effectively born into the world as toddlers, fully alert, with their eyes open and capable of walking within an hour of being born. Baby hares are then left to roam free and explore their surroundings on their own, and instinctively returning to their place of birth each night to suckle (with their mother doing her own thing during the day, and this being the sole bit of parental investment that hares provide to their offspring)- until they're ready to eat solid food, within the space of a week, and the 'leverets' are then abandoned completely, left to fend for themselves after just a fortnight- less than 1/20th of the way to their onset of puberty, and less than 1/400th of the way through their maximum lifespans of 16yrs.

    Using the black rat as a baseline point of reference, given that the average length of its gestation, infancy, onset of puberty, and maximum age all fall into the range of being roughly 1/25th (4%) those of humans, that'd be the equivalent of my fantasy Race/species, the L'Faen, being able to walk and start to explore their surroundings literally within a day of being born, weaned at the age of six months, and then abandoned before reaching their first birthday (before foraging and fending for themselves, as 'Elverets/Elverettes', for the next 20-30yrs, before finally reaching puberty and becoming adult L'Faen). This seemed to fit in pretty well with several elements of the traditional lore for these respective traditional fantasy races (Elves, Fae and Fauns); and to potentially add a ton of complexity to the fantasy race/species. However, I'm wondering if it might be a bit too dark, and render them too vulnerable (especially bearing in mind the co-existence of Humanity).

    Even with proportionate levels of speed, agility, strength and resilience as far above those of humans (and their pseudo-Orc/Ogre cousins, the Urkaas) as those of hares are above rats (with Hares being the fastest, leanest and most athletic of all terrestrial mammals relative to their size, supported by with the most rapid and efficient digestion of any mammals, and the highest calorific intake requirement relative to their body mass, along with unique joints in their skulls which cushion their brains against impacts and render them practically immune from concussions), and even with breeding habits rendering them near-impossible to breed in captivity, would there be any way for Elverets/Elverettes to avoid being predated upon by the Humans and Urkaas in this world, and exploited as child slave labor? And if they were systematically exploited in this manner, how would you feel about the racial politics of this world?
     
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Troubadour

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    You should check out The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel, it's an SF story about some missionaries who visit a planet that has 2 intelligent species, one prey, the other predator, and there is an exploitive system that takes advantage of their biology and the other stuff you're talking about. I think that could help you think through your stuff.

    I always like seeing fantasy races that are more than just "humans, but x" and otherwise act exactly the same as humans. So having vastly different biology has a really interesting framework for that. I think what would be really important is how L'Faen feel about Elverets. A fish just dumps its eggs and doesn't think about it, and some species even eat young of their own species. Crocs guard their nest and their babies for a little bit but they're mostly on their own right away. Great apes, humans, orcas, and elephants are pregnant for a really long time (almost 2 years for elephants!), have 1 baby, and then spend several years raising it with their community before having another one. The amount of investment a parent puts into the baby is inversely proportional to the number of babies per litter/clutch/batch, which tends to also align with how long they're pregnant/gravid. But you'll also notice that the species that invest a lot of time are also highly intelligent and social, because there's a lot for the young to learn. A human baby needs not only things like walking and feeding itself, but how to interact with others, identify dangers, learn their surroundings etc.

    So how intelligent are your L'Faen? Is having children important culturally or just a thing you do? What is the process of a juvenile being recognized as an adult and joining that society? If they're like fish and don't give a hoot about their kids, then they won't care about child slave labor (or maybe even sell off their kids). But then how does an individual who lived through that feel about that system? Is there a reason they believe things should be this way? How do they feel about other species trying to upend this system? There's some really interesting stories that can happen here.
     
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  3. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Guh. Too many words. @[email protected]

    Hm, well there's no reason they have to be restricted by their instincts any more than humans are. Maybe the parents are hands off but each community has an order of protectors that watch out for the kiddos? Or maybe they live in such isolated and well protected villages that the other races generally only see fully grown members of the race capable of protecting themselves?
     
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  4. SinghSong

    SinghSong Minstrel

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    They're pretty intelligent; almost as much as humans (with the pseudo-gnomes being the smartest, and the pseudo-Dwarves ironically being the slowest intellectually- though this is compensated for by having far longer childhoods, and the most extensive educations, with acquired intelligence counting for more than innate intelligence in humans IRL). How important it is for them to have children varies culturally (since monocultures don't exist, least of all between an assortment of different species and sub-species), but they're highly hormonal, polygamous and seasonal (see 'Mad as a March Hare'- except that rather than having annual peak mating seasons as hares do IRL, since they're far longer-lived, theirs align with the 11yr long solar cycle) and for most of them, historically, they don't really care that much, like you say. Though this isn't entirely negative; with minimal parental investment in their children, and no familial attachments, this also means that things like lines of descent, family inheritances and hereditary privileges, such as aristocracy and monarchies, are almost completely foreign concepts for them, with nepotism being virtually non-existent in their societies, and meritocracy being valued above all else.

    Some of them, though, do very much care; and in the most advanced, powerful and organized L'Faen civilization, they've effectively employed a societal system akin to that of Ancient Sparta to overcome this; whereby Elverets and Eleverettes, upon being abandoned by their mothers, are raised, trained and taught by the state in an Agoge-type system. This works for them, extremely well (and enabled them to adopt a degree of militarism as well, and partially overcome their hardwired primal instincts to take flight rather than fighting in life-or-death combat situations). But whilst the L'Faen involved have unified their entire species under this civilization, there are several other species and sub-species of L'Faen, with their Council of Elders seeing the relatively primitive state of other L'Faen populations as none of their concern, in the same manner as a Human Council of Elders would with regards to the relatively primitive state of the Urkaas (pseudo-Orcs; which are more closely related to Humans than most of the different races of L'Faen are to one another).
     
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