I’ve just posted the latest update to Alayne’s Story over on the WoW RP forums. This week’s update unveils a little bit about Dar’ja’s past and kicks off the Return of the Ancients story arc in Mount Hyjal.
I have to say that Mount Hyjal is easily my favorite zone in Cataclysm. I was extremely disappointed with Vashjr and Uldum. Both had such great potiential but it was completely wasted, I felt. Uldum is still a fun zone — don’t get me wrong — but it’s too tacked-on to really flow with the rest of the expansion.
At any rate, back to work!
I’ve just posted the latest update to Alayne’s Story over on the WoW RP forum. This week carries on further with the Hyjal arc and goes a bit into some of what is going on with Dar’ja and Zerith.
Writing the arc with Dar’ja and Zerith has actually been quite entertaining — albeit somewhat challenging — for me. I’m hoping that it pans out well in the end.
In other news, I’ve fallen behind on my schedules this week due to a bought of bronchitis. I finally started getting my voice back today and am doing better…provided I don’t speak too much. Talking for more than a few seconds still sends me into a coughing fit that has me gasping when not puking.
And now, back to work!
I’ve just posted the latest update to Alayne’s Story over on the WoW RP forums. This week’s update kicks off the Hyjal story arc. This story arc is one of the first encountered in Cataclysm.
I’m currently planning to start playing through the lower level zones a good bit to see what “old world” lore has changed/been updated with Cataclysm. I know of a few arcs and twists I’d like to include in Part IV but I’ll need more information on them first.
And now, back to work!
I’ve just posted the latest update to Alayne’s Story over on the WoW RP forums. This week’s update begins covering what the cost of the Shattering was and prepares the group for their next stage: Mount Hyjal.
The Mount Hyjal arc is actually fairly interesting. There are so many divergent stories going on there. I much preferred it to Vashjr though the characters will be traveling there soonish. I’m slowly arcing the rest of Part IV out and waiting to see if I’m going to have to make any major revisions like I did for Call of the Crusade.
And now, back to work!
Evolution, magic, and blood elven racial reproductive capacity.
Alternate Title: G has way too damned much free time.
Welcome back for Part II of this series meant to end the arguments once and for all over the age range I chose for my characters. In Part I I laid out the basis of the arguments and delved into the first reasons behind my belief that elves age at the same rate as humans and begin slowing once they have reached physical adulthood.
Now, we’re going to delve into why that’s not a problem in terms of reproduction.
But it would be if elves were able to have children at age 18 and they live to be 1000! A single elven woman could have over 400 children! That violates Rule #4!
Yeah, you’d think that. That would be true if elven women had the exact same fertility patterns as human women. However, they do not and cannot. Why? Because they do live longer.
In human women, fertility onsets shortly after menarche (menarche is the first time a girl experiences ovulation and her period). For elven women, they would experience this once shortly after their hormone levels put them past menarche (so, probably around 14 years of age). However, even in humans, a female is not “regularly” fertile straight after puberty begins. Her body may be, in theory, capable of childbearing and childbirth but the reality is that were you to take and impregnate a girl right after menarche, there’s a 7 in 10 chance she’ll miscarry. Why? Because her body is expending tremendous amounts of energy to transition from child to adult. It doesn’t have the chemical structures (yet) or the spare resources to nurture a fetus. The same would hold true for an elven woman.
Human females really only start to become regularly fertile a few years after menarche. This is generally around 13 to 15 years of age. Now, if an elven woman hits puberty at about the same age (12 years), she won’t really become “regular” until 14 to 16.
That is, if she followed the human pattern. Which, she won’t. She’s elven.
Okay, so how can elves mature at the same rate and not overbreed? Simple. Their fertility potential (the number of times they’ll ovulate before menopause) is the same as a human’s but spread out over a much longer period of time. It’s fairly simple when you think about it. At birth, any mammalian female is born with the maximum number of eggs she can have. She will not develop any more. So, that number sets an absolute bound on how many times she can successfully reproduce. In humans, after about age 15, you can estimate one egg released per month until about age 45. The human woman will also lose any eggs left unreleased as she ages into menopause.
So, recap: elven women and human women can have the same number of children (elven women are born with about the same number of eggs as a human woman) but elven women are adults for longer. If you posit that, on average, a human woman can have a maximum of 20 children, then you’ll see that elven women will, on average, have about the same upper bound. Elven women can just space births further apart is all.
Bah. Okay. So then how do elven women know when they’re fertile? Human women can tell (if you don’t already know this, go consult a biology textbook).
Since elven reproduction will, necessarily, depend on maximizing those few periods of active fertility over an elven woman’s lifespan, she needs some kind of signaling that she’s fertile. Otherwise, she (or her mate) might miss the opportunity and then have to wait decades for the next shot. So, for sin’dorei elves, I’ve developed something called the “sun change.” Since they’re pretty obsessed with the sun, I figured it’d make a nice contrast to the normal lunar patterns.
I posit that when a blood elf woman becomes fertile, much like her human counterpart, she releases pheromones and experiences an increase in libido and nesting. The pheromones will cause any males around her to be rather…distracted…and will help her successfully mate and reproduce during the infrequent windows of active fertility.
I base this conjecture largely off human mating patterns in females and in seasonal mating patterns among animals that do not experience monthly fertility (deer, dogs, cats, etc).
Okay…but what about rule #2? Isn’t it kind of obvious?
Yes and no. It’s obvious to us because, well, we live a grand total of 100 years max. Imagine if you could live to be 1000. Would you be so worried about pursuing mating opportunities if you thought you would have plenty of time to do so later?
A lot of people think that longer lived races would mate more like seasonal mammals (ex: the Irda from Dragonlance). However, I’ve never quite been able to wrap my mind around why a sentient race would not avoid reproduction if they’re so logical and able to use reason or magic to override the desire imperative. I mean, the act of sexual intercourse is a time and energy consuming act. That’s at least one hour per fertile period that is “wasted.” If your race is going to live to be 1000 and you allow them the magic or the logic to ignore the imperative to reproduce — they’ll go extinct pretty damned quickly.
Think I’m lying? Go check out the demographics for the modern Western world and get back to me. Go look at the falling fertility rates caused by delayed reproduction in western women. Go look at the falling live birth rates, the rising average age of population, and then, if you really want to scare yourself, try totaling up the projected tax rates required to fund entitlement programs by a population that is quickly contracting.
Now, back to explaining why rule #2 is important. If having sexual intercourse were not an extremely pleasant experience — one that a person would want to repeat often regardless of the energy/time input — then the race would not do it. They would die out and you’d have nothing. In the modern west, we’ve made parenting (the act of raising children) so expensive, so fraught with peril, and so energy-consuming that people are, quite rationally, opting out entirely! The only thing surprising about this is that anyone is shocked at all.
So, for elves, having sex is great. With a medieval level of technology, elven women are not able to perfectly control or suppress their fertility (a few tricks might be known but they’ll have a high failure rate). With the sin’dorei just recovering from a devastating war that cost them 80% of their adult population, they need every woman reproducing early and often so the parenting cost has been lowered, the bar for marriage has been lowered, and the government is actively encouraging things it would not have considered a century ago.
Adapt and survive. NOTHING gets around it.
Check back next time for the explanation of how magic can’t be used to explain everything and why even magical explanations must be internally consistent.