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New to RP in Tamriel - Half-orcs in lore?

Soul Shriven
I'm considering rolling an RP character in Tamriel that takes inspiration from a Half-Orc D&D character of mine. I am wondering if lore exists for a half-orc character? Is inter-species breeding even possible in the Elder Scrolls universe?
  • Totalitarian
    By spoiler I mean "long wall of text that is a discussion". No actual spoilers included. :smile:
    Interracial breeding is possible in Elder Scrolls. Bretons are the most obvious example of this (even though Imperials have elven blood too). However, as you probably know, character creation does not support mixed breeds. And an in-game book (I believe it is Notes on Racial Phylogeny) explains that interracial breeding occurs, but it also mentions, specifically with an Orc, that a Bosmer woman would be rather ashamed or embarrased at revealing that she has a child with an Orc father.

    Of course, that there confirms that Orcs can have children with the other human races. Still, one problem remains: the actual character creation for your half-orc. Lore is generally lacking in the area if men and mer (as you know, Orcs are a type of mer) are the same species, or if they are different species. That right there is the biggest thing to consider, this reason:

    If men and mer are part of the same species, we can draw this example to the 3 major 'races' (Negroid, Mongoloid, and Aryan I believe) and countless minority races (Dravidian, Ainu, Polynesian) (mind you that the human races have the potential to not even be considered races due to their genetic similarity) and when they have children together. A mixed child for us is an intermediary form of both races. A black and white person's child will have neither skin tone, instead a mix. A mix of all features. Children generally become fertile (from medical problems unrelated to mixed racial background). And, judging from the fact that Bretons exist as a reproducing race, it would seem as if men and mer are the same species. That would mean that your half-Orc would be best fit as a mix between two races, where you could modify some features, namely facial features, that would come from the mother race, and the father race.

    However, the other kind of mix, where members are not of the same species, are different. We see this mostly in animals, such as the mule, or ligers. However, whether or not you wish to take it is truth, it is believed that modern *** Sapiens (us) have Neanderthal DNA in us, and Neaderthals, according to our current knowledge, were a different species. Well, as you have probably found out, will find out, or probably already know, humans are fertile. However, many cross-species animal hybrids are infertile for several reasons. Now what did that have to do with anything? Well, I thought I had a good idea, but then I realized that animal hybrids are mixes of their parents. However, something I could point out to argue that men and mer are different species, barring the fact that their mixed offspring are fertile (which could just be how modern humans are with supposed small amounts of Neanderthal ancestry), is the vast difference in physical traits that men and mer have. Men are generally thicker and wider, alongside having a notable different jaw shape than mer, who tend to be thinner. Then brings in eye color, which mer and men have several differences in, both in terms of overall eye shape and structure, and varieties of color. Today, brown eye color is shared between all modern humans, and generally European peoples are the only have more than two types of eye color (Other Aryan peoples tend to have a few non-brown eye colors, such as green). And then, what is most visible in Elder Scrolls races: magical potential. Altmer and Dunmer, in lore, have more magical potential than Nords or Redguards. While IRL humans do not have magical potential, it would be safe to say that all human races, if we have magical potential, would be about equal over all races due to genetic similarly, if magical potential even is genetic. Nevertheless, a half-Orc would probably still look like a mix of his parents.

    Of course, some of the people on the forums say that a mixed-blood in Elder Scrolls lore looks like the mother. Due to a significant lack of mixed-race people in game, it is rather hard to say for certain if that is indeed true, or only partially true.

    So, in conclusion, you could either make your half-Orc look like the race of one of their parents (Orc or whatever the other parent is), or you could make them look like a mix of both, however, that may be a bit harder, but still possible if you are determined enough, I'm sure.

    Author's note: Khajiit and Saxaheel/Argonians were not included because it would seem as if they are indeed different species from men and mer.

    TL;DR: Lore would support a half-Orc character. However, the character creator, not so much. And in terms of RP, only minor trivialities would really matter on the distinction between men and mer, whether or not they are the same species, or different species.

    I also think it'd be a cool idea to have a mixed-race character. I tried to make my main RP character look a lot like a human (she is an Altmer). I thought I did a pretty good job, but that would require the eyes of another for it to be non-skewed. But in the end, Altmer are still massive with their height minimized.
    Edited by Totalitarian on September 23, 2015 8:33PM
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  • notimetocare

    In short, yes but no. If your character was born of a orca father, its going to be almost 100% what its mother is. Though it might be stronger or a bit larger, but it will be racially what its mother is.

    If you want to be orc, the mother is orca and the orca may retain some traits of its father (magical affinity if it was say an altmer father. But you will look almost 100% orca. Too many people fail to understand that there is barely a noticeable difference between a pure orc and a half bred orc. It would be much more likely that physically you would appear on the common spectrum of what orcs look like.

    Britons are a race in themselves that is the result of multigenerational interbreeding (logically speaking, male aldmer and female nedic humans). Of playable races, only khajiit and argonians appear unable to interbreed.
  • AKB
    As an admin of UESP, I see this question a lot, and my take on it has changed ever so slightly as time has gone by. Here's the gist of it:

    The developers don't want to get into it more than necessary, which is why Notes on Racial Phylogeny is filled with so many cases of "we don't know if X and Y can produce offspring". To be more specific, the general answer is that when races crossbreed, the child primarily takes after the mother, with some traits from the father. See Agronak gro-Malog for an example of cross breeding between an Orc and a Vampiric Imperial. Agronak is definitely Orcish, but interestingly, the developers made him oddly colored for an Orc, and made him extremely bloodthirsty as well. That is one of the best examples we know of, but I also like looking at a different situation that provides some more context, I feel, the marriage of Vittoria Vici. This marriage between an Imperial and Nord get some rather nasty comments from the parents of the couple:

    "Oh. Why... why certainly. I keep telling myself I'm not losing a son, I'm gaining an Imperial. Daughter. An Imperial daughter..."
    "Vittoria may be pretty, but does she have the right hips for the job? I want grandchildren, and lots of them."
    "I've just lost my daughter to a Nord beast, and my nephew Titus is too busy playing Emperor to even show up."
    "My boy just married a gods-forsaken Imperial. Skyrim is full of eager Nord women, and he beds down with the enemy."

    Take these examples with a grain of salt, due to the political conflict involved, but the racially charged comments between even these two fairly similar races could be seen to suggest that such unions are extremely scandalous. It doesn't matter if you're both human, it's still somewhat taboo.

    There are a few more examples I could bring up, but those are two of my favorite looks at this. This area doesn't have many hard answers, mainly because I imagine the developers have no intentions of writing themselves into a corner with this topic if they don't have to, and they haven't had to make many clarifications regarding this subject.
  • Ah_Rahgol
    Agronak gro-Malog claimed he was a halfie.

  • Rosveen
    A child is virtually always the race of the mother, with a possibility of more or less pronounced traits of the father: unusual eye color, skin tone, affinity for magic etc. Over generations of interbreeding these traits can accumulate and result in what is essentially a new race, as was the case with Bretons.

    A relationship with an Orc would generally be looked on disfavorably by most cultures. But it can happen, of course. Your character's backstory is up to you. I have a half-Orc myself, but she's a Bosmer and her father's influence is psychological more than physical.
    Edited by Rosveen on September 25, 2015 6:32PM
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