Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I've made my feelings about this more clear somewhere else on these boards, but in short.I know this topic can be charged. But I disagree that it matters to have specific half-elves and half-orcs as unique rules objects that are called out.
I am a person that wants more diverse mixed-heritage options, but does not like the idea of a 3rd-party voice/narrator/writer grouping mixed-heritage peoples into "half"-anything. That's the only problem. They are whole individuals who as a character, individually choose if they want to identify as "half"-something, or utilize some other descriptor that is natural to their personal culture or sensibilities.
If there was a rules object called a "Half-orc" what does that even mean to a new player? Half-what? Can the other half of a half-orc be tiefling? If so, do they use the half-orc rules? Of course not. That naming convention doesn't work in a paradigm of dozens of mixed-orc possibilities. It is also untenable to invent new names for mixed races in the PH, not only because there are hundreds of pairings to have to invent, but also those naming conventions are not multiversal, rather are individually campaign-specific. We should not call all elf/dwarf hybrids "Dwelfs" or all elf/human hybrids "Khoravar" because those should be campaign-specific if the table wants to do that.
The baseline naming convention should be campaign-neutral and be able to convey any species combination. I'm thinking a descriptor like "Mixed" and the use of the two most prevalent species heritages that the character embodies. Some of the below descriptor options are better than others (I don't like Hybrid, to be honest), but I'll use some combos to show examples in use:
- Mixed Human/Orc
- Dwarf/Elf Descendant
- Tiefling/Aasimar Hybrid (hybrid sounds like a scientific design choice)
- Triton/Simic Hybrid Hybrid (nahhh)
- Dragonborn/Goliath Bloodlines
- Elf/Kender Parentage (but not all parents are blood)
It is erasure, you no longer have the fictional construct of people who are different admixtures of humans and elves but who share a culture and form an ethnicity on their own. Instead of them forming a group, now they no longer are a default game construct that demands an answer form each campaign and game. Now we have an atomized bunch of combos with nothing in common, and -worse- which are pure fluff without any mechanical backing. So instead of them being a distinct people, all mixed characters are reduced to one-offs disconnected from the grater world. And by lacking mechanics attached to them, I'm at the mercy of the DM and others just disregarding my choices, because fluff without backing is very easily ignored.
The naming convention is unfortunate -and I'm more than open to changing it-. I'm not against the opening of the floodgates to any combo being possible, but the loss of defaults just takes away a lot of it .
For context, my ethnic group consists on basically being mixed. We all are the admixture of two major ethnic groupings of people. I find myself very easily projecting my ethnic identity into half-elves. Particularly as I find myself more obviously mixed than most of my peers.