D&D General Scientific Names for My Homebrew Setting


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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
There are such things as convergent evolution, carcinization and various forms of mimicry. Just because some flora or fauna look the same, it doesn’t mean they’re from the same evolutionary tree. The cleaner wrasse and the mimic/saber tooth blenny resemble each other, but are completely different taxonomic orders.
I believe you're talking about elves here (because you're responding to a comment of mine that was about elves), but I think it applies much more strongly to dwarves and gnomes. Although I imagine elves to be descended from a different group of people (the first elves) than are humans, I imagine both groups to have come about through a single act of creation, thus constituting a single group. Furthermore, the biological <ahem> compatibility between elves and humans would push toward the idea that they are indeed the same species.

Dwarves/gnomes, on the other hand, I imagine as having been created through a different act and by a different actor from that of elves/humans, with said act of creation then being adopted/subsumed/given legitimacy by the original creator under the first act. The question then is if such an act of "adoption" is enough to classify dwarves/gnomes as members of the same species or even the same genus. Looking at the criteria for these rankings, I have to say probably not. They don't interbreed with these other groups so are not part of the same species, and they aren't descended from the same ancestral taxon so do not qualify as members of the same genus. I have to conclude that putting dwarves and gnomes in the same genus as humans would needlessly expand Homo.

As a tentative proposal then, I would suggest that dwarves and gnomes be classified as Nanus durus.
 
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One thing to think about, or consider using to your benefit; The nomenclature can be wrong. Meaning someone might put humans and elves int eh same species, or humans and dwarves in different ones in your setting. But, later 'evidence' could show that they were 'wrong'.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
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I believe you're talking about elves here (because you're responding to a comment of mine that was about elves), but I think it applies much more strongly to dwarves and gnomes. Although I imagine elves to be descended from a different group of people (the first elves) than are humans, I imagine both groups to have come about through a single act of creation, thus constituting a single group. Furthermore, the biological <ahem> compatibility between elves and humans would push toward the idea that they are indeed the same species.
The thing about elves is…well..they’re elves.

Depending on the setting specific lore, there may be reasons other than mere biology at work (usually magic) that makes half-elves possible…assuming that they actually ARE possible in a given setting.

Besides, if we use the existence of half-elves to lump humans and elves into the same genus, what does that say about orcs? And remember, half-dragons are a thing as well. Plus all the other half-human types out there- tieflings, half-giants, half-celestials, muls, and all the various Planetouched.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
The thing about elves is…well..they’re elves.

Depending on the setting specific lore, there may be reasons other than mere biology at work (usually magic) that makes half-elves possible…assuming that they actually ARE possible in a given setting.
Well, yeah, they are possible in the setting I'm imagining, and the ability of elves to reproduce with humans is something about them that I imagine is biological. Of course in other settings it could be some other way.

Besides, if we use the existence of half-elves to lump humans and elves into the same genus, what does that say about orcs? And remember, half-dragons are a thing as well. Plus all the other half-human types out there- tieflings, half-giants, half-celestials, muls, and all the various Planetouched.
Not just the same genus but the same species. I'm putting orcs in that species too. Now as for the rest of these things, I'm not sure if they're a thing or not. That's way more in the realm of play to find out for me.
 

Right, I went with immanis, as opposed to the perhaps more obvious monstrosus, for at least in part something like this reason. For the orc/goblinoid/kobold grouping, however, I had some difficulty finding a characteristic that I feel defines them that doesn't also have similarly bad optics. I think noctis, as you suggest, doesn't quite capture their association with darkness, especially underground darkness which I think is a big part of it. I also think it risks subsuming part of the elven identity which is a sort of night-adapted human. Of course, tenebris is right out because of implications about human skin-tones. What about umbra in the sense of "shadow"? Perhaps the fiendish origin I imagine for them could be acknowledged with the word furialia, although I think that might commonly be interpreted as furious rather than fiendish, which meaning could also work but runs into similar problems. Alternatively, I think one solution is to fold them into the modern human subspecies along with elves and halflings.
I mean, certainly in current and previous editions, Orcs are close enough to humans to reliably produce fertile offspring (which would, theoretically, indicate they were different expressions of the same species), so if you're doing amateur zoology perhaps that is indeed the right way to go? I didn't realize you were going for Elves as night-adapted - your text upthread seems to suggest their difference are more a matter of magical influence rather than adaptation (and their night vision could be seen as an expression of their keen senses generally).
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I mean, certainly in current and previous editions, Orcs are close enough to humans to reliably produce fertile offspring (which would, theoretically, indicate they were different expressions of the same species), so if you're doing amateur zoology perhaps that is indeed the right way to go?
I think it is, but the question is whether orcs and humans belong to different subspecies of Homo sapiens. Looking at Wikipedia, it states that subspecies is "used for populations that live in different areas and vary in size, shape, or other physical characteristics (morphology), but that can successfully interbreed" which seems to fit the orc/goblinoid/kobold group quite well with its distinct morphology from the human/elf group which has a more anatomically modern appearance. Wikipedia also stats that "In the wild, subspecies do not interbreed due to geographic isolation or sexual selection." I think this also favors orcs as a separate subspecies because while elves and humans might choose to mate with one another, they would generally not choose to mate with orcs, but of course that means that I would need an epithet to form the name of the subspecies.

I didn't realize you were going for Elves as night-adapted - your text upthread seems to suggest their difference are more a matter of magical influence rather than adaptation (and their night vision could be seen as an expression of their keen senses generally).
Well, the adaptation could be magical. I wasn't intending to imply a necessarily biological adaptation, nor did I really mean it as the result of a process of adaptation taking place over time. I suppose I just meant it in the not quite correct adjectival sense of "suited to". I think of elven darkvision as linked to their origin in a time of starlight and their continued preference for operating at night under the light of the moon, as opposed to humans who came with the rising of the sun and are associated with great light. Whether their darkvision is an adaptation (perhaps cultural) to the conditions in which they found themselves or if it was a gift from their creator in anticipation of those conditions, I'm not entirely sure.

Elven keen senses I'm inclined to think of as part of a way of life that's closer to nature, much of which was learned under the tutelage of the Archfey.
 

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