Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Metahumanity: Anatomy and Physiology
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
Kalvan
This material is stuff my group (well mostly me) worked out about certain biological puzzles about metahumanity. Until Third Edition, it didn't appear to contradict canon. Now, with Fourth Edition, certain parts of it (but only in the R rated version) have been completely contradicted by the BBB.

This work assumes that Humans are the baseline, that any differences will usually be compared to Humans (Although, sometimes other metatypes will be compared to each other). Note that this work will not dig too deeply into metavariants, although certain metavariants may be illistrated if they demonstrate particularly exceptional differences to the human or baseline metatype norm. This differences sometimes pose roleplaying restrictions, but rarely anything crunchy.

Elves:

Elves are the metatype that outwardly resembles the human norm the most. However, scratch the surface, and certain internal, metabolic, and skeletal differences can become extremely obvious.

Because soft tissue (like external ear shape) tends to decay rather quickly, and because the average height of elves, while on the high end of the Human bell curve, is not necessarily outside it, (especially when one considers human members of the African Watusi tribe, or certain Argentine and Paraguaian Indian Tribes), and because there are only four total confirmed Elven Swiss Ice Mummies and Danish and Russian Bog Mummies, one must rely on skeletal remains to tell Human from Elf.

There are only two obvious skeletal differences between a Human and Elven set of bones. One of those differences will be saved for the R rated version. That leaves the middle ear bones. The hammer is more of a spiked mace, the anvil is more of a mortar (as is mortar and pestle) and the stirrup has rounded "footholes." These differences, plus differences in the cochlea, auditory nerves, and hearing centers in the brain mean that Elves hear sound, and especially musical pitch differently from most of metahumanity. First of all, their lower audititory range is a little higher (32 hertz, or three octaves below middle C compared with 16 hertz for most of the rest of (meta)humanity) while their upper range is more than a little higher (40,000 hertz, or roughly 15,000 above the human norm). Secondly, their perception of pitch and musical progression is arithmetical, rather than geometric, which means that Elven music at its upper ranges sounds rather flat and monotonous to most other ears, while non-Elven music sounds to an elf (especially at high ranges of pitch) like vocal and instrumental yodeling.

There are other differences between humans and elves. The average Human small intestine is six times as long as said Human's height. For Elves small intestine length is more like eight times. In addition, elves can manufacture the amino acid lysine in their bodies, a feat only certain rodents and ruminants can mimic. This means that unless they experience a specific drug side effect, they cannot experience the deficiency disease kwashiorkor. (Which causes the pot bellies one sees in footage of starving children in Africa.)

Three other facts about Elven physiology are that their digestive tracts lack a certain enzyme allowing them to digest most animal protein (so that they have to pop enzyme pills to enjoy real meat products or else they experience explosive diareeha if they so much as take a bite of a White Castle) their body treats all animal fat as if it were supersaturated fat (meaning that if the regularly enjoy meat, they must report for chelation therapy every six months or quickly risk arteriosclerosis) and that the skin pigment of Night One and similar metavariant elves is not melanin. (their faces, palms, and soles are gray or light purple, not brown or tan, and they are just as vulnerable to sunburn and heat exaustion/stroke as other caucasoid elves)

Dwarves:

It is rather easier to tell a skeletally displasic human dwarf poseur from a metahuman Dwarf than it is to tell a elf poseur with the proper implants from a real Elf. However, for the puritanical who do not want to undress the person in question, one can still x-ray his/her spine.

Hypoplasiacs simply lack the proportions of a true Dwarf, but even Psuedohypoplasiacs lack the broad muscular attachments and flanged joint structure of a true Dwarf. In addition, their spines show structural weakness (particularly in the neck vertebra) that are lacking in true metatype Dwarves. (One of the rare instances of scaling down causing more problems than scaling up.) And of course there are no Human Hypoplasiacs and Pseudohypoplasiac within the linear family trees of any known Dwarves, and very few lateral kin, either.

In addition, Dwarven bodies don't need sunlight to produce Vitamin D, and they also manufacture most of the Vitamin B and E complex, so no true dwarf, unless he is addicted to certain opiates or stimulants (such as cocaine derivatives) will experience rickets or beri-beri.

Coming tomorrow: Trolls and Orks.

But for now, Questions? Comments? Flames?
Ancient History
Your hearing ranges are a little wack. Average human hearing sits at about 20-20,000 Hz - very few people would have the ability to hear 16 Hz or higher than 20,000 Hz, and most of those would be children and adolescents. You're basically describing all elves as having High Frequency Hearing.

Musical perception is more a product of culture than biological heritage - at least, as far as has been determined. That's why non-Western cultures can hear microtones while pop music turns our Western brains to mush.

Anywho - elven skulls would feature different proportions around the eyes. Reconstruction of the skull should easily be able to reconstruct the typical "almond shaped" elf eyes.

Also, you should explain the rare elven cetheral skin color - a mutation in the melanin, perhaps. The whole

A large percentage of dwarfs are left-handed.
Kalvan
Every National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and History Channel show I have ever seen and every public radio non-western music show I have ever listened to has featured recognizable octaves based on the exponential power of two (and partial powers) rather than on strict multiples. They might use minor keys or even medieval style modes, but nothing like I'm describing for Elves.

And my musical standards are for the most part based on public radio broadcast classical music.

And as for almond eyesockets, is it possible (right now) to use the shape of the eyesockests (as opposed to some other feature of the skull) to tell a Mongoloid Skull from a Caucasoid, Negroid, or Capoid one?
Ancient History
QUOTE
Every National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and History Channel show I have ever seen and every public radio non-western music show I have ever listened to has featured recognizable octaves based on the exponential power of two (and partial powers) rather than on strict multiples. They might use minor keys or even medieval style modes, but nothing like I'm describing for Elves.

The Western musical scale is a contriviance - not everyone uses octaves or the equivalent, and there are many cases where you cannot even annotate the song using "common" scales. If you want to imply that elves use a microtonal, non-Western, or even modified Western scale (such as used by Blues and Jazz musicians), it would make more sense.

[/edit]
QUOTE
And as for almond eyesockets, is it possible (right now) to use the shape of the eyesockests (as opposed to some other feature of the skull) to tell a Mongoloid Skull from a Caucasoid, Negroid, or Capoid one?

Dunno. [/edit][/edit] There appears to be some controversy over the matter. But it's theoretically possible.
Drraagh
I remember in the first edition rulebook, they commented that elves were vegetarian, and in the SR3 rulebook they only mentioned it in passing under the elf description about making a big presentation of a salad so the elf's lips don't have to touch meat.

I used to allow the option for them to take it as an allergy in SR1, but then I would bring it back to haunt them, like being in front of the mob boss and he's offered you a steak dinner. If you refuse, it's an insult. If you do take part in it, you suffer for it.

I don't remember anywhere it directly came out and said that elves were vegetarians due to their biology rather than by choice. Sort of like the people who believe that animals feel pain and should not be killed for food. In the SR world, I can sort of see it being partly by choice and partly by availbility. Unless you're rich, how can you afford meat? Your choices are a bit less, and I suppose salads are cheaper, and also easier to grow both at home and in restaurants and such hydroponically.

As for the skull, forensic anthropology can determine the race from a skull. The eye and nose openings in the skull and certain proportions of the skull vary by racial group between the Mongoloid, Negroid, and Caucasoid races. By examining the skull, or certain parts of the skull, forensic folks can determine the race. So maybe not just by the eyesockets will give you what type of skull it was, but then that's like saying by someone's skin color what part of the world they were born in. There's also at least the accent to consider. wink.gif

Westiex
QUOTE (Drraagh)
I remember in the first edition rulebook, they commented that elves were vegetarian, and in the SR3 rulebook they only mentioned it in passing under the elf description about making a big presentation of a salad so the elf's lips don't have to touch meat.

I used to allow the option for them to take it as an allergy in SR1, but then I would bring it back to haunt them, like being in front of the mob boss and he's offered you a steak dinner. If you refuse, it's an insult. If you do take part in it, you suffer for it.

I don't remember anywhere it directly came out and said that elves were vegetarians due to their biology rather than by choice.

QUOTE
Iíve lost count of the people who see us all as nature-loving daisy-eaters,
unable to cope with modern technology. Please, somebody, help the poor
elf girl use the big, complicated public Matrix terminal! Or make a big production
out of bringing some wilted salad to the cute little elf, so she wonít have to soil her lips with meat.

3rd Core Rules, P48

Thats the only reference that I know of that even suggests that elves don't eat meat ...

Does anyone else have page references?
Drraagh
QUOTE (Westiex)
QUOTE
Iíve lost count of the people who see us all as nature-loving daisy-eaters,
unable to cope with modern technology. Please, somebody, help the poor
elf girl use the big, complicated public Matrix terminal! Or make a big production
out of bringing some wilted salad to the cute little elf, so she wonít have to soil her lips with meat.

3rd Core Rules, P48

Thats the only reference that I know of that even suggests that elves don't eat meat ...

Does anyone else have page references?

That one still strikes me as a 'choice' rather than a biological reaction. It wouldn't be such a presentation to a cute little human who wanted to look her best and/or was a vegan and didn't want to eat meat, but because its an elf, everyone has the whole sort of 'Midsummer Night's Dream' approach and thinks they are all magical and non-technical and that they don't eat meat. Doesn't mean they can't, just that they don't.

Again, that's just my two cents on the facts presented to me. P26 of SR1 core book says that in Urban areas, Elves live in Human structures, but in the wilderness they live in structures built from living plants. And then in habits, they are vegetarians, but wouldn't you look more at vegetarianism if plants were your home too? In some ways, I suppose that's playing to the whole 'mystical' nature of elves, but then that's just me.

As a side note; just think about how many people get sick eating at fast food places today. IYou could say some of them were elves, or you might just say that the food isn't that good. nyahnyah.gif
hyzmarca
The quote from SR3 was nothing less than a sarcastic attack against racial sterotypes.

Elves living in houses made out of plants does not match SR3 flavor, except for Dyrads. Dyrads are just fragging wierd. They're all women. And they live in the forrest[b] away from civilization [b]together. And they worship a tree. Yeah, there's some hanky-panky going on there.

I play elves as being just like everone else but cuter and with pointier ears. They also have longer life spans for some reason and tend to be more agile. That seems to be the SR3 flavor for them. There are a few elitist snobs who are influanced by Immortals and and who make themselves feel superior by mangling a dead language but they do not represent all elves.
MITJA3000+
I want the rated-R version about elves' bones, please enlighten us.
Kalvan
QUOTE (MITJA3000+)
I want the rated-R version about elves' bones, please enlighten us.

Patience, Grasshopper cool.gif
Kalvan
Orks:

Even if the skull is removed, it is still quite possible to tell an Ork skeleton from a human or elven.

The joint structure is re-inforced. Not to the same degree as a dwarven one, but still quite noticible to anyone with any understanding of skeletal strecture. Also, Ork bones are more solid and rather less porus than those of other metatypes, which means that unless they are extremely physically fit (or adepts) Orks will sink, not swim, in water. (Salt water provides a little more boyancy, but not much.)

The jaw structure heavlily reinforced for bite force (and without compromising articulation) and large pointed canines (including lower tusks) are mearly the most obvious oral features. Ork Bicuspids and the first two pairs of premolars are sharp shearing carnassals, convergent on those of dogs and big cats. The Ork tongue includes two extra types of taste buds compared to the rest of metahumanity: spread evenly throughout the upper surface tongue are structures that detect water (similar taste buds are found on the tongues of cats) and fat (similar tastebuds are found on pinnepeds [Seals, Sealions, and Walruses]). Note that Orks can tell most fat substitutes (such as Olestra or Simplesse) from real fatty acids, the same way one can usually tell a diet soda from one sweetened with a real sugar.

Elsewhere in the Ork body, Ork livers manufacture Vitamin C on their own, which means that no true Ork has ever gotten scurvy. However, their small intestines are only three times their body length, so that except for fruits, Orks can't really fully digest plant material.

Trolls:

Troll Tusks, Horns, and Osseous Dermal armor are pretty much unmistakeable biological differences. But added to that is an internal organ whose purpiose seems to be to hoard calcium, so that Trolls only need as much calcium as a human of the same mass and size would need. As with Orks, Trolls (onless they are grossly obese) don't float in water, they sink.

Questions? Comments? Flames?
mmu1
QUOTE (Kalvan)
And as for almond eyesockets, is it possible (right now) to use the shape of the eyesockests (as opposed to some other feature of the skull) to tell a Mongoloid Skull from a Caucasoid, Negroid, or Capoid one?

Yes, it is...

BTW, I can, off the top of my head, think of like 5 or 6 notable and easy to spot differences between male and female skulls (courtesy of long ago anthropology classes, so I'm hardly an expert - shape of the jaw, shape and size of the eye sockets, size and shape of brow ridges, shape of the cheekbones, shape of the forehead, size of the mastoid bone), and we're just talking different genders, not different species.

Then there's the more technical stuff like skull sutures, shape and location of certain openings for facial nerves, marks left by points of muscle attachment... To a trained anthropologist, a skull belonging to a different species of humanity might as well be painted day-glo orange. There's no way it'd come down to ID through inner ear bones.

2bit
QUOTE (Ancient History)
Anywho - elven skulls would feature different proportions around the eyes. Reconstruction of the skull should easily be able to reconstruct the typical "almond shaped" elf eyes.

I read this as "Elf eyeballs are oblong, not spherical." Please reassure me that it's not what you meant. ohplease.gif
Ancient History
That's not what I meant. An illustration might help.
nezumi
Don't forget, elves can regenerate and dwarves have magic resistance. It says so on the site, www.shadowrun.com .

(teehee, *dodge*)
Straight Razor
do meta-human males have a Baculum?
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012