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Incest in Exalted

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Erinys View Post
    Not genetic engineering. It's (micro)-evolution by artificial selection.
    It's certainly genetic engineering in the sense of deliberately altering the makeup of a population for a desired goal. Sure, no-one's doing restriction and transfection procedures in Creation, but that's a bit like saying it's not really travelling to the west coast if I take a bus instead of flying.

    It's also worth pointing out that the concepts of genetics aren't dependant on there being DNA present or even on it being the sole vector for inheritance. When Mendel drew up his charts and made some of the founding (and still largely reliable) discoveries in genetics he didn't have a clue exactly how the traits were being passed on, just that they were. Being a monk he may have imagined that God was intervening in the process somehow. That didn't stop him from correctly identifying patterns of inheritance, inferring fundamental concepts such as ploidy, and making huge advances in selective breeding fro traits.

    Given how dedicated the Dragon-Blooded can be to their breeding programs it's almost certain that the more studious of them have produced charts and pedegrees allowing them to figure this stuff out from results, even if their understanding of mechanisms is at a stage of 'traits are passed from parent to child'. (Being who they are chances are that the first theory will be 'Essence did it'. And, in Creation, it actually may have!) These are probably the families where any marriage proposal has to be measured against the charts and arranged marrages on the basis of favorable offspring might come up.

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    • #32
      Clearly Creation has something close enough to genetics, and to passing down traits from parent to child, that even if it isn't actually a matter of DNA and genetics, it's so close that it might as well be indistinguishable. It's not like every time two people have sex, there's a cosmic lottery and maybe they'll give birth to a fish, or maybe they'll give birth to a horse, or maybe they'll give birth to a person.

      Inbreeding is going to generally be rare for mortals. Among Dragon Blooded, I imagine that it's rather more common. Probably the "blood of the Dragons" tends to reduce the chances for any genetic issues, and the chances of Exaltation probably outweigh any of those issues that do show up.

      Marriages between cousins and second cousins are likely rather common on the Blessed Isle. Relationships between closer relatives are going to be generally seen as a bit skeevy and will elicit gossip, but the Dragon Blooded make their own rules, so nobody will likely face punishment provided all of the parties were willing.

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      • #33
        As far as incest and inbreeding among dragon-blooded and their immediate non-exalted relatives its worth mentioning that most populations with dragon-blooded are working to maximize the number of dragon-blooded and therefore likely manage these relationships with some care - Lookshy at least is explicitly stated to function this way. So insofar as incest makes it difficult to produce viable healthy babies - which it does - it's going to be frowned upon rather seriously.

        That being said, exaltation has a bunch of superiority-inducing qualities that, in a genetic sense, would be roughly equivalent of burning out a lot of the bad recessive traits and broken genes that are what makes incest so bad from a genetic standpoint in the first place, so a dragon-blooded society can probably keep the bloodlines a lot closer than an equivalent mortal society would without before problems appear.

        Where I see that as having a profound effect is among the noble classes of the satrapies, which may very well take their high society cues from the dragon-blooded elite and inbreed like there's no tomorrow while totally lacking the protective impact of exaltation that the dragon-blooded possess. That seems like a very interesting storytelling complication vis a vis the Realm.


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        Edge of Underleaves A pair of dragon-blooded dare the jungles of the southwest.

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        • #34
          Y'know, I don't think a 100/9900 split in the initial 10000 DBs would result in nearly as much in-breeding as others seems to think it would. Keep the genealogy nice and clear and you could theoretically get quite far avoiding any relatives.

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          • #35
            I always got the feeling that DB society didn't encourage weird kinks so much as it ignored them. Apathy is the order of the day because, hey, you might need a trading deal from that guy sometime

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Mechalich View Post
              So insofar as incest makes it difficult to produce viable healthy babies - which it does - it's going to be frowned upon rather seriously.
              Well, that's complicated.

              What we call 'inbreeding' is essentially purebreeding for negative traits. It takes just as much consistancy and just as many generations for offspring to be reliably disadvantaged as it does for them to be reliably advantaged. One or two strategic instances of brother/sister incest (and the degree of closeness is very important here) over the course of many generations isn't necessarily going to have a strong impact of the viability of offspring, as we understanding it today here on Earth.

              In the sort of families I discuss above who are doing rigorous Mendel charts you are sooner or later going to run into a circumstance where siblings will be encouraged to breed, because the benefit is judged to far outweigh the consequence. These pairings are likely to be encouraged to have a larger than usual number of children, partly because you want to have as few of these relationships as possible, and partly because you want to take the benefits and then be able to spread them as widely as possible through the target population. This is especially true in sibling who are the result of an out-of-bloodline marriage that happens to capture a beneficial trait. You want to magnify that as much as possible (vis. incest) and then be able to disseminate it throughtout your house (vis. lots of kids).

              So in a way the more serious a family is about their breeding the more likely it is that, sooner or later, incest will be a thing. But it's likeley to be an occasional thing, employed in a controlled manner.

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              • #37
                If I'm remembering the numbers right, the child of a pair of siblings is about twice as likely to display a genetic defect. That's a whopping 0.4% chance.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                  If I'm remembering the numbers right, the child of a pair of siblings is about twice as likely to display a genetic defect. That's a whopping 0.4% chance.
                  I was going to ask. I thought I remembered being told incest isn't a big genetic problem except over generations. Fucking creepy as hell, yes, but not a big genetic problem. Thanks, Elfive.

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                  • #39
                    Incidentally, the odds of genetic problems resulting from first-cousin-incest is slightly less than that of genetic problems resulting from the mother being in her thirties.


                    He/him

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                    • #40
                      After actually looking it up, I was off by a factor of 10. It's 4%. Still not huge.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Oriares View Post
                        The Arendish royal family did that because of some weird inheritance issue.
                        Thanks! I haven't read those books since I was in middle school, so I couldn't remember which nation (I was thinking Mimbre - I thought it was the country Belgarion conjured a storm above to avert a pointless battle), but I distinctly remember it being brought up.

                        Originally posted by SuddenThunder View Post
                        Given how dedicated the Dragon-Blooded can be to their breeding programs it's almost certain that the more studious of them have produced charts and pedegrees allowing them to figure this stuff out from results, even if their understanding of mechanisms is at a stage of 'traits are passed from parent to child'. (Being who they are chances are that the first theory will be 'Essence did it'. And, in Creation, it actually may have!) These are probably the families where any marriage proposal has to be measured against the charts and arranged marrages on the basis of favorable offspring might come up.
                        This makes me think of Game of Thrones, and the big book of lineages that describes pairings between the Great Houses and the appearance of their offspring - and how these descriptions of children (which broadly give clues to inherited traits like hair and eye color) is the key to figuring out who Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen's father truly is.

                        Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                        Y'know, I don't think a 100/9900 split in the initial 10000 DBs would result in nearly as much in-breeding as others seems to think it would. Keep the genealogy nice and clear and you could theoretically get quite far avoiding any relatives.
                        ​I mean I think the real issue with this is how the portrayal is pretty sexist/gender essentialist and gross.
                        Last edited by Zelbinnean; 02-25-2015, 09:46 AM.


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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Zelbinnean View Post
                          ​I mean I think the real issue with this is how the portrayal is pretty sexist/gender essentialist and gross.
                          Gender essentialist?

                          Males and females work in different ways. If you're a farmer and want to raise a whole bunch of piglets, you're probably going to buy more female ones than male ones, so that you can have as many baby piglets as possible. If you buy an equal number you're going to have fewer piglets. And if you buy 90% male pigs and 10% female pigs, you're going to have a tiny number of piglets.

                          I'm all for sexual/gender equality, but let's not pretend that guys can give birth to babies as easily as women can. If the goal was to have as many young Dragon Blooded as possible, it only makes sense that the Dragons would chose to endow many, many more woman with Exaltation than men.

                          Yeah, that's hardly fair to men, but it makes sense in light of how Terrestrial Exaltation functions, and in light of how sex works.

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                          • #43
                            I'm pretty sure there is a 2E book that actually mentions genes, but it will take a while to search all my books for it


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                            • #44
                              There's several places where Scroll of Heroes talks about genetics.


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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                                After actually looking it up, I was off by a factor of 10. It's 4%. Still not huge.

                                I would seriously question your sources on this.

                                The very simplest Mendel chart (single-allele, dominant masking) shows a 25% chance of two non-symptomatic carrier parents, regardless of familial closeness, producing symptomatic offspring. There are a bunch of other inheritance models such as Simple-Deleterious-Dominant (75%), Double-Recessive (6%), and Double Co-Inheritance (which is the model that AB-blood-type follows is again approximetely 5%).

                                The model of inheritance is the primary factor here, and in all but the most unusual cases it's more than 4%. Inbreeding can certainly make it worse. One purebred parent in the simple example would increase the probablility to 50% ... although the purebred parent is sympomatic, so if you're letting them breed you're presumably not troubled about the result. (With one pure parent the SDD chance is 100%, the DR chance is 25%, DCI is somewhere between 5% and 25% depending on factors not defined here.)

                                4% may be (or not, I haven't sourced this) the chance of a spontaneous problem, but this is not greater or lesser in the case of siblings, and significantly effected due to factors like age and environmental chemistry.

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