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Zadzi

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Mon May 09, 2016 1:23 pm

Yeah it's not the healing that I mean doesn't make sense, it's the midwifing. Elves usually have like zero problem giving birth and don't seem to have any problems (Skywise's mom being the exception but that was probably due to the crazy level of stress in the situation). On top of that, elf populace and birth numbers are just really low that midwifing makes zero sense. Plus you have healers who are able to assist as well.
I always thought it was better to have Shenshen either help human births or just find a completely different yet related healing gift had she stayed within elfin society.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Mon May 09, 2016 2:40 pm

Rayek reported that Toorah, Leetah's mother, had "salves and golden needles", so he probably meant she knew herbalism and minor surgery techniques. She did well on stitching him up when his arm was hurt by the jackal, so maybe Toorah had some minor, latent healing ability that was magnified in her daughters, especially Leetah.

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Lunakat

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Mon May 09, 2016 3:00 pm

Well- I think the idea that there were few children in the Sun Village was a hardcore retcon. As was the idea that elves don't have a hard time giving birth. Wendy has been prettifying the world she created over the years-- initially, it was a lot more rough and tumble. In Books One and Two, I think there are children depicted in the Sun Village-- as a normal part of village life. And Leetah is sweating in labor as she prepares to deliver the kids. Besides, if she wasn't enduring something-- why would Cutter need so aggressively to be there-- and why would Shen Shen push him out?

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Zadzi

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Mon May 09, 2016 3:15 pm

I guess the retcon is what's confusing me. I always saw the midwife thing as a customary Sun Folk thing, because they seemed to have certain specific roles or ceremonies within their societies way more than the wolfriders ....the mother of memory, the trial of head/heart/head, festival of flood and flower, the central hunter, the healer, etc.... so it sort of feels like Shenshen got lumped in there and in doing so having the male be present at delivery was unseemly because the Sun Folk just maybe viewed it as more a matriarchal or female thing *shrugs*. But it still didn't make sense because you could see how Tyleet gave birth with Mender tending her (pretty sure) and it didn't sound like there were any pregnancy/delivery problems with the wolfriders. It just feels meh. I liked Shenshen going down the road of learning alongside old Maggoty and it actually does fit in to her being a midwife to humans, being able to bring herb lore to them. There's no 'magic' in that, just practicality. Shenshen always struck me as a practical gal in terms of healing.

Anyway I still miss her presence in the story.

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Lunakat

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Mon May 09, 2016 8:47 pm

I think the whole point was that the Wolfriders and Sun Folk had different customs-- and while the Wolfriders were gender neutral for the most part in their labor divisions, the Sun Folk were not.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 1:05 pm

@Zadzi wrote:
I guess the retcon is what's confusing me. I always saw the midwife thing as a customary Sun Folk thing, because they seemed to have certain specific roles or ceremonies within their societies way more than the wolfriders

Oh man, I really strongly dislike this particular retcon. First, as Lunakat mentioned, there were kids in the Sun Village. They were clearly a living, thriving little society. I have no idea why they were turned into "Blue Mountain in the Desert," all stifled and with few children over hundreds of years. THey were living out in the world. Sun Folk would have died from any number of natural causes--snake bites, scorpion strikes, rock slides, injury--especially before Leetah was born, but even after if she wasn't around if it was sudden. They would have needed babies to replace and grow their numbers (obviously they were growing, since the Sun Village had so few founders).

Now I'm not a biologist or an anthropologist, but just looking at the elfin body, there's no way childbirth should be a breeze. They have enormous heads--bigger proportionally than humans both as children and as adults--and the females have relatively slim hips. Just imagine the practical reality of Dewshine giving birth to Windkin! I think it's clear that, whenever possible, healers would have been on hand to help the elves get through it and survive, since both mother and child would be at considerable risk.

One reason why elf anatomy might pose particular dangers and challenges for safe childbirth? The high ones did not design their bodies for reproduction! They hadn't reproduced in eons. But after the crash, they were stuck with those impractical bodies.

The Sun Folk were always depicted with a more complex social structure than the Wolfriders. The Wolfriders were all basically hunters/gatherers. A few developed other skills, but in times of need, you can bet Moonshade and Brownberry were out foraging, not tanning hides or sculpting pots. The Sun Folk, however, as sedentary agrarians, had the time to develop all kinds of complex social relationships and rituals. They're more hierarchical (Savah at the top, Leetah's family below her, etc.) So it make sense that there would be a dedicated individual to assist in childbirth. That's pretty common in most agrarian societies. Obviously Leetah could see to the medical aspect of labor, but there's a lot more to childbirth than that. A doula provides a different service (before, during, and after) than an obstetrician.

I think we get a glimpse of how the Wolfriders traditionally handled childbirth in KotBW when Nightfall gives birth the Tyleet. ShenShen is there to midwife, but Moonshade and Clearbrook are there too. Those two are the most experienced mothers in the tribe, both have given birth to at least two children which is a lot by elf standards. In times when there was no healer, nor any conception of "midwifery" among the Wolfriders, I think a pregnant elf would be attended by her mate and the most experienced elders.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 2:24 pm

Ditto that Wisp!

And just for the record-- I even think that the notion that people have to die for reproduction to happen is absurd. The elves in Blue Mountain were in an enclosed stone world and they clearly ran out of space. But the Sun Folk had a huge amount of room to expand. So do the Wolfriders living in the woods. There was no reason for the Sun Folk to be stagnant. They had a living, thriving community and they could have just kept planting crops, as long as they could water them. Is there some arbitrary rule to elf biology that no more than twenty of them can live in a group together or they stop reproducing? Well, that, frankly, is just, plain dumb-- and it makes me wonder how they ever populated their home planet in the first place. Health, prosperity and security don't inhibit population growth. If anything, that should cause a boom.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 2:45 pm

Wendy obviously wants to make a statement regarding the land's "carrying capacity" and chose to express it literally. I can sort of see it - that was something that evolved as the Firstcomers achieved immortality. Maybe it was even something genetically engineered back on their home world. I've read a bunch of stories where humans invent immortality potion and deploy sterility potion in tandem, because otherwise... yeah, population explosion.
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 2:49 pm

@Lunakat wrote:
And just for the record-- I even think that the notion that people have to die for reproduction to happen is absurd. The elves in Blue Mountain were in an enclosed stone world and they clearly ran out of space. But the Sun Folk had a huge amount of room to expand. So do the Wolfriders living in the woods. There was no reason for the Sun Folk to be stagnant. They had a living, thriving community and they could have just kept planting crops, as long as they could water them.

I agree. FWIW, I always got the impression that the Wolfriders were by far the smallest tribe we met in the OQ. The Sun Village seemed quite populous. I seem to recall that at one point we got an actual number on the Go-Backs, and I want to say it was close to 50 if you include all those children? The Wolfriders had a dangerous lifestyle (like the Go-Backs) but were unable to reproduce outside of recognition (excluding Pike). I think that kept their numbers artificially low. I think the idea of reproduction to replace numbers was suggested in the story (perhaps explicitly) with regard to Rainsong. There was a bit of an elf baby boom post-Madcoil. Rainsong's kids, Dart, as well as, arguably, Ember and Suntop. Which is not to say that reproduction only occurred to replace lost tribe-members. Given enough time and a lower death-toll, I think the Wolfriders' numbers would have gradually increased, albeit more slowly than the Go-Backs could have. They could have been a much larger tribe if they managed to live longer.
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Lunakat

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 3:29 pm

That was the impression I had too

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 4:44 pm

Regarding the discussion about the suitability of elves bodies for childbirth, I guess it makes sense to me to think if they had shape-shifting abilities, they were just naturally more elastic. Kind of like thinking about Elasti-girl from the incredibles giving birth.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 4:57 pm

That seems likely!

Wasn't it also the case that the high ones, floating in their shell, just stopped procreating all together? I always figured that was a similar thing to what happened in Blue Mountain. They lived forever and had limited space.

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Lunakat

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 4:58 pm

It seems to me that if tribes have healers, the healers should be able to make the birthing process painless, whether it actually is or not.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 5:08 pm

@Lunakat wrote:
Is there some arbitrary rule to elf biology that no more than twenty of them can live in a group together or they stop reproducing? Well, that, frankly, is just, plain dumb-- and it makes me wonder how they ever populated their home planet in the first place.
They populated their home planet before they became basically immortal.
For me it makes sense that a population stops reproduction when the individuals become immortal. At the same time they changed physical labor and exporation to magical and mental exersise. I've understood it as a slow process - while individual lifespan (at full health) increased, birth rate decreased. Until the Coneheads stopped reproduction at all.

Well, they became fertile again when they got stuck on another planet that decidedly reduced lifespan by unnatural death. Makes me think that the reproduction of the Coneheads was never cancelled but hibernating. It could be reactived when (a certain amount) of Coneheads were dying to replace the loss.
The problem for the Elves was - at this time they were wired the way that ONLY noticable, vital loss was replaced. General "endless" growth was not longer programmed - almost understandable when you consider what it did to their home planet.

In fact there was not one-by-one replacement but a certain bandwidth. There were times when the Wolfriders - and probably other tribes - had larger numbers and times when they were very few. We met the Wolfriders at such a time ...


... and I admit that this was most probably for stories sake to make the number of characters manageable. From a biological pov this a population control system was much too strict at the time of EQ #1. Looks like Recognition was too picky. ^^
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 7:02 pm

With all the resources available in the universe, it does not make sense to me that a space-faring population would have any natural limit to reproduction just because they're immortal.
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 7:08 pm

One reason: No need to reproduce.

And they had decided (most of them) to develope themselves as individuals in preference of their race as a whole.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 8:13 pm

I think this may be what you're saying too, Embala, but it strikes me that the coneheads, who evolved the power to control their bodies at will, may have simply "switched off" their reproductive function. They were immortal, they had sufficient numbers, they knew what over-population would cost their society and their planet's environment. If they could shapeshift into frogs and birds and wolves, surely they could magically suspend fertility. I always got the impression that they lost interest in physicality, included sex and reproduction, in favor of mental/magical exploration. I don't think they "lost" the ability to reproduce through any external limitation or through natural selection. They simply lost the will to procreate and had the means to avoid it.
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 8:39 pm

@Wisp wrote:
I always got the impression that they lost interest in physicality, included sex and reproduction, in favor of mental/magical exploration. I don't think they "lost" the ability to reproduce through any external limitation or through natural selection. They simply lost the will to procreate and had the means to avoid it.
Basically what I've tried to express, Wisp.

Taking a "magical pill" would be logical if their magical mental abilities developed faster than their immortality.

In case it was the other way round there could have been a natural regression of fertility, going with decreasing interest in sex. In this case it would make sense when they've developed recognition to spark reproduction as long as it was still necessary. And it would have granted the most promising matches for a child.

It's likely that it would have been a combination of both - natural regression and magical manipulation in the end.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 9:56 pm

Actually, hunter gatherer societies have far more free time than sedentery agricultural societies, but you do you.
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 10:18 pm

Of course you're right, Kathleen. As I said, I'm no anthropologist. I have some vague ideas about the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution, some of which are surely out-dated, although I always learned that intensified division of labor, magnified socio-political hierarchies, and other social changes went hand-in-hand with the development of agriculture. Which is not to say that agrarian societies are superior to or more enlightened than non-agrarian societies. As you say (and as seem obvious to me now!) it was surely a lot more work to rely on crops for food, and potentially, a lot less reward for those efforts and investment of resources. It's a big gamble to count on wheat or corn when a spot of bad weather or a swarm of bugs can wipe out the whole crop! No offense intended.
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Wed May 11, 2016 10:44 pm

There's taking a magical pill and choosing, as an individual in control of your body functions, not to procreate. Then there's your entire species apparently losing the ability to procreate even when they want to.

There's no such thing as a biological "there are enough of us now, no more babies" switch. Biology only cares that you keep making more copies of you and keep evolution going.
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Thu May 12, 2016 12:12 am

And that's why I'd love for it to turn out to be the nasty after effects of some genetic engineering the Firstcomers did way back when. Dr. Pointy Head thought it would be a great idea to keep everyone from accidentally tripping out while experimenting in different shapes and mating with the local wildlife and creating monstrous hybrids. Everyone went along with it at the time, they never thought they'd be unable to switch back one day when they decided to breed again.

And then they got stuck on Abode. And the best their weak magic could do to fix the problem of the defective genes was to provoke Recognition.

Or, you know, we could just say EQ Fails Biology and roll with it, but wheres the fun in that? Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Thu May 12, 2016 3:39 am

I'd say it's pretty clear that there had indeed been children born in the Sun Village between Leetah and the twins, Shenshen for starters... but there are several others I'd put as younger than Leetah, or at least around the same age (a few decades, give or take) as her.
On the other hand; it seems like there'd been a period of no births before the birth of Rayek, which would make sense; drought and everything. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if after the drought had ended there was quite a "baby boom".
One thing that makes me sure that the Sunfolk had a "steady" birthrate in the centuries between Leetah's birth (or rather, Shenshen's) and the arrival of the Wolfriders and subsequent birth of the twins is that Leetah mentions how Shenshen has rare opportunities to show her ability as a midwife, not that she's never had the opportunity before. Besides; if no child had been born in the Sun Village after Shenshen, how could she - or anyone - know she's a good midwife? Shenshen would've had to attend at least a couple of births as midwife, and - perhaps more importantly - she would've had to accompany the former midwife to some births in order to get an interest in the midwifery.

As for the little... argument... regarding the birth of the twins. I think that was simply a question of different traditions regarding births, and of course the fact that there even was any sort of traditions regarding births in the Sun Village shows that they did happen.
For the Wolfriders everyone - and especially the father* - would be present at the birth.
For the Sunfolk no males - including the father - would be present during the birth, in fact the only ones present would be the mother and the midwife.
Cutter and Leetah seems to have reached a compromise, so he'd be present, but the entire rest of the tribes wouldn't (would also have made the hut kinda crowded...)
Later on Shenshen seems to have accepted - and even embraced - the Wolfrider tradition. When Mender was born the entire family was present, and I somehow have a hard time imagining Woodlock putting a knife to Shenshen's face. When Tyleet was born Shenshen actually acknowledged the role Redlace was playing, again; don't think he was putting a knife to anyone's face, and this birth even took place in the "Wolfrider way", fittingly as it was in the Thorny Mountain Holt.


*Or fathers. Both Skot and Pike were present for the birth of Cheipar, I know it's not actually shown - because Cheipar's birth isn't shown - but I see no reason not to assume this to be the case. Same for Dart and Talmah for the birth of Bowki, even though in this case they actually knew who the sire was.
Of course for the birth of Pool both mothers were present.
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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Thu May 12, 2016 5:11 am

I agree. Rayek's whole backstory was conceived after the fact too though. In a lot of ways, that felt revisionist as well. I don't see any of it really being thought out when she wrote the original story arc.

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PostSubject: Re: Final Quest #14   Thu May 12, 2016 6:56 am

Maybe not.
But the way I see it, the situation during the OQ; that the Sunfolk did have children, not all the time, but frequently enough to have a midwife (yet rarely enough that said midwife would jump at every opportunity to attend to a birth) does not exclude the idea that some 600 years prior to that there could've been a period with low birthrates, possibly brought on by the drought.
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