OK, so back in 2e, Muls were supposed to sterile (I thought). Now, they appear not to be, but...
I'm reading the Prism Pentad series and at the begining of book 3...wait....
SPOLIER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Stop reading if you have not read the books and don't want anything spoiled!!!!!!!!!!!!
OK, now that the courtesy spoiler alert is out of the way....
A human female and a male dwarf are have apparently concieved a child (the female character shows up pregnant with her dwarf husband).
OK, I'm thinking...what? These books were written back when 2e came out, and I thought muls back then were sterile? Do they mean, sterile in that, they cannot "breed true" (mul parents cannot propigate offspring), but a mix of dwarf and human parents could breed (the offspring being sterile muls)?
I thought, back then, muls were magically bred as slave labor, but this novel appears to debunk that.
Traditionally, it appears dwarves and humans cannot breed (Athas is the only place we've ever seen muls), so...what gives? Can Athasian dwarves and humans propigate mul children...both back in 2e as well as now in 4e?
4e is silent on the issue, other than the race being originated with the union of humans and dwarves. So unless it says otherwise, there is no reason to believe Mul/Mul, Human/Mul, Dwarf/Mul, Dwarf/Human wouldn't produce more Muls.
In 2e Muls were produced by the union human females and male dwarves.
The human mother almost always died in childbirth. (Though not always, Neava from the PP novels survived the birth of her son Rkard, though this could have been because she was not in bondage and had access to proper midwives and her husband, an elemental cleric to help her through it.)
Since the woman generally died in childbirth, these unions generally only happened when a slavemaster forced one of his dwarf slaves to stud with his human female slaves.
It is likely that this was often a form of punishment for disobedient females, "If she won't work we gotta get some use out of her" being the mentality.
Muls in 2e were stated to be sterile and universally depicted as male. (My conjecture was that any female muls that were born were not as "useful" as their brothers, and possibly "non viable" for some reason. Though there is no reason to think that perhaps the artists just didn't draw any because big burly girls don't sell books like elf chicks in chainmail thongs)
Of course Mules and Ligers and other hybrids that are often sterile in the world of reality do manage to breed occasionally, so I don't think it would completely our of bounds for a Mul to be able to have a kid... just very very unlikely.
Also I assume dwarf females and human males didn't work out because, well... dwarves are "too short". (use your imagination)
In 4e it is stated in several of the city entries that muls make up a sizable minority in several of the city states, if the 2e stuff was still cannon, then this wouldn't seem sustainable. There are also more (as in > 0) depictions of female Muls in the 4e books.
Thus I expect that in 4e cannon Muls are not sterile and breed true amongst their own kind.
How much of this was because WOTC didn't want to explore the issue of forced slave rape... who cares...
Personally I prefer the 2e depiction, but I won't be bashing my players over the head with it very often if at all, because while I don't exactly "cringe" at these sort of topics and do feel that they help create the proper background atmosphere or set the scene, explicit depictions of sex acts isn't really what D&D is about for me.
Sure I might mention that a group of goblins are raping some captive in the back of their lair in order to encourage the players to DO SOMETHING about it, and play up how EVIL the goblins actually are... or if some player decides his character is going to retain the services of a prostitute or have a real good time getting drained by a succubus... I'll "let that happen".
...but I'm not going to spend more than a sentence acknowledging it, and certainly won't spend 20 minutes explaining it in graphic detail... because that isn't what D&D is about IMHO.
Obviously if i were playing with a mixed age group at a store or convention, I won't even go that far, because my role as GM isn't about traumatizing my players into a coma.
Do whatever makes sense for you (and your players) in your own games.
@ Mouthmerc, don't know...havn't read anything to back that up yet, and though it's not the first time I've heard it, I don't have any idea where that knowledge is coming from (I think there is a wiki with that answer, but I've seen nothing to officially state "human mothers usually die in childbirth).
Muls came from human females and dwarven males. Dwarf females were too small to carry a child as big as a mul, but often childbirth killed the human female, hence them being somewhat rare and prized as slaves. On top of being so tough and nimble they were just plain hard to breed. And the muls themselves could not breed in any way.
I don't have my PP novels because a player is reading them currently, but the sterile bit is in the original 2e wanderer's journal... some of the other stuff said (re women dying in childbirth, etc) is supported in general by what it says there as well, but is not explicitly stated, I THINK that stuff is mentioned in the Novels, but idk.
As stated this stuff is mentioned nowhere in the 4e material so far (other than them being dwarf/human hybrids), and IMHO is pretty much discounted by some of the other fluff regarding how many muls there are in some cities.
I don't recall that it was only with unions of dwarf males and human females. Unless this was something put forth in the novels. Muls are only referred to as tough crossbreeds of dwarf and human, sexes were never mentioned. They are described as sterile and both male and female muls are described as hairless. I don't understand the whole dwarf women not being able to carry a mul child or human mothers dying in childbirth.
The impression I got about the difficulty with breeding dwarves and humans was the fact the neither race had any inclination in doing so. They found such thoughts anathema. The breeding pretty much had to be forced which in turn made the idea even more repellent.
I think the intension was to describe Muls in much the same way as Half-Orcs are described. Half-Orcs can be the product of any number of weird concoctions: arcane or divine rituals, bad orc offspring, or an entirely new race.
The actual details are left to the DM to decide. Being sterile is one of many very good directions for a race that is well suited to surviving the wastes of athas.
That is definitely a design direction that I'm a big fan of: half-whatevers as a distinct race descended from other half-whatevers, rather than the random offspring of random pairings that happen to band together for some reason.
What would seal the deal for me is if they could take human AND dwarf feats.
As of now they are just a little weak, especially with normal vision and stuff.
Recently in the Death Mark MINOR SPOILER ALERT
Pakka, a female dwarf, states that she has given birth to muls multiple times. And that she has never met any of them after their birth, since they were sold off as soon as possible.
In the Amber Enchantress from the PP series, Sadira encounters a trader from Nibenay in the beginning of the book, a man named Milo. One of his wife is Osa, a female mul ''as hairless and as powerful built as Rikus''.
So they are some few females muls in the books. ^^
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