I’ve talked before about creating custom races and half-breed races, for example in this explanatory post and the posts linked to it. But those posts talk about half-breed races – human plus elf, for example – from the viewpoint of OD&D and compatible systems. But here are my thoughts on fantasy half-breeds from a system-neutral and “cosmology-neutral” approach.
A half-breed character has one parent from one race and another parent from a different race. They are not necessarily the biological offspring of those two races, as you would normally understand it. For example, in a fantastic or mythic setting, if a god, demon, or magical being changes shape or possesses the body of a human and then has a child with another human, the child can be considered to have three parents, instead of two. In an even more fantastic setting, a spider or other creature that frightens a pregnant woman could even be considered a parent. In fantasy, science fiction, or superhero genres, an unnatural encounter could reshape a previously normal human, essentially causing them to be reborn, and the encounter itself acting as a new “parent”.
Half-breed characters will have the physical features of their mother. They will also have one minor physical feature of another parent, and may have up to three features as long as they are all minor and all but one are purely cosmetic.
If one of the parents has unnatural abilities, the half-breed character will have weak versions of those abilities.
Cultural (learned) abilities will match the culture they grow up in. They might be taught an additional language by each of their parents from outside the culture, plus one learned ability from outside their culture.
Constructed Beings can be treated as a special case. A constructed being is made in a laboratory or similar artificial manner and may not have a literal “mother”, so the being’s creator is free to choose whatever physical form is preferred. The physical “parents” of a construct are the mystical essences or biological DNA samples used in the construction, but the creator is the “mental parent” and provides mental abilities to their constructed offspring.
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