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View Full Version : DM Help How do Long Lived Races Transition to Adulthood?



BigKahuna
2015-06-17, 12:51 PM
I'm DMing a Pathfinder game and I had an idea for an NPC who is The Prince of the Dwarves. The idea is that he was born in secret because his parents didn't want him and were planning to kill him. However a member of the King's guard saved his life and the two of them have been on the run for the past twenty years or so.

My question isn't really limited to Pathfinder or 3.5 specifically, so I thought I'd ask it in this forum. What I'm curious about is how the transition to adulthood works for Dwarves, or any race which takes longer to reach adulthood than humans? I would like the NPC to be a bit of a ladies man but I'm not sure whether this is appropriate for a 20 year old Dwarf. Obviously I'm the DM so I could just say that it is appropriate, but I would like to know how everyone else thinks about the aging of different races.

I've always assumed that all races matured at about the same rate, and that reaching adulthood took longer for Dwarves and Elves because it was only at that age that their society viewed them as adults. For example, my assumption was that an Elf raised among humans would age alongside them and be considered an adult by them at 15, but that other Elves would treat him like a child despite the fact he was physically an adult.

Thoughts?

Mark Hall
2015-06-17, 03:33 PM
Depends highly on your edition. The 3.x and later view is usually "mature at about the same rate, but are culturally considered children until over 100 (or whatever)", while the earlier view tended to include very long childhoods... gray elves in 1e weren't young adults until they were 150, and that was the equivalent of a 14 year old human (or a 12 year old half-orc).

BWR
2015-06-17, 05:15 PM
Mystaran elves initially age at about the same rate as humans/halflings. They are considered late-teenagers by about 20 and have a long '18-25' period until about 100, and it is this period most elven adventurers do their thing. After about 100, most elves settle down. This isn't just culture (though that is indeed a part of it) but also physiology, since elven people actually do age slower after 20-ish.
There isn't much information on how dwarves do it though I would assume it's much the same. I wouldn't think that there was anything wrong with a ladies' dwarf at the age of 20, though his culture might think differently (I don't know how you handle dwarves)

Gnoman
2015-06-17, 05:38 PM
Some thoughts for reference:

Dwarves in 3E reach adulthood at 40 years, and are considered very old at 250. By comparison, a human in 3.5 is considered an adult at 15 and very old at 70. If biological aging is proportionate, human age is 37% of a Dwarf's age at adulthood and 28% late in life. Applying the former of these figures, a 20 year old dwarf is roughly 7.5 human years old.

If the difference is primarily cultural, then other dwarves will simply think of him as a 7 year old.

If I were running it, I'd split the difference between cultural and biological - make human biological age 75% of a dwarf in early years (keeping the 28% figure for later life), with Dwarves culturally thinking of the years between 20 and 40 as an extended teenage phase. This would make your proposed dwarf prince biologically 15 (old enough for the "ladies' dwarf image with a bit of immaturity) that adult dwarves treat like a 10-12 year old.

Bad Wolf
2015-06-17, 08:47 PM
I remember something in Races of the Dragon about Half-Dragons not fitting in because they take much longer to grow up, and by the time they're able to leave the nursery their friends could be all grown up or have already died of old age.

Maglubiyet
2015-06-17, 09:31 PM
A sentient race that takes a long time to reach maturity implies that it has a greater learning capacity than a human. Consider human development vs. chimpanzee. The skulls and brains of both species start growing at the same time, but a chimp's stops shortly after it's born whereas a human's continues to grow for several years. Chimps reach adulthood more quickly than humans and so require less time to learn all that's necessary to function as an adult. Humans need the time to develop larger, more complex brains because life as a human requires more "brain power" (tool use, language, culture, story-telling, etc). (Side note: this difference in development times is called heterochrony.)

As a corollary, an elf or dwarf that takes longer to reach adulthood would need that extra time to develop mentally. That could mean that as an adult they need a more subtle/nuanced form of communicating, more in-depth knowledge, higher ability for abstract thought, or some other mental function that requires more complexity.

Maybe for races where this is represented by an INT, WIS, or even CHA bonus it would make sense. In D&D 3.5 at least, elves don't get an INT bonus and dwarves actually have a CHA penalty. So a prolonged juvenile phase for brain development and learning doesn't really follow. I would prefer that they grow slower, but the facts just don't seem to support it.

So...based on their mechanics (no INT or WIS bonus) and the way heterochrony works, they probably develop about as quickly as humans. They may not be considered adults at the age of 20 in their cultures due to the demographics of having many older individuals in the population, but biologically they are.

goto124
2015-06-17, 09:40 PM
They may not be considered adults at the age of 20 in their cultures due to the demographics of having many older individuals in the population, but biologically they are.

There's a similar effect in RL humans too, I think? We finish puberty and are able to reproduce long before the modern adult 'legal age'.

Heck, our idea of 'adult age' has increased alongside life expentancy. What's the 'adult age' of a human in your world? 16?

What's the total lifespan of a dwarf in your world?

How prudish are your dwarves in general, aka how do they view sexuality? This might affect the way they see a 20-year-old dwarf who flirts. Maybe it's normal for a teenage to flirt as long as he doesn't do anything physical, so to speak?

EDIT: Just read Gnoman's post. Okay, that's way too young for a dwarf to flirt, and the players might squick out on realising it. A bit of YMMV there. Might have to change some numbers though.

BigKahuna
2015-06-17, 11:03 PM
Heck, our idea of 'adult age' has increased alongside life expentancy. What's the 'adult age' of a human in your world? 16?

What's the total lifespan of a dwarf in your world?

How prudish are your dwarves in general, aka how do they view sexuality? This might affect the way they see a 20-year-old dwarf who flirts. Maybe it's normal for a teenage to flirt as long as he doesn't do anything physical, so to speak?


I'm using the Pathfinder rules for aging in my setting. So, humans reach adulthood at 15, Dwarves at 40. Dwarves also tend to live at least 250 years, and some can last for a lot longer.

As for the prudishness of the Dwarves in my setting, my players were recently banished from the Dwarven Kingdom for walking in on the Queen being pleasured by her bodyguard's Adamantine Earth Breaker (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/equipment---final/weapons/weapon-descriptions/earth-breaker). They may have helped save her life, but she was still quite upset and didn't want word getting out.

So, while Dwarves are prudish in general, certain Dwarves (especially those in the royal family) are very sexual. It isn't particularly relevant for this NPC however, as he is currently laying low in a nearby Human kingdom and my current plan is for him to be hitting on humans (and the PCs).

Part of what I'm trying to gauge is how humans would react to him. If he is biologically an adult, I don't imagine it would make much difference to them, but if he isn't it would be more like a 7 year old hitting on people (which might actually be funnier).

goto124
2015-06-17, 11:11 PM
it would be more like a 7 year old hitting on people (which might actually be funnier).

How will your players react to scenes of underage sexuality? 0-0

Feddlefew
2015-06-18, 12:39 PM
I have my dwarves reach physical maturity sometime in their second decade, at which point they would be taken on as an apprentice by a master craftsdwarf, usually a member of their clan, until such time they are able to produce their masterpiece and become legal adults.

If I'm feeling extra Dwarf Fortress-y, then dwarves will, at some point in their 30s or 40s, enter a hormone-driven fugue state and make one REALLY AWSOME item or die trying. This fugue state marks the end of dwarven puberty and the start of adulthood.