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Kaiser Wilhelm

The Elephant in the Room: Beorc and Laguz lifespan inequality.

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One element I have seen in the tellius games that I believe needs to be further addressed is the the unequal lifespans between Beorc and Laguz. I believe that this is an absolutely HUGE plot detail which has a lot of thematic potential. As the games make somewhat clear, Beorc have a lifespan similar to that of humans as we know them. For Laguz and Branded it is less clear, but what we do know is that they live considerably longer than Beorc, with individuals like Janaff looking like teenagers despite being over a century old. The oldest we know of is Dheginsea, who is over a thousand years old but looks to be about 60 and Lehran, who is also over a thousand but looks in his 20s.  I believe that this issue is far more important to Tellius and it's people than the games give them credit for and I believe a lot more can be done to address it.

I think that the games do an inadequate job at addressing the impact that this problem would have on the beorc and laguz, as it only seems to get passing references like "oh yeah, as a branded I age slower than a normal beorc and that's how they can tell i'm a branded and discriminate against me" or "you're only 20? Why are the Beorc sending babies into battle?" I believe that this issue has massive consequences for the relationship between the Beorc and the Laguz as a whole as well as how the characters see themselves and others. Consider this, how would you feel if you only lived to be about 80 years old, but yet there is another race of humans that lives to be over a thousand? how would you feel? Cheated? Envious? It honestly seems like the Beorc were screwed over by the Goddess, and they likely hate the Laguz because of it, seeing them as a favorite sibling blessed with greater strength and a longer lifespan. Then we arrive at the Laguz. How would you feel if you were among the race that lived to be a thousand years old? How would you see the people who only lived to be 80? you would see them be born, grow old, and die while you remained young for decades? How would you see them? How would you value their lives? Indeed, I believe the Lifespan issue to be one of the core reasons behind the rift between the Beorc and Laguz, and one that is rarely talked about in the games.

Next we arrive to how it affects the story and the characters we know. Frankly, I find the Idea of Muarim outliving tormod by decades to be absolutely heartbreaking, as well as Soren outliving Ike. This  is a truly terrible situation to be stuck in for a Laguz or a Branded, as they have to watch as the ones they love grow old and die while they remain young. How would this issue affect the relationships between these characters? How would the Beorc characters we know come to terms with their accelerated mortality?

From a biological standpoint, this lifespan inequality makes no sense. As explained in Radiant Dawn, Beorc and Laguz share a common ancestor, the primordial Zunanma race. The game does not describe how long the Zunanma live, but I would assume that they live about as long as modern Laguz. So where did this inequality come from? As is well known in the Scientific community, Chimpanzees and Humans share a common ancestor. In captivity, chimpanzees can live up to 60 years, not quite as long as humans, but only about 20-30 years off. Applying Beorc-Laguz biology to this issue brings us something absolutely ludicrous. Considering that the average dragon laguz would live around a thousand years give or take, and a Beorc living at a max of 100, this would make it so dragon laguz live at least 10 times as long as a normal human. If we applied this to primate biology, this would mean that while a human would live to be 100, a chimpanzee would live to be at most 10 years old! As old as a damn sheep! The only thing that could give this lifespan inequality any semblance of sense is magic. If so, then what? What kind of magic is keeping the Laguz alive this long? Why does it exist for the Laguz and not for the Beorc? Do the Laguz have some kind of divine blessing that the Beorc don't have? Are the Beorc cursed? If so, what did they do to deserve it?

So why don't the Beorc live as long as the Laguz? What impact does this have on Tellius? How exactly does Laguz aging work? How can this issue be addressed? Is there any way to extend the lifespan of the Beorc (without making it look like a bad fanfiction)? Could this be a theme that could be expanded upon in a sequel?  

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The split of the Zunanma into the Beorc and Laguz certainly leaves much questions. Specially when it comes to such divergent development. Looking at that one picture of the Zunanma, they look like Laguz who look more animal than human. I don't think the Zunanma lived as long as Laguz, otherwise it means the Beorc evolved to live less. What sort of purpose does it have to do that? You can't even say it's someone's fault, since the Zunanma evolved on their own, the goddess wasn't even involved in that. I also think the whole form shift thing was part of the Laguz's evolutionary path. They separated more their humanoid selves from their animal selves, while capable of shifting between them... while Beorc shed their animal characteristics completely.

One plus the Beorc do have is that they don't have big crippling weakness to magic. As seen with pegasi and the non-laguz dragons, it seems most if not all animals in general are weak to specific types of anima magic. That's one thing I see the Beorc gaining as they evolved to shed that part of themselves. At the obvious cost of not shifting. The shorter lifespan is still a mystery, unless the process affected the rate of decay of the telomeres in their DNA. Since in my opinion, that's what it boils down to explain the lifespan differences despite evolving from the same ancestor. Either the Laguz's evolution path slowed the decay of their telomeres, the Beorc's hastened the decay of theirs, or both happened.

I suppose, in theory, if they have the means to alter the speed of decay of their telomeres, you could have the Beorc and Laguz able to age at the same rate. Though then it leads to mroe complicated stuff like, if they can do that to Beorc, the Laguz might do the same and the aging ratio is back to the status quo, even if both sides now live much longer than before. Or what if they find a way to fully stop the decay of telomeres or even reverse it, thus both sides achieve biological immortality? That's one way to make things equal... but then that's a whole can of worms of its own.

That said, I probably need to look up again the relation of the aging process and the shortening of telomeres in one's chromosomes...

Edited by Acacia Sgt

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"Kaiser Wilhelm" Well gee, 2018 Me took over you it seems. Heil Der Kaiser, ja ja ja.

I think you failed to address a point, how do Beorc even administrate Slave Laguz? Seeing as Laguz live longer, once their human owners die they can just escape right? Unless it's a hereditary thing but if so then why don't they just escape? Seeing as they are way stronger than any human without proper training and equipment. It's as if Laguz don't care being enslaved? That part was always sorta weird.

Anyways 

26 minutes ago, Acacia Sgt said:

unless the process affected the rate of decay of the telomeres in their DNA.

quite an interesting read... are the Telomeres not the tip of the DNA that is like "Waste DNA"?

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14 minutes ago, This boi uses Nino said:

quite an interesting read... are the Telomeres not the tip of the DNA that is like "Waste DNA"?

More or less. My understanding is that cell, and thus their DNA, replication isn't perfect. Something is always missing in the new copy. That's where the "Waste DNA" comes from, its purpose is to be the stuff that gets lost in the replication process so the new copy is able to function as well as its original. That's basically why we age, because with enough time and replications, the telomeres get used up enough that now the cells have no choice but to loose stuff vital for their function. Thus, we become "old", and eventually die.

If telomere degradation wasn't a thing, we'd be effectively biologically immortal. Only able to die from disease or injury. Here on Earth that's only possible in some type of jellyfish who are able to more or less "reborn" themselves, restoring the cells/telomeres in their bodies or something like that. So far, at least, since there is research on the matter, trying to find a way to slow down, stop, or even reverse the decay of telomeres.

So yeah, this could be an in-game explanation for the lifespan discrepancy between Beorc and Laguz, despite both evolving from the Zunanma. For whatever reason, their evolutionary paths likely took the form of altering the rate of decay. For Laguz it went even further, since the different tribes have different lifespans, too. That's why I question the Zunanma living as long as Laguz, because why then the Beorc evolved to live less? To me, makes little sense. Then again, I'm not that well versed on the subject, so if there are examples here on Earth of animals evolving in such a way or similar, I don't know them.

Edited by Acacia Sgt

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2 minutes ago, Acacia Sgt said:

M

quoted for notification.
Interesting, I had known about this but I never thought it was because of cell replication, I just thought the tip of DNA was lost for no reason... actually iirc, the liver has some telomere restoring stuff (holy shit I just typed that without looking I'm so proud of myself) which is neat, maybe if the body could be tricked into restoring other parts as with the liver... quite interesting indeed.

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1 hour ago, This boi uses Nino said:

I think you failed to address a point, how do Beorc even administrate Slave Laguz? Seeing as Laguz live longer, once their human owners die they can just escape right? Unless it's a hereditary thing but if so then why don't they just escape? Seeing as they are way stronger than any human without proper training and equipment. It's as if Laguz don't care being enslaved? That part was always sorta weird.

Pretty much all Laguz slaves seem to be owned by nobles. I don't really think it matters if the original noble or his heir order their soldiers to beat a slave bloody for trying to escape. The message should be equally clear. Don't escape if you know what's good for you. 

As we see with Muarim slaves are beaten into submission and so might not have the guts to escape. Muarim's a big dude who's obviously very brave and even he gets nervous when not having materials on hand that his master would have beaten him for not having, long after his master is dead. If even Muarim gets timid over something that simple then its likely the average slave wouldn't dare something as drastic as escaping. 

Edited by Etrurian emperor

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3 minutes ago, Etrurian emperor said:

P

I don't quote everythign for readability's sake but yeah I agree... a bit of mind breaking should be enough, ok then this is quite sad. I would have imagined that in the confusion of heirs and what not it would be easier to escape but I don't know.

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9 hours ago, Kaiser Wilhelm said:

Consider this, how would you feel if you only lived to be about 80 years old, but yet there is another race of humans that lives to be over a thousand? how would you feel? Cheated? Envious?

To be completely honest, I probably would for a time. But after a while, I'd come to realize that it's a curse to live that long.
Heck, to a degree I feel I've lived too long already. And I'll only be 27 next month.

I'm just one person though. Just because I feel that way doesn't mean that others won't feel differently. After all, if there was no reason for conflict, we wouldn't even have the storieds to tell that gave us this series to begin with, right?

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I'm going to throw in another strange point for this conversation; If a Laguz and a Beorc have a child together, the Laguz loses their powers to shift. Not just for the female who carries the baby, as we see with Almehda, but also for the male, as we see with Lehran. Does this happen upon birth or at the start of the pregnancy? I don't know. I see no possible biological reasoning for this.

Which leads me to say, the shifting of the laguz must be a magical thing. Perhaps that's why we never see any laguz using magic, maybe all their "magical essence" is placed into their shifting ability... and maybe also into their lifespan? A branded baby  might magically take some of their laguz parent's shifting magic, giving them additional powers on top of the Beorc ability to use magic? Idk, trying to explain magic is a slippery slope for stories that have a soft magic system.

10 hours ago, Acacia Sgt said:

For whatever reason, their evolutionary paths likely took the form of altering the rate of decay. For Laguz it went even further, since the different tribes have different lifespans, too. That's why I question the Zunanma living as long as Laguz, because why then the Beorc evolved to live less?

It's been a while since I took biology, but there are plenty of animals that evolved to live shorter. Something about a higher speed of reproduction and thus a larger variation in the gene pool. More variation leads to more easily surviving through a crisis (Like that time all banana trees of one kind went extinct rapidly from a fungus due to no variation in the gene pool, don't know the full story). Someone with more knowledge of biology could probably explain this better, but I know it is a thing.

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I'd also like to add that there's a bit of a fallacy dividing the civilization into beorc and laguz, which isn't really on us as the game does it a tonne. But what I mean is that it's not just two different species at work here. It's four. Each individual laguz, while probably genetically closer to each other than humans, is functionally just as distinct from each other as they are from humans. There's a big difference between a cat, bird and dragon laguz in terms of physical capabilities, life span and societal structure, though  all of laguz society seems to be handwaved as "rule of the strong (plus Herons)". We also have no idea if different laguz tribes can inter breed with each other, presumably they can as beorc and any individual laguz can interbreed, but would that result in a branded or some kind of dragon-cat hybrid? Actually it could be possible that all the shifting is convergent evolution and beorc serve as chain breeding, where one species can reproduce with two different species that can't reproduce with each other. This is a real thing and if it's the case here then it would mean the different laguz tribes are closer to beorc than to each other and grouping them together would be highly inaccurate. But the game never addresses inter laguz breeding in the slightest and always treats it like there's two species when there is clearly way more. 

(well we do know white dragon Nasir is grandfather to red dragon Ena who in turn is mother to whatever her and Raijion's baby is, but by tribes I was referring to the more larger divisions of bird-dragon-cat {and wolf} than the separate racial groups of them).

13 hours ago, This boi uses Nino said:

"Kaiser Wilhelm" Well gee, 2018 Me took over you it seems. Heil Der Kaiser, ja ja ja.

I think you failed to address a point, how do Beorc even administrate Slave Laguz? Seeing as Laguz live longer, once their human owners die they can just escape right? Unless it's a hereditary thing but if so then why don't they just escape? Seeing as they are way stronger than any human without proper training and equipment. It's as if Laguz don't care being enslaved? That part was always sorta weird.

 

Age doesn't really have any factor in those questions. Since a regular slave has just as much opportunity. The only thing a laguz slave would have over a human (beorc) slave is some extra years of wisdom. To whit the general rule of thumb is that laguz aren't as intelligent as humans. Even though we never see that rift in any actual characters in the game aside from Skimir. Well actually I'll go back on myself and say humans are more logical than laguz who are more emotional which the game does show with some characters. So an escaping slave situation would still more likely lean towards an impassioned mauling with a laguz than a carefully planned escape operation.

14 hours ago, Kaiser Wilhelm said:

 

Next we arrive to how it affects the story and the characters we know. Frankly, I find the Idea of Muarim outliving tormod by decades to be absolutely heartbreaking, as well as Soren outliving Ike. This  is a truly terrible situation to be stuck in for a Laguz or a Branded, as they have to watch as the ones they love grow old and die while they remain young. How would this issue affect the relationships between these characters? How would the Beorc characters we know come to terms with their accelerated mortality?

I always see this argument in talks of immortality and I find it rather weak. Seeing your loved ones grow old and die off one by one is something that's going to happen to you anyway, assuming you don't die young. Is the fact that your own body is slowly falling apart and loosing functionality really that much more of a comfort?

Edited by Jotari

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9 hours ago, whase said:

I'm going to throw in another strange point for this conversation; If a Laguz and a Beorc have a child together, the Laguz loses their powers to shift. Not just for the female who carries the baby, as we see with Almehda, but also for the male, as we see with Lehran. Does this happen upon birth or at the start of the pregnancy? I don't know. I see no possible biological reasoning for this.

Which leads me to say, the shifting of the laguz must be a magical thing. Perhaps that's why we never see any laguz using magic, maybe all their "magical essence" is placed into their shifting ability... and maybe also into their lifespan? A branded baby  might magically take some of their laguz parent's shifting magic, giving them additional powers on top of the Beorc ability to use magic? Idk, trying to explain magic is a slippery slope for stories that have a soft magic system.

It's been a while since I took biology, but there are plenty of animals that evolved to live shorter. Something about a higher speed of reproduction and thus a larger variation in the gene pool. More variation leads to more easily surviving through a crisis (Like that time all banana trees of one kind went extinct rapidly from a fungus due to no variation in the gene pool, don't know the full story). Someone with more knowledge of biology could probably explain this better, but I know it is a thing.

I think it was stated Lehran lost his power when the child was born. Which is a contrast with Almehda who lost hers when she became pregnant. So there is a difference in timing depending on who is the Laguz parent which... makes it even more complicated.

Technically, we have. The raven's Mastery Skill in PoR, Vortex, means they can cast Wind Magic. It was gone in RD, however. Meanwhile the Herons are all about using more or less magic, pretty much. The breath of White Dragons is also magical. Or at least, deals magical damage.

Oh, interesting. I suppose it makes sense. Then I suppose long-term survival was like the end goal of Beorc evolution. Since as I stated earlier, they likely also removed the weakness to anima magic the Laguz have, assuming it was also a trait of the Zunanma.

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8 hours ago, Acacia Sgt said:

I think it was stated Lehran lost his power when the child was born. Which is a contrast with Almehda who lost hers when she became pregnant. So there is a difference in timing depending on who is the Laguz parent which... makes it even more complicated.

Technically, we have. The raven's Mastery Skill in PoR, Vortex, means they can cast Wind Magic. It was gone in RD, however. Meanwhile the Herons are all about using more or less magic, pretty much. The breath of White Dragons is also magical. Or at least, deals magical damage.

Oh, interesting. I suppose it makes sense. Then I suppose long-term survival was like the end goal of Beorc evolution. Since as I stated earlier, they likely also removed the weakness to anima magic the Laguz have, assuming it was also a trait of the Zunanma.

Ravena mastery is actually pretty genius as it means they're easily able to take out other fliers, what will all the betrayals and all. Shame it was kind of useless in Path of Radiance and then removed in Radiant Dawn.

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