Jump to content
Myxie Tryxle

Miqo’te Mating Strategies Explored: a biologist’s point of view

Recommended Posts

Miqo’te Mating Strategies Explored:  a biologist’s point of view

 

 

Purpose of this Guide

 

I’ve seen a lot of people confused and looking for information about the Miqo’te social structure and particularly how their reproductive strategies work.  In an absence of official lore, I have used my biology background to extrapolate based on real life ecology and natural systems how the Miqo’te mating systems are likely to work.  Little of this information is official lore, but it is informed by modern biological research into species with similar reproductive strategies.  You are free to use or disregard this information as you see fit when developing your own Miqo’te backstory.

 

Most of what I describe is based on studies in animal species such as jungle cats, flies, mice, and birds.  I’ll be specifically describing the biological basis for these mating systems.  Politics and sociology are not my fields of expertise, so there is plenty of room for these systems to be complicated by morality and ethics.  It is important to realize, however, that because these mating structures are historically normal to the Miqo’te, their perception of morality and ethics in regards to family and sexuality will differ from the typically monogamous viewpoint of modern human society on Earth.  For example, the notion of a “deadbeat dad” in Miqo’te society is likely non-existent, and may even be replaced with the idea of a “deadbeat aunt” or “deadbeat grandmother.”

 

Also, bear in mind that what I’m describing would be the average or the norm.  Adventurers are, by definition, exceptional individuals.  There’s no reason your character can’t grow up in these systems but develop different behaviors and values.  It’s very rare that an interesting story is written about a character that conforms to society’s mold.

 

 

My Credentials

 

My undergraduate degree is in biology, and my honors thesis was on reproductive strategies and sexual evolution.  I later acquired my master’s degree in biological science from the University of California, Irvine studying genetics and physiology in Drosophila melanogaster.

 

 

Seekers of the Sun – Harem structure

 

Seekers of the Sun follow a harem mating structure.  According to lore, males are divided into two groups:  nunh and tia.  Nunh are breeding males who command a harem of ten to fifty breeding females.  Tia are non-breeding males or bachelors.  I can see arguments either way for whether these harems are fixed groups of females tied to a particular nunh versus a certain number of privileged positions within the tribe whereby the nunh is allowed to be promiscuous with any female.  Considering there are 26 tribes, it’s likely that both of these structures exist.

 

From official forums, it has been noted that a tribe averages one nunh for every 10-50 females.  In order to become a nunh and earn breeding rights, a tia has two options.  The most common is for them to challenge and defeat a current nunh in some sort of contest (likely combat), thus inheriting the position of nunh.  This ensures the fitness of the tribe as only the strongest males reproduce.  The other option for a tia is to break away from his current tribe with a group of females and found a new tribe, which seems less likely.  If the male can’t win a position from a current nunh, there is little incentive for females to follow him and perform the groundwork necessary to establish a new tribe.

 

Some have drawn the comparison between the Seekers and African lions, the most obvious real world counterpart in both appearance and reproductive biology.  This leads to the question “Would a new nunh kill off any cubs of the previous nunh whom he had defeated when taking over his harem?”  The answer is that he probably would.  Depending on the average reign of a nunh over a harem, he may not have the luxury of waiting a year or two for the females to come back into heat.  There’s even a little bit of lore to back up this assertion.  Upon joining a grand company, one of the options a player can take when asked if he’s sure about his choice is "I'll kill all of our enemies and eat their babies!"  For the other races, this could be interpreted as the character being a bloodthirsty barbarian, but for Seekers of the Sun, it may just be a fact of life.

 

 

Keepers of the Moon – Promiscuity

 

The mating structure of the Keepers of the Moon is much less covered in the lore.  About the only thing officially known is that it is a matriarchal structure, where the females hold positions of influence.  It is noted in their naming guide that “rarely do even the largest Keeper of the Moon families have more than two or three sons. This is not by choice. Nature merely sees to it that more females are born to this race.”  I have also seen it mentioned that male Keepers are highly nomadic.

 

Because of the gender gap in terms of numbers and no mention of a harem structure similar to that of the Seekers, it is highly likely that Keepers exhibit a promiscuous mating system.  This is similar to many bird species, and one of the major hallmarks of this type of system is the notion of female choice or sexual selection.  Females choose mates based on subjective criteria that serve no obvious survival benefit aside from attracting mates:  songs, plumage/coloration, mating dances, etc.  This is reinforced by the fact that the starting attributes of a Keeper character favor the mental attributes over the physical.

 

 

Paternal Care of Offspring

 

Considering the polygynous/promiscuous mating systems of the Miqo’te, male input during child rearing would likely be low out of necessity as well as behavioral preference.  The sheer number of offspring a breeding male of either clan is likely to produce means that he would be splitting his time ineffectively between large numbers of offspring.  It is likely in both clans that they exhibit some degree of communal rearing, where extended family groups of females share the task of rearing related children.  It is probable that each female has a strong, direct relationship with not only her own children, but also her nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.

 

The Seekers of the Sun may experience some level of the “benevolent tia,” a male that lives within the tribe and aids in the rearing of offspring.  How this is tolerated will depend on the tia’s relationship to the nunh.  If the tia shares a trusting relationship with the nunh, for example being brothers, the nunh may tolerate or even encourage the tia to serve as a father figure.  These trusted tia would likely serve as lieutenants for the nunh.  If the tia is unrelated, it is likely the nunh will consider the tia a potential threat and not tolerate his presence. 

 

Monogamy under the Keepers of the Moon may be possible, but will not be prevalent.  Only a strong romantic tie would bind a Keeper male to a Keeper female.  If monogamous relationships became mainstream, there would be a large amount of unattached females with limited reproductive opportunities, leading to widespread adultery or cross-breeding and significant drama.  There is also a significant incentive for males to remain promiscuous, discouraging them from taking strong, fatherly roles.  The most likely scenario in my mind is a Keeper male who wanders from community to community, sticking around for a month or two at a time to engage receptive females before moving on.  Likely he would return to the same familiar communities year after year, serving less as a father figure and more like a visiting uncle.

 

 

Concerns About In-Breeding

 

The modern view of in-breeding is that it is indefensibly bad and leads to the genetic degradation of the in-breeding population.  Most of this perception is based on social and religious stigma, which is to say that it is uninformed by modern biology (in particular, population genetics).  It has been well documented in several species, particularly birds like the Japanese quail, that there is a distinct preference for first cousins as mates.

 

Consanguinity (a breeding relationship that shares a common ancestor) is the term biologists use to describe this sort of relationship, and historically, consanguineous relationships have gotten a bad rap.  From the mathematical point of view of population genetics, however, they become a lot more transparent.  Inbreeding within a population leads to a very peculiar effect.  Genetic diseases tend to appear as rare recessive traits that only surface when an individual acquires two copies of the recessive gene.  In an inbreeding population, this tends to occur more often due to the shared ancestry, but the opposite occurs more often as well.  You also get more individuals carrying both of the dominant genes.  I've done the math before in my college bio-statistics class, and it was a sound conclusion.  You end up breeding out the carriers (individuals that don’t express the gene but have one copy of the disease gene that they can pass on to their offspring, which is how it survives in the gene-pool).

 

These population genetics models are based on gene frequencies in large populations over vast amounts of time.  What most people would consider "long-term effects" in this model are actually short-term effects.  I'm not talking about one or two generations, but tens to hundreds of generations over thousands of years.  If you take a historically out-breeding population and institute inbreeding, the immediate effect over the next 10, 20, or more generations is negative, on the population average.  This is the popular representation of an in-breeding population devolving into white trash rednecks, for example.  Over time, however, the incidence of heterozygosity (individuals carrying only one copy of the negative allele) decreases.  From a statistical standpoint, you're accelerating the selection against that allele and removing it from the population faster than it would in an out-breeding population.  For a species that's been experience some level of consanguinity for a number of generations (around 50-100 generations), those genes have already started to be weeded out, thus it's not an issue for inbreeding to continue.  If the breeding strategies of Miqo’te have existed for more than 50 generations with some level of in-breeding occurring, in-breeding will be a non-issue for that population.

 

It’s important to note that these sorts of changes would occur without any conscious effort on the parts of the Miqo’te.  These models were developed in flies, mice, and birds, and they assume that only natural selection is occurring.  While artificial selection or eugenics could help accelerate the process, it will occur naturally.  Under this process, a recessive disease trait that would normally take 1,000 generations to disappear from an out-breeding population could be bred out in a much shorter time frame.  In fact, humans have used these principals for thousands of years in order to domesticate livestock and crops.  In the development of desired traits in domesticated species, inbreeding achieves results much faster.

 

To give a real-life human example (and display the amount to which social stigma and politics can influence such a system), consider the royal families of Europe.  They practiced a mild form of inbreeding, seeing as how they all inter-married over centuries, while at the same time outlawing inbreeding among the populace.  Why did that happen?  The prevailing theory is one of wealth distribution and power.  If the highest royals are forced to outbreed, it spreads their wealth and influence around, as they are continually forced to choose a spouse less privileged than themselves.  Inbreeding at the highest tier of society guarantees that their spouse will bring in a comparable amount of wealth and aid in consolidating power.  Conversely, if the lesser nobility are allowed to do the same, they could potentially maintain and amass enough wealth to become a threat to the throne.  Forcing them to outbreed spreads the wealth around and maintains a lower average level of wealth and influence compared to the royals.  In addition to a long-term biological benefit, there's also a short-term socioeconomic benefit to offset the short-term genetic cost (i.e., the sudden emergence of a disease like hemophilia).

 

Based on the reasonable assumption that the nunh among the Seekers are likely to derive from the same family lines (the strongest male will sire the strongest sons but also a lot of daughters), this would have the same effect among the Seekers of consolidating power.  It is likely that among the Miqo’te inbreeding is common and yet not detrimental because it has been observed for countless generations, breeding out the recessive disease traits.

 

 

Cross Breeding Between the Clans

 

Many have asked whether or not the two clans would be interbreeding.  The lore indicates that it doesn’t happen, but this is a simplified response.  In a true, living system, this would be seen as a pressure against breeding across clans rather than an impenetrable barrier.  The idea that one is nocturnal and the other diurnal is frankly laughable as a hard barrier.  I knew plenty of guys in college who went to all-night keggers in college looking to get lucky despite having a calculus test at 8:30 the next morning.  There’s very few barriers that exist capable of deterring a determined male in his sexual prime, the least of which being a little bit of lost sleep.

 

Male Seeker, Female Keeper – This seems like it would be the most common, as there are likely a lot of sexually frustrated tia out there who wouldn’t think twice when presented an opportunity to mate with a Keeper.    Nunh would probably not engage in this particular arrangement, just because their plate is already quite full.

 

Female Seeker, Male Keeper – This seems far less likely.  First, the nunh is going to be keeping an eye on his harem.  Second, the male Keepers are already a rare commodity within their own community, so there are safer, more available options for them to seek a sexual partner.

 

Cross-racial – This seems even less likely, but there has been a little developer discussion that it could happen, so I’ll consider it for the sake of completeness.  I would expect this to occur most often between Miqo’te and Hyur followed by Miqo’te and Elezen.  The other two combinations seem physically and logistically unlikely.  In all likelihood, an offspring from these unions would be sterile, along the lines of mules and zebroids.

 

The one major barrier I see comes down to mate choice.  This plays into my speciation argument later, but it boils down to a difference in preference between the females of the two clans.  Based on the difference between the starting attributes of the two clans, it is likely that Seeker females prefer to choose mates based on their physical attributes while Keeper females choose mates based on mental and social traits.

 

 

Gender Imbalance

 

Some people have raised questions about gender imbalance in the Miqo’te.  Specifically, why are there so many females born versus so few males?  In this case it is actually self-sustaining.  In a monogamous species, the number of females and males born is generally similar (humans birth roughly 51-53% males and 47-49% females).  In a harem society, it comes down to a matter of risk versus reward.  Female offspring are a sure bet.  If you have a girl, she's going to reproduce if she reaches sexual maturity, but she'll likely only produce 4-5 offspring in her lifetime.  Male offspring are a gamble.  Let's say 5% of males end up reproducing but can father as many as 200 offspring.  Compared to a female, males have a lot higher reproductive potential, but only if they are the very creme de la creme.  Only top class females are encouraged to have male offspring, because their sons will have an environmental and social advantage.  The average and below average females are better off having daughters, because any sons they have will be disadvantaged in a highly competitive race.  A 100% chance at 5 grandchildren is better than a 1% chance at 200.

 

There are ample studies in a variety of species that show they are able to influence the gender ratio of their offspring.  Miqo’te likely share that particular capability.  The male-female ratio in Seekers is actually spot on as far as you would expect for a real world harem mating structure.  As far as the Keepers are concerned, it is possible that over time they will begin to diverge from the Seekers in this respect, eventually reaching a more monogamous reproductive structure with equitable paternal care.  This will only happen if as a sub-species the males begin taking more of an interest in fatherhood and familial life.

 

 

Homosexuality

 

While controversial, I’m sure that some people will be curious about this, so I’ll conjecture a little along these lines.  Given that the “fraternal birth order effect” serves as the highest available predictor of homosexuality in men, I would expect there to be less homosexual males among Miqo’te than humans on a percentile basis.  This effect describes the evidence that the more brothers a male offspring has when he is born, the higher the likelihood that he will exhibit homosexual behavior.  The low numbers of males born to Miqo’te families would indicate that this effect would be less prevalent in Miqo’te society.

 

Given the presumably close social ties between females for child-rearing as well as the lack of emotional and sexual contact normally provided by a husband, it is likely homosexual behaviors would be more prevalent among female Miqo’te than their human counterparts.  It is also possible that Miqo’te are less needful of these sorts of interactions given their feline heritage and the fact that a husband-wife relationship never developed in their history.

 

 

Recent (Sub)Speciation of the Miqo’te Clans

 

This section can be considered wild speculation by the lore buffs.  I will be proposing a theory for the recent genetic history and divergence of the two clans into separate species, which has no basis in the lore but is an interesting intellectual exercise for me as a biologist.

 

Based on the proposed mating systems (harem for Seekers, promiscuity for Keepers) I would theorize that this breaking into two clans was fairly recent and happened due to a conflict in mate choice.  I’ve seen it proposed in several places that the elder females probably play a large role in influencing the perception of who the dominant males are among the Miqo’te, and that makes a lot of sense.

 

There are several reasons why the split was recent.  First, their mating structures are similar.  Both involve one male breeding with multiple females.  Had they diverged long ago, it is likely that these systems would have drifted apart.  Second, they have yet to display the physical characteristics that you would expect based on the proposed mating systems.  Male Seekers should be larger than their female counterparts, but they aren’t (male lions are 50% larger than female lions, which is the closest real world comparison for the Seekers).  If the Keepers are undergoing sexual selection, you would expect the males to become more flamboyant (elaborate coloration, songs, or mating dances) while the females would appear more functional and less flamboyant by comparison, which is also not the case (similar to what you see in many birds like ducks, peacocks, and songbirds where the males are elaborate and the females drab).

 

Now consider that historically at some point these two clans shared a common ancestor.  I can see a tia going out of his way to establish himself as a world class singer or dancer to catch the eye of the older females in a tribe, who would in turn work to set him up as the next nunh to breed with their daughters.  Other female elders in the same pride could find that to be completely objectionable and support the strongest warrior in an effort to keep their grandsons from being born dandies.  If these concerns remain equal and opposite forces, you could expect this species to continue as it is.  More likely, Miqo'te just experienced a speciation event, which could explain how the Seekers and the Keepers split into two clans.  Keepers supported the dandies (males concerned with appearance and social acuity), leading to a matriarchal society with flamboyant males.  The Keeper females broke away and formed a matriarchal society because they refused to have their mate choice dictated to them by strength at arms.  Seekers supported the warriors, leading to large harems and larger, more robust males in an effort to produce the strongest, fittest warriors.  Again, these notions are reinforced by the bias towards physical attributes for Seekers and mental attributes for Keepers.

 

 

In Conclusion

 

Hopefully, this has given you a glimpse into the real world biology that could underlie the peculiar mating systems of the Miqo’te.  There’s little lore to support any of what I have asserted (there’s very little lore at all, so far), but it is based on real world biological research into a variety of species with similar mating structures.  With any luck, this sort of discussion will help to inform not only the player base but the developers as well, leading to a very realistic, interesting, and vibrant community for the Miqo’te.

Share this post


Link to post

Wow, is all i can say. Kudos to you for writing all this up. Was a very intressting read.

 

-Xeon

Share this post


Link to post

This is a very interesting and well written post. With that in mind, my reply will probably come out as nonsensical internet grumbling!

 

However, I think this goes a bit too far into biology-only territory, considering the Miqo'te mere animals and not people. Granted, you have mentioned that your interest and focus is in biology, which is still interesting, and useful as many of what you detail here can be used to understand how the tribe system probably works on a basic level. It still forget all about what these people would think about it, as pressumably they are thinking people and not lions driven mostly by their insticts. Case in point:

 

The "I'll kill all of our enemies and eat their babies!" line is probably just a gag, the character being bloodthirsty and kind of troll-ish (in an internet sense). It cannot be interpreted as anything else because it's a line that shows up for -all- races, as far as I've seen. So if we give it a specific straight interpretation for Seeker Miqo'tes, we'd have to interpret it for all the other races also straight: that all races have a thing for eating their enemies' babies. I hope the reason why this is ridicolous requires no explanation.

I'd also think that the devs would have mentioned it at some point if Seeker society was okay with killing children of the previous nunh.

 

From a purely biological view point it makes sense, sure, that Seekers would kill the others' children because they are obviously not 'strong enough'. Except that people aren't completely driven by their instinct, and cultures aren't just formed by biology alone. To have a more accurate picture of how a society of thinking people would work with this tribal system, we'd have to join this biological extrapolation with a cultural one. See how Miqo'te thought has evolved across the ages, what they think, what other cultures influenced in them and the supernatural factor of the gods or other entities that could have meddled in their history and changed their ways in one direction or the other.

 

Also, consider that cultures are not shaped by biology. Look at us, humans of Earth: we have a crapton of different cultures with different values, and yet our biology is the same. If we want to come up with how Miqo'te societies work, we need to also find out how their thought shaped the culture.

 

Or we could go the easy way and try to not think too hard about it because there's really not enough lore to base any of this off.

Share this post


Link to post

While this is an interesting read and all, and as a masters-holding biologist myself I can appreciate the concepts, there's a lot of this that just... well, it takes the whole idea too far. I know you were just having fun, but 1) there's no lore to support a lot of what you said (which you did admit), 2) you disregard the additional layer of ethics and morality that a sentient species deals with (miqo'te are sentient just as real life humans; they are not lions or birds or any other organisms that operate on a largely instinctive level), and 3) you disregard the external cultural influences on miqo'te over the 500 or so years they've been on Eorzea alongside everyone else.

 

In the end, it turns this into a nice thought exercise but ultimately largely useless. I doubt any nunh in a Seeker tribe would kill children that are not their own. There's no indication that miqo'te experience "heat" like real cats do (they aren't cats). Cross-breeding seems like it would be something more subject to the whims of an increasingly "globalized" culture rather than the species' biology.

 

Basically, you've taken the perspective of the biologist too far to be able to draw very many useful conclusions. When considering sentient, social organisms that interact with different sentient, social organisms, it's absolutely vital to consider the significance of abstract thought, from which culture is born. You can't analyze a species like the miqo'te (or the elezen, or hyur, or lalafel, or roegadyn) as though they were completely removed from their culture and the cultures of every other species they've shared space and friends and family with for generations. It just doesn't work that way.

Share this post


Link to post

I think this is just too much. As a scientist myself, I groan. xD It's a fantasy setting, with its own rules, and often trying to apply our rules to it makes things even more weird. Easier to just roll with the lore. Plus some of the lore you've cited is incorrect. It is suggested that there IS interbreeding between the clans (as well as the other races) just that it is rare.

 

While I tip my hat at the effort, I just don't think it was necessary.

Share this post


Link to post

This was a very interesting read! I did find it useful.

 

We know we can't apply animal rules to sentient creatures, as it's been stated. However, Miqo'tes still experience emotions and rules that I, as a civilised human being, simply can't comprehend.

 

I believe Miqo'tes are a mix of sentient/civilised and primitive. Since I already know how the former works, reading about that kind of system in its most primitive form does help for me to try to find a middle point. Understanding where their system came from and why it is like that is important to understand the characters and their views.

 

As for my Miqo'te, I was having trouble because I didn't want her to become a mother or to have had any sort of experiences with males so far. I've decided that she views breeding as some sort of society duty, one she'll have to fulfill when her mother tells her to. She's not eager for it because she knows she won't be able to go adventuring much once she has to start raising children, but she'll accept her role because that's what most female Miqo'tes seem to do. I'd never accept such a thing as a human being, but my Miqo'te is obviously not me, and I simply want to understand her better.

Share this post


Link to post

I think this is just too much. As a scientist myself, I groan. xD It's a fantasy setting, with its own rules, and often trying to apply our rules to it makes things even more weird. Easier to just roll with the lore. Plus some of the lore you've cited is incorrect. It is suggested that there IS interbreeding between the clans (as well as the other races) just that it is rare.

 

While I tip my hat at the effort, I just don't think it was necessary.

I was ready to agree with you, but I gave the post a more careful read and found that:

 

A.) Callipygian does not get the lore incorrect. This is what they wrote:

 

"The lore indicates that it doesn’t happen, but this is a simplified response. In a true, living system, this would be seen as a pressure against breeding across clans rather than an impenetrable barrier.  The idea that one is nocturnal and the other diurnal is frankly laughable as a hard barrier."

 

This is correct in the lore. Additionally:

 

"Cross-racial – This seems even less likely, but there has been a little developer discussion that it could happen, so I’ll consider it for the sake of completeness."

 

This is also correct. They go on to speculate the unlikelihood of other pairings on a logistical level, while not calling them impossible, and speculates that from a biological standpoint the offspring of cross-racial unions would likely be sterile.

 

Now, of course this is a fantasy setting, and since SE is considering adding cross-race character options to the game in the future, it's dubious that they would let their fertility options be so bleak. But as Callipygian stated:

 

"Little of this information is official lore, but it is informed by modern biological research into species with similar reproductive strategies.  You are free to use or disregard this information as you see fit when developing your own Miqo’te backstory."

 

 

Which brings me to:

 

B.) This information is incredibly informative, I think, if only for the purposes of psychologically and sociologically characterizing a Miqo'te roleplaying character or the entire Miqo'te race in contrast with our own.

 

While biological factors might not be fully accurate, utilizing a real-world perspective when considering Miqo'te allow us to understand better how a strange social and cultural system like the Miqo'te race could function, and what sort of mentality and emotional nature and desires and perspectives on life a member of such an inhuman species could have.

 

I think that such a perspective on norms is valuable for character creation. Because, and I really want to stress this, despite the fantasy nature of settings like this one, roleplayers commonly apply their personal, human views of morality, ethics, ideals, love, sex, sexuality, gender, biology, chemistry, religion, attraction, desire, psychology, sociology, philosophy, history, measurement, physics, magical lore, social structure, law, justice, civil rights, social justice, politics, political correctness, personal perspectives, lifestyles, and other social constructs and perceptions exclusive only to us real people.

 

 

How is it any less fair to the fantasy setting to consider these factors for non-human creatures?

Share this post


Link to post

I don't think any of this is too far-fetched, personally. It's pretty much in alignment with what I've assumed given what little lore Keepers have, at least. What Li and I have done is essentially created a subculture based on scraps of lore and some anthropological assumptions. In the event that contradictory lore comes out, there are some things that we'll dismiss as being exclusive to the tribe our two Keeper brothers belonged to.

 

We have spoken about the risk of inbreeding, and how it's probably nothing the tribe considers taboo unless two children born to the same mother are involved. The father is nearly disregarded, by our assumptions. I also was keeping the Adem from the Kingkiller Chronicles in mind, who don't actually believe that sex is what leads to pregnancy, thus they totally disregard the male contribution to childbirth. Keepers, I assume, would know that sex is what leads to pregnancy, of course, but the male role in reproduction, I think, would be almost totally disregarded from a social and cultural standpoint.

 

For instance, Rakka was a female Keeper who had eleven children, all by one mate because she dearly loved him. Even though she loved him, we're thinking he was nomadic and still did his duty to mate with other women who chose him as a mate (which I doubt he really complained about -ahem-). All of the Rakka children share the same father, but that might not be the case with other families where the women don't care to select the same lover over and over again. The Mosuo in China have a similar practice. They have "walking marriages" where the woman can invite men in to her bed for the night but he must leave by the morning. If she likes him, she might call after only him. If she doesn't, she'll probably call after other men. The head of the household is always a woman. I feel like Keeper lines would be traced to the mother only. So, if Rakka's children had half-siblings by their father in the tribe, they would be eligible mates because they don't share a mother, and the mother is all that matters when tracing your line. Half-siblings from your mother would be totally off limits, because they are to be acknowledged as your sister or brother, where your father's children aren't considered relatives at all.

 

That's my assumption anyway.

 

Thanks for putting so much effort in to a post like this. I think, even if people find certain points of your post arguable, it's a good foundation that could be used by other players and altered to their own liking.

Share this post


Link to post

Strictly as biology? I find it fascinating.

 

In the absence of an abundance of lore from the developers, I'm comfortable with assuming the accuracy of what you've said -- as a biological foundation upon which miqo'te society established itself.

 

At this point, there's just no telling what hundreds of years of development and out-culture influence have constructed on that foundation. We can't be sure how much the devs wrote and kept in a file somewhere that may color or contradict the species' base biology as you've presented it.

 

But it's still a well-reasoned argument, and good job for assembling it.

Share this post


Link to post

This is a very interesting read and a good source of real world analogies for those searching for inspiration on that front. I particularly liked the section on consanguinity because it is a part of the science I am not that familiar with. There are portions I disagree with, such as the social structure of the Seeker tribes being centred on the nunh. While I do think that they are very much like lions, I think the game/fantasy also turns it on its head and makes the male less dominant and more subservient to the females of the tribe, especially since SE has stated that the nunh are not to be assumed as part of the leadership of the tribe. Parts of this, I feel, need to be melded with knowledge of other tribal structures and possible inspirations, such as First Nations/Native American tribes which were, before the coming of Christianity, either gender-equal or heavily matriarchal. Still, a good write-up for the animal kingdom side of the equation. Thanks for putting it together, :).

Share this post


Link to post

See, I think there's a problem here: Miqo'te are human beings for all intended purposes. And so are Elzen and Roegadyn and Hyur and Lalafellin. We can say that they are different species on a biological level, but they aren't so on the intellectual level. And humans, may I recall you, are defined in our world as 'rational animals'. So the fact that Miqo're have cat characteristic does not mean they are inhuman at all: what makes them human is that they are capable of abstraction and rational thought.

 

If the different Eorzean races did not have the same capacities for rational thought, the cultural differences between them would be much more marked and inclusion in the same society as equals would be right out of the question. But we here we have all this different 'species' or 'races', coexisting in the same societies with basically the same opportunities. Miqo'te aren't, in short, lions or dogs. They are people. Maybe their society is primitive, but that doesn't make them any less capable of critical thought and abstraction.

 

But my biggest problem with the original post is that it tries to form a basis for a culture by the use of purely biological data which, as I have said before, is very inaccurate because real human societies don't work like that. Spartans didn't execute children that were judged ill or unfit because of their unique biology (clue: they didn't have a unique biology), but because their society was thought and structured around the art of war and, as such, they consciously thought that having weak citizens would make them worse at waging war. The only thing human biology had anything to do with that is that the elders looked for specific signs of illnes/unfitness. But that's it. The people thought and made up the culture like that not out of biological necessity but out of a conscious choice. The only reason all this biological speculation about Miqo'te sounds feasible is because there's not enough lore to contradict it. But, at the same time, there's not enough lore to confirm it.

 

Coming back to my 'Miqo'te are people' statement for a moment: implying that we can form an accurate and realistic culture for them based only on biological data interpreted from some tidbits of lore is akin to saying that, if I want to understand chinnesse culture and I don't have access to the proper 'lore' (so to speak) but know a few specific bits of data, then I should study apes and birds. Posibly apes and birds that live in Asia. And then conclude that because certain birds or apes of Asia act in a specific way that can be correlated to chinnese society somehow, then that chinnese people act like those birds and apes in every other aspect too.

Of course that chinnese people are not a fantasy culture made up by someone with a typewritter, mind, but the point is that you can't understand a culture by only looking at their biology. You have to study all the bits. Like the enviorement. Enviorement has much more to do with a culture than biology. A society that relies on farms to sustain itself will have different beliefs, for example, than one that relies on minery.

 

Everyone will use whatever interpretation they want for their own micro-canon, and that is quite fine. I do think that this specific interpretation of a fantasy society is not only innacurate but also unfair, as it treats a whole race as if they were simple animals when the in-game universe explicits they are people.

 

Oh, and finally: pickles! Because all posts should have some random non-sequitur shouting at the end.

Share this post


Link to post

Thinking over the various tribes of the Seekers of the Sun, what if each tribe bases their breeding habits after the animal their tribe represent? Like for instance, the Wolf Tribe. Wolves are pack animals. The father, the alpha male, does have a hand in raising the kids. His sons and brothers are like family and they are permitted to stick around unless the pack gets too big. Also female wise, only 1 female breeds, the alpha female. All other females are not permitted within the pack to breed.

 

I think if calculating the animal the tribe is based around (Though I know it's not possible since some tribes are based around animals found only in fantasy), it could add an interesting depth to the relationships between males and females.

Share this post


Link to post

This is amazing! Thank you very much for putting forth the time and effort to make this post as it has proven itself to be an extremely informative and interesting read for me. As someone who plays a male Keeper I found a lot of the ideas you've put forth as keeping very in line with my own during character creation, such as the nomadic lifestyle and promiscuity.

 

While I may not agree 100% with everything presented here (as I do possess some bias, hah) it was none-the-less nothing short of amazing and offered a lot of food for thought for future development. :)

Share this post


Link to post

So, as a former scientist myself (M.Sc. experimental psychology, cognitive emphasis :) ), I think this analysis is very interesting. However, some of it does strike me a bit as an evolutionary biology "just so" story, especially given the lack of lore and the points people have raised about miqo'te not being driven entirely by instinct.

 

Also, there's some key points to consider lore-wise. For instance, nothing in the lore supports that miqo'te experience heat. (In fact, as humanoids without any lore to the contrary, I would assume they'd have a menstrual cycle instead of an estrous one.) Additionally, there is a pretty common way to become a nunh without founding a new tribe or dropping a nunh, which is to take new territory. It's characterized by the lore devs as happening "quite often". Also, interbreeding between clans is common enough that there's an NPC, F'lhammin, who has traits of both Seekers and Keepers and the devs have added the ability to have those in 2.x: reference here.

 

Personally, I think the sexual selection aspects and how they affect the culture are probably the most dead-on part of the analysis based on what we see in the lore. As much as I think the "Seekers are actually matriarchal" interpretation is interesting (and could totally be used for a branch of a tribe), I think the lore better supports that it's a harem-style patriarchy, with females doing their duty because it's socially expected of them -- and perhaps because culturally, anyone who's strong enough to become nunh is viewed as quite sexually attractive. The matriarchy combined with a high female population among Keepers means that there's probably a lot of drive to eliminate competing females from the breeding pool and a lot of promiscuity. These are all social factors, though.

 

So, IMO, the analysis was a really good read and it's great food for thought; a lot of the elements of it are, I think, totally accurate, and if nothing else miqo'te players should read it to get a different perspective on the available lore. However, I would caution people not to read too much into this (or any) analysis and to remember that miqo'te are basically humans with cat features and a variant native culture that doesn't seem to be all that relevant in game. In all my playing of 2.x, I've yet to run into a "tribal" miqo'te NPC (except for that one tribe in Thanalan), much less NPCs of really any race that exemplify their racial lore, excepting key wildwood elezen NPCs in Gridania who tend to be jerks. :) This isn't to say that you can't or shouldn't play tribal miqo'te or have your miqo'te character be from or have an opinion on that culture -- in fact, I insist more people do that -- but that it's clearly not a big enough deal in the current setting for the devs to ensure all the NPCs hew to the racial lore they themselves established.

Share this post


Link to post

I think this was a very interesting read, and definitely potentially useful information and conjecture.

 

As people have pointed out, some of this doesn't seem to apply, but... really, we're talking about tribal mechanics here, and the miqo'te of the cities and the adventurer miqo'te are no more tribal than people living in New York.

 

There are still influences. Note the op mentioned how our own taboo on inbreeding stems from Feudal European policies enacted by the Royalty to keep wealth from concentrating and becoming a threat, rather than any selective biological benefit, and that in the long term inbreeding actually has biological benefits (Though 20 generations is hardly a 'short term' by human perception)

 

I think this should be seen as a tool, to make referencing 'traditional' miqo'te society a little easier. However, no one should feel bound by it, anymore than one should feel legally bound to give the Lord of the land first rights to bedding the new brides. in real life.

 

There are a few points I would refute, however.

 

1. Nunh's eating the children of the previous Nunh - I doubt culturally they would be able to support this. If selection of a Nunh, and what defines 'fittest' is truly in the hands of elder females, I doubt they would tolerate seeing their own children detroyed each time there is a succession, as sentient attachment to offspring is FAR stronger and long-lasting than simple instinctual attachment. If the previous Nunh were worthy, than his children are worthy, and it would be a waste to lose them because of succession, especially as humanoids mature far more slowly and require much more investment of resources to raise. Also, the miqo'te are pretty in line with the other races as far as moral values go, for the most part. If they casually killed their own kids, I doubt they would be so nice to the children of other races.

 

2. Miqo'te females experiencing estrous - This one we can discard as bunk. Miqo'te females - Seekers no less - are one of the more common races among prostitutes (Or pretending to be prostitutes in Limsa). Their playful, flirty nature seems to be canon, and even the Seekers in Forgotten Springs, the 'traditional' Seeker settlement, seem to enjoy trying to flirt with the Brass Blades stationed there. There did seem to be a lack of concern about the gender of their partners, at least in the flavor text of 1.0, but that may have just been unique to the dancers at the Mining Concern. I would submit that this is easily proof enough that miqo'te have the same sexual needs and wants as the other races.

 

3. Crossbreeds are mules - This assumes that hyurans and miqo'te are as genetically divergent as horses and donkeys, which may not be the case. The lack of crossbreeds could quite easily be attributed to cultural taboos, and cultural preferences. In North American society, mixed race couples were HEAVILY frowned upon until recently, after all. We've been on the American continent for centuries, yet there has been very little effective blending. Before Ala Mihgo fell, the nations were also at war, and each one tended to have their dominant races (Seawolf Roegadyn in Limsa, Lalafel in Ul'Dah, and jointly Hyuran and Elezen in Gridania). The kind of mixing we're seeing now is a relatively new thing, brought about by refugees, and unprecedented mobility and freedom of movement between the three nations.

 

And finally, all of this can be contradicted anytime SE likes, because MAGIC CRYSTALS!

Share this post


Link to post

As people have pointed out, some of this doesn't seem to apply, but... really, we're talking about tribal mechanics here, and the miqo'te of the cities and the adventurer miqo'te are no more tribal than people living in New York.

 

Aside from the fact that I wasn't able to find a single NPC Miqo'te without a tribal name in the ARR beta or the brief times I checked out 1.0, I agree with you, but the absence of Miqo'te with a non-Miqo'te name does support that idea that although city-Miqo'te may not follow tribal customs, they at least originated from them.

 

I think it's a mistake that SE doesn't seem to portray any member of any race with a name that doesn't follow naming conventions, but you expect this stuff to be written by designers and artists, not scientists, so it's not surprising that the lore seems poorly thought out and/or begging more questions than it answers.

 

Now, I'm not going to tell other Miqo'te RPers they're wrong for breaking away from naming conventions as everyone has different goals when it comes to what they want from RP, and at this point I'd be alienating myself from a good number of the community if I did~ additionally a lot of the veterans were really in a tough spot, as there was no lore to be had at all in 1.0 really. 

 

Callypgian did note that "You are free to use or disregard this information as you see fit when developing your own Miqo’te backstory," and admits that this is based on real world science and not official in any capacity. It's an interesting read nonetheless, and I find that a lot of Sae and mine's ideas about the sort of tribal life the Rakka twins came from match this reasoning.

Share this post


Link to post

As people have pointed out, some of this doesn't seem to apply, but... really, we're talking about tribal mechanics here, and the miqo'te of the cities and the adventurer miqo'te are no more tribal than people living in New York.

 

Aside from the fact that I wasn't able to find a single NPC Miqo'te without a tribal name in the ARR beta or the brief times I checked out 1.0, I agree with you, but the absence of Miqo'te with a non-Miqo'te name does support that idea that although city-Miqo'te may not follow tribal customs, they at least originated from them.

 

I think it's a mistake that SE doesn't seem to portray any member of any race with a name that doesn't follow naming conventions, but you expect this stuff to be written by designers and artists, not scientists, so it's not surprising that the lore seems poorly thought out and/or begging more questions than it answers.

 

Now, I'm not going to tell other Miqo'te RPers they're wrong for breaking away from naming conventions as everyone has different goals when it comes to what they want from RP, and at this point I'd be alienating myself from a good number of the community if I did~ additionally a lot of the veterans were really in a tough spot, as there was no lore to be had at all in 1.0 really. 

 

Callypgian did note that "You are free to use or disregard this information as you see fit when developing your own Miqo’te backstory," and admits that this is based on real world science and not official in any capacity. It's an interesting read nonetheless, and I find that a lot of Sae and mine's ideas about the sort of tribal life the Rakka twins came from match this reasoning.

 

I gotta say that this is in-depth and a very fascinating discussion. I do agree that folks should not be penalized by naming conventions, but there is also things to consider to. If you weren't raised by Seekers or Keepers for example, you might not have a 'specific' name that fits the conventional format. As there could be a culture clash if that makes sense?

Share this post


Link to post

No, if you weren't raised by Keepers or Seekers as a Miqo'te, it's possible you wouldn't have a traditional Miqo'te name. I do wish this was represented in game.

 

I do enjoy that we have a variety of tribal and non-tribal Miqo'te RPers, though I do wish that we saw more inner-conflict between where these Miqo'te came from and where they are now. Sae made an interesting point in conversation with me, typically those from foreign cultures do not 100% assimilate even when they are born into the culture that is assimilating them, the traditions often linger for several generations. 

 

So far it's been my experience in RP that Miqo'te characters are either totally tribal or have no attachment or conflict with their heritage whatsoever (aside from Ryanti - one of the largest aspects of his character is his conflict with his heritage). I think there's a lot of interesting inner and outer RP conflict between the two lifestyles that is being largely ignored by the greater part of the RP community, in some part due to the OOC rejection and/or dislike for what little tribal lore SE has given us.

Share this post


Link to post

First of all, thank you so much, Calli. I hope you had as much fun writing as we did reading. It's all very interesting.

 

Second, I must apologize: the mentioning of the "I'll kill all of our enemies and eat their babies!" line was my fault. Its only context was meant to be used as a joke that was obviously incorrect in its implications at the time. I'm sorry that it didn't have enough clarification to suggest that it wasn't a Miqo'te-only dialog option.

 

With that out of the way, I have to say I'm kind of disappointed that I can't really bring any new points that haven't already been said to the table, here. I don't have any big, fancy science background to speak of (though I -am- a Graphic Design major going for his Bachelor's Degree... so I could definitely tell you if the colors you pick during character creation match up well, and what those colors may represent! I also do T-shirts, posters, and logos~ ;3), so I'm a little reluctant to do so, anyway, lol.

 

It seems that this whole thread is becoming a valuable resource, with many different perspectives. Personally, I feel that while all things must be considered, it's much easier to do so by starting with the basics (such as biology, physiology, instinct, and basic needs) and then gradually adding the complexities of the social, cultural, and environmental influences on top of those to--as some have already said--reach a middle-ground.

 

Though this is all fiction and fantasy, I feel much more immersed when the impossible is believable through more explanation than just "because... magic!" And so long as we have at least some semblance that there's some truth and reality that our imaginations are based off of, I'm content, and willing to suspend my belief.

Share this post


Link to post

I think this was a very interesting read, and definitely potentially useful information and conjecture.

 

As people have pointed out, some of this doesn't seem to apply, but... really, we're talking about tribal mechanics here, and the miqo'te of the cities and the adventurer miqo'te are no more tribal than people living in New York.

 

I think that the fact that we are talking about tribal culture is exactly the reason why we should take this kind of analysis with a very heavy grain of salt. 

 

Biology can sometimes have a tendency - especially when discussing sentient peoples in the context of evolution and population genetics - to "dehumanize" groups in a sense, in the effort to seek rational explanations for why things are the way they are. There are biologists out there who do think that humans are very much beholden to their instincts, just that our culture has given us a way to excuse those instincts. I'm not of that camp, and I feel that ignoring a species' capacity for abstract thought - even if they are a "tribal" society (which is no less a society than any other - means you are ignoring an extremely important variable in analysis. And that means that every conclusion drawn is biased and potentially even inconsistent with reality.

 

The miqo'te are a tribal people, yes, but they are also a sentient people with hundreds of years developing their own culture in addition to hundreds of years interacting with other cultures. Humans in real life have shown time and time again over the course of our own history that we are more than capable of acting for reasons that go well beyond instinct. The presence of religion in miqo'te culture would drive that even further.

Share this post


Link to post

That was a hell of a piece on miqo'te culture. Very interesting theories and I pretty much agree with your thoughts on Keeper mating. I did have one thing that stuck out to me.

 

I just wanted to know where you heard that Keepers are nomadic? If you mean they move about the Black Shroud, I suppose that's possible. But there is no mention in the lore anywhere about the Keepers of the Moon being nomads at all. I've heard that about Lalafell lore, and you could certainly argue that some Seeker tribes could be nomadic, it fits. But all the lore supports the Keepers staying pretty well rooted within the Black Shroud. Unless you mean they don't settle in just one place within the Shroud. I could see that, but I still haven't seen that stated in the lore yet.

 

If it is in there somewhere, I would be very interested in reading about it.

Share this post


Link to post

So far it's been my experience in RP that Miqo'te characters are either totally tribal or have no attachment or conflict with their heritage whatsoever (aside from Ryanti - one of the largest aspects of his character is his conflict with his heritage). I think there's a lot of interesting inner and outer RP conflict between the two lifestyles that is being largely ignored by the greater part of the RP community, in some part due to the OOC rejection and/or dislike for what little tribal lore SE has given us.

 

I similarly bemoan this. :( IMO, miqo'te should have strong opinions regarding their tribal culture, and that should generate some conflict RP. I don't really see how a miqo'te who's aware of the culture couldn't have a strong opinion about it -- and those who came from tribal culture probably have some conflicted feelings about the city-state/adventurer cultures, and probably miss some of the elements of their home culture (such as, y'know, not seeing all of their fellow Seeker women being exotic sex workers). I know that I've, at least, tried to integrate these into my character's personality and backstory, though she generally doesn't make a big deal about it openly unless prompted.

Share this post


Link to post
(such as, y'know, not seeing all of their fellow Seeker women being exotic sex workers)

 

This could actually be a consequence of how insignificant sex is too them culturally, we just don't know.

Share this post


Link to post

Recent (Sub)Speciation of the Miqo’te Clans

 

*snip**snip**snip*

 

This section, I'd like to discuss! You have sound reasoning, but I think that you left out one big detail about the difference between Keepers and Seekers that could have completely altered your conclusion.

 

Personally, I think the divergence happened much longer ago than you assume. My reasoning is this: Physical mutations. Keepers have sharp, pointed canines, large eyes that do not turn to "slits" in the light, and generally cooler skintones which... in other MMOs, has served as the aesthetic consequence of a lack of exposure to the sun. They also have larger ears and longer tails than their Seeker cousins. Seekers have slits for eyes that don't expand in the dark, no fangs at all, and warmer skin tones.

 

I think they key difference lies in diet and hunting routine. One subspecies is nocturnal, the other is diurnal. One probably eats more meats than the other. The other might eat more vegetation than the former. This all suggests to me that cultural views on mating came well after their "evolution."

 

I think that's another flaw with assuming that the divergence happened not long ago. Even small mutations like this would take much longer to evolve and become distinct.

 

Their mating structures are, I believe, simply a consequence of their nature. They naturally produce less males, therefore, they need to have developed customs, beliefs, or routines that ensure they are able to propagate their species and that their genetic material survives. I think the customs came after the natural order of things simply took its most logical course. Commitment to a single mate is even fairly recent in real-life human societies. Our ancestors were more than likely enjoying the company of the opposite sex in the same way a vast majority of the animal kingdom does--hit it and leave it. :P

 

The split could have evolved naturally, or it could have been influenced by their gods, because the existence of gods in Eorzea is objectively observable as far as I've gathered. I don't think it had much to do with sexual selection as much as it had to do with all facets of natural selection, however. Male Miqo'te do all have some markings on their faces that females sometimes lack, which you could consider a "flamboyancy" in the same way that human men having beards could be.

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...