"The Road Goes Ever On and On..." Hobbits (Homo Floresiensis) after the Fall

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Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
"The Road Goes Ever On and On..." Hobbits (Homo Floresiensis) after the Fall

This is my attempt to bring Homo Floresiensis, better known as 'Hobbits' into the Post-Fall wonder and terror of Eclipse Phase. I welcome additions, revisions & outright replacements of my thoughts...

Sprites, Leprechauns, Dwarves, Menehune, and so many more; Almost every culture has mythologies and most mythologies have myths of little people, beings almost like us but not quite us.

The native peoples of what is now Borneo have similar legends of little people, called Ebu Gogo or Orang Pendek. But these legends were just that—legends. That is, until about a decade ago...

In the year 2003, on the Indonesian island of Flores, scientists discovered the remains of a dwarfish homonin, other sets of remains were to follow. There were only two real explanations for such remains:

1. What was discovered was the remains of an insular community of some known homonin (likely Homo Erectus) with a condition that caused a form of dwarfism.
2. Or more controversially, what was discovered was a new species of Genus Homo! This new species was about a meter tall with a brain the size of a grapefruit, far smaller than any other human or even ape brain.

The provisional species has been called Homo Floresiensis (after the island of Flores where they were discovered) but most people call them Hobbits, much to the consternation of the Tolkien estate.

The debate has raged for about a decade as to whether the Hobbits are a new species or a an inbred offshoot of a known homonin species. No salvageable DNA has been recovered so far (very diffficult, given the climate at the site). But tiny stone tools have been discovered, possibly indicating a level of intelligence tiny Hobbit skulls would seem to forbid.

Currently, the balance of the science seems to indicate that the Hobbits are a unique species. The anatomy of the remains and the myths of the Ebu Gogo mesh nicely and it is possible that the Hobbits lived alongside their big cousins (us) until very recently. There is a outside possibility that they may be alive today, hiding from the 'big folk' in one of the few places on this Earth that is still barely explored.

And that is roughly where the state of knowledge is in 2014. Next post, I hope to detail my view of the fictional pre-Fall history of the Hobbit and list stats for some of the variety (yep, there are several types) of Hobbit morphs.

Discuss. And thanks in advance for your feedback... :-)

Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
Someone kick the Matrix, it's glitching!!

Sigh.

I've been on this forum for a few years now but the day I finally put down my thoughts on Hobbits, the science finally comes in. The main hobbit skeleton is likely from a victim of Down's syndrome, not a new species. :-(

As you were...

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Cockblocked by SCIENCE!

Cockblocked by SCIENCE!

My sympathies. But still, cockblocked by SCIENCE! :)

Skype and AIM names: Exactly the same as my forum name.

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ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
*Plays Ramble On - Led

*Plays Ramble On - Led Zeppellin*

Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
[Kirk]SCIENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNCE![/Kirk]

Ah well, if Science teaches us anything, it is to accept facts with quiet dignity and grace.

♪...and ain't nothin' I can do... ♪

While it could be a long time before the question of Hobbits as a bona-fide species is definitively resolved, I believe now the balance of science would say that they are not. I'm certainly not reading a lot of rebuttal to the current research.

I'll give it some time to see if the pro-species side makes any headway. Until then, thanks for reading...

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
BSOD i love you :)

BSOD i love you :)

well we have had dwarfish parallel species to homo sapien in the pacific from a half remembered nat geo article over 7 years

Surly Surly's picture
Hey, post your ideas anyway.

Hey, post your ideas anyway. "What-ifs" can certainly be fun and interesting.

Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
If Hobbits did not exist, Man would have to invent them!

Apologies to Voltaire.

ORCA, you will make me blush. :-)

Surly (nice homonin skull avatar, BTW), you are right. Besides, I have done some work so I may as well share it. And hobbits invoke the Rule of Cool.

OK, the S.S. Floresiensis may be doomed but the OP is going down with the thread. I will try and post my amended future history of the Hobbits soonish.

ORCA, if you happen to remember the name of the species mentioned in that National Geographic, please let me know. I have the NG DVD set. If the name Tasaday sounds familiar, there is a particularly relevant resonance to that.

Watch this space for the pitter-patter of tiny (and furred) feet...

Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
Sorry this took so long (I blame Sauron)

And now, the amended secret history of the Future (Now It Can Be Told!!)...

September, 2014 (Old Calendar)
A small group of scientists and learned academics gather in a bar to drown their sorrows. They had bet their reputations on the idea that the fossils discovered on Flores were a unique species and lost. The latest research had seemed to show a much more conventional explanation. If these experts had been fooled, they reasoned, then anyone could be fooled. Perhaps it was time to show the naysayers how wrong anyone could be...

2015-2029 (Old Calendar)
Enough scraps of Homo Erectus (the likely direct ancestor of the disputed Homo Floresiensis) DNA are found to create a likely viable, and not provably inaccurate, genome. Genetic extrapolation postulates that relatively few genetic mutations are needed to make a dwarf version of H. Erectus similar to projected H. Floresiensis anatomy.

A mysterious, private corporation, Primeval Retrieval (PR), forms and begins to buy large portions of Indonesian islands, particularly Flores. These areas are made off-limits to outsiders to 'preserve' the pristine environment.

-60 A.F. (New Calendar)
Witness reports of tiny humanoid creatures at the edges of PR's reserves are dismissed as mistaken or hoaxes. Any video recordings are too low-quality to exclude the possibility of forgery.

-55 A.F.
The world is shocked to its core when Primeval Retrieval announces the discovery of tiny homonin infants in one of its enclaves. PR assumes that the infants were left to die by their parents during a time of difficult weather, a kind of infanticide comparable to that practiced by some human tribes. According to Primeval, no trace of the parents are found by their search teams. Although they were quick to admit that all of their reserves have not been adequately explored.

The small clutch of children are introduced to the press but under closely controlled circumstances. Primeval Retrieval claims the hobbit children were their wards. And their charges would be raised in private by PR to avoid 'contamination' by outside forces.

DNA results from a tiny hobbit hair 'acquired' by a member of the press reveals the Hobbit DNA was essentially a mutated, evolved form of Erectus DNA. Cynics and skeptics note that the Hobbit children were discovered right about the time that advances in cloning and genetic engineering would allow for something very much like Hobbits to be created in a lab. That is, if such creators were willing to accept great numbers of horrific 'failures' on their way to success.

In the meantime, the hobbit children are raised by dedicated human parents living a neolithic lifestyle. Rare and controlled access to the Hobbit tribe is given to the media outlets willing to pay the most. Primeval's stock rises dramatically. The local area's economy increases due to tourism.

Protests by the press, scientific community and rival corporations for legal investigation meet a dead end, possibly due to PR donating heavily to local government 'charities'.

-50 A.F.
Across the world, infants are left at orphanages. Each infant seems to be a variation of 'hobbitoid'. Data records left with the children show exactly how they were created in a lab (without revealing the identity of creators). It is guessed that these variant hobbits were cloned by a rival corp to Primeval to prove that all hobbits were artificial creations.

Finally, under a overwhelming barrage of legal pressure from the international community, the local government allows PR to be investigated by United Nations observers. The day before the investigation, a fire at Primeval's headquarters destroys all primary research.

Deeply suspicious but unable to actually prove wrongdoing, the UN court reaches a different conclusion; whatever their origins, all hobbits have enough homonin DNA to be Human in a legal sense. Upon majority, the Hobbits are legal citizens, free to leave Primeval Retrieval and, if they wish, to start families of their own.

Primeval Retrieval begins a long, hard-fought, futile slide into eventual bankruptcy. A few executives go to prison for obstruction. In the end, nothing is proved regarding the Flores hobbits' true origins. What precious little evidence there once was was now destroyed or lost.

-49 to -30 A.F.
Across the Earth, the small number of hobbits network and eventually settle into two general communities; a tribe of 'country' hobbits in their ancestral homeland of Flores and a small village of 'city' hobbits in the English countryside.

-29 A.F.-20 A.F.
Hobbit children are being born in some numbers. Most hobbit are purely hobbit, having two hobbit parents. But some are hobbit-human hybrids, usually brought to term with the help of medical science but a few were born completely naturally. These children quite unnerve many pure 'humans' until those same humans are reminded that the vast majority of humans are, strictly speaking, Neanderthal-Sapiens hybrids themselves.

-10 A.F.
With the invention of resleeving, hobbit biomorph models are created. After the novelty wears off, the hobbits morphs are quite popular off-Earth. Their small size and smaller life-support requirements are welcome aboard cramped and expensive space habitats. Hobbit communities are usually so charming they become tourist traps for the rich and famous who egocast into hobbits morphs for their stay.

0 A.F. - 10 A.F.
By and large, spacefaring Hobbit communities seem to escape from the worst of TITAN warfare. Not willing to trust to luck, the Hobbits are amongst the forefront of gatecrashers. They are quick to to explore to the fringes of known space and then to push the fringes back further.

Rumors of a mysterious Hobbit community, the Shire, out on the fringe of the Milky Way and through a byzantine sequence of gate keys remain unproven...

Let me know what you think. Actual stats next...

Surly Surly's picture
Cute! I like the backstory.

Cute! I like the backstory.

Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
Sorry I was away for so long.

Thanks, Surly. You sure don't live up to your username. ;-)

Let me continue with the first of the actual morph stats. My apologies that this took so long but real-life has dry-gulched me of late.

Homo Floresiensis (Conservative Build):

Size: Small (-10 to be hit)
Aptitude Maximum: 20
Durability: 30
Wound Threshold: 6
Skill Bonuses: +10 to Climbing
Disadvantages: -10 to COG
CP Cost: 0
Credit Cost: High

This unaltered biomorph has -10 to hand manipulation as their hands are not quite as evolved as human hands. Also, these flats have a ground movement of half that of a human being (typically, only 2m walking, 10m running). Their climbing speed is unhindered. Finally, their ability to speak is somewhat limited. In stressful situations, a simple roll may be necessary for them to be understood (a lesser roll may be needed for these biomorph to understand as language centers of the brain are not as fully developed).

This biomorph represents the strictest interpretation of the Homo Floresienses fossil anatomy and other sciences. In this form, the morph has hands ill-adapted to grasping, feet ill-adapted to walking and poorly optimized vocal cords. Capping this is a brain the size of a grapefruit.

The vast majority of egos either born or sleeved into H. Floresiensis morphs resleeve as soon as they can. Despite having rights to reproduction, there are not many of these morphs about (except for the few hobbit bioconservatives inhabiting them). While unpopular and technically cheap (able to reproduce, they can be made with 'unskilled' labor), they are hard to find and thus relatively expensive. Only the odd or 'born hobbits' seek such morphs out to wear.

NOTES:
1. I am still fuzzy on the CP cost of these morphs. Likely, they would be one of the few morphs to have a negative cost as they are literally worse that not having a body at all (compared to an infomorph). I will try and get the cost nailed down but, for now, the CP cost for these lemons is 0 but the Credit Cost is High due to their undesirability (and thus rarity).

2. If H. Floresiensis truly did exist as a distinct species, this morphs represents the least capable interpretation of them. But this version makes a few assumptions as possible and probably the most grounded scientifically.

3. At no time do I wish to give the impression that I am mocking anyone suffering from Down's Syndrome by discussing the anatomical variations of the disputed Homo Floresiensis species.

4. Next post, I hope to post the most generous interpretation of Homo Floresiensis (that is, that which is not forbidden by the evidence) as well as the math for this version.

Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
Another view of Homo Floresiensis

OK, back.

My last post was based what could not be denied from the disputed Hobbit fossils discovered in 2003. Now for the much more generous interpretation of which is not absolutely forbidden by the same fossils.

A very capable Homo Floresiensis would be similar to the mythical Ebu Gogo (and Orang Pendek) from the same area of the world. I will work some of those elements into this version.

Homo Floresiensis (Generous Build):
Morph Type: Biomorph
Size: Small
Durability: 30 Free
Aptitude Maximum: 20
Wound Threshold: 6
Skill Bonuses: +10 to Climbing
Augmentations: None

This build is very similar to the Conservative build above. But there are no penalties to movement, manipulation or vocalization in this version. This morph is effectively as capable as a human flat in those respects. Typically, these hobbits won't tend to move quite as fast as humans day to day. Their tools would tend to be smaller (an easy setting for the fabber and some blobjects will adjust automatically). It might be that these hobbits would have greater strength than humans. This is similar to most apes. But as higher strength is not really emphasized in the neo-homind apes, I will not particularly stress it. Their strength is largely cancelled out by their tiny frames.

NOTES:
1. Like the conservative build above, these are hobbit 'flats'. One of these builds is the species 'discovered' by Primeval Retrieval and the other is one of the lab-grown hobbitoids left by mysterious geneers to discredit PR. Your choice as to which but I suggest that you use the generous build as the 'real' (or at least 'discovered') Primeval hobbits. In a game with nanoswarms, psychic Lost, liquid metal synthmorphs and furious, er, furies; I would say the hobbits need what advantages they can get. If you as GM decide that Homo Floresiensis actually existed (and wasn't a clever fake by PR), this is the build more capable of doing it. Also, if you like the idea that Homo Floresiensis existed up to the present day (forming the basis of the Ebu Gogo myth), this is the morph to use.

2. As flats, while more desirable than the conservative builds, they are still not popular and are hard to find. I will do the math later but, for now, I say the CP cost is 0 and the Credit Cost is High.

Next post, I will try and detail the more popular hobbit morphs, the hobbit forms of splicers and exalts.

Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
Manchild morph

MANCHILD

Sorry for being away for so long, folks. Shouldn't have took that Pandora Gate at Albuquerque.

Here is my continuation of hobbit morphs. The above were the 'flat' versions of hobbits and thus unpopular except for purists.

A manchild is a more modern hobbit morphs with all of the genetic and synthetic enhancements. The genetics for a manchild's body hair are easy to set when growing the morph from hairy (Ebu Gogo), hobbit (hairy-footed) to human (just on a hobbit frame).

Should a hobbit and human ever have a kid, the resulting child would likely be somewhere between this build and the human parent. The hypercorp that developed the manchild (child species made by human scientists) is reconsidering the name.

As for stats, well; the manchild stats are essentially identical to the neotonic morph stats (which I shouldn't repeat here). I include the manchild morph for those players who would like the neotonic stats but might not want adult egos in child-like morphs.

Next up, I hope to show some hobbits that are particularly 'Tolkien' and not just because of their size.

Blue Screen of Death Blue Screen of Death's picture
Tolkienesque Hobbits

OK, here are my thoughts on particularly Tolkien hobbits:

Start with a manchild above (effectively equal to a neotonic) and add these features:

Ringbearer: A manchild with a Chameleon Skin augment (of course, their stylish Shire togs would also be smart and cammo-augmented).

Gollum: A manchild with Grip Pads and Enhanced Vision. These are typically ugly by design. A slight tweak makes their eyes glow in the dark for effect (but this can be dimmed at will).

If you want to go really Lord of the Rings, the hobbits may be resistant (not immune) to basilisk hacks, similar to the NuForm brand morphs in the back of the Morph Recognition Guide.

And that's it for my thought on Hobbits for now. Feel free to add any thoughts of your own...