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I'm in the process of constructing a fantasy world that resembles our world and is predominantly inhabited by humans just like us, but which also contains ogres. The ogres in this world are between nine and ten feet tall, green skinned, semi-sentient and nearly always humanoid, although they have a higher chance than we do of having different numbers of limbs, eyes and fingers. The ogres cannot understand magic, but they have magical properties. Effects of these magical properties include great resilience and the ability to mate and crossbreed successfully with humans and other species. Ogres can communicate and understand simple instructions. They can be kept in human societies and made to work as unskilled manual labourers or security guards. When male ogres mate with human women, the offspring are called ogrillas. This mating process has a magical effect on the human mother - some magic transfers to her and boosts her general constitution and her fertility, and it guarantees that her pregnancy and the birth will be easy and risk free and so will all her subsequent pregnancies and births from then on, whether her subsequent babies are pure human, ogrilla, or other hybrids. Ogrillas are intermediate beings - seven to eight feet tall, green skinned like ogres, but otherwise much more human-like in appearance. They are smarter than ogres but not quite as smart as pure humans. They mature physically faster than human kids and are easier to raise. When they grow up, they are able to breed with humans, ogres and other ogrillas.

The question is, could it become socially acceptable or even a social custom in any community for a human woman to have one ogrilla child before marriage to get the magical benefit and guarantee that she will not die in childbirth and that the children she has with her husband all survive as well? So I was thinking if the women in a community each had just one ogrilla child when they reached adulthood - there would not really be a stigma on individuals being single mothers if they were all single mothers. It would not prevent them from getting married. I'm certain something like this would never catch on in every human society and that there would be humans who would look down on societies or communities where it is practiced. The question is just whether the premise holds up as a possibility for certain communities.

Edit: The question applies to the same world both as it was in pre-industrial times when childbirth mortality rates would ordinarily be very high indeed for both non-magically enhanced mothers and their babies, and in later times of improved technology and prosperity. I think that if such a custom could begin in pre-industrial times then it could continue through force of tradition. The magical effects of having once mated with an ogre mean that a mother would never die in childbirth even in a pre-industrial setting and that all her babies, human or ogrilla, would have a much higher chance of surviving the infant years.

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    $\begingroup$ Unlikely, but if ogres have a charm like Shrek, everything is possible! $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Apr 19 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like something the barbaric tribes to the North might get up to. Similar to how some tribes in D&D breed with monstrous orcs to keep their bloodline strong. This leads to half-orcs of course. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 19 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ What is the technology level of this world? What is the likelihood of death in childbirth for women who haven't mated with a 10 foot ogre? When you say "the children with her husband all survive as well" do you mean survive childbirth, or have an entirely healthy childhood (ie no non-violent infant mortality) or what? $\endgroup$ Apr 19 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ Of course the premise holds up as a possibility. I don't even see why you would think it doesn't. The way sexual selection works in humans, women don't really care much about the physical aspect of their partners, and are more concerned with the benefits that are to be expected from the relationship; and human men can be very understanding when it comes to a potential wife with a magically enhanced constitution. Especially if the magical enhancements are reflected in whatever physical attributes men find attractive in that culture. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 20 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ Good questions! I have added some more info to the end of my original post. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 0:46

5 Answers 5

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Trivially, yes

Going off the perhaps contentious assumption that women are a) sentient and b) subject to sexual desire, the answer is pretty trivial as long as the ogres are hot.

The main objection to female promiscuity, if we are to believe the evo-psych people[1], is that it could lead to males being tricked into supporting offspring that is not their own. No such danger with ogrillas, is there? A young woman is therefore presented with the following options:

  • Have sex with the hot ogre
  • Also have no trouble with childbirth
  • Ever again
  • And nobody actually expects you to take care of the ensuing baby, because anti-ogre racism
  • Did we mention the ogres are quite ripped?

or,

  • None of the above

Why would she ever pick option b), unless she's just not into ogres? Why would a bloke ever turn down a lady who has proved herself fertile and also ensured herself against death in childbirth and definitely has no particular commitment to any ogrilla babies in her entirely forgettable past?

Basically, we can make all sort of arbitrary models about society-level forces, but at the end of the day sexual desire is one of the most individualistic drives humans have. Despite significant societal pressures to the contrary, human women choose to engage in non-sanctioned sex all the bloody time. Assuming that sex with ogres is desirable to women, then it will happen.

Conversely, if sex with ogres is just a practical consideration (it's a bit gross, but better than bleeding out to death as I deliver my first human child over many hours of unbearable pain) then it may become more of a ritualised matter, only done once in some formal setting as women reach reproductive age.

In neither scenario there is any sensible reason for anybody to oppose the arrangement on an individual level (it may be a terrible idea at the society level, as @KerrAvon suggests, but all you need to solve that is general neglect of ogrilla babies).

Edit: what about the ogres though?

Something I didn't touch on, but @KerrAvon's answer made me think of. You've not mentioned what the ogres think of this arrangement, or how they are brought into it. I'm not sure just how much intelligence they have, and if they are able to actually consent in any meaningful sense. I suppose I was envisioning a cheerful friends-with-ogrey-benefits scenario but the truth, especially if women are driven mostly by self-interest, may end up a fair bit darker and more coercive - it's your world, so be aware of how you write it.
The additional comment that ogres are rare and there may be just one per village makes me think you need a bit of care in case you end up inadvertently stumbling into a "Bob the ogre, community sex slave" scenario.


1: no

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure women have varying tastes, but no doubt some would find ogres attractive and want to try out intercourse that has a magical boost. Ogres passively have magic. They don't understand magic, but they do have magical durability and a magical ability to mate with other humanoid species. In pre-industrial times, what age do you think a woman's reproductive years began? Medical people are now saying that puberty and the age of reproduction are starting earlier for everyone, but do they have reliable data to back up their claims? $\endgroup$ Apr 22 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ I can't find an open access article, but this reports that the average age of menarche (1st period) has decreased from 16.5 in 1840 to 13 today, largely due to better nutrition. So 1st child would be sometime around the age of 17-20, which is in line with modern data from less developed countries. $\endgroup$
    – Ottie
    Apr 22 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder what the correlation between age of finishing growing and age of first menarche was back then. Medical historical accounts are even vaguer about that. They even manage to be vague about the topic in the present day developed world. They say now that a girl finishes growing 2 - 3 years after first period, right? But there cannot possibly be a one size fits all rule like they claim! If a girl were actually still growing at 18 say, would that not mean added risks from becoming pregnant? ... Hm, I wonder how much the magic of an ogrilla pregnancy should offset that particular risk. $\endgroup$ Apr 23 at 6:37
  • $\begingroup$ The subject matter is pretty dark, yes. Even though it is fantasy, there is some degree of historical accuracy - in the old days, really messed up things went on all the time and went unchallenged. The ogres have intelligence somewhere between gorillas and chimpanzees, although this comparison is imprecise because ogres have different requirements to gorillas and chimpanzees and ogres do happen to have the vocal cords to form words which gorillas and chimps don't. It is possible for an individual ogre to feel distress that he has no rights to his children, even if he has 100 or more. $\endgroup$ Apr 24 at 9:53
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    $\begingroup$ Congratulations on getting both your answers handpicked as the best ones! As far as my worldbuilding goes, currently I'm rethinking how sapient ogres should be. Now I'm considering making them less sapient - so more on the level of a dog's level of sapience. $\endgroup$ May 5 at 13:17
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Unsustainable (probably)

Let's look at the baseline human condition prior to modern medicine. Ignoring the surrounding social conditions, reproductive sexual activity occurs and then:

  • a% of occasions result in pregnancy
  • b% (10-20%) of pregnancies result in miscarriage
  • c% of children carried to term the mother and child die in childbirth
  • d% of children carried to term the mother dies in childbirth but the child survives
  • e% of children carried to term the mother survives childbirth but the child dies
  • f% of children carried to term the mother and child survive childbirth
  • g% of children born survive to reach reproductive age

The result of all of these factors prior to modern medicine resulted in a very slightly positive population growth, sometimes reversed by plagues, wars and other disasters. This is a good thing, because until/unless key technology increases occur (agriculture initially, three crop rotation, quite recently, industrial farming and fertilisers in the last century or so), the land occupied by a human population can only support a certain number of people.

Now add ogres into the mix and assume that each woman has her "health insurance" ogrilla prior to her human children. Suddenly a% increases (fertility increase specified in question), b%(?), c%, d%, e% all drop to 0 and f% =100%. In addition, we also have one ogrilla born per woman in addition to the ogrilla's reproducing with each other and the ogres. The population will quickly exceed the carrying capacity of the land it occupies. At this point the options are:

  1. Expansionist regime using excess population - especially ogrillas - as troops to invade neighbouring lands. This is still only sustainable while there are more lands to invade...
  2. Infanticide of surplus population (probably especially the ogrillas) before they reach reproductive age. Morally abhorrent, but much worse has been done throughout history.
  3. Reliable contraception available to women who do not wish to have more children. (Obviously this is the real-world answer where modern medicine has a similar effect to the "ogre solution" in your world.)
  4. Abstinence from reproductive sex of women once they have produced "enough" children. (I do not see this as a socially viable solution, but in a fantasy world you can make up what you like.)

This approach is purely looking at the impracticality of the demographics, not the social or psychological aspects. Telling each female virgin in the proposed society that her first experience of intercourse must be with a giant semi-sapient deformed monster and she must carry the resulting inevitably mentally retarded child to term seems to be pretty extreme. However, the depressing fact is that many women have suffered arguably worse fates throughout history, even in modern times, so unfortunately this cannot be deemed to be socially impossible.

One final, irrelevant note - ogres might make effective shock troops or enforcers but would be terrible security guards. The primary purpose of a security guard is not to crush skulls but to detect and assess threats, which requires intelligence the ogres lack.

Edit: One point that I omitted is - "How would people know that mating with an ogre makes all future childbirth better?" Despite Ottie's suggestion that ogres may be "hot", it is highly unlikely that without prior knowledge a woman would voluntarily have intercourse with a deformed, retarded super-giant non-human. If it did happen, probably non-consensually, once the woman realised she was pregnant she would probably attempt to "lose" the child and failing that suicide or murder/banishment from the community would be highly likely. Assuming that she survives all of that, the birth of an ogrilla is likely to make her be perceived as tainted in some way, with the child unlikely to survive. If, after all the options for death or banishment, she finally does take another partner and start having "normal" human children easily, this could be attributed to "evil witchcraft" or ignored as a statistical outlier - some women did have easier births repeatedly. In the absence of an investigation by someone with access to improbable amounts of reliable data (ie the long term health history of every woman who carried an ogrilla to term and was willing to reveal the fact) and who follows scientific method rather than religious or superstitious belief, the benefits of having a child with an ogre would probably never be known.

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  • $\begingroup$ You are absolutely right, and in a pre-industrial setting all the problems you have noted would manifest themselves within a generation. In a setting with modern technology it would be different. And I have no doubt the poor mothers would have issues resulting from this happening to them How would such an introduction to intimacy affect their future marriages? How would they view their ogrilla babies? I think those in charge of the community would try to stop the ogrilla kids breeding, but how exactly would that work? It would cause some kind of local conflict. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 13:41
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Very Poor and Very Rich

The very poor and very rich might adopt this practice.

The Poor

The barbaric tribes to the North are known to breed with Ogres to keep their bloodline strong. They have been doing this thousands of years. Many babies die from exposure or starvation. Many mothers die in childbirth. Unless you breed with an Ogre.

When a man wants to start a family he must prove he is worthy. He ventures from the longhouse to capture and defeat an ogre in unarmed combat. He drags the half-dead ogre back into the longhouse, lays it out in front of the fire, kneels down on its back and proposes to his would-be-wife.

Being able to give birth to many healthy babies is good for the tribe. The barbarians don't care if their children are slow and stupid. Who cares what they look like? They can survive under eight feet of snow and crush boulders between their teeth. That's all that matters.

This is similar to how some tribes in D&D breed with monstrous orcs to keep their bloodline strong. This leads to half-orcs of course.

The Rich

Settled society regards orges as ghastly creatures. They are suitable for dragging bags of gravel around construction sites. But they have only a superficial resemblance to people. What an indignity it would be to let such a creature defile your wife or daughter!

But the rich do it anyway! It is an open secret among them. Similar to how it was morally reprehensible to even think about getting an abortion in the wibbly wobbly past. But it was still possible to get one if you know the right people wink wink nudge nudge.

I mean look at this scene from The 1986 hit movie The Fly Starring Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I remember the Fly and the Fly 2 - Poor Ronnie! She got no benefit at all from her freaky pregnancy and harrowing story. Thanks for your feedback! $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 0:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Emeraldminer Wait, Geena Davis' character has a NAME in The Fly? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 20 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Emeraldminer I presume the only reason she could get the abortion is because her ex boyfriend was a big shot editor and he has a lot of friends in high places. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 20 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ This scene was not real in the story, it was a nightmare she had when she found out that she was pregnant and that Brundle was actually turning into a man-fly monster. She has a nightmare where she miscarries and what comes out of her is a giant maggot. Later her ex does take her to an abortion clinic where he has connections, but the man-fly bursts in to derail everything. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 13:43
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If you have feudal societies, it'll happen.

There have been societies where competition for strong, healthy peasants has been intense; Western Europe after the Black Death, and in an extreme case, Muscovy (there was 50 years where kidnapping peasants en masse was totally normal and legal).

There are absolutely going to be strong moral prejudices against breeding with ogres. The idea is repulsive. But so was being able to be kidnapped, or being an enslaved serf.

The reality is that if it's beneficial to the ruling class in a feudal society, it's going to happen anyway. The only question is whether it's routine, or only happens during war time and/or when a local lord is particularly ruthless.

Ogrillas will make good soldiers, and in an era where women had 15 children and 5 survived, a baron (or king, or khan, or barbarian chieftain) with a labour shortage is going to be very tempted.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes indeed, ogrillas would make good soldiers. They are more intelligent than ogres so better able to follow orders, and they are stronger and more durable than pure humans. $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 19:04
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With so many ogrillas being born, and being interfertile both ways, I expect a ton of various-degree hybrids. Possibly to the point that pure-blood humans and ogres are extremely rare.

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  • $\begingroup$ In the world I envision, there were very few ogres to begin with, so in a community which implemented controlled breeding of ogrillas they would likely appoint just one ogre to impregnate all the women. That way just one ogre would likely have a lot of descendants in total. I think a possible long term consequence would be pure ogres dying out and future generations of humans all having just a little bit of ogre ancestry with there being a smaller category of people who have enough ogre heritage to have noticeable traits (looking a bit green, being a bit big or a bit dumb). $\endgroup$ Apr 23 at 6:50

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