The second and third editions of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game featured a humanoid race (named an Arcane in 2nd edition and a Mercane in later editions) with a particular anatomical quirk, namely the fingers on their hands each had an extra joint- that is to say unlike humans their thumbs each had three joints and each of the other fingers had four.

Are there any obvious benefits or drawbacks to this anatomical arraignment that come to mind?

  • $\begingroup$ Are their fingers also longer? That would definitely make a difference $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 0:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Kilisi- I'm not sure- but the adults of the race are typically around 9' tall if that helps any. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 0:07
  • $\begingroup$ @kingofpanes Let's recall that your question should be about your version of 4-jointed fingers humanoid. Beyond having been your source of inspiration, you should not answer to questions you receive in comments with information from this pen&paper game. I tell this because I'm only a finger (pun intended 😋) away from the vote-to-close button for this exact reason. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 20:43

2 Answers 2


One of the weaknesses of our hands is that the fingers are short for heavy gripping tasks. We can't wrap our hands around a branch over a certain diameter without our body weight tearing our fingers open. Longer fingers would allow us to grasp higher diameter objects and lift them or ourselves. We currently cannot bring our whole strength to bear on some gripped objects over a couple of inches diameter.

So a strongman back in the day made a dumbbell no one except he could lift until recently. So far only 2 people have managed it in 100 years. The handle was too fat and although the weight was fine for most strongmen, they just couldn't grasp it and hold on while lifting.

If your extra joint also increases the length it may have the same effect which would translate into increased dexterity with many objects that require grip strength like weapons etc,.


They wouldn't be (as) affected by the pullup bar scam.

Besides being able to wrap around handles that are too fat, the extra joint also allows you to hold on better when things rotate or spin after being gripped.

Note that an extra joint probably also implies much more flexibility in the wrist joint - otherwise you just end up breaking your wrist more frequently.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .