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Culture Theory

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Using Fantasy Cultures and Races to develop Characters, Worldbuilding, and Adventures

In the context of a fantasy world, culture can mean a lot of things. Often people reduce it to what tabletop games traditionally call race. Elves are magical, learned, and like nature. Dwarves are sassy, temperamental, and like to party. It’s not so much a collection of cultural markers, or even ethnic markers, as it is a set of stereotypes. Even fantasy humans suffer from this. Where in the real world humanity is varied in its customs, values, and beliefs, within tabletop settings they become a monoculture, distinguished from elves and dwarves primarily by the shape of their ears, their height, and what sorts of ability bonuses they get.

No, not all settings are like that, but as tabletop storytellers we can do better overall. The way to make your campaign stand out, to be truly unique, isn’t to create more player character races or re-skin existing ones. It’s to get more out of what’s already there. Develop the cultures within your world. Whether it’s the people within a kingdom, an ethnic group spread out across continents, or a distinct species of beings, there should be more to them than stock abilities and numbers. They should be interesting.

The purpose of this book is to help you flesh out the cultural elements of your campaign in order to make it unique. The choices you make about the peoples within your setting will create new background and roleplaying options for your player characters, antagonists, and supporting cast. You will generate new worldbuilding prompts to explore and deepen what your elements say about those cultures. Adventure hooks and story ideas will spring from the people, their traditions, systems of governance, and beliefs. Developing your cultures is an investment worth making.

Because the Foragers Guild Guide supplements are system-agnostic, this volume will delve more into the perceptions and archetypal racial capabilities of cultures rather than their specific abilities. In places, some broad generalizations will be made. You should adapt the concepts to what best fits the mechanics, setting, and character that you’re working with inside the context of your campaign. As an example, while not all systems have classes, the word class will be used generically to represent the actual character element of that name, character archetypes and templates, and other conceptual details that fit the general spirit of the culture. Because if we’re going to be intellectually honest, we need to just admit that everything in tabletop roleplaying, no matter how innovative, unique, and transcendent it may be, with always be compared to the baseline created by the game that started the hobby.

 
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Customer avatar
Ols Jonas Petter O May 17, 2018 9:22 am UTC
PURCHASER
Could we expect there to be a print version of this book in the future?
Customer avatar
Berin K June 02, 2018 4:08 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Not any time soon, unfortunately.
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Ols Jonas Petter O June 02, 2018 9:59 am UTC
PURCHASER
Too bad, I would have bought it right away, since I find it harder to concentrate when reading .pdf files.
Customer avatar
Nick C September 04, 2018 2:24 pm UTC
For lengthy treatises, I find this the case, too, Ols!
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Electrum seller
Pages
100
Publisher Stock #
RWR1009
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1.69 MB
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File Last Updated:
May 04, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on May 04, 2018.