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Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
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Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e

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Character creation rules for 5e that replace race with ancestry, culture, and mixed heritage, for awesome new PCs

"Required reading for playing RPGs in 2020" - Polygon

- Play a character of one ancestry raised in a different culture, like an orc raised by elves

- Play a character of mixed ancestry, like the child of a gnome and a halfling

- Replace the outdated concept of Race in D&D with ancestry & culture

- Convert existing races into ancestries and cultures

- Create your own custom culture

- Comes with two friendly one-shot adventures designed for players of all ages

- Based on the successful ZineQuest Kickstarter

- Get 126 more ancestries & cultures in Custom Ancestries & Cultures and More Ancestries & Cultures

- Create cultures based on geography or the planes of existence in More Ancestries & Cultures

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Arcanist Press on DriveThruRPG: Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5eCustom Ancestries & Cultures, More Ancestries & Cultures, and Ancestry & Culture Pregen Characters

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (17)
Discussions (30)
Customer avatar
Anthony Jr P B August 13, 2020 5:04 pm UTC
I was finally going to buy this book and the other two, But today I see that there is no print option available to add to my shopping cart? even though it shows me a print version option as a quick popup when i hover over it.
Customer avatar
Per Trygstad D August 13, 2020 2:14 pm UTC
This PDF seems much more motivated by a political agenda, than an actual care for the game...
Customer avatar
YANN E August 13, 2020 2:16 pm UTC
Oh ? Which political agenda ?
Customer avatar
Per Trygstad D August 13, 2020 4:30 pm UTC
Political correctness.
The mere word "race" is apparently enough to offend some people these days.
Customer avatar
YANN E August 13, 2020 4:35 pm UTC
because race is racist in fact.
Customer avatar
Per Trygstad D August 13, 2020 4:41 pm UTC
No, not really...
There is a huge difference between being aware of racial differences and differentiating needlessly between people due to their race.
Customer avatar
YANN E August 13, 2020 4:43 pm UTC
"differentiating needlessly between people due to their race."

The issue is here. US call black or japanese or whatever "a race". No sir (ou madam), there is only one race : human beings.
Customer avatar
Per Trygstad D August 13, 2020 4:46 pm UTC
Human is a species.
Black, White, Asian, etc... are races within said species.
Customer avatar
YANN E August 13, 2020 10:42 pm UTC
"Black, White, Asian, etc... are races within said species."
Wow, I never believed I would read that kind of thing here on DrivethruRPG.

All humans whatever the color of their skin are the same species : homo sapiens sapiens, that has been proven by anthropological studies and I suggest you make a search on that topic before crossing the line.

Customer avatar
Stefan S August 11, 2020 4:24 pm UTC
They delete my Discussion, why am I not surprised? ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Was a decent text, no hate, no insults, just my opinion.
Customer avatar
Per Trygstad D August 13, 2020 2:12 pm UTC
Typical. XD
Customer avatar
raphael P August 06, 2020 9:13 pm UTC
RIP Tolkien
Customer avatar
YANN E August 07, 2020 10:11 am UTC
Yes Tolkien is dead for a long time now.
Customer avatar
Chris P August 07, 2020 11:11 pm UTC
I really don't care about Tolkien's ideas on elves and orcs when it comes to D&D; the two are (and always have been) entirely unrelated.
Customer avatar
Brandon G August 09, 2020 5:50 pm UTC
Customer avatar
Saga M August 06, 2020 3:22 am UTC
A friend of mine bought this for me, and I really LOVE the book, will rate it later when I've digested more of it. :)

And yes, while I do agree with a previous commenter that the Speed is a bit weird, we can always just tweak it ourselves as we see fit, just like with the official DMG. :)

I also really like that you even in the book, state that the system you have made is not perfect, and there will be issues with balance if we just stick straight to the book with no exceptions at all. I like that kind of self-awareness and transparency! :)

I've been thinking about how to apply the Mixed Ancestry thing for instance, since the "Pick 1 from both parents" can also be -very- broken, so I was thinking something like.. they get a certain amount of "ancestry points", like 2 or 3... and then, maybe that trait is worth 1 point, and the other one is worth 2 points, then you've used your 3 points, and you couldn't get 2 traits for 2 points each.
Something like...See more
Customer avatar
Saga M August 06, 2020 3:30 am UTC
Ah right, I won't be able to rate it, since I didn't buy it myself, but got it from a friend who bought it for me. Oh well, if/when/mostlikely I buy the other two, then I can rate them at least :)
Customer avatar
John J August 03, 2020 5:22 pm UTC
Is there a version of the PDF that is formatted regular page size? I just downloaded the V3 and it is still in a pamphlet format of 5.5 x 8.5. It doesn't show like that in Adobe (I didn't notice the default of 171% though), but it prints out small on 8.5 x 11 paper.

Custom Ancestries and More Ancestries are formatted for 8.5 x 11.
Customer avatar
Eugene M August 03, 2020 9:36 pm UTC
Hi John! Ancestry & Culture is a zine and comes in 5.5x 8.5. Your PDF viewing software should be able to print it such that it stretches to fill an 8.5x11 page. And if you turn off the background layer, it should be very readable and clear even at that size. We don't have any plans to redo the layout and create an 8.5x11 version, though. Sorry.
Thanks again for your support.
Customer avatar
Simon D August 01, 2020 9:17 am UTC
Speed is a bit a weird one as an ancestral/biologically determined trait. It's not cultural either of course. But a very physical/athletic character should be more mobile than a bookworm. Short legs impede speed of course, but same genes do not determine that both move at the same speed
Customer avatar
Eugene M August 01, 2020 11:28 am UTC
Yes, you're right; Speed is a weird case. In standard 5e rules, Speed mostly just maps onto Size. Small creatures tend to have 25 foot speed, wit a few exceptions. Since Speed generally maps onto Size, and Size is ancestral, we kept Speed ancestral too. Some notable exceptions include the Goblin, which is Small but has a Speed of 30 feet.
Customer avatar
Owen D August 01, 2020 3:10 am UTC
Put aside any of the stuff around racism this system is quite interesting.

I love the idea of implementing culture in character creation as it adds more flavor. Mind you I think it does add an extra level that may be too much for some people. Culture in and of itself can be so diverse that for homebrew it may be a lot of work for a DM to create outlines for all of their cultures.

I think the full removal of stat modifiers may not be the best of moves but minimizing is a good idea. I'm mentioning this as I always viewed the D&D races as species, quite more distantly related. With this I would say physical stats (Str, Dex, Con) could still be used. Compare a Gorilla, for example, to a human. An adult gorilla is 20 times stronger then 20 adult humans, this isn't due to it's culture but due to it's digestive system being different from humans as well as evolutionary genetics (I am no biologist so if my research is wrong please tell me and bring a source). So, continuing with the gorilla...See more
Customer avatar
Russell K July 28, 2020 1:14 am UTC
Perfect timing.
Now if we can just shake of Alignments.
Customer avatar
TiMar L July 26, 2020 1:50 pm UTC
Does this combine Custom Ancestries & Cultures and More Ancestries & Cultures or are these three separate books following the same general idea and theme?
Customer avatar
Eugene M July 26, 2020 2:33 pm UTC
These are three separate books that build on each other.

Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e, is the core rule book that explains how to use the Ancestry & Culture system. It includes just the basic 'races' from the Players handbook, and one sub race each, which is all that is allowed under the Open Gaming License.

Custom Ancestries & Cultures and More Ancestries & Cultures provide 60+ new ancestries & cultures in each book, giving you options like Deep Elf, Owlbear Kin, Construct, Awakened Undead, and so on for new PCs and NPCs.

Hopefully that answers your question!
Customer avatar
July 26, 2020 11:04 am UTC
An interesting project. Putting aside the matter of real-world racism, I do like the split between what are basically genetic vs cultural traits... it's long been an anomaly in D&D that an elf raised in a human community would have elven training in weapons and language, whereas a human raised by elves would not. And it also addresses the monocultural aspect in which every elven population speaks the same language and teaches young elves according to the exact same educational curriculum...
Customer avatar
William H. S July 25, 2020 2:27 pm UTC
From the discussion, this seems to be based on D&D and more broadly on the OGL, which is not a system I used. But I've been doing something somewhat akin in my current fantasy campaign, run in GURPS: I have seven different humanoid races, each of which DOES have a racial template, but I also wrote up multiple cultures for each race, with different attitudes, behavior, customs, societies, and so on. So, for example, the nixies (my analog of halflings) have a matrilineal culture of rice paddy farmers, a patrilineal culture of wheat and barley farmers, and a culture of high-density fisher/gatherers with an informal and flexible kinship system that tolerates uncle/niece, aunt/nephew, and half-sibling marriage; and each of them has different economic and political institutions as well. Separating ancestry and culture was a necessary assumption to make this work, and I'm glad to see it being done in a published work.
Customer avatar
Ian M July 14, 2020 12:47 pm UTC
It would be really nice to have more contrast between the background mottle and the text. The content is great, but struggling to read it not so much. I have Adobe Acrobat, so I was able to remove the background for readability, so I don't need help. However, the author has shown a deep sensitivity to issues of inclusion so I wanted to point out this minor accessibility barrier.
I'm really enjoying the zine, thanks to the author for their hard work.
Customer avatar
Eugene M July 14, 2020 1:52 pm UTC
This is good feedback. Thanks!

In the original title, we were going for a 'zine look, trying to evoke a DIY newsprint aesthetic. Maybe we overdid it. In the sequel, we used a different background. If you get a chance, maybe take a look at the free preview for Custom Ancestries & Cultures (link below, or above at the bottom of the product page) and let me know if you think that is easier to read? Obviously, no problem if you don't have time to do so. Goodness know we are all busy!

Thanks again for the feedback.
Customer avatar
Ian M August 02, 2020 4:00 pm UTC
It's much better - no problems for myself (and apologies for not getting back earlier).
Customer avatar
Jason P July 13, 2020 2:31 pm UTC
This is such a cool idea! Any chance you have Ancestry & Culture information for Frogfolk? We're about a week out from starting up a new campaign and my character is a FrogFolk that was exiled from their homeland when they were young. I'd love to be able to ask our DM to implement this sort of thing into his build. I really think it would fit the character and make for an excellent beta test of these rules in our gaming group.
Customer avatar
Eugene M July 13, 2020 2:40 pm UTC
Hi! So, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we absolutely do have a frog folk ancestry ready to go! The bad news is it is in our first expansion book, Custom Ancestries & Cultures, available here: It's under the name "Nictator". Unfortunately, the Dictator is on page 41, but our free preview is only 30 pages.

I can give you the gist of it, though; for ancestry, they are amphibious, panoramic vision (advantage on perception checks that rely on sight) and moist skin, which requires them to be in water an hour a day or suffer the poisoned condition. Their culture includes proficiency in survival and animal handling.

If that sounds like something you'd like to see more of, maybe check out the title above? Otherwise, I hope this has been helpful. Happy gaming!
Customer avatar
Jason P July 13, 2020 3:19 pm UTC
Whoa, that is so cool! Thanks so much Eugene!
I bought the pdf & soft-cover combo for myself. Have to wait until payday tho to buy more. But I've already shared the link to this with our DM and she's been looking it over as I type this. I also like how relatively simply you split ancestry from culture to make this work without undermining the feel of the original 5th ed stuff.
For example, if someone wanted to play a Dragonborn character right out of the main book it would be the same as playing a character in your system with Dragonborn ancestry from both parents, raised in Dragonborn Culture.
From there if they wanted to change things up, all they had to do was swap out 1 parents ancestry, or have their character raised in a different culture, and whoa.. a whole new level of diversity and depth to the character. Anything from simply having an unusual eye color, skin pigment, or hair color, to having a halfling that somehow has dragon breath!
Seriously... thank you so much for doing...See more
Customer avatar
Eugene M July 13, 2020 3:21 pm UTC
No problem! And thanks for the kind words! You've definitely identified my design goals - -to provide this alternative to enrich player choice and remove the racial essentialism, but without disrupting the core D&D 5e experience. Thanks again!
Customer avatar
Jarrod K July 21, 2020 9:42 pm UTC
Because of the answer by Eugene, I'm buying this title. I'd like to see more publishers helping us out and talking to us.
Customer avatar
Eugene M July 22, 2020 12:58 pm UTC
Thanks! That's great to hear. And what can I say? I got into this business in part because I just like talking to folks about games.
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