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Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Yann [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/25/2022 05:18:31

Read the book, totally like the ancestry and culture replacement of the old outdated concept of races. Must better done than in the Tasha (no offense to Tasha, it was still the right move from WotC to do it))



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
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Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Mark B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/22/2022 07:40:15

I will boil this review down to bullet points for ease of reading. What I liked

  • the preface about how race is addressed in this book is well written. I'd argue its the sole time i've seen the "DnD Race discussion" been written about in a way thats respectful to players, without making the reader feel bad because they used goblins for an enemy in their last campaign. explanations about historical racist stereotypes are just that; not some kind of accusation at players. it says "this is how it was, this is how we plan to fix it. we're not only doing this to cut away said stereotypes, but also to make characters a bit more interesting
  • The book actually provides a solution, a GOOD solution, to the issue. Unlike Tasha's Cauldron of Ruining Everything
  • statistical changes between races have effects. Players can feel like their choices for their races have impact in the crunch and being able to make mixed race/culture characters allows a bit of extra versatility in character creation.
  • the rules for using this book are fairly straightforward. it is Plug-and-play as described, and I strongly recommend it over the garbage that TCoE pushed out.
  • the art slaps. it makes mixed race characters look natural. theyre not Original the Character, theyre not snowflake princess the ultra special. they're just regular people, who live in a regular fantasy world.

what i didn't like so much:

  • the verbosity of sections, such as the how to use the ancestries and cultures made the section slightly harder to read, and I feel like a lot of the extra explanation could be moved to an addendum section just below. keeping those crunch sections quick and easy to follow makes it easier at the table when players are rolling up characters on Session zero. Ancestries and cultures themselves are quick and easy to read, however.
  • the races these ancestries and cultres are modeled off are the SRD5 races (this isn't really something the author can do much about. and I'm sure there would have been more added if they were permitted to.) there is an annex to this book, Custom Ancestries and Cultures, which greatly expands on this, however I would love to see if the authors could get approval to integrate all the 5e Races as they envision, rather than me having to hope I got it right when homebrewing it.
  • the rest of this book is dedicated to two short campaigns about ancestry and culture as a thematic device in games. its neat, it provides a great example. its also ~half of this book. I feel that a majority of groups that want to use this book are doing so in order to integrate the ruleset, rather than play the stories included. I mean no disrespect to the authors that worked hard on making them, I just feel bad that a lot of the time all that effort will end up unused.
  • the custom ancestry/culture template feels very basic. I understand why this is so, however I feel this would have been a good opprtunity to provide a breakdown on design principles when making said custom aspects, so that players can balance crunch and have custom ancestries/cultures with apects similar to existing ones such as innate spellcasting, breath weapons etc. rather than, essentially, being base human 2.0.

All up I rate this book fairly good. most of my criticisms leveled at it are largely due to the limitations the authors are having to work with. its a respectful take that gives each ancestry and culture its own spotlight and allows players to really make their characters their own while still feeling a part of the defined fantasy world theyre in. I compare it with TCOE, as TCoE did the opposite of what this book does. This book takes the existing palette and made new colours from which to paint an even more visually interesting piece. TCoE just gave me one shade of grey and said "have fun with your reskinned base human"

Really would love to see if you guys could get the rights to rework the non SRD races tho.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Ivan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2021 19:03:28

The idea as to why we should use ancestries is given. It could be more flexible in a lot of ways. The whole premise of this expansion however is based on some strange assumptions and pseudo-hate (like the Tolkien oks = black people reference).

While I wanted to explore the idea behind ancestries, I got little of it in this booklet. Maybe if it were to expand more on options, breakdowns, etc. It would be doing what it's supposed to, instead of having a strange rant filled with incorrect assumptions.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Tomasz K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2021 11:53:40

This is honestly quite a letdown on various levels.

The idea of the Culture and Ancestry divide in itself, while not too original, is quite good and worth exploring. It allows you to do away with the stereotype that a particular race/species/kind of beings has to have a very specific set of cultural traits, to explore mixed ancestries and people brought up among beings of a different ancestry. However, this book's big mistake, IMO, is emphasising real-world race politics excessively, so that it damages the credibility of the fantasy world that this product is supposed to help establish. The main example of this is the authors' decision to move ability score bonuses from Ancestry to Culture. The authors state that "This choice allows us to move away from the problematic notion [that] certain ethnic groups have higher strength or intelligence, as those notions are often at the heart of racist attitudes in the real world". This is clearly a problem in the real world, where the differences between human races are both rather minuscule and attributable in a large part to the cultural, societal and historical factors. However, the Ancestries describe include dragonborn, who weight about 1,5x what humans do, stand well over 6 ft heigh, can breathe fire or other elemental mists etc. The idea that an ancestry can have such a wildly different biology from humans and still making them on average slightly stronger than humans would constitute furthering racist tropes seems frankly riddiculous. If a DM wanted to include ogres as playable characters, would giving them strength advantage over smaller beings also further real-world biological essentailism? In a world where you can have dragon blood in your veins that makes you scaly, fire-breathing and fire-resistant, biological essentialism is a thing anyway, so that particular decision seems quite riddiculous. Especially as the cultures of various ex-races seem to promote the same ability score increases as the original 5e races. It leads to absurdities such as the one with halflings, where their culture is described as "warm and welcoming, placing value in hospitality and good neighborliness" - and this somehow leads them to receive a +2 dexterity bonus, which for some reason is not the product of their small stature and nimbleness, even though their Ancestry actually lists "halfling nimbleness" as one of their inherited traits. What's more, human curiosity that gives them additional proficiencies is also inborn and connected to the Ancestry - so character traits can be inherited and biologically essentialised, apparently. And even more strangely, the authors decide that while a dragonborn's breath is biological, a thiefling's darkness spell is cultural thing that non-thiefling ancestry people can learn in a thiefling community rather than a part of their demonic ancestry. However, the authors respond with "it may be odd to say that someone of dwarven or halfling ancestry could learn a cantrip from being raised among elves or the darkness spell from growing up in a tiefling community, but we would rather ascribe as many traits as possible to culture to avoid biological essentialism, as well as to avoid making some ancestries more mechanically powerful than others." This - like this whole ordeal - seems to me like the authors putting real-world politics first (which are important in the real world, but can't be directly translated to a fictional world, despite all the arguments provided in the introductory essay, as the ontology of a fantasy world is fundamentally different), game mechanics second, and internal logic the distant third.

This, however, is not the only problem with this product. The other one is the amount of content. I enjoy the artwork included, but I would gladly swap it, or the adventures that take up more than half of the volume, for some more exploration of fantasy cultures. After all, if you separate Ancestry and Culture, it makes no sense to leave cultures as monolythic and race-tied. You could explore cultural differences between various elven tribes/nations/strands/"subraces", or even propose some new cultures and nations ready to be ported into the reader's campaign setting. But no, we only get one culture tied to each ancestry. ONE. And one bonus "mixed" culture. If you want more, you can use the 3 pages of appendix hints to make up your own cultures and translate further d&d "races" into cultures and ancestries - the hints are uninspired and not really useful, and the reader is left with a stump instead of a full-fledged introduction of cultures as a factor into the world of d&d. I think Forgotten Realms sourcebooks for 3e were much more sophisticated and in-depth in their treatment of fantasy cultures.

I don't comment on the adventures as I'm not really interested in them, so I'm not factoring them into my rating, neither as a positive nor as a negative.

Overall, a very shallow and not really well thought-through rendition of a very good idea. Two stars for the idea alone.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by nev3rkill n. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2021 06:02:13

There are only 16 pages, from the 70, of useful content explaining the Ancestry & Culture rules.

The two one shots are good, though I didn't buy this module for those shots.

I understand now why there are 4 more addons to this "core". I'm disappointed.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Matthew M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2021 23:03:28

The premise is wrong. Orcs aren't an Asian stereotype, that racism concept based on one thing Tolkien wrote that actually wasn't part of his everyday thoughts on the matter of Race. In fact the reason some people see Orcs as Asians or in fact blacks in differing writings is because THEY see Orcs as a proxy for Blacks and or Asians, rather than say Tolkiens true enemy, a working class perversion of elves, actually makes you the racist, not the creator of said creature, think about that for a minute. Asians as they may be are humans and they live in Karatur, not Orcs. It amuses me to this day that Academics on the matter have gone down a rabbit hole, attached themselves to one sentence Tolkien wrote and ascribing everything he ever did to that one thing. It's essentially the same thought process conspiracy theorists use but contained within the holy grail of academia and your fluff went down that hole. I also noticed physical stats were ascribed to culture, but culture for say strength is better left to the assignation of dice roles to that stat. Goliaths for example do not get a strength bonus due to 'culture', they get it because they are enormous racially on average. Dwarves are likely to be genetically higher in constitution because, dare i say it, eugenics, would dictate that the most enduring Dwarves propagate their line due to a cultural work ethic spreading back multiple generations, rather than say "your characters upbringing". In this way any person can make a homebrew denoting changes from this and I cannot recommend this publication. Cheers



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by David G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/05/2021 20:03:37

its a good core idea and i like stuff that me and everyone else in the cherokee gaming guild liked but we felt it spent too much time preaching and trying to justify itself rather than just be fun little add on. as one of the elder tribesman put it. "Dismissive wanking gesture."



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Jeremy W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/17/2021 09:38:34

I like what it's trying to do. I like the art.

But why not develop a point system for building and balancing races and then use the ancestry/culture split to illustrate how that system works?

Though you have to take my review with a pinch of spice: I don't play 5e, so this was never going to be a perfect product for me.

EDIT: After exploring other 5e ancestry products, I can't recommend this book. It's not that the book itself is bad, it's that there are much better alternatives out there.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by William C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/23/2021 11:43:53

This is the way player characters should be handled. Excellent resource!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Ben R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2021 17:37:05

Hard to find something to say about this product that hasn't already been said. It is well written, well considered, and very easy to integrate into the existing 5e rule structure in a way that doesn't throw away the baby with the bathwater. As much as I appreciate the idea behind WotC's new direction of "choose whatever ASIs, languages, proficiencies, and feats you want", for new players just starting out that's super daunting. And if you look at the PHB races, a lot of the distinctive qualities of the races come from those elements. Taking away all cultural elements from the fantasy races is not the answer - so much of what makes a classic dwarf a dwarf is cultural after all, for example.

The Ancestry & Culture system allows players to still play to those cultures. What we need is not featureless generic races who lack any flavour at all - but the ability to play different flavours. The Volo's Guide to Monsters orc shouldn't be replaced by the Eberron orc - they should be allowed to exist side-by-side and understood to represent orcs from different backgrounds and cultures. Ancestry & Culture presents an easy framework where this can be done. Imagine a suite of races in a future PHB featuring just the physical, inheritable traits of the races - what this release calls ancestries and what WotC is solely focusing on going foward. But then! Each camaign setting book presenting add-on options representing the cultural traits of those races in that setting: Forgotten Realms orcs are desperate raiders, Eberron orcs are Greenpeace fanatics, with a suite of traits for each. The Ancestry & Culture model makes this easily doable and allows for more diversity of character types without erasing traditional lore or throwing new players into a deep end of having to know every option in the game before they can make a character.

The base product offered here only has entries for the 5e races in the OGL, but once you've read it, it's very easy to apply the philosophy to any pre-Tasha's Cauldron of Everything style race.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2021 15:41:41

The Good: This is a good book to get if you don't plan on doing the footwork yourself. It is a great resource to have, even if it sparks your imagination to go further. The Bad: This is just the Race section of the 5E PHB copy/pasted with a (much needed) line drawn down the middle. You're going to feel like you've already spent money on this section.

The Good (expanded): I like this book. 5E (and D&D in general) really needed something like this. When Tasha's said they would have something to modify your race's upbringing, THIS is what I was hoping for. I greatly dislike Tasha's idea of "just put stuff where you want it."

The Bad (expanded): I feel I paid twice as much for what I got. There really isn't a lot here and I think a reasonable person would come to the same conclusions on their own. I probably would have drawn the same line the authors did if I spent an hour looking at the Race section (maybe I would have moved strong stat bonus to Acenstry and kept the weak one with Culture). Obviously I didn't do this because I didn't feel like it.

I do like this book, but I hoped it would have been something more. This may sound like a negative review, but only because I had high hopes for this book. Ideally, I would have preferred a "lifepath" system where your ancestry gave you some default stuff - like Elves being naturally resistant to charms - and you followed/rolled on your culture and gained skills/feats/special abilites/whatever. If not that, then a big point buy system (stats and cultural stuff) with a "lifepath" system that gave you discounts to buy things, like spending time in the Dwarven Army let you buy Dwarven Combat Training at a discounted price while being imprisoned in a Dwarven mining camp gave you discounts to purchase Stonecunning, or something.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Phil K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2020 20:27:55

This might be one of the sharpest indie supplements I've ever seen. The alternate rules are fun, simple, and make a ton of sense. Plus, the layout and artwork is gorgeous. Truly professional and a great idea for ancestry and culture as opposed to races (or, as the authors correctly point out: species). Really looking forward to more from this team.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Tomas G. R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2020 16:00:30

Finally got the time to give this product a read and I must say I thouroughly enjoyed it :) It was awesome seeing what WotC based their own Ancestry and Culture method from Tasha's on. We must take into consideration that if this product hadn't existed we might have never received something like that, so we've got to thank this wonderful people for helping D&D correct its route and start removing racist legacy D&D rulings. You've made the game a much more confortable space for all people, while also opening people's minds to try out new stuff :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Matthias B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/03/2020 14:47:31

I've bought this book and I am very disappointed. Instead of a couple of good rules which allow to create characters of mixed acestry and/or a different culture (like Pathfinder 1e did in the 'Advanced Race Guide'), this book simply gives us just some examples how to split the a D&D 5e race into an ancestry and a culture (something 5e already did with most races). And they put the ability modifiers in the culture! This leads to the weird effect that a halfling raised in an orcish culture will be stronger than an orc raised among halflings. The only good thing about this book is most of the art. The rest should be replaced with sensible rules which allow DMs and Players to create their own species (I prefer species to ancestry because fantasy races are different species and not simply just different races or ancestries) and cultures.

EDIT: I came to the conclusion that the extremely long and extremely biased preface full of disproven "facts", the lack of rules explaining how to create your own ancestry and culture packages and two poorly written adventures do not counterbalance the good idea and the great artwork by Talon Dunning.

Even if you like the idea behind this book, do not buy it. It lacks everything which would make it a decent rule book. Everyone with some experience in D&D 5e could write much better house rules! This is a book with a political agenda disguised as a rule book! And that's the main reason I lowered my rating from two stars to one!

2nd EDIT: Buy "Tasha's Cauldron of Everything" instead. The rules for modifying your origin are much more sphisticated than this one. WotC did not made the mistake moving inherent traits to cultures. And this official rules give you much more freedom with the ability modifiers and proficiencies you gained from your origin.

The introduction ignores for example that Tolkien wrote that "[they] were all orcs in the great war". This simple sentence makes clear that Tolkien's orcs which according to his own mythology were created by the great enemy by torturing elves were never based on specific people but on his experience as soldier in the World War I, a war that shaped his view of the world and also shaped his mythology. Even if he wrote that he hated allegories and that "The Lord of the Rings" is not allegorical, you could argue that Tolkien's orcs are an allegory for the worst human soldiers can be.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
by Mack M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/21/2020 13:54:41

Completely inspired, well-constructed, mandatory reading for my tables now. Only serious flaw is that it only includes the standard races, a flaw which is fixed by their other volumes, and by the instructions given to apply the practice to other races.

I'm writing on Black Friday Weekend. If you can pick this up for $5 you're getting an absurd deal. For comparison Tasha's is 10x the price and I would say will have noticeably less impact than this volume on all tables that run them, except those that use an Artificer (and even then, it's comparable). Tasha's gives a few variable class features and cool cantrips for some characters; this volume will transform how you approach character creation every time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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