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Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e $4.99 $2.99
Publisher: Arcanist Press
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.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e
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