Fine-tuning Ancestries

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Your journey to adventure with the Pathfinder Remaster starts with the Player Core, a mighty tome containing all the rules you need as a player to create a character and take them on epic quests! Just as before, making a character is as simple as ABC: picking your Ancestry, Background, and Class!

This week, we wanted to focus on ancestries a bit to give you a sense of what you can expect from them in the Remaster. Little has changed in for basic ancestry features—you still get starting Hit Points, note your size and Speed, record your attribute boosts and flaws, list out your languages, and so on. The core identity of each ancestry hasn’t changed with the Remaster, so a lot of the descriptive text remains unaltered. But with alignment no longer a part of Pathfinder, we wanted to make sure that you still had a sense of what the ancestry was all about. So, we’ve created popular edicts and anathemas for each ancestry to give you a richer sense of what matters to them, beyond simple good or evil. You can use these as a basis for your character’s code and outlook, taking them as-is for a more traditional approach or tweaking them to spark your own unique ideas for your character. Take a look at the revised Beliefs section of the dwarf ancestry.


A lavishly dressed dwarf noblewomen

Beliefs

Dwarves tend to value honor and closely follow the traditions of their clans and kingdoms. They have a strong sense of friendship and justice, though they are often very particular about who they consider a friend. They work hard and play harder—especially when strong ale is involved. Torag, god of dwarvenkind, is dwarves’ primary deity, though worship of Torag’s family members is also common.

Popular Edicts create art with beauty and utility, hunt the enemies of your people, keep your clan dagger close

Popular Anathema leave an activity or promise uncompleted, forsake your family

As you can see, this gives you a more well-rounded and diverse picture of what members of the dwarven ancestry value as a people. We’re super excited about this change and have already started incorporating this format in our upcoming releases, such as the ardande and talos versatile heritages in Rage of Elements coming out in just a few months!

In addition to this, we’ve taken a hard look at the feats in each ancestry, making sure they’re living up to their design potential. You can expect to see upgrades to several feats to ensure they meet our current design philosophy (I'm looking at you, Stonecunning). Also, we’ve added feats from the Advanced Player’s Guide to the entries in the Player Core. For the dwarf alone, we’ve added Dwarven Doughtiness, Defy the Darkness, and more. Of course, we took this opportunity to create some new feats as well. Take a look at this all-new high-level dwarf feat!


Stonewall [reaction] — Feat 17

Dwarf, Earth, Polymorph
Frequency once per day
Trigger An enemy or hazard’s effect hits you or you fail a Fortitude save against one.

The strength of stone overcomes you so strongly that it replaces your stout body. You become petrified until the end of the current turn. You don’t take any damage from the triggering effect or any other ill effects that couldn’t affect stone.

This brings us to the end of our first round of previews, but you can expect to hear a lot more about the Remaster books in the coming months. If you want to learn more, don’t forget to watch our Pathfinder Remaster panel this weekend at PaizoCon Online! We’ll be going live on Friday from noon to 2 pm PST, right after the keynote address, over on the Paizo Twitch. We hope to see you there!

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

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Tags: Pathfinder Pathfinder Remaster Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition
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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I love the inclusion of popular edicts and anathemas so much. Bang on design!

Grand Archive

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Oooooh! Nice! And I do love the new feat! Self-petrification! xD


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Looking forward to the new books and don't think I will miss alignments.


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Great work Paizo. Love the edict/ anathema overhaul in describing ancestries. Makes sense and removed the black and white of alignment. Excited to see the finished result.


edit: huh apparently the site can't render all emojis so the haha funny moyai post is not possible.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So Dwarves can now become Super Mario tanukis? XD


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Pathfinder Adventure, LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I know its a nitpick, but I would've put losing your clan dagger under anathema. Keeping it close as an edict makes it feel like a kind of a weird obsession, like they're always focused on that. But as an anathema it's more of an "oh crap grandfather-spirit is going to be so mad at me for this"


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Hmmm, I suppose I'll be "that person" and ask if Dwarves really need an edict like, "hunt the enemies of your people", which seems very much like encoded racism to me...

YMMV


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Rock and stone!


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Jacob Jett wrote:

Hmmm, I suppose I'll be "that person" and ask if Dwarves really need an edict like, "hunt the enemies of your people", which seems very much like encoded racism to me...

YMMV

Your rival is not always your enemy.

Horizon Hunters

Popular Edicts and anathema add a good charm to the game i like it! Curious about the popular edicts and anathema for humans.


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Jacob Jett wrote:

Hmmm, I suppose I'll be "that person" and ask if Dwarves really need an edict like, "hunt the enemies of your people", which seems very much like encoded racism to me...

YMMV

I’m also concerned about this, but it’s worth saying that my thread raising issue the Vengeful Hatred feat dwarves get and a few things around that did wind up locked a good while back.

I definitely don’t like seeing it further enshrined in the Remaster as core to dwarves - who are the “enemies” of the Dongun, Kulenett, Mbe’ke, and Taralu, the dwarf cultures we’ve spent PF2 with so far?

EDIT: This worry only grows larger with Orcs also coming in Player Core. I don’t want someone onboarding with the Remaster to feel like there’s a setting expectation that they should mistreat their ‘ancestral foe.’


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More importantly, it shifts the field if stereotypes have been removed.

Removing potentially problematic (racist?) viewpoints would be a bold move.

Scarab Sages

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I like edicts & anathemas as flavor, but will there be mechanical consequences for violating ancestral anathemas, like there are for clerics who violate their deity's anathema?


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
I like edicts & anathemas as flavor, but will there be mechanical consequences for violating ancestral anathemas, like there are for clerics who violate their deity's anathema?

Since these are only popular and not required i dont see there being any mechanical consequences. Roleplay ones potentially but that would be the case already if you broke a cultures taboos.


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Can I suggest that ancestral beliefs be called something different than "edicts" and "anathemas" to differentiate it from religion? Perhaps "traditions" (or even "folkways") and "taboos" instead?

Edict and anathema suggest explicit commands, "Thou shalt..." or "Thou shalt not..." Cultural values are almost always implicit, an internalized sense of should and shouldn't that generates feelings about actions.


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JudiciousGM wrote:

Can I suggest that ancestral beliefs be called something different than "edicts" and "anathemas" to differentiate it from religion? Perhaps "traditions" (or even "folkways") and "taboos" instead?

Edict and anathema suggest explicit commands, "Thou shalt..." or "Thou shalt not..." Cultural values are almost always implicit, an internalized sense of should and shouldn't that generates feelings about actions.

Edicts and Anathemas are stepping up in PF2R to take some of the place of Alignment. It’s my understanding that most characters will have Edicts and Anathema from several places; Ancestry, Class, Deity, hand-written…


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I'm clearly in the minority here, but I find these edicts and anathemas to be very vague and superficial - almost to the point of racial stereotyping. Maybe we will get better ones in the Highhelm book, but reading through these give me very little sense about what makes a dwarf a dwarf.

Popular Edicts
create art with beauty and utility - how is this dwarven? If you put this down and asked me to pick an ancestry to go with that, I would have guessed elven or human.
hunt the enemies of your people - again, could be anyone. I would have guessed half-orc or lizardfolk.
keep your clan dagger close - obviously dwarven, but this still feels like something tacked on late in the process.

Popular Anathema
leave an activity or promise uncompleted - this is probably the most dwarven one out there, but it still seems like its poorly worded. Are dwarves obsessive about contracts? Would this make Asmodeous somehow appeal to them? Or is it that they toil diligently at a project? And maybe one of their shortcomings is the ability to pivot away from a process that isn't working?
forsake your family - Again, very superficial. At least, this should be clan? After all, its a clan dagger, not a family. Still, I would have worded this as "stick with your clan and kinsmen above all else" or something like that.

Also the phrase "popular anathema" sounds weird. Like its something they are jockeying for. You know, all the cool dwarves don't forsake their family. 'Common' may be a more apt description.


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'family' is not specifically Clan, it would seem.

That would empower 'found family' tales, which is an adventuring staple.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Hopefully this means that elves will have feats that are worthwhile at higher levels, like they are with subsequent ancestries beyond the Core Rulebook.


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> Edicts and Anathemas are stepping up in PF2R to take some of the place of Alignment. It’s my understanding that most characters will have Edicts and Anathema from several places; Ancestry, Class, Deity, hand-written…

True, and I agree it makes sense for alignment. And using the same verbiage makes sense, but unless there are mechanical effects (and they are the same whether you are breaking from ancestral tradition or violating the commands of your deity), you don't need a mechanically defined term, so I think it makes sense to differentiate. Obviously just my opinion here.


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


'family' is not specifically Clan, it would seem.

That would empower 'found family' tales, which is an adventuring staple.

“Hunt the enemies of your people” isn’t that, though.

Scarab Sages

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To play Asmodean advocate on the 'hunt the enemies of your people' thing. Can ancestries or cultures have 'bad guy' edicts? While it does strike me as being similar to coded language, APs like Blood Lords exist where the edicts you pick are probably going to swing to less than heroic. Hellknight Orders are long-standing PC options and I can't imagine their edicts are all going to be something we'd aspire to be personally. An Asomdean PC (to stay on theme) already has the edict 'torture the weak' among its tenants. If the game is going to have room for villainous PCs, there's going to have to be something that denotes 'PC of less than upstanding ethics' among the options.


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keftiu wrote:
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


'family' is not specifically Clan, it would seem.

That would empower 'found family' tales, which is an adventuring staple.

“Hunt the enemies of your people” isn’t that, though.

Had to read that by itself to get the weight.

As important to that is 'what defines "enemy of YOUR people" '.

Who gets to make the call, or are Dwarves becoming an uncommon Ancestry due to potential table issues?


Zi Mishkal wrote:
I'm clearly in the minority here, but I find these edicts and anathemas to be very vague and superficial - almost to the point of racial stereotyping...

Well if a GM or player doesn't use their brain, it could be. Say, a GM insists all dwarf PCs and NPCs act out all of them. Or a player feels some rulebook-compelled reason to interpret them as strict requirements.

But as a list of optional personality/flavor things to select from if you choose to do so, used by PCs and GMs in a sensible way, I think it's useful.

So it's like a helpful expansion of the current splat text. Just as you might draw inspiration from "stoic," "stern", or "unrelenting" in the original text, you can draw inspiration from these new edicts and anathemas when building your dwarf (be it your character or, for GMs, building an important NPC).


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Jacob Jett wrote:

Hmmm, I suppose I'll be "that person" and ask if Dwarves really need an edict like, "hunt the enemies of your people", which seems very much like encoded racism to me...

YMMV

I mean, does it? It doesn't sound limited to race but rather enemies... Inspired by elements of how dwarves were seen in the past as grudge holders.

But worded like this it could be against other dwarven clans that they are in conflict with or even just a specific hostile faction within their own clan depending on how you interpret "your people" to mean for your specific dwarf and what / why things matter to them.

Nor are these Edicts/Anathema binding, but more of a broad prompt.

I personally like that it gives a nod to dwarven rivalries against stuff like orcs, goblins or giants... but takes it away from it being targeted at the race of creature and more the ones who are an enemy.

A dwarf clan may generally hold a staunch resolve and hatred towards the thickpelt frost giants, but be fine with giants in general. I am hoping they ditch the racial enemy feats too.

Exo-Guardians

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That's great.
But what happens to alignment damage?

Scarab Sages

You'll probably see that in formerly evil deities, but evil people & cultures isn't something Paizo does much of anymore.

You might see something like that for 'evil' campaigns or organizations.


NECR0G1ANT wrote:
I like edicts & anathemas as flavor, but will there be mechanical consequences for violating ancestral anathemas, like there are for clerics who violate their deity's anathema?

I'd assume there aren't mechanical violations for not following them, they're mostly just there to encourage roleplay and for GMs to give hero points for doing fun/in character RP


Time traveler wrote:

That's great.

But what happens to alignment damage?

Don't know the full details yet but they have revealed that holy/unholy replace good and evil... and are now traits rather than damage types.

Paizo Employee Rule and Lore Creative Director

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Jacob Jett wrote:

Hmmm, I suppose I'll be "that person" and ask if Dwarves really need an edict like, "hunt the enemies of your people", which seems very much like encoded racism to me...

YMMV

The words "enemies" and "your people" are very broad on purpose here. These enemies could range from a dangerous, rival adventuring party to monsters from the Darklands to the agents of a sovereign state. Similarly your people might refer to your group of fellow adventurers or your family or all of the people of your hometown or nation. Dwarves typically create strong bonds with friends and family, becoming very protective of these people. Anyone who threatens these connections could be seen as an enemy of your people.

So, keeping that in mind, we want to make sure that players are understanding that this isn't meant to be read as "kill all orcs/goblins/whoever" or anything like that. Additionally, edicts are never mandatory. The beliefs for our ancestries are suggestions, so if you prefer not to adhere to them, that's fine. Ultimately, these are roleplaying guidance and suggestions.


Jacob Jett wrote:

Hmmm, I suppose I'll be "that person" and ask if Dwarves really need an edict like, "hunt the enemies of your people", which seems very much like encoded racism to me...

YMMV

Yeah it weirded me out too, but there is always the chance that they'll be using this to change up who "the enemies of their people" are to something better, especially with Sky King's Tomb seeming to signal some pretty big cultural shifts for the dwarves.

Edit: Well Luis Loza clarified it while I was writing lol, glad to see that they're going in a different direction with that edict.


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What reason would a character have to voluntarily take an edict/anathema from their ancestry?

Like my Blood Lords character is specifically a Dwarf who, in an act of teenage rebelliousness, decided to deviate as far from tradition as she possibly could. What would I be missing on out by playing this character this way?


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Luis Loza wrote:
Jacob Jett wrote:

Hmmm, I suppose I'll be "that person" and ask if Dwarves really need an edict like, "hunt the enemies of your people", which seems very much like encoded racism to me...

YMMV

The words "enemies" and "your people" are very broad on purpose here. These enemies could range from a dangerous, rival adventuring party to monsters from the Darklands to the agents of a sovereign state.

You may be on safer ground by reframing it in more morally positive terms. For example, "pursue justice for your people" or "pursue justice for the wrongs done to your people" instead of "hunt the enemies of your people", which I will agree, sounds a bit genocidal.


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Zi Mishkal wrote:
create art with beauty and utility - how is this dwarven? If you put this down and asked me to pick an ancestry to go with that, I would have guessed elven or human.

Just addressing one in particular. In pretty much all media about fantasy dwarves I've seen, they don't have art hung up on the wall doing nothing, but they also rarely have plain or unadorned tools, weapons, or architecture. The edict reflects that- a culture that places value of craftsmanship that looks good and does something.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:

What reason would a character have to voluntarily take an edict/anathema from their ancestry?

Like my Blood Lords character is specifically a Dwarf who, in an act of teenage rebelliousness, decided to deviate as far from tradition as she possibly could. What would I be missing on out by playing this character this way?

Nothing. These just appear to be highlighting cultural traditions or social norms.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

What reason would a character have to voluntarily take an edict/anathema from their ancestry?

Like my Blood Lords character is specifically a Dwarf who, in an act of teenage rebelliousness, decided to deviate as far from tradition as she possibly could. What would I be missing on out by playing this character this way?

Well, they wouldn't get along as well with other dwarves, speaking generally. Sounds like that's the goal for this character.


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Squiggit wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

What reason would a character have to voluntarily take an edict/anathema from their ancestry?

Like my Blood Lords character is specifically a Dwarf who, in an act of teenage rebelliousness, decided to deviate as far from tradition as she possibly could. What would I be missing on out by playing this character this way?

Nothing. These just appear to be highlighting cultural traditions or social norms.

I get that there's value in "knowing what, specifically you're rebelling against". So this gives you things like "the only family that matters is the people who you trust and who show you kindness" and "no one is the enemy of your people, many are the enemy of you specifically."

But generally anathema at least has rules implications, like a Barbarian or Champion loses their mojo if they violate their anathema. A dwarf that violates their anathema just suffers social implications from other dwarves?

Shadow Lodge

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WatersLethe wrote:
Rock and stone!

Also, Strike the Earth!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

I'm loving this. I was worried the removal of alignment would be a missed opportunity to replace it with something better. If every character will have personal edicts and anathemas, then I'm all for it! It would be interesting to see if any mechanics key off of it, such as enchantment spells having differing effects and limitations based on the target's edicts and anathemas.

I'm also glad some ancestry feats are getting some love.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

What reason would a character have to voluntarily take an edict/anathema from their ancestry?

Like my Blood Lords character is specifically a Dwarf who, in an act of teenage rebelliousness, decided to deviate as far from tradition as she possibly could. What would I be missing on out by playing this character this way?

Nothing. These just appear to be highlighting cultural traditions or social norms.

I get that there's value in "knowing what, specifically you're rebelling against". So this gives you things like "the only family that matters is the people who you trust and who show you kindness" and "no one is the enemy of your people, many are the enemy of you specifically."

But generally anathema at least has rules implications, like a Barbarian or Champion loses their mojo if they violate their anathema. A dwarf that violates their anathema just suffers social implications from other dwarves?

Anathema generally had, past tense, rules implications. It's the replacement for alignment, so all those non-rules places where there was alignment are getting filled in with anathema/edicts. So your question is more or less comparable to "What if I played a chaotic dwarf instead of lawful?"

Liberty's Edge

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Then is the term Anemthema being reworked so that it is no longer used in cases where there ARE actual mechanical consequences so that this kind of confusion is avoided or are they recycling "plain language" with mechanical terms?

I'd argue that there is no realistic world where that word can be considered plain as it is not a commonly known term at all which itself represents a problem if the Ancestry articles are meant to be understood at a base-level reading. Middle or High School age kids are 100% going to have to stop reading the Ancestry section in order to google the term if it isn't properly explained what it means right up front, context is helpful here but it won't be a panacea for less well read consumers or most youth.


I imagine and hope that the final text will not you have the single line blurb for a belief, but also explain what it means in context.

Popular dwarven beliefs might may be held by Sky Citadel dwarves, or dwarves that hold to those traditions. A dwarf that identifies more as somebody from say Absolom could have some of those beliefs instead.

"Hunt your enemies" sounds pretty Conany, but if the text defines it more like "confront your foes, because culturally dwarves aren't big on keeping problems hidden" it might read better than assuming it means "kill orcs and goblins on sight."

I'm cautiously optimistic that this will be the case, or close to it.


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JudiciousGM wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Edicts and Anathemas are stepping up in PF2R to take some of the place of Alignment. It’s my understanding that most characters will have Edicts and Anathema from several places; Ancestry, Class, Deity, hand-written…
True, and I agree it makes sense for alignment. And using the same verbiage makes sense, but unless there are mechanical effects (and they are the same whether you are breaking from ancestral tradition or violating the commands of your deity), you don't need a mechanically defined term, so I think it makes sense to differentiate. Obviously just my opinion here.

So, I personally like that there won't be any connection between edicts/anathema and the mechanics of the game. That was one of my main issues with alignment, which I'm glad is gone. However, there are lots of players who like alignment, stating that they like the roleplay guardrails they provide. Edicts/anathema seem like they provide those guardrails for who like them (and can be discarded by those who don't want them).


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Cyrad wrote:
I'm loving this. I was worried the removal of alignment would be a missed opportunity to replace it with something better. If every character will have personal edicts and anathemas, then I'm all for it! It would be interesting to see if any mechanics key off of it, such as enchantment spells having differing effects and limitations based on the target's edicts and anathemas.

Don't you feel that mechanics keying off of edicts/anathema will just drive players to pick the edicts/anathema that give them the mechanics they view as beneficial, likely diluting roleplay?


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

What reason would a character have to voluntarily take an edict/anathema from their ancestry?

Like my Blood Lords character is specifically a Dwarf who, in an act of teenage rebelliousness, decided to deviate as far from tradition as she possibly could. What would I be missing on out by playing this character this way?

I mean... it is a roleplaying game.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber

So instead of alignment, which everyone viewed as stupid for pigeonholing people, we're going with "Most dwarves love art/hold grudges". Really setting ourselves apart from the pack here. This is why people are going to have to pay 250$+ and we're pulping the old core rulebook?

I think I'll stick with alignment.


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I do wish that Paizo would make a clearer distinction with the Ancestries between your ancestry/species, and the culture of your ancestry. Saying "Dwarves believe this" comes across as weird and a little racist sometimes. But saying "many Dwarven cultures value this deeply" gives you a sense of what growing up in a Dwarven household might be like, both for Dwarves and those who may grow up in Dwarven society. Otherwise, it comes across like old D&D saying "Drow are evil," "Dwarves hate Elves," "Orcs are dumb brutes," etc. which takes away some player agency. And sure, you can take it in your own direction and do as you will with the ancestries using what the book says as a guide to the general culture, but I'd really like it if the book straight up treated it as a cultural thing, and not a genetic thing. Maybe I'm reading too much into it and the term "Ancestry" is supposed to do exactly that. I dunno. But when helping players make characters, I always introduce those elements as cultural rather than ancestral.

Vigilant Seal

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I'm curious how the team came to the conclusion that rolling back to old testament style lists of obligations and prohibitions goes beyond a morality compass including altruistic and selfish behaviors, tradition and freedom.


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Sotur wrote:
I'm curious how the team came to the conclusion that rolling back to old testament style lists of obligations and prohibitions goes beyond a morality compass including altruistic and selfish behaviors, tradition and freedom.

Isn't the idea just "write down what your character really cares about" whether that's motivated by their culture, their religion, their class, their personal life experience, etc.

Like it's not weird when someone thinks "cherish Art" because they're a Shelynite, so it really shouldn't be weird when someone thinks "cherish Art" because they were raised by Dwarves.

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