Our Bukana game uses the Feat rules presented in the 5E Core Rules. Instead of being optional, as they are in that document, they are the standard for us, although we will present optional rules for NOT using them.
The portrayal of race has been a hotly debated topic in roleplaying games for years for obvious reasons. The mere use of the term “race” to designate members of different species and the assignment of predetermined ability score modifiers has been extremely problematic. While this practice is largely baked into most early games (especially Dungeons & Dragons), today many of us bristle when anyone states that all ___ are good at ___. Although negative racial ability modifiers have been removed from 5e, is it any better to say that “all Elves are dextrous?” Even if you establish that the unique physiology of elves allowed for fast reflexes and manual dexterity, aren’t adventurers supposed to be exceptional characters? Fifth Edition makes numerous allowances for customizing characters, especially with GM approval. However, Secret Garden Games wants to make our games more inherently open to building unique character origins.
So we introduce to you our Cultural and Tribal feat system. Here, we boil down each Ancestry (race) to a couple of traits that are inherent to their physiology such as darkvision, resistances, and unique movement speeds. These are supplemented by two feat slots which must be used to select a Cultural Feat and a Tribal Feat. These special feat types can only be chosen during character creation, so have a prerequisite of “Starting character.” Beyond that, cultural feats generally only require the ability to speak the appropriate language of the culture, so if an elf wanted to take the Dwarf Society cultural feat, they would only need to be able to speak Dwarfish. The tribal feats are a bit less straightforward, These have prerequisites of a bloodline (subrace) OR an associated cultural feat. For instance, the Dalaketnon tribal feat requires that the PC is either a Bane Elf or has taken the Elven Society feat. For those who want to make characters that balk at societal norms or who are from a less populous culture, fear not, because there are “build-your-own” cultural and tribal feats. These sacrifice benefits for versatility, but are perfect for those players who don’t let others’ expectations determine their destiny.
Let’s look at some examples. Here are the Dwarf and Elf entries in our Player’s Guide:
Your dwarf character has an assortment of inborn abilities, part and parcel of dwarven physiology.
Age. Dwarves mature at the same rate as humans, but they’re considered young until they reach the age of 50. On average, they live about 350 years.
Size. Dwarves stand between 4 and 5 feet tall and average about 150 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet. Your speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor.
Darkvision. Accustomed to life underground, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Dwarven Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have
resistance against poison damage.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write two languages. These are often dwarvish and common. Dwarvish is full of hard consonants and guttural sounds, and those characteristics spill over into whatever other language a dwarf might speak.
Culture Feat. You gain one cultural feat of your choice (see “Feats”) that you meet the prerequisites for. The Dwarven Society feat represents common training of people that have been raised in the ancient traditions of the dwarves.
Bloodline. Dwarves of Bukana usually belong to one of two playable bloodlines: Blood Dwarves and Terrace Dwarves. You may choose one of these bloodlines. You gain one tribal feat of your choice (see “Feats”) that you meet the prerequisites for. The Sagay and Calanget feats represent common training developed by those who have embraced the traditions of the blood and terrace dwarves, respectively.
Your elf character has a variety of natural abilities.
Age. Although elves reach physical maturity at about the same age as humans, the elven
understanding of adulthood goes beyond physical growth to encompass worldly experience. An elf typically claims adulthood and an adult name around the age of 100 and can live to be 750 years old.
Size. Elves range from under 5 to over 6 feet tall and have slender builds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Fey Ancestry. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write two languages of your choice. Frequently these are elvish and common. Elvish is fluid, with subtle intonations and intricate grammar. Elven literature is rich and varied, and their songs and poems are famous among other races. Many bards learn their language so they can add Elvish ballads to their repertoires.
Culture Feat. You gain one cultural feat of your choice (see “Feats”) that you meet the prerequisites for. The Elven Society feat represents common training of people that have been raised in the ancient traditions of the elves.
Bloodline. Most elves of Bukana belong to one of our playable bloodlines: spirit elves, bane elves, whistling elves, & fire elves. You may choose one of these bloodlines. You gain one tribal feat of your choice (see “Feats”) that you meet the prerequisites for. The Mahomanay, Tamahling, Dalaketnon, Palasekan, and Jinn feats represent common training developed by those who have embraced these traditions.
Here are the cultural feats associated with the overarching traditions of the dwarves and elves:
Prerequisites: Starting character and can speak Dwarfish
The societies of dwarves focus on hard work, stringent laws, and rigorous training in both craft and war. A deeply ingrained sense of heritage and justice creates a tendency toward Lawful alignments. You have been conditioned to think before you act and to move methodically. Your base walking speed is reduced by 5 feet, to a minimum of 25 feet. However, you gain the following benefits:
Prerequisites: Starting character and can speak elvish
Grace and fluid movements are valued by elven cultures. Furthermore, you are trained to hone your mind so that you may truly enjoy the myriad forms that magic and beauty take. Elven cultures usually place little value on rules and encourage their people to follow their hearts in all things, so Chaotic alignments are common. You gain the following benefits:
Here is a selection of tribal feats for dwarves and elves:
Prerequisite: Starting character and either bane elf bloodline or Elven Society feat
You have trained in the witch courts of Dalakit City with its dark masters. The treacherous politics of the bane elves follow few rules and rarely reward kindness, so Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil, and Neutral Evil are prevalent alignments among the Dalaketnon. You gain the following benefits:
Prerequisites: Starting character and either fire elf bloodline or Elven Society feat
You have been raised in the ways of the fire elves. You are touched by the burning essence of your faroff homeland. Chaotic alignments appeal to people of this tribe, like moths to a flickering flame. You gain the following benefits:
Prerequisites: Starting character and either blood dwarf bloodline or Dwarven Society feat
Decades of intense labor has imbued you with a strong physique. Your people forge the finest metal armor and weapons in Bukana. Toil in dangerous environments and belief in harsh justice make Lawful Neutral and Lawful Evil common alignments. You gain the following benefits:
Prerequisites: Starting character and either terrace dwarf bloodline or Dwarven Society feat
The Calanget are engineering experts. Furthermore, they rely much more heavily on trade with outsiders than other dwarven clans. This interaction promotes compassion and understanding, so they lean toward Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and Lawful Neutral alignments. You gain the following benefits:
With this handful of options alone, you could create a wide range of character origins. For instance, if you want to play a bane elf, you could play an archetypical Dalaketnon, who has spent their entire lives in cutthroat intrigue with the Elven Society and Dalaketnon feats. Alternately, you could have been captured by blood dwarves and raised as one of their own by taking the Dwarven Society and Sagay feats. Or perhaps you are a member of a minority community of Dalaketnon who live within a Calanget community, you could take the Dwarven Society feat, but then choose to take the Dalaketnon tribal feat to show that while you are part of the larger Calanget culture, you still maintain many of your traditional ways.
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