Here at Secret Garden Games, we don’t like using the term “Races” to describe various species of peoples and their abilities. And we downright hate the term “Subraces.” So unlike most 5e settings we prefer the terms “Ancestries” and “Bloodlines,” respectively. So we present to you the basic descriptions of the ancestries and bloodlines that will be printed in the Players’ Guide.
Dwarves are stone and fire incarnate – volcanoes made manifest. Deep in their ancestral mountains, they dedicate themselves to their clan and to the endless toil of freeing the earth’s riches that are their birthright. These stout people possess a stern devotion to their ancient ways and an endless fury for those that threaten that heritage.
Terrace Dwarf (Calanget)
Arrogant and vengeful, but hard-working and loyal, the calanget consider themselves the rightful owners of the mountains. These dwarves taught humans how to build rice terraces and in turn many have adopted the tradition of headhunting. Calanget are the most commonly encountered dwarves in human lands as their clans frequently send caravans to trade with nearby communities.
Blood Dwarf (Sagay)
The sagay live deep within the volcanic mountains that make up the highlands of Bukana. Within their labyrinthine domain, they mine rare gems and ores. These obsidian-skinned dwarves trade some of these natural treasures for human blood, for it is said that their babaylans use it to forge magical alloys and empower their mystical rites.
Elves are a slender, highly magical race. Like all of the enchanted races of Bukana, they share a deep spiritual connection to nature. They are a very long-lived species that tend to dwell in remote areas away from human settlements. Here they create magnificent works of art through what would be many human lifetimes.
Spirit Elf (Tamahaling/Mahomanay)
Spirit elves are one with Bukana. These people live in magnificent homes high in the canopy of the most hidden and ancient balete trees. They are split between two tribes created by their twin gods. The slight, red-skinned tamahaling are the guardians of animals and the pale mahomanay are the stewards of the land. They hide their faces behind intricately carved masks of their gods, leading many presumptuous outsiders to believe that all tamahaling are women and all mahomanay are all men.
Bane Elf (Dalaketnon)
Thousands of years ago, a civil war amongst the high elves led to the exile of a sect of free-spirited, often cruel, hedonists. These bane elves fled to the Serpent Isles where they quickly built a dark reflection of Biringan City, enthralling many dark creatures. Since heaving off the shackles of cultural taboos, they indulge their urges and seek new sensations. Many take up the adventuring life to sate their curiosity and discover new experiences in the mortal world.
Fire Elf (Jinn)
Hailing from a far-off land, the jinn are the mortal embodiment of fire spirits. They are inquisitive and adventuresome. Most found in the archipelago have been attracted either by riches or the burning volcanic peaks. They tend to be pale with a reddish cast to their skin; their eyes burn like hot coals.
Whistling Elf (Palasekan)
They are said to be the invisible protectors of the trees. Islanders who hear their whistling communications at night know to stay out of the forests. Unbeknownst to most, these elves are not invisible per se, but can change their appearance at will, masquerading as simple humans. They use their abilities to move amongst local communities and spy on any who would harm their natural homes.
The fey of Bukana tend to avoid or even hate humanity. Not so with the diminutive gnomes who greatly enjoy playing pranks on the larger people. Sometimes these pranks are meant to teach lessons, but depending on the gnome, may be little more than simple theft or harassment. Regardless, gnomes love thrills and excitement. They are master illusionists. Standing no more than 3 feet tall, gnomes are described as child-like in appearance by larger humanoids. They have large noses and the males tend to have facial hair.
Shepherd Gnome (Lampong)
The lampong are the protectors of the wild forests. They use their mastery of illusions to prevent overhunting and deforestation. They appear as small old people with long and wild white hair. They are particularly populous in rocky warrens amongst the highland forests.
Gold Gnome (Kibaan)
Even more unusual than the gold-colored teeth for which they are named, is the fact that a kibaan’s feet seem to point backwards. Their heel is on the front of the foot, while the rear sports toes. They claim that this is to confuse humans when being followed after a particularly good prank. Amongst the engkanto, it is the gold gnome that so consistently lives near human communities, sometimes just below them.
Mound Gnomes (Duwende)
There are many, many different duwende. Each colony has their own appearance and they vary greatly from community to community. Local humans usually give them names using colors such as “black duwende,” or “red duwende” based on their skin or hair color, or a color that they commonly wear. They almost always live underground and often raise termites for food. Some mound gnomes look like other gnomes with long white hair and generally human-like facial features, while others have more goblin-like appearances.
In form, pongos appear to be more humanoid, upright-walking simians. Pongos love adventure and are infinitely curious, making them annoying to other peoples. However, pongo are loyal to a fault and a strong sense of community makes their family units tight-knit. People of this Ancestry usually take up a time of travel in their youth which leads many to a time as adventurers.
Hulking ape-people, the orang utan dwell deep in mountainside forests. Here they form large communities in treetop dwellings. They live close to nature and hold it in deep reverence. They value wisdom and thoughtfulness and can frequently be found in meditation. They often use their quick wit and cleverness to their advantage.
These folk resemble human-like macaque monkeys. They are exceedingly playful and curious, even by pongo standards. They hail from the distant land of Bhodan where their village troupes organize into militias to fight their eternal war against the rakshasa demons. They love adventure and travel far and wide in order to bring back stories of their exploits.
The waters of the Bukana isles are teeming with aquatic life. There are countless bloodlines of merfolk that call the region home. Only a rare few, however, can reliably interact with “landwalkers.” Merfolk of all kinds tend to be skittish around humans, although they can often be found trading in ports or luring an unwary islander to a secluded waterfall for a nice meal.
Unbeknownst to most surface-dwellers, the Bukana archipelago sits in the middle of a vast undersea kingdom. This domain is ruled by the kataw. Supremely arrogant, each kataw is a member of a royal clan and tends to treat everyone else as though they were peasants. These merfolk are humanoid and walk on two legs. Their skin is covered in beautiful, iridescent scales and they sport all manner of colorful fins and frill on their head, neck, and limbs.
Freshwater merfolk are often treated by their marine kin as backwater lessers (pun intended). Lowest even among these are the litao. These people are so reclusive and timid that local humans believe them to be spirits. The fact is that they are generally socially awkward and prone to constant anxiety. Rarely, a brave litao will venture out of the dense bamboo forests that they call home and enter the wider world, particularly if that home is threatened. All litao seem to be male and many tales speak of them being bullied and teased by sirena merfolk. Their strong fishy odor does nothing to improve their social lives.
The elusive Tubignon are masters of elemental magic. These freshwater merfolk inhabit the winding streams and lakes of Bukana. They gather in small communities or explore the mysteries of the arcane in solitude. They possess an alien beauty to land-dwellers and sport a host of bright colorations.
The monstrous siyokoy are commonly believed to be evil worshippers of fell gods of the deep. Those that dwell closer to human ports and further from the trenches, can sometimes be found interacting with landwalking people. Amongst other merfolk, however, they are shunned and often hunted outright; the kataw in particular hate the deep-folk. In fact, it is this prejudice that pushes some siyokoy into the adventuring life on land. These people appear as fish-like humanoids with large eyes, gills, and rough scales covering their bodies.
There are over one hundred ethnicities and languages native to Bukana. This number is easily doubled with the influx of foreign traders who use the isles as a commerce hub. All manner of physical features can be found with skin colors ranging from olive to nearly black. Humans are the most widely adapted and cunning races of the Middle-world.
These small celestials hail from the Sky-world. They are often sent by the gods on some sacred duty or, more rarely, cast out for some transgression. They have the ability to fly which increases as they gain experience in the Middle-world. Little is known about these people and they seem to have trouble understanding the customs and even physics of the mortal world. They are often quite dedicated to whatever cause they take up and are frequently rigid in their beliefs.
The minotaurs of Bukana have powerfully built humanoid bodies with the heads of water buffalo. These hulking people live in the hills and mine gems which they use to adorn their sickle-shaped horns. They are, as rule, stubborn and frequently aggressive, That being said, they are commonly found in human settlements trading, blacksmithing, and acting as strong labor.
These woodland tricksters appear like humanoid mouse deer. They are quick-witted and affable, but love to use trickery and magic to confound intruders to their homes. They are very common in human lands. As many have taken up trading since their naturally out-going personalities make them successful merchants.