Through Their Own Eyes (5e/almost system neutral)
This pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The first page shows how to use this – basically, you can either pick 2 – 3 additional personality features or to replace a couple of the standard ones for the material within. The pdf lets control over that rest firmly within the hands of the GM, and the introduction firmly cautions against wrecking anyone’s fun – the friction some of these generates is intended as a roleplaying catalyst, not to wreck a given game.
The respective tables and their content is provided from the perspective of the respective race, which also means that some of them are presented in a dialect – for dwarves, you could e.g. read “I dinnae quite trust the open sky”, to give you an example from the dwarven tables.
Each of the races within gets 4 tables – a d8 table of personality traits, which can e.g., to take the example of dwarves, involve planning for the next creation. Beyond that, we have 3 d6-tables: One for ideals (with associated alignments noted in brackets), bonds and flaws each getting a d6 table. To illustrate an example for evil dwarves, we’d have the ideal “the natural home of gold is among the dwarves.” As far as elves are concerned, we get separate table-complexes for surface elves and drow, with the latter being interesting: “All my relationships are based on clear, contractual obligations.” Is a genuinely interesting notion for evil characters that are not just psychos. Couching unpleasantnesses in euphemisms is another – the whole section dealing with drow is pretty inspired in its application of concepts that make being part of evil race more nuanced and interesting.
I was also amused by the culinary focus we could see among halflings – “Revenge is a dish best served cold, and from below” really made me chuckle; similarly, swearing to never go hungry again reminded me of the propensity in pop culture to equate the desire for success with “still being hungry”, always signifying a ravenous and cutthroat desire to get what you want. This subtle theme also extends to e.g. dragonborn – “I hoard words like coins. I never say two words when a gesture would suffice.” Would be a great example; slightly draconic in its nomenclature, it makes sense – it feels like something a dragonborn would say.
As for gnome subraces, these represent their subrace by adding +2 to the roll for each of the tables. This matters, as all of the tables for gnomes are 2 entries longer – d10 personality traits, d8 ideals, etc. Clever. The half-orc perspective includes martial and interesting ones – the ideal “live hard, die young, dance on the corpses of as many enemies as possible.” Reminded me of my own motto when I was younger – obviously minus dancing on enemy corpses, but yeah. On the plus side, not judging others based on traditions etc. makes sense, particularly when the justification for tolerance is that Gruumsh is worse.
Beyond these, we also get tables for aasimar and tieflings, with the former one’s speech pattern imitating scripture, forgiveness for personal offenses, but not sacred affronts, etc. Tieflings may be afraid of the gods, for fear of punishment for a sin inherited, have an overwhelming ambition, etc. – both of these generally assume a personal perspective shaped by a culture, which is something I liked.
Finally, there would be entries on the goblins and kobolds – the first can have forgotten things in their pockets…or explain that it makes no sense to get attached, as all are disposable to the tribe…A quote from Oscar Wilde was great for goblins – We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Kobolds would explain honesty as a virtue by stating that lying to family or tribe would make you less than a cockroach. A hope to transcend fear is nice – and what about the desire to show metallic dragons that they should have tribes of their own kobolds? Now *that* is a lofty goal!
Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal level, and the pdf has no crunchy bits, so no complaints there either. Layout adheres to a one-column full-color standard, using the photography-style artwork we associate by now with Tribality’s offerings. These artworks and the layout do mean that there’s a bit less content per page than you’d expect (you could fit the content into half the pages), but from an aesthetic perspective, this is pleasant to look at. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes an unnecessary comfort-detriment.
Brandes Stoddard’s personality features are amazing. I really enjoyed them, and their focus of presenting experiences from the perspective of the respective races. I’d love to see more of these in the future! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval only due to the lack of bookmarks.
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