Ancestry in Dead Man’s Land

Photo by Roy Reyna on

Ancestries and Backgrounds

Ancestries and backgrounds will replace race in Dead Man’s Land. We need something new for this game, because OGL 3.5 doesn’t have the list we want to use. While we are at it, why not get rid of the uncomfortable element of picking a race in your fantasy RPG. Each character gets one Ancestry and one Background chosen at character creation. There are no ancestry/background combinations that are off limits. Make what you want.


Ancestries determine your physical characteristics. Whether you get feathers like a Yacaw, or claws like a Yabbie. All ancestries reach adulthood at 18, but have different lifespans. Members of any ancestry can belong to any society or nation described later, and the world is very cosmopolitan in that manner. In Dead Man’s Land, everyone has to work together to survive, and most folks see one another’s differences as helpful, rather than scary.

Barbal: These large, amphibious fish folk are known as much for their dashing whiskers as they are for their lack of culinary expertise. Barbal literally have no sense of taste, and will happily consume anything that provides nutrients. This does little to dissuade their love of food, and Barbal culinary schools focused on quantity, texture, and appearance. 

  • Large Size, 30ft, 30ft swim. 
  • Thick Skin: +2 Natural Armor
  • Amphibious
  • Bite Attack: 1d8 Piercing, swallow whole small or smaller. 
  • Iron Stomach: +2 saving throws vs ingested poisons and anything that causes the nauseated or sickened conditions.
  • Average Lifespan 200. 

Bufon: The scaly Bufon know the effect their contact can have on others, and behave accordingly. Some do their best to avoid contact, while others sell their sweat by the jar. While one imagines this would drive a split in Bufon communities, Bufon spas are renowned. Dry saunas, used to wick moisture away, are a common cultural meeting place, often on the other side of a complex stocked with wet pools. 

  • Medium Size, 20ft. 
  • Poison Sweat: When nervous, the Bufon sweat a highly potent hallucinogen. Anyone who touches a Bufon’s sweat, such as through a melee attack, must make a DC 10+½ HD + Con mod fort save or become Dazzled. Other Bufon are immune to this effect. The Bufon can secrete concentrated doses of this hallucinogen three times per day. This concentrate is a contact poison, and other Bufon are not immune to its effect. A creature that fails this fortitude save is instead Fascinated for an hour, allowing for new saves every 10 minutes. 
  • Tongue: Bufon can use their tongue as an appendage, able to lift up to 5lbs at a distance of 15ft. This tongue can perform no fine manipulation, but is sticky and can be used to grab objects. 
  • Leap: Bufon are renown leapers, gaining a +10 bonus on jump checks. 
  • Average Lifespan: 80 years

Canid: Canid are covered in short fur ranging from between greys, browns, and reds. Naturally nocturnal, Canid’s traveling with others have been known to adapt to day life, even if they prefer not to. Canid’s have adapted quite well to life in Dead Man’s land, and find the nomadic, isolationism cathartic.  

  • Medium Size, 40ft
  • Darkvision 120ft. 
  • Bonus Feat: Endurance
  • Scent
  • Average Lifespan: 60 

Cingula: Best described as anthropomorphic armadillos, the Cingula are mostly hairless mammals covered in a bony plated shell. They can fully roll into a ball to gain complete protection, but generally only do so to avoid physical confrontation. The Cingula slow movement and natural defenses lead them towards  cautious approach to life. Cingula value intelligence, planning, and forethought, and don’t see anything wrong with retreating to regroup and form a new plan. 

  • Medium Size, Speed 20ft, burrow speed 10ft. 
  • Defensive Plates: +4 Natural Armor
  • Defense Curl: A Cingula can curl into a defensive ball as a full round action. When they do, they gain a movement speed of 40ft, but can only take move actions. In this state, they can not gain the benefits of a shield, but their natural armor bonus does increase to +8. Additionally, they can take the run action while in this state. 
  • Average Lifespan 120.

Humans: You know what humans are. 

  • Medium Size, 30ft
  • Aptitude: Humans have very few physical advantages, but do start play with an extra 5 skill points, and gain an additional one every time they level up.
  • Average Lifespan: 80

Warborgs: Automatons build during the height of Cardonia, the Warborgs, or borgs for short, are the pinnacle of magitech achievement. Sentient, free willed automatons. The secret to their construction is long lost, but those who live among the free beings show no sign of slowing down. Warborgs mostly resemble a featureless human, with steel for skin, and magic for blood, but some were made to fit in with any ancestry. 

  • Medium Size: 30ft
  • Construct Type: The Warborg has the construct type, with the android subtype. 
    • Android Subtype:
      • Have a Constitution score.
      • Can heal like normal, and cannot be repaired. 
      • Is subject to critical hits and precision based damage.
      • Does not gain bonus hit points based on size. 
      • Is not immune to effects requiring fort saves, death effects, or necromancy effects. 
  • Average Lifespan: Unknown

Yabbie: The Yabbie, are relative newcomers, the first of which were discovered wandering out of Dead Man’s Land no less than 20 years ago. The best anyone can piece together, these arthropods were magically enhanced and given life by whatever Cardonian explosion evaporated all the lakes in the region.  

  • Medium Size, 30ft, 20ft swim.
  • Amphibious
  • Natural Claws: Yabbies have six arms. The largest two, on top, end in massive powerful claws. The bottom four, are small, and can be used to hold an object and for fine manipulation, but cannot wield a weapon. Yabbie claws deal 1d10 bludgeoning damage each. 
  • Improved Grab: If a Yabbie hits with either of its claw attacks it can make a free grapple attempt. 
  • Filter Feeder: Yabbies mouths possess a complex filter and as such they are immune to ingested poisons. 
  • Average Lifespan: Unknown

Yacaaw: These corvids almost always have high paying jobs as messengers, thanks to their natural flight. Their dark feather pattern and small size means that messenger jobs can very often be expanded to include spy, or even assassin.  

  • Small Size: 20ft, 40ft fly average
  • Mimicry: Can use the ghost sound ability at will as a spell like ability. 
  • Average Lifespan: 70 

Yuan: The Yuan closely resemble snakes, with two major exceptions. Their size, 10 or more feet in length, and the pair or arms coming from their scaleless torso. Their hypnotic gaze can leave their victims in a highly susceptible position and the possibility of its use often leaves Yuan in tricky predicaments. 

  • Medium Size: 30ft
  • Poison Resistance: +2 on saves vs poison.
  • Hypnotic Gaze: Can use the charm person spell at will, provided the creature makes eye contact with you.
  • Heightened Reflexes: +2 bonus on initiative checks.
  • Average Lifespan: 80

Zard: Scaled reptilian folk who take pride in their wide array of colors and patterns, the Zard has some fairly alarming traits. Most noticeably, their regeneration ability. Because of this, Zard have a tendency towards being the center of attention in any group. 

  • Medium Sized, 35ft
  • Social Camouflage: A Zard can cast the spell Disguise Self at will, provided they are always appearing as another Zard.
  • Venomous: The Zard are highly venomous, and can produce enough venom to make 3 doses per day. If a Zard gains a bite attack, the poison would be delivered this way as well. 
    • Zard Poison: DC 10+1/2HD+Con Mod of the Zard. Effect: 1d6 dex damage // paralysis. 
  • Regeneration: Zard can naturally regrow lost limbs over the course of a week. Additionally, they can naturally detach their tail at will (but must grow a new one). 
  • Average Lifespan 50

To follow along with this project as it goes on, entries have been tagged with the Dead Man’s Land Tag.

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