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A New Take On Ancestry Boosts (2E)

Working on the rabbitfolk ancestry and discussions on ancestry in games had me thinking a bunch about how best to express ancestry ability modifiers (boosts in 2E). Currently, each ancestry has a pre-determined set of modifiers that must be applied to your ability scores during character creation. This typically includes one or two boosts and one flaw plus a floating free boost. The idea is that these boosts represent common physical characteristics among the ancestries, say the hardiness of dwarves with Constitution or the nimbleness of elves with Dexterity. These also represent characteristics where these ancestries might be lacking compared to others. Dwarves are typically seen as standoffish or stubborn, which is represented with a Charisma flaw whereas a Constitution flaw is meant to represent the fragile bodies of elves.

Honestly, I find the current system for ability score boosts to be somewhat lacking at times. If I wanted to play a charming and lovable dwarf, that character would already have things stacked against them. It would take more effort, mechanically speaking, to be just as charismatic as someone without the Charisma flaw. In other cases, I might not want to play an agile elf. What if I wanted my elf to be clumsy? I have to work against the boost that I've been given. The system makes it harder to play these more out there characters, which can make it difficult to be a more unique character without having to work uphill against the system.

So, since I had ancestries and boosts on the mind, I came up with an alternative system. When creating your character, you receive the following boosts and flaws:


General Ability Array

One Physical Ability Score One Mental Ability Score One Free Boost One Flaw

For the boosts, the physical ability score boost is applied to either Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. The mental ability score boost is applied to either Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. The free boost is applied to one score you did not select for your physical or mental boosts. Your flaw is applied to any score, including any that already received a boost.

That's it. Everyone gets the same system and determines how they express their ancestry through their heritage and ancestry feats. If you want to keep a semblance of the old ability boosts, then you also have the option to take the following array of boosts:

Ancestral Ability Array

Your key ancestry ability One free boost

Every ancestry has one ability score tied to them that represents some of the physical characteristics mentioned above. If you take this array, it locks you into taking the boost as noted by your key ancestry ability, but also gets rid of the flaw and one of the extra boosts. If you don't want to lock yourself in to the key ancestry ability, you can choose to take the general ability array instead. If you're a human, you're stuck with the general  array, though. Sorry! Here are the key ancestry abilities for each ancestry. 

Dwarf: Constitution Elf: Dexterity Gnome: Charisma Goblin: Dexterity Halfling: Dexterity Hobgoblin: Constitution Leshy: Wisdom Lizardfolk: Strength Shoony: Dexterity

That's it! Let me know what you think of this system which generalizes the ability scores to let you play characters however you want.

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