Duane Sibilly

Written by Duane Sibilly, software developer, podcaster, tabletop GM and writer. Learn more.

How I Build Fantasy AGE Kith

12 April 2019

There was a thread on Reddit a few days ago asking how a new Game Master might create a new playable kith:

Hello all!

I’m quite new to the AGE system and am looking to use it to power a new campaign I’m planning. I have looked through the Companion and Basic books but have yet to find a method or instructions on creating homebrew races. Can anyone help me find info on this or perhaps share your method for homebrewing races?

The Basic Rulebook and Companion books indeed provide no guidance on how one might homebrew a kith of their own…

Or do they?

A note on the words “race” and “kith”

The word race is typically used to denote a collection of physical characteristics within the same species. Because of this, I believe it is a poor choice for referring to the fantastical species like those found in role-playing games. For this reason, I tend to use the term kith to refer to same, and will do so here on the blog.

The existing rulebooks do seem to follow a very consistent pattern for ten published kith:

  • Add +1 to one ability. This is usually the one most associated with the kith, such as Dexterity for elves or Strength for orcs.
  • Pick one of two ability focuses. These focuses are usually integral to the lore of the kith in question, such as a dwarf being a stalwart drinker or a keen eye for an object’s commercial value.
  • One or more physical benefits, such as Dark Sight.
  • Speed equivalent to 10 + Dexterity unless they are exceptionally lithe, large, or small of stature to the point where they’d be faster or slower than human average.
  • They’ll be able to speak the Common Tongue and an additional language used natively among their people, if any.
  • They’ll gain two abilities randomly from a kith benefits table of eight options. These abilities are selected by rolling two six-sided dice twice; if the character gets the same result twice, they re-roll until two unique results are obtained.

Keen eyes will notice that there are only eight options on a kith benefits table, but ten possible results of a 2d6 roll. Green Ronin increases the probability of some results over others by assigning a range of results to a given option:

Fantasy AGE Kith Benefit Probabilities

Further, the options assigned to each set of results are always the same type:

Result Probability Option
2 2.78% +1 to ability
3-4 13.89% Ability focus
5 11.11% Ability focus
6 13.89% Weapon group or ability focus
7-8 30.55% +1 to ability
9 11.11% Ability focus
10-11 13.89% Ability focus
12 2.78% +1 to ability

In my experiments with designing kith, the design of the benefits table is key to the overall feel of the kith at the table and helps set the tone for a character for the entirety of play. We can infer a few useful things from the way Chris Pramas and his team laid it out.

  • Most characters will have at least one ability increased by 1, and it’s very likely to be whatever ability is assigned to the 7-8 result. Think hard about what abilities tend to typify your kith; put whichever is second-most important in this slot, and then any other favored abilities at the 2 and 12 slots.
  • Choose a set of four ability focuses that make your kith stand out as uniquely skilled. Place them at the 3-4, 5, 9, and 10-11 slots. If your kith is known for their skill with a particular kind of weapon, grant that weapon group to the 6 slot. If not, choose a fifth ability focus and put it there instead.
  • The ability increases at the 2 and 12 slots are very rare. The chance of any single character receiving both of them is 0.07%! Think of these abilities as belonging to the truly gifted (or odd) of their peoples. The abilities here should fit the flavor of the kith, but the combination of the two should make a character special in a way that makes them stand out from the average person.
  • If your benefits table offers a weapon group, there is a possibility that the character’s choice of class may offer them the same weapon group. If this happens, the character should get the Accuracy or Fighting ability focus for that weapon group instead.

An Example: The Qandaha

As part of my own homebrew setting, I’ve built a few kith according to the guidelines here. One of those is the Qandaha, my world’s version of minotaurs. They are a big, strong people who are also very smart and studious. They were created by the god of time, and have a keen memory. Their intelligence leans into some of the mythical stories of minotaurs being mappers and cryptographers. So let’s see how we can turn that into a template that can be used at the table.

If you choose to play a qandaha, modify your chracter as follows:

  • Add +1 to your Strength ability.
  • Pick one of the following ability focuses:

    • Strength (Might)
    • Intelligence (Cryptography)
  • You gain Bull Rush: Whenever you take a successful Charge action, your horns add +2 bonus damage.
  • You gain Eidetic: Minotaurs have near-perfect memory; it’s just a matter of sorting through everything they can remember. When you fail any Intelligence test involving a Lore focus, you may re-roll it but you must keep the result of the second roll.
  • Your Speed is equal to 10 + Dexterity, minus your armor penalty.
  • You can speak and read Qan and the Common Tongue.
  • Roll twice on the Minotaur Benefits table for additional benefits. Roll 2d6 and add the result together. If you get the same result twice, re-roll until you get two unique results.

Minotaur Benefits

2d6 Roll Benefit
2 +1 Constitution
3-4 Focus: Intelligence (Writing)
5 Focus: Constitution (Stamina)
6 Weapon Group: Bludgeons*
7-8 +1 Intelligence
9 Focus: Perception (Tracking)
10-11 Focus: Intelligence (Cartography)
12 +1 Fighting

*If the class you choose provides Weapon Group: Bludgeons, and you roll a 6 on the Minotaur Benefits table, take the focus Fighting (Bludgeons) instead.

This build gives the Qandaha a very clear archetype: large, powerful, but not brutish or savage. With a little planning and consideration, I imagine any other kith concept can be made to work in a sensible way that dovetails nicely with the existing published content!

Got thoughts? Hit me up on Twitter!