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Origins focuses on additional rules for fantasy peoples and cultures. These systems help flesh PCs out with new flavor and mechanical nuance, as well as grant the opportunity to randomly create unique characters.

  • Ancestries: Pre-made origins with mechanical and narrative impacts
  • Life paths: A technique to sequentially generate a character’s background
  • Lineages: A unique trait paired with a distinct culture to make a people
  • Paragons: “race-as-class” for the classic elves, dwarves, and halflings

A PC can use any of the above origins as an alternate to the core rules in FTD Core or 5e (and in some cases, combine them).


Ability Scores

The classic six ABILITY SCORES are core to most OSR and fantasy rpgs, and represent the fundamental aspects of a character. Many players find these attributes helpful when playing their PC; high INT means academic or witty, low CON means frail, etc. This is fun and useful! But, it’s problematic when there are elements of a PC tied to things that they can’t control, such as their “race.” We don’t condone the notion that a species or a culture is inherently superior. In Five Torches Deep, ability scores do not define every aspect of a character. Their INT score doesn’t reflect their overall intellect or capacity for learning; STR doesn’t define how athletic or powerful they are. Instead, ability scores are relegated to a few specific actions or “checks” that relate to adventure.

A PC’s ability scores are a reflection of how that PC behaves under the pressure of a life-threatening situation. If there’s no drama, stakes, or ramifications, then there’s no need to engage with the rules.

It is best to decouple a PC’s capabilities from their six stats. The PC with a 5 INT isn’t unintelligent; they simply choke, forget, or are plagued by arcane forces that wish them ill. The PC with 5 STR isn’t a weakling; they’re cursed with tough foes or awful luck.

As such, an ancestry’s, bloodline’s, or PC’s ability score modifiers do not define its full capabilities; but instead represent the baseline for partaking in adventure checks. Read more about our thoughts on this on pg 16.


An ANCESTRY is a more comprehensive form of “race” for Five Torches Deep and similar rpgs. If the simple ability-rolling rules of FTD Core are not enough for your table, then consider implementing ANCESTRIES for PCs. ANCESTRIES have no class restrictions.

Ability Scores

Each ANCESTRY modifies ability score generation. This is a slight buff over the race rules in FTD Core, but it will be hardly noticeable outside of extreme cases.

Ancestry Features

Ancestries provide a PC with beneficial (at times detrimental) features that describe its typical traits and characteristics, as well as some mechanical elements that help shape the way a particular ANCESTRY PC plays.

Using Ancestries

In addition to the listed rules, an ANCESTRY should be used for fictional positioning as a PC’s class, actions, or reputation would:

  • Permissions: The GM can grant or deny permission for certain actions (the player is encouraged to propose ideas)
  • Proficiency: At times an ANCESTRY is a relevant source for proficiency mods
  • Dis/advantage: Like proficiency, the PC may have dis/advantage to a check

Lumiskel has the Elf ANCESTRY. At first level, he’s more likely to have a higher DEX and INT than humans, but a tighter spread on the other four abilities (averaging 10). During play, Lumiskel encounters some ancient artifacts; the GM reasons that given the elf’s aged knowledge he simply knows a summary of what the artifact is, and grants a proficiency bonus when Lumiskel tries to operate the artifact as a check. Later, the elf attempts to convince a hostile party to a truce, but since the elf is cold and aloof, the GM bestows disadvantage to his CHA check to do so.

This works to Lumiskel’s benefit later, when a charlatan attempts to hoodwink the party (but his cynicism gives him advantage to resist the attempt). While the party travels overland, Lumiskel only needs half rest as the weather is clear and the moon is out. But once they enter a dungeon, the elf’s strength wanes and starts each day with an accumulating -1 to Resilience. Eventually the party reaches an elf fortress, and the NPCs plan on turning away any adventurers who come to their door. But since Lumiskel is an elf, the GM decides that the elves will at least hear the PC’s request (permission uniquely granted to this PC).

Example Ancestries

Cold, rational, regal, aloof, nearly immortal. Elves care for introspection and perfection.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for DEX and INT. In other words, disregard the lowest roll.

Roll 5d6, take middle 3 in STR to CHA order. In other words, disregard the highest and lowest rolls.

Apathetic Ancients

You’ve lived a dozen lifetimes; know a great deal, but may have become cynical. You find it hard to empathize, but easy to recall.

Children of the Moon

You draw strength from the moon. Rest half as much in moonlight, but reduce your max RES by 1 per day you don’t see the moon.

1. Elf Ancestry

Productive, stubborn, hardy, patient. Care for legacy and monumental achievement.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for STR and CON. In other words, disregard the lowest roll.

Roll 5d6, take middle 3 in STR to CHA order. In other words, disregard the highest and lowest rolls.

Industrious Delvers

You understand the fundamental scaffolds that loft the world. You can build and create nearly anything, but are always dissatisfied.

Subterranean Senses

You care little for the overworld. Increase all light levels by one step (well lit to brilliant). Stone sings to you but you fear open water.

2. DWARF Ancestry

Unassuming, curious, eager. They wish to experience the world and revel in emotion.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for WIS and CHA. In other words, disregard the lowest roll.

Roll 5d6, take middle 3 in STR to CHA order. In other words, disregard the highest and lowest rolls.

Fearless Friends

You empathize with and befriend anyone, bravely standing up for them against all odds. Your comrades value your fellowship.

Small but Surefooted

Gain dis/advantage to non-combat checks affected by size (+hiding, -lifting, +balance, -intimidation). If the GM is unsure, ignore.

3. Halfling Ancestry

Passionate, creative, fervent, aspirational. Humanity is defined by its constant hunger.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for 1 chosen ability

Roll 3d6 for the rest in STR to CHA order

Zealous Obsession

You focus on your passions and pursue them endlessly. You learn quickly, and can master one niche subject to near deific levels.

For the Cause

You can choose to bring yourself to 0 HP from extreme effort or self-sacrifice to pass any check (GM fiat). Injuries still apply.

4. Human Ancestry

Birthed from gold, flame, and foul magic, Wyrmkin are feared and fiercely followed.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for STR and CHA. In other words, disregard the lowest roll.

Roll 3d6 for the rest in STR to CHA order

Apex Predators

You view most creatures as prey, and they naturally fear you. You ooze power and stink of fire. In turn, you can sense their fear.

Fire and Gold

You’re immune to natural fire and heat. You can eat gold as food. Eating 100gp at once heals 1 HP and restores 1 RES.

5. Wyrmkin Ancestry

Communal, deft, gregarious, telepathic. Psibug’s lives are defined by their family.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for DEX and WIS

Roll 3d6 for the rest in STR to CHA order

Psychic Broods

Psibugs communicate through their mind and empathy. You struggle with “crude” languages such as speech and writing.


Bond to WIS mod (min 1) willing people or creatures. You can sense their location, feelings, and health over any distance.

6. Psibug Ancestry

Descended from titans; somber, thoughtful, patient, massive, with imposing strength.

Ability Scores

Str is 12+1d6, DEX is 6+1d6

Roll 5d6, take middle 3 in STR to CHA order. In other words, disregard the highest and lowest rolls.

Gentle Giants

You see the littler folk as children needing guidance, tolerance, and protection. Most innately admire your restrained power.

Gargantuan Grace

Bend iron, lift tons, and punch through stone. You can’t fit in tight spaces, can’t hide well, and eat twice as much food.

7. Colossan Ancestry

Flesh long since decayed, bones unearthed, destined to spend eternity in skeletal form.

Ability Scores

Pick a lineage (pg. 7) and roll as they would.

Cursed Immortality

You’re an undead skeleton from long ago. Recall past eras, but not recent history. Most think you’re a monster and will flee or fight.

You don’t eat or sleep, and can’t die so long as your skull is intact. You’re immune to poisons and weather. Go to 0 HP when taking any critical hit regardless of damage. You can only be healed magically.

8. Eternal Ancestry

Solitary, amphibious, patient, cautious. Frogkin are calm until the precise moment.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for CON and INT

Roll 3d6 for the rest in STR to CHA order

Sufficient in Solitude

Frogkin naturally isolate, and find the large communities of others confusing. The bustle, politics, and fraternization scare you.

Amphibious Mobility

You can breathe underwater, freely climb most surfaces, and make a STR check to leap 30.’ But your max load is only half your STR.

9. Frogkin Ancestry

Avian, proud, perceptive, agile. Raptorians wish to see, know, and command all.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for DEX and WIS

Roll 3d6 for the rest in STR to CHA order

Piercing Scrutiny

Constantly judge, assess, and challenge others. Your incredible perception and acute senses make you naturally suspicious.

Hollow bones

Speed +10’, advantage to balance, leaping, climbing. Always break a bone when you hit 0 HP in addition to other injuries.

10. Raptorian Ancestry

Reptilian, swift, stealthy, paranoid. Saurians are resilient and pragmatic hunters.

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for DEX and CON

Roll 3d6 for the rest in STR to CHA order

Eat and be Eaten

All life eats other life, and in turn gets eaten. Your nihilistic but dogged survival grants you perseverance over many softer peoples.

Feast of Light

You need the sun’s warmth and nourishment. An hour sunbathing restores 2 RES and 1 HP. Lose 2x RES in darkness or cold..

11. Saurian Ancestry

A tiny parasitic wisp of energy that inhabits the corpse of an intelligent creature.

Ability Scores

Roll 3d6 in INT, WIS, CHA order Roll (or assume) STR, DEX, CON per the host

Fill Thy Vessel

You’re a speck of flitting sentience. You can parasitically control an intelligent corpse. Your mental abilities remain, but you adopt your host’s physical abilities. Lose 1 point to each of STR, DEX, and CON per day until the host decays. If you don’t find a new host within 1 hour you die. A host’s abilities can’t be healed. You appear undead and grotesque..

12. Corpsflea Ancestry

Life Paths

A LIFE PATH generates a PC’s abilities and history irrespective of their heritage. LIFE PATHS replace ability score rolls from ancestries, lineages, or other methods. LIFE PATHS have no class restrictions.

History Roll

Roll at least 3 times (a PC’s early life, past, and recent life before adventuring with a class). Each HISTORY roll beyond three forces a roll on the FALLOUT table. Max five rolls.

Each HISTORY roll pairs a reason and event. Work with the GM to interpret these results to fit with the setting (e.g. forced + crafting might mean the PC was an indentured servant to a shipwright in a naval setting). The HISTORY roll primarily adds bonuses to a PC’s ability scores, but the GM may grant proficiency to checks related to their interpretation of the PC’s HISTORY.

Ability Scores

Each PC starts with an 8 in all six ability scores. The HISTORY rolls apply a bonus per their listing for each roll. You can’t swap any ability scores, and ignore any ability score bonuses due to a race, ancestry, lineage, or other character creation system. The rolls are final, with the exception that the player may choose to roll more than three times as discussed above. Once the player confirms to the GM that they’re done, they’re done. There is a limit of five HISTORY rolls per PC unless beginning at higher than level 1 (add 1 max roll at level 4 and 8).

History: Reason
Roll Result
1 Forced +1 CON, +2 WIS
2 Inherited +2 CON, +1 CHA
3 Trained +2 DEX, +1 INT
4 Volunteered +1 STR, +2 INT
5 Obligated +2 STR, +1 WIS
6 Hired +1 DEX, +2 CHA
History: Event
Roll Result
1 Labor +2 STR
2 Crafting +2 DEX
3 Education +2 INT
4 Hunting +2 DEX
5 Urban life +2 WIS
6 Survival +2 CON
7 Politics +2 CHA
8 Business +2 CHA
9 Fighting +2 STR
10 Tactics +2 INT
11 Travel +2 CON
12 Cloister +2 WIS
History: Fallout
Roll Result
1 Ripped muscles: -2 STR, -1 DEX
2 Busted inner ear: -2 DEX, -1 WIS
3 Pierced lung: -2 CON, -1 STR
4 Crushed skull: -2 INT, -1 WIS
5 Suffered trauma: -2 WIS, -1 CHA
6 Terribly ashamed: -2 CHA, -1 INT
7 Lose an eye, +1 CHA, -1 WIS
8 Lose many teeth, only eat soft food
9 Weak heart: -4 to max RES, -1 CON
10 Bad back: -4 to max Load, -1 STR
11 Roll disadv when gaining HP per level
12 Lose a hand; dis/adv when relevant
13 Lose a foot; dis/adv when relevant
14 You’re hunted by an enemy faction
15 1/6 chance a demon appears per day
16 Insomnia: WIS check to rest or sleep
17 Phobia: -4 WIS, morale when near it
18 You owe a huge debt to a foul group
19 Horrifically disfigured (burned, etc)
20 Roll twice and take both


A LINEAGE is a catch-all term that defines the TRAITS and CULTURAL aspects of a character. The LINEAGE rules in this book make a PC’s selection of “race” a bit more complex but provide additional flavor and crunch. GMs should curate what’s available to match their setting and table’s expectations.

Create a LINEAGE by combining any TRAIT and CULTURE from the following pages. Neither of these denote that a specific “race” or “species” is a monoculture or without diversity; indeed each can be a unique aspect for a single individual, family, faction, or group of NPCs.

The GM and players should use the PCs’ LINEAGE much like any trait or tool of the character: Informing the fictional positioning and allowing (or denying) certain tasks. The few benefits and penalties listed with each LINEAGE are just a start; ultimately the GM should expand these as relevant. LINEAGES have no class restrictions.

Tina wants to create a LINEAGE. She rolls chitinous (trait) and clanship + crafting (culture). She imagines a society of heavily plated insectoids organized into matriarchal clans. They focus on digging and using quality metal to craft fine tools and armor.

The GM thinks that Tina’s PC is familiar with delving and metallurgy. These wouldn’t apply proficiency but give relevant fictional positioning.

Lineage Traits

Traits refer to the descriptive qualities of that character, their bloodline, or their family. The qualities listed can be defined as your table prefers: Physical, societal, magical, or another force that shapes them.

Each table’s interpretation of a particular TRAIT will vary; one table’s version of third leg will be very different from another. Pick which you want, or roll 1d22. Any ability score modifiers are replaced by the results of a LIFE PATH, the same as any PC (pg 6).

Lineage Culture

A lineage’s CULTURE reflects the society it originated from. Like TRAITS, it’s only meant as a shorthand to inform the knowledge or training the PC has, and isn’t meant to fully describe or crudely summarize a society. Each CULTURE consists of a structure and a resource. This might not have a direct impact, but describes that PC’s background and what skills they might have gained. The GM can use these vague descriptions as proficiency, or simply for fictional positioning.

Your skeletal structure is malleable; organs and meat are squishy. Fit into tight spaces and flow around obstacles with ease.

  • Push through 6” gaps and spaces
  • Easily escape bonds, grapples
  • +1 AC when wearing light/no armor
  • At 0 HP dislocate limb + another injury
  • No +prof bonus to STR checks/attacks
  • Double slashing damage taken

1. Amorphous

Your bones are particularly dense, heavy, and well-connected with sinew. The added weight and durability benefits and burdens.

  • Your bones are unbreakable
  • Half bludgeoning/bashing damage taken
  • Adv to resist being tripped/grappled
  • It’s almost impossible for you to swim
  • -2 to your max LOAD limit
  • Heal no HP from unsafe rests

2. Dense Bones

You’re covered in a thick carapace, layers of scales, or some kind of exoskeleton. Your skin is resilient but your muscles weary.

  • Your skin is hard like mail armor
  • Ignore extreme hot or cold weather
  • Natural 14 + DEX mod AC
  • Can’t wear non-magical armor
  • Gain only half HP from any healing
  • -2 to your max RESILIENCE per day

3. Chitinous

Whether through a prehensile tail, tentacle, long tongue or some other appendage, you have a third functioning arm-like limb.

  • Fully functional third “arm”
  • Adv to athletics, climbing, holding
  • +1 to hit with melee weapons
  • Quick/concentrate to use third arm
  • Need customized armor, clothes, etc
  • Need an extra hour of sleep for full rest

4. Third arm

Like your three-armed cousins, you have a unique form of locomotion that grants extra athleticism, speed, and lifting capacity.

  • Fully functional third “leg”
  • +10’ to movement speed
  • Adv to jump, run, lift, or carry
  • Quick/concentrate to use third leg
  • Need custom armor, clothes
  • Need 20% more food per day (1.2 SUP)

5. Third leg

You possess a predatory mouth, with sharp piercing teeth and a flexible mandible. Terrifying, but hindering in kinder pursuits.

  • Powerful predatory bite
  • Bite melee attack: 1d8 + STR mod
  • Adv to intimidation and similar
  • You only eat raw, fresh kills
  • Disadvantage to diplomacy, charm, calm
  • Most creatures fear or distrust you

6. Predatory Maw

You’re compact, standing to a human’s hip. You use your diminutive frame for precise, cautious, quiet, and agile pursuits.

  • About half the size of a human
  • Adv to stealth, escape, and similar
  • You only eat half as much food per day
  • Downgrade all damage dice (d8 to d6, etc.)
  • Need custom “small” armor, clothes
  • 20’ move speed; -33% overland travel

7. Little

Lineage Traits

You possess a towering figure and powerful structure. Most smaller people cower like children beneath your massive might.

  • 20% bigger than humans
  • Double your max LOAD
  • Add your +prof to physical attack damage
  • Disadvantage to stealth, escape, and similar
  • Need custom armor, clothes
  • Need twice the food per day (2 SUP)

8. Big

Your muscles are imbued with inexplicable (some say magic, others unique structure) strength far beyond what is expected.

  • You’re frighteningly strong
  • Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for STR score
  • Auto-pass STR checks under DC 12
  • Burn 2 RESILIENCE per hour
  • Roll 4d6, drop highest for DEX score
  • Disadvantage to finesse, delicacy, and similar

9. Strong

You’re lithe, agile, and balanced. Reaction times are quicker, coordination more acute. Delicacy detriments strength, however.

  • You’re gracefully agile and quick
  • Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for DEX score
  • Auto-pass DEX checks under DC 12
  • Half your max LOAD
  • Roll 4d6, drop highest for STR score
  • Disadvantage to brute strength and similar

10. Dexterous

Full of grit and durability, you’re hard to kill and even harder to tire. Pushing through your problems makes lessons hard to stick.

  • You’re exceptionally resilient
  • Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for CON score
  • Auto-pass CON checks under DC 12
  • Half your max SUPPLY
  • Roll 4d6, drop highest for INT score
  • Disadvantage to learning, adapting, etc

11. Tough

Your mind is thirsty and dynamic, able to learn and apply knowledge quickly. An eager mind is, however, more difficult to defend.

  • You’re astoundingly intelligent
  • Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for INT score
  • Auto-pass INT checks under DC 12
  • Roll morale for every fight
  • Roll 4d6, drop highest for WIS score
  • Disadvantage to resist mental attacks/checks

12. Sharp

You’re sagely, willful, capable of withstanding psychic and persuasive attacks alike. Facing inward prevents external influence.

  • You possess great mental fortitude
  • Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for WIS score
  • Auto-pass WIS checks under DC 12
  • -1 magic item wielding limit (min. 1)
  • Roll 4d6, drop highest for CHA score
  • Disadvantage to persuasion, charm, etc.

13. Wise

You’re compelling, carry a presence, and demand attention. Your ability to talk yourself out of danger has made you a bit soft.

  • You’re magnetically compelling
  • Roll 4d6, take 3 highest for CHA score
  • Auto-pass CHA checks under DC 12
  • Disadvantage to Injury Table results
  • Roll 4d6, drop highest for CON score
  • Disadvantage to checks vs. non-sentients

14. Charismatic

You exclusively consume plants and fungus. This makes it easy to find food but demands a constant stream of sustenance.

  • Can live off wild plants of all kinds
  • Immune to plant-based poison
  • Short nap with a snack gives +1 to RES
  • Eating non-plants makes you very ill
  • Eat each waking hour or suffer -1 HP
  • Most creatures see you as weak/prey

15. Herbivore

You’re likely an apex predator, a creature that feasts on the flesh and bones of prey. You smell like danger and blood.

  • You subsist entirely off flesh
  • Immune to animal venoms and toxins
  • Feast and “store” up to 10 SUP of food
  • Eating non-meat makes you very ill
  • Naturally sleep 10-12 hours for full rest
  • Non-carnivores strongly distrust you

16. Carnivore

Rich soil is a sumptuous feast to you, and you survive by consuming and absorbing the minerals latent within the earth itself.

  • 1 LOAD of soil is 1 SUP of food
  • Can “eat” while asleep in soil
  • Take half damage from falling/similar
  • Disadvantage to resist disease, poison
  • Always take max damage from fire
  • Susceptible to earth magic or similar

18. Terravore

You breathe water as easily as air. You’re a great swimmer with wet skin and gills, but are soft of bone and flexible of sinew.

  • You can breathe air and water
  • Auto-pass any swim/water check
  • Adv to flexibility, cramming, etc
  • Need 2x the food in dry/hot climates
  • Exhausted if not soaking wet for 4+ hrs
  • Susceptible to water magic or similar

19. Amphibious

You are closer to a plant than a creature, directly absorbing energy. This makes you move in deliberate, methodical ways.

  • You live by consuming energy
  • Heat, magic, or sun act as food
  • Take half damage from energy/element
  • Movement speed reduced -10’ (20’)
  • Disadvantage to reflexes, dodging, quickness
  • Can’t “eat” while armored/full LOAD

17. Thaumivore

You can sense and emanate psychic energy as easily as most do with sound. This grants you new social vectors to attack and defend.

  • You have subtle telepathy
  • CHA check to forcefully telepath others
  • WIS check to sense others’ thoughts
  • Disadvantage vs. any psychic attacks
  • CON check every night to fall asleep
  • Magic healing is halved for you

21. Telepathic

Your soul is trapped in a decaying prison for all time. Most revile you and think you evil, but you are a victim more than a monster.

  • You can’t die outside of a specific ritual
  • No need to eat, breathe, or sleep
  • Immune to weather and fear
  • Nearly all creatures attack you or flee
  • Disadvantage to Injury Table rolls
  • Can only be healed through magic

22. Undead

You age slowly over the centuries, granting great wisdom but alienating you from shorter lived, often jealous mortals.

  • You age at 1/10th the normal speed
  • Auto-pass any knowledge check (DC 15)
  • Need only half as much food
  • Disadvantage to all social checks
  • Take twice as long to learn or think
  • Susceptible to fey or “other” magic

20. Venerable

Lineage Culture

Culture’s Structure
Roll Result
1 Democracy Know politics, society. Value guilds and similar professional unions.
2 Plutocracy Know trade, negotiation, appraisal. Value the “guiding” force of markets.
3 Meritocracy Ambitious, honorable. You prioritize your reputation and social standing.
4 Dictatorship Recognize authority, castes. Value the strength of “unity and leadership.”
5 Clanship Selfless, family first, empathetic. You care little for those not in the clan.
6 Theocracy Connected to the divine. Strong faith, believe this world is ephemeral.
7 Stratocracy Military chain of command controls all. Everything is war or logistics.
8 Collective Sharing for the greater good. Greed, ambition, strata may confuse you.
Culture’s Resource
Roll Result
1 Foraging Gathering, scavenging. Can find static resources, hidden treasures, etc.
2 Farming Tilling fields, cultivating crops. Know weather, agriculture, and fertility.
3 Hunting Stalking, killing, and harvesting prey. Good at trails, butchery, and stealth.
4 Raiding Why sow when you can take? Good at scouting forts, tracking caravans, etc.
5 Trading Sales, transport, and commerce. Good at haggling, navigation, business.
6 Crafting Creation of goods and industry. Good at crafting, manufacturing, art.
7 Learning Academics, espionage, exploration. Focus on the pursuit of information.
8 Herding Nomadically herd large animals. Husbandry, leatherwork, etc.


Paragons, or “race-as-class” in other games, are icons of their people. These rules allow a PC to start as a specific ancestry and associated class, leaning into its classic fantasy tropes and abilities. A PC can swap their current class and levels for a PARAGON of their ancestry, GM permitting.

Generally, a PARAGON requires the PC to belong to that ancestry or race (you must be an elf to be an Elf PARAGON). However the GM may choose to waive this restriction if they “reskin” the class into something that fits their setting or has similar justification.

Paragon Tokens

Each PARAGON starts with a “token;” this can be any memento or item that bears significance in that culture. A dwarf token might be an ancestral helmet, an elf an arcane signet ring, a halfling a unique flute, etc. Work with your GM to create a token.

Why These Three?

The Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling were chosen as they are the three non-human “races” presented in Five Torches Deep core. They are likely the most common fantasy races in rpgs with an undoubted Tolkinesque influence. This isn’t to say that other ancestries can’t or don’t have paragons; indeed an orc or a human paragon might be an interesting take on a modern classic. That being said, the focus on these three classes is simply for alignment with FTD and bears no preferential implication.

Elf Paragon

Elf PARAGONS are the archetypal champions of their people: Ancient, thoughtful, mystical. They are touched by the arcane, related to fey, and ageless. Their long lives make them introspective and meditative. Paragons even more so: Bastions of culture, lore, and magical dedication. These elves are rare; uncharacteristically focused on their history and carefully chosen to represent their cabals. Many view them with pride, a unique pinnacle of true elvenness; others resent them or mock them for their cliche adherence to stereotypes. Most adventurous elves that interact with other lineages are likely PARAGONS, only reinforcing the notion that all elves behave this way. Of course this is far from the truth; most “normal” elves live quiet lives far away from the machinations of humans, dungeons, and the cruel necessities of gold.

Elf Paragon Basics

Starting HP 4 + CON modifier

HP per Level 1d6 + CON modifier

Armor Light, shields

Weapon Prof Simple + warbows

Ability Prof STR, INT

Prof Checks Stealth, senses, arcane, archetype

Roll Result
1 Starting HP, Elf equipment
2 You can sense all nearby creatures
3 Pick an archetype, pick a feature
4 +1 to any ability score
5 Advantage to all defensive WIS checks
6 +1 to any ability score
7 Pick a new archetype feature
8 +1 to any ability score
9 Trance for 1 hour, restore all RES

Elf Equipment

Light armor, shield 3 sundries, max SUP

1h simple melee Elf medicine kit

Warbow + arrows Elf token

Elf Scout

You gain proficiency to wilderness, monsters, and geography related checks.

Ignore diff terrain Deal +2 ranged damage

Immune to surprise Natural climb speed

Advantage to perception Detect arcane sigils

You can see accurately 2x as far as normal

Elf Arcanist

You gain proficiency to magic lore, manual dexterity, and history related checks.

Can cast/use scrolls +1 arcane level 1 spell

Deal +2 magic damage +2 arcane cantrips

Advantage to magic items Detect arcane sigils

1/rest, dispel a spell effect below your level

Elf Spellsword

You gain proficiency to agility, crafting, and medicine related checks.

Martial proficiency Can wear heavy armor

Deal +2 melee damage +1 arcane cantrip

Advantage to resist magic Detect arcane sigils

Summon magic blade, -1 RES, lasts 10 min

Dwarf Paragon

Dwarf PARAGONS are the iconic dwarf, clad in heavy armor, blocky head wrapped in thick beard and hair, full of obstinate charisma and ancient cunning. They’re connected deeply to the heart of the earth, both its master and its kin; and capable of overcoming hurdles with patience and skill. Where humans are filled with greed and consumption, dwarves are compelled by the virtue of work itself. Their paragons are filled with a sense of ancient purpose, duty, and an oath to uphold the dwarven way to the best of their ability. Many humans think of dwarf paragons as zealots of a faith which finds hard work and self-betterment holy.

Many paragons strike out from the cloistered halls of their homes in order to acquire knowledge and rare artifacts. Some are the last vestiges of a fallen clan, emboldened by a sense of purpose to right their past folly.

Dwarf Paragon Basics

Starting HP 6 + CON modifier

HP per Level 1d10 + CON modifier

Armor All, shields

Weapon Prof All

Ability Prof CON, WIS

Prof Checks Mountain, athletics, diplomacy, archetype

Dwarf Paragon by Level
Roll Result
1 Starting HP, DWARF equipment
2 You can precisely smell nearby metal
3 Pick an archetype, pick a feature
4 +1 to any ability score
5 Adv to all defensive CON checks
6 +1 to any ability score
7 Pick a new archetype feature
8 +1 to any ability score
9 Beating 5HD+ enemies counts as rest

Dwarf Equipment

Pick armor, shield 4 sundries, max SUP

Pick 3 weapons Dwarf smith’s kit

Dungoneer’s kit Dwarf token

Dwarf Commander

You gain proficiency to tactics, logistics, and inspiration related checks.

Quick: 1 ally +1 AC +1 “free” hench

+4 max retainers Retain. do +2 damage

Advantage to giving orders Adv to ally morale

Ordered retainers gain your +prof bonus

Dwarf Stonewall

You gain proficiency to smithing, monsters, and intimidation related checks.

Ac+Dex mod. w/hvy +1 DUR all items

+6 damage vs. goblins Immune to poison

Quick: Take damage for 1 hit ally in 10’

  • Move: Next hit +1d6 damage (+2d6 at level 9)

Dwarf Delver

You gain proficiency to stealth, ancient lore, and dungeoneering related checks.

Natural climb speed No pen. heavy armor

Auto-detect traps Adv to dungeon lore

Advantage to perception Adv to stealth

10 mins to identify any magic item or door

Halfling Paragon

Halfling PARAGONS view themselves as the heroes, diplomats, and spies for their people. Many halfling communities conjoin with those of the tallfolk, or go out of their way to remain hidden in harsh wilderness or nomadic trails. Paragons seek to influence the world for their people’s benefit, and take it as a high honor worthy of life or death. Halflings are naturally courageous and humble, their paragons impressively so. They have a great wanderlust and curiosity, and wish to learn by doing (and finding their limitations). This causes halfling paragons to find themselves in situations that many would deem unnecessarily risky. Halfling paragons aren’t uncommon, nor do they make up the majority of their people’s adventurers. They often seek out parties of mixed heritage to better their chances at making meaningful connections.

Halfling Paragon Basics

Starting HP 5 + CON modifier

HP per Level 1d8 + CON modifier

Armor Light, shields

Weapon Prof Simple

Ability Prof DEX, CHA

Prof Checks Stealth, haggling, willpower, archetype

Roll Result
1 Starting HP, HALFLING equipment
2 Move in/share bigger creature’s space
3 Pick an archetype, pick a feature
4 +1 to any ability score
5 Immune to any fear or mental effects
6 +1 to any ability score
7 Pick a new archetype feature
8 +1 to any ability score
9 Reroll any natural 1s on any d20 roll


Light armor, shield 5 sundries, max SUP2simple weapons Halfling chef’s kit

Healer’s kit Halfling token


You gain proficiency to burglary, appraisal, and deception related checks.

Adv to stealth Adv vs. locks/traps

Advantage to perception Gain +2 AC in cover

Prof bonus doubled when your RES is full

Full round action: Go invisible for 1 round


You gain proficiency to perception, accuracy, and improvised tools related checks.

Improv thrown weapon Thrown crit 19-20 2x throwable range Advantage to perception

All thrown weapons deal martial damage

Attempt “impossible” feats of throwing


You gain proficiency to inspiration, diplomacy, and insight related checks.

+20’ move speed Adv to retreat

Advantage to roll to return Adv vs. Injury Table

Quick: 1 ally’s check adds your prof too

1/rest, all allies gain 1 free move action

Bioessentialism, Racism, and Colonialism

Classic RPGs are rooted in colonialist, racist, and other bigoted concepts. Going into new areas, killing monsters, and stealing their stuff is largely based on the cruel realities of historical and modern colonial conquest. Of course a GM can change the content of their game, and designers can reinterpret monsters as mindless avatars of chaos rather than sentient foreigners, but many of these hurtful and prejudiced themes are buried deep into the heart of rpgs. Perhaps the most odious is the idea of “race,” and how a PC’s race (largely equated with biological species) has an impact on their capabilities as an adventurer. A PC with orcblood will never be as smart, or as cunning, or as magically powerful as an elf. Whether or not this came from a place of “game balance” or the roots of the hobby as a wargame combat simulator is irrelevant. It’s painful that many people, including one of the designers of Five Torches Deep, can draw parallels between rpgs and the real-world prejudices that they’ve faced throughout their life; that antiquated and bigoted pseudoscience (like eugenics) has a place at their table; that the game they love reinforces these ideas in a harmful, whitewashed, normalized, gleeful way. The implication is that in the rpg world, there are entire species that are less capable than others, and that many of the abilities we ascribe to “civilization” are from a place of genetic bioessentialism rather than from one’s culture or environment. Obviously, this is problematic. Five Torches Deep sadly supports these problematic interpretations and systems. In our attempt to make a game that is compatible and “easy to adopt” for players of the most popular rpg, we looked the other way. Just ignore the problem and it’ll disappear, right? Well, not so much. Part of this supplement addresses these issues in the core design. Anybody can have a high INT or CHA, any culture can come from any species, that one’s journey through life is more defining than their bloodline. That being said, this is a fantasy game, and we believe that it’s fun to explore characters that have supernatural traits. A third arm, magical aura, super strength, or an eidetic memory are fun in play. It is a thin line to walk. We don’t wish to perpetuate any harmful stereotypes. We condemn any form of bioessentialism or prejudice. But just like a superhero can have a unique power, our fantasy heroes can belong to a people that afford them extraordinary abilities. It should be uplifting and provocative, it should make people ask questions at the table. “How does a society of chameleons, giants, or undead function?” But, this inherently creates an issue with the reverse, “How can a sentient species be less intelligent than another?” One way we address this is the adage that ability scores do not represent general capability (only as they pertain to adventure), and that the PC may belong to a group that shares these traits (but this group isn’t necessarily an entire species or culture). This is still a bit of a cop out, and we recognize that.

So what have we done, mechanically, to try to improve this situation while remaining both in the spirit and function of FTD?

  • ANCESTRIES are closest to “races” in an osr context, but given the way that rolling is handled all of the ancestries (except the Colossan, due to their size) have the same range of ability scores.
  • LIFE PATHS completely replace any ability score or numerical benefits of belonging to any given race, ancestry, or whatever else. This means that a PC’s personal history is more meaningful than their culture or biology.
  • LINEAGES are a combination of traits and cultures, both of which can come from any number of sources (nature, nurture, magic, environment, etc). It’s designed as a tool to create your own peoples, clans, or origins.
  • PARAGONS represent an intentional cliché. They’re meant to break the fourth wall and lean into the trope that all elves are a certain way or all dwarves are a certain way, but this is called out explicitly as not the case. (Also, the GM can let other races or ancestries play as a Paragon).

These aren’t foolproof, and it’s very easy to use these tools to slip back into the same prejudices and biases that we’re all guilty of. That being said we hope that this supplement helps some tables play a more open and inclusive game; and be mindful of the intersection of fantasy and real prejudice.