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D&D 5E Spitballing anansi as a PC race....

Casimir Liber

Explorer
So I read Children of TIme by Adrian Tchaikovsky, and I loved how they developed the Portians (industrious sentient spiders), and figured the way they were described really enriched an idea floating around of Anansi as a PC race (which someone has begun here

Anyway keen to throw this out here and get ideas - all input appreciated (and yes I know I'm gonna have to rethink ability penalties...)

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Anansi are an intelligent and highly inquisitive race of spider-like beings. They resemble jumping spiders that are about the size of a large wombat, with eight large eyes. Mostly of dark brown, grey or banded colours, rare individuals can have blue, white, green or red stripes or spots.

They use their front four legs (with barbed hairs) to hold onto and manipulate objects. They live in small communities in remote jungles or other places hard to access by others. Often, anansi adventurers go exploring - these are mostly wizards and rogues, and their encounters with humans give rise to the anansi folklore tales, where credulous humans saw them as demons or gods. Anansi themselves are overwhelmingly nonreligious and sceptical. Generally ignored by higher powers and allowed to go about their business.

Due to Lolth, drow, driders and evil giant spiders, many races have a fear and hatred of all spiders, and hence anansi will often be met with hostility when encountering them. This has led to them generally being evasive and elusive, as they are smaller than many humanoids and not as able in physical combat.

They communicate via a combination of tapping, waving arms and clicking of fangs. Some can understand humanoid languages but are unable to vocalise. They may employ humanoids as translators or use telepathic spells.

Anansi are carnivorous. As with other spiders, they must eat liquefied animals or blood. This can pose problems interacting with other intelligent races. Some enslave or kill races, others make deals to drink blood in return for money, and yet others use magic to modify their diet.

Anansi can be of any alignment.

Stats - Int +1 Dex + 1 Cha -2.

Anansi are commonly rogues or wizards.

Traits:

Spider climb: Anansi can move up, down, and across vertical surfaces and ceilings with 6 of their 8 legs. Gains Advantage on all saves for climbing. Climbing speed is half walking speed.

Mindshroud. Their arachnid brains are so different to human thinking, that anansi gain Immunity to emotion and mind reading. Insight checks to guess your intentions or sincerity have disadvantage
Scepticism. Highly sceptical and analytical, anansi gain Advantage to all emotion-based saves (charm/fear/illusion), disadvantages to attacks using same against the subject.
 

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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Cha -2 is only to those who may not like spiders or their ways. But to other Anansi, I would think some anansi could be quite Charismatic.

Spiders tend to have eyes literally in the back of their head. Maybe cool to give them some sort of feat like that...
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Due to Lolth, drow, driders and evil giant spiders, many races have a fear and hatred of all spiders, and hence anansi will often be met with hostility when encountering them. This has led to them generally being evasive and elusive, as they are smaller than many humanoids and not as able in physical combat.
I'd rather not give DMs carte blanche to make players suffer for playing this fun new race.
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Anansi is a figure from West African folklore, carried to the New World by captured slaves, so he shows up in African American and Caribbean folklore as well. Just want to flag this because some people may have concerns that this is a case of cultural appropriation - especially if you don't acknowledge the origins of the myth at all.

Anansi - Wikipedia

Also, the fact that they are carnivorous shouldn't inherently cause issues for them in dealing with other intelligent races, almost all of whom are also carnivorous. Can't they just eat animals like everyone else? Liquification as a method of meat preparation isn't any more or less off-putting than creating sausages or haggis. They wouldn't need to "magically alter their diet."
 
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MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
Stats - Int +1 Dex + 1 Cha -2.

in 5e, stats are usual +2 to one stat +1 to another, or occasionally +1 to three. There were some early "monster races" that had penalties, but those have all been ret-conned so they no longer have stat penalties, and I think for good reason. I'd drop the -2 Charisma and boost increase one of the other stats to a +2.
Spider climb: Anansi can move up, down, and across vertical surfaces and ceilings with 6 of their 8 legs. Gains Advantage on all saves for climbing. Climbing speed is half walking speed.

Mindshroud. Their arachnid brains are so different to human thinking, that anansi gain Immunity to emotion and mind reading. Insight checks to guess your intentions or sincerity have disadvantage
Scepticism. Highly sceptical and analytical, anansi gain Advantage to all emotion-based saves (charm/fear/illusion), disadvantages to attacks using same against the subject.
Of these spider climbing is the most useful. The other two are pretty situational. I've played a lot of 5e and cannot remember when mind reading came up. There have been emotional attacks, especially fear, but there still pretty situational.

Overall I feel like these are under powered. I'd look at tabaxi, since they also have a climb speed. They climb faster (I'm assuming Anansi base is 30, so half is 15 but it doesn't say). Plus they have other perks like feline agility and proficiency with Stealth and Perception that I've found generally more useful.

One thing I'd suggest is some kind of web spinning. If I were playing an spider race, I'd definitely want to make some webs.

Anansi is a figure from West African folklore, carried to the New World by captured slaves, so he shows up in African American and Caribbean folklore as well. Just want to flag this because some people may have concerns that this is a case of cultural appropriation - especially if you don't acknowledge the origins of the myth at all.
I'd second this, espcially since the creatures you describe don't seem to reflect the Anasi of mythology at all. He'd have a very high Charisma for starters.
 

ART!

Hero
I think Anansi is often depicted as having some human features, but regardless: to avoid trouble I suggest just calling the race something else.

I've designed a bunch of races, so I know how hard it is to get it "right" - especially when you think you have a real cool idea: those need the most iterations to get right, because you'll tend to make them over-powered.

I agree that the Mindshroud is not quite right, and I think Skepticism is, too. Use Dwarven Resilience as a model, and give them advantage on saves against charm effects (and/or psychic effects? I'm at work and can't think properly) and resistance to psychic damage. That pretty much covers the Skepticism, too.

EDIT: Also, yes - drop the -2 CHA.
 
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Casimir Liber

Explorer
I appreciate (and am ruminating on) all the input. Regarding the relationship to the folkloric anansi, my idea was that people of the forests had legends of talking spiders which were actually this race (so a misinterpretation sort of)

I like the idea they have limitations to overcome - hence they can only tap out a morse-code-like language but can learn to understand common, so what they will do is have hirelings as translators/muscle - so I envisage troops of anansi with goliath or some other tough warrior-types who can understand and translate the anansi language. Immediately gives me something to work with when devising encounters.

Spider digestive systems need liquefied food - hence another idea that gives me some devices to play with.

All input on psychic side is welcome too....
 

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