This time I’m reviewing Dwellers in Dream by TPK Games. It contains five new Fey player races and is Pathfinder compatible.
I’m not gonna give too much detail on the five races as I dislike giving away too much in a review, but I’ll mention some highlights. In their respective section, each race has a physical description, a picture, a brief overview of their society, their relations to other races, alignments & religion, examples of male and female names, abilities (racial, defense, etc…), traits and much more. There is A LOT of good, quality information here.
A race of plant-like humanoids. Described as “nature’s protectors,” they grow up from the ground itself and can have many wild looks as expected. I wasn’t expecting much out of the Briarborn, “plant people” creatures usually don’t do it for me, but I was pleasantly surprised here. A nice, well-rounded race, I particularly like the racial feats “Fists of Amber” (claws or fists coated in amber allowing you to strike with the power of nature) and “Photosynthetic Healing” (heal faster in direct sunlight). I also found the concept that you can spend a week “rooted” like an actual tree to gain certain advantages to be a really cool concept.
Described as goblin-blooded Fey and snatchers of children. I found it odd I felt a little bad for the Crimbil. They being essentially slaves to the Unseelie Court, yet they are a race that are known for kidnapping babies. I can’t determine if I am supposed to hate them or feel bad for them or both. Naming a racial feat, “Smells Like Children” either after the Marilyn Manson EP, or possibly it’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang inspiration, fits the Crimbil, but it breaks the fantasy a bit.
An advanced race of elves with elongated, single-colored eyes, the Glimmerkin almost seem to take an OCD approach to combat. It’s quick, clean, and efficient as possible. I liked that a lot as it seems to suit them well. I would suggest their ability to communicate with each other by giving off a radiant glow would get in the way of some stealth, but then again, could also help them create distractions they may need. I also found it curious that the feat “Proximity Sense” and Weaknesses of “Vulnerability to Sonic Damage” could make then a double for Daredevil, but again, it fits the character concept as a whole, adding a level of coolness to the Glimmerkin.
The True Changeling are shape-shifting Fey, able to shape-shift with “uncanny precision.” They are as replacements for creatures and/or children stolen by the Fey. Described as “almost always Chaotic of alignment” this race seems like the most fun to play out of the five, but also could be the one that is most often abused by the “Mr. I’m-Not-Evil-I’m-Just-Chaotic” douchebag some groups have. The new Racial Feat “Comfortable Liar” (you can take 10 on Bluff checks even under stress or distractions) seems like a bit overkill at first, but when you take into consideration the very nature of the race, it fits quite well.
While the True Changelings seem like the most fun to play, the Sylfaen are definitely the most interesting. They are a race of created by the Fey to serve as protectors and soldiers. You do not want to be a logger who has come to cut down trees in lands protected by the Sylfaen. What I find most fascinating is the fact that they are not slaves in the strictest sense, nor bound, but they are born with the need to protect the lands they call home. You could make the argument that the Fey just created them as slaves without the chains, but the Sylfaen are following their own free will. Are you a slave if you follow your free will if the free will was determined by someone else? I’ve been coming back to this thought for a few days now and don’t have a definitive answer.
Easily the best thing about this product is that even though it is dense with information, it is very easy to read and is never, ever boring. To manage to entertain while imparting information is a delicate balancing act and it is done masterfully here. With one exception (“A Good Day To Pie” which I’ll talk about below), the writing is very well done.
All of the content is hyperlinked to the d20pfsrd.com website, I.E. if you see the word “monk”, it’s a link to the page for monks on d20pfsrd.com. It seems a bit unnecessary to see a word like “fighter” linked 2x in the same paragraph or a bit odd having the word “identify” linked to the spell Identify when it is actiually being used as a verb. I’m not sure on the particulars of how that linking works, but it only helps, never hinders, and doesn’t get in the way. I thought this was a great addition to the PDF.
There are two short fiction pieces that are interesting, mostly because there are only two, one for the Briarborn and one for the Crimbil. That stuck out as odd to me. Why isn’t there a fiction piece for all five races?
The fiction piece for the Crimbil, A Good Day to Pie, really struck a false chord with me. It read less like a good idea come to fruition, but more like the author had a line he thought was clever and was going to get it in at all costs and write a story around it. And he was not content to just stick it in the title, so it was shoved it into the story as well. Crimbil or not, puns just feel out of place in this sourcebook. The story itself seemed average at best to me, but your mileage may vary.
My review copy was a PDF from DriveThreuRPG. I read it on my laptop for a bit and it looked great. I swapped over to a retina display iPad and it was stunning. Simply gorgeous.
There are some minor editing errors: A random comma, a missing space, a missing parenthesis. In one of the short fiction section a proper name is spelled one way and then misspelled later in the same paragraph. Races are capitalized in some places and not others; Briarborn appears to always be Briarborn, while Sylfaen is sometimes sylfaen. There is one section where the opening sentence is repeated. The amount of errors is small, and none of them make anything harder to understand, but there were enough of them for me to notice.
Which brings me to the humor topic. Overall, this sourcebook is a pretty serious book. The humor I’ve seen tends to stick out for this reason, and not in a good way. A few examples from the Additional Fey Resources section:
Verdant Dew – a potent phosphorescent yellow-green elixir. Sound familiar? One dose for cat’s grace, two for haste, three for both. And you’ll become fatigued (sugar crash, anyone?) when the effects are over. I just found it a bit too “cute” in a book that is 99% serious.
Twilight Armor and Twilight Blade – Let me give you the description for Twilight Armor: “A shimmering field of dancing motes and stardust swirls surrounds the spellcaster.” I could be wrong, but it sounds to me like someone is sparkling. I actually like them as written, but I’d have preferred to see them in a book is a little less serious.
Score: 4.5 out of 5 (DrivethruRPG doesn't allow 1/2 stars and it was more deserving of 5 than 4)
The missing .5 comes from the humor I felt was out of place and from the feeling this could have used another pass through the editing phase. That aside, this is another brilliant product from TPK Games and should not be missed.
[5 of 5 Stars!]