?Fringe Races: Elves? is a 48 page pdf by Khan?s Press. This book is design to breakdown the traditional elf as portrayed in many d20 games and return it to a more traditional role. This is done be rewriting the race not as another type of humanoid but instead remaking them as fey.
The product is divided into 5 chapters the first being a discussion of elves in general, the second a selection of variant classes, the third a mix of elven abilities, the fourth having new spells and the final chapter possessing a number of animal companions and mounts.
Chapter 1 ? The chapter provides a brief discussion of the realms in which fey elves are said to live. It provides detail on forest realms, faerie mound realms, underwater realms, and cavernous realms the elves might live in. It discusses the system of government used by the elves and touches on the concepts of the seelie and unseelie courts. There are several new languages in this chapter such as beast, stone, water, and others which though purchased as languages act more like equivalent spell-like ability. I believe this is done to reinforce the fey elves? otherworldliness when compare to other races (only elves may learn these languages). Other aspects elven life such as travel, entertainment, relationships, religion and death are all detailed. There is no distinction made on these topic for the 4 elven races in this book, it is written as though the 4 are identical in these aspects.
The real crunch of this chapter lies in the discussion of the elven races. The author notes that,
??, you might feel that they are unbalanced when in groups with other races. However, the classes favored by the elves discourage wearing heavy armor, and elves in combat will likely be hit more frequently.?
Regardless, of this assertion by the author, the elves presented in this section are all more powerful by than a standard race and should carry a level adjustment. Just because a race favors a particular class doesn?t mean that a player will select those races.
Light Elf ? possesses all the features of the elf in the PHB plus DR 5/cold iron, wild empathy and a fey type (meaning spells that affect humanoids are now useless).
Dark Elf ? The text clearly indicates they are not drow and more of antiheroes, but they still live underground are light sensitive and generally look like drow. They possess most of the features of the PHB elf, DR5/cold iron, darkvision, a frightful presences and light blindness.
Gray Elf ? a half-light, half-dark elf, possesses most the abilities of the elf in the MM, bonuses to Hide and Move Silently, DR 5/cold iron, wild empathy and light blindness.
Half-Elves ? actually another race and not human/elf hybrid. They are Small plus the elf from the PHB and DR 5/cold iron, wild empathy and bonuses to Move Silently and Hide.
Each race has a 4 favoured classes (one typical and access to the three introduced in this book).
Chapter 2 ? Introduces 3 variant classes for elven characters only. First is the elven forerunner (variant ranger) which has essentially the same abilities with some restrictions and new abilities (archery focus is a must, favoured enemies are lost) and instead the elven forerunner has an initiative bonus +1/5 levels, may add wisdom to initiative, and gains spell-like abilities drawn from the ranger list. The second class is the elven minstrel (variant bard) which loses bardic knowledge, and it its place gains additional bardic music effects and the two weapon fighting chain of feats. Lastly is the elven sorcerer (actually a druid variant) which loses the resistances of the druid (nature?s lure, venom immunity, et cetera) and gains the ability to sprout a tail for swimming or wings for flying a limited number of times a day.
Chapter 3 ? Bring back the notion that elves do not need to sleep and instead may mediate for 4 hours. During these meditations the elf is able to achieve a number of spell-like effects through the expenditure of experience. Access to one of these abilities becomes available to the elf at levels 5,10,15,20,? regardless of class. Next the concept of an elven masterwork item is introduced, which acts like a normal masterwork item except it grants double the benefit at double the cost. One of the more interesting, yet most likely unbalanced, items in this section is the elf-shot arrows. This is a collection of 5 specialty arrows that can be made with a Craft (alchemy) check. Three of the arrows carry spell-like effects (a love charm, confusion, paralysis) and a priced well under what making a magical arrow of this type would cost. The last are a disease arrow and a venom arrow that deals 1d6 Con/1d6 Con. Closing out this chapter are a collection of feats some are mundane like Dexterous Climber and others are quite cinematic like Piercing Shot (allowing you to potentially hit two opponents with one arrow). For the most part the feats look balanced though Elven Racial Proficiency is effectively Weapon Focus (x3 to x6) as it grants that bonus to all elven weapons.
Chapter 4 ? Introduces nine new spells primarily for bards, druids and rangers. The spells themselves are thematic and seem appropriate for their level and yet somewhat derivative. For instance, the spell forest armor is essentially a Drd/Rgr version of mage armour, Bow of Arrows is greater magic weapon for a bow (creating magical arrows), and storm shield is a electricity variant of fire shield. Again there nothing wrong with this but it just doesn?t seem to break any new ground.
Chapter 5 ? Introduces animal companions and mounts favoured by the elven fey. These include Faerie Horses, Faerie Ponies, Faerie Hounds, Reindeer, and Flying Reindeer. Yes, Flying Reindeer.
That said the mechanics on the monster stats are solid except for the Flying Reindeer which seem to have an unlisted cold subtype.
The creatures themselves differ only from their mundane variety because of their enhanced intelligence and because they are magical beasts. This may present a problem from GMs, because they are not animals and don?t have animal intelligence so technically they should be considered cohorts instead of animal companions.
<b>LIKED</b>: Clear OGC declaration
Interesting selection of feats.
Elf-shot is an interesting mechanic
Two versions (Print and Screen)<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: There are balance issues with the races and classes as written.
Spells don?t break any new ground
Animal companions don?t? really break any new ground.
There is not enough societal information to truly run four unique elven races here.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>
[3 of 5 Stars!]