Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur…happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr.
It’s easy sometimes to forget that the Tarnished Souk is set on the Plane of Dreams, as many of its characters have little to do with dreaming specifically. Smiles-Under-the-Bed, by contrast, has everything to do with being a creature of dreams, and exploits the nature of the Dream Plane in numerous ways…as she herself has been exploited.
Smiles’ opening does a surprisingly good job of describing her character in a single page. Not ironically, she comes across as exactly what she is – a fierce creature that has been hardened from an eternity of rejection. An exceptionally dangerous ambush predator, Smiles devours the dreams (and the physical forms) of those she preys upon, being a literal nightmare herself. However, she is also a dream-scarred creature, having lost almost all of her Hope (her dearest dream). Portrayed properly, Smiles-Under-the-Bed is the embodiment of a tragic villain.
Like all members of the Faces of the Tarnished Souk line, Smiles is an advanced creature with several templates stacked onto her, along with a mish-mash of other new materials. A tribute to the triumph of the Open Game License, Smiles weighs in at a heavy CR 19 with four different templates, along with two traits and a new magic item. Two additional stat blocks, showing Smiles at CRs 13 and 8, make her useful against lower-level parties.
The materials used to construct Smiles are given separately for your ease of use. The two traits (one of which is from Coliseum Morpheuon) showcase her nature as both a creature that has lost her Hope, and which gains strength from frightening others. Likewise, her new magic item allows her to make herself invisible in Cheshire cat-like ways. The four new templates round out the book.
Overall, I quite liked Smiles-Under-the-Bed, both for her tragic but villainous nature as well as how well she plays to the dreaming rules. Whereas most members of the Tarnished Souk can be fairly easy to use anywhere, Smiles may take a bit more effort to convert to a different location; it’s still easily done, but her emphasis on attacking dreams (both literal and metaphorical) could require some tweaking. She’s perfect for the Coliseum Morpheuon, however. This is a kitty with nine lives’ worth of torment to inflict.
[5 of 5 Stars!]