Four Horsemen Present: Gruesome Fey
The second Gruesome monsters-supplement (for a handy list, use the Gruesome-tag on my homepage) clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So what are gruesome monsters? The simple explanation is: They’re monsters that had a template added that represent a type of design I personally absolutely adore: Basically, the templates have a goal and that is to reward smart players. Taking a cue from the best of dark fantasy and horror gaming, the templates provided here make the creatures not only more lethal, they also add a psychological component via the Shock Value to them, representing the potential for PCs being intimidated/frightened by the sheer wrongness of the creatures presented. Furthermore, the templates may be lethal, yes, but they also come with an Achilles heel that rewards PCs acting smart and doing their legwork (meaning that knowledge DC-modifiers can glean crucial information – the modifiers and knowledge are part of the template) – mind you, you can ignore these components of the templates, sure…but why would you? The rewarding expression on player faces when they deal with such a foe courtesy of their smarts is priceless and represents one of the most cherished aspects in roleplaying gaming…at least in my opinion. It should also be noted that each such template comes with a sample creature that already has the template applied for your convenience.
So, obviously, we’re all about the weird here, not the kind, friendly fey. The first template, clocking in at CR+2, would be the Believer, and oh boy, these guys just beg for complex, odd narratives: You see, the template allows the respective fey to create illusions that remain, infused with a sense of reality and worse, gaining potency when they’re believed….but the sword cuts both ways: Disbelieving the lies and dream-reality woven can result in the fey losing power over the PCs…and they have yet another personality quirk, but I’m not spoiling that one. This is basically a perfect representation of the concept of superior fey glamours I’ve been championing in my home-game…and boy, do I love this template for it!
The second template would be a mythic one, the Exiled Lord (CR +1/2 mythic rank) is just as BRILLIANT: Basically, these fey are fey lords and ladies wandering the world, establishing their fey demesnes out there…and in their realm, they are nigh unstoppable foes with truly devastating options at their beck and call…but they also are subject to their own rules and laws and, taking a cue from real-world mythology, are subject to the compulsion to accept wagers, allowing for smart PCs to outwit truly superior foes far beyond their capability to defeat. BRILLIANT!
The third template herein would be the CR+2 Faded. Taking the awesome notion of gnomish blight one step further, the faded are losing their colors, seeking to drain magic and draining the spirit and vitality from their victims, stealing their very colors for disturbing visuals indeed.
At CR+2, Macabre fey, clothed in shadows while moving, make for perfect modifications of Kobold Press’ more disturbing shadow fey: With movement that is plain *WRONG* they may also sing a song of sorrow and play on mortals via their pain akin to a virtuoso – including the disturbing requirement to utter truly disturbing things when faced with mortals: “Your scalp is so gorgeous…it would make for a great shawl…” *shudder*
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games’ beautiful grimoire-style full-color two-column standard and the pdf sports thematically-fitting stock-art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.
Stephen Rowe’s gruesome fey are literally all killer, no filler: With each and every template providing a thoroughly inspired template that does something different, this little supplement is simply inspired in all the right ways. This is a superb little book and belongs into the toolkit folder of every self-respecting GM who has even a minor penchant for smart, inspired foes, for lethal templates…and for games that reward smarts. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for this glorious little book.