Race Review: Half-farspawn (Miłosz Gawęcki): 4 Stars
Half-farspawn are tainted by the warped and alien powers of the Far Realm. They are the result of a vile union be-tween abnormal beings (be them aberrations or even Elder Evils) and humanoids. Sometimes, an unfortunate happenstance, such as the opening of a multidimensional portal or passing of a comet, can influence a yet unborn child. Touched by the unnatural, half-farspawn are often used to push evil machinations further or to act as guardians of secrets. However, some of them are able to fight against their heritage, maintaining their own goals and beliefs.
The half-farspawn is a new player race based on classic tropes of the eldritch horrors of the far realms, created by Miłosz Gawęcki. The document includes about five pages of content, including art, lore, flavor guidance, racial features, five subraces, and even a trio of racial feats. The race is quite thoroughly developed, giving you everything you need to make a tentacle friend for your next party, though it feels slightly crowded and over-developed at times.
This race doesn’t just hint at a far realm taint, it embraces the theme and really dives in—exactly what somebody interested in a space-tentacle adventurer would want. The base race offers a Constitution boost and the subraces offer a variety of other boosts, thus avoiding the trap of pigeonholing the race into a particular type of adventurer. Although many folks are moving away from racial ability score improvements, it’s still basically a requirement for a published race, so it’s nice to see it done well.
The core race also cuts to the chase with those sweet, sweet tentacles and not much else, giving you the most iconic element of the chosen theme and letting the subraces fill in the rest. Those subraces (as well as the feats) are packed with flavor-filled features to drive home your alien weirdness, with everything from poisonous breath to exploding into tentacles.
Outside of mechanics, there’s also plenty of lore and flavor in the document. Indeed, it even goes so far as to include a few random tables for establishing details about your alien nature, reminiscent of the flavor tables included with some of the subclasses in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
What didn’t work:
The content here is just… a lot. I don’t mean it’s overpowered, I mean there’s just so much going on. Right off the bat there’s the fact that there are a whopping five (the document says four, but there are five) subraces; when you consider that the baseline in the Player’s Handbook is two (for those races which even have subraces at all), that’s already quite a bit of stuff to wade through for a one-time decision at the start of your game.
It’s not inherently bad to offer lots of options, but the options themselves are also a bit dense, each having wordy and complicated abilities and in some cases even modifying base features. The half-broodspawn replaces tentacles with icy claws and has a long list of features. The half-deepspawn has a tentacle-splosion with a complicated and unintuitive implementation. The half-hivespawn has not one but two major abilities, each with its own way of mixing healing and damage. The half-kaorti has a “Material Fatigue” ability requiring you to roll Constitution saving throws every single time somebody smacks you (until it sticks), meaning you’ll almost always be exhausted, but on the rare occasion you’re not, you have to remember to roll extra dice off-turn. The half-starspawn has an ability that requires you to pay attention to which enemies fail saving throws while near you.
It seems like these subraces exist to acknowledge a variety of source material, but thorough representation seems to have come at the expense of elegant design. By the time you finish establishing your racial abilities—especially if you also pick up one of the feats—before you’ve even picked your class you’ve already got a creature as complicated as some fully-built 2nd-level characters. The phrase “less is more” comes to mind here.
The main flaw here is a bit of “content bloat” with a lot of stuff to wade through to make and play a half-farspawn character. That said, Cthulhu junkies will love the flavor dripping off of every inch of this product, and although there are some minor balance concerns here and there, it’s nothing game-breaking.
This is a four-star product: flavorful and evocative, reasonably balanced, but there’s a lot to wrap your head around in order to use it. If you don’t mind that slight barrier, then this is a great way to get some tentacally goodness into your games.
About the author:
Jacob S Kellogg is a lifelong nerd with a passion for tabletop game design. You can check out his bestselling D&D content here.