Resource Review: Children of the Fey (Steven A Wallace Jr.): 4.5 Stars
She turned a corner, making her way to the back of a small farmers’ cottage. I was right behind her. Or, I thought I was. When I turned that corner after her I saw nothing at all. Naught but a fox watching me from the farmer’s wheat field as the sun rose over the cottage.
I’ve been intrigued by the fey ever since I started playing D&D. If I think about, I’ve been obsessed with them most of my life—from stories of the Sidhe in fantasy books, to Disney stories and Shakespeare, in nearly every culture throughout history, the Fey have been present in some sense. No wonder they hold such captivating mystery for us. Add the fact that, in my opinion, the official 5e materials don’t include a lot of information about the fey, and this compendium becomes a great addition to any DM’s collection.
Children of the Fey is a compendium of three fey races, and nine subraces, for adventurers to play and also includes a significant bestiary (the whole second half) to aid the DM in quickly using these fey as NPCs. The artwork by Adela Quiles is beautifully done and helps bring the characters and races to life. For each subrace there are pages of history and advice on how to roleplay. All taken together, it is a relatively useful, beautiful, and interesting composition of fey races.
When I first read through these races I was worried they may be overpowered. This is a common concern among most new content, and because the author told me they were mostly not playtested, I decided to run them through Musicus‘ race analysis guide. This is by no means perfect, but I will include my results as a way of showing these are relatively balanced races, which I believe should be included as options in campaigns.
The average score for these 3 subraces is 6.8, which puts them about on par with the Elf races. The three subraces are Adlet, Kitsune, and Mimi. While I personally don’t find Adlet very intriguing, the Mimi is interesting and the Kitsune (this author’s interpretation of a “nine tails”) would be fun to both play and encounter.
The average score for these 3 subraces is 6.3, which is about as powerful as the Half-Elf race. The three subraces are Alseid, Ghillie, and Tikolshe. These are the fey born of the material realm, and as such, are probably the most likely to be accepted into a campaign. All three of these fey have incredibly unique aspects (deer like, child like, and water based), but very greatly in their power. I personally think the Tikolshe, the fey with a swim speed, is the most interesting, though I really like all three of these options.
The average score for these three subraces is 7.3, which makes them among the most powerful and comparable to the Dwarven races. As the name suggests, they are “tree fey” and include the Dryad, Kodama, and the Tani. The most interesting, and perhaps the most overpowered, is the Kodami–an actual walking tree with the power to curse its enemies upon death. The Tani is unique, a banana-dressed fruit tree spirit, and would provide a lot of unique and exciting role play opportunities for its player.
Even if a DM didn’t want to include these races as playable character options, the lore of the first chapter combined with the stat blocks of the second chapter, provide an valuable tool for any DM who wants to create a rich Fey setting with little effort or preparation.
Each subrace in the first chapter has 3 stat blocks in the bestiary (ranging from general to specialized) for a total of 27 options for NPCs. The creatures are well-done and seemed balanced, range from CR 1/2 to 18, and while primarily neutral, could easily be use to both help and hinder a party of adventurers. Even without player options, the bestiary can naturally bring life to the lore and history of the first chapter.
Though the writing tends to be well edited from a spelling/typo/grammar standpoint, and the writing is general good and interesting, it’s not beautiful or stunning prose. While the content of the lore and history adds a lot to the piece, in places it suffers from poor word choice or wordiness which occasionally distracts from the readability. Furthermore, the work could use some layout help, as there are some pages with completely blank sides or “wonky” paragraph positions. While it doesn’t detract from the quality of its content or usefulness, such things are usually not issues in products of this price point. There is also no table of contents, which I prefer to see in a project of this length, and which I think would add a nice touch to this particular compendium.
While I question a few of the choices the author made in content (giving the Kodama the ability to curse, for example), I appreciate the overall balance, utility, and flavor of all of these classes.
I give this compendium a total rating of 4.5 Stars with a slight ding for the layout and stylistic issues in comparison to its price point. Even so, I am rating this as a Must Have* product for anyone who wants to include a Fey component into their campaigns. If you’re not interested in including fey elements into your campaign, it’s probably a hard pass.
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*This rating was given before knowing the final price of the product, and makes no claims as to an appropriate price. That decision must be left to the buyer.