If there was a single word that I’d use to sum up the fey (in the context of a Pathfinder game, at least) it’d be “lame.” Other contenders for the top spot are “suckitude” “craptastic” and “eye-rollingly-boring.” After all, how many cool fey can you really think of? Sure, nymphs and dryads are nice eye-candy, but there aren’t any fey who could honestly be called badass; that distinction goes to the demons, the dragons, the undead, and pretty much every other monster type that isn’t fey.
It’s that perception that Allura Publishing apparently set out to combat with their second monster book – Fey Folio: Clans of the Fey. And if its use of the word twice in the title didn’t clue you in, this book is about fey monsters.
A twenty-seven page PDF, the book’s technical presentation lives up to the high standards that Alluria has set for itself. Full nested bookmarks are included, and everything is easily copied-and-pasted. The book has a table of monsters by Challenge Rating, and continues its use of their own set of symbols to indicate type, terrain, and environment.
Of course, I have to mention the artwork. Alluria’s emphasis on gorgeous interior illustrations is second-to-none among the third-party companies, and this book carries on that tradition. Even beyond the evocative cover, each monster has a full-color illustration from the inimitable Vasilis Zikos, which should tell you just how superb the art here is. Each page is also set on a slightly off-white background, which darkens to a parchment-color at the edges, making it look like the PDF is written on an old book. It’s a great way to color the background without drawing attention to it.
But enough with the technical commentary, what are the book’s monsters like? Well, of the thirteen monsters here, these aren’t your typical fey – or rather, they are. A significant number of these fey (maybe all of them, since I didn’t research the mythology) are taken from actual myths and legends – the dullahan, the erlking, the sylph, etc. Of course, the book doesn’t seem to feel constrained by these restrictions, as it paints a fairly interconnected backstory between various fey. For example, several fey are related through being former servants of the book’s big bad evil guy, the Jack-in-Irons. It’s an effective way to make these creatures seem like members of a society, instead of a group of individual monsters.
It should be noted that almost all of the fey here are meant for lower-level play. The book has a table breaking down the monsters herein by CR, and very few hit the double-digits.
Following this is a helpful, albeit brief, guide of things to keep in mind that make fey distinctive from other monsters. After that, a campaign overview is given, separated into three sections (low-level, mid-level, and high level) regarding the fey trying to free Jack-in-Irons while the PCs attempt to prevent it. A single page of new magic items rounds out the book.
Overall, I found myself surprised with just how good of a job this book did of making the fey seem not just interesting, but rather kickass. Both in terms of presentation and mechanics, most of these creatures seemed like a legitimate threat to any party that encounters them; even the ones that aren’t threatening seem that way by design, rather than a failure on Alluria’s part. I actually could see using these fey in my Pathfinder game, as challenging antagonists no less – that’s the highest compliment that I can give the Fey Folio: it makes the fey frightening again.
[5 of 5 Stars!]