TPK Games recently released Dwellers in Dream, a book of 5 new fey races for the Pathfinder role playing game. Readers may recognize the name from my recent interview with Brian Berg, TPK Games CEO. Brian provided me with a copy of their new book and asked me to share my thoughts on it, so without further ado, here’s the review!
They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but this cover is gorgeous. Two mysterious fey creatures on a lush, swampy forest scene by a creek, motes of fairy dust scintillating in the hazy twilight. It makes you want to step into the picture, and with this quality you almost believe you can!
Diving in to the book, there are 5 new races: The Briarborn, a race of plant-like creatures that heal rapidly and is easily my personal favorite of the lot. The Crimbil, a race of child snatching fey. The Glimmerkin, a luminescent, cold and very long-lived race. The True Changelings, the real fey shape-shifters. And, finally, the Sylfaen, protectors of nature that resemble elves with cat-like ears. The book totals 78 pages, not including front and back covers, and contains 3 pages of advertising. The table of contents covers 2 pages.
Each race is outlined in great detail, with sections including Introduction, Physical Description, Society, Relations, Alignment and Religion, Adventurers, Names, Player Characters, Standard Racial Abilities, Defense Abilities, Feat and Skill Abilities, Magical Abilities, Sense Abilities, Alternate Abilities, Weaknesses, Racial Archetypes, Racial Feats, Traits, Racial Lore, Additional Options, Settlements, and lastly NPCs. As a Pathfinder System Reference Document, this is top-notch. These are extensively detailed races with everything a player or GM will need from a random starting age table to new unique magical items pertaining to the race in question.
The inclusion of quality illustrations (black and white grey-scale) is a huge plus for me. The layout and design of the entire package is very well done with high production values, which is really just a fancy way of saying this book looks really really cool. There are nice designs in the margins, an easily readable font with a background texture that adds flavor but doesn’t distract. With lots of touches like the border design at the footer that highlights the page numbers, it’s obvious that TPK Games really put some effort into this product.
The writing itself is well done, for the most part. I really appreciate the bits of fiction and quotes from NPCs relating their experiences with these races. The work at the very beginning of the book is engaging and interesting, providing the imagination with a lot to chew on. These background pieces really serve to inspire the player or GM and make them want to play a character of one of these races. The Briarborn, Sylfaen and Glimmerkin are particularly intriguing. The theme of protection of the wilds is a favorite plot hook of mine anyway, and the fey connection to that is well illustrated here. The only disappointment I can find, and this is purely subjective, is the section on the Crimbil. The story behind it is weak, but I see what the author was trying to do. Tying in the reference to the laughter of children (in Peter Pan, mentioned in the Intro) and the tales that fill our real world with legends of the fey, this particular section feels pretty wonky and out of place. It is fine on its own merits, but feels like it was written for a different game aimed at a younger audience. Perhaps this is intentional, to provide “something for everyone”, but it doesn’t suit me and isn’t what I think of when I think of TPK Games. Basically, I don’t think it fits the brand. Of course, your mileage may vary, and even if it doesn’t the other races and the loads of content included easily make this product worth the price ($9.99 USD).
Overall, I find Dwellers in Dream to be an awesome product with races that will definitely be spicing up a campaign world of mine! I’ve found very little to dislike and what I did find may simply be my own stylistic preference. I found minimal typos and editing flubs, nothing that would affect my use of the product. If you’re a GM especially, this would be a great book to pull out of your stash for players that might like a new PC race to play with. (What I would do is use the unused PC races as NPCs/Villains in my campaign setting!)
Note: I had planned to do some Play-testing but coordinating when that could happen would have pushed back this review. I’ll be sure to post an update when that can happen.