Cover artwork of the Ultimate Faeries Bestiary

Ultimate Faeries Provides Encyclopedic Fae Knowledge

November 22, 2022 1:18 PM

By: Tyler Chancey

 

In the world of fantasy TTRPGs, the use of faeries is generally under-appreciated. While there have been adventures and productions in the land of the Fair Folk – the Dimension20 campaign A Court of Fey and Flowers and D&D's The Wild Beyond The Witchlight adventure both spring to mind – it is overshadowed by more traditional fare. Thankfully, this very particular niche is being filled in spectacularly by Legendary Games' newest supplement: Ultimate Faeries.

In the very introduction of the Ultimate Faeries Bestiary, the developers at Legendary Games made their intentions clear. This book would not just be about themes, aesthetics, or getting into pedantry about the various courts and politics of faerie creatures. Instead, the book would be encyclopedic in approach, covering a wide stretch of creatures that are fey-like or fey-adjacent. If it's mischievious or duplicitous in nature or is connected to something existential like thoughts or dreams, you will find it in this book.

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With that in mind, the shear volume of material in the bestiary is impressive. Almost immediately, the book does a great job breaking down all of the different ways the fey can greatly improve any kind of adventure, reinforcing their connections to emotion and arcane rules.The Alpluachra for example can give unexpected adventurers a relentless appetite, but reap all the benefits of the food they eat. The Amadan is a malicious living curse that sows misfortune and despair, devastating small towns. The helpful Huldra enjoy the outdoors but can become defensive or hostile when questioned about their strange backs or mysterious tales. There are even entries for the Jabberwock, the Frumious Bandersnatch, and the most enduring subject of children's bedtime stories: The Bogeyman.

Artwork of the Animate Aria from Ultimate Faeries
A physical manifestation of a musical performance. I have no notes.

While the majority of these entries do draw from classic Celtic and Germanic myth, Ultimate Faeries does extend its reach into more esoteric territory. There's an entire entry on the hierarchy of Azatas, the celestial beings of the plane of Elysium. While these are characterized as servants or agents of divine gods, they also have a connection to various elements and even a nature of radical freedom or pure expression. On the flip side, there is an entry on demons, usually ones created by tragic circumstances like the death of a broken heart or neglect (remember to do Session 0s!).

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Finally, the breadth of material in Ultimate Faeries all but guarantees you will find something to use in your campaign. In addition to more lighthearted entries such as Atomies, Brownies, or Odovois, there are also more sinister entries. The Vodenjak are ferrymen who attempt to trick their passengers out of their very souls. The Horzithoth can bring the nightmares of children into physical reality. Finally, there is the Corpse Candle, an almost Yokai-like vengeful spirit that attempts to drown its victims in rivers and lakes. There are even a healthy mix of deadly challenges for high level parties such as Nightmare Dragons, Mindwyrms, Crone Queens, and the regal might of Erlkings and Hamadryads.

Even with these direct references, I still haven't scratched the surface of what is in the Ultimate Faeries Bestiary. Legendary Games have done a great job pulling from many different cultural frames of reference and have done a solid job representing them in TTRPG statblocks. The entire time I was flipping through the book, my mind raced with possibilities of how to use them in an adventure. The different contexts that I could introduce these threats and throw some impish curveballs at my players. That is the mark of a great TTRPG supplement.

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Artwork of the Manitou from Ultimate Faeries
This did raise an eyebrow as I was reading.

If there is one element of the book that I am worried about, it mostly comes down to how the book may be used. While all of the creatures in the book are perfectly fine in a purely academic clinical context, there isn't a lot of suggestions for how they can be used in a story hook. This can lead to misrepresenting the creature in question, lessening its impact. A good example would be just casually using the statblock of a Manitou without realizing its roots in Native American folklore, leading to tensions at the table.

Thankfully, that is not all that Ultimate Faeries has to offer. While I was given a glimpse at what is in the Bestiary, it is only one small part of the project. The official Kickstarter for the campaign, which you can still support here until November 30, also includes Ultimate Faeries Campaigns, a book all about how to bring the cryptic beguiling tricksters of myth into your adventure. Furthermore, the supplements are available not just for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, but for Pathfinder Second Edition as well. Whether or not your are populating your own Domain of Desire or wanting to add some whimsy to your next journey in Golarion, these are books you should seek out.


The copy of Ultimate Faeries Bestiary used in this preview was provided by Legendary Games.