The Little People: A d20 Guide to Fairies

Between gods and mortals…stand a famous race of magical beings.This first supplement for CELTIC AGE examines one of the most beloved and revered classes of creatures in Western culture: the fairy.THE LITTLE PEOPLE breaks them down by region, offering a unique perspective on how fairies differed from place to place.Stats for all the famous ones you know such as Oberon, Puck and the Leprechaun are included as well as a system for creating original fairies of your own.Not some “bold, new vision” of the fey, these are the legends as they were perceived by the people who thought fairies to be real.

 

If you play Dungeons and Dragons, even if you don’t believe fairies are real, I bet there’s a part of you that wishes they did.There is a reason that most games take place in a fantasy world, and not the mundane world of mortgages, jobs, raising children and the other routine tasks that make up life.And if fantasy were real, the most plausible connection is to real world fairies.After all, they can often take the form of normal animals and are naturally invisible.But as well-loved as fairies generally seem to be by D&D hobbyists, the fact is that they don’t really have a home in the game.Sure, there are plenty of fey creatures in the Monster Manual, but they’re not really ‘challenges’ in the traditional sense.While it’s easy to create an adventure around overcoming a giant or a dragon and stealing their treasure, the ‘little people’ require a much less straightforward approach.

 

With that in mind, I was happy to take some time getting to know this sourcebook by Avalanche Press.The book is divided into seven sections.The first describes the generalities of fairies common to all peoples in Western Europe.The next five sections describe regional fairies: English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and Gallic.Finally, the last section provides many of the game mechanics to translate these fairies into play.

Like other Avalanche Press products (particularly Celtic Age), the first section was my personal favorite.While providing a relatively short overview of fairies, it hits many important points, at least in general terms.It addresses the fact that fairies aren’t a substitute for dragons or other monsters in the game and focuses on their unique role in the fantasy world.While it is informative, it is not without its problems.While fairies are presented as a real danger to ‘peasants’ in many folk tales, they don’t seem to ever really threaten a lone warrior, let alone a war band.One suggestion the book offers for characters on the wrong side of fairy morality is a ‘severe pinching’.The consequences are usually as inconsequential as they sound.But in later chapters there are some suggestions that may put some teeth into particular fairies.

In the chapters that detail regional fairies (as well as particular examples), it would do well to note that this resource offers descriptions of the creatures based on fairy tales, and these creatures do not correspond in any way with monsters in the SRD.The hobgoblin in a knee-high sprite and the banshee, while retaining a keening wail, is a CR 3 monster, not the CR 17 as described in the Monster Manual II.While this book is written under the 3.0 rules, the conversion to 3.5 is very easy.None of the fairies described in the book even have DR, further simplifying the process.

Chapters on Regional Fairies try to divide fairies into two general categories – trooping fairies and solitary fairies.As a general rule, trooping fairies are diminutive while solitary fairies are tiny.Trooping fairies are only really called ‘fairies’, with some named individuals described like Titania and Oberon.These trooping fairies are also associated with the Seelie court.The general idea is that these fairies live in community with each other and obey a king or other figure.While they may vary from individual to individual, they all use a base template that includes minor variations from region to region.

Solitary fairies, in contrast, are usually larger, uglier, and often more of a nuisance.This is where you’ll find the leprechaun, for instance, as well as others.While these fairies may live in society, they are most often encountered individually, which is the basis for this division.Typically these fairies use a template for tiny fairies, again, with variations from region to region.

Only three fairies described in this book differ from these categories enough to warrant their own description.The others all use the same template, which is customizable to a degree by choosing ‘fairy powers’.While I applaud the authors for their attempt to make easy to use rules for coming up with a variety of fairies, the fact is that one fairy is going to be very much like another.The generic ‘fairy’ replaces the pixie, the sprite, the grig and a host of others.

After presenting the templates that can be modified to create each of the fairies examined in this book (as well as any others that a DM may wish to create that follow the general pattern), the book details a few fairy specific feats and some fairy magical items.As for whether you’ll see fairy PCs to take advantage, I highly doubt it.The Level Equivalents range from five to eight.While it is unclear if that is in addition to Hit Dice or including Racial HD (which I suspect is the case), this may be too steep for the abilities granted.In a true Celtic Age campaign, with an emphasis on melee combat, a fairy will certainly struggle.The lack of traps and complex mechanical locks also obviates the role for a fairy rogue, and the high Level Adjustment doesn’t bode well for a casting character.In a standard campaign, the fairies as presented here may see more extensive, but still limited, use.

Of course, that begs the question of how and why a fairy would join with a group of adventurers in the first place.The book, unfortunately, doesn’t offer any suggestions in that regard.It appears that there is no real reason that a fairy would go adventuring, or at least, not for very long.And as for a fairy being the source of an adventure, the options are again very limited.While fairies might steal a baby and replace with a changeling, or kidnap a beautiful mortal to marry, these kinds of ‘steal the princess’ plots seldom directly threaten or engage the players the way a direct action against them would.While there is a fair bit information on fairies and the tales from which they’re based, there still isn’t a lot here tobring them from the sidelines into a starring role.

 

The Little People - A d20 Guide to Fairies

The Little People, A Celtic Age Sourcebook; A d20 Guide to Fairies

Author: John R. Phythyon, Jr.

Publisher: Avalanche Press

Publish Date: 12/2002

ISBN: 193209106-8

Pages: 64

Rating:Rating

Retail Price: $19.99