Pathfinder’s Soul of the Fey
by Miya Kressin
Capricious; given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior. Emotional. Determined. Willful. Spontaneous. Those are all attributes Paizo’s Pathfinder associates with fey.
Having played my fair share of characters from most of the primary classes as well as prestige classes and custom designed thanks to an awesome DM in a home campaign, I have been drawn again and again to sorcerers. I revel in magic and crave the wildness of the fey creatures. When I first saw the beta-testing rule set for Pathfinder, my gamer heart let out a fangirl squee over the fey bloodline for sorcerers. I finally had a home for the mixed-breed humans I wanted to play while avoiding the cliché elven mage on paper that you pretend is some fairy warlock.
A sorcerer is the scion of a magical bloodline. While remaining similar to the standard Dungeons and Dragons sorceress traits of having a lesser spell selection, the flexibility of the class and now the flavors within that have made it more desirous to play. With heritage choices such as Aberrant and Elemental, or even Undead, I’ve had several party members scoff at my choice of Fey.
Sure, adding a class skill of knowledge (nature) to a sorcerer can come in handy when you don’t have a druid or ranger in the party, but taking skills outside of the standard class list is not often in your best interests. However, I have found for my characters, that it’s the lesser utilized skills taken for flavor instead of how useful they will be that truly make your character history well-rounded. Having fey on paper does not mean much if you cannot show it.
Spells are where a player can start thinking of what type of fey his or her character has in its heritage. A dryad in your family tree could have you leaning towards choosing entangle or tree stride as your bonus spell at their appropriate levels instead of avoiding them in favor of crutches like magic missile. Maybe a jinkin played a trick on one of your ancestors and mixed its blood into your heritage, leaving you happiest when causing trouble with hideous laughter—a spell originated as Tasha’s Hideous Laughter by Gary Gygax at the whim of a child who sent him a note written in crayon asking him to make a spell involving laughter.
Pixies like to leave their foes laughing, distracting them while they attack. Individually, the pixie is far from fearsome, but a targeted spell can leave you swearing at their damage reduction unless you have a cold iron weapon. That ability is saved for you until you near epic level games, though I have enjoyed a home campaign where the DM house-ruled that the fey sorcerer had minor resistance earlier on in exchange for cold iron sensitivity.
You stay sensitive to luck changes, however.
No matter which obnoxious pugwampi your party comes across before encountering its unluck aura, you fey heritage will not save you. You still have to reroll saves, attacks, and ability checks, taking the lower of the two scores while you are within its radius effect. Easily hidden and able to scurry over and around terrain one would normally avoid, these small fey are no match for more powerful members of their subtype, but they are still an obnoxious foe even at higher levels.
Evil dungeon masters might toss in a few pugwami while high level parties battle the Cold Riders to increase the challenge rating. These fallen fey princes are chaotic evil creatures found in wintry reaches where they serve the queen of Irrisen. While not often seen outside of their frozen realm, it is easy to imagine a storyline of a priestess of Sarenrae –the Everlight—or Desna—the goddess of freedom, luck, and dreams—trying to rescue one of these fallen princes and somehow save him from his fate. *jots down a new plot bunny*
While a character could be accused of having a negative intelligence mod to tackle a Cold Rider early on, at first level, a fey blooded sorcerer can reduce its opponent to taking a single move action when he succeeds on a melee touch attack to cast Laughing Touch. Your character goes on to become light on its feet when walking through thick undergrowth without being damaged by thorns, and then can even go invisible levels later. Fey tricks abound with these bloodline powers before you even factor in abilities that allow you an increase in compulsory sub school spells and at-will rerolling of any caster level checks to overcome spell resistance.
Willful and determined, compulsive and impulsive, fey sorcerers are as different from one another as fey NPCs and monsters are. Pathfinder legends relate tales that some early fey creatures may have become the first hags, which in turn mixed with humanoids to make changelings. These racial fey come in three varieties. Annis hags mating with a human male create the Hulking Changelings, ones who are more formidable physically. They are stronger in melee than their cousins.
The Green Widows, half-green hags, are innately fond of tangled forests surrounding swamps where they can lure in potential mates using their bonus to bluff for those possibly sexually attracted to the character. A Green Widow bard or priestess dedicated to Calistria would make a great choice at exemplifying the heritage while also leaving room to make the character its own.
The third Changeling, a Sea Lung child of a sea hag and humanoid, has an increased ability at holding its breath under water. While this may not seem that strong of a character trait if you’re in the middle of a desert, if your campaign is out on the open sea, a Sea Lung rogue or monk could make an amazing pirate.
While the playable races grant a character’s fey nature more and more control over its magic, I feel it is the player who becomes more supernatural. It is as much our connection to nature or another place that creates an amazing story as it is the character we pretend to be.
Are you quick and willful? Or perhaps you have a thing for diplomatic persuasion and trickery. Maybe your stealth has better uses than a sneak attack. Fey magic calls to you, tugging you from other paths you could take, and spins you down the path of arcane secrets boiling in your blood, whispering of the power you could hold if you just surrender.
At the end of the day—or character creation—it comes down to one decision. When you stat yourself out to twentieth level, do you have (or want to have) the Soul of the Fey?
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