Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Smiles-Under-the-Bed (PFRPG) PDF (based on
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"Whatever she's laughing at, it can't be good."
Nightmares plague the minds of dreamers, but in the impossible realm of Dream these walking terrors stalk the streets as well. That hideous toothy smile gleaming from the shadows of an alley belongs to a creature truly vile, eager to catch and kill your dreams like another plump rat. Smiles-Under-the-Bed is a pest and a predator of the highest order, intent on gobbling anyone unlucky enough to cross her path, all the while giggling at some great cosmic joke that nobody else finds funny.
This product provides Game Masters with details on a fearsome feline found amongst the Faces of the Tarnished Souk, ready for immediate use in any campaign—but especially for use within the Coliseum Morpheuon. Each entry features ingenious stat-blocks from multiple OGL sources, history, motivation, secrets, and insight into the NPC's most carefully guarded dreams, along with complete game statistics for low, middle, and high levels of play.
Within you will find: Smiles-Under-the-Bed, a nightmare jester designed to plague and pester
The latest installment of RiP's FoTS-series is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving 8 pages of content, so let's check it out!
Following my format for the FoTS-series, I'll start off with the lowest CR: AT CR 8, Smiles is only an advanced, nightmare laughing beast greymalkin and provides the following additional content: 2 traits related to dreaming, a ring that grants it the power to partially become invisible (concealment) and multiple templates: The Dream creature (CR +2), the Apex creature (CR +2), Laughing Beast ( CR +1) and the Nightmare Creature (Cr +1) templates.
At CR 13, we get advanced dream eater laughing beast nightmare greymalkin, while at CR 19 Smiles has become an apex-predator indeed. As has become the default assumption of the series, Smiles comes with dreamburning information and a how-to-use sidebar. Her cover-artwork is supremely creepy. It should be noted that no additional quick-template variants as in some of the installments are provided - one incarnation per CR.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the artworks apart from the cover are stock. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor bummer. I was slightly bummed that the creature comes without the mini-template modifications to further customize the creature.
All right, I'll come out and say it: I'm a sucker for Alice. I bought the Norton critical, annotated edition and analyzed the books up and down. And the Cheshire cat is in my opinion one of the most creepy, disturbing creatures in fiction. Smiles-under-the-bed, though, is even worse, combining the partial invisibility with a keen intellect, madness-inducing abilities and a humor ripped straight from my favorite super-villain ever: If I had to describe the creature, I'd settle for "Cheshire cat meets the Joker". This combination is plain awesome and of all the FoTS-characters so far, my personal favorite. Add tro that the tragic angle of a creature created by centuries of rejection and the option to actually feel sorry for it and you have a hunter that becomes even more dangerous! In spite of perhaps being not the most complex of the FoTS-characters, nor the most versatile, the build is AWESOME and should guarantee that the thing that lurks under your bed, its insane humor and its demented plan to reach for godhood should not be vanquished too easily. I love this installment. It's glorious. Matt Banach's first solo-venture in the series is a mind-blowing success - 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval.
Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur…happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr.
It’s easy sometimes to forget that the Tarnished Souk is set on the Plane of Dreams, as many of its characters have little to do with dreaming specifically. Smiles-Under-the-Bed, by contrast, has everything to do with being a creature of dreams, and exploits the nature of the Dream Plane in numerous ways…as she herself has been exploited.
Smiles’ opening does a surprisingly good job of describing her character in a single page. Not ironically, she comes across as exactly what she is – a fierce creature that has been hardened from an eternity of rejection. An exceptionally dangerous ambush predator, Smiles devours the dreams (and the physical forms) of those she preys upon, being a literal nightmare herself. However, she is also a dream-scarred creature, having lost almost all of her Hope (her dearest dream). Portrayed properly, Smiles-Under-the-Bed is the embodiment of a tragic villain.
Like all members of the Faces of the Tarnished Souk line, Smiles is an advanced creature with several templates stacked onto her, along with a mish-mash of other new materials. A tribute to the triumph of the Open Game License, Smiles weighs in at a heavy CR 19 with four different templates, along with two traits and a new magic item. Two additional stat blocks, showing Smiles at CRs 13 and 8, make her useful against lower-level parties.
The materials used to construct Smiles are given separately for your ease of use. The two traits (one of which is from Coliseum Morpheuon) showcase her nature as both a creature that has lost her Hope, and which gains strength from frightening others. Likewise, her new magic item allows her to make herself invisible in Cheshire cat-like ways. The four new templates round out the book.
Overall, I quite liked Smiles-Under-the-Bed, both for her tragic but villainous nature as well as how well she plays to the dreaming rules. Whereas most members of the Tarnished Souk can be fairly easy to use anywhere, Smiles may take a bit more effort to convert to a different location; it’s still easily done, but her emphasis on attacking dreams (both literal and metaphorical) could require some tweaking. She’s perfect for the Coliseum Morpheuon, however. This is a kitty with nine lives’ worth of torment to inflict.