Sometimes there’s an idea so awesome in its simplicity, you find yourself saying “now why didn’t I think of that?” That was the reaction I had to Little Red Goblin Games’s Grey Alien Racial Guide, a free mini-supplement for adding the “classic” grey alien to your Pathfinder game.
While the idea might initially seem like an odd one – after all, the Greys are usually thought of as the province of science fiction, travelling in technological spaceships and performing scientific experiments – it’s not that hard to see them in a fantasy setting. Leaving aside the issues that come with spaceships in a fantasy game, your average Pathfinder world has so many sentient species, many of them with origins in other planes of existence, that it’s not really disruptive to add the Greys into the mix.
The book is only four pages long (with one page for the OGL, though there’s no declaration of OGC or PI), it does a fairly good job of explaining why there might be Greys on your world. For example, many of them are colonists there to explore and study the world for several generations. Likewise, they’ve visited enough world and gathered enough data to know about the existence of gods and magic, so there’s no real issue with Grey clerics or wizards.
The Grey racial write-up is nicely balanced, giving them no greater or worse penalties than other standard races while still preserving a unique flavor for them, such as denoting how they’re used to fighting space-born monstrosities, and so gain a bonus to damaging aberrations. As a bonus, this notes their Race Point total (from the Advanced Race Guide).
Several favored class bonuses are presented, and while most of them were quite good (e.g. fractional bonuses to alchemist discoveries known) others were odd. For example, why gain fractional bonuses to conjuration (teleportation) spells for the wizard class? Given how few of those spells there are, I’m not sure that’s the best choice for a favored class bonus. Or how the fighter gains a bonus to damage with firearms…and yet there’s no favored class listing for gunslingers.
Two new class archetypes round out the book. The first is the cleric of the Supreme Ideal. This is mentioned in the flavor text as being the Grey version of the standard cleric; since they can’t quite bring themselves to worship deities, the closest they can come is to worship an idea, which is what this archetype represents. However, there’s little actual text regarding what this means in a practical context – as it is, the major changes are a restriction on their domains, and that their channeling grants a short-lived untyped bonus (or penalty) to an ability score(!). I’m not sure if that’s too powerful or not, though I suspect that the severe limit on its duration, and that it has to be the same score for everyone, will help out there.
The Star Explorer ranger archetype doesn’t have quite as much exposition, sadly. In fact, it’s little more than its mechanical changes, which require taking the planes as a favored terrain, and switching medium armor proficiency for firearms proficiency. Needless to say, much more could have been done here.
Overall, the central idea of this product, bringing the Greys into your high fantasy Pathfinder campaign, is one that’s handled surprisingly well. The exposition stumbles a little, and the mechanics could use some tightening, but overall this is an excellent starting point for bringing a well-known but rarely-used race into your game. Given that it’s free, there’s really no reason not to pick this up and add these bug-eyed little guys to your game world.