Faerie Bargains (PFRPG) PDF

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The magic and mystery of the fey is on display in Faerie Bargains! From Rumpelstiltskin to Rapunzel, fairy tales, myths, and legends all over the world are replete with tales of bargains struck with the sublime and sometimes sinister magical creatures from the realms beyond. Long life, wealth beyond imagining, true love, or whatever your heart’s desire all wrapped up in a promise and a price that seems but a trifle, until the bargain comes due and the fair folk come to collect. Faerie Bargains provides you a richly detailed system for using this classic fantasy trope in your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaign. You can design your own faerie bargains or use one of the over 40 sample bargains provided, from bounty of the wilds and unseen assistants to woven wealth, silent metamorphosis, fey queen’s ransom, and one with the land! Each bargain grants a benefit once payment is made, of course, but you’ll also find rules for hidden conditions, escape clauses, tokens, and more, along with how to research and negotiate bargains with different kinds of fey and unique magical items you might obtain in a faerie bargain or make with fey assistance, like the cauldron of autumnal bounty and sword of vernal light. Whether your heroes want to trade their dreams for the charm of magic, a gift of blood for accursed mercy, or their sanity itself for inspired perfection, you’ll find an amazing array of mystical covenants that bring fantastic new flavor to the fey in your game! Grab this 32-page Pathfinder Roleplaying Game accessory today and Make Your Game Legendary!

If you love emphasizing the magic and majesty of the fey in your campaign, don't miss the other installments in our fey trilogy, Faerie Mysteries and Faerie Passions!

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This supplement clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, ½ a page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Disclaimer: While I have joined Legendary Games as lead developer, I have no stake in this product. It was created prior to me joining the team, and it was provided with the intent of getting the usual fair and harsh treatment. I was not involved in the creation of this product in any shape, way or form, and I have nothing to gain from this review.

All right, that out of the way, what are faerie bargains? They are a means to bind a fey unavoidably to the bargain’s terms, and serve as a means to reward the mortal associated with the bargain. As such, they basically represent a reward mechanism that is not tied to gear. Something I generally tend to enjoy, as it helps combat the dreaded Christmas-Tree-syndrome of high-level characters decked out in ridiculous amounts of magic items. A bargain’s terms must be spoken or sung to the mortal in a language that the mortal understands, and magical manipulation of the target is expressively forbidden. The shortest type of faerie bargain lasts for a moon cycle, but most last so long as to make their duration irrelevant for the purpose of a campaign. Each such bargain has, in tradition with real world lore, an escape clause. If a fey is slain, the bargain is undone, but once it returns to life, the bargain is reinstated – considering how fey tend to reincarnate, this means that slaying targets may not be the wisest choice.

Activation of a faerie bargain’s benefits is, unless otherwise noted, a spell-like ability that provokes AoOs. Emulated spells use the character’s level as CL, while those not based on spells use ½ character level for the purpose of determining their potency. Such abilities also default to a standard action to activate. The mechanic base for access to these, should you want one, would be the Faerie Bargainer monster feat, which also represents the mechanics for spontaneous creation of bargains. The Faerie Friend feat lets you make +2 faerie bargains, as well as providing a +2 bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive vs. fey. Said bonuses also apply to faerie bargain-related skill checks. The normal cap of faerie bargains per character is btw. 1 + Charisma modifier.

A faerie bargain is codified in a statblock of sorts: They have a CR value and XP rating – this is awarded for fully researching and undoing the faerie bargain. Nice: Novice GMs get a note here that gives carte blanche to prevent XP-cheesing by PCs. Bargains have a magical aura, a payment, and note the faerie creature likely to be able to grant this boon. Some bargains are tied to an object, which is called “token” – these only apply their benefits when the token is worn. And yes, the pdf does codify interaction with AoE effects, sundering et al.

Faerie bargains obviously provide benefits, and have associated skill checks that need to be met to research the existence of such bargains. The DC is stated as a complexity rating, with knowledge points (kp) and milestones provided – in short, we have nice library usage synergy. If you’re familiar with the standard research rules, you’ll know how to use these. The pdf does go beyond that and provides intricate guidelines for GMs to create their own faerie bargains, including a table that correlates temporary and permanent negative levels, conditions that are hard to remove (by e.g. a greater restoration or even only by a wish and analogue power!) with gp values, making sure that WBL guidelines can be properly maintained. Similarly, CR-modifiers are explained and collected, and using faerie bargains as rewards is properly accounted for as well. A handy table that lists them by CR and with their treasure equivalent makes usage of the bargains provided swift and painless, should you be not inclined to make your own, at least from the get-go.

To sum it up: We get a means of rewarding players that is somewhat akin to Mór Games’ emergences, save that its mechanical guidelines are more tightly codified, putting more emphasis on reward structures beyond the roleplaying-relevant context. The faerie bargains, no surprise here, also are themed around fey and mythology.

The lion’s share of the pdf is devoted to a TON of faerie bargains, so even if the DIY-bargain-crafting guidelines do not appeal to you, you’ll get more than enough such bargains to run whole campaigns (yes, plural intended!) featuring them. The intriguing component about them, though, is that they genuinely matter. Faerie bargains are not simply numerical boosts. Getting vermin scent from a mite, grig, gruen etc. will allow you to influence vermin with Handle Animal, for example. It’s also a good example to note the benefits of doing your research prior to jumping into a bargain: In the case of this example, we have a -4 penalty to Perception and Sense Motive versus faerie creatures (deviation from type fey is definitely intended here) and saves versus vermin abilities…and suddenly, we do have a good reason to think twice. The bargain also exemplifies why a PC may want to take this – being able to Handle Animal vermin can be a huge boon for roleplaying, perhaps even a plot point…but it is not a boost that every PC will necessary want to undergo.

And this is EXACTLY how faerie bargains should work. Sure, you can get illusion tutelage from e.g. a nixie – a strand of the fey’s hair, and bam, you can use veil or invisibility thrice before the bargain ends, but become more susceptible to the fey…oh, and talking about *how* you got the ability ends the bargain! That is a classic trope and considering the curiosity of players, using this one as the aftermath of a 1-on-1 session can make for super interesting interactions. Want to learn some basic magics? Well, you can – you just have to pay with an emotional memory. Since memory and identity are inextricably entwined, this can make for very intriguing roleplaying scenarios as well. With the right bargain, you can deal yourself damage and anoint a rare wood with your blood, creating a lesser simulacrum…but this double may be controlled by the fey. Wanna get out of this bargain? For the low price of handing the fey a child of your species to adopt, you can…

See what I meant regarding the fact that these resonate with real life mythology? For a bit of madness, you can have the blood rage universal monster ability; you can have a frozen heart…and there are some that are downright genius. Rhymer’s truth would be one of these: This bargain strips you of the ability to lie. If you utter a factual statement that *may* be true, you have a pretty high chance that you can’t finish the sentence. This is frickin’ intrigue gold. If you pay with your shadow, you can make your kingdom (yep, kingdom-building synergy included!) help recover hit points from resting and magical healing! It also improves the benefits of holiday edicts and settlement stats are improved…but the faerie does get a pretty potent ability…namely to assume your form! Once more, the potential is amazing. And yes, there are multiple such bargains included.

With the curse of spilled blood, being reduced below 13 hit points (of course – love this!) targeting attackers with ill omen. Now, I wouldn’t be me sans things to complain about – in hallows of rulership, there is a “See page XXX” reference left. …Yeah, I don’t have much to complain about these bargains. Amazing: Fey Queen’s Ransom will take 20 hexes, with at least 200 BP from your kingdom, replacing it with featureless wasteland…but you do gain your mythic tier and may even pay more to grant this power to allies. This is the stuff tales of villains…or of desperate gambits, are made of.

The pdf does contain more than these bargains – we also get 6 magic items associated with these bargains: A magical cauldron, a green girdle of invincibility that allows you to become the green knight of myth…and yes, the items often are associated with themes of seasonal courts. Did I mention the stone throw of destiny? Yeah, the items feel potent and distinctly fey. The rules provided are precise and tight.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the Kingmaker-plugins, and the pdf features a blend of previously used and new full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

David N. Ross is an author who manages something few designers achieve: He exhibits an impressive mastery and precision regarding the quality of his crunch, and supplements this with thoroughly novel and cool themes. In a more modern parlance: He’s got both A-game math and crunch design skills, and knows how to clad them in roleplaying-relevant components. This is not just a dry collection of numerical boons, it is a true ROLEplaying supplement, one suffused with the themes and tropes of real world mythology, contextualized through the lens of Pathfinder. Moreover, the bargains are pretty much tailor-made to represent things in Kingmaker and allow for unique responses and narrative tricks. Both PCs and GMs are certain to adore these. In case you haven’t noticed: I absolutely ADORE this supplement. It is precise, potent and genuinely intriguing. It is one of those underappreciated gems that folks overlook since it doesn’t explicitly state “here there be magic items” – and honestly, if you have so far skipped this one, get it. It is an inspired little gem of a book.

My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


Review of Faerie Bargains

5/5

The fey are some of my favorite monsters in Pathfinder. The way the game plays with the myths behind various creatures to make something both familiar and strange usually works very well. However, something that seems oddly missing from the Pathfinder game are the deals people once made with the fey. You know – 'I'll give you fine crops if you let me take your child away' and so forth. The bargains that grant a great reward, but demand a terrible price.

Well, now someone did. This PDF consists of 32 pages, with eight pages devoted to material such as the cover, table of contents, GL, etc, and twenty-four for all the let's make a deal goodness. It starts with an explanation of what fey bargains are in both setting and game terms. Basically, they happen when a fey uses its innate magic to offer a little something to a mortal who pleased them, or did them a favor, or sometimes when it's forced on them by a more powerful creature. We get told who can make these bargains – fey, unsurprisingly, as well as beings like hags, linnorms, unicorns, and others with links to the realm of the fey. There are limits on how many bargains a mortal can have or a fey can offer, though we get feats to aid with both of these limits.

Any gift a mortal gets can be used as a spell-like ability, usually. Of course there are a few things your new fey buddy won't tell you, and that some research can uncover. We get DCs and just how many Knowledge Points (as in Ultimate Intrigue's research rules) you need to score before you find out just how to break the bargain, as well as the little surprises that come along with the bargain free of charge. I like the latter idea; it feels so 'mythic'. And when you do research, you find both random encounters getting nastier and random kingdom events becoming less pleasant as the fey display their annoyance at your nosiness. Fey bargains are not to be lightly entered into!

The next section details how fey bargains are written up in game terms, along with their base CR, their value as treasure, and whatever price they demand from you. Oh yes, these aren't free. Some cost simple treasure, some cost life force or health in the form of permanent HP loss or ability score damage or drain, or even memories – and their associated class levels. Still want to deal?

Lastly comes a list of sample bargains and all related game information, ranging in CR from ½ – 21. They cover a wide gamut. You can deal with mites to gain power over vermin at the mere cost of a chunk of your flesh. You can learn to cast spells from cantrips to the mightiest of invocations at the cost of some of your magical power and of making the fey bargainer more powerful. You can enrich your land, learn healing abilities from unicorns, or gain wealth from the fey via the old spin-straw-into-gold bit. So what if it costs your first born? And yes, you break the bargain by learning their true name. Hello there, Rumpelstiltskin!

One thing I especially like about this is the number of bargains that work with kingdom building rules. You can enrich your land, bringing in better harvests at the price of leaving a hex otherwise untouched by civilization. Yes, the Goodman's Croft in Pathfinder! You can defend yourself and your realm against curses or magical manipulations, make your land and people feel youthful (granting increased healing and morale bonuses, improving the bonuses of certain buildings and land developments, etc). And all it costs is your shadow. Which allows the fey to take your form when they want. What trouble could that possibly cause? You can make a bargain that enriches the land, but only as long as the ruler stays healthy. And the fey can make one simple request of you that must be obeyed. Your troops and armies can become mightier in battle but they can't confront or even notice the fey, and more.

One I truly love allows the mortal to bargain away everyone with less than 10 hit dice within twelve miles, sending them all into a state of fugue within the fey realms. This is an odd but definitely useful way to save people from a disaster. Of course, the fey can summon them to serve itself whenever it wants. Until you can trick or convince it to express regret for doing so. Just think of the story possibilities with this one!

You can get personal benefits too. Aside from the ones already mentioned, you can be granted the gift of shapeshifting at the price of your identity. A ruler can gain mythic powers for giving parts of their kingdom away – land, cities, farms, people and all. The more you lose, the more power you get. Until someone kills the fey. Who has now gained as many mythic ranks as the mortal bargainer. What a way to make a mythic villain to oppose the PCs! Or gain a voice fit to sing with the angels at the low price of your sanity. Really, the ideas these give players and GMs alike are amazing.

The last part is a few magic items, some granted in fey bargains. Some aid individuals, like the green girdle of invulnerability. It grants incredible healing powers and allows the wearer to replace severed limbs. Yes, the Green Knight. Or the stone throne of destiny, allowing a ruler seated in it certain luck bonuses. Four particular items are best used by rulers, as they aid the realm or its armies. The cauldron of autumnal bounty, the staff of summer's might, the stone of wintry charm, and the sword of vernal light are all waiting for brave and foolish rulers willing to make the proper sacrifice for them.

This is an amazing piece of work, granting new options for desperate or foolish players, and new toys to GMs who want to see what the PCs will do for a little power boost. The listed bargains and the prices for them all have the tone of real fey mythology, but done in ways that make them workable in the game. And with some tinkering here and there they can also work as new genie wishes, fiendish bargains, and the like. Five stars and my firm recommendation for anyone and everyone!


Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Your heroes will get more than they bargained for when they make a deal with the fey!


Like what you get at Wayfair.com or Overstock.com? ;)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

No way man, WAY better than that stuff!


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Maaaan! This sounds ultra cool!


I've been reading through Faerie Mysteries this past week. I may have to add this one to the queue.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

It's a neat system and fits in very well with what you find in Faerie Mysteries.


I've got this one and while I have yet to do a review, I will say that it's an amazing piece of work. The mechanics of the bargains catch the 'feel' of dealings with the fae from real-world myth.

Any chance you'll ever do a similar product for dealings with fiends or even outsiders in general?


Just did the review, and I truly love all the little bits of real-world myth that were turned into game worthy material while keeping their mythic feel. The woven wealth bargain and how to escape it, the various gifts of knowledge or skill at the cost of sanity or life, the green girdle of invulnerability... Yeah, this one's a keeper.


Congratulations to Faerie Bargains for hitting the #4 spot on the top ten list of 'top downloads from other companies'! Now if it can just get a few more reviews.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

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