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Review – Once Upon A Time: A Guide to Fairy Tales (for Pathfinder)

24 July, 2011

Once Upon the Time is inspirational with some useful ideas, unfortunately it is hampered by a poor conversion to the Pathfinder rule set.  I hope that a second edition with a cleaned up and  improved set of rules for Pathfinder will be released soon.

Once Upon A Time: A Guide to Fairy Tales for Pathfinder is a 46-page PDF (36 pages if you remove the cover, OGL and ads) written by David Caffee and published by Avalon Games.

The layout is most standard, double column (interspaced with single column) and easy to read, unfortunately it lacks both a table of contents and index though it is still short enough that things should be easy enough to find.  The interior art is black and white and suited to the product’s theme.

This is a book about bringing elements of fairy tales into gaming, this version providing rules to be used with the Pathfinder system.  It begins with an introduction to fairy tales (not originally for children alone) and then moves into the structure of the tales and how to apply that to a game structure.

A random table of fifty fairy tail plots seeds and twenty random encounters provide inspiration for adventures.  Four useful characters -evil witch, good witch, seducer, strong person- are statted out but not very well with several omissions and errors (the good witch is statted as a cleric but is listed as a sorcerer for example).

Next there are new skills -detective work, puzzles and riddles, and rhyming- which to fit the Pathfinder paradigm really should have been folding into existing skills, the later two would have been excellent additions to Perform for example.  There are four new feats, which are nicely thematic for fairy tail games but would be more of a challenge for other settings.

Six advance/prestige classes follow (it mixes and matches those terms) which while brilliant thematically -fair maiden, gallant hero- are just the same version from the OGL version of this product.  The character skills have not even been converted to the Pathfinder versions.  These classes need to be completely rewritten and available to take as base classes to achieve what they need to achieve for the implied setting.

The monsters are fun and interesting, including a big bad wolf and a wicked trader (ala rumplestiltskin), but poorly converted to Pathfinder.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThruRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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