Review – Racial Ecologies: Living Dolls (for Pathfinder)

25 June, 2014

Racial Ecologies: Living Dolls is a fun source book, while they do not necessarily have a place in all campaign, there are enough options here that a GM should be able to find a way to use one if they want.  Equally a short “all toys” campaign would be rather fun using these rules.  While there are a few odd bits and one important oversight in the rules proved, overall it is a strong, if niche, addition to the races available for Pathfinder.

Racial Ecologies: Living Dolls is a new “race” for Pathfinder and an unusual one, not a race of flesh and blood but a constructed race animated by magic of various sorts, toys by a child’s love, dolls by dark magic, or other combinations.

Wooden toys, marionettes, stuffed animals, porcelain dolls and cloth dolls are all variants built off of the same basic rules.  They are “constructed” which means that they suffer the limitation of a construct (no healing, cannot be raised), along with vulnerability to fire, with only some of the advantages, gaining bonuses against disease, poison and similar effects which leads to some potentially odd situations (how does a blood disease manifest on a bloodless being or a nerve toxin punish a creature without nerves?).  Each Living Doll is further customized with four Construction Points which can be used to buy an animation type (Child’s Love, Dark Arts, Lost Soul or Magic Surge are the choices, all of which imply intriguing back stories) or other minor abilities based on construction or origin.

To further support the new race there are: nine new feats, all building nicely off of the established themes.  Seven racial traits, including the amusing Shift the Blame, which gives bonuses for doing exactly that.  Five new items, all toys used as weapons, knucklebones and marbles to impede your foes, rubber balls as thrown weapons (which probably should do non-lethal damage), wooden swords and the probably too effective yo-yo (and certainly too heavy, a five-pound yo-yo?) and three new magic items.  Four archetypes, mother bear (barbarian), toy soldier (fighter), possessed doll (oracle) and voodoo doll (witch) are presented along with rocking horse, an archetype/template for the animal companion of a living doll, complete the product.

The one thing that needed to be addressed for the living dolls to really work in a campaign is, how do they “heal”?  By their description they “cannot be healed through normal, divine healing or channeled energy.”  The repair object rules do not apply very well so it would have been nice to have had this addressed in the rules rather than forcing a GM to solve it on their own.  Apart from that, Living Dolls is an excellent addition to the options available for Pathfinder races.

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


One comment

  1. I would love to see more for Living Dolls. Supplemental materials, a adventure would be awesome. And make the add on materials, a part of the product, don’t make me buy something new and then have 2 separate pdfs. If Fat Goblin did this, I could see the product being one of my favorite ones.

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