This is the version of Faerie I use in my game. I made fey a much more important part of my campaign world. Elves, gnomes, goblins and firbolgs are all fey-blooded in my world, for example (though not considered full fey by the fey themselves). I went with the "season courts" idea, along with the traditional Seelie and Unseelie courts as well. Not a lot of new ground here, I admit...just a retelling of the classic themes.
As with my version of the Sidhe (in the Monsters and Races section), I used a lot of sources to make this. Lot's of WoD Changeling and Exalted, a good bit of Vertigo's Sandman and Books of Magic, quite a few 3.0 fey source books (4 or 5 different ones...don't have my books handy right now to reference).
The Realms of Faerie:
Faerie is the homeland of all fey, whether they were born there or not. It is a land of soft lights and strange, cruel desires, the home of powerful beings that care little for the realities of mere mortals. The geography of Faerie is a dizzying concept for the mortal mind to understand. It is easiest to think of Faerie as actually several realms clustered together. The four main realms are those of the Seasonal Dance; Eternal Spring, Eternal Summer, Eternal Autumn, and Eternal Winter. Each of these seasonal realms has the same general geographic layout. If a range of mountains is in one realm, the same mountains will exist in the other three as well. Indeed, if one uses a teleportation spell to travel between the realms, it almost appears as if the surrounding realm were shifting from one season to another. Just as the seasonal realms embody certain parts of the year, they each also embody a different part of the day. Eternal Spring, for example, has a morning that stretches on and on, though its mid-day, afternoon and night seem to pass rather quickly.
Other realms include The Sky, The Ocean, The Wilds, The Shadowlands, The Underground, The Eternal Sands, and The Faerie Court. Of these other realms, only The Shadowlands retains the same general geography of the seasonal lands, though it also exhibits a greater degree of variance from the four realms than they do amongst themselves. Night and day function in these other realms as they do in the mortal world.
Navigating in Faerie isn’t so much a matter of moving physically (though that is an important first step), but of desiring to arrive at a particular destination, and knowing that destination well. One could wander forever in a single realm if one never felt a particular desire to leave that realm. A fey that wishes to travel from Eternal Autumn to Eternal Winter would head in a “winterly” direction. Mortal visitors to this realm often have a difficult time grasping this concept. It is also more difficult (though not impossible) to travel against the wheel of the seasons. If you want to go from Eternal Summer to Eternal Spring, you would do best to travel first to Eternal Autumn, then through Eternal Winter, to arrive at your destination.
Different rules apply to travel to, from, and through the non-seasonal realms. The Ocean and The Sky touch on all realms, except The Underground...which also reaches to all other realms. The Shadowlands, in particular, can be a very effective short cut, as they reach every single realm, but a miscalculation in navigation can get a traveler lost for a very, very long time. The Wilds is probably the most ‘distant’ of the realms of Faerie, nearly a separate far realm in its own right.
Eternal Spring: The rolling hills and grassy meadows of Eternal Spring are filled year-round with freshly sprouted greenery and the subtle perfume of constantly blossoming flowers. Each blossom is so beautiful as to make mortal hearts break. Trees here are in a perpetual cycle of blooming buds. Melodious bird-song drifts by on the calm, mild, almost silky breezes blowing through the region. The longest part of the day is a gentle sunrise, starting with a smattering of bright stars and a slightly chilly, rosy brightening of the horizon leading all the way through to a vibrant, warm, shimmering, silver-gold morning. Dew, like a dusting of crystal rainbows, decorates nearly every surface as the radiant, molten gold sun breaches the horizon. Sometimes a silvery-gray spring shower can be found darkening the skies, or the realm might lie in an opalescent, pale mist.
The realm is ruled by The Silver Revel. With a natural inclination to the alignment of chaotic good, these fey are almost always aligned with the Seelie court. Aiding mortal lovers, collecting or tending flowers, or contemplating beauty are all favored pastimes of the spring fey. Still, they are also known to be flighty and childish, prone to lack focus and even throw tantrums. A spring sidhe may spend hours crafting an exquisite crown of flowers, and then abruptly abandon it as it nears completion, never to think of it again.
The adherents to the aspect of spring are occasionally mistaken for immature or younger sidhe. Many spring sidhe choose to craft their seemings in the forms of children, even to the point of retaining their Small size. Such sidhe, though they may be many centuries old, often act more childlike as well, enjoying pranks and games immensely, but being confused or bored with concepts such as “responsibility” or “romance” (even more so than most fey).
Spring sidhe are also the most rustic, and don’t seem to mind getting a little mud on their feet or hands. Many are enamored with plant-life, especially flowers. Such motifs often show up in their voile. Skin tone ranges from a pale, gold-pink tone to a warm cinnamon, though some have a pale jade tint to their complexion. They feel slightly warmer to the touch than normal. Like their clothing, their hair and eyes come in every color of the rainbow, though they usually favor pastel tones to brighter ones. Clothing is light and diaphanous, and frequently quite revealing in those who take on a more sexually mature appearance.
The glamour of spring sidhe often manifests as sparkling shafts of golden light, with delicate flowers springing up around the sidhe’s feet, soft bird-song in the air, and sweet blossom-scent wafting in the breeze.
Eternal Summer: The lands of Eternal Summer feature deep, emerald green forests and fields of long, golden grass, exquisite wild flowers and buzzing honey bees. The fragrances of honeysuckle, pine, and warm rich loam gently tinge the warm breezes. Sparkling, gem-like berries in dark shades of red, blue and purple hang heavily on the bushes. The long, bright days of the land are usually spent under lazy, azure-blue skies, but occasionally dynamic summer thunderstorm are known to appear. After such showers, a tingling vibrancy is left hanging in the cooled air. The white-gold sunlight shimmers with a warm haze, and rainbows often criss-cross the sky. Though quite warm, it is always experienced as a deep, penetrating, comforting warmth one would crave after being in a dank, dark, chilly cave. When one tires of the light, shade-dappled, cool forests are always at hand. Sunbeams pierce the canopies of the thick, dark woods, streaming down like solid bars of bright amber. The remarkably short night is alive with faerie lightning bugs, crickets, and musically chirping frogs.
The Halcyon Panoply, long the backbone of the Seelie court, holds sway here. Imposing and imperious, the summer sidhe walk the path of the warrior, for they are charged with fighting the forces that would endanger the fey. They have a reputation as the most noble of the fey, though they can be overbearing in their pursuit of the light. Arrogance and pride are the most common flaws among these sidhe. They tend towards neutral good or lawful good alignment, and without a doubt, the lion’s share of this particular aspect belong to the Seelie court.
Summer aspect sidhe are usually the most powerfully built, with athletic, well-muscled (though still graceful) seemings. The sun is a common symbol in their motifs. Skin tones range from very pale through deeply tanned to a warm mahogany glow, with some exhibiting a reddish or green tone to their complexion. Another common manifestation is a very faint metallic bronze or gold sheen to their skin. Their skin can be quite warm to the touch, but not uncomfortably so. Hair and eyes are usually of metallic shades from gold to copper to blue steel, with hair being brilliant, supple and high-lighted with sun-bleached streaks. Green and deep blue eyes are also seen, as is green and yellow hair. They typically favor the colors of gold, yellow, white, sky blue, and deep green.
Summer sidhe like to manifest a shimmering aura of glamour around themselves, not unlike the aura of a heat mirage, and the feel of a warm breeze on the skin is common in their presence. As always, such auras have no effect on game mechanics. They provide no real warmth in cold conditions...only phantom warmth.
Eternal Autumn: Eternal Autumn is perpetually swathed in fiery-colored trees, with rustling leaves underfoot. There is always a promise of frost in the air, as well as the faint scent of leaves, aromatic wood smoke or the heavenly fragrance of a delicious feast cooking nearby. The fields are filled with a never ending harvest, though the fruits and vegetables seem to be more the work of artisans than farmers and nature. Most of the day is taken up by a spectacular sunset, ranging from golden early afternoon to purple-swathed, star-speckled dusk. The fields and forests are often shrouded in mist, and overcast days, heavy with leaden gray clouds, are as common as clear skies. Some feel the realm takes on a vaguely ominous air when the shadows turn long and night finally descends, but such trepidation does little to halt the rollicking harvest festivals that dot the land.
The Harvest Synod rules this land, though a mysterious group known as The Cabal Macabre is seen lurking in the long, purple shadows. The Synod maintains a careful balance between the two courts, thought the Cabal is obviously Unseelie to the core. Sidhe of the season of autumn focus on the bounty and festivities of harvest, and the preparations made by all creatures to endure the coming winter. They see the death of living things as part of the natural cycle and do little to interfere with that process.
Many consider them a little too maudlin, and this may come from their closer ties to the Lands of the Dead. During their season the wall between the worlds, particularly Faerie, the mortal world, and the lands of the dead, are at their thinnest. This has granted the autumn sidhe a vague affinity with mortality that the other fey seem to lack. These fey are most often neutrally aligned, with seemingly an even division between Seelie and Unseelie.
Despite this all too common air of melancholy, they bedeck themselves in the bright colors of fall…pale golds, vivid reds and oranges, as well as rich shades of brown and purple. Skin will often be tinted the colors of fallen leaves, and slightly cool to the touch. Eyes are usually pale gray, amber or a deep chestnut brown flecked with gold. The most common shades of hair are brown, black, red and orange. Sometimes the sounds they make while moving tend to sound more like rustling leaves and branches than what would normally be associated with walking. A gentle, glamour-crafted shower of beautiful autumn leaves is a common manifestation, and the air around them feels slightly cooler, with the scent of a crisp fall day.
Some autumn sidhe favor a more ‘gothic’ appearance, with sepia tones and faded shades of gray predominating. These fey tend to have pallid skin and dark eyes and hair. Some of these particular sidhe can even be confused for shadow fey by those who know no better, and the two aspects often get along very well, regardless of court affiliation. Such gothic fey, though not necessarily evil, enjoy the macabre, and specialize in ghoulish illusions and fear-inducing enchantments. They have taken the jack o’ lantern as their unofficial symbol.
Eternal Winter: The thick evergreen forests of Eternal Winter lie wrapped in a blanket of permanent, silvery snow, each dark needle etched in sparkling frost. The glittery, blue-diamond snowflakes are larger (some as large as a man’s palm) and far more perfect than their mundane counterparts, yet thinner than a whisper, and fragile as a dream. The long night of the land features impossibly bright stars. A rainbow-like aurora borealis, as luminous as a sun, frequently lights the cold night sky as well. Occasional snow-heavy cloud cover shrouds the land in darkness. Arctic faerie animals scamper through the underbrush, and the babble of nearly frozen creeks breaks the otherwise heavy silence. One cannot help but feel the cold, but it is usually experienced as a brisk, bracing sensation, rather than a miserable, bone-numbing chill. Though short, the days are often quite bright when not swathed in pale blue, gray and white snow clouds or thick, velvety curtains of snowfall.
The Crystal Pageant, often aligned with the Unseelie, control this realm. The sidhe of winter, maybe more so than any other, perfectly embody their season: cold, harsh, unforgiving, and beautiful. They can be either rigid and cold as ice, with lawful-neutral or -evil leanings, or wild and bitter as the freezing north winds, with a more chaotic bend. The former value the frigid, still silence of their realm, and can react violently if anyone dares to disturb the crystalline perfection. These sidhe are master plotters, able to wait for the right moment to strike, no matter how long that takes. They burn with a cold flame, retaining a tally of wrongs against them in the permafrost of their souls until retribution can be safely assured. The more chaotic winter sidhe are far less subtle. They do what they want, when they want...with little or no regard of the consequences. It’s the rare winter aspect of either type that’s aligned with the Seelie court. Strangely enough, winter sidhe are honorable when giving their word. Even the most wild can usually be trusted to keep an oath in good faith, whether sworn on their name or not.
Their colors of choice include white, shades of blue, gray, silver and black. Their manes of white, gray, black or blonde hair are sometimes touched with hoarfrost, and their cold skin is either creamy ivory, possibly with the faintest tinge of icy blue, or the palest shades of blue-gray.
Glamour conjured ‘frost’ often decorates nearby surfaces, and it is not uncommon for glamour-crafted snow to fall slowly about them. When they are in temperatures above the point of freezing, they often give off a faint vapor from the surface of their skin. This vapor is heavier than air, and floats down the sidhe’s body to rapidly dissipate at its feet.
The Shadowlands: In most respects, The Shadowlands resemble the actual plane of Shadow. The major difference is that the faerie shadows are a touch lighter, with patches and points of soft, greenish-yellow or bluish-purple light weakly glimmering through the murk. A few subdued colors also successfully appear here and there, and even the darkest patches will occasionally sparkle like black opal every now and again. There is even an actual anemic dawn and dusk, with a pinkish-orange glow staining the horizon at the proper times. During the day, the sky lightens to a dull sepia tone, though no actual sun is ever visible. At night, the sky turns a dark violet, and a blurry moon actually takes to the sky, glimpsed through the racing clouds. Only when the moon hides its face in the mortal world are The Shadowlands plunged into true night. At least one trod to the actual plane of Shadow, known as the Darkling Path, can be found here.
The realm is ruled by The Bleak Cortege, a decidedly Unseelie court of fey. Sometimes known as the aspect of night, sidhe taking this aspect have a strong respect for stealth and secrecy. They are the true masters of the Unseelie court, and epitomize the Unseelie creed. Though not exactly unprecedented, it’s the rare darkling that is untouched by evil. Shadows espouse the virtues of personal freedom and trickery. Only a fool would trust a shadow sidhe completely, as they have the weakest personal honor of any of the fey. Strangely enough, a darkling will probably be less angry than the average sidhe if it is successfully cheated by another, seeing as how they understand and admire the power of deception. This does not mean that they won’t attempt to exact vengeance…they are still sidhe, after all. They are probably the most nimble of their kind, and are well schooled in the arts of staying undetected. Many of them speak in a hushed, sibilant tone.
Understandably, they favor dark, rich colors as well as grays and black, of course. Their skin tones range from dusky gray, through shades of blue, green and purple, to pitch black, and their eyes are usually a solid dark color, with little or no visible whites or pupils. Hair also tends to be black or gray, and can be either flat and non-reflective, or have a sheen of green, blue or indigo. Though nearly all sidhe tend to have lithe builds, the shadow sidhe are always extremely lean and willowy. The lighting conditions seem to dim around the shadow sidhe, and sounds seem hushed. Not so much as to add bonuses or offset penalties, but just enough to notice. Shadows cast by items near a shadow sidhe can seem to act in ways contrary to any nearby light source, especially when viewed out of the corner of the eye.
The Ocean: The vast Ocean of Faerie runs the range of seas found on the mortal plane. Warm, blue, tropical shallows to deep, green, roiling, open waters, to iceberg strewn, slate-gray waves. The light of the sky penetrates far deeper than it would in a mortal ocean. The water is always clear, though, and the multi-hued, exotic creatures of the depths can often be seen coursing beneath the surface. Certain stretches even grant the ability to breathe water to those land creatures that enter them, though this is generally not common. There are many islands, and delicate faerie palaces grace many of these. Other fey simply build beneath the waves, and even on enormous sailing ships. Firbolg longships course through the colder waters. Periodically, fierce storms blow across the realm, and monstrous creatures of incredible size and appetite are known to lurk below the surface. The Endless Deep, a trod to the Elemental Plain of Water, can be found in this realm. Water elementals can be common.
No one group can lay claim to this vast realm, though several powerful fey maintain loose alliances against other similar groups. These sidhe are encountered less than the seasonal aspects at court, for they are usually content to reside far from the courts in the depths of the Ocean. Some consider themselves to be apart from the sidhe altogether. A few do choose to involve themselves in the doings of their landed cousins, and both courts contain these exotic fey. Like their home, they can be at turns placid and calm, then wild and storming. Most are of chaotic neutral alignment.
In coloring, they exhibit silver, gold and bronze, and all shades of green, blue, and gray. Their hair and skin will often have an aquatic tint or sheen, and they are always faintly damp to the touch, if not soaking wet. Their hair seems to flow around them as if underwater, even above the waves. Some have eyes of solid shades of blue or green, with no whites or pupils visible. Water sidhe enjoy adding exotic, alien touches to their appearance, such as silvery skin, fine scales, webbed fingers, or delicate fins on their arms, backs or faces. When they speak, their voices are deep and resonating. Light striking them usually takes on a wavering, rippling quality, as if reflected off water. They are the most likely to eschew clothing altogether, but even then will still decorate themselves with voile jewelry and ornaments.
When manifesting their seemings, a water sidhe may choose to have the legs of a normal sidhe, or opt for a more “mer-like” form. While fish and cetacean tails are popular, some have the lower halves of seahorses, eels, or even cephalopods and crustaceans (set when the sidhe first takes this aspect). This change is merely cosmetic, and grants the sidhe no additional benefits or penalties. They may change between either form as a free action. Typical glamour manifestations include circling schools of ethereal, exotic sea-life; the soft sound of waves and seabirds; and brine-scented mists.
The Sky: This realm is often the easiest to arrive in, provided one has wings. All one really needs is a method of flight, and the desire to find it. The heavenly bodies all seem larger and brighter than in any other realm. High mountain peaks jut up through the opalescent cloud islands…clouds that are often capable of supporting weight themselves. Over the clouds’ edges the glittering surface of Faerie can be seen far below. As with The Ocean, storms can rage through The Sky fierce enough to recreate the “cloud-scape” in their wake. Large flying creatures, such as dragons and rocs, like to patrol the vast azure expanses of this realm. The Corridor of Storms...a trod to the Elemental Plane of Air...can be found in this realm. Air elementals can be common.
The Conclave of Stars rules here. Adherents of the aspect of sky share many of the traits of their water sidhe cousins. They tend to remove themselves from the courts, though both courts contain members of this aspect. Masters of the air, they build their palaces in the clouds, or at least on very high mountain tops. Sky sidhe dislike the touch of the ground. Though it causes them no particular penalty, they will nearly always float at least a few inches above the ground. They also are a bit claustrophobic, and prefer to stay where they can always see the sky. Their clothing and hair rustle and move as if a mild breeze is constantly blowing, and the air is rarely still around them in any case. Their voices are usually breathy, though some can be quite loud and booming. Like their aquatic cousins, they tend to follow the chaotic neutral alignment. The sound of breezes and distant thunder if often heard in their presence.
The sky sidhe favor blues, grays and white, but sometimes appear in shades of twilight (pink, orange, purple) or the midnight blue of the night sky, speckled with bright stars. Their skin is slightly cool to the touch. Eye color is always a shade of the heavens, and their eyes appear slightly larger than other sidhe, though not unattractively so. They typically wear their long hair, which is usually either pale-blonde, blue, black or white, unbound. Many of these sidhe manifest beautiful wings in their seemings. They don’t require the wings to fly. Such wings are often bird or butterfly-like, but one can also find dragonfly, moth, bee and (especially among Unseelie aligned) dragon and bat-like wings as well. One of their warlords has wings seemingly fashioned from hundreds of shining mithril blades. A sky sidhe can cause its own wings to vanish or appear as a free action.
The Eternal Sands: This realm stretches from horizon to horizon with dunes of fine, dry, silvery-white sand. “Oasis” dot the landscape here and there, but upon inspection, the plants are found to be made of the same sand, and crumble to the touch. Surprisingly cool, the land lies in a perpetual twilight (dawn?), with deep purple skies and a scattering of bright stars (whose exact number has been known to change). A large, very bright silver moon permanently hangs in the sky, bathing all in a soft, argent glow. It changes phases at random, holding any one face from minutes to months...or so it would seem. The stars and moon slowly move around the firmament, all independent of each other. No one grows hungry, thirsty, or needs to sleep while in this realm, where time works quite differently than it does in others, though one must still rest a (subjective) 8 hours to regain daily uses of abilities and spells. Visitors find that when they leave this realm, their stay of a few days may have actually taken hours, or possibly months. This realm holds the Gate of Sleep (a trod to the far realm of Dream), and the Arch of Eternity (to the plane of Time). Though not exactly common, nearly any type of elemental can show up in this realm from time to time, including some very rare ones.
One danger of the Eternal Sands are the “sleep storms”. Though rare, these huge dust storms can spring up seemingly out of nowhere. Stretching from horizon to horizon, these enormous, shimmering, silvery walls of dust are eerily, completely silent. Anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the storm is rendered almost instantly unconscious. Even creatures normally immune to sleep can succumb to a sleep storm. The real danger involves the storm then covering the sleeper in the ubiquitous sand. If this happens, the sleeper could be trapped in a deep, dreamless state...possibly for all time. A victim lucky enough to be dug out will regain consciousness in a (subjective) day or so. Taking the Lesser Dream Aspect is one of the few ways of successfully resisting the effects of the sleep storms.
Few fey live here...certainly not enough to maintain a ruling presence. Still, several self-styled Lords of Dream or Nightmare hold court in the dunes. The most reclusive of the sidhe, they are the ones most likely to ignore the court system. Enigmatic and few in numbers, these sidhe consider themselves the guardians of the Dreaming, at least in regards to fey matters. They are the hardest to peg down when it comes to style, as they tend to change looks with each dream they encounter, though some generalizations can be made. As a group they tend to be very calm and serene, and are certainly the least volatile of the aspects. Most act rather distractedly, as if they were only half-awake. Even those who revel in chaos and violent night terrors will maintain this personal calm. Like the sky sidhe, they dislike to touch the ground, and usually hover a few inches above.
Opalescent or vibrant colors are just as popular as pastels and single -color or colorless themes. Many have a hazy, star-light quality to their visage. Their eyes are the most variable of all the sidhe, with all colors and many variations displayed…the most popular being a star-field pattern. Nearly all have very pale skin that is cool to the touch and seems to sparkle as if dusted with powdered gemstones. Some of these sidhe speak in a sing-song-y manner, or in soothing whispers, though few would be accused of being talkative. Glittering "sand" starts to collect beneath them if they stand still too long, forming miniature drifts and dunes. They seem to enjoy their enigmatic reputation.
The Underground: Unlike most mortal underground realms, this vast stretch of tunnels, caverns, shafts, grottos and chambers is fairly well lit for much of its length. Glowing crystals and phosphorescent lichen lend an ethereal, soft illumination to the sparkling stalagmites, stalactites, columns and mushroom forests. Crystals of all colors and phenomenal size grow here, some larger than a man. Eerie wind-fed pipes and the dripping of water can produce an ethereal, echoing music through the galleries and passages. One chamber, larger than a human nation, holds a vast underground sea, full of luminous creatures. For equal lengths of half a day each, the various light sources of the Underground shine with a gentle incandescence, then dim to near darkness, giving the feel of day and night. The Underground snakes beneath every realm, and holds trods to subterranean regions in other worlds, as well. The Crystal Door, which leads to the Elemental Plane of Earth, is at the center of the realm.
No one group of fey holds power here, thought the gnomes of Faerie once lay claim to this realm as theirs alone. The gnome kings were conquered by the sidhe long ago. Even so, gnomes are still quite common in the labyrinth of the Underground, as are goblins. This is especially true of the Underground immediately under The Wilds. Earth elementals can be common as well, throughout the realm. A few shadow sidhe appreciate the chthonic beauty and dim illumination of this realm.
It is in this realm that one can find the roving, raucous Goblin’s Bazar; a sort of black market of rare or even otherwise unattainable objects. One should always remain careful, though, as some such items can also carry curses or unknown side effects. Occasionally the Bazar has been known to migrate for a short time to other Faerie realms, but it is never long before it returns to the Underground.
The Faerie Court: This realm is the seat of power for the Seelie and Unseelie sidhe. On every spring equinox, the Unseelie pass hold of the realm over to their Seelie cousins, to have stewardship of the realm returned to them on the autumnal equinox. The realm consists of gently rolling hills covered in lush forests, dotted with crystal clear lakes and streams. At the center of the realm is the actual Court itself; the Throne Room, Palaces, Ballrooms and Gardens, the Grand Faerie Market, the Faire Grounds, the Tournament Fields and Amphitheater, and the Great Stone Circle.
The general decor and style of the entire Court (barring the personal palaces of other sidhe) is entirely up to the Sovereign, who can alter such details at her whim. When the Seelie are at court, the buildings are usually open and delicate, crafted from alabaster, pearl, gold, silver and pale crystal. Colorful silk banners and diaphanous veils gently billow in the breeze. The Unseelie court is rarely the same design twice, though it typically has a more menacing tone. Even then it is always majestic, with a terrible, dark beauty. Of late, dark marble, furs, silver chains, and huge, exquisite, stained-glass windows done in very dark colors are the favored style.
The seasons and lengths of day always match those of whichever seasonal realm is currently reflecting the state of the mortal world. The Faerie Court holds the greatest number of trods of any of the realms of Faerie.
The Wilds: The one realm that is not under the sway of the sidhe is the ancestral home of the firbolgs, a race of fey-blooded giants. Everything in The Wilds is grander and more primal. The mountains seem impossibly tall, and the trees tower three or four times larger than their mortal counterparts. Its days and seasons copy the mortal world’s, but the weather tends to be a bit more extreme; punishing summer heat, brutally cold winters, and powerful, destructive storms throughout the year. Thick fog often rolls in from the coast or down from the mountains. As one would expect, large and powerful monsters, giants and even dragons prowl the dark forests of The Wilds, ready to test the metal and courage of the firbolgs. Huge beasts, some seen nowhere else but in legend, can be commonplace here. The firbolg lodges and villages are often surrounded by megalithic walls of incredibly thick stone, etched deeply with glowing runes. In addition to this protection, each village is sure to be guarded by strong warriors and runecasters.
Trods: Trods are special kinds of pathway-portals that link the far realm of Faerie with other planes of existence, including the mortal plane. Fey do not actually need to use a trod to enter the mortal world, but it certainly is easier, faster and safer. If a trod is unavailable, a fey may attempt the “long way”…physically journey through the spirit world to the nearest shallowing. Once there, it may attempt to pass through the Veil. Like all “spirit-type” creatures, fey can detect shallowings on sight when in the spirit world, and need only concentrate to recognize one when on the mortal side of the Veil (full round action). Trods usually take the form of traditional “faerie circles”, which are rings of mushrooms, but they can appear in other forms as well, such as caves, over tree branches, pools of water or even some by stone dolmen, erected by either fey or man. Non-fey creatures usually require a key to use the trod, but any fey may use any trod that they can acquire access to, with no key required. Gaining access to such trods is another task altogether.
Trods usually have guardians placed there by the fey courts, and are controlled by either the Seelie or Unseelie, depending on which holds sway in the world at that time. One of the primary rights and responsibilities of sovereignty for the fey court is stewardship of the trods of Faerie. The ruling Sovereign or any of her appointed proxies of the current ruling faction can close any trod by simply wishing it so. Proxies must be in sight of the trod, with more individually powerful fey having greater range than lesser ones. The actual Monarch can close any trod in Faerie at will, regardless of distance or visibility, and always knows which trods are open and which aren’t. Legend holds that some rare hidden trods escape even the Monarch’s attention.
If one is lucky, the Seelie are in charge, for they will usually just enchant an unwelcome traveler to forget their purpose (or even grant full amnesia), and turn them back to the mortal world. The Unseelie are often eager to host such interlopers, welcoming them to their world…with all the dire consequences that entails.
Once on a trod, the journey is usually safe and quick, though certain spirits and malicious fey delight in attempting to lure travelers off of the path. This would be a grievous mistake, as leaving the safety of the path usually results in getting the traveler lost...possibly forever. It is to the DM’s discretion as to what happens to the traveler, but the consequences should be fairly grim. Thankfully, a traveler can never be forced from the trail, only tricked.
Time and Aging: Many fey, while living in Faerie, do not age like mortals and cannot die from old age. They do not gain either the penalties or the bonuses of advancing in age categories, and any magical attempt to age them fails. For many fey this does not apply when they are outside the realm of Faerie, though even then they may count their life span in centuries. The timeless nature of the realm even extends to the natives ability to learn and grow. While in Faerie, a character only gains half of the experience he would normally acquire for an encounter. Fey outside of Faerie do not suffer from this penalty (another reason they sometimes come to the mortal world).
Old age doesn’t hold the dread for fey that it can for mortals. Becoming an elder often has many powerful, tangible advantages. On the rare occasions when death does strike, it merely causes a fey to reincarnate somewhere new in the realm of Faerie, or in the Dreaming, if a sidhe. This is not a point of philosophy or matter of faith, but a fact known instinctively to all fey. Reborn fey usually exhibit new personas, but often retain traits and quirks reminiscent of their old selves, including some memories and a vague physical resemblance. Strangely enough, Seelie fey very often find themselves more comfortable with Unseelie values once they reincarnate, and vice versa.
Certain causes of death can break this cycle, such as death by negative energy or death effects, or death wounds caused by cold-iron weapons. When killed in such a manner, the fey spirit is permanently snuffed from existence. Some spells and abilities are also able to either capture or destroy the fey spirit before it reincarnates. The threat of such a demise can hold great dread for any fey. In exceedingly rare circumstances, a fey meeting such a fate does not enter oblivion, but turns into an undead creature of unsurpassingly fearful mien.
Mortals in Faerie also do not show the signs of physical age for as long as they remain in Faerie, though they still die of old age when their natural life span is over, falling asleep and then quickly aging to their true age. Even so, barring violence or accident, a mortal can expect to live well into his venerable years...humans that live in Faerie typically live to be over 120 years old. A mortal who first came to Faerie at the physical age of 20 would look and feel that age until she died. If such a mortal ever leaves Faerie, her age quickly catches up with her. She regains one year per hour spent in the spirit world, and one year per round spent in the mortal realm. A mortal never gains the aging bonuses to her mental attributes while aging in Faerie, nor does she acquire them upon rapidly adjusting to her appropriate physical age when back in the mortal realm, though she does acquire the penalties to her physical attributes. Returning to Faerie after being rapidly aged will not reverse the aging effects, though it will freeze the being’s physical age once again.
Some of the more “ethical” Seelie fey use this aspect of the realm as a justification for bringing any mortal that catches their fancy back to Faerie. They claim that such beauty (or strength, skill, knowledge, etc.) would wither away when subjected to the ravages of old-age, and that they are preserving the mortal; if not for all time, than at least at her peak for the remainder of her curiously short life span.
Court: There exists in fey society two main factions: the Seelie court and the Unseelie court. The majority of the courts are made up of sidhe, but many other fey join as well. Though some sidhe choose not to align with either court, they are in the minority, and usually will belong to one of the courts at some time in their existence. The Seelie rule Faerie from the vernal equinox until the autumnal equinox, whereupon rule passes to the Unseelie court.
The Seelie, by and large, are benign, peaceful fey that place value in harmony, honor and justice. The Unseelie, on the other hand, are at turns wildly passionate, then darkly brooding. They place a stronger emphasis on personal goals, achievements and freedoms. For an Unseelie, the ends always justify the means. The simplistic method would be to term the Seelie good and the Unseelie evil, but both are largely unconcerned with the wants and needs of creatures from the mortal plane.
Members of the Seelie court rarely wish to harm others, but they have been known to lure or even kidnap mortals into their realm for the purposes of feasting and dalliance. They truly see nothing wrong with using enchantments on other creatures to compel them to act in ways contrary to their nature. To most fey, a charmed partner is a consensual partner. Members of the Unseelie court are also interested in having mortals to their festivities, but such encounters are more nightmare than dream for the unfortunate mortals. Many ‘guests’ are never seen again, and those who are found are never the same. Though the Unseelie enjoy creating fey-shot servants, they are also more likely than the Seelie to return (or more aptly dump) those that survive back in the mortal realm when they’re no longer new and interesting. Neither court has any moral compulsions against slavery, at least for mortals, though the Seelie ‘servants’ (and even a few Unseelie ones) are often given better lives than most mortal monarchs.
The Seelie court is fairly organized and structured. There is always an undisputed liege, and this liege is advised by a council made up of the highest ranking nobles of the land. For centuries, Queen Titania and her escort, King Oberon, have ruled the Seelie. Ambassadors from the retreated Unseelie court, and even further afield, sit at Seelie court as well. One can encounter elementals, spirits, genies, and various outsiders at the Seelie court, though fiends are never welcome.
The Unseelie court is, not surprisingly, far from organized or structured. The most powerful and wily nobles vie with each other for the position of liege, and just because one noble starts the reign as monarch does not mean the same noble will sit on the thrown come springtime. Rumor holds that demons have been known to appear at the Unseelie court on occasion, though many Unseelie seem highly offended by the notion. Contrary to what many believe, the two courts are not usually antagonistic towards each other. The Laws of Cyclic Rule are enforced by ancient, deep magic, and neither court wishes to risk the repercussions of breaking such primal enchantments.
One legend states that eons ago one of the courts (each claims it was the other) refused to surrender the throne when it’s allotted time had expired. The following morning, a herald of the rightful court cautiously approached the seat of power...to find it utterly empty. Every member of the usurper court...every fey, every servant...had vanished, never to be seen again. No witnesses remained, and any attempt to solve the mystery via divinations came to naught. The only members of the court to survive where those who had been lucky enough to be in other realms. For many years to come, every new fey was predisposed to fill the ranks of the vanished court, until once again the courts were both at full strength. This orderly progression does not mean that there aren’t plenty of intra- and inter-court intrigues. Vendettas between individual nobles are inevitable when dealing with such passionate beings.
One of the most important features of leadership is the control of the trods between Faerie and the mortal world. The Sovereign of the Faerie Court can close any trod at their whim. When not leading, the opposite court usually retires to their individual retreats and estates to await their turn to hold sway in the world. Even elder sidhe, with their ability to craft a mansion in the Dreaming, will have at least one estate within the boundaries of Faerie...and usually several.
Hell-Tithe: So long ago that no fey can claim actually being there, the fey had no home to call their own. In the time before mortal dreams, the world was a cold and cruel place for the fey. The fomorians from the dark realms of madness chose this time to sweep down on the fey, whisking those they captured back to their own worlds for purposes unknown and unthinkable. All seemed bleak, with the last of the young fey awaiting the final assault of the fomorians. Then, a strange alliance was offered.
A demonic envoy, the servant and representative of the Lords of Hell, approached the fey with the promise of assistance and succor. It offered the fey a new home, a realm that they could call their very own. A place they could live and revel and rule safely as true lords, protected from those who would do them harm. In time, their refuge would allow them to regain their strength, allowing them to gain equal footing with the other powers and entities. The last of the fey gleefully grasped at this straw, as they saw no other way of salvation, and in truth the offer seemed very appealing. They had to agree to only one term; the Hell-Tithe.
The Hell-Tithe is held every seven years, on the autumnal equinox, just as the courts are trading stewardship. The Black Reaver, a burning ship of iron and misery, manned by capering, gibbering demons, pulls up to the docks of the Faerie Court. As the ship lowers its gangplank of bones and flame, seven fey names are read from the Doom Manifest by the infernal Captain. Hiding does no good, nor do any attempted wards or protections. The fey are usually of quality, either very comely or skilled, though all sorts have been called. Young or ancient, frail or powerful, noble or servant...all have been called. Even those nowhere near the docks, or even in Faerie, will find themselves transported to the docks on the eve of the Hell-Tithe if their name appears on the Doom Manifest. Usually the Manifest is mixed, with Seelie, Unseelie, and unaligned fey as well.
None can raise their hand or weave a glamor to stop the Tithe. Even those who make elaborate plans to save those they cherish, should they be called, find themselves unable to act if such a fate comes to pass. All stand idly buy as the chosen board the Reaver and disappear below the decks. Once all have boarded, the ship sets sail. A cold, black fog arises...from deep within, excruciating cries of anguish and pain can be heard, mixed with the sounds of shrill laughter and mournful uluations. The ship fades within the fog, and then all are gone. None who sail on the Black Reaver are ever seen again.