"Don't ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs." -Hamza Yusuf
Feywild. Home of fey, echo of the Material Plane, and source of some of the greatest, most powerful beings and things in the multiverse. It was only after the gods created the Feywild that they noticed time not moving as it should when compared to other planes. This lead them to abandon the plane, only leaving it with its own version of gods that manage and protect it in the gods’ stead - beings called Archfey.
There was a dramatic turn of events once mortals found out about the Feywild and the many ways of accessing it. You see, when mortals found the fey, they saw something that the gods granted to the fey but didn't grant to mortals - the Silver Flame. This caused the first feeling of jealousy in history, which eventually led to the first theft. Once the gods noticed the theft they did something about it - they granted the fey a Golden Flame, but it was too late, and the fey were changed forever.
Some of the fey accepted the Golden Flame and became overly warm. These would be later referred to as the Seelie fey. Some love fun, some like parties, some enjoy company of animals, mortals, other fey and anything else. They show bright colors, but do not understand mortals or emotions all that well.
Then there are the others, the dark cold ones, who rejected the Golden Flame. These hold grudges against the mortals to this day, can be merciless and generally are depicted as brooding loners. The Unseelie, as they have been referred to ever since, are mostly colored in faded colors, white, black and shades of gray.
However, there are some things both kinds of fey have in common - fascination with mortals. Some like to observe mortals from a distance, others like to confront them, even going as far as to steal back from them, hoping to get a piece of the Silver Flame that was stolen from the fey. Ever since mortals stole their flame, the fey see them as what the fey were meant to be, and try to emulate them to the best of their ability. This, as you will see, will be recurring theme of this article, where I will focus on the laws of the Feywild's nature.
At first glance, the Feywild appears to be just a wilderness untouched by civilization. Weather is more intense for the most part, water is abundant, and magic is mostly the same. However, once you spend enough time in it, you realize just how different and strange this place can be. While I could focus on wild magic, or how time fluctuates, I would like to leave that and focus on something different - food. Because not everything alive in the Feywild can do magic or cares about the passage of time, but almost everything needs or wants to eat.
You are what you eat.
All living things native to the Feywild that eat follow this proverb to some extent, whether they realize it or not.
Starting at the bottom, there are plants. Most plants don’t eat anything, and they are there to be eaten by others, so the rule does not apply to them.
Plants are eaten by herbivores, who slowly become more and more plant-like. Eventually, after a herbivore eats enough, it takes root and can't move from that spot anymore. This is why there are so many animal-shaped hedges in the Feywild - these are just old herbivores.
Carnivores are split into two groups - lower predators and apex predators. Lower predators go for low hanging fruit (figuratively speaking), mostly hunting the herbivores. However, after enough time spent hunting, they themselves will start to turn into what they hunt - their teeth become less and less sharp, their stomach become more adapted to eating plants than meat, and other changes happen as well. With a steady diet of herbivores, these creatures will eventually take the form of an omnivore.
Apex predators are a very specific breed that only gets stronger the longer they live, due to what they eat. This is the secret of the apex predators - they never consume anything less than themselves. They will always try to hunt creatures stronger than themselves, for they are intelligent enough to know that this is the only way for them to get more powerful, and to keep their power.
This seems to be a cruel world then, in which all beings will eventually turn into plants. Well, on one hand, that would explain why the Feywild is overgrown, with green everywhere. But, luckily there is a law that helps some of the lesser creatures to move up in the chain.
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
If a lesser predator encounters an intelligent creature, and manages to kill it it would become more intelligent, and likely stronger. If, on the contrary, it didn’t manage to kill the creature and instead got hurt, it would still get stronger. Another way for a lesser predator to get stronger would be to feast on a freshly dead apex predator, before any other apex predator could eat it.
These laws do not affect most of the sentient creatures because because the fey realized that mortals do not change after every meal. This law was mostly removed, applying only to beasts, plants and monstrosities, as the fey jealously try to emulate mortals.
Birds of a feather flock together.No man can serve two masters.
Fey are more cultured than beasts, trying to act as human as possible. They may not be affected by the food they eat physically, but it still changes them to some extent on a psychological level.
There are four major Fey Courts, based on the four seasons - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. These Courts split into Houses, each representing a preference of taste that the fey belonging to each House has. Any individual fey belongs to just one house, and the members of each house share some physical and mental characteristics with each other.
Spring Court is the court of desire. Houses that belong to the Spring Court are the Sweet House, the Savory House and the Spicy House. The Sweet House is what most think of when fey are mentioned - constantly smiling and overly optimistic. These fey are kind, childish and not afraid of being social. They can be vengeful, however, after all - Revenge is sweet. The Savory House belongs to fey whose love for meat is shown by the sharp teeth they like to bare at everyone. At first they may seem predatory and aggressive, but when you get to know them, they will show you their playful side. The Spicy House fey have hair that appears to be constantly ablaze, just as their minds are, their hair never stops burning until they die.Despite rumors to the contrary, their hair will not ignite anything else, though it is said to be overly warm to the touch. Spicy House fey are characteristic for their eagerness just as much as for their hot-headed, temperamental nature.
Summer Court is the court of wrath. Houses that belong to the Summer Court are The Sour House, The Fatty House and The Calcium House. The Sour House is made up of domineering fey who often try to boss around others and tend to have their mouth corners turned downwards in cruel frowns. They anger easily and often show signs of jealousy. The Fatty House, as the name suggests, contains some of the heavier fey. They are lazy and nervous, but also greedy, always asking and looking for more than they need and being angry when they don't get it. The Calcium House belongs to fey of pale skin, sometimes even albinos. They are steady, blunt and unpolished in their behavior, coming off as angry and rude.
Fall Court is the court of fear. Houses that belong to the Fall Court are The Salty House, The Minty House and The Bland House. Fey of the Salty House tend to passively show signs of unpleasantness. Often they are characterized as being passive, critical and sarcastic when trying to be funny or even when they're not. A fey of the Minty Houseis characterized by their ever present distant look. They try to be stylish and cool in all aspects of their life, but are emotionally distant and reserved. Bland House fey are suspiciously average in looks, and deliberately keep to themselves. They are monotonous and stoic, yet conscientious. Strangely enough, they capitalize on their blandness, and utilize it to their advantage, being easily forgettable.
Winter Court is the court of sorrow. Houses that belong to the Winter Court are The Burnt House, The Numbing House and The Bitter House. The Burnt House is home to fey whose skin is as dark as the overcooked charcoal-like foods they eat. Only ever feeding on the most burnt of overcooked foods, they tend to act burned out, miserable, and show self-destructive tendencies. Numbing House contains fey that are constantly flinching and twitchy. At first they seem merely indecisive, but this only conceals their sadistic side. However, if one becomes close enough to them, they show the inner conflict they're going through, trying to figure out how to show love without causing pain. Bitter House fey are characterized by the constant frown on the faces of its members. They are sad, jaded, and grumpy, and never try to hide their pessimistic outlook on life.
There is one House left that does not belong to any of the Courts. Fey of the Metallic House are the only house whose members are physically affected by the things they eat, with their members showing characteristic metal skin. They show no signs of emotions and are very strict and machine-like in nature, which is why they're alienated from other Fey, belonging to no Court.
With the Courts and Houses explained, let's take a step back and look at the fey in general, to see what they have in common.
Some of you may know that after a fey dies, it reincarnates. But, did you know that they don't ever reincarnate as the same being? This is because their soul is in fact made up of several fractured parts. Once a fey creature dies, these fragments scatter all around the Feywild, joining together with other soul fragments, forming clumps, and eventually reaching a high enough number to be reborn. To a fey, a parent is the fey they used to be previously, while a sibling is a different being that comes from the same parent.
Some people say that fey like to make deals. This is true for the majority of them, and for a good reason - they are able to twist the meaning of words in the deals without truly lying so that the deal sounds like something completely different. There's a small amount of mortals who also believe that with these deals they can gain magical powers, but there is very little evidence of that.
Now, let's continue the theme of looking up proverbs and seeing their consequences in Fey culture.
Believe in yourself.Beauty is only skin deep.
A fey's appearance is a reflection of what it believes itself to be. If they think they are beautiful, they will appear beautiful. If they think they are hideous monsters for what they do to others, their physical appearance will reflect that. Some fey manage to learn how to change their appearance at will in a minor way, such as changing the color or length of their hair, changing some features of their face or body, or even their skin tone. A very few have mastered this art and can take nearly any form if they believe hard enough.
There's a darker side to this belief power as well. Fey are generally disgusted and harmed by Cold Iron and avoid touching it. Cold Iron has many interpretations depending on different settings - some believe it is metal worked without using heat, others think it is just iron. For the purposes of this article and my setting, I assume cold iron to be any human-made material (with exception of some metals like silver, gold or orichalcum). This is not limited just to metals, but includes other more unusual materials like plastic (which is not present in most settings, but I'll list it here as an example anyway). The reason why fey are disgusted and afraid of cold iron is due to the fact that it is deadly to the fairies. Other types of fey are harmed by it, but only because they believe it is harmful to them, perhaps remembering their previous life as a fairy.
Faith will move mountains.
The power of belief here is not limited just to individuals. If enough Fey believe strongly in something, it will eventually come true . Luckily for everyone else, this power is not used all that often, and is for the most part forgotten nowadays, seeing how this is a monumental task anyway.
He who laughs last laughs best.
You really do not want to be around the fey when they're collectively cracking jokes. Seriously, some of them take laughing to the next level, considering it competition as to who will laugh the longest. While they can contain themselves while with humans, away from them they'll laugh for hours upon hours, until they start to literally drop unconscious, or even die because of the constant laughter.
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Most of the fey are female for this exact reason. Also, because they are prettier according to most, because "Courage is the measure of a Man, Beauty is the measure of a Woman."
All is fair in love and war
As long as fey can say they do something for the sake of love or war (which they do most stuff for anyway), they won't shy away from using dirty tricks. Making deals and twisting their meanings later on, kidnapping human children, luring mortals to stay in Feywild... all of this is done for either love or war (according to them).
Little things please little minds.
It is no surprise that fairies wear tiny clothes, use tiny weapons, and have other tiny adventuring equipment. But... did you know that they also have toys? And books? And lots of other tiny things that one would not expect them to have. Of course, mortals would expect it once they realize that the fey try their best to mimic them.
Speak of the Devil, and he is bound to appear.
Some fey have developed an ability to appear next to someone when their name is mentioned. This is usually limited to one plane of existence, however. This is restricted to an illusory image of them for lesser fey, through which they can also hear and see their surroundings (but they cannot utilize other senses). Interacting with the image reveals it to be an illusion. Lesser fey can do this only a couple times a day.
Archfey on the other hand, can use this ability at will whenever their name is mentioned, and can choose whether they appear personally, or their illusory image appears instead.
Home is where the heart is.
This mainly applies to nymphs - dryads, undines, oreads, and other nymph-type fey. Their heart - that is, their soul - is located in the object they are bound to. This is why they know the position of this object at all times, and can thus return to it instinctively.
On a broader scale however, some of the Fey have uncovered a great secret of gifting someone their heart. Most do it from love, allowing someone to take their heart out of their body once they die, telling them to bring it wherever they go. The power of this heart is to call the souls that held that heart once, allowing the one possessing the heart to one day meet with their beloved, even after their body has passed away.
24 True Fey.
There are twenty-four True Fey. Possibly. What these are, exactly, is not known to anyone. Maybe they are the gods of Feywild in the truest sense of the word, maybe they are just figments of someone's wild and cruel imagination, and maybe they are not real at all (merely rumors and whispers, tales that the fey tell each other). There are a few scholars however, who think that they must be the explanation for the great amount of Archfey that are in the Feywild.
One of the scholars, Gorgian Descret, believed he has documented them all. People consider him a deranged madman and maniac, a paranoiac who connects unrelated things and makes up conspiracies on a daily basis. Gorgian believed that in his writings he had described all 24 of these True Fey in a very detailed manner. Sadly, before they could be published, he died a mysterious death, and his books were never found. The only details that were remembered from his ramblings were that these True Fey have relationships with each other, and that all of the Archfey belonging to one True Fey bear a sign, symbol or some distinguishing characteristic that shows who they represent - from something as simple as the color red somewhere on them, to something as difficult to notice as eyes that never blink. Nowadays, most people do not believe Gorian's theory, despite the mysterious circumstances of his death, and the strange disappearance of his writings.
The Lords and Ladies of Fey are most the powerful fey living in the Feywild. Archfey is a group name for any beings that are on a power level of a god, or something similar (e.g. demigod). Some of them are less powerful, some are more powerful, but there are no mere fey that are mightier than the weakest of archfey. While the weaker Archfey could be something as ordinary as a mortal who became strong enough to rise above all others, the strongest Archfey all have one thing in common - they can use the power of The Word.
Imagine for a moment that you are the strongest wizard in existence. You can cast the most powerful spells in existence that a mortal can access. Some of these spells require you to just utter one word. Legends speak of such wizards, and of these spells - the Power Words. The only problem with the Power Words is their rarity - there are very few documented Power Words. These mighty Archfey use a power similar to this, but the way they use it is impossible for a mortal to achieve.
What do they do to make these Words of theirs more powerful? They twist their meaning. Archfey of the highest tier each have one word, most often a verb, that they have complete control over. They can summon the power of this word just by uttering it aloud, and by interpreting it in different way they can cause effects limited only by their linguistic capabilities. If there was an Archfey with the power of the word Kill, they could use it to kill any creature they desire, but they could also use it to kill the mood of the party. The Archfey with the power of the word Steal could rob others of anything - something they hold, their belongings they left at home, their position, or even their thoughts. This is the exact reason why even the strongest of the wizards never dare to mess with the highest tier Archfey - because even these mightiest of wizards will eventually run out of their magic potential.
Legends say that there was a time when fey did not reincarnate. Long ago, great archfey known as the Eldest ruled the Feywild, caretakers of the most important of all natural cycles - the cycle of life and death. According to this cycle, each being that is alive needs to die, sooner or later. This death is not only physical, but spiritual as well, causing the being's consciousness to perish. According to the myth, other archfey rose against this power, and defeated the Eldest, imprisoning them and freeing their kind from death.
In the present day, death is but a minor inconvenience to the fey. No matter how much they die, they will never fully disappear, because their memories will stay with their soul. However, this natural imbalance is threatened every 10,001 years, when the Eldest are fated to break free. During these times, the Archfey unite to send them once again back into their prisons.
Instead of focusing on politics or religion in the Feywild, I would like to talk about a word people would not expect to be right next to Feywild - economics. Or rather, what economics means for the Feywild. As you have read, the majority of fey love to make deals. But, this means that they have to give something up too. So I'll dedicate this chapter to various currencies they use, and why they use them.
While bartering does work, it doesn’t work as effectively as an established currency. But what exactly do fey recognize currency and what don't they? Well, let's look at what human proverbs say about economic matters like this...
Speech is silver, silence is golden.All that glitters is not gold.
Since silver is one of the metals they love and cherish the most, they consider spoken words to be a unit of measurement. Gold may seem beautiful and valuable, sure, but as one old tale of humans states, salt over gold. Even salt is more valuable than gold, since silence is golden, and silence comes when no words are said.
So, from all this we can deduce that they consider silver to have its price just like humans, but consider gold to be worthless. Then there is word, and word's price is equal to that of one silver coin in the eyes of fey. However, they don't use word as a currency - they use it to measure currency. Just like we would use one coin, or one kilogram.
But how exactly does one pack lots of words into something?
A picture is worth a thousand words.Every picture tells a story.
Art. Paintings, music, statues, stories, you name it. This is one of the few instances when humans were (according to the fey) very clear in their proverbs. This is why you could fit one thousand words into one good quality art-piece - fey would consider a good quality piece one that would take more than a thousand words to describe completely. You could have art-pieces that fit more words inside of them, but those are masterpieces of very high quality.
Then there are memories...
Memory is the treasure of the mind.
Memories are equivalent to or greater than the highest quality art, for they show many things that no art could ever reproduce, in the most real and vivid way. However, once the memories are given away, the one who lost them will find themselves having a hard time piecing their mind together. The more memories they give up, the harder thought itself becomes.
Above all other forms of currency lies respect. Respect is something one can earn by impressing Archfey themselves, and can be worth several high quality art-pieces. Nobody knows exactly how many, but one thing is certain of respect:
Respect is not given, it is earned.
Of course there are many other ways to pay fey. Barter, and the trade of services is not uncommon for them. For now, though, let's end with the last currency they use, time.
Time is money.
Fey who accept time as a currency do so either through draining life force of their customer, thus making them older (or younger, rarely), or by moving the customer forward in time.
Of course, if the customer does not have enough of whatever currency the shopkeeper requires, they can offer a favor. However, this has to be accepted by the shopkeeper, and they could require even more than one favor for their goods and services. Bargaining favors with fey is not something to be entered into lightly, as the fey are renowned for tricking and trapping mortals, sometimes forever.
There are many ways of accessing the Feywild. Excluding the magical means adventurers themselves could call on, one way to enter and exit the Feywild is through Fey Crossings - naturally formed portals located where the Material Plane touches the Feywild. Some of these portals are permanent, but most are opened only under certain conditions - on a night when Moon is New, when someone brings a certain key to open it, by speaking a magical phrase, or maybe even by sleeping in a beautiful meadow. Most of the time, the traveler does not realize when they enter the Feywild, to them it seems that they have just walked normally and suddenly they are in a completely different place.
When leaving the Feywild, the traveler can be subjected to various effects of the Feywild, specifically finding that the time they spent in the Feywild differs from that spent outside, or that they do not even remember what did they did since they entered the Feywild. These effects are known though, so I will focus on a different kind of effect.
Once a traveler leaves the Feywild, there is a chance that they will come out changed. The world will seem boring to them, almost colorless, possibly even uninteresting. The only thing they will desire every day is to return to the plane that seems to them almost like a paradise. This has been dubbed as Fairy Homesickness, and some of the powerful mages are known to be able to cure it for a fee.
Changeling: The Lost's Player's Guide offers descriptions of the True Fae I mentioned in the article, and it was my main source of inspiration for them.
Changeling: The Lost is actually pretty good source generally, and I do recommend checking it out if you’re interested in running fey long-term.
Besides sources of inspiration I already listed once, I would say great dance performances (my personal favourite is The Lord of the Dance) can be inspiring, as well as mythology in general (Irish mythology influenced my current campaign a lot) and Dresden Files I still didn’t have time to look at.
Just because it was fun to figure out, below I list conversion rates of their currencies. Bear in mind these are not really logical, so use them at your own risk.
10 silver = 1 gold(fey find gold worthless)
- 1 silver = 1 word (Word itself is not a currency, just a way to measure currency. Just like kilogram - you wouldn't pay for something with 2 kilograms.)
- 1 artwork = 1000 words = 1000 silver
- 1 minute of memory = 360 artworks of same mood and quality = 360000 silver (The conversion can vary based on quality of artworks and memory, as well as mood.)
- 1 year of life = 2 years of memories = 189216000 artworks of the mood identical to the mood of the memories = 189216000000 silver (Because 1 year of life isn't just memories, you also affect other people and learn and do things.)
- 1 respect has to be earned, no conversion rate for this is thus known.
Optional Rule: Faerie Homesickness
If you spend an extended period of time in the Feywild, you must make a Wisdom saving throw. Upon failure, you miss the Feywild dearly once you leave it, and reality may become boring - everything will appear almost colorless, foods you eat will have no taste, life won’t seem as exciting. The Wisdom saving throw is made once you reach each period of time listed below with a corresponding DC.
1 day - DC 10
1 month - DC 15
1 year - DC 20
10 years - DC 25
100 years - DC 30
1000 years - DC 35
This post is me trying to make up some new non-canonical stuff for the Feywild, so if you can't really accept some of this stuff, feel free to remix it as you want. The canon Feywild did inspire me, as well as some other stuff. Thing that inspired me the most while writing this is fey taking things too literally and out of context, making some of the proverbs people use every day into something akin to laws of nature.
Thanks a lot to Jojirus and Rhadamanth Nemes for proofreading this document!Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!