To conclude our February Fey Month special, we discuss about the infamous Feywild or Kingdom of Faerie.
The Feywild and it’s allure
The Feywild is referred to as the Plane of the Fey, or the Faerie Plane, or Faerie Realm. It is a land of contradictions, bright and yet dark, beautiful yet deadly, and full of endless wonder. Many iterations and stories, which are often termed as fairy tales, can colloquially be synonymous with some of the many denizens of the Feywild. Many of the rich stories, tales, and myths have translated over to Dungeons and Dragons, many of them transported over in their own “otherworld”. Mortals sometimes find themselves in this otherworld and are met by malevolent fey, resulting in some being kept against their will, used as the fey’s amusement for a time, or go through a fugue and return with no memory of their adventures. You can refer back to our article discussing how to play the fey and greater fey that inhabit this beautiful but perilous realm here.
The Feywild is often described as beautiful, robust, and sometimes tranquil. But ultimately the realm shares a side of darkness and savagery that embodies nature’s feral side. When describing the scenery for the Feywild, always try and the natural beauty of the environment while only foreshadowing the hidden perils lurking underneath the foliage.
Tall, viridian trees gently bustled from the refreshing autumn breeze, the sky was draped in gradients of reddish-orange to soft indigo. Perpetual twilight hung over the sheltered woodlands, the distant sounds of small birds and rodents frolicking before adjourning to their burrows. As the leaves swayed, they shifted in hue and became rusted in color. Mesmerized by the tranquility, a sudden chill refreshes you to the lurking shadows encroaching.
Examples like these try to draw the players and audience into a serene and hospitable place, to reminding them that danger always lurks in the most seemingly gentle place. Travel between the Feywild and the Material Plane can be hazardous to even the most seasoned adventurers, for the Feywild does not abide by the rules and paradigms of the mortal world. While up is still up in most cases, the scale of up and down can be radically different depending on the player’s perspective. Time is fluid in the Feywild, as such a being seemingly be gone for anywhere from a few years to a century but only experience an evening of revelry.
And they were never heard from again…
This phrase is the stuff of terror for anyone who has heard some offshoot midwife’s tales, for any unlucky adventurer may be kept against their will by a powerful Fey as their amusement for an untold period of time. I suggest instilling this notion early either before or during the Feywild adventure, the party’s trepidation and paranoia should be more than enough to add suspense even when facing gentle and harmless denizens. It doesn’t hurt to read up on some fairy tales to draw some inspiration too.
The Faerie Courts – the Eternal Flux of Nature
In the mythology of the Fey, there references to a Summer and Winter court, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and sometimes even a mention of a Spring Prince and Autumn King. There are many variants and honestly the Game Master (GM) has full authority to utilize whichever mythos is appropriate for the game they are running. The one component that should never change; however, is the conflict between Summer and Winter. The change between warmth and light to cold and darkness. This fluctuation and change is the ebb and flow of nature that translates the passing of the seasons across time in the Material Plane.
In the current 5th Edition ruleset, it is a two-court system between the Summer Court and the Gloaming Court. Titania, the Summer Queen is the ruler of the Summer court of good faerie and the Queen of Air and Darkness rules over the Gloaming court of traditionally evil faerie. In 4th Edition, eladrin and gnomes resided deep within the Feywild as often neutral entities between the two courts. But there were other courts as well, some that dealt with specific aspects of nature like the seas, the forests, or even the stars. These courts were herald by great and powerful Fey Lords or Archfey, like Oran the Green Lord or the twinned Sea Lords, Elias and Siobhan Alastai.
You can easily have a four court Feywild, one for each major season: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Instead of the struggle between the courts being the driving force of the change in seasons, they are instead the embodiment of the ideas of season and nature instead. It’s heavily suggested that each season by ruled by some sovereign Fey, you are also allowed to even change the gender of your fey sovereigns. It’s really up to you as the Game Master. In Soladis, a Land of Magic, where the Adventures of Team BAJA takes place; the Feywild in this cosmology consists four fey courts but ultimately two distinct divisions between the light and darkness. There are pockets of neutrality but when the sides call for their retainers, neutrality ceases and former neighbors could easily become enemies overnight.
Fey Lords vs. Gods & Goddesses
There are three distinctions that should be made clear:
- Archfey/Greater Fey – a powerful fey that often has a place either within the faerie courts or distinctly unique and owns a dominion of the Feywild outside the influence of others
- Fey – a generic term for any creature from the Feywild, traditionally reserved for common fey creatures without a title or nobility
- Gods & Goddesses – entities that infused with divine energy that represent an abstract concept or ideal
Archfey and even the Fey sovereigns often are considerably powerful; enough where some of these beings can warp and distort space and time in the Feywild. Granted the Feywild barely follows the normal paradigms of the Material Plane anyways but the Material Plane is bound by the rules devised by the deities. The archfey may seem god-like within the Feywild or even outside of it, but they do not possess the same distinction of as deities. Within an Archfey’s domain however, they can be conceived as being deities since the space is technically an extension of their power and essence. In other words, don’t mess with an Archfey on their own turf. Sort of the same principle with deities as well, or creatures with lairs; there is a home-field advantage.
Places in the Feywild – From wild borderlands to marshes and meadows
Currently in 5th Edition there is not a whole lot of material regarding places of interest within the Feywild, that may change in future supplements but presently there are not a whole lot written. During 4th Edition, there was one particular supplement (called Heroes of the Feywild) that tried to add lore and context to a region that was newly coined by the creative heads at Wizards of the Coast. Fey creatures started as far back as 1st Edition of D&D, with new additions from existing lore added over time across editions. When 4th Edition was introduced at the time, the Feywild was given a name and place within the cosmology while the original Plane of Shadow was relabeled as the Shadowfell.
GMs should consider a fair distribution of regions to accentuate different aspects of nature, like mountains, forests, oceans, and marshlands. Give some distinct flair and flavor to it, you may even given a special region for the major faerie courts. For example, in Soladis, there are the Fen of Winters and the Golden Vale as headquarters or dominions for the Winter and Summer Queen respectively. The Feywild is characterized by their assortment and variety of fey personalities. You could have a legion of pixies residing within the Golden Vale who act as Titania’s private armed forces. You could also have an entity known as the Wild Hunt who roams across the Feywild in the search of the ultimate prey. The Feywild is all about variety, including its locales and what they impart with the natural world.
Civilizations within an Enchanted Land
In 4th Edition, there were paragraphs about Eladrin settlements and shining cities. While 5th Edition has not officially unveiled the mystical elf race other than from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, their legends impart fantastic cities made of crystal or glass nestled either at the center of oceans or hidden away in forested areas. Gnomes also can reside within the Feywild, forming their own tight-knit communities to fend off predators and ancient enemies. These places often try and stay out of the faerie politics, either forming minor allegiances with Archfey or even the fey sovereigns themselves. Ultimately, there should be some meager hope for adventurers traversing through the wild natural abundance. A place to rest and heal, sleep from the harsh environment, and not deal with any Greater Fey.
These remarkable shrines to civilization add as wonderful backdrop the chaos and fickle nature of the Feywild, which should not be overlooked for the merits of allowing adventurers sometimes a much needed reprieve. Additionally, this offers an adventuring party insight to life in such a beautiful but dangerous realm. But eladrin and gnomes are the only creatures to form cities and communities within the Feywild. You may still have fey creatures form their own hovels and villages, it’s not that uncommon of a thought. Keep in mind that not all fey are malevolent and wish harm of others (even unseelie fey are not all heartless creatures), hospitality is an age-old tradition within Fey. They are also creatures that will “an eye for an eye” if needed, but otherwise it should be interpreted as “equal treatment for equal favor”.
Music and the Arts – the Truest Magic within the Feywild
Music has a profound resonance with the multiverse, while magic is prevalent within the Feywild, there is a synergy with music and magic within this realm. Music has a purposeful application as well as recreational one, acting as a medium for connecting the spirit with nature. There are many fey that play musical instruments or sing, some even dance to showcase their expression of their true essence and natures. Bards are often regarded well by the Fey with their musical aptitudes, even their oratory skills are often hailed as remarkable by passing fey. Bards also serve as storytellers and keepers of lore, which adds to the mystique and allure by fey and the class often is mainstay choice of fey creatures. It is not uncommon to find a Satyr Bard around, or even a gnome bard for that matter. Many fey appreciate beauty and music is another personification of that idea, striking up a bargain for exchange of a musical favor is a seldom but appreciated choice. Especially if the bargainer is exceptionally gifted as a musician or performer, but not too good to draw the ire of a passing Archfey that may perhaps whisk them away to keep them until they bore of them. That is known to happen to a passing bard once and awhile to a bard who stumbles into the Feywild after being near a Fey crossing.
Fey Crossings – Portals to the realm of splendors
Depending on your setting, access to other realms maybe limited or fluent as the case between say the Dark Sun setting versus the Forgotten Realms. In the Forgotten Realms, most planar travel is limited by planar portals that require a special key in order to activate them. Some are time sensitive and will open during specific cosmological events or dates. Fey crossings in the Forgotten Realms also tend to links to natural aspects, such as a snowy region linking to a region within the Feywild associated with ice and snow. The separation of planes of existence is important to establish at some point during a campaign, less you wish to confuse the players with how the cosmology works. In Soladis, the planes are quite separated by a powerful effect called The Veil, the Feywild and Shadowfell share the same space as the Material Plane and will occasionally overlap each other thus allowing for breaches and gaps to form but will last only a short time.
In any regard, once an adventurer passes through a Fey crossing, space and time can play a part here. In some instances, perhaps the very chaotic nature of the Feywild may result in random locations within the same region but with large gaps of distance. So having your adventuring party enter through a Fey crossing together does not necessarily guarantee all of them arriving at the same place. Let’s not forget one of the more interesting features about the Feywild, the enchanted magic is sometimes so great that it begins to affect the adventurer’s mind, causing some to lose their memories and experiences while within the Realm of the Faerie. Creatures either native or races who have fey ancestry are immune to these effects, but non-fey creatures have a chance of losing their memories of their experiences upon their return to the Material Plane which fits the real-life fairy tales of fugue states or being spirited away.
I hope some of this advice helps you and your plans for your campaign when travelling to the enchanted realm of the Feywild! Happy gaming!
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