ancient earthworks, Ancient Folklore, Celtic Folklore, Changeling, Christian Folklore, Devils, Fair Ones, Fairies, Fairy, Fairy Court, Fairy Fort, Fallen Angels, Fey, Folklore, Gentry, Good Folk, Medieval Folklore, Medieval Magic, OGL, Otherworld, Seelie Court, Unseelie Court
What follows is an attempt to depict the Fairy Folk in a way more consistent with the original folklore. Those who are familiar only with the highly sanitized, post-Victorian depictions of Fairies may be surprised by certain characteristics of the Fairy Folk presented below, particularly their close association with ghosts and ancient earthworks. Nonetheless, such associations are a vital part of the actual lore.
Regarding The Fairy Folk
The Fairy Folk inhabit the Isles of the Otherworld, mystical lands of deep forests, enchanted fields, inspiring mountains, and cities made of glass. There they dwell with the Honored Ancestors, the souls of those mortals who lived without regard for Heaven‘s Virtues, or Hell‘s Vices, and who neither joined with the madness of Chaos, nor willingly submitted to the pitiless Cosmic Archons. The mundane entrances to the Otherworld are mostly underground, within certain ancient barrows, mounds, and hills. Other gates to the Fairy Folks’ realm exits in the heart of virgin woods, far out to sea, and even in the middle of unspoiled meadows thick with wild flowers. Some are even found in the midst of ancient tombs and overgrown burial grounds.
Fairy Folk can assume almost any size and form they like, from tiny to huge. While some prefer to look like extraordinarily beautiful people, other will freely mix human, animal and even plant features in bizarre and fanciful combinations. Example of fanciful features often seen on Fairy Folk include:
- Skin colored green, blue, pure white, or silver; glowing, or of a cadaverous complexion; perhaps even covered with writing.
- Clothing made of flowers or leaves, or crafted from of gold or silver; armor made of glass; multicolored furs in seemingly impossible hues; clothing that constantly changes shape; a large flower worn as a hat or crown; a shield seemingly made from a giant chestnut burr; or even a living animal worn as a garment!
- The head of abird, cat, fox, frog, toad, or donkey; horns, antlers, or antennae growing from the forehead; or even foliage or flowers for hair.
- Ears like a donkey, fox, or cat.
- Wings like a dragonfly’s, butterfly’s, moth’s, or bird’s; or even enormous leaves or flower petals in the place of wings.
- The Legs of a goat, grasshopper, deer, bird, frog or toad; or perhaps tree trunks where legs might be.
- Feet that are hooves, talons, cat’s paws, or even plant-like roots.
- A tail like a horse’s, dog’s, bird’s, or salamander’s
When Fairy Folk dwell in the mundane world, they prefer structures or areas that are round. They will live in the midst of mushroom rings, in circular caves, or on a round island. Because the Good People can freely change their size, their mundane homes can range from tiny to gigantic in size. The Fairy Folk even build round forts, that seem to lack towers or interior buildings, but whose walls are crafted of a single, unbroken stone, or of separate stones melted together. Such Fairy Forts tend to be atop hills or artificial mounds. Fairy Folk tend to stay Invisible while in their mundane dwellings, so ordinary men must take care not to inadvertently offend the Good Folk when close to places where they may be hiding.
As in all spiritual realms, time flows differently in the Otherworld. A a year in the mundane world is but a day in the Otherworld. Consequently, The Fairy Folk seem utterly unconcerned about about the things that occupy the minds of ordinary men. Instead, the Fairy Folk indulge in song, dance, love-play and duels, estimating a perfect performance on the pipes to be infinitely more important than the rise or fall of a mundane empire.
Fairy Folk are of true Neutral Alignment. An encounter with them can range from delightful to terrifying, depending upon the character of the mortals involved. Kindly intentions are repaid with boons; malice is returned with curses. An innocent maiden may have a wonderful time with the same Fairy who who seems capriciously vicious in the presence of a greedy financier. Mortals who ascribe pure malevolence or incorrigible inconstancy to the Fairy Folk merely describe the mirror image of their own true natures.
Many mundane races refer to the Fairy Folk only with reverential titles such as the “Good People”, the “Gentry”, or the “Fair Ones.” Sometimes they are known as the “People of the Hills”, referring to the “Hollow Hills” that contain doorways to the Otherworld. The Fairy Folk are even said by some men to be the spirits of their own ancient ancestors, grown strong through the reverence of ordinary people. Those mortals who claim to speak for Heaven say the Fairy Folk are fallen Angels who were not wicked enough to be flung into Hell. Diabolists, on the other hand, have been heard to say that the Fairy Folk are former Devils who deserted Hell’s cause. The mad cultists that summon Demons from the Outer Darkness often whisper that the Fairy Folk hide a dark secret regarding their true origins, without ever indicating what that secret may be. The Astrologers who interpret the will of the Cosmic Archons are strangely silent regarding the Fairy Folk, however
It is said that certain Fairy Folk owe a yearly ransom of souls to Hell. There are conflicting stories regarding why this may be. These explanations range from the aforementioned possible identity of the Fairy Folk as former Devils, to the souls being used as a bribe to forestall an invasion of Devils into the Otherworld. Certainly, Fairy Folk hate actual Devils, and will seek to harm or hinder any that they catch alone.
Of all spirits, the Fairy Folk are closest to the mundane world. Unlike the the Archangels who are pinned to Heaven by their perfect Virtues, the Archdevils who are bound in Hell by their Vices, the Demon Princes who are imprisoned in the Outer Darkness by their madness, or the Supreme Archons who cannot bear to confront the disorder of the mundane world, even the godlike Kings and Queens of the Fairy Folk can roam amongst ordinary men. Nonetheless, the Fairy Folk are more likely to be seen (wandering the fields, carousing in the woods, or dancing with the dead in lonely graveyards) on the days that marks the four quarters of the year.
Unlike other kinds of spirits, Fairy Folk have bodies cognate to those of mundane creatures, albeit of a finer substance. They are born, live for an age, and even seem to die. Fairy Folk appear to eat, sleep, breathe, and make love like mortals. Their bodies do not decline with age, however, nor are they subject to disease. Although they suffer mortality, immediately after death the minds of Fairy Folk reincarnate into new bodies, with no loss of consciousness. Fairy Folk thus have no fear of death, regarding it merely as a refreshing change. A Fairy can remember her previous life easily, but the further back the memories go, the hazier the actual memory becomes. When Fairies are born without the ability to speak, it indicates that the Fairy has never lived before. Such Fairy Folk may be left as Changelings in mortal households. (Some Changelings, however, are actually old Fairy Folk who have decided to live out their days in the care of humans.)
Fairy Folk are fascinated by humans. Certain Fairy Folk may secretly aid good-hearted humans in ordinary household tasks. Others find themselves irresistibly drawn to the idea of taking a human lover. The Fairy Folk covet human children, sometimes abducting them to the Otherworld (where they said to be treated to lives of ease and joy). Likewise, particularly beautiful or talented adults may be spirited away to a palace in the Otherworld. Evil humans also draw the attention of the Fairy Folk, who become overwhelmed with the desire to perform malicious, and sometimes deadly, pranks on such people. It is those evil folk who will be given over to the Devils.
It is speculated that the mundane races that Humans call Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes and Halflings are not truly separate races, but actually the descendants of ancient Humans who married Fairy Folk. Therefore, the mundane race of Elves are not true Fairy Elves, but rather Elf-Men. The same with the so-called Dwarves, Gnomes and Halflings. On that account those races are sometimes termed “Demi-Humans”.
Fairy Folk have a noted preference for Druid, Bards, and Illusionists. Conversely, they have a manifest dislike for Clerics, and all the trappings of human religions.
Fairy Folk prefer to travel in perfectly straight lines from one place to another. They will go so far as to become partially Ethereal in order to walk through an object or person! The paths the Fairy Folk travel are said to be impregnated with mystic force. Some sages have even attempted to map the known Fairy Paths, and thereby uncover the locations of all the secret entrances to the Otherworld. Such bold scholars tend to disappear suddenly and unaccountably.
The Fairy Courts
The Fairy Folk organize themselves into several Courts, each headed by a King and Queen. Membership in a Court is completely voluntary, and many of the Fairy Folk belong to several Courts simultaneously.
Known Fairy Courts include:
- The Seelie Court – Fairies who enjoy helping people
- The Unseelie Court – Fairies who enjoy playing pranks and mischief on people
- The Court of the Dead – Fairies who herald the coming of Death, and accompany the Honored Ancestors.
- The Trooping Court – Fairies who enjoy long processions through the countryside. Most of the Trooping Fairies are also members of the Seelie Court.
- The Solitary Court – Fairies who live primarily alone, and often enjoy hindering mortals in some way. Many of the Solitary Fairies are also members of the Unseelie Court.
- The Domestic Court – Fairies who enjoy living around people and helping with domestic tasks.
- Various National and Geographical Courts – Fairies who live in, or particularly love, a certain national or geographical area.
- The Courts of Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter – Fairies who particularly enjoy or are primarily active during a particular season.
- The Court of Love – Fairies who engage in romances with humans, and regard themselves as the final arbiters in all matters of love.
Another famous gathering of the Fairy Folk is the feared Wild Hunt, which is not properly a Court (since it lacks a King and Queen), but rather a kind of pastime. A Wild Hunt will be called by a powerful Fairy (often a King or Queen of an actual Court), who will decide to start chasing either wicked humans, or some monster. Along the way the Hunt will be joined by other Fairy Folk, Fey, and even certain Undead and Demons! While most Wild Hunts break up at dawn, there are tales of Hunts that have continued for several weeks.
All Fairy Folk share the following Special Characteristics:
Extraplaner Type: True Fairy Folk are native to the Otherworld, and thus are Extraplaner. They are subject to all magic that affects Extraplaner creatures. (Creatures with the Fey type are closely related to the true Fairy Folk, but are native to the mundane world.) Fairy Folk who become Changelings, however, lose the Extraplaner type and become Fey.
Fairy Magic: All Fairy Folk can perform the following spell-like Abilities at will, but no more than one per round: Enlarge/Diminish (to any size between 1 inch and 12 feet tall), Improved Invisibility, Pass Without Trace, and Dancing Lights. A Fairy can Polymorph into the form of any humanoid, plant, or animal between 1 inch and 12 feet tall, or create new forms that combine humanoid, plant, and animal features. All Fairy Folk can become Ethereal at will.
Fairy Glamor: All Fairy Folk can create one Illusion-type effect. This can range in power from Ghost Sound to Programmed Image.
Fairy Trickery: Every Fairy can use one spell-like ability that can be used to mysteriously move objects, or allow the Fairy to appear unexpectedly. Dimension Door, Fly, Levitate, Teleport, Transport Via Plants, and Time Stop are all possible examples of Fairy Trickery.
Fairy Boon: Every Fairy can bestow a single magical benefit upon mortals that please her, or fulfill certain special obligations. Fairy boons can range from Cure Serious Wounds to Resurrection.
Fairy Curse: Fairy Folk who are angered can inflict a particular curse upon adversaries. The exact curse varies from Fairy to Fairy. Typical Fairy Curses curses include effects similar to Bestow Curse, Blindness, Sleep, and Polymorph Other.
Fairy Immunities: Fairy Folk are Immune to disease, ordinary poisons, or magic that influences minds or perceptions.
Fairy Sight: Fairy Folk can see regardless of illumination, and with constant True Seeing.
Magic or Iron Weapons To Hit: Fairy Folk cannot be harmed by most ordinary weapons.
Weakness to Iron: Fairy Folk hate pure, unalloyed iron. Their own weapons are never made of true iron, or even steel. Even non-magical weapons of pure iron (but not steel) strike Fairy Folk with a +1 on both the to-hit and damage rolls. Even in an Ethereal state, Fairy Folk cannot pass a barrier of solid, pure iron.
Aversion To Salt: Pure, crystalline salt (but not brine or salty liquids) is disgusting to Fairy Folk. While it doesn’t actually damage them, they will avoid it whenever possible.
Mysterious Ban: In addition to their weakness to iron and aversion to salt, every Fairy has one single item they can never touch, action they cannot abide, or action they must always perform. Examples include never being able to touch a blue item, never being able to hear their own name, or having always to wear a golden necklace. If Fairy Folk are tricked or forced into violating their Bans they temporarily lose all their special powers, and are forced to flee to the Otherworld, until the next quarter of the year. If a Fairy is somehow tricked into violating their Ban while in the Otherworld itself, they simply lose their special powers for the remainder of the quarter.
Undead Affinity: No Undead creature, of any Alignment, can ever harm one of the Fairy Folk by any means. Fairy Folk are completely immune to physical attacks, level draining, spells or spell-like effects, or any other attack or effect from Undead sources. Unintelligent Undead who are commanded to harm Fairy Folk will simply not move. Intelligent Undead of any Alignment will be positively inclined towards any Fairy Folk in their presence, and will refuse any attempt to make them act otherwise. This peculiar fact has convinced certain Sages that the Fairy Folk are actually the transformed souls of an ancient race of men.
Note: The Good Folk are not monsters to be simply killed or defeated in combat. Players who treat them that way deserve to have their PCs be subjected to all manner of mischief on an ongoing basis.
Individual writeup for Fairy Bugaboos, Workmen, Lovers, Warriors, Tricksters, Witches, and Performers, as well as the for common Hill Fairies, are all upcoming.