View Full Version : Fey adventure ideas - four courts?

2014-02-12, 02:42 PM
Hi there.

I am currently building an adventure based around Fey.
The setting is the outer plane of Arborea, specifically somewhere in the Feywyld.

Sometimes ago, on the forums someone wrote:

the request could be something even less obviously dangerous, but be tied to other deals or predictions: "...and in return, you must bring me the tears of Alichord Trevya, who guards the great gate of the Scarlet City."

Which doesn't seem like TOO much of a problem until they find out that Alichord made a bargain with the Verdant Prince decades ago. For her part of the bargain, she was given the power to protect the Scarlet City from the fey-folk "until the Guardian of the City sheds a tear from laughter, grief or pain."

I liked that part so much that i implemented it into my game.
The PCs accepted the deal and must make the guardian cry, or be cursed. They dont know what happens if she cries.

So there we are. That's the backstory, only the guardian was an elven girl that lost her lover in war and now has been turned to a stone giant to have the strength to protect the city alone, and is now cold and emotionless.
I need to design an adventure around finding out how to make her cry.

Since we are dealing with fey, i'd love the character to visit four locations, the fey courts of winter/summer/autumn/spring, which are the places the guardian visited before finding the verdant prince and turning into stone The goal here is to find enough information in order to know about the life of this guardian, and then possibly organize a theatrical reenactment of her past life that will make her cry. The PCs will only discover what happens if she cries right before they do it. If they go ahead, then there's a city about to be attacked and a powerless guardian.

What i need is to have some ideas about what happens in those fey courts. I'd love each of them to have a small interaction (about two sessions total for all four courts). I want the fey in each of those courts to represent their season and ask something appropriate to it, in exchange for what they know of the guardian's story. Also, at least half of them should be evil or request something that is of a dark or unsettling nature.
I want the fey to be strange and cryptic, and i want the characters to be able to see part of the fey's world.

Anybody can help me? Any ideas or stories or hints about what the fey courts could be or need or request of the PCs.
Also, does anybody if there are any manuals about the courts or the fey organizations and motives? I dont really know very much about them, and ideas are welcome. I know seelie/unseelie courts are very common/famous in d&d, but i dont know any material for it.
I know i played Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and it was a great inspiration about fey... but i forgot almost everything about it.

Thank you :D

Red Fel
2014-02-12, 03:12 PM
Well, classically, there were really only two Courts - (spring/)summer and (autumn/)winter. But I suppose we could break them out further.

Let's start with the basics. The Fey are basically nature spirits. Nature tends to be wild; the Fey tend to be wild. They may put on the veneer of civility and society, but their view of order and nobility is almost alien in nature. So any expression of the Fey should be (1) wild, (2) amoral, and (3) alien.

Let's move on to the two classic Courts. Traditionally, the Summer Court represented the vibrant bloom of Summer - wild, untamed, and explosive. The Summer Court was a place of bright colors, constant activity, passion and excitement. It was also a place of sudden, brutal savagery. Like a summer storm, the Summer Court could go from delightful to terrifying in minutes, the frolicking Fey turning into rapacious predatory beasts and back again. The Summer Court is the noon-day sun on a bright summer day, the green grass, the cool breeze, the world ablaze and in bloom.

The Winter Court, by contrast, was cold, cruel, and unchanging. It represented the stillness and near-death of Winter. Although the Fey in general aren't always Evil (although some specific subtypes are), the Winter Fey are unquestionably the cruelest and most sadistic of their brethren. On the plus side, however, they are consistent. Unlike the Summer Fey, Winter Fey are more likely to keep an even keel; they are also more likely to be plotting, constantly. They're likely to be the closest thing to Lawful you'll find among the Fey, for all that's worth. The Winter Court is midnight on the longest night of the year, the snow on the ground, the world completely still, the chill in the air and the ice on your window.

So let's break out the other two. A Spring Court would certainly be gentler, milder, than a tempestuous Summer Court. They would be warmer, more soothing, more pleasant. By that same token, they would quite likely be the most dangerous - think the Poppy Field from the Wizard of Oz. Spring is soothing, it's warm, it's safe. Too safe. These are Fey, not humans; nothing about them is safe. Spring is the sort of environment that lulls the hapless into a sleep from which they are unlikely to awaken. The Spring Court is a gentle spring morning, the sun rising to greet you, the birds singing a sweet song, the gentle lapping of the river and the feeling of everything coming to life.

An Autumn Court would be complex, and sad. Unlike the friendly Spring, the active Summer, or the cruel Winter, the Autumn Court would live in a state of constant limbo, neither alive nor dead, neither warm nor cold, neither cheerful nor bitter. It would be eerie and half-alive, and possess a certain listlessness and desire. The Autumn Court would hunger for what it cannot have - the warmth of Spring, the joy of Summer, or the peace of Winter. Think of the most terrifying Halloween you can imagine; that's where Autumn lives. They live in the twilight place between time and space, the sunset, as the trees turn orange and the air grows chill, the sound on the path behind you and the shadow on the wall.

Some Fey stories also involve the Wild Hunt, a band of predatory Fey stalking powerful prey in the twilight. I think this would most likely fall into the Autumn or Summer Courts.

Of course, these are simply thematic ideas. If you want more specific things, I seem to recall there was a thread a ways back about someone creating a dungeon representing four seasons, with Fey in each season. That, I think, would be invaluable to you.

Basically, take these ideas and incarnate them. A Summer Court would be a wild party from dawn until dusk; a Winter Court would be a chilled stone hall, those within sharing murderous glances through slitted cat-like eyes; a Spring Court would be gentle faces and warm smiles offering food and drink, with no mercy or sympathy behind their smiles; an Autumn Court would be forlorn and haggard spirits (or, if you use a Wild Hunt, voracious animal-men with a hungry look) in a heavily wooded area. The Fey would be complex and mischievous at best, and cruel and savage at worst. They don't care about the players and they will honor bargains at best to the letter, if not the spirit.

I hope that helps.

2014-02-12, 04:09 PM
Question - do you know White Wolf's Changeling: the Lost?

Lost has four seasonal Courts of fae, each of whom is ruled by a dominant emotion:

*) Spring is the season of growth, and of life waking from the long winter. It is thus the Court of Desire. On its bright sides, it represents the joy of living, and players can expect to be confronted with vast feasts, would-be paramours, and vast revels. But Spring doesn't see the need for restraint or moderation, and anyone who partakes and joins the festivities is in danger of losing themselves to a Baccanalian madness. What the Spring fae want from the players is to be entertained, in whatever manner the players choose. This could be disturbing, or playful, but probably it's a little bit of both.
*) Summer is the season of heat, of dry grass and oppression. It is the Court of Wrath. The fae of Summer fight duels and wars, engage each other in competitions of prowess or violence, and they see no reason why the players should not join them. They will give their information only to the winner of a vicious, gladitorial tournament, and the players are expected to follow whatever rules the tourney has put in place. On the other hand, they're not sore losers, and are in many ways the most honest of the fae.
*) Autumn is the time of dying leaves, of harvests and the preparation for the long night, the Court of Fear. The Autumn Fae are those that walk in nightmares, study forbidden magic, and archive lost knowledge for when it will be most useful. They want something strange and taboo from the players - a murderer's eyes, a book that details demonic summoning rites, or something else off-putting and strange. The fae swear that the object will not be used against the players, and probably they are telling the truth, because nightmares only lie by omission and inference.
*) Winter is the time of death and of sleep, when the world waits for the night to pass and the sun to return. It is a time of cold, pitiless Sorrow, and the fae of the Winter Court hide from the players and from one another, working their intrigues in the darkest shadows and destroying anything that threatens their quiet contemplations. They do not want to give the players anything. They do not want to be part of this quest. If they are to stir themselves, the players will have to promise to remove something that they dislike more than becoming involved, and what that is is hard to say...

2014-02-13, 08:42 AM
Thanks guys :) Some good info there!

Was this the dungeon thread you were talking about?

Some great info there too, gave me a lot of good ideas :)

Red Fel
2014-02-13, 10:56 AM
Thanks guys :) Some good info there!

Was this the dungeon thread you were talking about?

Some great info there too, gave me a lot of good ideas :)

Yup, that's the one!

Glad to be of help.

2014-02-13, 11:17 AM
Some ideas to apply to all fae courts. They cannot lie, they are literally incapable of telling an untruth, but that doesn't mean they need to be clear or comprehensive in what they say. I'd actually make the pleasant seeming courts like Spring and Summer the most likely to speak in meandering, unclear language since it make them stand apart for their initial impressions.

As for what they want I'd make the Spring court want something innocuous like the laughter of a mortal child. They might even give the group something to help them get said laughter, which of course involves either kidnapping a kid, stealing a soul or otherwise making a child less than whole once the process is done. That should be fairly unnerving.

Summer could want the heart of a Great Hart. This can be a fairly straight forward kill and retrieve for the party, although the Great Hart might be a powerful foe, or even a fully sapient fae lord that doesn't deserve being killed. I'd personally take give this one a nice twist on the basis of the fae not lying but never being clear. It sounds like the Great Hart needs to be killed and his heart carved out but what is really going on is the queen wants to marry the Hart but somebody else wants to be the consort of the queen and words things to sound like the queen wants the Hart dead. I'd give the players a chance to parley with the Hart once they actually meet him.

Autumn really does want something complete innocuous from the mortal world. Like a fresh rose. The only problem is the players need to get the thing back to the rulers before the it wilts in the autumn realm.

Winter, contrary to perception, wants the heroes to be heroes for them. They want a noble act completed for completely legitimate reason. I'd basically make them issue the request in a simple, straight forward manner. If you can do these ones last then you'll have the players squirming looking for the double-speak in the request when there isn't any.

2014-02-16, 04:06 PM
If you have the time and inclination to read; the series by Dennis McKiernan may prove helpful on some of the background information. The Faery Series are, Once upon a Winter's Night, Once upon a Summer's Day, Once upon an Autumn's Eve, Once upon a Spring Morn, and Once upon a Dreadful Time.

They are both the retelling and a mashup of a bunch of fairy tales. But he goes into detail about how the realms of fey are connected to each other as well as Earth, general setting information like weather and animals, as well as how it all came about.

If you nothing out of it for your game it is still a decent read.