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    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Do captivating Fair Folk stories require a soft magic system to work?

    I really like stories about the Fair Folk, and I really like fantasy RPGs with hard magic systems but whenever I try to mix them, the result is underwhelming.

    Every time I try to include Fae creatures into my D&D games in the past or other DMs do it, it just feels like another random encounter. We are more likely to think our way through the problem than to beat our way our way through the problem, but it's not like we never think our way out of other encounters.

    I think back to some Faerie tales adventures, Alice in Wonderland, Labrynth, the Artemis Fowl series, Stardust, Spirited Away, the Spiderwick Chronicles, Epic, Coraline, I'm sure I'm missing a few.

    All of the faerie tales I can think of involve a child or teenager going through some kind of coming of age story. The protagonist of Stardust is about an adult, but he's still a very young adult and the movie and the book both say the story covers his transformation from boy to man.

    It seems to hard to take four seasoned adventurers (or even four novice adventurers) and throw them into Fae shenanigans and hold on to one tenth of the awe and mystery of a Faerie tale with a coming of age aspect. The closest I can think of is the 2005 movie The Brother's Grimm but the movie was not that great in my opinion and the protagonists were pretty boyish adults. Lena Headey's character was kind of a competent badass, at least until she get captured by the French and she had to sit out most of the climax of the movie.

    I even remember an episode of Charmed where in order to interact with faeries, the witch protagonists had to cast a spell to make them childlike.

    Maybe if you extend the definition of Fair Folk, Q from Star Trek would qualify and Q does deal with trained Starfleet officers, Star Trek's equivalent of seasoned adventurers but I was never a big fan of the Q episodes, at least not compared to most other trekkies I know.


    Beyond the fact that Fair Folk seem to pick on minors more than adults, almost every story I can think of with Fair Folk seems to give them a soft magic system with only vaguely established limits on their powers.


    I created a very intricate fantasy world with a hard magic system, and I try to make the economy and politics make a modicum of sense. I want to throw in some Fair Folk as an X-Factor but I'm not sure how to balance my desire for awe and mystery with my almost OCD like tendency to want to classify and label things.

    I really liked the Old World of Darkness game Changeling the Dreaming. They seemed to have a lot of interesting kiths and courts and interactions that were intriguing but also kind of made sense, but that seems like lightning in a bottle and it only seems to work because it is based on a modern urban fantasy and has the entire rest of the dreary WoD weighing the wonder of the Fae down and keeping things grounded.

    I once heard the Fair Folk of Irish folklore being described as "Faerie are too evil to be angels and too good to be demons, the are just Other."

    That's kind of my original thought for a baseline for my fantasy world of Scarterra. Turoch created the World that Was to feed on it. Some of his minions over threw Turoch and became the new gods of the next world (called the Nine, there is one god or goddess of each old school D&D alignment). Some of Turoch's minions (and the essence of Turoch's corpse) became the Lovecraftian demons, they are soul hungry nihilists.

    My thought that the Fair Folk would be the descendants of Turoch's minions who chose sit out of the big battle and did not stay loyal to Turoch but they didn't join the rebels who became gods either. They were created by Turoch, just like the Nine, so they still have magic power far beyond mortal's ken, but they never participating in slaying Turoch so they didn't "level up" like the Nine did.

    But I still have to figure out what the Fair Folk want and how they see to achieve it. You cannot really talk Fair Folk stories if they don't interfere with mortals in some way, but WHY? Do they interfere with mortals just for the giggles or do mortals have something that the Fair Folk need?

    Also, the Fair Folk should not be a unified bloc and they should squabble among each other. A lot of modern makeovers of Faerie tales have either an opposing Seelie Court and an Unseelie Court or four courts: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. My world has a lot of elemental influence so Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter could easily be Water, Fire, Earth, and Air but these courts still have to want and need things to fight over and drag mortal-kind (and thus PC adventurers) into their squabbles.
    Last edited by Scalenex; 2021-08-30 at 04:02 AM.