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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    I'm thinking about fey in my setting (in part for use as warlock patrons). This means thinking about emotions (see spoiler if you want to know exactly why).

    Spoiler: setting info
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    The fey are effectively nature spirits who get fascinated/obsessed with particular mortal emotions. They don't understand emotions (at least not in the way mortals do), so when a collective group in an area is exposed to a set of strong emotional influence, they might band together to "experiment" or "mirror" that emotion. Because most strong emotions come from humanoids, these fey are frequently humanoid in appearance (as part of the mirroring). Animal and stranger fey do exist, but they're less common and not really relevant here much. Fey range in intelligence/coherence all across the scale, from little ones that are not really intelligent (in the way that mortals believe is important, anyway) all the way up to the Lords and Ladies, who are powerful, alien-thinking humanoids much like the Sidhe/Fair Folk/etc.

    Each powerful fey being is centered around a particular core emotional theme. They are "fed" by experiencing more of it, and "damaged" by opposing or contrary emotions. In reality the spirits that make up these fey cannot be permanently harmed by anything short of natural disasters, but either direct damage, lack of emotional "food", or a flood of unpleasant (to them) emotions can disrupt the coherence of the spirits, effectively ending that individual. Fey can change their core theme, but that's a process they think of as death, and the "new" one may share very little of the personality or desires of the previous incarnation.

    Roughly, the more "humanoid" and powerful a fey, the more stable. The little ones blink in and out of form, gathering and dispersing like foam on a wave. The Lords and Ladies may exist in that form for centuries or millennia.


    The powerful fey are divided (aping mortal politics) into the Summer Court and the Winter Court. Each one centers around a different set of emotional themes. I want the Summer Court to be "bright" but not good, and the Winter Court to be "dark" but not evil. So I'm trying to create a set of themes for each one. Each theme should be a linked set of emotions including both "positive" and "negative" versions. I'm especially interested in cases where when you take a positive to the extreme, it becomes a negative (or vice versa). These aren't supposed to be exhaustive, merely suggestive.

    The ones I have so far (tentatively, comments welcome):
    Summer Court
    1. Euphoria, pleasure, sensation -> addiction(?); the idea is that they're constantly chasing new sensations and pleasures, much like an addict chasing the next high.
    2. Interest, curiosity, passion (non-sensual meaning) -> Nosiness, lack of barriers (?); the idea is that you're so interested in what everyone else is doing that you start pushing yourself where you shouldn't be, creepy stalker-like.
    3. Confidence, optimism -> Arrogance, foolhardiness, lack of caution
    4. Affection, love -> possessiveness, jealousy

    Winter Court
    1. Pain, loss -> endurance, sympathy/empathy
    2. Disinterest, dispassion -> rationality, clear vision
    3. Uncertainty, pessimism -> humility, careful planning (basically the opposite of Summer Court #3)
    4. Loneliness, solitude -> Introspection (?) ; an inward focus that lets one know self better, at the cost of appearing cold to everyone else's concerns. Lost in your own world.

    I'm not entirely happy with these as the basic groupings, but am failing to come up with anything better.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    Well ... this may be helpful, or not, but everyone interested in the fey should read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Frankly, also everyone not interested in the fey.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Well ... this may be helpful, or not, but everyone interested in the fey should read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Frankly, also everyone not interested in the fey.
    I tried, but lost interest quickly. In this case, I'm less interested in other depictions of the fey (as my idea is relatively well fixed by the rest of the setting), but in how to group threads of emotions.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    I think you're on a bit of the wrong track in how you're approaching this. You're treating emotions as a hardened set of discrete values, but they're more complex than that, and this is something that should map well to what you're trying to accomplish.



    For example, you have "passion" and "apathy" as two separate things. It would work better to treat this as a spectrum with "total obsession" at one end and "complete and total indifference" at the other. Where a given fae is on that spectrum would determine the Summer/Winter alignment of that fae.


    Even more complex are emotions that don't really have an opposite, just a spectrum of manifestations. Anger is a good example of this. You can be angry that somebody has it better than you (jealous anger), angry that somebody hurt you (vengeful anger), anger that others are being treated unfairly (virtuous anger), just furious in general (wrathful anger) or a bunch of other possibilities. In these cases, it would be better to model it as a modifier to another emotion than as a thing itself (in most cases).

    Still more complex is emotions that have more than one opposite. Pride is one such - the obvious opposite is Shame. However, an equally opposite position is Humility. Likewise, the obvious opposite of Shame is Pride, but an equally opposite position is Serenity (in this case, it means "accepting that there are things you can't do, setting that aside, and focusing on what you can do").

    For your purposes, this translates to much deeper and more complex aspected fae, if you want to make use of that complexity.

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    So, what happens when fey are exposed to cruelty? Do they somehow not turn in lulzies, because they are such reasonable beings? [/sarcasm]

    Or do those exist, but are rejected by both courts? Like hags are, IIRC. I could see that.

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    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    The ones I have so far (tentatively, comments welcome):
    Summer Court
    1. Euphoria, pleasure, sensation -> addiction(?); the idea is that they're constantly chasing new sensations and pleasures, much like an addict chasing the next high.
    2. Interest, curiosity, passion (non-sensual meaning) -> Nosiness, lack of barriers (?); the idea is that you're so interested in what everyone else is doing that you start pushing yourself where you shouldn't be, creepy stalker-like.
    3. Confidence, optimism -> Arrogance, foolhardiness, lack of caution
    4. Affection, love -> possessiveness, jealousy

    Winter Court
    1. Pain, loss -> endurance, sympathy/empathy
    2. Disinterest, dispassion -> rationality, clear vision
    3. Uncertainty, pessimism -> humility, careful planning (basically the opposite of Summer Court #3)
    4. Loneliness, solitude -> Introspection (?) ; an inward focus that lets one know self better, at the cost of appearing cold to everyone else's concerns. Lost in your own world.

    I'm not entirely happy with these as the basic groupings, but am failing to come up with anything better.
    What you have for Summer Court so far seems to map pretty well onto Mania (plus the desirable versions of it), while Winter Court seems to map onto Depression (plus the desirable versions of it).

    You could also look into the 4 humors and assign Sanguine / Choleric to Summer, and Melancholic / Phlegmatic to Winter. If you dig enough into it, you'll probably be able to find desirable / detestable qualities of each of the humors, which should help.


    Given that you don't want a good/evil dichotomy, I'd suggest that you pick some good/evil qualities, and figure out how each court would express each of those qualities: looking at cruelty and looking at the list you already have, for instance, Summer could be overly curious/jealous/foolhardy to the point of hurting others, while Winter might enjoy inflicting and feeling pain / attack anyone who invades their solitude.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    So, what happens when fey are exposed to cruelty? Do they somehow not turn in lulzies, because they are such reasonable beings? [/sarcasm]

    Or do those exist, but are rejected by both courts? Like hags are, IIRC. I could see that.
    I just haven't included cruelty in here. Same with anger. In part because they're complex, and in other part because I figure both courts can be cruel. Just in different ways. The Summer Court might "encourage" mortals to dance themselves to death, or provoke them to run heedlessly into danger, etc., while the Winter Court may be more "overtly" cruel. I'm playing with the Summer = illusion while Winter is open about it theme that goes through a lot of fey depictions. They're mostly cruel because they're alien, not necessarily because they're malevolent (although some of the more powerful ones certainly can be).

    Hags (and the male version, which I don't have a name for) are basically fey in reverse--mortals who are consumed by particular emotions and trade their humanity to a fey-ish being (part fey, part artifact, all unpleasant) called the Weeping Tree for a bit of its sap/fruit/spirit. This sap replaces their heart and keeps them alive, as long as they consume/are exposed to the emotion that they are obsessed with. Different hag types are related to different emotions as well. Technically there can be "positive", "good" hags, but that's not very common since those that are so consumingly obsessed with an emotion rarely are such with things like altruism, love, etc.

    I had a hag whose consuming emotion was envy--she was an ugly person who hated that others were more beautiful. So she kidnapped beautiful women and stole their looks, basically torturing them and draining their spirits. To everyone else, it appeared as if she was them, like she was wearing their skin (metaphorically). Breaking that tie and freeing the women weakened the hag tremendously (as if it was starving).

    @malachi: I must confess that I'm drawing part of my inspiration from the Elder Scrolls version of Sheogorath's realm, so Mania vs Melancholy/Depression/Dementia works quite well. I also like the 4 humors version, since part of the aesthetic is a "what if pre-medieval science was really true" rejection of modern science.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2019-04-01 at 11:55 AM.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    I might do it where each emotion belongs in both courts, but each court represents the extreme.

    Summer might be the bright, energetic, external, positive aspect of each emotion.
    Winter would be the absence or the slower, more internal, negative aspect.

    So that for instance
    joy for a summer fey would be happines and apathy for winter. Where the summer fey is bright and carefree. They dont look forward much but care deeply about the happiness of everyone around them, inspiring euphoria. The winter fey is cold and distant, uncaring for anything and seeing no inherent value in life. They exist for the moment only, nothing more then their current desires matter. They cause lethargy and depression or a mania.

    Sadness for a summer fey might be focused on regrowth and change, inspiring those inflicted to see the silver lining and an opportunity to make things better. While the winter fey would be deep melancholy that sees little reason to engage with anyone or anything lest it add to their loss. They inspire hopelessness and utter despair.

    Those are just a few examples. You could do the same sort of spectrum with anger and desire.

    I wouldnt go into more then that though. Most emotions are really just a mix of those 4 basic ones so it would be better to keep those things as aspects of the larger emotion so that you can have more variety in each court.

    By which i mean that for instance I think its better to have a love fey be a fey of desire focused on the positive aspect where the negative of that might be obsession, greed or the need to control their subject. And a vengeance fey is just a negative or winter aspect of an anger fey.
    Last edited by geppetto; 2019-04-01 at 02:03 PM.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Well ... this may be helpful, or not, but everyone interested in the fey should read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Frankly, also everyone not interested in the fey.
    I'd suggest L. K. Hamilton. Specifically, her Merry Gentry novels. Warning: they do get into particularly graphic depictions of sex. What they do better, is portray the "good" fae as visually beautiful, but monsters in how they deal with others (to the point of trying to drown a half breed child,) and showing the soft side of the "evil" fae. Well, some of them anyway.
    Last edited by redwizard007; 2019-04-02 at 06:38 AM. Reason: Auto correct

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    I've decided to shift significantly how I approach the greater fey. While it's fine for the lesser fey to be dominated by one emotion, I think the greater (more humanoid/"human") fey will do better if they're more complex. They're trying to wear "human masks" and "think/feel like a mortal", and mortals are complex. So I'm going to go with the old-school humeric theory of personality (thanks @malachi for pointing me in that direction), overlaid onto seasons (because they are nature spirits) and cycles.

    Spoiler: 8-point cycle
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    The two main cycles are the seasonal ones (Spring -> Summer -> Autumn -> Winter -> Spring) and the day-night cycle (Dawn -> Noon -> Dusk -> Midnight -> Dawn). Place these at 45 degrees to each other and you get 8 "compass points". Read counter-clockwise from Dawn, you have

    Dawn -> Spring -> Noon -> Summer -> Dusk -> Autumn -> Midnight -> Winter -> Dawn

    Now associating the 4 humors with each of the seasonal quadrants, you get
    Spring -> Sanguine (optimistic, energetic, flighty, vain, extroverted, open)
    Summer -> Choleric (direct, competitive, active, practical, insensitive, violent)
    Autumn -> Phlegmatic (indecisive, quiet, calm, non-confrontational, lazy)
    Winter -> Melancholic (sensitive, inquisitive, perfectionist, introverted, anxious, pessimistic, tenacious)

    This leaves dawn associated with revealing truth while dusk is associated with keeping secrets. Midnight is associated with dark, cold, inward-facing, indirection, while noon is associated with warmth, light, directness, and outward orientation.


    So this leaves 4 courts, not 2. One for each season.

    Spoiler: Spring
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    Spring Court is the social butterflies. Drama, drama, everywhere. Love and hate, just not apathy. Their biggest fear is being ignored or being bored. They can be cruel, vain, petty, and play casually malicious pranks, but they're also the most likely to help out (until they get bored) if you ask nicely or flatter them. They acknowledge uncomfortable truths, but tend to laugh them off or forget quickly.

    Ruled by a Queen, chosen by popularity contest and changes quickly.


    Spoiler: Summer
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    Summer Court is the most hierarchical court. Conflict, competition, activity. Tons of proud beings butting heads, jockeying for power. Of all of them, they're the most likely to be openly cruel to the unfortunate. When they help, they are dependable and helpful. Everything they do is in a direct sort of way. They ignore uncomfortable truths (about themselves, but not others).

    Ruled by a King, chosen by competition. Might be swords, might be poetry, might be flower arranging.


    Spoiler: Autumn
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    Autumn Court is all about the surface. Saving face is the primary goal of interactions. They're very polite--nothing is said or done to hurt someone else's feelings directly. Whispers and backstabbing are rife, however. They have a hard time making lasting decisions--they flow to the consensus of the moment. Totally undependable, unless you have them by the short hairs. Bringing up uncomfortable truths is tabu here. Insinuation and blackmail is a way of life. They're the illusionists of the fey above all.

    Ruled by consensus. Constantly changing consensus.


    Spoiler: WINTER
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    Winter Court is ugly but honest. Dour, cold, rational, reserved, perfectionists. They hold grudges like nobody else. like Summer, they're organized, but not hierarchically. Each one has their own sphere and they stick to that. They honor their debts, but hate being debtors. Even thanking one is considered a source of debt. They openly accept uncomfortable truths and will tell them right back. Truth is a jagged dagger, to be stuck in your enemy when they least expect it. Revenge is a way of life here and best served ice cold.

    Ruled by a Queen, seemingly the same one since time immemorial. Politics is ossified here--like everything else, it's left to the experts.
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    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    From what you wrote, I don't get the importance of the 8-point cycle. You have a court for each season, but I don't see anything that cares about the day-night cycle. Do fey of each court also have an affinity for a particular part of the day-night cycle (so you'd basically have 4 "factions" or, maybe more accurately, personality archetypes within each court)?

    I find it interesting that the major things you wanted to emphasize here are:
    A) How they interact between themselves / their political structure
    B) How they interact with humans (on their own terms)
    C) How they interact with humans on the human's terms (how they help)
    D) How they interact with truths that are hard to accept

    What made you decide on those, particularly (D), in your writeup?


    This seems like a cool bit of worldbuilding, and could be structured in a really cool way for the players - particularly if the old wives' tales the players hear don't distinguish between the courts (so all the PCs hear that ALL fey are like Spring, but then someone else starts telling them that ALL fey are like Winter, but the first fey they encounter is actually Autumn). I like the progress you're making!

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    Quote Originally Posted by malachi View Post
    From what you wrote, I don't get the importance of the 8-point cycle. You have a court for each season, but I don't see anything that cares about the day-night cycle. Do fey of each court also have an affinity for a particular part of the day-night cycle (so you'd basically have 4 "factions" or, maybe more accurately, personality archetypes within each court)?
    Part is just the idea of cycles/dualities, but also I was thinking that some fey are more aspected one way or the other. So a Summer fey might be noon-aspected or dusk-aspected, while a Spring fey might be noon or dawn aspected. Probably making more physiological distinctions than personality. So the Courts are about personality, while the day-night cycle is about physiology and broad trends.

    I find it interesting that the major things you wanted to emphasize here are:
    A) How they interact between themselves / their political structure
    B) How they interact with humans (on their own terms)
    C) How they interact with humans on the human's terms (how they help)
    D) How they interact with truths that are hard to accept

    What made you decide on those, particularly (D), in your writeup?
    I'm always focused on the player side of things. How the player characters will see them. So (A) helps me know how they'll factionalize and the stress points between them, while (B) is about how individuals will treat people normally. (C) tells me how much use they'll be as sources of help for the PCs.

    (D) just seemed like an interesting avenue of differentiation. The difference between "I'm such a moron, but do you see how pretty I am?" (Spring) and "I'm not dumb, you're just asking the wrong questions because you can't see how right I am" (Summer) or "That really was stupid, you're right. [and I'll remember you saying that and look for every chance to point out all the stupid things you've done]" (Winter), or not even being able to articulate that idea (that someone did something dumb) without hiding it behind layers of indirection (Autumn).

    This seems like a cool bit of worldbuilding, and could be structured in a really cool way for the players - particularly if the old wives' tales the players hear don't distinguish between the courts (so all the PCs hear that ALL fey are like Spring, but then someone else starts telling them that ALL fey are like Winter, but the first fey they encounter is actually Autumn). I like the progress you're making!
    Thanks! I was thinking that since individuality is somewhat...arbitrary...among the fey, some fey might bounce between courts. So your grandfather/those ancient tomes say that Fey McFeyface is bubbly and flighty (Spring), but then you meet them and they're twisty and all inuendo (Autumn). The only constant is change...except for the Queen of Winter, who's been there forever.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Metahuman1's Avatar

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    Default Re: Grouping emotions into light and dark but not into good and evil

    Just a thought, but, you might look at some Daoist and Buddhist philosophy. Darkness within light, and light within Darkness, and both are essential. Softness within hardness, and hardness within softness. Strength within weakness, and weakness within strength. So on.

    Might be a good source to mine for ideas or basic concepts, with a bit of rephrasing.
    "I Burn!"

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