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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    ClericGirl

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    Default How do you role-play Archfey?

    The game I'll be using this advice for is DnD 5e, but it's more of a role-playing question so I figured the general forum was better.

    Spoiler: Longer version/context
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    My players will be traveling to the Feywild soon, and one of them will need to strike a bargain with an archfey for a powerful weapon. The PC learned about said archfey through a story growing up that is basically a slightly more morbid version of the Pied Piper. He will be issued some kind of TBD challenge that ideally will involve a battle of wits, although the PC is significantly quicker and smarter than I am so that's probably not the best idea.

    Archfey are such strange supernatural characters and I've never had to deal with them before, either as a player or a DM, and frankly I don't really know how to rp one.


    TLDR: Archfey are some crazy mofos. How would you rp one whom the Pied Piper story is based on and who straddles the line between TN and CG?
    "What are you going to do, bludgeon it with a rake?"
    "Hold up, did we just get a defective pocket dragon?"
    Why are you advocating cutting off hands? You're a paladin! Who's your god, Orcus?"

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Fey, though often stated as Neutral more embody what TV Tropes calls Blue and Orange Morality more than any standard LCGE spectrum. For any Fey I would choose some else to be 'good' or 'bad' in their eyes. For a Pied Piper type perhaps Sound= Good, Silence= Bad? Perhaps Music=Best so to get the beat results from him it would be best to sing your diplomacy? Or go full Devil went down to Georgia?

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Manipulative and clever. They'll say they only value people for their benefits than their intent, but it's mostly a ruse to get you to give up. They're used to seeing things grow in chaos, and they're quick to assess others to see whether they have potential to become something greater or if they're going to burn out quickly from refusing to adapt and change themselves. They keep the former as servants, and the latter as slaves.

    They're also dishonest about trying to help or hurt you. Sometimes, saying they want to "help" meant that they were "helping" themselves, and that itself is a lie in an attempt to cover up what they actually were doing to help.

    Imagine something with a childish sense of truth vs. lying. Brutally blunt about your faults, lies about the dumbest things that don't matter, constantly shifting away from telling you the truth that you want to hear. However, they either expect you to see through what they consider an obvious lie (or you're not worth their time in the first place), or they have a reason for hiding the truth through multiple layers of lies that they don't actually expect you to see through.

    Regardless of whether they're secretly helpful, or manipulative for their own gain, they're always very fun. Even if that means turning you into a boar and challenging you to a hunt, or demanding that you accomplish their legendary task while wearing a ridiculous hat (as they recognize emotional struggle as a form of endurance, showing both your worth and your fealty).

    For a player to adopt these characteristics, you could regularly tell people nonsensical lies that obviously aren't true for the sake of fun (Think the TV show Psyche), be overly blunt to your allies about your theories about people no matter how outlandish they are (as fey are generally a very paranoid bunch that regularly jump to conclusions), pull serious pranks on your allies that result in no overall harm (such as stealing your Fighter's magical sword just so that he would just spend time with you to find it), and performing acts of charity under secret and claiming it's a villainous act when you get caught.

    They're often kind, benevolent and loving, they just aren't really allowed to be for one reason or another. They can also be intentionally cruel, usually because they either haven't found a reason not to be in you (as their opinion of you varies between insect, mule, or besties) or because something demands it from them.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2020-08-16 at 01:27 PM.
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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Flippant and speaks in riddles. May offer the thing in exchange for abstract concepts like "One of your happiest days." "The feather of a mountain lion." or "The nightmare of a newborn child."
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Personally, I draw a lot of inspiration from Fair Folk stories, both old and modern. I think my current favorite is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. A brilliant book, and also a really good tv mini-series if you'd rather just watch it. Where the villain is certainly an Archfey.

    But essentially, I kind of think of them as not caring about morality in the slightest and instead focusing on things that we might consider unimportant as all consuming. For my own setting the elves are basically rules by an Archfey called the Eternal King. And he cares about only two things, surrounding himself with the most beautiful creatures in all the world, and collecting companions to go on his glorious hunt.

    The people he chooses for political posts are not based on their knowledge, or skills, or anything. It is "is this person beautiful? Then I must have them to grace my halls. Is this person a skilled hunter? Then we must ride through my forests and find the greatest of beasts together."

    Now for normal kingdoms that would be an absolutely terrible way to run a kingdom, of course. But for the Archfey their territory is practically an extension of their will. Are they sad? It will rain. Do they wish the crops to grow tall to fill his halls with feasts? Then the farmers will have the easiest time gathering food than anyone else. Are you invading my territory, getting in the way of my leisure and hunts? Then the very land will turn against the invaders. They will travel in circles. Fall into bogs where there were none a moment before. Fogs will obscure their sight and lead them into the homes of the great beasts the Eternal King has grown to hunt.

    In the background, I try to keep the notion that he is incredibly bored. At a fundamental level, he's almost depressed because he's been doing all these things for millennia. But that's part of why he gets so excited with new friends to hunt with, and new beautiful slaves to fill his kingdom. And for a moment when these new creatures come into his sight they consume him. He wants them. He wants them to stay as his toys forever. And he will try to convince them to stay. Then he may threaten them. Then he may use mind control if they're particularly stubborn or displease him. The morality of such actions does not concern him. They are unimportant. What is important is that he has hunting companions and beautiful people to always be beside him.

    And when they can no longer hunt with him, and age has taken their beauty. He may release them. And they will leave his court in a fog, remembering all the wonderful or terrifying times they had. Only to realize that their entire life has passed them by and they have accomplished nothing.

    As you may suspect reading this. I would not consider my Archfey on the Good spectrum. Now, some are more kindly than the main Eternal King. And Hell, even old EK can be the nicest person you ever met, offering great assistance at what seems a reasonable price. But all of them are not worried about morality. And they all have an obsession or two that is more important than anything else to them in all the world.

    For a more detailed description or discussion on how to make your Archfey, can we get the Pied Piper story? So we have something to work off of.
    Last edited by Dienekes; 2020-08-16 at 04:20 PM.

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Think of an abusive relationship. The fey are the abusers in that relationship; the players are the abused.

    You want them to be drawn in with an offer of something they crave, but haven’t been able to obtain. And give them a hint of it.

    Then start with small behaviors to normalize the players to being lied to, sent to do things that aren’t quite what they hoped, but close enough.

    When this causes issues, make it clear they just don’t understand how things work here, what opportunities they squandered, and how it’s all the PC’s fault for their lack of intelligence/capability/understanding fry culture/whatever.

    Now make it clear because of their failures, trying to disassociate with the fey is dangerous. They know too much; only the archery’s beneificent mercy is stopping all the other forces that be from having to kill the PCs for reasons the PCs can’t comprehend, but are very very real. Lying here is of course encouraged.

    Eventually the players will try to leave anyhow. When they do, hand them just enough reward to keep them with the fey - information, trinkets, a new plot lead.

    Imply that if they just stick it out, it’ll all get better.

    Then repeat.

    Eventually the players will try to leave. Only now the fey come back and bargain them back into the fold.

    Keep doing this to normalize the PCs to being abused until they eventually become psychologically enslaved to the archfey.

    And if they do leave, really hurt them. (the PCs, not the real life players)

    ——

    Chances are you won’t get through with all of that, but if you play the fey as controlling, lying, abusive partners with inscrutable goals...you’re doing it right.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    ClericGirl

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Thanks, y'all, this is definitely helping. Especially the idea that I should be focused less on good and evil and more on some esoteric idea the archfey has decided is important.

    For more context, this is the pied piper story that's based on Thranduras the archfey (as written by the player whose character is kind of obsessed with him):

    In this story the Pied Piper got all of the rats, mice, and insects of the city to follow him to a fertile forest far outside the city's walls where they could live without disturbing the people of Volan. The city refused to pay him what he was promised for the task and they exiled him from the city. So as months passed he amassed a swarm of vermin dozens of times over what they initially had, unleashed them upon the city, and left. No one knows what happened to the city, or what became of the Pied Piper of Telkor, but his legend lives on to teach children the importance of keeping your promises. Warwick (PC) thought the Pied Piper was completely justified in his actions and idolized him to the point where his fear of vermin ceased to exist, and instead a fascination grew, and he became fixated on them.
    "What are you going to do, bludgeon it with a rake?"
    "Hold up, did we just get a defective pocket dragon?"
    Why are you advocating cutting off hands? You're a paladin! Who's your god, Orcus?"

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Sandman View Post
    Fey, though often stated as Neutral more embody what TV Tropes calls Blue and Orange Morality more than any standard LCGE spectrum. For any Fey I would choose some else to be 'good' or 'bad' in their eyes. For a Pied Piper type perhaps Sound= Good, Silence= Bad? Perhaps Music=Best so to get the beat results from him it would be best to sing your diplomacy? Or go full Devil went down to Georgia?
    It really depends on what Fey you're talking about. Fey are weird in that they're often bound by complex pacts that mortals don't really understand, but a lot of the time it boils down to 'you walked under an archway three times while muttering about rocks under your breath, so now i get to enslave your for all eternity, flay off your face, and wear it like a hat'. Other Fey will collect mortals that they find beautiful are otherwise amusing, torment them for an unclear amount of time because time in most Fey realms isn't exactly consistent, and then discard them with severe PTSD.

    I'd consider that evil, and I'd kill something that behaved that way if it were within my power to do so. The things Fey often do are monstrous, even if the reason they do so is because of bizarre rules that inextricably bind them. In the pied piper example in this thread, the Piper takes revenge for nonpayment by undoing his work hundreds of times over and likely killing many people, considering the city no longer appears to exist. Is mass murder a suitable revenge for nonpayment for services rendered? I would say absolutely not. Breaking your promises is bad, but the exterminator doesn't kill me and my entire extended family and multiple unrelated families if I don't pay the bill.

    Fey are alien, yes. That's important. They consider themselves to be above morality, or rather the moral code they use is extreme. But mortals will be well within their rights to want to put a Fey to the sword when it does something extremely monstrous to them that's acceptable within it's own moral framework.
    Last edited by Zanos; 2020-08-17 at 11:24 AM.
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    cool Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Miz_Liz View Post
    Warwick (PC) thought the Pied Piper was completely justified in his actions and idolized him to the point where his fear of vermin ceased to exist, and instead a fascination grew, and he became fixated on them.
    Idea: Names hold power. To speak, write, or even just read about an archfey allows that being to scry you freely. This idolization is not a natural thing; it is the archfey subtly manipulating and mind controlling the PC to turn him towards the archfey's benefit.
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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Fair Folk Stories, as suggested, are a good point.

    Also almost all Fae Stories include them being literally unable to speak a Lie, but on the other hand being master Manipulaters that dance around as gracefully with words as on the Dance Floor.

    If you`ve read the Dresden Files, especially Cold Days, Mab and her Ilk offer great examples.

    If it was up to me, I would focus on the alienness, the absolute truth in word and deed (just usually not the interpretation of it we as educated by our morals and society will draw from them) and beautiful in ther mercylessness.

    If you paly them right, they will torture your Players Character for year, and he will thank them for it, but thats a hefty qway to play it, and not for everybody. Not to mention hard to pull off.
    A neutron walks into a bar and says, “How much for a beer?” The bartender says, “For you? No charge.”


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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and/or The Broken Sword. Both are perfect literary descriptions of the fey - the first is really long, the other is quite short. Both really should have been required reading for the authors of D&D sourcebooks before they sadly messed fey up completely.

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    I suggest either a midsummer nights dream, the cruel prince (and it’s sequel, the wicked king) (amazing books by the way, strongly recommend) or, of course, because I couldn’t not suggest discworld, Lords and Ladies. All give fairly different takes but somewhat similar.
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Pratchett View Post
    Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
    Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
    Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
    Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
    Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
    Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
    The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
    No one ever said elves are nice.
    Elves are bad.

    ― Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies.
    The Archfey are terrific.
    I've just run a campaign with the major threat being the Queen of Air and Darkness.
    The party has now moved onto a much more lighthearted campaign, going into Hell.

    That's not an exaggeration: The party almost managed to doom their world to eternal winter by making a verbal agreement with an Archfae's proxy to go through a portal back to their home.

    "Me and mine can go through that portal, if you and yours can also go through it".

    They thought it was an agreement to let them through the portal, in exchange for letting an equivalent number of fae through.
    In truth, the promise gave every fae of the Winter Court full access to their home, and started turning their world into a frost-ridden wasteland (leading into the Pathfinder adventure path 'Reign of Winter').

    --

    On the other hand, the character's could literally walk into a goblin market and buy campaign-shattering abilities.
    For prices like the Ranger's ability to speak to their animal companion, a year of memories, or '3 minutes and 6 seconds'.


    Archfey give you the option to 'change the rules' of D&D, and drag the spotlight away from combat to social interaction, mystery and balancing factions.
    I played them as bound by otherworldly rules and agreements, trying to use the character's as catpaws against other Archfey.
    They also could break the fourth wall, to some degree.


    I suggest you take a look at the following sources, for more inspiration;


    'Under the Pendulum Sun' by Jeannette Ng

    REDACTED PER PROTOCOL-4000 ESHU (http://www.scpwiki.com/taboo)

    Changeling:The Lost (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changeling:_The_Lost)
    Last edited by kalkyrie; 2020-08-18 at 08:59 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    I second Discworld as an excellent source for Fey as antagonists, with an alien nature and unnatural charms.

    For what sounds like a potential Patron for a 5e Warlock Pact, what I would recommend focusing on the most is 'intensity'. Fey contrast best with normal mortals if you can get them square into uncanny valley territory, and one of the better ways to do that is by skewing their priorities versus those of conventional mortalkind. The example upthread of the Eternal King is more or less what I'm talking about here - a fixation on things of lesser importance to the degree that humans focus on the requirements of life.

    If, for example, you want an Archfey who is impactful to the world at large, perhaps you can play them as compulsively making and executing deals, with tremendous power to back those deals up. Not trying to con people so much as needing to form everything as an exchange in order to sustain their own existence. Such an Archfey might refer to 'giving answers' in exchange for questions, rather than talking about 'answering your questions'. They might stare unblinking and untrusting at any PC with whom they have not yet made at least a minor agreement. And they might well look for a catspaw to send to interfere with agreements made to the Archfey's displeasure. In this sort of presentation, a fey should come across familiar in form but alien in thought. A PC might be able to reason out a casual connection between two actions, but shouldn't readily guess the next action to be taken. In this context, your Pied Piper may have been retaliating for a breached promise on principal, or may simply have cut a deal with the rats after leading them away.

    Another possible presentation is of an Archfey who is capricious but bound by oaths or promises made. A creature that doesn't stand by its past decisions, but is helpless against them. This sort of fey might enjoin itself against harming the party by an errant word or phrase, and then seek to undermine the same to regain freedom to act as they choose. In this sort of scenario, your Pied Piper may have gladly offered to remove the rats for a pittance on a whim. Then they rebelled against being unable to choose to not move the rats, and swung the opposite direction as soon as the given promise of removal for payment was broken. The difference here is that you end up with an Archfey who wanted to be betrayed, and may even have engineered that scenario themselves, because they feel confined by their nature in obeying promises but cannot disobey that nature directly.

    Whatever you go with, try and be memorable. Don't have your Archfey be 'that fey who lived at PLACE', have them be 'the fey that does THING'. Especially since strong quirks tend to make for easier writing once you have a feel for the character's inner wants and needs.
    All advice given with the caveat that you know your group better than I do. If that wasn't true, you'd be getting advice face-to-face. So I generalize.

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Miz_Liz View Post
    The game I'll be using this advice for is DnD 5e, but it's more of a role-playing question so I figured the general forum was better.

    Spoiler: Longer version/context
    Show
    My players will be traveling to the Feywild soon, and one of them will need to strike a bargain with an archfey for a powerful weapon. The PC learned about said archfey through a story growing up that is basically a slightly more morbid version of the Pied Piper. He will be issued some kind of TBD challenge that ideally will involve a battle of wits, although the PC is significantly quicker and smarter than I am so that's probably not the best idea.

    Archfey are such strange supernatural characters and I've never had to deal with them before, either as a player or a DM, and frankly I don't really know how to rp one.


    TLDR: Archfey are some crazy mofos. How would you rp one whom the Pied Piper story is based on and who straddles the line between TN and CG?
    I personally make them very alien. Fey are immortal and indestructible, but wear masks in the form of bodies. They are formless without their masks, and their spirits are so chaotic that they can't stand to wear the same mask for more than a few decades. So they swap them; you might make an alliance with the King of the Morning and he switches places with your worst enemy when they get bored. Their spirits switch to each other's masks (IE bodies) with their bodies memories but their spirits personality. If you kill a mask they make a new one, and every millennia or so they melt their plane of existence and rearrange it.

    The Fey are actually fixed in number, they have "children" in the form of new masks they raise but they don't reproduce and they are very aware that they are wearing a costume. The masks get stronger with age, but the Fey themselves are all identical in power. So the Archfey change to new actors frequently because they are boring and everyone has been the same one many times, but are immensely powerful.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrayDeath View Post

    Also almost all Fae Stories include them being literally unable to speak a Lie, but on the other hand being master Manipulaters that dance around as gracefully with words as on the Dance Floor.

    If you`ve read the Dresden Files, especially Cold Days, Mab and her Ilk offer great examples.
    I personally love this version of the fey. Being extremely tricky and deceitful but also literally honest. It can be hard to pull off but try to think of ways to phrase things or remove context so that what is being promised or talked about is literally true but not what the players understood it to mean. Since they're questing for a weapon one thing you might do is have them undergo some sort of test with the weapon supposedly up for grabs if they pass but then it turns out that what was actually promised was something else entirely. Maybe the fey promises an instrument that could bring about the destruction of the BBEG, with the implication that they're talking about the weapon the players want but then, nope sorry it's actually something almost totally useless that could technically do it. The players will then have to be careful in how they phrase things and what they actually agree to as the next step might have the fey promising the actual weapon but then sending the players to fulfill some tricky quest.

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Obliquely.

    Seriously though, take your time. The Archfey are immortal in a way we cannot truly grasp. Listen to what the players actually say, and ensure that in character interactions are no takebacks. Words have power, names doubly so. When greeting, have the powerful fey say: may i have your names? And have him reply with: you may call me ...... Never answer a question directly, but instead with an obliquely related question of his own. Spin them in circles. Try and get the pcs to ragequit. Demand a service, place a geis, and bind them to a task, totally unrelated to their quest. Make them learn something about their character, or make them change something. Have them run ragged, fail if possible, then thank and dismiss them...only to have them realise they picked up the mcguffin in the first ten minutes and have been carrying it around the whole time. The fey are not to be trifled with, or understood really...

    Also, Raymond E. Feist's Faerie Tale is a brilliant depiction of the fae, great and small. As is the British miniseries Neverwhere.
    Last edited by aglondier; 2020-09-06 at 07:45 AM.
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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Have you ever heard of Bill Cipher?
    May I borrow some bat guano? It's for a spell...

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    This is what I do:

    To the fey, all the world is a game, and thus they act like people do when playing a game.

    Look at various types of video game players, some people play just for fun, some people want to see what happens when they do something unexpected, some want to collect all the trophies, some want to win st any cost, some obsess over the “perfect run”, some don't really care and just want to socialize, others are just griefers who want to ruin other people’s fun for the lolz.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: How do you role-play Archfey?

    Take a look at the Fair Folk from the Exaited game: They see themselves as characters in a tale, and try to be as menorable as can be, bu behind that facade they are insane, ravenous dream-devouring aliens driven by hunger and survival instinct...

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