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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    I've had an idea kicking around in my head for a while, decided to see if the Playground had any feedback. This is probably for either a 3.5 or Pathfinder game. The details are still up in the air, but the core concept is that there is a fey noble class ruling over a mortal world. For the sake of convenience, let's call these fey nobles Sidhe, not that I intend to follow Irish mythology. I've fleshed out various bits and pieces of lore, but it's all somewhat amorphous and may not actually be a good idea. So I'm dumping it all out here, and I'd like to know what you think works, what doesn't, and any ideas y'all have to make it better.

    Basic Concepts:
    • From the perspective of the average person, this isn't much different from a normal setting. For those who do not deal directly with the Sidhe, it doesn't really matter that they're paying taxes to an immortal elf-lord instead of a human noble. This is not necessarily a evil empire that needs to be overthrown, it's just the power structure that exists.
    • For those involved in Sidhe politics, this is very different from a noble setting. The Sidhe are inhuman. Their goals and values are not ours. They are cruel and deceitful, but also bound by their word once given. I'd like to emphasize how important bargains, exchanges, favors, obligations, etc. are to the Sidhe, and how dangerous it is for an unprepared mortal to get caught up in that.
    • There is definitely a human/mortal resistance that will try to convince the PCs that this is an evil empire that needs to be overthrown.
    • Sidhe and nobility are synonymous; there are no commoner or merchant Sidhe, and there are no nobles of mortal races.


    Sidhe Courts:
    • Rather than Summer and Winter, the Sidhe Courts are organized around astronomy. The smallest of the Courts is the Court of the Sun, which is (at least nominally) a central ruling authority. There are four Courts of the Moon (one for each phase), which are subject to the rule of the Court of the Sun, but also autonomous in sometimes-strange ways.
    • The power and influence of the four Courts of the Moon roughly correspond to their associated phases. So the Court of the Full Moon is always the most powerful, the Court of the Empty Moon the least powerful, and the Court of the Waxing Moon and Court of the Waning Moon somewhere in between.
    • The Courts of the Moon cycle through the phases in the expected order (though at irregular intervals ranging from weeks to decades). So periodically the Court of the Empty Moon becomes the Court of the Waxing Moon, the Court of the Waxing Moon becomes the Court of the Full Moon, etc. Fey being fey, this is somehow both as natural and inescapable as the changing of the seasons and the subject of an unbelievable amount of plotting.
    • As an individual Court of the Moon moves through the phases, the fortunes of its holdings also wax and wane. The cities of the Court of the Full Moon will be wealthy and powerful, while those ruled by the Court of the Empty Moon will struggle. Some mortal scholars have speculated that the fortunes of the Courts' lands actually drive the waxing and waning of the Courts themselves. The Sidhe themselves have been known to invest in their own lands and try to weaken their rivals' holdings, so there may be something to this. Or not.
    • Individual houses and nobles take their names and titles from signs of the zodiac, stars, or heavenly bodies. Even the insignificant third son of a minor Sidhe house will have an elaborate title like Lord of the Gryphon Star in the House of the Virgin.


    Sidhe as a Race:
    • The Sidhe are immortal but can be killed, and Sidhe politics is a contact sport. Many are no older than most mortals, but the oldest and most powerful are thousands of years old.
    • The Sidhe are native to Faerie, and the number in the Material Plane at any time is fixed. A Sidhe child can be conceived only after a Sidhe dies. Birthing the next Sidhe child is, at least in theory, a boon awarded by the Emperor of the Sun. Virtually every Sidhe House is constantly maneuvering to receive this boon.
    • Sidhe are not actually incapable of conceiving without the blessing of the Emperor of the Sun, but doing so is punishable by death of one or both parents so that the Emperor may allow somebody more deserving to have that child. Many Sidhe avoid any activity that could result in an unintended pregnancy. Mortals have been known to suffer(?) as a result, as there are no restrictions on half-Sidhe children.
    • The child of a Sidhe and a mortal is a PHB elf, why not?
    • I'm not really sure how to represent Sidhe mechanically. They could be all different types of fey, or all the same race. In the latter case, what should they be?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    I'm not really sure how to represent Sidhe mechanically. They could be all different types of fey, or all the same race. In the latter case, what should they be?
    Well, it depends on

    - how you want your Sidhe to interact with the larger concept of faeries and fey, both in how game mechanics represent them and how people generally conceptualize them
    - the reality of book-keeping what types are what house, etc, etc.
    - how diversification changes the feel and social structure of the Sidhe
    - whether form follows lineage, or some other pattern that further reinforces the outworld-ness and strange rhythms of your Sidhe.

    If your setting also has endemic nature spirits that count as fey (the mechanical type) then it makes sense to make the Sidhe--visitors from elsewhere--be a single type or a small set of types separate from the conventional types found in natural settings (satyrs, nymphs, grigs, etc.) just to avoid confusion.

    But lots of types change the feel of your faerie nobles: it suggests vertical distinctions--lineage and family--that would have more stability and continuity than the shifting Court system and be "too human": there'd be a solid bedrock of culture...family and kinship...which the Courts move above...and maybe that's not what you want.

    One possibility is moving deeper into gamefication of the society: the Sidhe have agreed upon arbitrary-but-agreed-on rules that dictate their identity from birth so lineage doesn't matter. In such a situation mechanical "type" has no bearing on social function: all fey-type creatures can be present, but are not arranged according to type. This also works with the arbitrary, aleatoric nature of the "Courts" you've described: each Sidhe is simply assigned to a moiety by chance (some kind of highly aestheticized or ritualized act)--for example, Red/Blue/Yellow/Green, chosen by a blind draw of colored stones done by the Court of the Sun--and each moiety has its time in each Court also dictated by chance.

    Another possibility is form follows position: to change Court is to change forms, so there are five faerie "types"--four shifting forms as they move through the Courts of the Moon, one type static in the Court of the Sun.

    There's also a kind of halfway where Court have physical signifiers: cosmetic features that appear on a noble, regardless of type, or even a template with a suite of powers and shared features.


    Two sidebars:

    For some reason the description of the Sidhe keeps making me think of Versailles, and the way that living there became this kind of ARG for nobility: everyone operating according to Louis XIV's rules of etiquette and conduct was more important than "normal" behavior. I already associate this concept with faeries--rules are not dictated by material conditions, but once in place are treated sincerely--so it feels like a match, and it also makes a kind of stylistic sense. The symbolic, highly-structured system of people revolving around a fixed individual just seems to fit.

    And this is just stray ideas bouncing off one another, but the idea of the Courts as an outright game of chance I find appealing. You're assigned to your group by chance, but the Lunar Court rotations is not purely arbitrary (random, or at the whim of a central figure), but dictated as a kind of wager posed by the Sun Court (you will hold this court for as many days as there are dandelions in that lawn; you will hold this Court for as many weeks as there are scars on your finest champion).

    One of the stranger/crueler aspects of being ruled by the Sidhe is that normal people are simply used as game pieces in wagers: some arbitrary aspects of their lives determined to be the new measure of when the Courts change, or they're simply whisked away to act as pieces in some kind of game of chance.

    Secondly, I think a fitting implication of Sun/Moon imagery is the implication that there's a (hidden) Court of the Eclipse, or that "eclipse" is a possible outcome of the Court-rotation system (meaning that central Sun Court can be rotated into under rare circumstances).
    Last edited by Yanagi; 2021-01-04 at 01:01 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    They're 100% Nymphs.
    • They have basically the same size, shape and physical parameters as a human. In particular, they have the same requirements for food, water, light, sleep and air as humans; can use the same tools, weapons and clothing as humans, can plausibly disguise themselves as a human and generally have every reason to do the sorts of things that you would imagine human nobles doing.
    • They're around the right CR to be able to roll over a low level rabble without being too strong for the PCs to help assassinate with the right plans and preparation. Also, every Sidhe can cast Plant Growth for the peasantry, which presents an obvious reason for random Nobles to be touring the countryside and for the peasants to be happy to see their Nobles paying a visit. This ties into the obligation/favour theme, since there are probably specific duties that the peasantry has to keep to in order to ensure their continued prosperity.
    • The Anti-Sidhe Resistance automatically has some secret fighting techniques (blind fighting), secret weapons (cold iron weaponry), taboos (no wood/insects/animals allowed in the headquarters!) and prejudices (everyone knows that bards are just agents of the Sidhe). Also, the hidden master of the Resistance is probably a blind old ex-servant of the Sidhe.
    • Individual Sidhe Nobles can easily be characterized by giving them thematic animal allies (acquired via Wild Empathy) and different Spells Prepared (a Sidhe who goes around casting Call Lightning is very different from one who casts Cup of Dust is very different from one who casts Nixie's Lure is very different from one who casts Pocketful of Vipers).
    • Nymphs are protected by their DR 10/cold iron and their natural beauty, not by armour; this means that they have every reason to run around in fantastic silk costumes and impractical spider chitin couture even while leading their armies into battle. They'll have plate armour level AC regardless, so it all works out defensively.
    • Every single Sidhe has one shot of Dimension Door per encounter, which a good enough escape tool that you'll usually be able to use a Sidhe as a recurring antagonist without too much trouble without it being completely insurmountable to halt. Note that since the range on that is 720', it means that the average Sidhe Castle can plausibly have every room in it be within range of secret escape tunnel which is only accessible via teleportation; there's no reason to have any way to physically access the tunnel from inside the castle. But equally, since any Sidhe could use the 'escape' tunnel to sneak into the castle, it behooves the Castle-holder to keep their hidden tunnels well guarded, meaning that you actually have a legitimate excuse for Nobles to build intricate dungeon complexes underneath their castles for once.
    • Every single Sidhe also has the ability to blind/stun people within 30' who can see them, meaning that the Sidhe have every reason to do stuff like invite suspected human traitors into audiences held within cozy little private dining chambers or address their servants from atop a 20' balcony where they're fully out of melee range, but still within range to stun someone as an example. Also, long bridges and staircases with no railings, doors leading to nowhere, wild animals roaming the halls who've been trained to pounce on anyone who doesn't bow to them on sight, walls that just have rose vines growing up and down them with full thorns, etc. Anything to make it so that people who've been blinded just have a miserable time trying to escape the castle once the Sidhe have fled.
    • Lots of fun nature-themed intelligence gathering and utility options on the Druid list that will make your players feel suitably superstitious. Highlights (for Pathfinder) include Commune with Birds, Animal Messenger, Nature's Paths, Snow/Wood/Stone Shape, Climbing Beanstalk, (Lesser) Curse Terrain, Riversight, Create Treasure Map, Insect Spies, Improve Trap, Planar Inquiry, Plant Growth, Speak with Animals/Plants/, Water of Maddening, Forest’s Sense, Reincarnate, Scrying, Expeditious Excavation, Expeditious Construction, Soften Earth and Stone, and Read Weather.
    • In Pathfinder, Nymphs have the ability to give a magical token to their favourite mortal, pulling triple duty as a blessing, tracking charm and proof of identity. It also means that if you defeat a particular Noble's secret agent, they actually have a plausible reason to bear a hidden token which identifies who it is they're working for. Delightful.
    Last edited by Grek; 2021-01-04 at 01:52 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    I think the first question to ask yourself should be:
    How do they interact with, let's call them "nonstandard mortals". It's easy to see how a fey lord interacts with their peasants or craftsmen. Humans work, fey are noble.

    How do fey interact with mortals who become powerful? Depending on how powerful your fey are, what do they do with the local level 5 cleric? What do they do when an adventurer who comes back suddenly able to resist most fey glamour and able to kill at least minor sidhe? This is essential if you want this to become a working setting.

    How do you reward mortals who comply with what you want? Or those who do you an exceptional favour? Sure, you can give them boons, but there's no way for a mortal to permanently advance their position or that of their family, is there? No noble titles for mortals and fey magic is capricious. I'm a poor farmer and help out a fey lord who lost his horse, now I'm rewarded with a magic plow that doubles my yield, but only when used at night under a full moon and as long as none of my children are blonde. Hooray?

    If your PCs are mortals and not fey, you have to think a lot about how mortals and fey interact, is my point.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2021-01-04 at 04:40 AM.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
    Après le monde - le gris; après le gris - le monde de nouveau.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    Quote Originally Posted by Yanagi View Post
    Well, it depends on...
    Good thoughts here. Your thoughts on Versailles, the Sun Court making arbitrary rules, etc. are very much in line with my thinking, as is the idea of mortals being game pieces. Also, you make a good point about being invested in family/heritage making the Sidhe too human. I'll have to think about that. I'm not locked into it, but I was thinking that the scheming around being able to have the next Sidhe child would give the Sidhe something to do and a plausible reason to engage PCs as their agents. And yes, there needs to be an eclipse worked in somehow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    They're 100% Nymphs.
    You make some good points, especially if I houserule in some male nymphs (though a realm where the entire nobility is stripperiffic would be amusing). If I don't do the "multitude of fey types" approach (which Yanagi has halfway convinced me on), they're probably the frontrunners.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I think the first question to ask yourself should be:
    How do they interact with, let's call them "nonstandard mortals"
    There are definitely a lot of mortals that interact directly with the Sidhe. There aren't many Sidhe, so they rely on mortals to do much of the actual running of their holdings (and they aren't really inclined to that sort of thing anyway). In general, the Sidhe do have some concept of noblesse oblige stemming from their intrinsic need for reciprocity in all things. Honoring fairly-made bargains is in their nature, so those who perform tasks as expected are usually compensated as expected. In the case of exceptional favors, I think arbitrary boons are appropriate. It's the peasant's own fault for not bargaining for the reward he wanted before performing a service for the lord.

    In the case of the few mortals that seek to play at Sidhe politics (the Grand Viziers, exceptionally wealthy merchants, and the like), the ones that don't get eaten alive know how the Sidhe operate and play their game. The ones that don't play the game well are amusing, at least.

    As for PCs, skilled people are always in demand, and acting indirectly is pretty much a given for the Sidhe. Not that a Sidhe escapes responsibility for what is done on their behalf, people who can be pointed at the wrong target and counted on to apply violence in a way that is most certainly not what they were told to do and gives their employer plausible deniability are very much in demand. Sidhe nobles are pretty much tailor-made for the unreliable questgiver trope.

    Mortals becoming more powerful than individual Sidhe isn't any more of a problem than it is in any other setting where there are many individuals more powerful than the rulers. But there's nothing stopping an immortal Sidhe lord from picking up a few class levels if they need to have more personal power. I'd imagine most do over the centuries. And the mortals who can resist the glamour and actually engage with the Sidhe as near-equals are the interesting and useful ones anyway.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ReaderAt2046's Avatar

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    One important question: How widespread is the Sidhe dominion? Is there only the one major nation that is ruled by the Sidhe, with neighboring realms ruled by mortals? Perhaps the Sidhe courts are the dominant force on the local continent, but there are rumors of distant realms where the mortals rule themselves?

    Or I really like the idea of "Free Cities", small cities or city-states that are permitted autonomy due to ancient pacts. Imagine, for example, a large walled city, with farms and such inside the walls like Ba Sing Se from Avatar. By virtue of some ancient bargain, the Sidhe cannot set foot within the city walls or do any harm to the city and its inhabitants, and so the city has become a haven for those who have offended against the fae and are fleeing their wrath. But it's also something of a prison, because you're only safe as long as you stay within the city walls. Especially if you add the idea that those born in this city are "outlaws", they aren't part of the social contract of the fae nation that protects mortal "commoners" from Sidhe mistreatment. If you're one of these "outlaws", and a Sidhe catches you outside the walls, she can do whatever she wants to you.
    Prince Fraternal of Pudding, Snuzzlepal, Feezy Squeez Lover, MP, Member of The Most Noble And Ancient Order Of St. George, King of Gae Parabolae.

    Lego Ergo Sum

    "Everyone's cute if you just look at them the right way"~Rebekah Patton Durham, Princess of Pudding.

    "If they have stats, we can kill them... I'd like to point out that we also have stats..." ~ PhoenixGuard09.

    Warhammer 40K: Where the faction that is a cross between the Inquisition and Space Nazis are the good guys.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    Quote Originally Posted by ReaderAt2046 View Post
    One important question: How widespread is the Sidhe dominion? Is there only the one major nation that is ruled by the Sidhe, with neighboring realms ruled by mortals? Perhaps the Sidhe courts are the dominant force on the local continent, but there are rumors of distant realms where the mortals rule themselves?

    Or I really like the idea of "Free Cities", small cities or city-states that are permitted autonomy due to ancient pacts. Imagine, for example, a large walled city, with farms and such inside the walls like Ba Sing Se from Avatar. By virtue of some ancient bargain, the Sidhe cannot set foot within the city walls or do any harm to the city and its inhabitants, and so the city has become a haven for those who have offended against the fae and are fleeing their wrath. But it's also something of a prison, because you're only safe as long as you stay within the city walls. Especially if you add the idea that those born in this city are "outlaws", they aren't part of the social contract of the fae nation that protects mortal "commoners" from Sidhe mistreatment. If you're one of these "outlaws", and a Sidhe catches you outside the walls, she can do whatever she wants to you.
    To be honest, I hadn't given a lot of thought to areas not ruled by the Sidhe. That's kind of the hook of the whole setting, so... let's say it's continent-wide. But I like the idea of Free Cities. A settlement exempt from Sidhe law is exactly the kind of boon that a savvy mortal might be able to wrangle out of the Sidhe, and there are plot hooks to be had as the Sidhe try to exploit loopholes in those old bargains to pursue mortals who have taken refuge or regain control of the city outright. And one of them could be a pirate city, because you have to have a pirate city.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ReaderAt2046's Avatar

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    A few thoughts:

    1: Sidhe don't die unless killed, and you've already established that a big part of the game of Sidhe politics is trying to increase the number of members of your house by gaining the right to produce new children. As such, I imagine many of the Sidhe would be exceptionally paranoid about real threats, sending mortal agents to fight any monsters and the like rather than running any risk of getting themselves killed.

    2: I like the idea that one of the ways the courts jockey for position and prestige is through pitting mortal armies against each other. Not civil war, exactly, more formalized than that. Something like a FLARP. Obviously, mortals aren't allowed to actually attack Sidhe, which probably also means that Sidhe aren't allowed to personally attack their rival's troops, but there might be specific classes of spells they're allowed to use. Maybe they can only cast buff spells on their own troops, say. I'm imagining squads of soldiers fighting (with live weapons, of course) while some Sidhe nobles run around like referees at a football game, shouting instructions at their troops.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheStranger View Post
    The Sidhe are native to Faerie, and the number in the Material Plane at any time is fixed. A Sidhe child can be conceived only after a Sidhe dies.
    Sidhe are not actually incapable of conceiving without the blessing of the Emperor of the Sun, but doing so is punishable by death of one or both parents so that the Emperor may allow somebody more deserving to have that child.
    3: So, just to make sure I have this straight: The number of Sidhe on the Material Plane at any one time is fixed by metaphysical law. When a Sidhe dies, another Sidhe can be concieved, but doing so without the Emperor's permission is banned.

    Because if I have that straight, a very interesting plot point could come of a pair of Sidhe having an unauthorized child and finding some way to hide it. Especially since there'd be no way to hide that this unauthorized child existed (since its existence would block the favored pair from conceiving), the question would just be whose it was and where it was hiding.
    Prince Fraternal of Pudding, Snuzzlepal, Feezy Squeez Lover, MP, Member of The Most Noble And Ancient Order Of St. George, King of Gae Parabolae.

    Lego Ergo Sum

    "Everyone's cute if you just look at them the right way"~Rebekah Patton Durham, Princess of Pudding.

    "If they have stats, we can kill them... I'd like to point out that we also have stats..." ~ PhoenixGuard09.

    Warhammer 40K: Where the faction that is a cross between the Inquisition and Space Nazis are the good guys.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    This sounds like an incredibly interesting setting, and one of the reasons I love homebrew.

    I don't have anything to add, but I thought I'd mention the old WotC Fey Article Archives for reference:
    http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/arch/fey

    The art is evocative (probably in common usage), and the fluff'n'crunch might be good for inspiration.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    Have you given any thought to deities, divine casters, general godly themes in the setting? I have a minimum of thoughts.

    Also for reference, Plane of Faerie and it's planar components from 3.0's Manual of the Planes.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    Quote Originally Posted by ReaderAt2046 View Post
    More good stuff.
    Yes to all of that. The lunar courts are very much rivals, and constantly trying to manipulate their way to Full Moon status/hold it as long as possible. The Emperor doesn't discourage this, and there's really nothing stopping the lunar courts from open warfare, except that it's rather gauche. So yes, proxy games and ritualized combat, champions, arbitrary wagers, etc. And that's a great idea for a Sidhe child plot, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
    This sounds like an incredibly interesting setting, and one of the reasons I love homebrew.

    I don't have anything to add, but I thought I'd mention the old WotC Fey Article Archives for reference:
    http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/arch/fey

    The art is evocative (probably in common usage), and the fluff'n'crunch might be good for inspiration.

    Have you given any thought to deities, divine casters, general godly themes in the setting? I have a minimum of thoughts.

    Also for reference, Plane of Faerie and it's planar components from 3.0's Manual of the Planes.
    Thanks for the references, and for the kind words.

    I usually default to standard divine casting with fairly hands-off deities, but I haven't given any thought to the details for this setting. So ideas are welcome.

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    A couple more thoughts:

    1: Again, one of the defining things about the Sidhe is that they don't age. As such, I think a key note of Sidhe politics should be that they work on a much longer timescale than mortals do. A Sidhe can make moves now that won't pay off for decades, because he'll still be alive to see that payoff.

    2: Another interesting idea could be that at least some of the Sidhe experiment with eugenics programs, breeding their commoners like livestock. Maybe one noble breeds those who manifest sorcerous talent together to strengthen and bring out the gift, or another encourages his strongest and healthiest men and women to marry and have lots of kids, while banning those who are sickly or have genetic weaknesses from having children. Couple this with the existing trend in feudal societies for children to pursue their parent's career, and you could end up with something that's almost a caste system, with "farmer" and "scholar" and "miner" bloodlines.

    3: An interesting plot concept could be the idea of a Sidhe infiltrating and gaining control of a resistance cell, and then using it as a weapon to assassinate members of rival houses. Especially since Sidhe immortality would let her spend years working her way into position.
    Prince Fraternal of Pudding, Snuzzlepal, Feezy Squeez Lover, MP, Member of The Most Noble And Ancient Order Of St. George, King of Gae Parabolae.

    Lego Ergo Sum

    "Everyone's cute if you just look at them the right way"~Rebekah Patton Durham, Princess of Pudding.

    "If they have stats, we can kill them... I'd like to point out that we also have stats..." ~ PhoenixGuard09.

    Warhammer 40K: Where the faction that is a cross between the Inquisition and Space Nazis are the good guys.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Setting Idea - Fey Nobility

    Quote Originally Posted by ReaderAt2046 View Post
    A couple more thoughts:
    Once again, your ideas are spot on. The resistance being largely the unwitting tool of the Sidhe was an idea I’d been playing with. There are so many ways a Sidhe lord could infiltrate a cell, feed them false information, or otherwise point them at a rival that the Sidhe can’t act directly on.

    On the topic of contests with arbitrary rules, I’ve considered that the reason for the strict metaphysical limit on the number of Sidhe is that the Sidhe courts in this setting are themselves a game being played within the courts of Faerie. To settle some dispute, or just for amusement, the Queens have decided that a thousand of their courtiers will spend a few thousand years establishing and ruling mortal kingdoms. When the game ends, the score will be tallied and the winner(s) will receive a favor. Which raises an obvious question: what are the rules and how does the game end?

    On an unrelated topic, it seems to me that the Sidhe need a strong and extraordinarily loyal military to maintain power. There’s no way such a small number of Sidhe could hold onto control of a large mortal population indefinitely unless rebellion was obviously a Bad Idea. I feel like the “soft” deterrents like cultural/religious norms and general social inertia aren’t going to prevent angry mortals (or ambitious military commanders) from overthrowing a tiny ruling class. The Sidhe need real power to maintain control (needing to actually use it is embarrassing, of course).

    To that end, rather than handwave a mostly-human military being inexplicably incorruptible, I’m inclined to lean on another fantasy race trope: ultra-lawful dwarves. Somewhere in the distant past, the Sidhe granted the dwarves a great boon. In exchange, the dwarves provide a force that the Sidhe can use as personal guards, police, and the core of their armies. Being ultra-lawful, the dwarves hold to their bargain even though the chaotic nature of the Sidhe is unappealing to them. And because they have no ties to the humans and halflings that make up most of the population of the Sidhe-ruled realms, they don’t have the conflicting loyalties that humans would have in those roles. So... dwarves as Stormtroopers?

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