A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
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    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.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Do captivating Fair Folk stories require a soft magic system to work?

    Thomas Covenant was an adult in a Wonderland, and so was Louis Wu.

    I think the trick is to make the Wonderland frickin awesome so the jaded adventurer feels lost and must reset his pattern of thinking, or to make the protagonists tourists who expect different but are surprised by something that reminds them of home.

    An example:
    I once had an elf child interrupt a meeting between the PCs and his mother because he skinned his knee. How many times have you seen kids use some pretext to involve themselves in adult business? The players started asking questions about the dangerous forest and how children survived, and figured out the forest was only dangerous to them because they blundered blindly through monsters' established territories. The adventtre went from a series of encounters to a vacation in elfland.

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

    If they were created by this Turock, they must need to "feed" on something. They didn't become gods, so they can't feed on the worship of their followers, so what do the feed on?

    Perhaps they feed on something humans have? That would give them a reason to interact with mortals frequently.

    Innocence or creativity? Those would certainly explain why they target children... Do they feed on certain emotions (like Dresden Files White Court vamps)? Maybe they feed on the life of mortals, aging them?

    Is the social ranking of their society based on who can do the most interesting things with mortals? Pulling pranks, stealing kids, granting quests, etc?
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  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: Do captivating Fair Folk stories require a soft magic system to work?

    Oh so some things that do come up.

    Firstly you could have them linked to the very natural world (vs linking the Gods to civilization) this would fit to your history...the world Turok built vs the civ that the gods have shaped. In this The fae would be a lot like nature spirits. So not only would you have many nature/civ conflicts but as holders of Turok ideas (if not his original orders) they may feel that humanity/civilized races have stepped out of the natural order created for them and will try to find a new place to fit people back in...experimenting with both people, directly cursing them (damn it turn into a toad!), etc.

    Another ideas is that the engagement of some sort with human/demihuman souls benefit them somehow. For the gods this may come in the form of worship but the fae must use other less effective methods. Some may use pacts, other will basically eat a soul (thus stealing people away, or tricking them into loosing bargains), others do so my creating and feeding on various emotions (love and fear being the classics), it could be that every time someone tosses salt over their left shoulder for luck there a certain fae who feels it as if that person was worshiping them and is so ever slowing gaining power towards their own semi-divinity.

    Reaching out from the above in Changling:the Lost the changlings could feed on dreams and emotions. And as someone who very much liked the Changling the Lost, this can give lots of good fuel for adventures. Also if you have that era of WoD books open I'd look at the spirit world ones (arcane laws, advice on running "otherness", banes, etc) . My personal version of the WoD was generally considered a mix of very real, snarky, and fever dream. Which seems to be not too far from what you are looking for. These would be a decent source of ideas in general. And the spirit realm, dream shaping, and arcadia seem like good reads for you to lift from in making a more wonderous world....hell maybe fae have an aura that makes the world more like those spaces than the normal one (which of course they can never experience).


    As for the fair folk being mostly used in stories about kids...well they still have issues with their place in modern storytelling. Remember until Jackson's Lord of the Rings making a movie or TV show in the fantasy genre was basically automatically assumed to be made for kids and thus adult elements were removed. I think this is something the fae still suffer from...as they star in "fairy tales" and that is considered kid fantasy.

    Other sources that jump to mind, at least for getting the right kind of tone if not active personified fae themselves, especially more adult ones would be things like Twin Peaks, Haven, The Neon Demon, much of the David Lynch oeuvre.
    In general the supernatural drama genre may be a more adult version of the "fairy tale" overall. (I think the Magicians also had a fairy season but I didn't watch it that far) Also a fair few of the antagonists in various Steven King works could be good fae or faetouched. . . Randal Flagg and Pennywise both jump out but there are more. And differentiating a malicious fae from a demon in many horror films would be tough...so that would be another source of were to get inspiration of good fae stories from (and heck some slashers are basically trolls anyway)


    And as for splitting them fae in group/courts etc. How about you separate them based on what they want? And thus why they mess with mortals in general?

    Also what tone and feel are you going for in this world? Also how dreamlike/fantastical/etc vs

    also while you can make decently hard system for yourself wonder will be very much helped if you players (and their characters) are pretty clueless.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2021-08-30 at 05:15 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do captivating Fair Folk stories require a soft magic system to work?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Thomas Covenant was an adult in a Wonderland, and so was Louis Wu.
    I'll have to look into these stories.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    I think the trick is to make the Wonderland frickin awesome so the jaded adventurer feels lost and must reset his pattern of thinking, or to make the protagonists tourists who expect different but are surprised by something that reminds them of home.

    An example:
    I once had an elf child interrupt a meeting between the PCs and his mother because he skinned his knee. How many times have you seen kids use some pretext to involve themselves in adult business? The players started asking questions about the dangerous forest and how children survived, and figured out the forest was only dangerous to them because they blundered blindly through monsters' established territories. The adventtre went from a series of encounters to a vacation in elfland.
    That's a very clever idea.


    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    If they were created by this Turock, they must need to "feed" on something. They didn't become gods, so they can't feed on the worship of their followers, so what do the feed on?

    Perhaps they feed on something humans have? That would give them a reason to interact with mortals frequently.

    Innocence or creativity? Those would certainly explain why they target children... Do they feed on certain emotions (like Dresden Files White Court vamps)? Maybe they feed on the life of mortals, aging them?
    Because I have way too much time on my hands, I made a deep dive into the metaphysics on what is a soul and what is life in my world here.

    Here is the short version.

    Shadow/True Name: A Shadow is the memory of an individualís existence and deeds. A True Name is a pure descriptor of an individual in total.

    Animus: Metaphysical force that allows beings to act and move.

    Heartís Fire: The divine spark that separates the living from the dead.

    Psyche: The mystic element that separates sentient life from non-sentient life.

    Mortis: The divine spark that separates sapient life from non-sapient life.


    Undead generally try to feed on heart's fire. Void Demons try to consume Mortis. Arcane magic save or suck spells in my world are based on interfering with the flow of Animus.

    So I'm thinking to have Fair Folk feed on emotions somehow, aka the psyche as much as I like the idea of those making pacts with Fair Folk having a runaway shadow like Peter Pan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post

    Is the social ranking of their society based on who can do the most interesting things with mortals? Pulling pranks, stealing kids, granting quests, etc?
    Ideally yes, but I'm sure about the implementation.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Oh so some things that do come up.

    Firstly you could have them linked to the very natural world (vs linking the Gods to civilization) this would fit to your history...the world Turok built vs the civ that the gods have shaped. In this The fae would be a lot like nature spirits. So not only would you have many nature/civ conflicts but as holders of Turok ideas (if not his original orders) they may feel that humanity/civilized races have stepped out of the natural order created for them and will try to find a new place to fit people back in...experimenting with both people, directly cursing them (damn it turn into a toad!), etc.
    That's a good idea, I do have members of the Nine who work with nature, especially Korus, but there doesn't have to be clear cut boundaries.

    There certainly is a mythological/folklore tradition of tying Faerie to nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Another ideas is that the engagement of some sort with human/demihuman souls benefit them somehow. For the gods this may come in the form of worship but the fae must use other less effective methods. Some may use pacts, other will basically eat a soul (thus stealing people away, or tricking them into loosing bargains), others do so my creating and feeding on various emotions (love and fear being the classics), it could be that every time someone tosses salt over their left shoulder for luck there a certain fae who feels it as if that person was worshiping them and is so ever slowing gaining power towards their own semi-divinity.
    Diet or alternate forms of faux worship is something I've considered but tripped over the implementation.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Reaching out from the above in Changling:the Lost the changlings could feed on dreams and emotions. And as someone who very much liked the Changling the Lost, this can give lots of good fuel for adventures. Also if you have that era of WoD books open I'd look at the spirit world ones (arcane laws, advice on running "otherness", banes, etc) . My personal version of the WoD was generally considered a mix of very real, snarky, and fever dream. Which seems to be not too far from what you are looking for. These would be a decent source of ideas in general. And the spirit realm, dream shaping, and arcadia seem like good reads for you to lift from in making a more wonderous world....hell maybe fae have an aura that makes the world more like those spaces than the normal one (which of course they can never experience).
    I have every book written for the out of print Changeling the Dream but I have never even opened a book or Changeling the Lost.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    As for the fair folk being mostly used in stories about kids...well they still have issues with their place in modern storytelling. Remember until Jackson's Lord of the Rings making a movie or TV show in the fantasy genre was basically automatically assumed to be made for kids and thus adult elements were removed. I think this is something the fae still suffer from...as they star in "fairy tales" and that is considered kid fantasy.
    I hadn't thought of that. That is a good point.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Other sources that jump to mind, at least for getting the right kind of tone if not active personified fae themselves, especially more adult ones would be things like Twin Peaks, Haven, The Neon Demon, much of the David Lynch oeuvre.
    In general the supernatural drama genre may be a more adult version of the "fairy tale" overall. (I think the Magicians also had a fairy season but I didn't watch it that far) Also a fair few of the antagonists in various Steven King works could be good fae or faetouched. . . Randal Flagg and Pennywise both jump out but there are more. And differentiating a malicious fae from a demon in many horror films would be tough...so that would be another source of were to get inspiration of good fae stories from (and heck some slashers are basically trolls anyway)
    I got a big backlog of reading to do, but I'll consider looking into some of these.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    And as for splitting them fae in group/courts etc. How about you separate them based on what they want? And thus why they mess with mortals in general?

    Also what tone and feel are you going for in this world? Also how dreamlike/fantastical/etc vs
    I have been struggling with the tone and scope. Perhaps I'm either cowardly or being contrarian but I notice I find myself seeking the Goldilocks zone, not too hot not too cold, not too hard not too soft, aka the middle way over and over again.

    High Magic or low magic? I stubbornly tried to create a medium magic setting. Magic is common yes, but it is limited and things like raising the dead, teleporting, and destroying small armies with magic is off the table.

    In terms of adult themes for something less in depth and rapacious than Song of Ice and Fire but less chaste and sanitary than Middle Earth. I recognize that is a very wide gulf.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    also while you can make decently hard system for yourself wonder will be very much helped if you players (and their characters) are pretty clueless.
    nod

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Default Re: Do captivating Fair Folk stories require a soft magic system to work?

    I'm not sure what you mean by soft magic exactly.

    I mean, suppose you have a game like dungeon world, where all moves have mechanical impact, and so do the DM's responses. It may not specify the radius of a fireball. Is that soft magic?

    One way you could make the Fae really alien to your game is to use a different core game mechanic within the Fae.

    Imagine converting player actions into PBTA rough equivalents, and imposing results based on those rolls. There would be a rigid system, it just wouldn't be the base D&D mechanics. When you go to attack them, you'd be doing a Hack and Slash. But without cold iron or the Fey's true name, maybe that move just wouldn't work.

    Fae intrusion into the middle kingdom would make a pocket of Fae here. Outside of it, it is just a creature. Inside of it, Dungeon World mechanics apply. Or something similar.

    ---

    Have you read about the ant-cthulu?

    https://tyrantisterror.tumblr.com/po...hachan-weasowl

    probablybadrpgideas

    If Cthulhu can be summoned by humans who are so far beneath it, why canít humans be summoned by ants? The answer is they should be.

    20thcenturyvole

    Well if a bunch of ants formed a circle in my house Iíd certainly notice, try to figure out where theyíd all come from, and possibly wreak destruction there.
    (and it goes on)

    Under this model, the Fae's interest in humans is akin to a humans interest in ants. Or maybe a human's interest in bears, if you want to make humans more threatening.

    The bears mostly live in places where humans aren't. The humans go visit these places for amusement (camping, etc). They aren't interested in the bear's resources. They are sometimes annoyed by the bears intruding on human areas, or harming humans, but really, some dumbass goes off and taunts a bear and gets mauled, that is on that human. We might euthanize that specific bear if we find them.

    Bears who enter human areas, well, we put them to sleep and relocate them. Or, in the case of Churchill manitoba, there is a bear jail, and a bear bypass to get the bears to not walk through the city.

    The Faewilde would be where the Fae live. Humans who wander in there are like bears. Dangerous curiosities. Usually the humans stay at the edge of the Faewilde, so are tolerated.

    Fae wander into human lands (the middle kingdom) not out of need for human resources, but for Fae reasons that don't align with human ones. Maybe they are setting up the equivalent of an observatory on a mountain top. To a bear, this makes no sense; are they claiming territory to mate? Do they want the tasty berries? No, they are apparently building a ridiculous contraption that does nothing of any use to look at the stars in the night sky. Why are they doing that? Basically amusement and social status and a cult they call "science".

    These humans can't even smell who lives in an area, and are physically ridiculously weak. They have next to nothing a bear values. Except sometimes they have tasty food, some of which makes you sick.

    Making the Fae be in a different ecological niche than mortals, alien in their needs and wants, and apply different mechanics to how things are resolved in the Fae, would make them really alien. Their magic might be as hard or moreso than base D&D magic, just alien.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Do captivating Fair Folk stories require a soft magic system to work?

    Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norell was a delightful book about adults interacting with faerie (among other things). I'd say that if you really want to maintain the wonder of the fay while having a hard magic system, it's totally fine to have faeries with explicitly delineated powers, so long as you don't tell the PCs what they are (and make them different enough from any of the standard magic systems as to be not obvious to the players).

    To make the faerie different from normal enemies, make their powers strange and not deal direct damage. For example, if there is something the faerie doesn't want a character to talk about, any time they open their mouth to discuss it then instead find themselves talking about the weather or what they ate for breakfast or this FASCINATING biography they just finished (no saving throw, but a clever figure might find a way to talk around it). If a faerie wants to kill someone, they don't throw a lightning bolt, they cast a version of Irresistable Dance that compels the victim to dance ecstatically until dawn (or until their heart gives out).

    Definitely put limits on their power (maybe they can only compel one person at a time, or maybe they can only use their abilities on people who have given offense, maybe they are incapable of lying). But also definitely don't let the players know what those limitations are. Ideally they should work them out for themselves, either through direct encounter or researching the history of their nemesis.

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

    You might do well to research specific types of fairies in folklore. Older lore seems to have more defined powers and more mature themes. Also, maybe look into fey equivalents in the folklore of other cultures, such as the japanese Yokai.

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

    Here's a spitbally thought from post-midnight Fro:

    In the past, when the great conflict against Turoch came to pass, there were those who did not take a side. They conferred amongst themselves regarding the conflict, their neutrality, and the choices they would have to make accordingly, and at the close of the war elected to negotiate with the victors.

    The victorious party did not want the unchecked powers of Turoch's creations to be let loose on the world, nor did these neutrals wish to surrender the power they felt to be their birthright. As they worked toward a solution, rumblings of dissatisfaction and division began to grow, but ultimately the Law was struck. This Law gives the children of Turoch their full power and gifts unless they step foot among mortals, in which case their powers are limited in certain ways - defined spells and powers rather than reality-warping "soft magic," for instance, defined codes of conduct and access that govern their ability to remain in the world of mortals and still tap into their powers (for example, a demon needing to be summoned into this reality by a mortal; a fey being obliged not to touch implements of iron). The Law effectively gave the children of Turoch free rein to rule over their extraplanar fiefdoms, but vastly limited them in the realms of mortals. The fey, as the neutral party in the conflict, were the least limited...

    ...but they don't appreciate any limitation on their freedom.

    As a result, dissatisfaction grew into division, as various factions within the fey point fingers, throw blame, and otherwise try to relitigate a closed case. The four great courts each bring a different perspective: the Earth Court was fully behind this deal and viewed it as a reasonable way for things to be settled; the Water Court wanted to use trickery and subterfuge to undermine the Law; the Air Court felt that the fey should step away from the mortal world altogether and dislikes that the Law in some way ties the fey to the world; and the Fire Court wanted to go to war to defend their total freedom to act within the world of mortals, and still seeks to overturn the Law by direct confrontation. Amongst these courts are smaller factions that vie for prominence and control.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipjig View Post
    Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norell was a delightful book about adults interacting with faerie (among other things). I'd say that if you really want to maintain the wonder of the fay while having a hard magic system, it's totally fine to have faeries with explicitly delineated powers, so long as you don't tell the PCs what they are (and make them different enough from any of the standard magic systems as to be not obvious to the players).
    The next time I'm able to get to a library I'll add this book to my list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipjig View Post
    To make the faerie different from normal enemies, make their powers strange and not deal direct damage. For example, if there is something the faerie doesn't want a character to talk about, any time they open their mouth to discuss it then instead find themselves talking about the weather or what they ate for breakfast or this FASCINATING biography they just finished (no saving throw, but a clever figure might find a way to talk around it). If a faerie wants to kill someone, they don't throw a lightning bolt, they cast a version of Irresistable Dance that compels the victim to dance ecstatically until dawn (or until their heart gives out).
    Interesting idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipjig View Post
    Definitely put limits on their power (maybe they can only compel one person at a time, or maybe they can only use their abilities on people who have given offense, maybe they are incapable of lying). But also definitely don't let the players know what those limitations are. Ideally they should work them out for themselves, either through direct encounter or researching the history of their nemesis.
    I like the idea of Fair Folk having individual weaknesses like Rumpelstiltskin not being able to hear his own name or a Fae that cannot harm people with their clothes inside out, but it's rare to find two Fae with the same weakness (other than cold iron doing extra damage and lines of salt irritating them)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    You might do well to research specific types of fairies in folklore. Older lore seems to have more defined powers and more mature themes. Also, maybe look into fey equivalents in the folklore of other cultures, such as the japanese Yokai.
    Yes, I had some Native American monster stories and African folklore that I thought would make interesting Fair Folk. While I certainly am found of Celtic and Germanic Faerie Tales, I am not limiting myself to a single culture though the local monsters and Fae are probably going to conform to the human natures.

    I have a settings that are vaguely analogous to Africa, Australia, East Asia, northern Europe, and the Indian subcontinent so the local supernatural critters are going to be derived from the "appropriate" folklore, though some monsters and Fae I like so much, they are going to be universal.

    I must say, given how weird and terrifying the real animals of Australia, it's no wonder the monster legends of the Aboriginals are weird and terrifying.

    9 out of 10 of the most poisonous snakes in the world are from Australia. Actually, 9 out of 9 of the most poisonous snakes in the world are Australian.

    [QUOTE=afroakuma;25194257]Here's a spitbally thought from post-midnight Fro:

    In the past, when the great conflict against Turoch came to pass, there were those who did not take a side. They conferred amongst themselves regarding the conflict, their neutrality, and the choices they would have to make accordingly, and at the close of the war elected to negotiate with the victors.

    The victorious party did not want the unchecked powers of Turoch's creations to be let loose on the world, nor did these neutrals wish to surrender the power they felt to be their birthright. As they worked toward a solution, rumblings of dissatisfaction and division began to grow, but ultimately the Law was struck. This Law gives the children of Turoch their full power and gifts unless they step foot among mortals, in which case their powers are limited in certain ways - defined spells and powers rather than reality-warping "soft magic," for instance, defined codes of conduct and access that govern their ability to remain in the world of mortals and still tap into their powers (for example, a demon needing to be summoned into this reality by a mortal; a fey being obliged not to touch implements of iron). The Law effectively gave the children of Turoch free rein to rule over their extraplanar fiefdoms, but vastly limited them in the realms of mortals. The fey, as the neutral party in the conflict, were the least limited...

    ...but they don't appreciate any limitation on their freedom.[/QUOTE[

    That is actually along lines of what I was thinking, though you expressed it more succinctly and eloquently than I could have.

    Quote Originally Posted by afroakuma View Post
    As a result, dissatisfaction grew into division, as various factions within the fey point fingers, throw blame, and otherwise try to relitigate a closed case. The four great courts each bring a different perspective: the Earth Court was fully behind this deal and viewed it as a reasonable way for things to be settled; the Water Court wanted to use trickery and subterfuge to undermine the Law; the Air Court felt that the fey should step away from the mortal world altogether and dislikes that the Law in some way ties the fey to the world; and the Fire Court wanted to go to war to defend their total freedom to act within the world of mortals, and still seeks to overturn the Law by direct confrontation. Amongst these courts are smaller factions that vie for prominence and control.
    That's a good base line for the factions. I also think about how my gods and goddesses are going to react. They are generally bad at acting collective. I have one of each of the nine classic alignments.

    The Lawful deities tend to be hide bound and constantly monitor the other deities to make sure they are behaviors while the Chaotic deities usually subvert divine agreements.

    I can picture various Fair Folk factions making under the table deals with the mortal proxies of the Chaotic deities while the Lawful deities priesthoods might sponsor anti-Fae inquisitor groups while the Neutral normally tell the Fair Folk "if you stay out of my, I'll stay out of yours."

    Though my Neutral Evil goddess of magic probably is not fond of Fae empowered warlocks because she wants to monopolize holding the keys arcane magic.


    My setting backstory has a series of periodic disasters reshape the world. I need to figure out how these events reshaped Fae society.


    My basic history is that the world was ruled by competing dragon kingdoms until a dragon mage queen messed with powers beyond her ken and accidentally killed 90% of all living things (The First Unmaking) prompting the gods to create elves to become the new dominant race until an elven mage king messed with powers beyond his ken and accidentally killed 90% of all living things (the Second Unmaking) prompting the gods to create humans to become the new dominant. The gods and goddesses hoped the shorter lifespan of humans would make it harder for a single individual to acquire enough power to trigger a Third Unmaking.

    The First Unmaking was millions of rampaging elementals reshaping the landscape of the material plane irrespective of the creatures living on it. Besides the new landscape, while have calmed down, elementals are still a little bit friskier than they used to be.

    This would have probably destabilized at least as much as the mortal plane since the Fae drew a lot of their power and identity from the Elemental Plane.

    The Second Unmaking was Turoch's corpse spawning millions of soul eating monsters (I named Void Demons) and undead that just wanted to kill every living being. Essentially the realm of the Void (aka Negative Energy Plane) is just the primal embody of Turoch's endless hunger, now unmoored by a sentient mind because Turoch's identity was destroyed but not his essence.

    Since the Void Demons and their ilk were mostly single-mindedly destroyers, it's unlikely they gave the Fair Folk a free pass just because they were both indirectly children of Turoch though some of the Fair Folk might have tried to negotiate with them.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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

    Be aware that J.S. & Mr. N. is not everyone's kind of tea. It's very long and written as sometimes a history book, sometimes a Jane Austen story and sometimes a fairy tale and it loves to indulge in stylistic flourishes like footnotes that are half a page long, or references to other non-existant books. I love it. The short story summary is that there has been magic in England, and its history is reasonably well documented, but it has been dying out since the end of the middle ages. However, Britain is now deeply involved in the Napoleonic Wars and everyone is trying hard to bring magic back, which requires finding the Fae folk.

    From the same author, also recommendable and an easier read, is The Ladies of Grace Adieu, which is a collection of short tales about the interactions of Englishmen and Fairies.

    There's also a pretty good BBC TV series.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2021-09-17 at 06:27 AM.
    "In dark times, should the stars also go out?"

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do captivating Fair Folk stories require a soft magic system to work?

    Well, if you ask me, which you sort of did, you have it exaclty backwards.

    A good fae story requires you to have a hard magic system. With very precise and hard rules that are being followed because breaking them would be absolutely catastrophic for the fairy in question.

    It's just that the players don't know what those rules are. Sure, some of them are just common sense, be courteous, keep your promises and so on. But some of them, well, aren't. For reasons. Play this up and you will make your fae look like something truly alien, in a way which only the best sci-fi stroies have managed with actual aliens.

    With this setup, you can have a game where a huge draw of it will be discovering the strange rules of this new land, not just doing the same old adventuring, just with a psychedelic coat of paint on it. If your magic rules are not hard enough, the players can't really interact with it, because their choices are limited to "don't bother" and "let's do it and pray it works".
    That which does not kill you made a tactical error.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Oct 2013

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

    The thing about the Fae rules is that they're about giving the protagonists a chance. Learn these rules, and you're safe if you abide by them.

    They could be more of an honour system thing, they can break the rules, but if they do, they forfeit the protections afforded by those rules, which is bad when those rules are the means by which you can maintain your power (and/or magically binding oaths of fealty) So you could have lesser fae that are less rulebound but also less powerful, while the scariest people in the Fae are also the most rulebound, but of course employ lesser fae to get around said rules, (with perhaps the occasional 'for this particularly scary being, all bets are off.')

    So you could have different kingdoms with different rules, you're safe in one court of you abide by their rules...but some of their rules conflict with an enemy court who are bound by different rules, some can be bent, some can be broken, others are deeply ingrained by tradition or a magically binding treaty sworn 500 years ago...

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