Friday, March 4, 2011

The Lords of Fairy

Next week I'd like to post the Realm of Fairy as part of the framework for my Greyhawk cosmology.  Recent posts have discussed Chaos and Law, and earlier this week I posted game stats for the Sidhe.

I have some ideas on the rulers of Fairy, but I see this as a good way to hear ideas from readers and see how others have used Fairy in their game.  Check out some of the approaches laid out below, then feel free to sound off in the comments or vote on the new poll.

Unfortunately, I don't have any primary sources for Celtic fairies in my library.  I'm familiar with the idea of the Seelie and Unseelie courts, and the idea of sharing ruler ship of half the year; this seems to align with summer and winter.  Seelie fairies tend to be merry pranksters, and would include leprechauns, pookah, brownies, pixies, and Sidhe nobles.  Unseelie faeries are the malicious ones; they'd have their own lords, and would be joined by red caps, quicklings, boggarts, and goblins.

A Midsummer Night's Dream gives us that merry wanderer of the night, Puck, along with his King and Queen (Oberon and Titania).  Who can forget Mercutio's Queen Mab speech from Romeo and Juliet?  Note that the Shakespearian approach isn't incompatible with the Seelie and Unseelie courts.

Dresden Files
When I read The Dresden Files a few years ago, I noted how fairies played a large role in the series.  Dresden divides the fairies between Summer and Winter courts (loosely mapping the Seelie and Unseelie) ruled by women.  There is a matron, maiden, crone thing going on - the wise ex-ruler, the ruler with all the power, and the lady who is queen to-be.  In addition, the two houses each have a Knight - a supernatural agent that advances their cause in the mortal realm.

Jim Butcher just builds on the source literature, naming his Winter Queen, Mab, for instance, and using Titania in the summer role.

Alien and Bizarre
Another approach is to go alien and bizarre - use the standard fairies and Sidhe as the rank and file, but the rulers of Fairy are straight out of Pan's Labyrinth - give them whimsical names like the Prince of Shattered Dreams, the Lady of Mordant Wishes, or Queen of the Thousand Screaming Eyes.   (Reinforces the fairies = pagan demons trope).

Medieval France and Law vs Chaos
The romances of Medieval France depict a realm of Fairy ruled by enchantresses, luring knights astray.  Morgan le Fay is a principle character.  This is very much in line with the approach in Three Hearts and Three Lions, one of my main inspirations for the Sidhe.  The lords and ladies of this Fairy have titles similar to their mortal medieval rivals - Dukes, Kings, Queens, etc.

Drop me a comment if there's an approach you like for Gothic Greyhawk - should it take a classical, whimsical approach, really emphasis a cosmic war between Law and Chaos, or dip into madness and horror?  A new poll has been placed as well.

I'd love to hear if some other DM's have built their own approaches to the realm of Fairy.

Edit:  Maybe I should have a David Bowie as the Goblin King option, too?