by Ryan Elias
Where the wave of moonlight glosses
Art by andi jones
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
-- "The Stolen Child," W.B. Yeats
Disclaimer: This is not canon, nor is it based all that firmly in mythology or history. If you like it, use it, if you don't like it, don't. If you like it, but your GM doesn't, then you probably won't be able to use it. But you knew that already, right? Anyway, here it is.
Faeries are some of the most popular beings in mythology. They are certainly the most widely varied, and have a complex and interesting history. None of this matters much, though, since their ranks were decimated by crusading angels of Purity centuries ago. In the modern day of the In Nomine universe, the Faerie, while no less interesting, are severely reduced in stature and confined forever to the Marches, where they are expected to do the decent thing and die from lack of attention. That's the theory anyway. However, although Fae culture has changed somewhat since the good old days, they are still very much alive, and are, in fact, doing quite a bit better than most of the Ethereal spirits clinging to life in the Marches.
The CrusadeUnsurprisingly, Faeries were major targets during Purity's jihad. Classically, Fae spirits are, if not directly opposed to the Church, rather incompatible with Christianity, or, indeed, almost any other religion. This wasn't acceptable to Uriel, especially since the Fair Folk are traditionally both tied to the corporeal realm and enjoy involving themselves in human society, two things Uriel didn't approve of.
Whatever the reason, Faeries were hunted down and dealt with. While the Crusade didn't come as a complete surprise to some Fae (i.e., most of those who are still alive to day), most were caught completely off guard. Within a couple years the vast majority of Fae nobility had been wiped out, as had many of the nature spirits. Least affected were the household spirits, primarily because the nice ones were more or less indistinguishable at first glance (which was all they ever seemed to get) from relievers, and therefore not targets. Most of the Brownies and Basilisks survived the apocalypse more or less unharmed. However, the same cannot be said for the rest of Fae. When Uriel was recalled to heaven, most of the survivors didn't even put up a fight as they were ushered quietly back into the Marches, where they were supposed to remain.
Not that all of them did go back. A huge number of household Faeries were left on Earth, since there was no-one in Heaven who felt up to finding all of them. As long as the pixies don't cause enough trouble to be noticed, the logic went, it's probably all right if they're allowed to stay.
Meanwhile, in the Marches, the surviving spirits regrouped. The Unseelie court now greatly outnumbered the Seelie, since they had been far more prepared to abandon their places on Earth to save their hides, or hide equivalents. However, with the Corporeal realm, and all their primary sources of Essence, cut off to them, all the Fae were in trouble. In a rare moment of cohesive thought and action, the twin courts formed a contract with Hell (which, coincidentally, had someone nearby to write up a quick contract). In exchange for their services, which Hell knew it could make use of, they would receive a yearly jolt of Essence.
Although at the time it seemed unimportant, another event vital to the future of Faekind was happening even as the contract was being signed. A pair of Daoine Sidhe, husband and wife, found on the Corporeal plane, were being escorted through the Marches to the Fae homeland by a pair of Malakim, members of the newly formed Border Guard. These two Sidhe were very attached to their homes on Earth, and didn't want to go. At the gates of Arcadia, the husband made a desperate attempt to break free. One of the Malakim reacted with what was perhaps a little bit too much force, and the Faerie was blasted out of the Marches. His name was Oberon. The woman was left to consider her losses in peace. Her name was Titania.
The Time BetweenThe courts split shortly after the contract was signed. Many Unseelie and malevolent nature Faeries went to work for Beleth, tormenting dreamers just like they'd done before. Most of the rest of the Fae passed the time grubbing Essence from dreams and dreamers that strayed into their area of the Marches, or indulging in petty politics. Sometimes household Faeries on Earth would be caught and sent back to Arcadia, and sometimes daring Fae tried to get back to Earth. Sometimes they even succeeded. Titania spent much of the time sulking in her Bower. Time passed. Several hundred years, in fact.
On Earth, a man named Jobe befriended a man named William. Jobe had met William in a pub, and William, who was a budding writer, took an immediate liking to Jobe, as people often did. They corresponded for several years, during which Jobe told William very strange stories, about dreams that he kept having and about a pair of men who appeared in his dreams, and who he saw regularly around and about Glasgow. William liked the dreams, and after he became relatively famous, wrote a play about them.
When Titania first felt the rush of Essence, she thought nothing of it. Her names were mentioned in certain grimoires and occasionally people decided to enact rituals in her honor. But when another Faerie, never stable at the best of times, who's name wasn't in any books, felt the same rush of Essence, he reacted. In fact, he created a vessel, a robin, and went to the Corporeal plane to find out what had happened, and, if he found it offensive or excessively obvious, to put a stop to it. What he found instead was his former master, Oberon, in a scruffy human vessel, sitting on a bench, watching the end of a play. "If we spirits have offended . . ."
Puck didn't kill Shakespeare, although he was tempted. However he did alert Titania, and Titania bargained with Lilith for a celestial force to return to her lost husband. A Malakite from Glasgow in the audience, tracking someone whom he suspected to be an infernal Remnant, found that his target had vanished entirely. Oberon returned to Faerie.
Oberon never recovered himself entirely, but he, along with Titania, who felt much better now that her husband had been returned to her, took control of the Seelie court almost without effort. Due to the constant stream of Essence coming through A Midsummer Night's Dream, even lobotomized Oberon was more powerful than anyone else in the Mists.
With the possible exception of Puck, who disappeared shortly after opening night.
More time passed.
The Modern DayToday, Titania and Oberon are in firm (or as firm as possible) control of Faerie. Not that they rule directly, as any attempt to do so would be doomed to failure, but if one were to ask any but the most subversive, Unseelie boggart who the boss was, the reply would be Titania. In terms of relative power, Titania is slightly less powerful than a minor Demon Prince or Archangel, Oberon is a bit behind her, due to the beating he took during the crusade. Nobody has any idea how strong Puck is, although the fact that he is the almost universal favorite in one of Shakespeare's most famous plays (and arguably his most famous comedy), it's estimated that Robin Goodfellow, never a minor Faerie, is probably at least as tough as Titania. And much, much more aggressive. He hasn't been seen recently, but people who take his name in vain tend to disappear in messy ways. He never had much of a sense of humor, unless he was making the joke.
Otherwise, Faerie civilization rolls on, albeit much more quietly than before. Many Brownies, masquerading as Relievers, are back on Earth, keeping a low profile, and some of the Church Faeries never left. The Pact with Hell is still active, and many Fae, especially Unseelies, work for Nightmares. Also, quiet deals have been made by some of the nicer Fae with some of the nicer border guards, allowing them to nip into Blandine's side of the Marches for a quick, morally satisfying, Essence fix. Under stern supervision, of course. Titania also has a few agents on Earth, keeping an eye on things and making sure that the Fae aren't forgotten entirely (it is suspected that Changeling: The Dreaming is a Fae production, among other things).[Editor's Note: Including this article, perhaps?] Life goes on.
SocietyAlthough there are two courts: Seelie and Unseelie, which dominate Fae politics, not all Faeries are one or the other. In fact, the vast majority of Fae are either nature oriented (Satyrs, Fauns, Nymphs, Dryads, Sirens, Skin-Changers, Merrow, Pooka, Asrai, Kelpies, Trolls, Spriggans Dwarfs and so on ad infinitum), or human- or household-oriented (Brownies, Basilisks, Goblins, etc.). Neither type are necessarily affiliated with any court, although they can be. However, the courts are important, and warrant some discussion.
The Seelie Fae are associated with Light, the Day and Life. There were once large amounts of Sidhe in this court, ruled over by the Tuatha de Danann, but now it is composed largely of Sprites. The surviving Seelie lords, apart from Titania and Oberon, are severely reduced in power, rarely having more than 7 or 8 forces, and usually much less. Of the Tuatha, never numerous, there are no more than a half dozen left. They are also severely reduced in power, averaging about 9 forces. They have faded into the background, offering advice, but rarely holding any power.
The Unseelie Fae are associated with Darkness, the Night and Death (oddly enough). They have survived much better than the Seelie, as previously noted, and many have gained power working for Beleth. Even so, Unseelie Sidhe are still very rare, and the lords of the Unseelie, while less scarce than their Tuatha counterparts, are rarely seen, existing primarily in the depths of the Mists. Most common among the Unseelie are Imps, Hags, and associated minor beasties.
The courts are opposed, but are not in a state of open warfare. It's more akin to Democrats and Republicans, each side working more or less peacefully to screw the opposing side up, with perhaps a bit more animosity between the two (or perhaps not, it's hard to tell with some politicians).
The RealmThe Fae realm, known interchangeably as the Mists, Arcadia, the Dreaming, or any number of other names, is a confusing place. Varying in appearance depending on which Fae is in control of a given area, the Mists don't like non-Fae much. While celestials are generally powerful enough to be relatively safe, visiting ethereals, although there aren't many, have to be careful. Mortal dreamers who stray far enough to reach the Mists, though, tend to be relatively safe as well, although with some Fae, especially Unseelie Fae, it's hard to be sure.
RelationsFaeries are still quite friendly with certain celestials. Jordi is known to have sympathy with the nature Fae, and Novalis has sympathy with just about everyone. Eli remains in contact with certain Faeries, and Lilith has complete mobility within the Mists, a function of her bargain with Titania (who has yet to pay Lilith back in full . . .). Beleth, of course, uses Faeries much as she uses minor Servitors. Most odd, however, are sightings both in Hell and the Marches of a being that can be identified only as Puck, and a green eyed Impudite Demon Prince, deep in discussion. There is occasional laughter from Kobal. Those who know anything about either being hope to be elsewhere if any collaboration between the two comes to fruition . . .
Otherwise, most Superiors think little of the Fae ( although, admittedly, even those who are friendly with the Fae don't think much about them. Even though Titania and Oberon are both extraordinarily powerful for ethereals, they're still small fries for any Celestial Superior worth his or her salt), seeing them as "just another group of dying Pagans." There are a few exceptions. Laurence dislikes the Fae, and Asmodeus would just as soon they all be wiped out. Belial would like to see them burn, and Saminga wants them dead, but that's normal.
Faeries as Player CharactersFaeries make good PCs. The important thing to remember when creating them, though, is that almost every Faerie is different, and in the Mists, almost anything goes, and character concepts should stretch the imagination. Most Faerie PCs should have between 3 or 7 forces, with 3 being your average Sprite or Brownie, and 7 being a Sidhe, or a suitably powerful nature spirit (some of the old tree or river gods might be fun to play). Being on Earth might be a problem, but the important thing to remember is that Heaven doesn't care much if you're on Earth if you don't make trouble, and if you do, it's only a problem if you get caught . . .
ResourcesFae can have any skill that can be justified, although there's a definite tendency towards archaic skills. Discord is possible, and some of the weirder ones are entirely appropriate. Vulnerability: Iron is very common. Unseelie fae in the service of Beleth might be given Attunements, Rites, or even Distinctions, but it would be very rare, and players should have to earn them, and shouldn't buy them at character creation. Faeries use their own rites like other ethereals; you tell them to humans, and whenever a human performs the rite, you get the Essence. More detail on that can be found in The Marches sourcebook.
Fae can also buy vessels, but only at character creation. Ethereals create vessels using essence (See The Marches or Heaven and Hell for more details). They can buy Charisma, and often do, but not Toughness.
Fae have access to all three realms of Songs, but favor Ethereal songs. They can use any common Song, the Song of Beasts, the Song of Daydreams, and some unpleasant Fae can also use the Song of Blood. Some other often-used songs are the Songs of Affinity, Calling, Charm, Motion, and Dreams. Fae also have their own, unique Song, the Song of Glamour.
Song of Glamour (Restricted, Faeries)Songs of Glamour affect the human mind, making use of fears, hopes and, most importantly, dreams. The Song works on all humans -- mundanes, undead, Saints, and Soldiers alike -- but only humans. All the Songs of Glamour can be resisted with a Will roll.
Corporeal: The Corporeal Song of Glamour is the fabled Faerie propensity for illusion. It creates illusions, lasting until the next sunrise, affecting a number of senses equal to the CD of a successful roll (a CD of 6 or more means that the illusion affects all five senses, and lasts until the next new moon). Illusions affecting touch have texture but no substance; they are capable of doing only temporary damage, which lasts until sunrise (even if the CD was 6) at which point wounds seal over, and anyone "killed" by an illusion rises again. The illusions can be up to the size of a large human per point of Essence spent, or 25 times that in the Marches!
Ethereal: The Ethereal Song of Glamour affects human minds, making the target of the Song, usually the caster, unbelievably beautiful. The target receives Charisma: Sex Appeal equal to the CD. At CD 3+ the Charisma affects everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, and at 5 or 6 the caster is almost painfully beautiful, and anyone seeing them must make a Will roll or be stunned for CD minutes. The song lasts for minutes equal to Essence spent times Ethereal forces times 10. Charisma granted by the Ethereal Song of Glamour is not cumulative with natural Charisma. Double the CD in the Marches.
Celestial: The Celestial Song of Glamour brings the target to a new level of perception. For the duration of the spell (CD times Ethereal Forces hours) the mortal affected will see aspects of the Mists, the Marches, and occasional snatches of Heaven and Hell, as well as things that don't actually exist, to the knowledge of the Fae, anyway. The target will hear the Symphony, intermixed with weird sounds from some other source entirely. Needless to say, the effect on normal mortals is very strong. Each hour the song lasts, the target, if a normal mortal, must make a Will roll or go insane. The exact effects of this are up to the GM. Soldiers get to add their Celestial Forces to their Will roll. Saints and Undead can too, and only have to make one roll every two hours. While under the influence of the Celestial Song of Glamour, action is more or less impossible. Perception rolls must be made to take any physical action, and there is a 6-(CD of successful Perception roll) penalty to any actions taken even then (e.g. A human, who has been enchanted by the Celestial Song of Glamour, tries to lash out at the Faerie who did it. He makes his perception roll, with a CD of 4, and must now subtract 2 (6-4) from his fighting TN). Soldiers, Saints and Undead get to add their Celestial Forces to this roll as well. The Celestial Song of Glamour only works on the Corporeal plane.
Essence Requirement: 2
Degree of Disturbance: CD (Targets of the Celestial Song emit this Disturbance constantly until it wears off, making it a very, very unsubtle song)
Other TraitsFaeries do not have celestial forms, and cannot ascend to Heaven or descend to Hell without powerful Superior intervention. They are not stunned by the celestial forms of Kyriotates or Shedim. They aren't affected by holy symbols, church bells, cold iron or any other rural myths, unless they take an appropriate Discord (e.g., Vulnerability). They are affected normally by Trauma.
Adventure IdeasThere are quite a few. An all-Faerie campaign could involve espionage into the forbidden corporeal realm, or perhaps celestial diplomacy, trying to earn favor with the Archangels without arousing the wrath of the Demon Princes. Perhaps the best, however, are adventures into the Faerie Realm itself, which, despite the current condition of its inhabitants, hasn't changed much since the Crusade.
Gaming Resources"Faerie Glamours." An earlier Pyramid article by Ken & Jo Walton, authors of GURPS Celtic Myth. It has a bibliography of its own that is also worth checking out.
Changeling: The Dreaming. It deviates a bit from common myth, but is a very solid RPG about Faeries.
Ars Magica: Faeries. A primary resource for this article. Very mythically sound.
Dreams and Nightmares. A supplement for Changeling, but one that's useful in any campaign about the Faerie Realm. Has more adventure possibilities in it than you'll ever use.
NovelsTerry Brooks, The Magic Kingdom of Landover series, books 1-3. An interpretation I quite like.
Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies. My favorite book here. An . . . alternate view of Faeries.
Tad Williams, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Also quite good (the Norns make good villains).
Article publication date: November 12, 1999
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