Age of Awakening
A Treatise on the Nature of Fae
A Treatise on the Nature of Fae
By Rauvelore Perjeon
What are the Fae
The term Fae refers to a varied collection of peoples who arrive on this plane from the Faewild, a place where form, thought, and concept are all one and the same. As such the Fae races can be said to be beings born of elemental truth. They are simultaneously empowered and shackled by this fact, as it means they are eternal but unchanging, and bound to be true to their word and nature in all things. The Fae are wildly varied in appearance and temperament, but they all have this ancestry in common.
Many say the Fae cannot tell a lie. This is only a small part of a greater truth: that they must always be true. This doesn’t mean they cannot be deceptive. A succubus holds at her core the idea of a desirable death. Any form she takes reflects that single truth; though it may make it difficult for her victims to discern that truth clearly, it is always unabashedly present. She deceives, but she does not lie, neither in word or deed. This means that the most powerful Fae are also the most bound to their nature, locked to the nature of their essence. The Fae who do not serve their nature diminish in strength. It is the closest thing they know to morality: To thine own self be true.
The Faewild is a best described as a layer laying atop the material plane, shaped by it as a cloth is shaped by what lie beneath it, while still taking a shape and color of its own. It is place where truth and concept are the same as form and shape. Time and distance are fluid and relative to more concrete truths, and indeed concrete measures and units of any kind are not to be relied upon.
Power is reflected in the essence of everything there, and varies by the purity of its representation of the truth. A single bite from and apple taken from a tree cared for in the heart of Summer, tended to and revered by generations of careful elven gardeners may sate your appetite for the rest of your life, while consuming a great feast for meant hundreds, set carelessly in passing by the whim of a forest lord may leave you hungrier than when you began to eat.
Pride and Envy
The Fae exist in parallel with the mortal races of the material plain, and while not all Fae are aware of this connection, even the simplest Fae know on some instinctual level that they are both something more and something less than their mortal counterparts. This subconscious knowledge often manifests in disdain and resentment, and mixed feelings of inferiority and superiority. As such, many of the Fae take delight in tormenting or antagonizing the mortal races, particularly those Fae who are disposed towards great pride, for they are the most offended by the implication that mortals have something they do not. To such, mortal kind is an ever-present insult, driving them mad with hate.
Weight of Truth
Fae are creatures of eternal truths, and when on the material plane this truth has an impact on the world around them. This acts much like a kind of personal gravity, bending natural law around them. With most Fae this has only a very mild and subtle impact, but with the older and more powerful of their number it can overturn the laws of reality. This influence can be heightened by sympathetic environments, times, or by powerful emotion.
The Fae use their magical abilities as easily as the mortal races use their arms and legs. This magic is something unique to the Fae races, lying somewhere between the arcane and the divine. An experienced magic user can almost always distinguish Fae magic, though it can be difficult to defend against. Many spells designed to defend against arcane or divine powers will allow Fae magic to pass through them completely, and the Fae themselves have a powerful resilience to spells of the arcane arts.
Fae possesses a fear and hate of cold iron, which is to say iron that has been pressed and worked at (relatively) low temperatures, rather than molded or forged. Objects made of cold iron will cause a fairy great pain and distraction, disrupting not just the form but their very essence. A Fae killed by cold iron cannot be raised or regenerated. For this reason, the use of iron on one of the Fae is considered to be a deadly insult, similar to the desecration of a corpse or the use of vicious chemical poisons on mortal-kind. Raw iron ore, steel, hot-worked iron, and iron alloys are also distasteful, but can be endured without significant damage.
A Lifetime of Moments
The Fae tend to disregard anything that exists outside their own experience as irrelevant or non-existent. Fae tend to be self-centered and focused on the present; they are eternal, and the future is something they take for granted.
Laws of Behavior
The Fae have their own set of rules and expectations which they consider self-evident, and they expect others to comply with these standards of behavior. Ignorance of such is not considered relevant when doling out retribution. They follow their nature and do not apologize for it. They expect others to do the same. It is fine to oppose a Fae, but not to judge it for being true to itself.
As beings born of thought and truth they consider knowledge and information to be more valuable than physical property, and theft of knowledge through spying or coercion are treated as a mortal would treat assault or burglary. Bonds, promises, and bargains are a special sort of truth that bind individuals together, entwining their fate and making them one (at least within the context of that promise), and the Fae consider such things to be inviolable. To break such a bond would be as thoughtless and insensible as cutting off your own flesh. They are slow to forgive one who breaks his word, and will spread word of those who have done so to others of their kind. It is seen as a kind of dangerous madness.
The Organization of the Fae
The Fae owe allegiance to four courts, each with its own values and purpose. They exist in a perpetual cycle of struggle and conflict, each ascending to rule in their turn, much as the day and the seasons. Even within the courts, conflict and strife is common. The courts are commonly named for the four seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall/Autumn, and Winter, but they have also been referred to Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Night. Both reflect their natural cycle of ascendance.
While the courts each have a clear ruling hierarchy, the rulership is distinct from human kingdoms. Fae are not predisposed towards compromise or cooperation, and their courts are not social constructs like the nations or mortal-kind. The Fae serve only their own nature, and do not understand or practice loyalty or nationalism. They are bound by natural law to obey the ruler whose court’s character is most sympathetic to their own nature. The obey their court because it is part of them, an extension of their own truth. Those whose natures do not strongly reflect one court over another are less tightly bound, but all Fae ultimately fall into to one of the four courts.
All four courts have three ruling powers: a Wisdom, a Sovereign, and an Aspect. Each court has its own titles for these positions, but their role within each court is the same.
The Wisdom represents the ruling nature of the court, and holds the greatest power. The Wisdom does not rule directly, but maintains the priorities and guiding principles which bind his or her court. The Wisdom holds moral authority over the court. The Wisdom chooses the Sovereign, should a vacancy appear, and bestows upon them the mantle of leadership.
- Spring: Matron
- Summer: Magus
- Autumn: Collector
- Winter: Crone
The Sovereign is the direct ruler of the court. Their word is law, and their Call must be heeded by all who fall under the authority of the court. Their power waxes and wanes with that of their followers, and the power of their mantle binds their essence to that of their domain. The Sovereign’s interests are bound up in the needs of his or her subjects, and can only act through them and through his or her chosen Aspect.
- Spring: Mother
- Summer: King
- Autumn: Kronen
- Winter: Queen
The Aspect represents the will of the court and its Sovereign. It is the sword and shield of the court, and the one least bound to its restrictions. The Aspect of a court is an intelligence unto itself, coupled with great power and knowledge, which is implanted into a mortal soul. The mortality of an Aspect is what gives it power to act against the nature of its court while still serving its purposes and power. The mortal vessel must be willing, or at least incapable of refusing, and the nature of the mortal will have a strong influence on the final product.
- Spring: Maiden
- Summer: Knight
- Autumn: Tarn
- Winter: Wretch
The Nature of the Courts
The courts are each a unique combination of values and principles. Between each there are commonalities and contentions. A brief description of the heart of each court follows. Keep in mind that there are Fae both near and far from the heart of their court, and many lie on the edges between them. Do not be careless in assuming the nature of any individual you may meet.
Spring creates. It builds new things, hopes and dreams of what might be. It seeks to take that which is empty and fill it, thriving in the empty spaces. Spring Fae desire challenge and inspiration. The desire new horizons and new thoughts, places where there is work to be done and room to grow. They find civilized and structured society to be boring and stale.
Followers of Dawn admire those who strive against forces greater than themselves. They seek companionship of those who are unpredictable, who seek or create adventure and intrigue. They shun the company of those who they deem boring or hidebound. They do not desire followers, seeing them as parasites at best. Instead, they seek peers who can engage with them and join them in their creative pursuits. Thieves and scavengers are an anathema to them, incapable of worthy contribution to the world. They are vain, and take offense to those who imply they lack wit, cleverness, or artistry. Impress them with you vision and arts, and they will praise you, and may seek to steal you away for their own enjoyment.
To Spring, a gift is an expression of personal style and artistry; there is an implicit invitation to respond in kind, to engage with one another as peers. Their gifts are an invitation to converse, and they do not like to be ignored.
Summer lives. It is built on the projection of power, the fulfilling living of the prime of life. Summer Fae hold revels, honor law and order, and are firm of purpose. The see themselves and leaders, protectors, and lords and organize themselves as a kingdom in its golden era. For Summer, life is vital and enduring.
Scions of the Day value honor, courage, and power. They disdain that which is weak, fleeting, or malleable. They too hate scavengers and thieves, dishonorable beings which cannot survive on their own merits and must subsist on the resources of others. They seek followers and vassals, seeing themselves as rightful rulers and naturally ordained leaders. They are proud and prone to taking offense if their strength is slighted, and see battle as the ultimate test of worthiness. Withstand them, and you will have their respect even as they cut you down.
To Summer, a gift something to be given and forgotten; it has more to do with expressing their own strength than benefitting the recipient. Indeed, accepting such a gift may be an admission of weakness and need on the recipient’s part.
Autumn is ruin and decay. It is all that tears down, diminishes, and destroys. The Autumn Fae delight in taking what belonged to another, be it belongings or beliefs. They are the harvesting of the world, breaking apart the strength and constructs of the self-deluded. They are insidious, subversive, and deceptive. For Autumn, life is something to be subverted and taken, and they revel in laying waste to faith and innocence.
Adherents of Dusk are cunning, and enjoy matching wits with a devious rival. They mock and deride the idealist, seeing altruism as self-delusion. All creatures ultimately serve only themselves, and those who demonstrate their understanding of this through ruthless self-interest are worthy of respect. Autumn Fae seek to either attach themselves to someone of strength, or to entice others into their service with promises of mutual benefit. Show you can give them what they want, and they will follow you long enough to learn your tricks and find a weakness to exploit.
Gift from Autumn are bribes or traps. They are enticements and lures, leading you towards a desired action or end. To refuse them is to arouse suspicion, for if you are not prey you must be a fellow predator.
Winter is death. It is the permanence of that which has ended, the embodiment of the void. All denizens of Winter are incomplete, lacking some vital essence or attribute. Many of Winter seek to fill this void, possessed with ravenous need, but no matter their efforts they remain forever unfinished. In winter, existence is split between predation and a state much like death. They spend vast lengths of time dormant and still, watching the universe slowly spin down to nothing, burying their pain in oblivion. For them, law is not something to be enforced but something that is inevitable. Order is a cold and unyielding force: all things fall to their lowest state, never to rise. Theirs is the power of frozen eternity.
Subjects of Night see mortal kind as pointless, like a struggling speck of flame in the cold void of time. At best mortals are something to be ignored or tolerated, but more often they are an annoyance, a whining, prattling disruption that aggravates their pains and awakens their hunger. Mortal kind rarely benefits from the attentions of Winter. If you must interact with Winter, be silent and somber. Avoid provoking them with reminders of vitality and life, for it both awakens their hunger and mocks it. Winter Fae are indifferent predators. Appease them, and they will ignore you until their hunger returns.
Winter’s gifts are revelations. They illustrate the truth and power of the inevitable, and bring the recipient or those around him closer to their own nature. Winter does not care if its gifts are accepted, much like the reaper does not care if he is welcome.
The Balance and Favor of the Courts
The four courts form a balance, each one both in harmony and competition with each other court. Winter and Summer are vast and powerful bastions of unyielding and unchanging power, while Spring and Fall are smaller and more dynamic agents of change and impermanence. Opposing these commonalities, Fall and Winter are as the void, consuming that which is around them, while Spring and Summer project their power outwards.
By their nature, Summer and Spring are less inimical to mortal life, and are more likely to be beneficial in their interactions with mortality, but it would be foolish to call them good. The sun can be just as lethal as a singularity; the best strategy in both cases is to keep your distance. Even so, all four courts can offer benefits to those that deal with them wisely. Much of the trick is to know what court is best suited to meet you particular needs.
Let’s say you had been poisoned, and bargained for salvation with a scion of each court. Each would fulfill your boon in a different way:
- Spring might adapt your body, changing its nature to a point where the poison was no longer a threat.
- Summer might fortify you with power, strengthening you so that you could withstand the poison through sheer brute force.
- Autumn would likely inflict decay upon the poison itself, slowly changing it, causing it to break down until it was impotent.
- Winter would simply remove the poisoned parts of your body from you, leaving your now incomplete body to struggle against the sudden void within.
With Summer and Spring you trade services for goods, for they would rather give than take. With Fall and Winter you trade goods for services, for they would rather take than give. In war Spring and Summer seek to dominate, withstand, and suppress. Those they conquer become vassals and servants –forces to be taken, tamed, and added to their own. Fall and Winter tear down, steal away, weaken, and destroy. Those they conquer become slaves and thralls – resources to be expended or consumed.