Worldbuilding Power: Fey
Use faerie folk in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures!
The fey, also called faerie folk or fairies, originate in European folklore. In pre-Christian traditions they were often cast as minor deities, household spirits, or even the souls of the dead. Some tales saw them as demoted (rather than fallen) angels, or even a category of demons, after the spread of Christianity. They are alternately the cause of miracles, or the explanation for tragedy and illness. No matter what origins are attributed to them, or what culture they spring from, they have certain qualities in common. They are, uniformly, human-like in appearance. By nature they are capricious tricksters, by turns testing, teaching, and taking advantages of people. Fey are undisputedly magical, possessed of powers no human has.
It’s almost a requirement that fey be part of your fantasy worldbuilding. Many common tabletop roleplaying creatures that began in folklore as fairies has evolved beyond that label, including elves, gnomes, and goblins. To take things back to their roots, the ideas in this book could be applied to them as well. The remaining “true fey”, including nymphs, satyrs, and dryads, must certainly adhere more closely to their folkloric origins.
In many ways they are a trope as essential as spellcasting. Because they are so fundamental to the genre, just throwing them into your setting haphazardly feels inappropriate. Their existence should connect to cultural beliefs about reality, cosmology, and even the nature of good and evil. Beyond being an opponent more prone to riddles than combat, the existence of fey should serve to question assumptions about everything, from the facts of the setting’s history to the nature of magic itself.
In this book, we’ll show you how to utilize these magical beings in your worldbuilding endeavors. You’ll see how they can influence character, setting, and story elements. By the end, you’ll understand how to make fey into an essential, useful, and entertaining part of your campaign.