I am managing my time better in June, so contributing to the travelling RPG Blog Carnival in good time.
This month, the host is brynvalk at Pitfalls and Pixies, where she chose Fae as the topic.
The Pitfalls and Pixies site outlines the topic like this:
As the carnival rolls into town for the month of June for the RPG Blog Carnival, it brings the strange beauty and dark delight of Faerie with it. What races shall adventurers see for themselves? Who will be willing to give quests? And a better question yet, what treasures are up for the taking should said quests be accepted? Oh, and don’t forget obstacles and traps to overcome: the fae are mischievous, after all.
Through autumn, I returned to my summer topic twice, for the September and October blog carnivals. As brynvalk’s chosen topic is so close to Summerland, it seemed natural to return to the setting for this Carnival.
Briefly, Summerland is an idyllic setting of eternal summer. The days are long and hot, the evenings balmy and the short nights are cool and refreshing. I previously explored the Seelie Court which rules Summerland, but had not written about the inhabitants of Summerland. The population of the Kingdom of Eternal Summer is a mix of fantastical creatures and various groups of fae. The most populous of these are the summer fae.
Physically, the summer fae are slim, brown-skinned bipeds, usually with yellow or orange hair. They are shorter than humans, and much thinner. The summer fae have short, pointed teeth and golden eyes with no visible pupil. Their arms are disproportionately long, with elongated fingers tipped with sharp yellow nails.
Despite their physical similarity to humans, summer fae, like all fae, are neuter. Their smooth features make them seem androgynous. Most dress in little more than a shift, or perhaps a skirt, when in Summerland. When travelling, the fae adopt gendered clothing on a whim. Confusing mortals by wearing different pieces of cloth tends to amuse the fae. Yet ancient, wrinkled fae are always assumed to be females and labelled as hags.
Creatures of Leisure
While there are always variations within a species, the average summer fae is a party animal. Living in an idyllic land of plenty, the summer fae grow accustomed to feasting and making merry. They shy away from hard work, preferring to laze in the sun, or dance away the warm evenings.
Some adventurous summer fae succumb to wanderlust. Most simply explore Arborea, notably the Kingdom of Eternal Spring, where blossom fills the air. A few travel further afield, often driven by the desire to sample strange feasts and learn new dances. Wandering summer fae are feted if they return from their travels with a new song or dance to teach their fellows. The fae are endlessly amused by the gender roles found in the dances of mortals.
My beloved HeroQuest is a narrative game, where the focus of abilities is on atmospheric description, rather than complex mechanics. Therefore, my design of the summer fae is focused on four core abilities. Regular readers may recognise these as part of the species keyword. To convert the summer fae to your game, consider the description of each ability, then apply the relevant mechanics from your chosen rules. Or improvise something interesting at the table, which is what I always try to do.
The four core abilities of summer fae are:
- Awaken Hunger – the summer fae love feasting, and it would not be a good feast to eat alone. Thus, the fae are adept at awakening hunger pangs in other creatures. This is primarily a hunger for food, but drink, or baser desires, can also be awoken with a major victory.
- Dancing Songs – for what is a feast without dancing? This is the summer fae’s favourite ability. It represents an impressive repertoire of songs known. Mischievous fae use this ability to “persuade” reluctant mortals to abandon their work and join the fae in a rousing night of dance.
- Green Sense – Summerland is a kingdom of endless greenery. The fae have a close bond with their realm, and feel kinship with all greenery. They can empathise with green plants, and will defend a tree against leaf-blight, or other threats to the forest. Autumn, and any plant with brown leaves, saddens and appals the summer fae.
- Ray of Sunlight – as creatures of the summer, the fae have a minor ability linked to the sun. They can project a bright beam of warm sunlight from both of their hands. Typically, this ability is used to bring sunshine to the darker parts of the forest, or to allow the fae to keep feasting through the warm night. When threatened, summer fae use this ability to blind foes. They are also not averse to using this ability to torment mortals, especially if they are trying to sleep.
Summer fae culture is one of endless leisure in the Kingdom of Eternal Summer: feasting, dancing and wandering the lush green forests of the realm. The fae value dancing and music above all other arts. They are loyal members of the Seelie Court, where they serve the Queen and her nobles, throwing themselves enthusiastically into the endless balls and feasts.
By living such a life of leisure, the fae are confused by other cultures’ need to work hard. Ambition, dedication and perseverance are alien concepts to the summer fae. Such quaint tales of the struggles of mortals make for amusing diversions, until everyone has eaten enough and is ready for the next dance.
Another alien concept to the summer fae is gender. As noted above, the fae are neuter, being neither female nor male. In language, they prefer a single, neuter pronoun: xe [pronounced ze, to rhyme with we]. This pronoun replaces he, she, him and her. Xes replaces his and hers, while xeself is used for herself and himself.
However, the fae rarely tell this to visitors. The fae are quite happy for mortals to make fools of themselves by using inappropriate pronouns in conversation. This causes endless amusement to the fae, while the mortal just thinks they are being witty. Until they “insult” a warrior with the wrong pronoun, and then swords are drawn and the mortal finds themselves duelling in a woodland glade.
The summer fae are creatures of leisure, eager to feast and dance. Yet, for all the endless balls of Summerland, it remains a place of danger to mortals. The fae may seem lazy and easygoing, but the wrong word can end in bloodshed. Tread warily, my friends.
Have you ever tried using variant pronouns in your game? Do you even have neuter races? Would you take your Players to meet the summer fae? Share your thoughts with your fellow GMs in the comments below.
- Read all the current entries to the June Carnival at Pitfalls and Pixies.
- The RPG Blog Carnival is under the stewardship of Johnn Four, at his Roleplaying Tips website.
- The host for the May event was Rodney Sloane at Rising Phoenix Games, where the topic was At World’s End.
- Do you need more Tales?
If you enjoyed this article, then please share it, or the associated quotations. You may also be interested in the following links:
- Something for the Weekend last week: UK Games Expo 2016 Swag
- Something for the Weekend next week: Improv Gaming part 2, Improv Prep