SG: Fae

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Before discussion of how to create fae characters can begin, we first define what the fae are within the context of a Shadowgate game. This chapter begins with a series of definitions and continues with what the different general types of fae are.


The Fae
The people of Faerie. Some of these were once human or of human descent but have been transformed during their stay in Faerie. Some humans were kidnapped as very young children, but sometimes adults are taken as well. Humans that somehow find their way into one of the realms of Faerie are usually taken by Fae and made into pets or servants.
Those mortal captives who retain enough of themselves to recall the world from which they came may return if they have no fae master, or if they escape. In fact, only those who remember the world may open a door or find a path back to the Mainland. Those Fae that have lost themselves completely can never, on their own, return to the Mainland — the natural world. That does not mean these lost Fae cannot be sent home by those that do know the way, but the results are usually terrible. Fae who have lost their humanity are monsters with no human morality or sympathies left in them.
Some fae may never have been human at all, but might be the faded spirits of old gods, lost souls, elementals of nature and sometimes the lost souls of deceased mortals. These beings sometimes never find their way to an afterlife, having lost their way or never chosen a god to believe in. Sometimes these souls are given, by whatever powers watch over the fae -- or destiny or Fate -- another chance. One final afterlife where they may live and rejoice in having the chance to be again, or to become a nightmare not easily forgotten. These souls are made whole with a new body made of bones and magic.
Whatever their origin fae never age. Should they die, their wispy souls, tattered by time, may fade away forever.
All Fae have a weakness to “cold iron”. Cold iron is primarily beaten into shape, not forged in a factory. Weapons created by hand this way gain the Cold Iron aspect which can be invoked for a bonus to harming or restraining fae. Cold iron left in the body of a fae can cause a wound to fester and, if not removed, can kill.

The land of the fae. Born of dreams and nightmares, Faerie exists apart from the world that mankind is familiar with. People that sometimes disappear through the cracks in society often find themselves in Faerie, a place where the mythical is real and magic empowers reality. The paradox of Faerie is that humans that go there can never leave. Therefore, those that leave are no longer human, but touched by magic and the stuff of dreams — they become a fae.

The Faerie Courts
The most powerful Fae organize themselves into Courts often described as the Seelie Court or the Unseelie Court. Those who are unaligned tend to get used one way or another by the more powerful Fae. Joining a Court is the only protection against this for many, though some will come together to form roving bands (also called troupes). These troupes can even evolve into autonomous Goblin Markets. If the Faerie Courts allow it, perhaps because they offer hard-to-get things, these roving Goblin Markets can set up at temporary locations.
Each court is ruled by a king or a queen. Although the monarch may have consort, they never share power. Thus, if there is a king, there is no queen. If there is a Queen, there is no king. However, the world is a large place and no monarch can rule all the fae of their court. Power is distributed via a feudal system of Princes or Princesses, Dukes or Duchesses, and small areas have Barons and Baronesses. These fae lords (not to be confused with Sidhe Lords!) often elevate local fae to positions such as knight or sheriff in order to help them enforce their will as well as mediate the frequent disputes that arise among the fae. The fae nobles that control the courts care mainly about getting what they want, rather than enforcing order among fae. However, if an outside force threatens the fae, or if some fae take actions that threaten other fae, the nobles will take action. They very much care about their own safety. This also means the leadership of the Faerie Courts takes keeping their existence a secret from mortals seriously. Mortals might be less powerful, but they are vastly more numerous and have access to devastating weaponry — not to mention the bane of all fae in Cold Iron.

Goblin Markets
A place where fae can trade for esoteric things. A memory or dream might be traded for precious piece of information. Part of a true name might be traded for an important artifact. A vial of a baby’s tears could be traded for a warm spring day in a flask. If you can imagine it, it’s probably for sale.
Access to a Goblin Market is usually restricted in some way. Perhaps it can be reached only from a certain location at certain times. You might need special permission from a powerful fae or Sidhe Lord. Or it just might be that you don’t find the Goblin Market — it finds you.

Lost Fae 
These fae have become monsters, losing all connection to humanity. They may have vast powers but have no ability to act against their nature. These Lost Fae are similar to Sidhe Lords in some respects, but lack the sheer power the Sidhe command, nor do they possess the ability to command a realm of their own in Faerie. In game terms, Lost Fae have spent all their Refresh on stunts that give them powers. In fact, their Refresh may be less than zero. The further the Refresh descends below zero, the more monstrous the Lost Fae become.

The Mainland 
What the fae call the physical world, the world of Man.

The Mask
This refers to the glamour that hides the true nature of the fae from mortals when on the Mainland. All fae have it, unless they will the Mask away. This requires a Will roll versus a Fair difficulty; Faerie is reluctant to reveal its children to mortals, for when a fae wills it away, her true appearance is revealed for all to see for the rest of the scene. By default, fae automatically see through the Mask; it’s only visible to humans.
No fae truly looks human. Behind the Mask is a strange creature that more often than not resembles something from legend and fairy tales. Whatever they do look like usually reflects something of their essential natures as well as the kind of powers they wield. The Mask of the fae makes them appear as the human they once were, or should have been, or might have been. Whatever the appearance, the Mask always takes this same form.
A fae may strengthen the Mask so that even other fae see the Mask instead of the fae’s true self. This requires a Deceive roll against a Fair (+2) difficulty. It’s not foolproof, however. Suspicious fae can attempt to see through the Mask with a successful Investigation roll versus the hiding fae’s Deceive skill roll.
Other supernatural beings sometimes have a special ability to peer through illusions or sense supernaturals. If they specifically investigate a fae, they have a chance to pierce the Mask with an overcome action using Investigation against the fae's Deceive skill.

The fae refer to normal humanity as mortals.

The Seelie Court
Considered to be the “good” fae, most player characters come from the Seelie Court. While their attitude toward humanity varies as widely as the Fae do themselves, they stick with a few, basic rules. For one, the Seelie Court does not kidnap humans and take them away to Faerie (but it is acceptable to allow humans to follow them there, even knowing the human may never return). Nor does any Seelie Fae harm a human, except in self defense (but they might allow a human to come to harm through inaction). Finally, Seelie Fae may never unleash the Lost Fae upon the Mainland (directly). Members of the Seelie Court can be benevolent, but aren’t always. They can seem kind, but are not necessarily so.
The Seelie Court are known to warn humans that have offended them before taking action, return kindnesses humans have shown them, and even seek help from humans.

The Shadow Gate
A rare, magical bridge that exists in a specific location in the Mainland but which can be used by fae to travel to places in Faerie they are familiar with. Those places in Faerie that connect to a specific Shadow Gate can likewise use them to return to the Mainland.
Most Shadow Gates open only at specific times under extremely rare or unusual circumstances. However a very few are permanent. These tend to be protected and jealously guarded by the most powerful fae in the area. The role of Gate Keeper is both important and prestigious, when it is granted.
Fae can build a gate from a place in Faerie to an existing Shadow Gate with much effort and time. The difficulty begins at Legendary (+8), so this is usually done by several fae working together (using the Teamwork rules from Fate Core). Only a Sidhe Lord can construct a Shadow Gate in the Mainland. Because a Shadow Gate is so valuable and so permanent, most Sidhe Lords will only construct Shadow Gates that they control and some may place arcane and confusing conditions upon accessing a Shadow Gate.
Because Sidhe Lords habitually return to kidnap mortals from the Mainland, there is usually at least one Shadow Gate hidden somewhere somewhere within every population center.

The Sidhe 
Pronounced “she”. Also known as the Fae Lords or in Scottish lore, Sith, the Sidhe are most often guilty of luring or kidnapping humans to become their pets and servants. They are the most seemingly human of the fae in outward appearance, but least human in terms of their disposition. Their minds are truly alien. The Fae Lords were never human at all. Beings derived of pure chaos and the stuff of dreams, they seem to have limitless power in their home realms in Faerie. If they appear in the Mainland, their powers are reduced but still quite substantial. The Sidhe consider all other fae lesser than they and generally regard humans as little more than cowering mice or curious monkeys. Yet the Sidhe are a paradox, for the greater their power when visiting the Mainland, the more weaknesses they may have.

True Name
All fae characters have a true name. In Faerie, to name a thing truly is to define it, and with definition comes power. To name oneself is to recognize one’s own power. A character may have been named by a greater being, like one of the Sidhe, or have claimed a name for her own. In so doing, and truly embracing that name, she becomes fae.
If the true name of your character is to come into play, it should be described in an aspect. Having such an aspect can be invoked to grant power to a character’s magic. Yet it is also a vulnerability — a true name, if learned by someone else, might be used against the character as well.

The Unseelie Court 
These fae often do not make very viable player characters. They tend to be selfish and cruel. They delight in kidnapping humans and will react to any slight humans might make, whether the human realizes they have given offense or not. In fact, they might attack or harass humans for any reason or no reason at all. Most Unseelie respond well to flattery and respect, however. These tend to enjoy taking a human as a pet as a result. Because of this, the Unseelie Court is responsible for generating the most fae — as well as the most monsters. While not all members of the Unseelie Court are malevolent, they do hold themselves as superior to humanity. Usually, they have the power to prove it.

Other Courts 
Sometimes fae are grouped into seasonal courts as well, though this is something mortals tend do to categorize the many fae. In addition to describing fae as “good” (Seelie) or “bad” (Unseelie), attribution might be given to a fae character as being a member of the Spring Court, Summer Court, Autumn Court or Winter Court. Fae of Spring are characterized as being creatures that embody emotions like desire or lust. Fae of Summer embody wrath or passion. Autumn fae embody fear and Winter fae embody sorrow. Such “courts” are not necessarily organized as a seasonal court, but they can be if they have leaders strong enough to enforce it.

Next: Fae Promises