This post was for my previous homebrew setting that I was building. In it, I was drawing quite a bit from ancient theology and myth. One of the ideas I had was that the gods of the world didn’t necessarily have to be gods. In this case, that idea came to fruition in the form of the Archfey and the Sidhe Courts. This information no longer applies to my homebrew world, but I still find it amusing and interesting, nonetheless.
This post was originally published on January 11, 2015.
I’ve got a player who’s potentially making a Warlock who has made a pact with the Archfey. In doing so, he wanted to know about the Archfey of my world, since he knew that I have very specific Archfey working in the background. Well, rather than just tell him, I decided to make it into a writing exercise on my part. So, here it is! A basic overview of the Archfey of Ascalon.
The Sidhe Courts
The fey are separated into two courts: Summer and Winter. The courts hold sway over Ascalon itself. The court of Summer is dominant, and has been for a thousand years, since the Age of Dwarves. This has caused the world to be in a constant state of summer (though the meaning of “summer” may change from land to land).
The Summer Court, often called the “Feywild” by the layman, is a crescent-shaped area to the east of Ascalon covered in foliage and infused with natural magics. It is ruled by Queen Titania and King Oberon, and is home to the Alfar, progenitors and creators of the summer elves of ascalon. A wide variety of fey and magical beasts roam the Summer Court, all under the dominion of the Summer Queen.
The Winter Court, known as the “Shadowfell” by the common folk, lies to the west of ascalon. It is a dark mirror of the Summer Court, equivalent in size and shape. The Winter Court is a realm of eternal twilight, the ground eternally covered in a light snow. Rather than trees, bushes, and all things green, the Winter Court is forested with massive, spore-producing fungi. Queen Mab rules over this exotic, strangely beautiful realm, and is Queen of the Svartalfar, themselves dark reflections of the Alfar. Most winter elves hail from this land, or at least pledge their allegiance to the Lady of Dusk.
Kings and Queens of the Sidhe
There are four Archfey, ruling over the two courts and the fey and elves that reside in the world between. Most elves, gnomes, fey and goblins worship one of the Archfey as a deity, or at least pledge their loyalty to them. All those but Corellon Larethian, dead god of the Archfey themselves.
Queen Titania is queen of the Summer Court, and most beloved of the archfey. Her beauty inspires songs and poems throughout the realms. Like her sister, however, she is a deceiver. Most members of the Winter Court call Titania the Queen of Lies, and believe that she stole the dominance over Ascalon from her sister. She holds a terrible grudge against the dwarven race both for the ancient Sidhe War and the ancient dwarf king Torr’s willingness to harbor rogue spirits from her court (which, through dwarven magic, became gnomes). Dwarves caught in the Summer Court are brought before her, and her judgment for their crimes is known to to be swift and violent.
Suggested Domains: Light, Trickery.
King Oberon is king of the Summer Court, and husband to Titania. He makes his home in the ancient land of Avalon, deep within the court itself. Many consider him to be the most direct and forthright of the Archfey, as he apparently has no mind for deception or trickery. He is a warrior and scholar at heart, and simply wishes to lead his people to greatness. Many consider him a kind heart, and members of both courts view him with a kind of respect that is reserved for great and benevolent leaders. Some believe that Queen Titania resents him for this, but does nothing, as the dominance of the Summer Court hinges on their union remaining intact. Others think that Oberon knows this, and uses it as leverage against his wife’s machinations.
Suggested Domains: Nature, War.
Queen Mab, the Queen of Spiders or Lady of Dusk, is the sole ruler of the Winter Court. Many on Ascalon—particularly those loyal to the Summer Court—view her as innately evil. She would state that her motivations are far more complex than simply “evil.” Though those who have seen the hideous beings known as “driders” might claim that her punishments for failure betray her insidious nature. According to history, her court had dominance over Ascalon (and therefore had cast the world in an eternal winter) for thousands of years before power mysteriously shifted to Summer. She and her loyalists claim that Titania used forbidden magics and trickery to steal her courtly dominance, though the truth of the matter is hidden. Mab is a quiet queen of her people, and does not make herself or her machinations known to any. It is said among Winter that she lost the ability to trust when Titania took dominance for Summer, betraying her sister in the process.
Suggested Domains: Death, Trickery.
The Erlking, also known as the “Goblin King” is master of the Wild Hunt. He travels from one court to the other, through either the Outlands or Ascalon itself. It is said he gathers great hunters as he travels, bringing them into his band; and once every century, he and his hunters begin the Wild Hunt, where they track and kill a great, monstrous beast (some believe that it was the Erlking’s intervention that brought down the Tarrasque during the time of Old Esperia). None of the other archfey particularly like the Erlking, but tolerate his presence so long as he does nothing to damage their position in the struggle for dominance.
Suggested Domains: Nature, Tempest.
Corellon Larethian is the ancient god of the elves. Many consider him a dead god, as he does not hold court with the rest of the gods of the Outer Realms, and possesses no kingdom among them. His followers see the truth, however, for Corellon Larethian is god of the moon, and makes his kingdom high above the world, where he can watch his chosen people—the sidhe. Those who follow the faith believe that Corellon sung the world into existence, creating all realms with his majestic voice. He then breathed life into the world, creating the Gods and the Archfey. Once he saw how they squabbled and squandered his gift of life, however, he fled to the moon. It is not common to find worshipers of Corellon Larethian, and many loyalists to the Sidhe Courts view belief in him aberrant and idiotic.
Suggested Domains: Life, Nature.
Warlock Pacts with the Archfey
Warlocks gain their power by making pacts with a particular patron. In the case of the archfey pact, they are making a deal with one of the above entities. Unlike a deal with a fiend or a great old one, however, archfey have no desire for a creature’s “soul” or “mind” or anything so trivial. Archfey pacts are usually much more specific. Titania, for example, might ask that the warlock spend their time searching for new lands in which she can establish summer elf strongholds, while Mab might ask for the warlock to report back to her on the machinations of her sister. The Erlking always asks the same thing: be worthy when the time for the Wild Hunt comes. None make pacts with Corellon Larethian, as he does not speak even with his worshipers.
A Quick Note on Elves, Gnomes, Orcs and Goblins
The elves of the Age of Heroes will get their own entry at some point. Until then, however, here’s a brief overview of what they are and how they function in Ascalon.
Summer Elves. Tall, pale elves with blonde or white hair created by the Summer Court. They build exquisite palaces and keeps in which to live, and are often viewed as aloof and full of themselves. Called “high elves” by most.
Mechanics: high elf sub-race in the Player’s Handbook.
Winter Elves. Black-or-dark blue-skinned elves created by the Winter Court. They live primarily under ground and deal mostly with dwarves and rock gnomes. Called “drow” by dwarves, and “dark elves” by most everyone else.
Mechanics: drow sub-race in the Player’s Handbook.
Wild Elves. Originally transformed from other elves (summer and winter) who succumbed to the call of the wild (an event that still happens, from time to time). Varying skin tone, always with bright green eyes and elongated canines (like a dog). They live in forests and are much more fun-loving and wild than their brethren.
Mechanics: wood elf sub-race in the Player’s Handbook.
Moon Elves. Similar to Wild Elves, transformed from other types of elves who “contemplated the
moon too long.” Always transformed, never born. Almost always worship Corellon Larethian, and usually nomads. They have bright blue eyes and a silver crescent moon-shaped mark on their forehead that glows when the moon is out.
Mechanics: Eladrin sub-race in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Gnomes. Nature spirits that fled the summer court after the Sidhe War, and were given physical form by dwarven magic. Have no quarrel with Winter, but hated by those loyal to Summer. Strange, quirky nature reflected in their appearance.
Mechanics: No difference from basic gnomes.
Goblins. Originally gnomes that succumbed to an ancient curse placed by Queen Titania. They succumb to their baser, violent natures and literally tear their own skin off to reveal the goblin underneath. Thereafter, they reproduce like spiders, birthing dozens and creating entire goblin warbands.
Orcs. Birthed from the residue and runoff sludge created during the initial construction of summer elves. Fled thereafter to Ascalon. Considered horrid abominations by Summer loyalists, and particularly summer elves. Violent, but rigid society.