Posted by: allhailthoon | April 19, 2010

Creature Feature: Fey

Fey are one of those creature types that I absolutely love. In theory. They work very well in games ranging from low to high fantasy and they are one of the few classes of monster that are capable of being beautiful, mysterious, passionate, flighty, cruel, one with nature, and completely counter to what humans consider natural behavior all at the same time. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to use them the wrong way and completely strip them of all the things that make them interesting.

At their best, fey are elusive and strange. Never quite good or evil, but always other. They should be impossible to fully comprehend because everything about them is inhuman. At once they both appear humanoid, and yet they occupy all the parts of nature that humans can’t.

Dryad (MMI): I like dryads a lot, but I don’t think they make good enemies at least not in a direct way. The idea of having them be the daughters of regional or minor forest gods could be fun though, especially if you make the way the PCs interact with them count for something.

Say, for example, the dryad asks to PCs for help or to perform a task for her. If the characters do the job and do it well, they will find it easy to hunt, gather food, and pass through the woods. If the PCs are rude, refuse to help her, or take hostile actions, animals will flee before they can catch them or attack, berries will turn to poison, and the paths they follow will become difficult and overgrown.

Fossergrim (FF): Can be used in the same ways as dryads, but more serious and less flighty.

Glaistig (MM3): Awesome concept if you set the scene right. Lure someone away from the party at night, only to hear her singing. If they follow her voice, they see her in a pool, illuminated by the dancing forms of will-o’-the-wisps’.

Hoary Hunter (ELH): Once in a century or when the moon is in eclipse (or whatever), they lead mad hunts across the countryside. Villagers lock their doors and put special talismans above them. Anyone who crosses their path vanishes forever and any who see them are driven mad. Something like that.

Jermlaines (MM2): Build your farm too close to fey haunted woods and the jermlaines will come to knock down your crops, spill your milk, and infect your animals with fevers.

Kelpie (FF): Will be discussed another time.

Nymph (MMI): The nymph is your frenemy, to us the most Paris Hilton as possible terminology. She’ll tease you, she’ll toy with you, and she’ll help you out if she thinks you’re handsome and charming, but she’s fickle and temperamental. If there’s a dashing paladin, she might try to tempt him into breaking his vows of chastity in exchange for the location of the magical fountain or entrance to the buried dungeon. If there’s another woman in the party, she’ll be shallow and catty to her, while all the time chatting up the men and trying to make them prefer her to their companion.

Ocean Strider (MM2): Holy crap! A giant, CR 18 orca man! I’m not really sure what to do. Make one sleep at the bottom of the seas, waiting to wake and sink the ships of any who approach the sacred island of the Sea King? Apparently they are playable as characters with an ECL of 36. Seems like a massive waste of 36 levels.

Oread (FF): Give one some future telling powers and make the PCs seek their wisdom on the mountain. Make them patient, cryptic, and ancient as the rocks.

Ragewalker (MM3): Run around in armor embodying the natural forces of war? Bull. That said, I would probably like them if they were anything but fey.

Redcap (MM3): Use them the same way as jermlaines, but have them steal babies from their cribs and drop the severed heads of woodsmen on the doorsteps of their wives.

Satyr (MMI): Don’t trust them as far as you can throw them and don’t accept any food or drink they offer or you’ll spend the rest of your life in a hazy enchanted woods frat party.

Shadar-Kai (FF): I like nearly everything about them, especially nailing their souls to their bodies, but I would like them better if they were a race of cursed mortals. They seem too human to be believably fey.

Shimmerling Swarm (MM3): Use them to set the scene right before the My Little Ponies appear.

Sirine (MM2): Stop being coy and start drowning sailors.

Spirit of the Land (MM2): If you’re going to use one of these, you better hype the hell out of it. Locals should form a cult around it and tell stories about how in ages past, it rose from its slumber to crush an invading army.

Splinterwaif (MM3): I like the idea of them as the fey equivalent of undead. Twisted, hideous, and enraged at man for causing the destruction of their sacred tree (or whatever) and forcing them to live as abominations.

Spriggan (FF): An evil little gnome that turns big. They seem like another breed of baby snatcher.

Sprite (MMI): They want to steal your shoes and tickle your horses’ ears. They can be a fun way to add atmosphere to any area where you want a magical forest or meadow feel, but use them too much or too obviously and they can make all fey, including the cool ones, seem hokey.

Wendigo (FF): Love em’. They’re one of the few fey that are scary without requiring too much work from the DM. They should haunt the party and drive them to madness and cannibalism before they actually make themselves known. Hell, since it’s a template, attach it to an important NPC that the party needs to find, then make them find a way to trap or reason with it.

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