Thieves & Kings
The First World
The First World
“People call things ‘fairy tales’ as if that somehow demeans them. ‘Oh, that’s just a fairy tale – something to tell children.’ Yet those who would dismiss fairy tales forget the truth; that behind our own world lurks a realm of constant change, where anything is possible and nothing is forbidden. A place where even the gods are blind, and nature releases her iron laws. The creatures hailing from this place are neither good nor evil, but alien – beings who might grant you a wish or pull you apart to see how you work, without understanding the consequences of their either action. Where our world has morality, theirs has only vitality, a state of nature as red-toothed and brutal as it is innocent.”
“Yes, we tell fairy tales to scare our children. Because we know that a healthy fear may keep them alive.”
The “First World”, sometimes also known as the “Feywild” or the “Plane of Faerie”, is a land of soft lights and wonder, a place of music and death. It is a realm of everlasting twilight, with glittering faerie lights bobbing in the gentle breeze and fat fireflies buzzing through groves and fields. The sky is alight with the faded colors of an ever-setting sun, which never truly sets or rises, remaining dusky and low in the sky. Away from the settled portions ruled by the Seelie Fey that compose the Summer Court, the land is a tangle of sharp-toothed brambles and syrupy fens – perfect territory for the Unseelie Fey to hunt their prey.
The Feywild exists in parallel to the Material Plane, an alternate dimension that occupies the same cosmological space. The landscape of the Feywild mirrors the natural world, but turns its ordinary features into spectacular forms. Where a volcano might stand in the Material Plane, a mountain topped by monstrous crystals that glow with an infernal flame will tower in the Feywild. A wide and muddy river on the Material Plane might be echoed as a clear and winding brook of great beauty. A marsh could be reflected as a vast black bog of sinister character. And moving to the Feywild from ruins in the Material Plane might place the traveler at the door of an archfey’s castle.
The Feywild is inhabited by sylvan creatures, such as elves, dryads, satyrs, pixies and sprites, as well as centaurs and other creatures such as blink dogs, faerie dragons, treants and unicorns. The darker regions of the Feywild are home to such malevolent beasts as hags, blights, goblins, ogres, and giants.
Seelie and Unseelie Fey
When the gods abandoned the First World to focus their attentions on the Material Plane and the cycle of souls, they left behind a power vacuum. The fey were like children abandoned by their parents, and like children, they fought and despaired, tormenting each other in hopes that an authority would appear to make them stop."
“Into this void stepped the realm’s most powerful remaining residents, creatures that might as well have been gods themselves in the minds of the average fey. Seeking boons similar to those granted by the gods – safety, belonging, knowledge, and power – the common fey not only served these beings, but worshiped them. In time, these powerful fey learned the trick of The Seeming, granting spells to their clerics, and thus the ‘Eldest’ became demigods in truth.”
Two queens hold sway in the Feywild, and most fey hold allegiance to one or the other. Queen Titania and her Summer Court lead the Seelie Fey, and the Queen of Air and Darkness, ruler of the Gloaming Court, leads the Unseelie Fey. There are, of course, smaller courts of fey, such as the Court of Coral, or the Winter Court, but these smaller realms tend to grant authority to these larger and more powerful lords in matters of larger importance in the realms. Likewise, the larger courts tend to grant allegiance to these smaller courts, so long as they break no oaths to their “betters”. Within their own demesne, however, they are kings and queens, lords and ladies without peer.
Seelie and unseelie do not correlate directly with either good or evil, though many mortals make that equation. Many seelie fey are good, and many unseelie fey are evil, but their opposition to each other stems from their queens’ jealous rivalry, not an abstract moral concern. Ugly denizens of the Feywild, such as fomorians and hags, are almost never members of either court, and fey of independent spirit reject the courts entirely. The courts have engaged in war from time to time, but they also compete in more-or-less friendly contests with each other and even ally with each other in small secret ways.
Fey Crossings and Realms
“People think of the First World as one big forest full of satyrs and nymphs, drunken pixies and irritable dryads, but that’s missing the point. The First World was the rough draft for creation, and thus anything we have here, they have there – except more so, because their world isn’t bound by our laws. Trees grow thousands of feet tall. Islands float in the sky, or rest on the backs of ponderous sea beasts. Rivers flow uphill or feed back into themselves. And the creatures… Fools always assume that truly bizarre creatures must have been crafted by some mad wizard, or perhaps an unknown and ancient god. Yet the truth of the First World – and our own – is that nature is stranger and more prolific in its adaptations then we can ever hope to be. No matter what nature designs, it will inevitably come up with something else to replace it – and something to devour it.”
Fey Crossings are places of mystery and beauty on the Material Plane that have near-perfect mirror locations in the Feywild, creating a portal where the two realms touch. A traveller passes through a fey crossing by entering a clearing, wading into a pool, stepping into a circle of mushrooms, or even simply passing under a fallen tree. To the traveller, it seems as though they simply walked into the Feywild with a step. To an observer, the traveller is here one moment and gone the next.
Like other portals between the planes, most fey crossings open infrequently. A crossing might open only during a full moon, or on the dawn of a particular day, or for someone bearing a special item. A fey crossing can be closed permanently if the land on either side is drastically altered – for example, a castle is built on the site in the Material Plane.
Time Warp : While time seems to pass normally in the Feywild, characters that spend at least one full day in the realm will discover that time has passed differently for those in the Material Plane. Some powerful fey have the ability to mitigate this effect, but rarely do so without first engaging the person in a fey bargain for the boon.
Settlements and outposts are always being founded or abandoned by the people of the First World, While many locations are subsumed by the First World soon after they have been abandoned, some remain connected to objects or individuals, and remain centuries before being absorbed back into the plane. Inhabited settlements and fortresses of the realm are known to shift their locations from time to time; a thousand miles away for centuries, and suddenly just across the river from another lord’s realm; the ability to shift their realms lies with the lords and ladies of the courts with respect to their own realms.