Fey are capricious, mischievous, and often dangerous beings, but despite their chaotic reputations, they do follow a certain set of rules. These rules-widely misunderstood by outsiders-are codified and enforced by a cadre of lofty fey nobility. Befitting any courtly structure, the fey bow to lords and ladies: eldritch creatures of immense power who rule the courts.
Heads of State. The fey lords and ladies are beings of high station and prodigious personal power. Each rules over at least a great city if not an entire nation. No matter the scope of a fey noble’s rule, in his or eyes, a fey ruler’s word is law, and so shall the rest of the world see it! Outsiders may not understand the edicts and interdicts of a fey noble, but that’s no protection against the harsh penalties that await any who break them, knowingly or otherwise.
Circles of Power. Each fey noble is supreme in his or her own bailiwick, and the rulers maintain a rigid hierarchy among themselves. The Queen of Night and Magic is undeniably the most powerful of all fey nobles, and she rules cyclically with her embittered husband, the Moonlit King.
Together, the Summer and Winter monarchs rule over the entire shadow fey race. The River King is next in power, and he rules over the river elves. The Snow Queen rules among the ice, snow, and plundering reavers of the far north, as wells as commanding the obedience of the fraughashar and ice maidens. The Bear King, the weakest politically, rules a northerly city-state where werebears are common and mead flows like water.
The odd man out is the Lord of the Hunt. Though he is associated with both the shadow fey and the light elves, no one is certain of his true identity or how he fits into the political structure of fey nobility. Because he seldom concerns himself with politics, few have felt any need to press the question.
Other fey courts and rulers certainly exist, though their rulers are more esoteric than those described here.
Vacant Thrones. When a lord or lady dies, the court does not remain leaderless for long. Ambitious beings among the fey always hunger for more power and covet the station of their superiors. After a traditional month or year of mourning, vicious power struggles winnow the weak and pave the way for the most cunning or the strongest to take the court’s vacant throne.
Lords and ladies of the fey courts are timeless creatures, inured to many of the world’s threats. A universal exception to this is weapons of cold-wrought iron. This metal undoes the very fabric of a fey creature’s life as it blights their ageless flesh. A cold iron weapon is treated as magical when used against any fey creature, and is the only weapon with any hope of harming the most powerful fey lords and ladies.
Cold iron weapons, however, are difficult to construct.
The skill and material required to produce such a weapon doubles its price or adds 100 gp to the cost, whichever is more. Finding a smith with the skill to make a durable weapon without the aid of fire is always difficult-and finding one with the courage to anger the fey courts may be even harder.
Dressed in hunting leathers with a thick bearskin cloak around his shoulders, the bearded king sits upon a throne carved from a whole tree trunk. A crown of holly leaves wreathes his head, and a blackened maul rests near his hand. An ornate clay pot filled with honey hangs at his hip at all times.
Abuzz with Bees. The country’s chief product and export, thanks to the Bear King’s insatiable appetite for sweets, is honey.
The Bear King’s hive-keepers harvest rich, blossom-sweet honey from the hives of giant bees they tend. The land’s brewers use the honey to create the finest mead, and the most potent brews are infused with fey glamour.
The Bear King and his court of bear jarls, witches, and oracles spend most of their time hunting in the hills, feasting, brawling, and drinking mead. Old Honey Paws maintains his rulership over this court by besting all rivals in a yearly series of challenges.
The challenges are open to anyone, but the Bear King has defeated all comers since he rose to the throne.
Lord of the Hunt
Astride a midnight horse sits a shirtless elven huntsman. His broad chest is thickly muscled and sports tattooed knot work.
Great stag antlers crest the huntsman’s head, curving above his rich brown hair. The pale green glow that shines from his eyes obscures the elf ‘s strong features, and a massive spear twined with glowing green vines drives forward in his clenched fist.
The baying of shadow hounds; thundering hoof beats; a brassy horn note; the Wild Hunt is coming, and pity its quarry. The Lord of the Hunt is an enigma among the fey nobles. His true identity beyond title and position as master of the Wild Hunt is unknown, but he has some connection to the Black Prince of the shadow fey-while also answering to elvish druids and consorting with powerful blood hags and dryads.
The Wild Hunt. The Lord’s court is the Wild Hunt itself, a group of huntsmen, revelers, intelligent hounds, and poor souls they sweep up in their frenzy. His home, if he has any permanent dwelling, is as mysterious as his true identity. He and his Hunt move between the plane of shadow and the most ancient forests, so if he has a hidden seat of power, it is somewhere in one of those two places.
Dressed in archaic nobleman’s finery, this elf lord has wildly unkempt bluish hair and pale, almost luminous skin. His eyes bulge slightly from their sockets as they stare vacantly. The lord’s shadow moves slightly out of sync with his body, which appears solid in some portions and nearly transparent in others.
His Lunar and Royal Majesty is a creature consumed by madness, an ephemeral vestige of greatness lost. He barely lives in reality anymore, and is beset by phantoms from his own mind conjured from shadows and regret.
Dwindling Power. The Moonlit King lost the favor of his wife, the Queen of Night and Magic, long ago. When he fell from power, the Queen exiled him, banishing him from his seat in the Courts of the Shadow Fey. Now he endures in the crumbling, far-flung Tower of the Moon. The King has sunk deep into madness during his isolation and has turned to bargains with demons and devils, including The Demon Lord of Night the Demon Lord of Night, in a desperate bid to regain freedom.
Queen of Night and Magic
A fey lady of stunning beauty with hair the color of midnight stands before a shining field of stars. A gown seemingly woven from the night sky drapes her flawless ivory skin. Bright lights glitter like diamonds in her crown and raiment, and some drift about her body and dance near her hand.
The Queen rules the Court of the shadow fey with grace and majesty. She is the head of the Summer court, which rules the shadow fey in its season. On the rare occasion when the courtly season turns, she steps aside in favor of her husband and rival, the Moonlit King.
Shadow Sorceress. The Queen of Night and Magic does not bear her moniker lightly. She is a devastatingly potent sorceress, augmented with command over the stuff of shadows.
Though her nature is undeniably dark, she is hardly unreasonable. She is quick to recognize the value in any supplicant, mortal or fey, who manages to catch her royal eye.
She is never one to ignore an opportunity to further her agenda or to gain further power over the Moonlit King.
Queen of Witches
This statuesque woman towers over any tall man, and most ogres. Her hair falls in a cascade of curls and looks as if it is spun from copper. Her eyes are the color of moss beds, with no iris or pupil. A billowy robe of forest green enshrouds her body, and she grasps a great ring of etched silver in one massive fist.
The Moon Weaver is the Queen of Witches. She is not what one usually imagines in a fey lady, but she has an imposing figure of mass and power. Her stature speaks to great physical strength and the stalwart defiance of the mountain itself, but her true power is in her command of magic.
Pact Patron. The Queen of Witches is one of the foremost patrons of those who seek power through a pact. Many hag covens offer her loyalty and tribute. She rules from beneath her mountain, attended by a court of fey witches, hags, and mortal supplicants. Her favor is highly sought after, and it is said that a single hair from her coppery head contains all the power a mortal might ever desire.
This powerfully-muscled elf lord wears a cloak of foam-trimmed dark blue and a vest of woven green reeds and willow branches.
His crown shines like the sun on a lake, and his flowing hair curls and moves even when there is no wind. An orb of blue light that ripples like water circles his hand.
The River King is a lean elf noble with whipcord muscles and flowing grace, He rules over all the river elves. His court resides just beyond the river’s reflection, in a realm of fey glamour and silty water.
A Fickle Friend. The River King is a stern ruler with a great love for his people and a quick temper for those who threaten his domain. As much a force of nature as he is a monarch, the River King is known to sometimes forget promises that were made in sincerity, so dealing with him can be perilous at the best of times. “The river may change its course when it wills” is the usual expression among his court when he has had a sudden change of heart.
This severe elf has pale, almost white skin and tightly braided blond hair. Her gown is exquisite, fashioned of luminous blue fabric that catches light and shines from within. Lacy ice crystals accent the gown, and a snow-white mantle cascades from her shoulders. Icicles radiate in a crownlike halo behind her head, drifting gracefully through the air.
The Snow Queen rules a northern kingdom and is perpetually shrouded in snow and ice, her domain is inhospitable to outsiders. She rules from a castle of delicate spires carved entirely out of ice. The dwelling catches and reflects even the faintest glimmer of light, shining like a beacon and enticing travelers to risk the dangerous winter realm.
Queen of Giants. The Snow Queen is proud and cruel to any who cross her. Her daughters, the ice maidens, roam her kingdom with ease. Travelers who can’t give a good reason to be moving through the Queen’s territory meet a quick end in their chilly embrace.
She commands the loyalty of winter-born tribes of fraughashar, ogres, frost giants, thursir giants, and trollkin. She is said to have mocked both Thor and Loki, and to often lead their priests astray into winter storms.
Tome of Beasts. Copyright 2016, Open Design; Authors Chris Harris, Dan Dillon, Rodrigo Garcia Carmona, and Wolfgang Baur.