June 8, 2019

The Rose Court | Into the Wilds

In this series, we'll be expanding on the work begun in our supplement of fairies and fariy tales, Fey Folio, by extending the world building, exploring additional mechanics, and fleshing out the Fey's fantastical world. Join us as we embark Into the Wilds.

Notes from the Nails: several people have asked me for archfey stats. Clearly, these are going to be huge stat blocks, so we can only do a few at a time. That's why we thought it would be best to tackle them court by court, mixing in some more worldbuilding while we're at it.

Designing the Faerie Courts

Usually, when a new writer, game designer, artist, or other builder of worlds sets out to fashion a system of fey courts, they take their inspiration from a few common sources. These include real-world mythology, older works of fiction, and natural phenomena like weather and seasons. We have taken a somewhat different approach. Our starting point was encouraging Feywild campaigns to focus on intrigue, magic, and politics, so it felt most natural to base out faerie courts on political ideals and build from there. Doing it this way is handy, because it means that the courts will sit along natural ideological fault lines that bring them into conflict with each other organically, without falling back on the overly reductive good-vs-evil and law-vs-chaos conflicts that drive most D&D settings.
     One of the potential pitfalls of drawing inspiration from real-world politics is that we, as writers, can be biased. We've done our best to take our personal beliefs out of the equation and incorporate 'positive' and 'negative' traits into each of the courts, but please let us know if you think we've failed to do that at any point. On the other hand, I do think it is helpful to players if some of the courts to be broadly good-ish and broadly evil-ish, since there isn't always time at the table or space in the narrative to explore all the subtle nuances of a group of NPCs. So don't necessarily see it as a bug if some of the courts aren't perfectly balanced in the neutral zone.
     And, of course, all of the courts are filled with fey creatures and (at least for the major courts) based in the Feywild. That means that their philosophies are filtered through the nature of fey creatures and the history, geography, and culture of their plane. Don't be surprised if some things don't quite line up to the real world!

The Rose Court

As its name implies, the Rose Court is based on the ideals of social democracy. Its philosophy focuses on fairness and equality, kindness and generosity. I know I just said we weren't doing the good-and-evil thing, and that those convictions line up pretty well with the D&D definition of goodness, but... consider this the exception that proves the rule. None of the other courts are capital-E Evil, after all. Besides, we do need somewhere for all the unambiguously Good pixies (and, um, player characters?) to feel at home!
     To tie into the theme of equality and democracy, we decided to have the Rose Court led by an elected council rather than prominent individuals. We also gave the court a broadly positive outlook on humanoids, though it should be noted that Rose fey are just as haughty and arrogant as those of other courts. They can also be naive and indecisive, and some members of the court can be very zealous in their adherence to pacifism, which might make them less valuable as allies and patrons. One of the Rose Court's greatest weaknesses, which we have hinted at previously, is its internal divisions. Rose fey spend almost as much energy arguing with each other as they do fighting their natural enemies in the Grimm and Obsidian courts -- definitely something to bear in mind if you're going to be using them in a game.
     We described the Rose Court in Fey Folio as one of the largest courts, mostly because we think its ideals will appeal to a broad range of people. That's why three of its archfey get statistics - more than any other court. Each of the three is meant to exhibit one of the strengths of the court, which lie largely in the sphere of 'social interaction'. Expect these characters to be powerful in talky scenarios, with violence very much a secondary string to their bows. Most notably, this court contains the only Tiny-sized archfey we're going to be presenting -- at CR 21, she's a real collector's item!

Aoibie Dreamsinger, the Shining Princess
Aoibie Dreamsinger is a sithe with a heart of gold and a tongue of fire. She is famed throughout the Feywild as a stirring orator and fearsome debater, always with the right words to move hearts and minds. Aoibie's lightning wit has long been the bane of every other faerie court, whose representatives have all but given up on besting her in debate.
     Having such a prodigious speaker has benefited the Rose Court in many different ways. Not only does it help them to humiliate their rivals, but it also ensures that members can be rallied around a common agenda, despite other competing interests that usually sow discord in the ranks. When the Rose Court's archfey assemble to defend the weak in a more physical capacity, Aoibie is an inspirational presence, galvanizing the court's warriors to fight for justice with even greater fervor.
     Aoibie's voice is more than just persuasive. If she needs to, she can bolster it with bardic magic, to charm, polymorph, or heal her audience, whatever the situation requires. When things get dangerous, she relies greater magic: Aoibie can dominate almost anything if she has to, and against hordes of monsters, she often uses wall of fire to provide easy pickings for her allies.

Black Jakodak
So called because of his luscious hair and deep, pensive eyes, Black Jakodak cuts a handsome figure in pretty much any setting. In public, he wears ornamented armor and carries his signature sun blade on his hip; the very picture of a heroic knight. Jakodak's true strength is not on the battlefield, however, but at the negotiating table.
     For indeed, this fey elf is an ingenious diplomat, whose ability to find common ground amidst deep-seeded hatred allows him make firm allies out of bitter foes. Jakodak believes that every war must end, every disagreement can be resolved -- and those who have seen him brokering deals tend to agree that when he intervenes, anything is possible.
     Despite that, Black Jakodak is not a pacifist; he understands that warfare and diplomacy are two sides of the same coin. When he must fight, his impact is fearsome. He strides across the battlefield with purpose and grace, meting out decisive strikes to any and all who would oppose him. Furthermore, he rallies his confederates with defensive magics and undermines his enemies by persuading key figures to turn cloak mid-battle. He may not be the strongest archfey in the Feywild, but Black Jakodak is more than capable of turning any battle on its head.

Vaorise Syolkiir
Vaorise is a consummate elven warrior. Swift, precise, and deadly, she is nigh unbeatable in a fair duel. Unlike most drow, however, she is not a heartless killer; Vaorise is a peacekeeper, dedicated to protecting the helpless and delivering justice to tyrants.
     Initially, Vaorise trained with the Frolicking Court, rising through the ranks of their private army, the Caelagarm Oath-Keepers. Vaorise changed her allegiances upon becoming an archfey, dissatisfied with the Frolicking Court's focus on upholding traditions and maintaining neutral ties with all other courts. She believes that, in serving the Rose Court, she can make a positive difference to the lives of ordinary fey folk. The fact that they offered to promote her to the leader of the court's military arm was simply a pleasant coincidence.
     In battle, Vaorise leads from the front, always willing to risk herself to protect her friends. Fortunately, her incredible agility and magical armor mean that few enemies can realistically challenge her; even the most terrifying fiends from the darkest corners of the Feydark fall before her rapier.

The Garden of the Rose Court
The archfey of the Rose Court maintain a large Garden -- really more of an estate -- which they have developed into a friendly and neutral space for people of all kinds. The garden is centered on the monumental Council Hall, an ancient building that houses the court's storied debating chamber, flanked on all sides by the garden's four quadrants, each of which is designed to suit the tastes of different types of fey creatures. One quadrant is woodland, filled with towering trees and wildflowers, while another contains a lake dotted with artificial islands. In this way, everyone can be at ease in the Garden of the Rose Court.



7 comments:

  1. Sorry for the late post! I intended to get this out at Friday at the latest, and yet here we are on Saturday.

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  2. WOW. WOW.

    Loving the flavor, but the STATS! Wow.

    Aoibie Dreamsinger feels like she should be a bit higher on the
    CR, TBH. Keep in mind she can polymorph into an ancient dragon, solar, nightwalker, demilich or whatever... And only when THAT dies she actually begins the fight. However, increasing he CR obviously makes the problem worse... Not sure what could be done about that. Anyway, other than that she's not overly impressive in a fight (against smart, high-lvl PCs anyway), so the CR fits.

    Black Jakodak is cool, good CR and abilities... I expected a paladin, but cleric spells were a better fit I guess.

    As for Vaorise...Attack Surge L-action does make her damage output very high, but I doubt she is worth of CR 27- She might be on about the same area as Demogorgon, but for his CR, the Sibilant Beast is a total wimp.
    I'd compare her to Zariel- Vaorise wins in damage output with normal attacks (176 per round vs Zariel's 132, incl. L-acts), but Vaorise's avg. stat mod is +4 to Zariel's +8.33, Zar's hp is almost x2...

    Vaorise deserves CR 24 or so, I think. That being said, she does have a metric shitton of abilities, so I could easily be totally wrong.

    Also- It kinda bothers me that Vaorise has sunlight sensitivity... AND constantly radiates an aura of damaging light, which can't even be put out or controlled.

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    1. So, I kind of ignored Aoibie's true polymorph in the CR calculation. Unofficially, the assumption should be that she uses her 9th level slot for secret enclave most days.

      Vaorise's CR is as per the DMG table though. I can't in good conscience assign some arbitrary other number because it 'feels' wrong. Bear in mind, her reactions make it very difficult to stick any damage on her, and she gets 30 THP/turn for free.

      To note: her radiant aura isn't made of light (much less SUNlight). It's more like... the brilliance of her presence overwhelms people.

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    2. Scratch that about Aoibie- any party with half a brain would immediately dispel or counter a true polymorph.

      About Vaorise... I think official content tends to take the DMG guidelines loosely when meddling with high CR- Demogorgon has the damage output of CR 19 (as I said- a wimp), yet the attack bonus and AC of actual creatures tend to be much higher than those written.
      However, I admit I never check creatures by using all modifiers, multipliers, etc. listed, because it seems super tiresome and I much prefer eyeballing it.

      I guess there's no really better way to judge the CR of such creatures (especially since there are very few similar examples to compare), so I'll trust you on that. Archfeys should be on the same general power level as demon lords, anyway.

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    3. Yeah. If there was a better way to judge 'challenge', I'd use it. I won't deny that the existing methods are deeply flawed.

      And I'll definitely be aiming to put my archfey into the same realm as demon lords. At least the ones who are supposed to be strong fighters. There will be some who are more geared towards politics...

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  3. Something I just noticed: in a one v one duel, Voarise's damage is almost halved, because only one enemy turn ends, so she only gets one legendary action. Pelor help you if you decide to duel her, because she still makes 9 attacks, has a radiant aura, and a melee ac of 31

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    1. True. Its kind of like, she's a monster duelist, but gets *even stronger* when she's outnumbered (Peerless Master isn't going to do much in a duel, either).

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