May 23, 2020

The Lark's and Obsidian Courts | 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: only one archfey each in these courts, so I thought I'd stack them together.

The Lark's Court

Something that I always love to see is political candidates with a sense of humor. Whether it's pirates in Sweden, Vermin Supreme in the US, or the Monster Raving Loony Party in the UK, they play an important role in driving interest in politics, as well as being a beacon of protest for dissatisfied voters. And they're fun! What's not to like? The Lark's Court was inspired by these sorts of characters, but with a distinct 'fey' spin that turns them into much more than just fringe figures.
     In the Feywild, jokes, pranks and satire are Serious Business. Pulling off a good lark can seal one's place in fey society for years, and all fey creatures respect the power of a well-executed roast to take someone down a peg or two. The Lark's Court is the grandest gathering of comedians in all of the Feywild, a raucous and colorful gang of elves, sithe, boggarts, and other strange creatures. To the fey of the Lark's Court, anything can be funny when seen in the right light -- not necessarily a position that others share -- and no one is willing to go further for a lark than the members of this court.

A deity I've always loved from Aboriginal mythology is the wily trickster Bluetongue Lizard, who is a shapeshifter and a sorcerer. Naturally, this makes great fodder for D&D, and lends a unique visual anchor to the Bluetongue character, in that he'll always have his characteristic blue tongue, no matter how he transforms. This archfey is intended to work best as a recurring character, one who can perfectly disguise themselves to pull an impish prank on the party, only to vanish out of reach before they can slay him. Of course, from time to time, his tricks are practically deadly, or cause lasting harm between people's relationships. To the Larks, these jokes are just as hilarious, if not more so.

The Garden of the Lark's Court
It's usually a challenge to tell when you're within the bounds of the Lark's Court's garden. Their domain is a grand hedge maze, with open fields containing banquet tables and hillside theaters connected by confounding maze corridors. However, the garden is nearly always enveloped in dozens of overlapping illusion spells, which transform it in drastic, sweeping ways. The fey of this court love staging elaborate illusory pranks within their garden, and will sometimes go out of their way to ensure the victim is never quite sure if they ever escaped. As any Lark will tell you, it's grand fun watching someone question their sanity.

The Obsidian Court

In many ways, the Obsidian Court is the opposite of the Rose Court. Politically, it draws on conservative themes, emphasizing responsible governance, respect for authority and taking a traditional, paternalistic approach to things. It's quite common for fey creatures to espouse these attitudes in fairy tales - fairies are all about preserving the old ways, and some of them can get very offended if you don't mind your manners!
     One of the things we wanted to do with the Feywild in general was to make it a cashless society as much as possible. In our telling, fey creatures trade much more in gossip, favors, and status, than cold coinage. Of course, this isn't entirely practical within the mechanical structure of D&D, which integrates money and gp-based valuations quite deeply into the rules. Thus, we decided that one of the major courts had to be open to buying and selling things for money; the Obsidian Court was the obvious choice. Given that other courts would surely look down on them for doing so, it was clear that they would have to be unrepentant in their greed, openly hoarding riches just because they can. We expect that to be useful from a plot-forming perspective: if the PCs need something, you can bet that the Obsidian Court has it stashed away somewhere in their treasure vaults.
     Overall, the Obsidian Court is a powerful, well-resourced, monolithic organisation that is utterly committed to guarding the Feywild and stewarding its traditions. Fey belonging to other courts may not see eye to eye with them all of the time, but they have no choice but to respect their illustrious history, steely resolve, and mighty archfey.

Because nobility and hierarchy is so important to the Obsidian Court, it seemed natural to give them a classical 'great man' archfey as their unquestioned leader. What better way to do that, than make him a literal stone giant? In the same vein, I couldn't resist making him CR 30. Carnavon is supposed to be the strongest of all archfey in a straight-up fight -- after all, this is someone who has united the entire Obsidian Court under his banner, commanding the complete loyalty of a significant number of very powerful creatures. And, being evil, he's a great antagonist for players to face down in a high-level campaign.
     Carnavon is the polar opposite of Bluetongue in every conceivable way. The stone giant has never cracked a smile -- in fact, doing so might literally cause his face to crack. He believes firmly in the rule of law, the importance of wealth, and the might of unity, and it is the strength of his conviction that binds the Obsidian Court together. There is little room for frivolity in his doctrine, and certainly no room for pranks.

The Garden of the Obsidian Court
The Obsidian Court's Garden is really more of a fortress than a garden. All black stone and gold-plated ironwork, this towering castle hides a vast basement & subterranean tunnel complex that stretches deep into the bowels of the earth. In the depths of this Garden, one is not merely 'close' to nature, but completely enveloped by it. The Great Crystal Cave at the very bottom of the tunnels is said to be the most awesome sight in the whole of the Feywild, lit by thousands of faerie lights and filled with the clearest water this side of the elemental planes. That said, the endless treasure vaults of the Obsidian Court must come a close second, though these are mostly hidden inside demiplanes where no outsider could ever hope to tread.


  1. The Larks and Bluetongue are awesome.

    I do like the fact that the gold-hoarderd of the fey are the ones keeping old traditional stories alive- works really well, and justifies stories of great treasures in the feywild.

    I do not, however, think that CR 30 is appropriate- Carnavon is in many ways comparable to Mammon, and although Mammon didn't get stats in 5e, Zariel is CR 26 and would be a greater combat threat than Mammon, probably. CR 30 in 5e is strictly gods and the Tarraqsue- The greatest demon lords and archdevils are CR 26, and in Eberron even creatures which are basically Great Old Ones are CR 28.
    I think we've had that discussion about the treant, so sorry for repeating myself- it just really doesn't seem right.
    Also, Karma should say "if the target is within 30 feet", not "as long", as this is not a continuous effect.

    From a fluff point of view- Stone giants believe the entire world under the sky is a dream, and stone giants who live there are insane. Does Carnavon never leave the underground/buildings of the Obsidian court, or is he technically insane?
    (Or did you opt out of that fluff point of 5e?)

    1. Yeah, we went over the CR 30 thing with the treant one, and I'm sticking to my guns. In my opinion, it's pretty lame that WotC aren't willing to use the full range of teh CR scale for their demon lords and archdevils. They should absolutely go up to 30.

      As for the fluff, I think that's a matter of some debate. The entire Feywild is a somewhat dreamlike realm, and it's possible that *everyone* who lives there would seem a little insane to outside observers. At the same time, upon ascending to the rank of archfey, Carnavon's creature type became fey, rather than giant, an a lifetime of exposure to wild magic has clearly changed him. Maybe the rules that normal stone giants live by don't apply to him any more?

    2. I think WotC don't go up there because most of these extreme-CR creatures are meant to be bosses for adventures ending around level 11-15, and they want them to be beatable at those levels.

      The Feywild being in itself a dream-realm definitely solves that point, and now it seems to me even cooler.

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