In this design blog, we plan to look at some of the True Fae in greater depth, and give you a glimpse into the design process. To start off, we will give you a look in detail at some of the True Fae we peeked at last week with their working design writeup and then go into how we came to these Fae in particular. Finally, we will look at three more True Fae in detail.
BF – Have you seen Mirrormask? Why haven’t you seen Mirrormask? Go treat yourself. Lots of options for people to feel lost without her, or to no longer trust other people or to become angry at the mortal world and data collection or surveillance.
AM – Imagine if the reboot of Fantasy Island was good instead of awful. All your wishes come true, in a warming world of comfort with someone who knows exactly what you need, but you’re trapped – mind, body and soul – your belonging is your undoing.
BF – This is our ‘Monstrous’ Ogre True Fae as opposed to ‘Militant’ Ogre True Fae. I was also struck by the scene at the beginning of Spirited Away with the thought that in Arcadia, one day you’re enjoying the feast, and the next day you are the feast.
AM – From classical Mythology we have Circe, and many gluttonous metamorphoses, from narcissism to lust. I imagine scenes of dark forests with inviting houses and caves, full of danger, tricksters warding off being eaten, promising larger sheep will cross into the realm soon.
Darker concepts would be those closer to Wendigo myths, or the modern folklore of serial killers like Hannibal.
As you can see we’ve incorporated ideas about elements, kiths, fairy tales and a possible quick durance for each one – hopefully enough to start giving people ideas. We arrived at these decisions through a process which I’ve detailed below.
The first step was to take an existing group of imperious overlords for our inspiration. We could have picked from various schemes, but we got very excited last year about the Skeksis from Dark Crystal. They have the advantage of covering a lot of specialist areas and personalities.
The list of them is (according to the wiki): The Emperor, The Ritual-Master, The Garthim-Master, The Chamberlain, The Slave-Master, The Treasurer, The Ornamentalist, The Hunter, The General, The Collector, The Conqueror, The Gourmand, The Scientist, The Satirist and The Mariner
The second step was to reduce the number of them. We have a target of twelve but for this exercise we figured we would do nine so that we could add three extra ones in later to cover any gaps. So then we took the D&D alignment grid meme and mapped them across, giving us a sense of their personalities and which ones might be diametrically opposed.
Good and Evil shouldn’t really be concepts applicable to the True Fae though, even if Chaotic and Lawful work pretty well. So we’ve picked Vainglorious and Cruel to represent that second axis – a vainglorious True Fae wants to be worshipped by its slaves, and a cruel one wants its slaves to cower in fear.
We reduced the list down to drop ones that were similar and ones that don’t fit. The biggest loss is the Emperor – who is dropped so there isn’t one leader True Fae.
Next up, fairy tales. We aimed to thematically tie each of them to a traditional folk tale or cultural theme. Some were easier than others.
- The Chamberlain just wants to be loved and manipulate people, so draws on Snow White.
- The Treasurer is going to be about controlling love, so draws on Rapunzel and Cinderella.
- The Garthim-Master (which means torturer) wants love but doesn’t care about it afterwards, so links with something like Bluebeard’s castle, or the Snow Queen.
- The Scientist is going to incorporate things we traditionally bring into Changeling but aren’t folk tales, like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, as well as other modern fairy tales like Frankenstein.
- The Collector draws on stories about UFOs and bogeymen and ghosts. The Collector is an alien monster from under your bed that will carry you away in the night in his sack.
- The Gourmand is going to reflect stories involving cannibalism and gluttony so Sleeping Beauty, The Rose Tree, and Hansel and Gretel.
- The Ritual-Master is the lord of bargains so most strongly links to the fairy tale of Rumplestiltskin, or for curses it draws on Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid.
- The General is a hunter and conqueror so I have picked out Jack the Giant Killer, and we have to include the Wild Hunt somewhere.
- The Slave Master has strong Dracula vibes.
As a result of creating a limited set of True Fae, to some varying degree we also have to ensure that each of the Seemings is represented amongst them.
Beasts: The Ritual-Master contains stories about animals transformed by curses, the Gourmand will turn humans into food, and the General contains the Wild Hunt and elements like the Wolf, or hounds.
Darklings: Both the Garthim-Master and the Slave-Master contain elements that would create Darklings, either through abandonment in high towers or through psychological transformation. The Collector also acts as a bogeyman type figure for anything that creeps in the night.
Elementals: The Scientist seems the natural home for Elementals, but in order to spread out the Elementals we are going to assign an element to each of the True-Fae later.
Fairest: All three of the Vainglorious True Fae are pretty much guaranteed to produce Fairest of some kind, and the Slave-Master will probably create some of the more sex-orientated Fairest.
Ogres: With the focus on gluttony and monstrosity, the Gourmand is a natural home for Ogres, but the sub-theme about oaths makes the Ritual Master an equally good fit. The General is Giant-themed for those who want to play colossi.
Wizened: As general assistants, all of the True Fae require house cooks, smiths and other background workers, but the Wizened are more likely to come out of the Lands of the Collector and the Scientist.
Going back to elements, if we want to assign an element to each True Fae, then we’re going to need 9-12 elements. We can start with the platonic elements – Earth, Air, Fire, Water. Then we can add some more – Metal, Wood, Lightning, Ice, Light, Darkness, Precious Gems.
Assigning these can help us not only firm up Elemental origins but tell us something about the True Fae as well.
Earth/Stone: The demesne of The Collector reflects his unchanging, unyielding static realm with everything neatly placed in order. His is a Land of things buried in deserts or hidden in mountains.
Air and Electricity: The realm of The Scientist seems to literally be in the clouds or on airships or in rooms of crackling electricity as machines buzz and whir.
Fire: In the Lands of the General are found mustering grounds filled with lava pits, marching armies of fire and smoke, roaming fire giants and hellhounds.
Water: The Gourmand’s dwelling is a place of water, whether it’s bubbling boiling cauldrons, steam baths, or the dank swamp it seems to be placed in. Everything is damp and sweaty, except for the food.
Metal and Precious Gems: The Treasurer’s Gallery is made of gleaming, glittering, polished surfaces and robotic workers and automata – dancing, spinning, cleaning, all to provide the perfect gilded birdcage.
Wood and Paper: The wooden working desks in the Ritual-Master’s Scriptoriums are overshadowed by the libraries, burgeoning with the scrolls containing the thousands of ongoing deals and bargains, a hive of activity propelled by indebted servitude.
Ice: Cold is the Kingdom of the Garthim-Master. Just like their heart.
Light: Don’t be fooled by the shining brightness of the gardens of the Chamberlain, she keeps it bright so you cannot see the twisted shape of the shadows, and so that her many mirrors are always reflecting everything that goes on.
Darkness: The dungeon castle of the Slave-Master seems to suck the light and life out of people. It is a place of shadows, thrown by the gas-light.
It’s often useful to sum up a True Fae in three words as a quick TLDR:
The Treasurer: Overprotective Parent Robot
The Chamberlain: Charismatic Jealous Cult-Leader
The Garthim-Master: Heartless Abandoning Romancer
The Scientist: Insane Magical Inventor
The Collector: Creepy Alien Hoarder
The Gourmand: Cannibal Monstrous Cook
The Ritual-Master: Vicious Snake-Oil Lawyer
The General: Conquering Giant Huntsman
The Slave-Master: Sociopathic Psychological Dominator
Putting all of these together we arrive at a sort of picture of the Fae, even if perhaps these are quite early ideas – without Titles, Names, or Aspects but it’s the sort of thing we can build off.
Below, we have presented three more at this point. We will come back when we have done a bit more work on them, and look at the rest of the ones we have been developing.
BF – This kind of Keeper is always popular with the inventor crowd which tends towards the Autumn court, but I think there’s lots of things here for other courts to pick up on. Gadgety winter courtiers, perhaps an adventurous spring courtier, genetically enhanced summer courtiers, or people can pursue the Alice in Wonderland or Jules Verne sub-themes.
AM – Into the realms of Science Fiction and B movies, everyone needs a good genius to promise the twisted world, intelligence without rival, but there’s always a twist, too bad your body is slowing you down, it’s brain in a jar time. I love to play with scientific Keepers, they always tend to hire Phil Tippett to supervise the dinosaurs.
Darker concepts lean into body horror, and transformation, adding a few more chapters to the metamorphosis.
BF – Because of all the snow and ice, it feels like an appropriate place for a lot of winter courtiers and they have an entitlement that fits well with this theme. The themes of abandonment though I think will resonate deeper, some people feeling angry or needing to build a community.
AM – “How does she know who I am?” Teenage dreams, and the broken hearted. Unrequited Love in the Wicked Game. Suitable for those that wish to chase romance plots, and have them horribly go wrong.
BF – Pact focused and vow lawyers could definitely find a home here, but I also think it can be a very widely applied Keeper maybe with hidden objectives bubbling up, starting the game cursed or with a gaes or a favour for example – maybe also a good place for marketeers to learn the craft.
AM – On one hand a devilish, vindictive, childish wizard who offers to fulfill desperate wishes “for a price”. On the other hand an uncompromising, cold and calculated broker.
Justice and the Changeling both enter with their eyes covered, but you will quickly find neither in this realm of laws and unbending promises. To escape the most powerful and enduring promises will take a lifetime of regret and personal horrors.
Feel free to submit your thoughts and feedback to us on Discord 🙂 and join us next week for more Dev Blog.