Myth Direction: the Faerie Courts

December 24th, 2008

A quick thought experiment, today.  The Manual of the Planes contains some information about the Faerie Courts, the Seelie and the Unseelie, in its Feywild section.  I don’t plan to use that particular take on it in my game, since I have something else worked out.  But it did inspire some ideas about a third way.

This probably owes something to The Dresden Files, too, since I’ve been rereading that recently.  I highly recommend the series if you have any interest in urban fantasy, the “magic in the modern world” sub-genre.  Some of the books are better than others, but even the worst of them is very entertaining.

One of the more obvious bits of the construction was a simple emphasis on the duality:  the Seelie Court, the Court of Summer, is right at home in the Feywild, with its preternatural wilderness.  So where else should the Unseelie Court, the Court of Winter, be, than the Shadowfell?  In fact, I picture the Feywild as an eternal summer, warm and vibrant.  The Shadowfell isn’t entirely locked in winter — but certainly parts of it are, as I picture it, a frozen waste of eternal cold.

According to legend, of course, Seelie fae aren’t necessarily good or friendly, while Unseelie aren’t necessarily evil.  That’s reflected in the realms, too — the Feywild’s sun can sear as well as warm, and its storms are wilder than any in the world of men.  The Shadowfell offers not only blizzard, but also the calm beauty of a pristine morning snowfall.  Both of these realms are beyond the mortal domain, for good as well as for ill.

Then there are the fae themselves.  Summer needs its King and Queen, Oberon and Titania.  The former can be played by Corellon, and the latter by Melora.  Winter’s Queen Mab?  Well, the Shadowfell already has a resident deity — and she’s even associated with Winter.  The Raven Queen gets to be the Queen of Air and Darkness.

All of these deities are unaligned, which fits pretty well with the nature of the fae of legend.  (I toyed with the idea of throwing Kord, god of storms and battle, in there, too, as an Unseelie King, but I decided not to.)

But there’s another unaligned goddess whose profile is interesting:  Sehanine, god of the moon, autumn, illusions… and trickery.  I’ve always been pretty fond of trickster gods, and Sehanine’s command to avoid both “the blazing light of good” and “the utter darkness of evil” has some interesting ramifications if I were to pull her into this dualistic system.  At first, she wouldn’t seem to fit on either side of the equation.

But then, she’s a trickster god.  What if she fits on both sides?

Try this for an alternate cosmology:  There is no Raven Queen.  It’s Sehanine, the trickster, cloaking her own identity.  There’s no Melora, either.  That’s an aspect of Sehanine.  There’s no Corellon, and perhaps no Ioun.  There is only Sehanine.  She isn’t the goddess of autumn — she’s the goddess of summer and winter both, simultaneously and separately.  She is warmth and cold, light and shadow.

She’s more powerful than any of her former peers imagines.  In many real-life mythological beliefs, the trickster is the one who made the world.  Here, too.  She didn’t do it all herself, of course.  But she was the one who manipulated the primordials into shaping a world.  She was the one who influenced the gods, including the real Corellon, to add creations of their own.  She fomented the war against the primordials, essentially.  She helped guide the gods to victory.  And when some of the gods fell during the conflict, she replaced them, became them, without any of the others being the wiser.  After Gruumsh gutted Corellon in retaliation for the loss of his eye, Sehanine became Corellon, and she played the part so well that even Gruumsh became convinced that the elf-lord was merely wounded.

The Raven Queen was a useful fiction for Sehanine, but now she’s supplemented by a number of other divinities.  Sehanine, through her multiple divine identities, has great influence in almost every area of creation, from the highest to the lowest, through all of the realms of life and into death itself.

But what does Sehanine hope to accomplish through all of this subterfuge?  Ah, now that’s the campaign hook…

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Related posts:

  1. Myth Direction
  2. Defining the Raven Queen
  3. Myth Direction: The Great Con
  4. Seeking the Raven Queen
  5. Myth Direction: Excalibur

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2 Comments

  1. Oz, Dec. 24, 2008, 5:49 pm:

    Several of Charles de Lint’s books are useful for inspiration on the Fae, especially the Tamson House books, the Jack the Giantkiller books, and many of his Newford books. While they are set in modern times, I’ve borrowed liberally for inspiration in for my D&D campaigns.

    Oz´s last blog post: Thundercats The Movie (not really)

  2. benpop, Jan. 3, 2009, 12:27 am:

    Reading and commenting a bit late, perhaps, but I must say that is one of the most devilishly awesome hooks I’ve heard in a while. I can’t imagine the look on players’ faces when that one is revealed. :D

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