Appendix: Fairies & goblins§
The beings of Arcadia are divided by mortal scholars into two categories: the powerful, noble, and inscrutable fairies, and the base, voracious, and all-too-understandable goblins.
These divisions, of course, reflect the mortal scholars’ ideas of class, and ultimately fairies and goblins have more that unite them than divide them: they are all creatures in whom the principle of magic dominates, who live and breathe magic.
Bring goblins into the game when someone travels to Arcadia, as the magicians use obvious magic, or when you need them. Save fairies for late in the game, or when a magician summons one.
When you make a goblin, you must choose its hunger, powers, weaknesses, and tells.
Choose one or two hungers:
- Secrets, lies, and sorrows.
- Chaos, bickering, and hatred.
- Wealth, jewels, and luxuries.
- Praise, adoration, and obeisance.
- Blood, flesh, and bone.
- … or something else.
Choose two or three powers:
- To shrink to the size of a mouse or grow to the size of an oak.
- To fly.
- To talk with stones, plants, and rivers.
- To step into one shadow and out of another.
- To make worthless things look like gold.
- To lull people to sleep with their song.
- To shrug off the fiercest blow.
- To squeeze through the smallest opening.
- To make anyone who looks at them feel love.
- … or something else.
Choose at least one weakness:
- The sound of church bells.
- The sound of bees.
- The touch of rowan.
- Holy words.
- Iron nails.
- Spilled milk.
- Horse shoes.
- Their true name.
- Red ribbon.
- … or something else.
Choose at least one tell:
- Golden eyes and a wicked smile.
- A cow’s tail.
- A scabrous hide and bulging muscles.
- Long ears and a long nose.
- No shadow.
- The sound of wind in the trees.
- The smell of rain on tilled earth.
- A form no more substantial than mist.
- … or something else.
These are the rulers of Arcadia, the nobles and dominions of that other land.
When you as the Host are playing the fairy, you must resist the temptation to be coy. Fairies are not ashamed of who they are, nor are they frightened of a mere mortal magician. In a world bound by social norms, the fairy is your chance to say what no one else will say, to take decisive and inhuman action, and to ensure that, despite the best efforts of these little people living their little lives, change and chaos will prevail.
The Beast of the Moors§
The Beast is inhuman. It may take many forms (a hairy and disheveled wild man, a great brindle hound with red eyes, a silver-and-black fairy cat the size of a lynx, or more), but no one would mistake it for something normal and natural.
And yet, the beast can communicate very clearly. It may not use words, but there is never any doubt what it asks of you.
It values a kind of authenticity, but it sees compassion as inevitably inauthentic, and a kind of violence and selfishness as the highest goal. It advocates for taking what you want by force and rewards those who are willing to become predators.
The Hanged God§
Some would say the Hanged God is an aspect of Woden, as the god of poets and magicians. If so, he has none of the wise and kindly traveller left in him. This is an old and wizened man with a rope-scar on his neck, who looks more like a vagabond than any respectable man. He is a master of lies, a master of self-abasement for his own gain, and wants nothing more than to see the entire social order inverted. It may be easy to sympathize with his goals, while reviling his means. Of course, as he sees himself as being oppressed and trampled by everyone, a complete social inversion would put him at the very top, so.
The Horned God§
The Horned God is a hunter, and the hunted, all in one. He may take the guise of a country squire, a vigorous young officer, a gamekeeper, or even a poacher, but he is always hale, and male.
While some other fairies have nightly balls to which they steal mortals, the Horned God holds a hunt, that courses over all of Britain, and sometimes as far afield as Hell or Europe. A hunt needs many people, of course, and he is likely to find any number of accomplishments to his liking. And then, there’s always the risk that you will instead catch his eye as quarry.
The Old King of the North, Ludd (or Lludd of the Silver Hand) cuts a regal figure, adorned in robes and brocades all of the finest fabrics and furs. His right arm or hand is a silver prosthetic, worked with exquisite filigree, and perfectly functional.
He values nothing so highly as ancient nobility, though he may find it in surprising places. He sees deeds of arms and valour as the evidence of this nobility. He desires nothing so much as to destroy the low-born cullions and varlets who are putting on airs of greatness with their newfound money. To do this, he is happy to break machinery, but happier yet to break men.
Choose among the highest status characters present. One is his nemesis, in whom he sees nothing but baseness. He will seek that character’s overthrow and destruction, but he cannot do it himself; to do so would be to rob the truly noble and valiant people he sees in this town of their rightful chance to elevate themselves through feats of valour and strength. No, he must help them towards their destiny.
The Lady in the Lake§
The Lady in the Lake (not to be confused with the half-fairy Ladies of the Lake) is a figure of surpassing beauty and wisdom. Those she befriends will prosper, and those she hates will stumble and fall. While she would never admit that she was the same who gave King Arthur his power, she does not deny it, either.
She is tall and willowy, wearing diaphanous white gowns of the latest fashion. Her hair falls in golden tresses, like light shining off a brook. She is exacting in her demands, and never forgives a transgression. Obedience is the highest virtue in her world, and while she would never make an unreasonable demand, neither may her requirements be questioned.
Also called Robin Red-cap, he wears the guise of an old soldier, with weary eyes and many stories for those that will listen. He leans on a stick, and walks with a heavy tread.
Don’t let that fool you. He is a spirit of death, and wants nothing so much as to bathe in the blood of the sweet and innocent. He plays by strange rules, though: he can gain no satisfaction from killing those who have not first accepted his hospitality.
Choose who has particularly drawn his attention as prey.
The Sable Lady§
A young widow, still (and always) in her mourning blacks. Her face remains obscured, but no one doubts her beauty. She stands staring forlornly out windows, walks about the gardens in hopeless circles, and wishes everyone the greatest happiness in a voice creaking from recent crying.
Any who promise her respite from her grief may have her friendship, until they fail, as all before them have, at which point her grief begets her anger, and she will visit her own sorrows a hundredfold on her false friends.
The Three Sisters§
Some say that these were the weird sisters that Macbeth saw upon the heath. Some say that they are the goddess Hecate, or whatever inspired her legends. They are also the phases of the moon, but above all, spirits of the storm. They revel in chaos, in order turned upside-down and ships and lives broken upon the rocks. They love secrets, and giving them out in half-measures to those who will misunderstand them. They are inseparable, and they do not need words to communicate with each other.
They will usually find a champion and promise them their heart’s desire, and never make clear how the path there is bloody and doomed.
Fetches, Wraiths, & Glatisant§
When a magician irreparably damages their soul with magic, they may become a fetch or a wraith. These things bridge the border between Arcadians and mortals: they were mortal, but now are creatures of magic, and so have lost all the moral foundation available to mortals.
A fetch is a mind and a body, but it has lost its soul: this has been replaced with fairy-fire, which will eventually consume both the mind and the soul, but until then provides a powerful source of magic.
When you become a fetch, you should consult with the Host about whether you will continue to play the character. While the fetch has all the memories of the person it once was, it has none of the moral character, and this may be a hard switch to make. The Host, who has practice playing amoral characters, may prefer to take over.
A newly-formed fetch starts with five fuel, and consumes one fuel at the change of each season, or whenever it casts a spell. Any spell it casts will be perfect, as though it had drawn only face cards, without having to draw any. If it would consume a fuel and has none to consume, it destroys itself instead, in a flare of fairy-fire.
A fetch can gain fuel by serving a fairy, which can dole out fuel, or by consuming another mortal being in fairy-fire.
A wraith, contrariwise, is a soul and a mind, but no body. Its curse is, in some ways, the opposite of the curse of a fetch: rather than consuming itself, it will linger, impossibly, and in suffering. A wraith can only be seen by those who are magically sensitive (magicians, cats, the very young, the very old, the very ill, and so on), and cannot work its will on the world except through casting spells it knew in life. Further, because a wraith is, in many ways, dead, it can only cast spells if it is given a source of magic: either by serving a fairy, or by magician knowingly giving their own blood (and taking a wound).
Finally, Glatisant is the Questing Beast, the object of the Wild Hunt. All the lords and ladies of Fairy, but most particularly the Horned God, participate in the Hunt from time to time. A Glatisant may take whatever form their magics allow them, but they are cursed in two ways: first, they may never rest as the Wild Hunt pursues them, and second they can only speak in barks and yelps; the tongues of mortals, fairies, and Hell are all beyond their ability. They must serve in this role until they are caught, killed, and butchered by the Hunt, or some other poor magician stumbles into the role. Glatisant, of course, never ages and can die in no way but at the hands of the Hunt.