An RPG Character Concept
"Papa, why can't we have a fire?" Jorwhynn asked, peeking out from under the thick blanket drawn around his shoulders. "Are there bandits?"
Krassin chuckled, and put a hand on the boy's back. "No, Jor, there aren't any bandits. Not here in the Deepwell. We don't light fires after dark because it draws the attention of the Deep Folk. And if they come to your camp, it's to make a trade."
"What would they want to trade?" the boy asked. His eyes caught the starlight, and shone in the darkness. Krassin took a deep breath, and blew it out slowly.
"Many things," he said. "But most common, they take children like you, Jor."
"Why, papa?" Jorwhynn asked.
"Many reasons," Krassin said with a shrug of his shoulder. "Because they're sick, and need care. Because there's no more room for them at home. Because a parent thinks them a burden, and wants to be rid of them. Or because the world is a cruel place, and the Deep Folk will give the young a life that's more than their mother and father could ever have provided for them."
Krassin was quiet for a moment. He sat with his son, and listened to the wind. They looked up at the sky, and breathed the deep, heady perfume of the forest.
"While it might seem wonderful, though, there's always a price to be paid to the fey," Krassin said. "Never forget that, Jor. Every gift they give has its cost."
There are dozens of factions of outsiders in most fantasy settings. But beyond the angels and devils, past the daemons, celestials, and other arbiters of good and evil, are the fey. Beings of infinite strangeness who possess truly alien minds and outlooks, the fey are difficult for mortals to truly comprehend. They seem capricious and cruel one moment, generous and benevolent the next. The rules that govern them seem to possess no logic, and those who understand them seem more than a little mad themselves.
When we think of those who wield the power of the fey we tend to think of sorcerers and warlocks (depending on if you're a Pathfinder or a DND 5E player). However, while these can certainly represent fey-touched characters, this label can be applied to any character of any class and any species. Because it isn't, necessarily, about using fey magic. Rather, it is someone who brushed up against the world of the fey, and was changed by it.
For example, one might make a peculiar fighter. Trained by fey knights in the ways of war, he is faster, stronger, and more cunning than most mortal warriors. More than that, though, his battle cry is in a language few speak, and his heraldry hasn't been seen on the mortal plane for thousands of years. Beyond his skills, though, he may have utterly bizarre reasons for when he fights, and when he does not, referring to oaths he swore on iron long ago.
A half-elf child may have been born sickly, and they were left at the fey mount hoping the Good Folk would take pity on them. They were taken into that other world, and they grew strong eating the food of the fey. Robust to the point where poisons and venoms are barely inconveniences to them, this barbaric warrior still carries a part of their home inside them; a deep well of power that allows them to become the creature they were in those far lands for brief periods of time as Rage takes over them.
A small boy who wished to become a wizard may have been given lessons by a lord of the fey. While he was only in that tower for what felt a few weeks, it seemed that knowledge soaked into him. When he left, he found that a year had passed for every day, and now the world has moved on without him. A stranger in a strange land, he was given the knowledge and skill he sought, but at what cost?
These are the kinds of things that make a fey-touched character. The fey are wonder and terror intertwined, and those who moved among them, were raised by them, or who may even serve them, carry that same dichotomy.
So if you wonder why a character has abilities beyond purely mortal ken, if they possess secret knowledge none could possibly have known, or why their goals seem strange and uncanny, ask if they were touched by the fey in some way. It just might be a key that unlocks something intriguing about them!
Further Reading, and Fey Propaganda!
If you're looking for additional reading on character backgrounds and inspirations, you should definitely check out the following:
- 100 Character Goals and Motivations: If you need an explanation for why your character does what they do, this splat is going to be quite useful for you!
- 50 Origins For a Sorcerer's Bloodline: A whole list of unique events that can bestow a bloodline on a sorcerer who didn't inherit one.
- 50 Shades of Rage: Reflavoring The Barbarian's Signature Class Feature: Whether you were taken to a fey wild, or instilled with infernal essence by a cult ritual, there's all sorts of explanations for where a barbarian's Rage can come from.
Also, for those who have a serious desire for more fey content, I highly recommend checking out Changeling: The Lost. I've been working on several supplements for the game, as well as dramatizing many of the vignettes that start the books off. So give this one a listen, and if you like it consider subscribing to the Azukail Games YouTube channel so I can keep the project going!
Looking For Even More Content?
That's all for this installment of my Unusual Character Concepts series! Hopefully this one gave you something to chew over, whether you're a player, or a game master.
For even more of my work, check out my full Vocal archive. Or if you'd prefer to read some of my books, like my alley cat noir novel Marked Territory, its sequel Painted Cats, my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife, or my most recent collection of short stories The Rejects, then head over to My Amazon Author Page!
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About the Creator
Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.
Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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