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D&D 5E What exactly is Feywild in your campaigns?

Yaarel

Mind Mage
So, we have the announcement of two new 5e books, Witchfire and Strixhaven. I am super-excited about these two.

The first one is an adventure in the Plane of Feywild. The second one is from the Magic The Gathering multiverse, likely a setting. As a Potter-esque plane of wizard colleges, Strixhaven is pretty much how I have already been running the Feywild since 4e.

What exactly is Feywild?

4e and 5e have written a number of conflictive descriptions about the Feywild. The concept of the Feywild seems to still be evolving. I emphasize the themes that resonate with me. I make the Feywild my own.

• Feywild and Shadowfell are "echoes" of the Material World.
• Fey and Shadow are polar opposites of the Material. In some sense they are opposites of each other. But exactly how seems unclear.
• The Material Plane is matter.
• Inferably, the Fey and Shadow are both immaterial "spirits".
• Shadow spirits are something like ghosts. Fey spirits are ... this is one of the questions.
• We have a clearer concept of the Shadowfell, more familiar with the concept of ghosts, and maybe with Hel or Hades or Sheol.
• Shadowfell is something like memories about the dead.
• The realm of the dead is a gloomy place of rest. The dead mainly rest, but can be restless.
• The opposite of the dead in Shadowfell, is not the living people of the Material. But rather, the opposite of dead is Fey.

• For me, Shadowfell is about the past, and oppositely, the Feywild is about the future.
• The Shadows are the memories of yesteryear, slowly being forgotten within the oblivion.
• Oppositely, the Fey are oracles about future years to come, the possible timelines that clarify as their time approaches.
• The concept of timelines corresponds to the concept of "Fate".
• The term Fey is a variant of Fay, from Faie, meaning ‘Fate’.
• A Faie is literally a spirit of Fate. Fairie or Fairy is the realm of the tapestry of Fate.
• Because the Fey can foretell the future in prophesies, there is also the sense the Fey can change reality by means of words.
• Thus, the Fey are personifications of magic words.
• The word "Fairie" literally means "magic", and is synonymous with the later term "magic" (from Magi).
• A Fairie creature means a "magical creature".
• I view the Fey as made out of magic itself.
• I view the immaterial Fey spirits as living constructs made out of arcane energy.

• I view both the Feywild and the Shadowfell as different "frequencies" sotospeak of Ether, and the Ethereal Plane as arcane energy.
• The Feywild is the aspect of the Ether that the Plane of Positivity energizes.
• The Shadowfell is the aspect of the Ether that the Plane of Negativity unravels.

• In ancient times, some Fey Eladrin chose to materialize into the Material Plane, magically taking on bodies of flesh and blood, whence Elf.

• Some times D&D describes the Feywild as "arcane", unnatural wizardy − other times as "primal", natural druidry.
• For me, the Feywild is unnatural, and is more about arcane magic.
• The main reason for the unnaturalism of the Feywild is its disconnect from the features of Material nature.
• The Shadowfell closely overlaps the Material, to the extent one can navigate the Material accurately despite the gloomier version of it.
• By contrast, the Feywild overlap warps extremely: time, distance, and even places, often lack a Material counterpart.
• Consequently, there is little or no link between a specific natural feature like a rock or a tree in the Material and a Fey spirit in the Feywild.
• For example, there is little feeling that a tree in this world is actually a specific Dryad in the spirit world.
• Thus, the Feywild works less well for a reallife animistic worldview, where each rock is a mind, and each tree is a mind.

• I personally use Psionic to represent any animistic traditions, in the sense rocks and trees exhibit mental influences forming communities.
• Animism is always about the Material world, and is never about somewhere else.
• The aspect of Psionics that focuses on the minds of the features of nature, rather than the minds of humanoids, is what Primal is.

• I am happy to focus on the Feywild as an unnatural realm of magic and a place of magically potential realities.
• The Eberron setting has an excellent version of the Feywild, corresponding to Thelanis.
• Thelanis focuses on the theme of fairytales, where like in a Twilight Zone, the stories that humans tell take on life of all their own.
• Thus the Feywild is literally made out of words and stories. Fey creatures are characters, who repeat a story.
• However, the Eladrin and a few other spirits have some autonomous reality to them, as tellers of tales.

• Eberron Thelanis lacks a sense of future timelines, in the sense of Fate, but it portrays well magic words becoming reality, in the sense of Fairie.

• In terms of adventure encounters, I emphasize magic.
• All Fey creatures are spellcasters, or similar. Fey are especially arcane, but out of curiosity about magic itself, might be divine or psionic.
• There are no Fey who have levels in a martial class, unless they learned them while in the Material Plane.
• I tend to run the Feywild as moreorless the Potterverse Wizard World. Everyone is different kinds of mages.
• The Fey culture revolves around the academic life of the magical schools.
• There are Fairy Courts, including the seasons, where magical power is social power.
• Different courts evolve different governmental structures, some are monarchy, some are democracy, but all are magical meritocracies.
• Plus I add courts for Norse Alfar in the sky, Scottish Sith in the glens, and English Shakespearean Fairy (who are mainly children with some teens).
• When Strixhaven arrives − cant wait! − I will probably add these colleges as courts within the Feywild.



I have other musings about the 5e Feywild. But this is probably plenty for now.

How do you make sense of the Feywild Plane in your campaigns?

What kind of themes do you run for Fey adventures? Do some of you play up the comical aspects of some fairytales, the alien aspects of severe ettiquette of some encounters with the Fair Folk, the things-are-never-quite-what-they-seem of some folktru encounters, or your own thing?
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
According to the UA article:

"Hobgoblins trace their origins to the Feywild, where they first appeared with their goblin and bugbear kin."

This seems like an update of the official lineages?

Goblin, Hobgoblin, and Bugbear are now creatures with Fey ancestry, similar to Elf.

This is awesome. The Fey aspect connects the Goblin to the reallife British fairytales about them. Essentially, the Goblin is a disgruntled sprite. They are dangerous, but not quite right in the head, and sometimes appear in humorous stories. The fairytail Goblin wields magic, like turning invisible and making potions, occasionally to trap or punish humans.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Just as Ghost are about memories and echoes of past loss for me Faerie is about the Dreams and the desire for future Being.
True Fey are formless beings of Passion and Longing in the process of gaining shape and substance. They are creatures of Phantasm, who respond to the expectations and desires of both the Observer and the Observed. Fey want to be real but are not part of reality. Thats why Faerie isnt about Magic, Magic has rules, Faerie is about Dreams
 
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The Feywild is the realm of faerie. It's a magical place that's full of life, with wild growth everywhere. Fey creatures originated there, so versions of them can be found in both here and on the material plane (mortal realm).

The Shadowfell is the realm of shadows. It's a dreary place that's devoid of life, with only rot instead. Creatures here are a nothing more than poor reflections of life, most longing to drain the lifeforce of others.
 

Minigiant

Legend
The Feywild to me is a reflection of the real material plane. One where life, emotion, and natural energy are enhanced and amplified. Fey are spirits of the natural beings and formations given thought and animation. The Feywild often depicts places at their height but warped and invigorated. Copies of long gone kingdoms, long forgotten stories, long fallen trees, and long dead beings are found there in new exaggerated forms.
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I tend to treat the Feywild and Shadowfell as opposites of each other, although it really does escape the notion of good/bad entirely. I lean into this pretty hard and even have the two physically connected and tend to run a lot of faction stuff back and forth between the two. I suppose you could call the two together the way I use them The Fey as I do tend to take a slightly Summer/Winter Court approach to the whole thing. It's a little more nuanced than that of course, but that's a reasonable broad descriptor.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
On the VERY off chance it ever comes up in my games, I see the Feywild as synonymous with Faerie, just with a new name for marketing and trademark purposes. Though one of my favorite characters I ever played was a fey pact warlock inspired by Friar Tuck, who was in love with (or at least enchanted by) the Queen of Air and Darkness.

Similarly, my games have no "shadowfell" as such - there is a Plane of Shadow, and maybe different people call it different things, but I see no need for the WotC era trademark-inspired reinventions.

It all works together fine.
 
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hopeless

Adventurer
I'm working on the idea that whilst humanity spread throughout the stars via their technology that they subsequently lost after arriving.
The elves call the Feywild their home and use portals to the various worlds to establish holiday vacation parks for them to relax and enjoy.
The dwarves use the elemental plane of earth to travel around, with the dragons apparently hitchhiking to the new destination places probably much the same way they do in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy except they usually don't get complaints!
The elves wouldn't mind the other races, but the dwarves have this habit of ecologically ruining these worlds trying to mine them of their resources and humanity doesn't seem to understand their new home is being ruined only they are happy to be living there and pick arguments with anyone trying to point out that they were there first!
 

NotAYakk

Legend
On the VERY off chance it ever comes up in my games, I see the Feywild as synonymous with Faerie, just with a new name for marketing and trademark purposes. Though one of my favorite characters I ever played was a fey pact warlock inspired by Friar Tuck, who was in love with (or at least enchanted by) the Queen of Air and Darkness.

Similarly, my games have no "shadowfell" as such - there is a Plane of Shadow, and maybe different people call it different things, but I see no need for the WotC era trademark-inspired reinventions.

It all works together fine.
The name of the Feywild and Shadowfel are relatively irrelevant. Can you talk about something besides the name?
 

I mean, one could say the Shadowfell IS the Plane of Shadows just like how, before 4E, the Feywild was just "The Faerie Realm" from all the other editions prior. Its just that perhaps some in the Material Plane just don't know that the real name is the Shadowfell and vice versa.(outside of exceptions like the Elves and(or not) Shadar-Kai.

Well for starters, the Feywild is the opposite of the Shadowfell in the way in which emotions are felt. The Fae, especially Archfey, can feel much stronger or almost obsess over their Emotions/Passions. But because time is ultimately irrelevant within the Feywild, said feelings can pass in the span of a flicker of time. And then the Archfey are "over" whatever it was they were intrigued in until something else comes along and is equally tossed aside.

As the polar opposite, the Shadowfell is the opposite of that: the Emotions/Passions are much more diluted/withdrawn because of the Negative Energy aspects of it. Such beings, like the Shadar-Kai, experience this effect and at the same time, strive to push themselves/rebuke the aspect of ennui that is infused within the very place they call home/hail from. In a way, it is reflective of their Fae nature as shown within 3E, where they were just shadow fae essentially, and how 5E makes them an Elf Subrace. And yet, their 4E aspect has them embracing the intense passion/emotions that the Archfey are known for.

The Feywild is vibrant with life and its heavy closeness with primeval nature. The Shadowfell is the twisted/lifeless drained reflection of it/the material plane. This is clearly shown in the way in which there is a Neverwinter on the Material Plane and its Shadowfell reflection double, Evernight.

In a way both of them are the Positive/Negative Energy Plane of 5E. Except minus their extreme aspects of exploding you(Positive) or devouring your life(Negative). The icy chill of the Shadowfell and the vibrant life of the Feywild are opposites/contrasts with each other.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
The name of the Feywild and Shadowfel are relatively irrelevant. Can you talk about something besides the name?
I thought I was.

The names are irrelevant, and for that matter the planes themselves are mostly irrelevant to my games. When I use them they are the planes of Faerie and Shadow, respectively. And I once played a fey pact warlock who was a blast.
 


jgsugden

Legend
In my setting: 4500 years ago the Far Realm collided with the Cosmology of the Known Universe. This had many impacts, but one of them was to shatter the boundaries between planes and create three transitive planes: The Feywild (which exists between the Positive Energy Plane and the Prime Material Plane), the Shadowfell (between the Negative Energy Plane and the Prime), and the Ethereal (between the Far Realm and the Prime).

The Feywild is a reflective plane, meaning that it naturally tends to change to reflect a vivid and vivacious version of the Prime Material Plane. Being there fills you with life, giving you an euphoric feeling - a slight buzz. Those that travel there tend to not want to leave, and tend to give into their urges and develop very reckless personalities. Fey creatures, in particular, tend to thrive in this environment and have taken control of the plane.

The Lords of the Plane are the Seelie and Unseelie courts, but the most powerful creatures residing there are Oberon and Titania, who share one of the 12 Wells of Power in my universe (making them amongst the most powerful greater gods). They were once Eladrin elves, created by the Gods to serve their interests on the mortal planes, but rose above that by claiming the Well of Power. The leader of the Unseelie Court, the Queen of Air and Darkness, is the Goddess of Curses - the source of all Supernatural Magic (which is different than the magic of wizards, druids or clerics) that curses creatures. I have dozens of members of the Courts that I've used over the years, but for the most part I do not reuse them as the members of the courts tend to treat their responsibilities and obligations as jokes, rather than respecting them.

The Feywild world is not always in Twilight in my setting. However, twilight and dawns last hundreds of hours (never exactly the same length) while days and nights are generally only a few hours long - but tend to be when important events within the Feywild occur.

I use a lot of chaotic magics with the Feywild. Time Warp and Memory Loss are amongst them. Charms and illusion run wild in the realm in general, resulting in a lot of misdirection and chaos - primarily for the sake of chaos. The plane itself is addictive, and players may have to make saving throws to be willing to leave, and might face withdrawl after leaving.

The powerful residents of the realm do not concern themselves with the ideas of Good and Evil, and tend to all be capable of doing horrific things if it amuses them. I had one player argue that the entire place was Neutral Evil - and I can't say he was wrong. I think of there being a lot of Neutral Evil and Chaotic Neutral influences, but I do not hold any creature to their written alignment, but allow the personalities to govern their actions (essentially, alignment doesn't really matter in my game mechanically).

Finally, I use a lot of homebrew creatures in general, but especially in the Feywild. I want very little of it to be familiar or understood by the players. The constant barrage of lifeforce mutates creatures over time, resulting in most creatures in the realm being quite unique.

There is a massive 'Preserve' in the Feywild tended by an order of druids. It is a place where the Seelie and Unseelie do not go, and the other residents of the plane are influenced away. It is a place of Joy and Love, where fey versions of real world creatures live blissful lives. Often, it is from here that a Fey Familiar will originate. Such creatures always choose to serve (that is the short version of the lore - there is a lot more to it).
 

TheSword

Legend
For me the feywild is the First World, where the creators practiced laying the building blocks of creation, often tearing up their works and starting again, or letting things fade away.

It’s a place of whimsy and ever changing reality, where powerful creatures can mold the world around them to their will. Things are possible in the first world, that would never be possible in the material realm. Curses are stronger, magic is more extreme, and thoughts carry weight.

The feywild protoplasmic nature of the plane can be dangerous and in several places where changes have become too extreme whole realms have collapsed into swirling chaos that can suck a person into Limbo if they don’t have a strong enough view of themselves.

Think Tel’Aran’Rhiod from the Wheel of Time.

Think the First World from Golarion.

Or Pratchett’s parasitic Fairyland.
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
I thought I was.

The names are irrelevant, and for that matter the planes themselves are mostly irrelevant to my games. When I use them they are the planes of Faerie and Shadow, respectively. And I once played a fey pact warlock who was a blast.
So, are the planes of Faerie and Shadow just the Feywild and Shadowfel, but with a different name, right? Or are they extremely different?

When you do use them, what are they like?
 

jgsugden

Legend
Honestly, I don't have a feywild. I don't use fey as enemies (unless they are specifically called for by a published adventure). In my mind they are wimpy, whimsical, and don't really feel appropriate for the type of fantasy I run. Probably my least favorite creature type.
You ... might want to look at some examples of Fey in use. They're powerful, and often incredibly irresponsible and selfish. They're the bright and cheery version of Hellraiser.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Generally, I adhere to the Primeval Thule approach of other planes as sources, not destinations. It doesn't matter what the planes are like because you aren't going to go there.

When necessary (i.e. if a creature summoned from or native to a given plane is asked to describe its homeland), I use the descriptions from the 3.0 Manual of the Planes. The only real exceptions to that is with the Elemental Planes, in which case I use the descriptions from the 2nd Edition Al-Qadim stuff.

As far as I can tell, the Feywild and Shadowfell are literally just rebrands of the planes of Faerie and Shadow. As far as I'm concerned they are the same thing(s) and the term(s) are interchangeable. As locations I don't find them particularly compelling, but if somehow I had characters that ended up there both would be terrifying places to be and innately hostile to visitors - as opposed to, say, the Ethereal and Astral planes which are indifferent to visitors. Faerie and Shadow might not be as environmentally dangerous as, say, the Plane of Fire, but their residents have little patience for mortals who wander in thinking they're all big and bad.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
The planes being discussing are not "echos" of the Prime Material Plane. But more akin to "reflections"...or perhaps, more accurately, "distillations." They are places of existence that are being shown through by their corresponding energetic neighbors.

The Land of Faerie (something of a redundancy as "-rie" is "land." And, of course, "fae" being fae/faye/fay/fey, a.k.a. the "Fair Folk," the Alfar, and many others) if a realm shone through by the Positive Energy Plane. Light, Force, "Radiance" and/or, to some, "Vivomantic" energies.

It is, quite literally, a land infused with Energy, the energy that facilitates (though is not the sole "source") Magic, and the energy of Renewal and Growth.

It is, in every way -physical, visual, magical, spiritual- a place "super-charged" with Vibrance...a heightened quintessence that is, if anything, MORE real than the Prime Planes. Its proximity to the positive energies of life also lend to the fact that creatures of the Faerie Plane seem to be immortal and/or unaging. Quite literally, it is Super-Nature. A plane where all things, from the stones to the snowflakes to the rivers to the trees, the field mice to the dragons, the "peasant" woodcutter or weaver to the splendid noble courts of faer peoples, are super-natural.

Both goodly and decidedly NOT goodly peoples and creatures inhabit this place. The energy, the "Light," of the Land of Fae is neither Good nor Evil, neither Law nor Chaos. It is Magic and Force, vibrant colors and intense emotions, pure sensations and sincere actions, every moment, at all times. The Dark Fae realms, the Land of Endless Winter, dense forests of horrors, and beasts of pure terror all still exist within/on the Plane of Faerie. Though, admittedly, proximity to the Plane of Shadow, other inner [elemental] planes or the Material plane (whence most Evil stems) may blend and blur and bleed into their landscapes and influence that existence.

Conversely, the mirrored level of existence (as all things in the multitudes of multiverses of realities must) balances all of this frenzied, unhampered, energy with a direct and commensurate opposite. The Plane of Shadow, a.k.a Umbral Plane, a.k.a. Land of Shades, the Gloom, is in proximity to the Negative Energy Plane.

The Shadow Plane is a place of slowing -but not absence!- of Life. A dimming -but not extinguishing- of Light. Shadow is Light "blocked" -but not entirely consumed- by Darkness. Stagnation in place of Force. The empty chill of Entropy, "Umbral" and "Necrotic" [sometimes mistakenly called "Necromantic"] energies instead of the vibrant existence of Growth and Vivomancy.

It is, unsurprisingly, a realm of shadows and gloom. A place whence the "unpassing" dead -those that refuse as well as those who are not allowed to move on to their final rest- wander. The Plane itself does not "create" life so much as "consume" and "mask" what life passes into it in folds of greys and tendrils of blackness. Its landscapes do not renew or grow. Nor does it, necessarily (though areas certainly can) actively destroy or lessen. It simply is.

So, no creatures that are thought of as "native" to the Plane of Shadow, are actually "native" to it. Beings, creatures, and spirits have found their way to it -intentionally or not- and become "stuck" (for lack of a better term) there. Coccooned in the umbral energy. Not dying, and not really "alive" in the sense they were when entering.

Some exist in a kind of unconscious disbelief, a kind of catatonia, directed like puppets by the Shadow Lords who know how to control the shadow encasing the "empty" spirits/creatures. Some are perpetually stuck in a lethargy or reflexive action -Shadow hounds that endlessly hunt, endlessly starving regardless of how much they consume. The Undead Shadows that seek only and always to warm themselves by absorbing the Light of the living, to no avail, never gaining warmth. Some in wailing despair, some in wrathful anger (thankfully, these last infrequently have the wherewithall to act upon it). There are both dangerous and harmless creatures, just eking out an existence, neither happy nor sad...just there. Some few beings of that plane struggle against the gloom, fighting to keep (and find) every shred of energy and light they can (the brighter the light, the deeper/starker the shadow!). Some embrace the gloom and have learned to draw power -and even a mocking sort of "creation"- from the "shadow-stuff" (some parts aether, some ectoplasm, tiny motes of light, good chunks of darkness) that makes up the malleable "physicality" of the plane.

While that sounds like a lot of kinds of creatures and goings on, the Shadow Plane is decidedly less inhabited than the Faerie Plane. There are broad expanses of emptiness, deep dark forests of foreboding terrors, landscapes of naught but woe. Grey plains of black stone. Grey deserts of white sand. Grey sluggish rivers, choked with black reeds along banks of pale ashen clay.

It is not a place of any color (outside of shades of grey, black, or white). No supernatural delights. No unbounded exuberance. Where the Land of Fae is "Super-Nature," the Land of Shade can be thought of as "Counter-Nature"...a kind of "Nature-Denied."
 

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