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

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I think the difference is, the Feywild is not the same thing as reallife traditions about Jotunheimr, Alfheimr, the Faerie, and so on.

The D&D Feywild is more like an Elemental Plane of Plant, disconnected, and having nothing to do with the Material Plane. Thus the Feywild is irrelevant to nature.

By contrast, in the reallife traditions, the animistic regions are our material world. When one walks past Jotnar or Faeriefolk, they can see you, and a shaman with the Sight can see them. Animistic spirits ARE nature. They are the cliff, they are fertile land. They are not somewhere else in a separate plane. These natural features exist among us. And when the mind of a feature is itself a shaman, the feature can project its mind out from the feature to manifest elsewhere and influence elsewhere.

Thus, animistic regions are not some ideal version of nature. They are the same nature we see. When we see a barren landscape with a curious patch overgrown with plants, we know faeriefolk live there, being the fertile land where the plants are.
 

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Retreater

Legend
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.
Or, I could just use the dark and scary version of Hellraiser?
I don't like putting frivolity and humor in my games intentionally. (There's plenty to get the characters off track, making out of character jokes, etc., without that.)
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
In the Ashen Lands setting, the Fae Realms are a step to the left relative to our world.

Easily, and often unintentionally, accessible through natural entries like mushroom circles or leaving trails in Old Growth Forests, the Fae Realms largely mimic the lands of Iobaria in layout, but the inhabitants, and the dangers, are very different.

Currently, the Fae Realms are ruled by the Ash, the leader of the Old Court. But a new and upstart rival faction called the New Court has been trying to overthrow them for a thousand odd years or so. "New and Old" have -very- different definitions for the Fae. Speaking of old, Fae magic is a combination of Primal Power and Occult Magic from the dawn of existence. Representative things can have very real effects.

Want to stop a Fae running away from you but don't have a net? Just drive a Cold Iron nail into his Footprints in the trail and nail him to the ground. But be careful. The same can be done by them with your Shadow, or a doll with your likeness, or simply by asking for your name and taking it for themselves.

Contracts and Promises in the Fae Realms are quite -literally- binding. A Fae who makes a deal is spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and often -physically- incapable of breaking that deal. But if you travel to those shrouded paths and shimmering meadows you'll find the same restrictions fall upon you. And failure to uphold a bargain can cause its most painful extraction from you and your future.

While the Fae themselves are the true rulers of these realms, much of the populace are animals given awareness by their strange masters. So if you should stumble upon a village of doormice neatly dressed in lovely clothes going about their business, or should hear the whispers of wolves discussing how best to take you down, it may behoove you to retrace your steps and find your way back to the world where you belong.
Expanding on my earlier post...

Last night I was going over the Vaktu Kai, the "Elder Things" which created the world of the setting with their dreaming. I came to the conclusion that the Fae Realms true purpose is super simple: Prison.

The Gods as mortals know them rose up against the Five Fates, the Vaktu Kai, in an attempt to seal them away in the Wasteland. For a time, this worked. Civilization flourished. But the Wasteland was broken from the start, and the Vaktu Kai broke lose, devastating the Gods and creating the Gods of Crisis (Deities that have no identity, no manifestations, no will, only a divine spark which offers succor to those in specific types of crisis), unintentionally, when the power of the Wasteland washed over some of the deities of the world and reduced them to their Quintessence.

So the Ash, one of the Gods, allowed the rest of the gods to bring the Five Fates into the Fae Realm he had created. And with a combination of Divine, Occult, and Primal magic the Five Fates are sealed away, for now. Their influence, however, is undeniable. Which is part of why the Representational Occult Magic is so strong in the Fae Realms.

So that's fun. >.>
 

Bitbrain

Fully vaccinated!
Reply to OP.

First, in the current version of my D&D cosmos, there is no single Feywild. Actually, there are four of them, one for each season. They are known as “season Courts” and each is quite different from the others.

If you want to have a really good time with the dryads and fauns, head over to the Spring Court.

If you want to fight fomorians and be rewarded for such by the eladrin, go to the Summer Court.

If it’s lost knowledge you seek (such as to fight some ancient, long forgotten evil back on the Material Plane), talk to the hsiao and brownies of the Autumn Court.

If you want to be in a supernatural horror and get chased by wendigoes, head over to the Winter Court.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
Shadowfell in my games are just a realm in the shadow plane that borders the negative material plane. The feywild is a realm in the ethereal plane And ravenloft is still in the ethereal plane. Feywild is also another name for Avalon in my settings.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I am still intrigued by your post.

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

I reading this as both the Feywild and the Shadowfell are mindscapes (made out of subjective mental phantasms). One is a dreamscape, and one is a memoryscape. Perhaps the memoryscape is something like an archive.

The mind, mental, aspect interests me. I normally associate mental stuff with the "domains" of the Astral Plane", including the Wheel, which are mental ethical ideals, so that each alignment has a domain. But all of it is made out of mindstuff.

Yet, having the Feywild and Shadowfell be made out of mindstuff can make alot of sense.



In my campaign, I focus more on the ether as the fifth element, which is force (including gravity but by extension telekinetic force and magical energy). So, the Feywild is the magical energy that the Positivity energizes. And the Shadowfell is the magical energy that the Negativity unravels.



But if we are talking about mindscapes, then Fey is psychic/phantasmal at the threshold of Positivity and Shadow is psychic/phantasmal at the threshold of Negativity.



While I associate the ether with force because of certain reallife alchemical traditions, there are other alchemical traditions that identify ether with consciousness, mind, spirit, soul, and lifeforce.

Perhaps ether the fifth element is curious because it is at state of being that is simultaneously both mind and matter. There are alchemical traditions that are something like this.



Anyway your campaign got me thinking.
 


ccs

41st lv DM
In my games? The Feywild is definitely a place.
It gets talked about & hinted at a bit. Sometimes bits of it overlay the prime material for awhile. And supposedly the satyr tribes migrate back & forth to it seasonally. These comings & goings are often linked to wild bacchanals.
But to date I haven't run anything specifically set in it. Nor have my players ever shown any interest in traveling there.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
In my Khemti game, I'm treating the Feywild as largely a cyclical event tied with the flooding of the fantasy Nile River. Normally, the Feywild is relegated to the diminishing & forgotten Lands Within the Wind (borrowed from 4e Dark Sun) and is only accessible via oases. However, when the flood waters come, the Feywild bleeds into the landscape, so there is a profusion of fey & plant creatures, people go missing or reappear after being missing, animals might speak, strong dreams or visions may overcome sensitive folk, magically conjured food doesn't sate the appetite, etc.
 

Yora

Legend
In my campaigns, the world of nature spirits is not another dimension, but simply the untouched wilderness that covers most of the world. It's really the natural state of the world, with the realms of mortal civilization being special places that come into being by people imposing their order on the land and performing regular rituals to keep back the forces of eldritch chaos.
To travel to the lands of the spirits, you only have two walk for two or three days away from a city or major town.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
How do you make sense of the Feywild Plane in your campaigns?
I generally try to maintain the core idea of the Feywild or plane of faeries as "a magical place that exists behind the curtains of the world, with the boundaries between the two being thin where nature and wildlife dominates". Because nature is not static, I typically have stuff related to the Feywild (including travelling options) very variable, depending on the season or the weather... "one does not just walk into Feywild" :)

I have no interest in trivializing other planes of existence to make them conform to how things work in the real world. If I just want a parallel world, I use alternate material planes. That said, Feywild could be effectively turned into an alternate material plane, but I think it's more interesting as something different altogether. I like non-material planes to be disorienting to the characters, in one way or another: it can be non-Euclidian geography, different laws of physics, or whatever. A big part of the disorientation lies in not telling the players exactly how things work over there. To make sure I don't tell too much to the players, I do not even tell myself about it, and leave things undefined.

The question of congruent geography is an interesting one. It's one way to play on the "reflection" part of the Feywild plane. I prefer, however, to make the Feywild more abstract and alien by twiting geography. Players aren't expected to orient themselves with map in the Feywild because the concept of moving from point A to point B isn't translated exactly. If you want to move from the capital to the sea, you need to walk 100 km to the South. In the Feywild, the capital embodies the concept of centrality. Walking on any path leads to the capital, irrespective of where you start from (so if you leave by the southern road, you'll end up back at the capital by the northern entrance. If you want to get to the reflection of the sea, you need to travel, not physically but thematically (since i adhere to the Eberonnian Thelanis 'realm of stories' emphasis on reflection of themes and not necessarily a carbon copy of the material plane. So you could leave the city by walking from any direction as long as you seek adventure, freedom and isolation. Feywild maps are songs the speak of some places that are helping to transition from one idea to another. If a place is notorious enough to be of interest in the material plane, it's probably because some story happened about it... and a reflected, twisted or idealized version will be the equivalent location in the feywild, not a geographically equivalent location. It's fluid as well. My group recently assassinated the king's fiancée and I look forward to them visiting the Feywild-related capital palace to see it overcame by the themes of grief and loss.
Excellent.
 

DNDElise

DM's Guild and DriveThruRPG writer
For me, the Feywild is a place with high, maybe even wild magic at times and is home to an array of unique Fey creatures. giant snails, talking flowers, mischievous pixies, and elves of all forms that inhabit the vast landscapes of the realm. The fragrances, the taste of food, and the senses are magnified here, and if the magic of the senses does not lure you in, Fey creatures are excited to exchange favors, encourage visitors to sign informal contracts, or other means to prevent those from visiting from ever leaving. For those who do escape, time in their home plane has slipped away.

Physics do not function in the Fey realm as they do on other planes. One may find themselves adventuring through a powerful creature's dreamscape as if it were reality or find themselves unable to escape the woods despite following the path; leaving unwitting travelers in a loop until they figure out the trick to aid in their escape. One can accidentally step into the Feywild through Fey crossings scattered throughout the realms.

Some areas are of great beauty, but there are situations where not everything is as it appears on the Plane of the Fairy. A beautiful rabbit could actually be something giant with teeth spitting fire balls in reality, or a giant monster could be a tiny, timid pixie hiding behind the guise. Travelors must be careful with encounters with creatures of the Fey realms. Some are merely causing mischief while others can place adventures in grave danger.
 

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
The Feywild is a mirror plane suffused with magic, as if the world is dreaming (good dreams and nightmares). I lean into chaotic alignments and elevated, cycling emotions.

The Shadowfell is a mirror plane devoid of magic, as if the world has no dream to dream. I lean into lawful alignments and depressed, languishing emotions.

They are both twilight realms. Shine triumphs in the Feywild and shadow triumphs in the Shadowfell.

They are opposites in that the Feywild flourishes and the Shadowfell fades away.
 

Cryptwright

Villager
I wrote an entire starter campaign that visited the same locations as Lost Mine of Phandelver, but in their Shadowfell counterparts.
I'm currently working on the sequel which visits those locations again but in the Feywild this time. [if anyone wants to look at what it covers its called Lost in Shadow on dmsguild]

This was my take on it. I feel its close to the statement "the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference":

The Shadowfell is de-saturated both in color (visually) and in energy (passion, emotion, etc). It's lethargic in its way and empty of all the things the living do best, which is why it is so hospitable to the dead.

The Feywild is amplified and extremes. Over-saturated. Swinging heavily to both ends of each spectrum. And bountiful of life. There are no minor infractions here, everything is a big deal.
 
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Northern Phoenix

Adventurer
I run with the take that the feywild is the opposite of the shadowfell/shadow plane, it is a rough mirror of the material/regular world, but much more vibrant and exaggerated towards whimsy and weirdness. It is also where all the fey live.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here in this map of the 5e Multiverse, the Feywild is the Positive Ethereal Plane, and oppositely, the Shadowfell is the Negative Ethereal Plane.

Between the Positive Influence and the Negative Influence there is a region of the Ethereal that is neither.

The Shallow Ethereal (green) is the region of the Ethereal that overlaps and closely observes the Material Plane. The Deep Ethereal (red) disconnects completely away from the Material Plane. Places in the Deep have no corresponding place in the Material Plane.

Where the Shallow mainly corresponds to the physicality of the Material Plane, the Deep mainly corresponds to the ideas and dreams of the Astral Plane. The Astral is a level of being that is pure thought. But in the Deep Ethereal, these thoughts inform the stuff of the ether to become quasi-real.

Note, the Ethereal Plane includes a Shallow region and a Deep region. Likewise, there is a Shallow Feywild and a Deep Feywild, and oppositely a Shallow Shadowfell and a Deep Shadowfell.

The Shallow regions closely observe the places and the people of the Material Plane. But the disconnected Domains of Delight are in the Deep Feywild far away from the places and people in Material Plane. Oppositely, the disconnected Domains of Dread are in the Deep Shadowfell far away from the Material Plane.

To shift gradually from the Shallow to the Deep perceives the Material Plane becoming increasingly distorted until disconnecting altogether. The deepward Feywild becomes more vibrant, distorting space-time, but with relatively stable domains of Delight here and there. The deepward Shadowfell becomes more decayed, unraveling into gloomy nothingness but with relatively stable domains of Dread here and there.



Yaarel 2021 Aster, Ether, Fey, Shadow.png
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I've actually been struggling with the Feywild recently, since I've come to a different understanding of the Shadowfell and a desire to make the Prime more magical.

The fey are certainly a thing, bound by the Three Laws (Do not speak that which is untrue. Give what you recieve in equal measure. Respect the Laws of Hospitality.), and I've been leaning into making this the realm of dreams and nightmares.

What I struggle with is that the Shadowfell isn't exactly the opposite of that anymore. The Shadowfell is more the.... composting heap of the universe. It is rot, but it is rot with a purpose, breaking down aspects of the world to recycle them back into the world. I've actually moved Zuggytmoy into being a ruler in the Shadowfell, a being of fungus whose goal is to protect one of the "drains" of the Shadowfell, a pit where matter, energy and ideas enter to be destroyed and released back into the aether. This is also the plane of horrors, but in a slightly different manner. This is all based somewhat on a book I read, but there are natural monsters whose goal is to lurk in the cracks of reality and break down what enters those spaces. They are not "evil" any more than mold or flies are evil. They simply exist to serve a function. This is the natural purpose of undead, to act as guards and decomposers for the world. This is also connected to Orcus. I've begun a pattern that all of the Demon Lords have a "feeding ground" that is tied to how they are and their goals. Orcus came to the Shadowfell, but the Shadowfell itself is a place that feeds, and Orcus barely pulled himself out of it, leaving himself... incomplete, but in a way that granted him more power. Now he seeks to take the Shadowfell for himself, and twist its purpose.

This came up during one of my games when an acolyte of Orcus was leading an assault on the Shadowfell, and the players ended up tossing a book of lichdom penned by the Demon Lord into one of the "pits". This didn't just destroy the book, it erased it and the knowledge in it from existence. It became literally forgotten to the world.


Turning back to the Feywild, part of the issue I've been running into is I want more of the traditional beings of the fey to be in the world. Because the Primal World is powerful. The spirits of the world even made a deal with the Gods to seperate them (there are no gods of nature in my world, the forests, the seas, the mountains, all are ruled by their spirits, not by any god). So, Dryads and nymphs and other beings I think make more sense as spirits of the world, and not of the Feywild.

Alternatively, I know I want the Giants to have come from the Fey. Centaurs and Satyrs make sense as Fey. I wanted the Feywild to be a place of boundless passion, of more. More energy, more life, more wonder. It just seems like it blends too much with the material though. So, I'm still working out some kinks.
 

Turning back to the Feywild, part of the issue I've been running into is I want more of the traditional beings of the fey to be in the world. Because the Primal World is powerful. The spirits of the world even made a deal with the Gods to seperate them (there are no gods of nature in my world, the forests, the seas, the mountains, all are ruled by their spirits, not by any god). So, Dryads and nymphs and other beings I think make more sense as spirits of the world, and not of the Feywild.
4E had this problem where you had spirits of nature serving as the Primal power source, but they also had this nebulous relation to the Feywild that wasn't really clarified. 5E dumped most of the 4E lore on nature spirits but still has a bit of the same problem with the interaction between nature spirits and the Feywild being unclear. The spell Conjure Animals specifically summons fey spirits that take the form of beasts, for example.

For my part, I sometimes have elementals take the role of nature spirits. 5E even introduced an elemental nature spirit called the chwinga. IIRC, the designers stated there was a bit of a back and forth on whether chwingas should be elemental or fey, but they settled on elemental.

4E also had this in Heroes of the Elemental Chaos (page 8):
It is said that the primal spirits exhibit their strong connection to elemental power because the world has yet to shed the elemental influence of its birth. The ties between primal magic and elemental power lead some to suggest that primal magic is elemental magic in a refined and evolved form. Perhaps the primal spirits are echoes from the earliest days of creation - ideas evolved into quasi-real forms, personalities, and identities who owe their existence to the primordials whose power gave them form and permanence.
 
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Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
The Feywild to me is the land of faeries, hags and other sylvan creatures, surrealistically beautiful, eerie and dream-like.
 

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