Thursday 27 April 2017

Faerie Sources: The Time Bandits: Terry Gilliam fantasy movie, 1981

The Time Bandits is romp of a movie and I loved this as a kid when I first saw it and still love it now. It tells the story of a young boy who is dragged into an adventure with dwarves who have stolen the 'The Supreme Being's' map of the world. The map shows the locations of magic portals that enable someone to travel to different periods in our history and future. The dwarves use the map for sealing treasure and making mischief.

This movie is a must see for Faerie Wood players and it was certainly a big influence on me when I was formulating ideas for the roleplaying game. The idea of secret portals between time and space was exactly how I imagined Faerie Gates would enable the faerie player characters to travel between Faerie Wood and the land of humans. Also, the idea that this could lead to adventures in multiple time periods was great and helped provide a framework for creating Faerie Wood games that would have endless possibilities with different settings.

One of the first play test scenarios I wrote for the first edition of Faerie Wood borrowed an idea from Time Bandits – a quest for ‘The most fabulous object in the World’. In the movie, the 'Evil One' uses this as a trick to trap the boy and the dwarves in order to steal the Supreme Being's map. In my Faerie Wood game, the quest for this object would lead the player characters all over Faerie Wood and into the land of humans. The concept of the object was that it would change its form and appearance to suit the person looking for it, therefore, it could be anything and all those looking for it would think of it differently – a crock of gold, a magic sword or potion of ever lasting life and so on.

Here's a trailer for The Time Bandits move, I highly recommend it!

Saturday 15 April 2017

Faerie Fact 07: Faeries should be careful when dealing with humans

In the Faerie Wood game, most faeries under three feet tall are invisible to humans. However, they can make themselves visible if they wish to do so but this should be done with caution as humans can react in all kinds of very unpredictable ways and this can be dangerous.

Some humans can see faeries, such as Witches, Priests, young children and humans under the influence of alcohol or hallucinogenic substances. Some of these can be helpful but others will choose to do harm to faerie folk and all elves must be on their guard against such humans. Generally it is best for faeries not to trust any humans at all unless they have very good reason to do so.

When entering a human's home for instance, faeries should be very cautious indeed. Some humans keep large dogs or other potentially dangerous animals that can pose a problem for faerie folk. And on no account should faeries openly challenge or attack humans in their homes unless they are sure they have the advantage. Humans can be ferociously territorial and will defend their homes violently if necessary.

A good example of how dangerous it can be for faeries to deal with a territorial and violent human is shown in this video: 


Sunday 9 April 2017

Faerie Fact 06: The Patron Faerie Spirits

In the Faerie Wood game there are 13 powerful Faerie Spirits: the most powerful is the The Dragon Spirit and represents the balance between all things – good and evil, night and day, the world of magic and the world of humans and so on (but more about the Dragon later…).

The other 12 are archetypes (e.g. Hero, Ruler, Caregiver etc.) and eight of them represent the spirit of a particular time of year, such as Spring or the Summer Solstice etc. The remaining four are personifications of other important aspects of the world and magic, such as Jack Frost and The Green Man.

All of these have been interpreted by humans differently over thousands of years and are known by many other names, but the names shown in the calendar wheel below are the ones they are most commonly known by in the realm of Faerie Wood.

All faerie folk, including the player characters are aligned to one of the 12 archetype spirits based on their nature – they serve as a kind of guardian spirit. Player characters can draw on their chosen spirit’s power in the game at certain times when they need help or inspiration. However, this power should be used wisely and not taken for granted - if a faerie calls on their guardian spirit’s power too often the spirit will no longer help them.

Also, some humans in the game also follow one of these spirits, such as witches, mediums and fortune tellers or other people with ‘the gift’, as well as druids and other faith leaders or occultists. However, only Dark fearie folk and their human followers (such as Dark Withches) follow the Spirit of Samhain.

Yule: 20th – 23rd December
Other incarnations in folklore: Old man Winter (Old English), Santa Claus (Western), Ded Moroz (Russian/Slavic wizard of winter)
Symbol: Holly

Jack Frost: 1st January
Other incarnations in folklore: Jokil Frosti (Norse/Viking)
Symbol: Snowflake
Imbolc: 2nd Februry
Other incarnations in folklore: The Maiden (Greek), Brigid/Bridgit
(Gaelic), Diana (Greek), Artemis (Greek)
Symbol: Crescent moon

Ēostre: 20th – 23rd March
Other incarnations in folklore: Ostara (Pagan), Freya (Norse), Kore (the Maiden) and Persephone (Greek)
Symbol: Egg

Beltane: 30th April – 1st May
Other incarnations in folklore: Belenus (also Belenos, Belinus, Bel, Beli Mawr – Gaelic), The May King and Queen (Old English)
Symbol: Fire

The Green Man: 1st May
Other incarnations in folklore: The Jack-in-the-green (Old English), Puck (Old English), Robin Goodfellow (Old English)
Symbol: Leaf

Litha: 20th – 1st June
Other incarnations in folklore: Sulis (Gaelic), Sulis Minerva (Gaelic-Roman), Sól (Norse Goddess of the Sun)
Symbol: Sun

Myrddin: 1st July
Other incarnations in folklore: Merlin (Old English), Mímir (Norse), Chiron (Greek), Mentor (Greek)
Symbol: Star

Lammas: 1st August
Other incarnations in folklore: Lughnasadh (Old Irish), Lúnasa (modern Irish), Demeter and Ceres (Greek)
Symbol: Wheat

Hærfest: 25th September
Other incarnations in folklore: Mabon (Neopagan/Wicca), Matrona (Gaulish), Harvest Moon (Old English), Demeter and Ceres (Greek)
Symbol: Acorn

Samhain: 31st October
Other incarnations in folklore: The Devil, (Western/Christian), Hern the Hunter (Old English), Cernuous (Gaelic),
Symbol: Horned beast

Wolf Spirit: 1st November
Other incarnations in folklore: Capitoline Wolf (Roman), Leto (Greek goddess), Medeina (Lithuanian goddess), Shuck (Old English)
Symbol: Wolf's paw


Sunday 2 April 2017

Player character races: Water Nymph

Water Nymph Faerie Wood game player character race. Illustration by Garry Robson (© 2017 Garry Robson)

Water Nymph

Faerie type: Water spirit
size: 1 1/2 foot tall

Nymphs are elemental faerie spirits and are known by many other different names such as Sylphs, Wood Maidens and Water Women. Nymphs are some of the most enchanted of all faerie folk and their powers derive from one of the four natural elements: earth, air, fire and water. Most are of a good nature and are protectors of wildlife and sacred plants that thrive in the places where they live. They distrust most humans, especially hunters and fishermen and use their magic to ward them off or destroy their traps and fishing lines or nets. Water Nymphs are great healers and have an affinity will all water dwelling creatures and live in streams, rivers and pools – sometimes in communities known as ‘Sisterhoods’. Nymphs are the natural mates of Fauns (‘Goat People’ or ‘Little Deerfolk’) and Sisterhoods help raise young Faun children together. However, some Nymphs choose to marry human men and if one does so, she must give up her life as a Nymph and live as a human.

Physical description:
All Nymphs have an extremely ‘other worldly’ beauty and can charm a human male at will if she chooses to do so. Water Nymphs often have pale blue, silvery or iridescent skin, sometimes with tiny fish scales. Their long flowing hair can resemble waterweeds, grass or other water plants. Their eyes are often coloured blue, green, purple or iridescent. Many also have slightly webbed fingers and toes. Some Water Nymphs can also change in to fish or an amphibious animal and are partly related to Mermaids. However, there is rivalry between them as some Water Nyymps are attracted to Mermen (the mates of Mermaids) and this causes animosity and jealously between them.

Core abilities and skills:
  • Magical charm (a Nymph charms a human man or male faerie by transforming into the appearance of the person the man most desires).
  • Start the game with two magic spells.
  • Speak with animals including fish and amphibious creatures.
  • Fast swimming and the ability to breath underwater (fresh water only, not sea water).
  • Purify water and neutralize poisons and venom.
  • Control a body of water such as a stream (to make it safe to cross, or make it wild and dangerous, or command a body of water to attack an enemy).
  • Water divination (speak to or communicate with water) 
  • Start the game skilled in one weapon.

Nymph Dark Elf Counterpart: Hag / Witch 

A Nymph who becomes evil will age rapidly and become an old hag and transform partly into a type of large creature related to her element. For example, a Water Hag will be part fish and part Elf and can transform herself to as large as 6, 7 or 8 feet long with long dagger-like claws and sharp teeth. However, a Hag is able to conceal her true form and may appear as a young Nymph or even as a human female. They delight in causing misery and harm to Faeries and humans alike and some even use their magic to assume the guise of a human female and live within their community as a Dark Witch.

Sometime a Hag uses this ability to trick a human man into becoming her husband so she can have children. After giving birth to her children (that look like small fish) she then devours her husband and returns to her lair (usually a river or underground stream). When the children grow older they become loathsome Dark Elf water spirits. A Hag often has a Faerie Animal or other creature as a companion or familiar such as a Faerie Cat, fox, wolf, crow, serpent or toad.

Some say that hags capture young Nymphs and boil them into a potion that is used to temporarily regain their beauty and youth. Hags use very powerful magic and should be approached with caution – particularly those with an affinity with fire, as they are particularly powerful and cruel.


Monday 27 March 2017

Player character races: Grasshopper


Faerie type: Creature spirit
size: About 2 foot tall

Grasshopper Faerie Wood game player character race. Illustration by Garry Robson (© 2017 Garry Robson)
Grasshoppers are well acquainted with all insects, except for wasps and hornets, which are considered to be evil. They will often look after beehives and are given honey in return, which they use to make the best Necktar (a generic term for any alcoholic beverage) in all Faerie Wood. They tend plants too, especially those that friendly insects feed from and are well versed in the use of magic herbs and plants.

Physical description:

Grasshoppers have the hind legs of a similar insect, hence their name. These enable them to make great leaps up to 10 feet high. Their upper body is humanoid and Elven with a thin and angular face, similar to a Sprite with antennae. They also have very large eyes that are colourful and sometimes reflective, similar to some insects. Grasshoppers also have small insect wings, but these are not for flying; instead they help guide the Grasshopper when it leaps to ensure a safe landing.

Core abilities and skills:

  • Leap 10 feet straight up into the air or forwards
  • Charm and control insects (e.g. to help against enemies)
  • Herblore (the ability to make magical potions and ointments)
  • Speak with insects including those of a giant size
  • Start with one magic spell and one weapon skill

Dark Elf Counterpart: Spyder 

Grasshoppers who become evil Dark Elves transform into Spyders. These are cruel faerie folk that have the lower body and legs of a large spider and a humanoid torso with Elven features. Their skin is grey or ashen and they also develop small sharp pointed teeth. Spyders dwell in dark places, spinning a web to hide their lair and to catch prey. Some may even choose a deserted human barn or other building for their home. Spyders eat animals and small Faeries, particularly Grasshoppers – this is thought to be necessary for them to spin web strands. Some are also poisonous and their bite or scratch can be deadly. There also exist rare fresh water Spyders that are similar to crabs as well as others that resemble beetles or cockroaches.


Thursday 23 March 2017

Customised Playmobil figures for Faerie Wood

Figures and counters are sometimes helpful props when playing a roleplaying game. They can give the players something to focus on in combat and other situations, or simply to make it more fun and visual. When I use counters or models for Faerie Wood, I find that Playmobil is great because you can take them apart and reasemble them as you wish.

But for the Deerfolk player character race I've customised them, making them into 'deer-centaurs'. This is Maedoc and Judoc, they are brother and sister and belong to a clan called the 'Thunder Riders'. They are brave and strong protectors of woodland animals, defending them from predators, evil faerie folk and human hunters.

Deerfolk for the Faerie Wood Roleplaying Game ( © 2017 Garry Robson)
Deerfolk for the Faerie Wood Roleplaying Game (© 2017 Garry Robson)
Deerfolk for the Faerie Wood Roleplaying Game (© 2017 Garry Robson)

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Player character races: Sprite


Sprite Faerie Wood game player character race. Illustration by Garry Robson (© 2017 Garry Robson)
Faerie type: Fire spirit
size: 1 foot tall

Sprites are the most mischievous of Light and Dusky Elves; their antics are often cruel and reckless. They don’t usually mean to harm anyone, but this happens sometimes. They are quite boisterous and due to their chaotic nature they never think things through properly. Many other Elves do not get on easily with Sprites as they are always making mischief and causing trouble. Sprites often use their magic to trick other Faeries or humans by leading them astray or causing them to become lost.

Physical description:

Sprites are thin and delicate looking with angular faces and hair that is thick and wild about the head, often golden or silver in colour. However there is much more to them than meets the eye. As their name suggests, sprites are full of energy - they never seem to stop. They are nimble and quick and are always in a rush. Their eyes are bright and fiery and some also have antennae on their foreheads.

Core abilities and skills:

  • Transform into a Will ‘o’ Wisp (a tiny globe of magical light, impervious to attacks except from magic or water) and can fly through the smallest gap
  • Fire divination (communicate with sources of fire)
  • Start with two magic spells and one weapon skill

Dark Elf Counterpart: Will ‘O’ Wisp

If a Sprite becomes too cruel and evil, it transforms into a Will 'o' Wisp and the Sprite will lose its own physical body permanently. However, Will ‘o’ Wisps are able to possess the bodies of other faeries and even humans, for this reason they are also sometimes known as ‘Dopplegangers’. Many Humans think Will 'o' Wisps are evil spirits or that they are simply mischievous Faeries or magic lanterns carried by them, while others believe they are ghosts – lost human souls who are stuck between the land of living humans and the world of Faerie. Will 'o' Wisps will often lead humans and Faeries astray into dangerous parts of Faerie Wood or posses their bodies. They are not to be trusted, and are best avoided.