Lyonesse - 5: Fairies

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5: The Fairies of Lyonesse
Fairies are prominent in the world of Lyonesse, yet often only loosely described. They have strict rules, though, and a strict hierarchy - but seemingly limitless powers. What did you think of the fairies? Would they make good gaming characters, or only antagonists?

Comments

  • 2

    Definitely antagonists rather than characters in something I'm involved in. But I'm very very taken with them in that role, as mentioned in response to another question.

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    The faeries were one of my favorite aspects of the book. Their capriciousness felt like one of the most Vancian (to me) elements. However, that also would make them very hard to play as PCs. Although a game were you as faeries mess with the character who would be PCs in any other game might be fun...

  • 3

    I realized in re-reading this book that I had based the fairies in On Her Majesty's Arcane Service entirely on Vance's fairies. I had thought they had been based on all the fairy stories I had read, but no, they are Vancean fairies. God I love them! They are why I wrote OHMAS.

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    I've only seen the rankings, I don't think I've seen a fairy with a speaking role on camera so far. No opinion.

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    The rankings? What do you mean?

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    The fairies were about the best part of the book for me. I liked how they had their own priorities, abilities, and limitations, and how they interacted at cross-purposes to humans. The same was true of magic generally: while it seemed to have its own internal logic, it wasn't the logic of the Enlightenment.

    On reflection, there's something we don't see in the book. There are many occasions of humans using fairies for human ends, but I don't recall seeing a fairy using humans for fairy ends. That could be because of the focus of the book, but it's something that could be interesting to explore when using Lyonesse in a game.

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    Thinking about it, I was unimaginative with my earlier reply that the fairies were only suited as antagonists. It might be interesting to play with fairy characters in a fairies only game- just not alongside humans. Or a story game, where one player plays a mortal trapped with the fae, and the other players play fairies, could be something jolly interesting.

  • 3

    @clash_bowley what fairy qualities did you take for OHMAS, and how did you mechanize fairies in that game?
    btw, I think @rossum is referring to the footnote describing the types and their hierarchies.

    @Keith the fairies are certainly capricious, but seem to be working from a set of rules we don't quite understand. I think this is illustrated in some of their wrangling over the fulfillment of bargains, but also in the instance where one of the characters wanted to pick apricots and called out: "Do these apricots belong to aonyone? If nobody comes forth to deny me taking them, I shall consider them a gift" at which point a troll pops out. It's almost as if the rules are not universal, but rules do exist when you bring them into being by voicing them, and at that point you need to follow them.

    @NeilNjae There are definitely instances of fairies using humans - Dhrun is a changeling, stolen from his mother to be raised by fairies for some unknown purpose. At one point we meet an ogre who uses humans as food, and slaves, and to grow cabbages (as garnish to be eaten with roast children). One of the fairies uses Dhrun for his own amusement, causing him bad luck. And I suspect there are more instances.

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    I've sent you a copy of OHMAS, Chris!

  • 0

    @Apocryphal said:
    Fairies... have strict rules, though, and a strict hierarchy - but seemingly limitless powers. What did you think of the fairies?

    I get the strict hierarchy, but not the strict rules. Most of the interactions I remember consisted of cases where an apparently strict rule was (depending on your point of view) either broken or supplanted by some kind of uber-rule. LIke the mischievous faery getting out of having to undo his curse by claiming that it was actually the king's curse - a bit of fakery there, methinks.

    The parting scene between Dhrun and the fairies reminded me of when we read The Graveyard Book, but I liked Gaiman's handling of that better than Vance's.

    I did like the oblique way Vance brought in the traditional business of time passing ever so much faster in fairyland, by Dhrun growing more rapidly than human calendar years would expect - not so much faster as in some folk tales, where a single night in fairyland might correspond to a generation in the human world, but fast enough to notice.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    @clash_bowley what fairy qualities did you take for OHMAS, and how did you mechanize fairies in that game?
    btw, I think @rossum is referring to the footnote describing the types and their hierarchies.

    That's it.

  • 2

    @RichardAbbott said:
    I get the strict hierarchy, but not the strict rules.
    LIke the mischievous faery getting out of having to undo his curse by claiming that it was actually the king's curse - a bit of fakery there, methinks.

    At one point Murgen tells Aillas how to get in touch with the fairies to find his son:
    "Go the Thripsey Shee just as the first rays of sunlight sweep across the meadow. Do not go by moonlight or you will suffer a death of weird invention. Show the crystal to the sunrise, let it glint in the rays. Do not let it from your grasp until a bargain has been made. The fairies will honor their word precisely; they are, despite popular belief, a most exact-minded race. They will fulfill their terms: no less, and certainly not an iota more, so bargain with care."

    As for the curse, it actually was the king who laid the curse - he told Dhrun to leave and not look back. But it was the other fairy who, through maliciousness, called to Dhrun at the last minute and tricked him into looking back that put the king's curse into effect. To call it the King's curse is not fakery - it's literal-mindedness.

  • 0
    > @Apocryphal said:
    > ... To call it the King's curse is not fakery - it's literal-mindedness.

    Yes, fair enough... I suppose what is missing is the ethical/moral dimension which would place the _real_ blame with the other fairy. Odd that the king didn't just say right out "but that was my curse", but that's just a twist of storytelling.
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