How to Play an Archfey in D&D

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Archfey are part of the god-like trio: archfiends, archfey, and great old ones. Each member of this class is unique, from Mephistopheles the Lord of No Mercy and Orcus the Prince of Undeath, to Hyrsam the Prince of Fools to Dendar the Night Serpent. Distinct from even these unique examples, archfey live on the Plane of Faerie, or the Feywild, where they play court and war amongst each other in a land of impossible flora and fauna.

Most of the time, they won’t appear directly in your campaign. They’ll be faraway actors, pulling the strings in the background as your party traverses the world. However, what if you would like an archfey or three to become major players? What if you’d like to use Oberon the Green Lord as a villain? Maybe Titania the Summer Queen as an ally? How about your warlock forms a pact with Hyrsam the Prince of Fools?

Well, you’ll need to know how to play one.

Outlined below are how I see archfey in my world, Eldar. They might be different in your setting or you might want to steal my outlook. That’s what I want! The ideas below should inspire you and give you a firm grasp on how to portray one of these beautifully terrifying masters of the Feywild in a fulfilling way.

Let’s roll.

Predictably Unpredictable

Image result for dnd archfey artInteracting with an archfey should be dramatic and unnerving, especially since they constantly change moods. They might be extremely happy one moment and on the verge of deep despair in the next. Ensure you make this known to your party. Establish two moods for the archfey you’re playing and swap between them every so often. If they’re clever, your party might be able to manipulate the archfey because of their powerful emotions. If they’re not careful, they might jeopardize their existence. Here are a few examples of archfey with their moods attached.
  1. Hyrsam the Prince of Fools: Comedic, Savage
  2. Titania the Summer Queen: Flirty, Pragmatic
  3. Oberon the Green Lord: Insane, Intelligent
  4. Funghoul the Beast Queen: Vicious, Cordial
  5. Relkath of the Infinite Branches: Ominous, Stressed
  6. Verenestra the Oak Princess: Bubbly, Dramatic
  7. Kannoth the Vampire Lord: Dark, Respectful
  8. Baba Yaga the Mother of All Witches: Murderous, Unnerving
  9. Lurue the Unicorn Queen: Helpful, Confused
  10. Neifion the Lord of Bats: Crazy, Flighty

Minions Upon Minions

Serving under any given archfey are a plethora of minions. These minions are fiercely loyal to their leader, but are also striving to surmount their position — remember this. In addition, because of the vast number of different types of fey, it’s possible to ensure no two archfeys’ minions are alike. Explore the domains of the archfey you’re using and enlist certain fey beings beneath them. This by no means is a hard rule, but it gives flavor to the hundreds of creatures who serve the archfey. It’s more interesting if Lurue the Unicorn Queen works with unicorns and elves if there are very few unicorns or elves aligned with other archfey. Here is a list of archfey with their example minions.
  1. Hyrsam: Satyrs, Centaurs
  2. Titania: Pixies, Dryads
  3. Oberon: Eladrin, Sprites
  4. Funghoul: Animals, Awakened Beasts
  5. Relkath: Faerie Dragons, Redcaps
  6. Verenestra: Nymphs, Quicklings
  7. Kannoth: Vampires, Undead
  8. Baba Yaga: Hags, Formorians
  9. Lurue: Unicorns, Elves
  10. Neifion: Werebats, Goblins

Part of a Court Hierarchy

Every archfey is a member of one of the fey courts. Whether it’s the Court of Stars, the Court of Gloam, the Court of Doom, or a lesser known body, each archfey plays a role in their court’s hierarchy. For example, Hyrsam the Prince of Fools is the jester of the Court of Stars and Titania the Summer Queen is its leader. The Court of Stars is primarily comprised of seelie fey and of all of them, Titania is the most powerful, placing her at the top of the hierarchy. Most archfey are constantly striving for that ultimate position. When you’re playing an archfey, always keep that in mind. That archfey’s interaction with the party should help advance or fortify their position in the hierarchy. Here are a few ideas of how to implement an archfey’s machinations to advance in their court.
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  1. A member of the party has a pact with Titania the Summer Queen, so a lower ranking member of the Court of Stars tries to assist the party to curry favor with her.
  2. The archfey thinks the group can help them take out another archfey competitor.
  3. The archfey thinks the party will make perfect presents to propose an alliance with another archfey at court.
  4. The archfey seeks to eliminate the party in a show of power, impressing other fey. 

Extreme Power and Influence

Archfey hold god-like powers, especially on the Plane of Faerie. Don’t treat them like a super-juiced fey. Spend time on their appearance, domain, abilities, and artifacts. Each archfey has a unique appearance; Relkath of the Infinite Branches looks like a massive black dragon made of bark. Hyrsam the Prince of Fools is a tall, handsome satyr with gazelle horns and a lovely purple & yellow vest. Each archfey lives in a fantastic place that sticks out from the rest of the Feywild. Hyrsam’s home, the Grove of Laughing Goats, is a gargantuan tree with eight wooden platforms, each dotted with glowing lanterns, kegs of never ending wine, and tents for resting between days of partying. As a powerful ability, Relkath might be able to grow enough limbs from his dragon-like form to grapple the entire party and inject them with venomous thorns! As for artifacts, well, Hyrsam has collected quite a few in his time such as a Staff of Annihilation — it has the mechanics of a vorpal sword but on a bludgeoning weapon. Here are a few other ideas to give your archfey extreme power and influence.
  1. Funghoul the Beast Queen is an amalgamation of the beasts she dominates, save for her face which is twisted, warty, and humanoid. Elk antlers sprout from her misshapen head, bat wings spring from her back, and thick bear claws protrude from her hands. Her lower body is that of a massive serpent whose tail ends in a stinger dripping with black venom.
  2. Verenestra can immediately morph into any mortal creature she’s ever seen.
  3. Baba Yaga inflicts a curse upon her enemies, causing damage felt by one of them to be transferred among her other enemies equally.
  4. Lurue the Unicorn Queen and her people live upon a solid rainbow that arcs through the twilight sky of the Feywild.
  5. Kannoth can see through the eyes of every bat on the Plane of Faerie and take control of them at any time.
  6. Hyrsam the Prince of Fools can tell a story that causes almost any being to laugh and dance comedically without fail.

Image result for dnd archfey art In Summary

By now, you should have an in-depth understanding of how to play an archfey at your table. However, you won’t know you’re ready until you try it. When you do, keep in mind the following points.
  1. All archfey are predictably unpredictable, you just have to place them somewhere on the spectrum. They can be happy one moment and depressed the next. Murderous and bloodthirsty then peaceful and huggy ten seconds later.
  2. Each archfey has a distinct pool of minions to pull from. Don’t continue to reuse the same monster over and over when playing them.
  3. All archfey are members of one of the fey courts and they have a particular position in that court. Despite this, they are always yearning to ascend.
  4. Archfey are god-like beings. Their power level and influence should not be scoffed at.
That’s all for today, everyone. If you enjoyed this article, check out the rest across my site or my channel on YouTube. Of particular note is a lore video on the video game Path of Exile that went up last Sunday; I’m proud of it and think most lore-minded folks might enjoy the mystery I discuss in it.

Until next time, stay creative.

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