The family unit is an important part of fey life. While some fey choose to set out on their own, breaking ties to families and becoming wanderers without a place to belong, most remain vital members of their house or kelir, enjoying the prestige and support that only family can offer.
In the seelie and unseelie courts, family name and lineage are important. Genealogy adds another layer of structure and hierarchy to the self-concerned courtiers, from orphans to the queen herself. Like the court's own ruling system, the structure of the family is generally matriarchal. While a gentle noblewoman mounted on horseback and protected by male escorts may seem like a delicate vision, in reality she could be a cold and ruthless matron, riding in command of her familial forces.
Within each family, the matriarch leads the kelir, making or approving all decisions regarding alliances, marriages, and court announcements. In addition to possessing high levels of magic, the matriarch also controls the many magical treasures belonging to the family. Family members who try to undermine the matriarch's rules will find themselves disciplined most unpleasantly.
In addition to the matriarch, there are two other positions of importance in the family: the co'matri and the kelir heir. The co'matri is generally around the same age as the matriarch, and is perhaps a sister or cousin. The co'matri concerns herself with the daily running of the families estates. She is a steward of sorts, who reports regularly to the matriarch on the state of the kelir's holdings.
The kelir heir is appointed by the matriarch when she is within a century of stepping down for her position. The heir, who must already be a courtier, is then expected to devote her time to learning the finer points of courtly intrigue and increasing her magical abilities. A matriarch must be strong to keep a family of self-involved fey bound into a cohesive unit, and it falls to the heir to prove herself during the time of training. If the heir proves weak, another female may challenge her.
In seelie kelirs, most families accept their matriarch and allow her to guide them as long as she chooses. An unseelie matriarch, on the other hand, can be challenged every hundred years to a quest of skill, cunning, and strength. The victor usually banishes the rival or imprisons her. In some cases, ambitious family members choose not to wait until the next quest time; they instead take care of the matriarch permanently and claim the matriarchy for themselves. Of course, informal challenges and threats from within and without the kelir are not uncommon. Attempted assassinations typically take the form of poisonings, arranged "accidents," or direct attacks by hired killers.
Because of numerous feuds and fallings out with past queens, only several dozen houses remain that can claim noble kelir status. Once a queen has declared a kelir disgraced, the family must wait for either a new matriarch to become head of the family, or for a new queen to ascend the throne before seeking a boon to change the status of the house. Since both options can take thousands of years, many fey of the family simply leave to seek their fortunes in other realms.
The matriarch of a noble house will generally concern herself with the many intrigues of the court. The prestige of the family falls to her to maintain and increase. The running of the estate is left to the co'matri, a title bestowed by the matriarch on the second most powerful female in the family. By, in effect, banishing the co'matri to the estate, the matriarch places the family's holdings in competent hands while ensuring her closest family rival is kept away from the queen and other important court dignitaries.
For fey families who are not a part of the Seelie or Unseelie courts, life is filled with the activities of a country life. Wild hunts, celebrations and balls held on the family estate are opportunities to impress neighbors or visitors from other realms. There are castles to grow, lands to create and miniature realms to rule.
An Intriguing Situation (Part 1)
Silent as a gliding falcon, M'hele Greelyn crept behind the tapestries. She had seen the furtive glances between the lecherous Elok and Brina, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. Neither was to be trusted. Elok was easy to understand -- the man chased anything with legs and didn't always care how many. But why would Brina be interested in Elok? M'hele credited Brina with a bit more selectiveness in her sleeping companions.
Faint voices alerted M'hele that Brina and Elok approached. Not wanting to be seen, M'hele quickly turned herself invisible.
"You have the necklace?" Elok asked, peering around to make sure that no one was in the darkened hall.
"Right here." Brina drew a small pouch out from her bodice. "It was easy. The queen asked me to select her scarf, and I slipped this out while she wasn't looking."
"And the queen--"
"Won't miss it for several days. She plans to wear it to the masquerade next week. When she asks me to help her prepare, we can discover its absence together." Brina chuckled at the thought. "I will let her know that I saw Sor'k lurking in the hallway of her private quarters a few days ago. Several of the servants saw him there as well."
Elok smiled wickedly. "Convenient, isn't it, that Sor'k met you there? And that you are willing to point the finger at your lover?"
M'hele stifled her gasp of surprise. Her cousin, Sor'k, was Brina's lover? The matriarch would turn him into a gargoyle for sure. The feud between the Greelyn and Elylys kelirs had been raging for at least a millennia, and it looked like the Elylys house was trying to end it once and for all, by disgracing her cousin and all of Greelyn with him. It was her duty to figure out how to turn their plans to her house's advantage.
Beauty's Bounty [General]
You rely on your charm and physical good looks to keep you safe from harm
Benefit: At 1st level, you may use your Charisma modifier instead of your Constitution modifier to determine bonus hit points. At each level thereafter, you use your Constitution modifier normally to determine bonus hit points, but you also gain +1 hit point for every point of permanent Charisma you gain. In addition, Charisma increases can retroactively increase the bonus hit points from your first level.
Should you suffer any Charisma decreases, your bonus hit points from your first level also decrease, and you lose any extra bonus hit points you have gained from Charisma increases. These hit point decreases persist for as long as your Charisma decrease lasts.
Example: Suppose Pinsom starts out at 1st level with a Charisma score of 15. Pinsom gets +2 bonus hit points at first level (because his Charisma modifier is +2). When he reaches 4th level, Pinsom add +1 to his Charisma score, giving him a Charisma modifier of +3. Pinsom gains +1 hit from his first hit die (due to his increased Charisma modifier) and +1 bonus hit point because he has added a point of Charisma. If Pinsom later takes 3 points of Charisma damage, his Charisma score drops to 13. He now gets only +1 hit from his first hit die (a net loss of 2 hit points) and he loses the +1 hit point he gained from adding a point of Charisma at 4th level, for a total loss of 3 hit points.
Normal: Your Constitution modifier determines your bonus hit points at every character level.
Special: You may take this feat only as a 1st-level character.
Charmed Life [General]
Fortune smiles on you, making you inordinately lucky.
Prerequisite: Fey; and Great Fortitude, Iron Will, or Lightning Reflexes.
Benefit: Once per day, this feat allows you to reroll one roll that you have just made before the DM declares whether the roll results in success or failure. You must take the result of the reroll, even if it's worse than the original roll.
Charming the Arrow [General]
You have a gift with ranged weapons. The force of your personality enables you to "convince" them to fly straight and true.
Benefit: With a bow or crossbow made for a creature of your size category, you may use your Charisma modifier instead of your Dexterity modifier on attack rolls.
Special: A fighter may select Charm the Arrow as one of his fighter bonus feats.
Seelie Court Member [General]
Through birth or deed, you achieve some status in the Seelie Court.
Benefit: You get a +2 bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks involving Seelie Court fey. You suffer a -1 penalty on all Charisma-based skill checks involving Unseelie Court fey.
Special: You may not take both this and Unseelie Court Member.
Unseelie Court Member [General]
Through birth or deed, you achieve some status in the Unseelie Court.
Benefit: You get a +2 bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks involving Unseelie Court fey. You suffer a -1 penalty on all Charisma-based skill checks involving Seelie Court fey.
Special: You may not take both this and Seelie Court Member.
Seelie Court Noble Kelir [General]
You belong to a noble family with status in the Seelie Court. The Queen of Light invites your house to general Court functions.
Prerequisite: Fey and Seelie Court Member, or Fey and Diplomacy 5 ranks
Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to saving throws from spells and spell-like abilities from fey creatures.
In addition, you may use your Bluff or Diplomacy skill to influence others' opinions. In a social situation, you may make a "cut direct," or a ridiculing comment at a target. The target opposes with either a Charisma check (if not a Seelie or Unseelie Court Noble Kelir) or a Diplomacy check (if she has the Seelie or Unseelie Court Noble Kelir feat). If your cut direct succeeds, the crowd's attitude toward your target degrades one step (for example, from friendly to indifferent).
Special: This feat is a bonus feat to anyone with two Seelie Court Noble parents who have presented the child to court.
Unseelie Court Noble Kelir [General]
You belong to a noble family with status in the Unseelie Court. The Queen of Air and Darkness invites your house to general Court functions.
Prerequisite: Fey and Seelie Court Member, or Fey and Diplomacy 5 ranks
Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus on Bluff and Diplomacy checks.
In addition, you may use your Bluff or Diplomacy skill to influence others' opinions. In a social situation, you may make a cut direct or a ridiculing comment at a target. The target opposes with either a Charisma check (if not a Seelie or Unseelie Court Noble Kelir) or a Diplomacy check (if she has the Seelie or Unseelie Court Noble Kelir feat).
Special: This feat is a bonus feat to anyone with one Unseelie Court Noble parent.
About the Authors
Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrelis an editor for Wizards of the Coast's Roleplaying Games R&D department. Recent credits include editingFaiths and Pantheons,Oriental Adventures, andMagic of Faerūn, and designing part of theBook of Challenges. She's a frequent contributor to the Wizards of the Coast website. Also, check out the website she created for her fiancé, Andy Collins, at www.andycollins.net.
Faith M. Price accidentally fell into the adventure game industry nine years ago. Since then she has worked for two game manufacturers, and has written for numerous magazines. She currently lives in Washington with two RPG designers and two cats, all of whom require regular feeding and attention.