Fair Folk is a term used to describe the beings who dwell beyond the elemental poles in the Wyld. The Unshaped Fair Folk who remain beyond the edges of Creation are hostile to all things of constant shape and form; they are Creatures of Darkness. A great number of Fair Folk, however, have entered the world and taken on shape; they are no longer Creatures of Darkness by default as Unshaped are. The vast majority of these beings are inimical to the beings of Creation—hunting down humans and feeding on their hopes and dreams—but a few do live among men as either lords or simple citizens. During the Great Contagion, the Host of Faerie rode out in a great crusade to bring an end to the blasphemy of shaped existence. It might well have even won had the Scarlet Empress not succeeded in bringing the Realm's magical defenses to bear against them.
Fair Folk nature is heavily influenced by the four Virtues and four corresponding Graces: the Cup (Compassion), the Ring (Temperance), the Staff (Conviction), and the Sword (Valor). A fifth Grace, Heart, is associated with Willpower; but it tends to play a somewhat more subdued - yet fundamentally more important - role in a Fair Folk's life. Other Graces may exist, such as the Way (Perception) Grace, and can be harnessed by skilled Fair Folk.
This four-fold division is also found in their choice of philosophies, hearkening back to the leaders of the Balorian Crusade: the Church of Balor fight for the annihilation of Creation (Valor); the Glittering Train feast on the dreams of the Creation-born (Compassion); the Duchy of Mirrors are those Raksha who have moderated their excesses and become attached to Creation, and who now find themselves seeking its preservation (Temperance); and the Hungry Wolves are utterly dedicated to their own passions above all else (Conviction).
They call themselves the Raksha and their name for the Wyld is Rakshastan. They are a fractious lot. Nonetheless, they often gather under the banners of their five Great Courts, currently the Jet Court in the Northern Wyld (Temperance), the Lapis Court in the Southern Wyld (Compassion), the Pearl Court in the Western Wyld (Willpower), the Opal Court in the Eastern Wyld (Valor), and the Ruby Court in the Southeastern Wyld (Conviction).
Fair Folk use three major types of magic; these three are natural to all of the raksha, but some of them can be harnessed by other types of beings.
The most basic technique used by the Fair Folk is known as Shaping. Through this method, the raksha control the shape and stories of the Wyld, forging whatever tales entertain them. When two raksha come into conflict, it is typically resolved through Shaping combat. Shaping can be learned by other beings whose Graces are created by the raksha.
The Fair Folk can also marshall many Charms. These Charms function much like the Charms of any other being of Creation, except that many of them have different effects when used in the Wyld than when used against the Creation-Born.
Finally, the Fair Folk have access to Grace Magic. These powerful techniques forge 'artifacts' from the Graces of the Fair Folk, whose natures are dependent on the Grace being forged.
Though the claim that Eclipses first stole their oath-sanctifying power from the Raksha are spurious at best, it is true that the Fair Folk are bound by their given word in ways that the Creation-born are not. Like one breaking an oath witnessed by one of the Crowned Suns, the raksha who breaks their sworn word suffers a botch at a critical juncture. Raksha are masters at carefully wording their oaths, however, and make a game of evading the limitations. They may use Shaping actions to get around the spirit of such oaths freely, most especially those sworn in haste. If they can be made to stick, however, oaths are useful in Social Combat against the Fair Folk. An oath a Raksha is compelled to swear through the use of Charms, however, is non-binding.
Raksha are as vulnerable to oaths compelled out of them through the aid of Charms as they are to oaths voluntarily undertaken. Violating the spirit of an oath while technically obeying its precise wording requires a suitable stunt, at the Storyteller’s discretion. The raksha suffers a -3 external penalty to all actions taken while violating the spirit of an oath in this manner. The oaths of the raksha can be quite troublesome, and if no appropriate justification can be produced, then a raksha cannot violate his oath without suffering the consequences.
In the Wyld, some oaths can be brought to life as living things, known as Adjurations, which grant the raksha powers that aid in fulfilling that oath.
The Raksha Body
Raksha in the Wyld are immune to all petty environmental concerns such as poison, hunger, the need to breathe, and so forth, unless such deprivations are forced on them by the acts of the Creation-born. Raksha historians enjoy repeating the cautionary tale of Jaiji-Ran the Unmoving, who swore not to breathe for three hundred years and three hundred days. After two centuries and forty years in which his chest did not stir, he met the Lunar Exalt known as Storm-Breaker Yu, who strangled him to death.
Raksha in Creation face a wider range of restrictions. Their bodies do not age, and they need not eat or drink, though most raksha enjoy doing both. The Essence-charged miracle that is their body is immune to mundane disease. They may still be poisoned, however, and must breathe unless they possess magic which allows them to avoid doing so. They heal from injury as the Exalted do. While Fair Folk in the Wyld are inexhaustible, raksha in Creation tire as mortals do, and must sleep regularly, a restriction they find both novel and disquieting.
Raksha in the Wyld are immortal as they are completely immune to ‘real’ actions undertaken by other denizens of the Wyld, including Wyld creatures, Wyld-mutated animals, most Wyld mutants... and other raksha. They are effectively immune to standard dice actions taken by others of their kind, suffering no lasting consequences. In essence, the physical, social, and magical actions the raksha take have no mechanical repercussions in their shaping contests, and no real impact on others of their kind unless their fellow monsters for some reason decide to play along and voluntarily keep inflicted Intimacies or proudly wear the injuries of battle for a while as proof of their valor.
Only two means exist for a raksha to murder others of his kind in the Wyld: to gain ownership of an individual’s Heart and to destroy it, or to commit murder with a weapon of cold iron. However, when a Creation-born slays one of the raksha, the raksha is slain. If she steals a raksha’s possessions, they now belong to her. If she causes a raksha to fall in love with her, that raksha is truly in love, and may not discard the emotion on a whim. Likewise, raksha in Creation must deal with the consequences of their own actions.
Wyld mutants in the Wyld form an edge case. Any Wyld mutant with the Wyld Assimilation mutation is incapable of harming Fair Folk in the Wyld. Heroic Wyld mutants lacking that mutation are considered Creation-born for the purpose of acting upon raksha, as are any Wyld mutants directly acting as a result of such a heroic Wyld mutant’s leadership. Otherwise, Wyld mutant extras may not inflict lasting harm upon the Fair Folk.
Raksha and Death
A raksha struck down by the hand of the Creation-born, with a weapon of iron, or slain within Creation is truly dead. If she wore a permanent Assumption, the raksha leaves behind a corpse as the beings of Creation do; if not, the motes committed to her Assumption dissipate upon her death, causing her to unravel in a brief flare of wonder. Raksha who perish through destruction of their Heart never leave behind a body, instead expiring in a great pulse of unleashed Wyld energy; the site of their demise may be gently marked by the touch of the Wyld for decades to come, perhaps sprouting a ring of mushrooms, or perhaps the waters of a nearby creek will run golden for a few years, but no other sign remains to mark their passing. In all of these cases, the raksha is truly gone forever. Raksha have no souls as the Creation-born would recognize them, existing instead as congeries of myth and wonder, and so when they die in the house of the Primordials, that is simply the end of them. They experience no reincarnation and no afterlife, and make no impression upon the Underworld. Their Essence is released back into the universe, and that is that.
Powerful raksha (possessing Heart 2+) may calcify differently, congealing into tombs for themselves. These commonly take the form of strange, slightly fae objects or structures—a statue, a tree, a small pond or well, a pillar of compacted salt, or even a tiny cottage. Such remnants are known to the few savants who are aware of the phenomenon as reliquaries.
Raksha Lore and Occult in Creation
For all their games of sovereignty and dominance, shaped raksha are ultimately refugees stranded on the shore of an alien world. Few truly understand Creation's laws, history or metaphysical principles. As such, raksha suffer a -3 external penalty to all Lore and Occult rolls that involve the things of Creation—the history of the mortal world, the ways of its spirit courts, understanding human artifacts, designing geomantic architecture and so forth. Though a raksha with high Lore or Occult knows many secrets of the world, it is difficult for them to separate out truth from the dross of folk tales and fiction.
Fair Folk come in two classes: the ruling Nobles, and the subservient Commoners.
Common Fair Folk have five Castes, based on the Trait on which they feed:
- Diplomat (feeds on Conviction)
- Entertainer (feeds on Compassion)
- Warrior (feeds on Valor)
- Worker (feeds on Temperance)
- Guide (feeds on Perception)
Noble Fair Folk extrapolate more nuanced Castes from these, claiming two Castes (one Ascendant, one Shadowed). Nobles sometimes reverse the emphasis of their twin Castes - a process called Inversion; the conditions under which they do so depend on the Shadowed Caste.
- Diplomat Ascendant:
- Entertainer Ascendant:
- Warrior Ascendant:
- Worker Ascendant:
- Guide Ascendant: