If you find yourself in the feywilds, you’re sure to come across all sorts of beings, some kind, some cruel.
In any case, they’ll likely have an edge of chaos as the feywild is home to many tricksters. Faeries, satyrs, dryads, and all sorts of fey creatures heil from this most magical of planes.
With so much power ripe for the taking and such free access to magic, it’s no wonder that some of the inhabitants of this plane rise to incredible capabilities.
These creatures who stand out above the rest, ascending near to godhood, are referred to as Archfey.
It’s these archfey, the very same creatures that might be your warlock’s patron, that we’ll be discussing in today’s article.
We’ll be jumping into some of the lore about the most famous of these creatures, looking at how they relate to warlocks and the world around themselves as a whole, and how an interaction with one of these beings might go for you and your party.
Who Are the Archfey?
Archfey are fey beings that have amassed an incredible amount of power. Some of these are mortal beings that have ascended to their roles, some are the awakened spirits of nature, and others still are the sentient incarnations of fey animals.
Famous Archfey in D&D
- Baba Yaga, Mother of All Witches
- Hyrsam, the Prince of Fools
- Neifion, the Lord of Bats
- Nintra Siotta, the Princess of Shadow Glass
- Oberon, the Green Lord
- The Prince of Frost
- Queen of Air and Darkness
- Titania, the Queen of the Summer Court
- Verenestra the Oak Princess
- Kannoth, the Vampire Lord of Cendriane
- Zybilna, the Ruler of Prismeer and the Patron of the Witchlight Carnival
- Lurue, Unicorn Queen
All archfey are incredibly powerful, and as such, they tend to have some level of domain within the feywild.
The easiest examples of these domains are the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, or the Summer and Winter Courts. These domains, ruled by Titania and the Queen of Air and Darkness respectively, are the two largest factions within the feywild.
How powerful exactly are these archfey? Are they as powerful as gods? Demigods? Well, that’s a very interesting question with a sort of indefinite answer. Long story short, it depends on how you want to deal with them.
Those of you who have played 3e might remember a beautiful book called Deities and Demigods.
I desperately await the day we get a modernized 5e update, but for now, it’s one of my main fallback sources on how to deal with uber-powerful beings.
In that book, it talks about a ranking system for deities.
This scale allows you to differentiate between quasi-deities, demigods, lesser deities, intermediate deities, greater deities, and overdeities (ordered here from lowest to highest rank).
Quasi-deities, or rank 0, are immortal with some worshippers but without the ability to grant spells to their followers, even if they do have a domain.
Demigods, ranks 1-5, control a small realm, have dominion over a small portfolio, and have the ability to grant spells.
The same book also talks about archdevils. While these creatures are different in theme than archfey, they are often considered equals in power and domain.
It says that archdevils are typically considered quasi-deities, but in some cases they may be lower-ranked demigods, solely for the purposes of granting spells to their followers.
I mean, there we have it right? If our archfey are worshipped to a level that a warlock in our campaign can be provided spells by them, then we have a demigod on our hands.
This fits rather appropriately into 5e without a lot of work. The way 5e handles lesser deities, mainly by not handling them, would place them just a bit more powerful than archfey, archdevils, or even great old ones.
Unfortunately, 5e makes things a bit more confusing.
In the DMG’s breakdown of deity ranking, we only have the greater, lesser, and quasi-deity categories.
Quasi-deities are described as the weakest of deities and include three smaller categories: titans (creations of gods), demigods (offspring of gods and mortals), and vestiges (remains of dead gods).
Of course, why would 5e make it easy for us to understand the most powerful beings in the universes we want to inhabit? Well, now we have a few options to work with for an explanation.
- Archfey are a smaller subcategory of quasi-deities, per 5e rules.
- Archfey are weaker than quasi-deities but still powerful than any mortals.
- Archfey are ranked 1-3 in the 3e system of deity ranking. They are powerful enough to grant spells, and that’s what we really need to know.
Well, that’s enough of that. Archfey are very powerful.
Pedantic and contradictory ranking systems aside, we know that these nigh-immortal creatures have dominion over a small realm and the ability to grant spells.
Through the Looking Glass: Feywild Lore
In order to really understand the archfey, we have to understand where to find them. We need some information about the place they reside and the people they have power over.
What we need is to take a quick planeswalk over into the Feywild and do a little surveying.
The feywild is an echo of the material plane filled with an incredible amount of arcane energy.
While this plane of existence might be geographically similar to that of the material plane, it has a number of incredible differences influenced by its raw and wild magic.
The plane is sometimes described as eternally basking in the light of a sun on the horizon which neither rises nor sets.
At other times, it is said that as you travel south from the spring court you literally walk through the seasons until you arrive at the winter court.
In this depiction, the sun is often said to travel alongside you as it makes its path through the sky, rising in spring and setting in winter.
Traveling to the Feywild
Getting to the feywild is as easy as the DM makes it, but there are some established methods that make for some nice storytelling.
Fey Day is a holiday celebrated in Waterdeep and surrounding towns.
This day, on Ches 19th during the vernal equinox, is celebrated because the barriers between the material plane and the feywild are weakened.
Portals can pop up just about anywhere, with many creatures falling in and out of their respective planes of existence.
There are also portals scattered between the planes called fey crossroads. These portals are said to be places where the barriers of the two worlds touch.
All crossroads are protected by a guardian who will deem the worthiness of potential travelers in a variety of ways. The most common method is, unsurprisingly, a riddle.
On the feywild, time and distance operate in a wholly different way from the material plane.
When it comes to travel, one’s perception of time, or even distance itself, can only be defined as tricky. A day-long hike in one direction could take a month coming back the same route.
Travelers that come and go between the feywild and other planes will also notice that the passage of time itself works differently here. A day in the feywild could be 100 years on the material plane or the complete opposite.
It would seem that the very nature of this plane is deceit, and nowhere is that more present than in its inhabitants.
Home of all sorts of fey creatures and mystical flora, it is very rare that things are as they seem in the plane of faerie.
Creatures in the feywild, be they kind or malicious, all hold a deep passion for mischief.
This is why so many of us know the proper response to “May I have your name?” when asked by a fey. If you don’t, the wise response is “You may not have my name, but I will tell you what it is.”
Fey creatures will often try to trick someone into a bargain or contract, using nothing more than clever wordplay. It’s best to choose your words very carefully when interacting with them because they will too.
The courts of the Seelie and Unseelie fey are well known throughout the multiverse. Some may tell you that the Seelie are good and that the Unseelie are evil.
Having been there myself, I can tell you that they are both full of conniving tricksters, out for nothing but their own pleasure.
Many fey bear allegiance to one of these two courts, although the Autumn and Spring courts may sometimes have their own prominence.
The Seelie Court, ruled by Titania and her spouse Oberon, and the Unseelie Court, ruled by the Queen of Air and Darkness, are essentially mirror images of each other.
While the summer court is often associated with goodness and purity, the actions of its inhabitants are very rarely any different from that of the winter, or gloaming, court.
The only real difference is often found in appearance. The summer court appears as a beautiful gladed wood and is full of pureblooded eladrin, faeries, brownies, and other jovial characters.
On the other hand, members of the unseelie court have no truck with purity. Years of interbreeding are said to have deformed the winter fey. Realistically, they just have a lot more variety and a bit more acceptance for outsiders.
It should be noted that while these courts are often said to be a part of the feywild, they are also divine domains in their own right, traveling between different planes.
It’s just much easier to find yourself in these courts by traveling through the feywild. There, you can do so almost accidentally, where on any other plane you would only find entrance with an express invitation.
Without any further adieu, let’s get into the actual archfey themselves.
The faerie queen, or the queen of light, rules over the summer court and the Seelie fey.
She is often described as an immensely beautiful and powerful eladrin but is sometimes elevated to a higher status of godhood then just archfey.
This quasi or lesser deity is based on the character of the same name from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As such, she embodies many of the same characteristics of this faerie queen.
She carries around a diamond-tipped wand, has incredible command over magic, and watches over all sorts of fey creatures in hopes that they will know joy.
Titania is often said to be married to Oberon, the green lord, although their relationship is likely more fluid and open than such intense vows would suggest.
She has also mothered several archfey, many of whom are also sometimes considered deities. Damh, god of satyrs, Verenestra, goddess of dryads, and the Frost Prince are just some of her notable children.
Queen of Air and Darkness
The sister of Titania – it’s said that this archfey was not always so evil. The story goes that the dwarves brought a gift to Titania, but since she was not around, her sister took it with good intentions.
This gift, a black diamond, is said to have slowly corrupted her soul, morphing her into the deranged ruler we know today.
In many dimensions, this queen takes no physical form, instead hiding herself away in magic.
Those who have seen her have described her as a heinous combination of beautiful and terrible, a once eladrin woman whose angular features and pale skin set her apart completely.
This archfey rules over the unseelie court and promotes much more straightforward chaos than her sister.
When she does take physical presence, she sits upon her throne of bones and ice, surrounded by her unseelie fey servants.
Among them, brambles, quicklings, spriggans, and evil eladrin can be found. She is also known to enlist the service of undead and even can be seen riding nightmares throughout her realm.
Baba yaga is one of my favorite witches. If you have the pleasure of making her acquaintance, do not accept any of her offers, but offer her a cup of tea for her hard work.
She is one of the most powerful mages of all time and as such is worshipped by not just hags but any who have the sense to do so.
The mother of all witches can’t be discussed without at least a mention of her home, a hut which walks upon two enormous bird’s legs.
She often travels in this hut from plane to plane, constantly learning more about magic and the multiverse.
When she’s not traveling, she resides in the Murkendraw, a swamp located in the Feywild. Wise adventurers might seek her out there to learn a thing or two.
In fact, Baba Yaga is the adoptive mother of several humans, including Tasha, whom you may know from spells like Hideous Laughter or Caustic Brew or possibly from her wholly remarkable book Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
This witch makes an excellent patron for those who recognize that evil is just code for against the grain and that sometimes seeking out ultimate knowledge requires a bit of questionable actions.
Zybilna, or Iggwilv, is a powerful mage that ascended to the rank of archfey on her grasp of magical knowledge alone.
In fact, you might know her by another name, Tasha. That’s right, the daughter of Baba Yaga is her very own Archfey, the apple doesn’t fall far from the Treant.
Tasha traveled the multiverse and attained more knowledge and power in each place she visited. Her time spent in the Abyss is well documented as she took notes on the political hierarchy of its inhabitants.
There she became incredibly well versed in demon summoning and used this ability to grow even stronger.
Eventually, she returned to the feywild to create a domain of delight called Prismeer. Domains of delight are demiplanes within the feywild created and ruled by archfey.
Not to give anything away, but Prismeer plays a huge role in the Wild beyond the Witchlight adventure. If you’re looking for an exciting feywild adventure, look no further.
Hyrsam is an incredibly mischievous archfey, which is saying something. This prince of fools is often referred to as the first satyr, whether or not that is true, few know the answer.
What we do know is that he has a deep passion for wild nature and revelry.
This archfey despises the courts and believes that all fey creatures should be free to live as they want.
As such, he often motivates his followers to simply do what they wish, and if that includes tearing down order in the process, have at it.
The name Prince of Fools can be a bit misleading. He may act foolishly, but it is a guise for the incredible wisdom he possesses.
As all fey have a knack for careful words and a reputation for silvered tongues, Hyrsam represents these qualities strongly. He is manipulative, clever, commanding, and even savage at times.
There are many more archfey out there, with more coming to power all the time. Since the feywild is so vast and full of magical opportunity, there tend to be few straightforward rivalries, even if there are some disagreements to be had.
This sets the stage for you to create any sort of archfey you want.
You could make one that embodies the spirit of rivers, perhaps a water nymph whose portfolio includes fluidity, grace, and acceptance.
You could make an archfey that is a giant awakened bear, who delights in simple pleasures and preaches friendship.
Unlike gods and pantheons, archfey is a title given to extremely powerful nigh-immortal beings of the feywild. There is no real limit on how many of these there can be, especially if they aren’t at odds with each other.
Roleplay for Archfey
While archfey aren’t typically used for combat, they make excellent characters in a D&D adventure and should be used to their fullest potential.
When roleplaying any archfey, be sure to have a firm grasp of their motivations before you even sit down for a session.
These beings haven’t ascended to power on good luck and good fortune; these are clever beings. That should only be made more impressive by the fact that cleverness is a trait common in most fey.
Choose your words carefully, and if you can, try to lead your players into verbal traps.
Ironically, some great inspiration for archfey, or fey in general, can be found in watching modern depictions of genies. The whole concept of taking heed in the most literal interpretation of words is a remarkably fey characteristic.
You also should find something that makes your archfey stand out. Traits from a lot of characters in Alice in Wonderland and other similar stories are perfect to tack onto your interpretation of an archfey.
Speaking in riddles, disguising oneself as meek, constantly puffing on a pipe, skin that changes color with their emotions, etc.
Since the feywild is essentially one big plane of wild magic, just about anything you can imagine is possible. This is your wonderland; depict it in the most colorful and fun way you can.
Choosing Your Patron
Whether you’re an aspiring warlock that is delighted by the pact of the archfey abilities or a party of adventurers looking for someone to fund and support your escapades, there is a patron to be found for you in the feywild.
As you saw from the list at the top of the page, there are far more archfey published than we have the time or space to talk in depth about in this article. Even that first list is lacking a huge amount of lesser-known archfey.
A complete list would include every great nature spirit, ascended mortal, and demoted god that has ever held the title, along with a little note on the bottom that read “and whoever you decide to create.”
Very simply, there are many archfey and a lot of variety to be found between them.
Because of this, an archfey patron can be of just about any alignment and have just about any sort of portfolio that you could imagine a god having.
The few things that set these beings apart from gods are their emotions and their general connections to nature.
The feywild is a place of heightened emotions, so naturally the most powerful beings that reside here would have heightened emotions as well.
Often, this shows up in an obsession over a belief or even an object. These are the things that will motivate the archfey to seek out servants of their will.
Another thing to anticipate with archfey patrons is strict adherence to a contract, which can be written but is more often verbal.
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising for a mortal to stumble into a contract with an archfey that grants them the powers of a warlock.
Three easy options for patrons, if you’re looking for a good, neutral, and evil triad of choices, are Titania, the Queen of Air and Darkness, and Hrysam.
While Hyrsam isn’t necessarily in direct opposition to either of these fey queens, his stance feels decidedly middle ground.
I chose to go into further descriptions for these three above because they fit so well together and give players an excellent spectrum to look at.
Of course, you could choose any archfey, and I encourage you to choose someone more obscure like Yarnspinner or Lurue – I’m just laying out the easier options.
Archfey are extremely powerful beings and a great addition to any campaign.
More approachable than gods, more relatable than devils, and more fun than just about any other character you can bring into the mix, these are sure to bring some great laughs and roleplay to your table.
I hope this article has made you interested in the workings of fey creatures. Keep your eye out for more discussions on this topic because we’re sure to be covering it soon if we haven’t already. As always, happy adventuring.