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A Winter’s Tale – Avalon – 1668

General knowledge of the Sidhe (Shee) and of Avalon – this starting information is known to all players, regardless of country of birth.

The Sidhe were the ancient folk of Theah (the world). Their main kingdom was Avalon, but for reasons unknown, they abandoned the land, retreating to a place called Bryn Bresail. Bryn Bresail exists behind a magical barrier, through which only the Sidhe or their guests can cross.

The Seelie Court (the nobility of the Sidhe) continued to interact with humans – there were changelings, fairy blessed heroes and magic entered the human blood line. Four magical gifts were given to the humans of Avalon – a Cup, a Sword, A Banner and a Stone.

The first king of Avalon, Elilodd, was given the Grahl by the Sidhe. His lineage, strong in unity with the Sidhe, continued until 1028. In that year, Good King Herygh died, leaving the throne to be shared by his three sons. There was immediate dissention, war followed, and the Montaigne nation took advantage of this and invaded.

The language of Avalon, Cymric, was repressed, children were taught Montiagne and dealings with the Sidhe repressed as dark magic. Avalon’s holy men were burned at the stake. Montaigne itself was a split nation, and so while the King was King of Montaigne and Avalon, a constant war was being waged to regain the remaining Montaigne lands, or to depose the King. Add to this crusades, heavy taxation and a 200 year civil war, and Avalon was a complete mess.

1614 – Richard the IV
Richard’s reign could have brought an age of peace and prosperity. The Inish and Highlands were ruled by weak men, and internal troubles had virtually ceased. Richard was devoutly faithful to the Church of Heirophant (rather than the Objectionist movement of many of his predecessors) and the Heirophant himself named him “Defender of the Faith”. But Richard appeared to be under a curse – he loved his wife, but she had born him only one daughter. Believing that without a son, the peace of Avalon would be once more torn apart on his death, Richard appealed to the Heirophant to permit him a divorce in order to beget an heir. He was refused. Stunned at what he perceived as a betrayal and desperate to save Avalon from another 200 years of war, Richard divorced his wife anyway, creating a new Avalon church with the monarch as Heirophant. He married a common woman who a year later…bore him a daughter. He divorced, married another, who had no children. And another. And another. He died with but two heirs, Margaret and Elaine.

1640 -1656 – Iron Margaret
Perhaps the cruellest monarch to sit Avalon’s throne, Margaret was a faithful believer in the Vatacine Church and the decrees of the Heirophant. She ordered both Objectionists and Traditionalists to the stake, and would tolerate no move against her rule. While rooting out supposed heretics or traitors ruthlessly, she was kept the kingdom free of civil war, and so was tolerated. At her death in 1654 she left no heir.

1654 – 1658 Civil War
Arguments over the throne soon came to blows. The Inish and Highlanders declared independence. The Montaigne built a navy for the purpose of gaining full control of their northern cousins. And Elaine appeared with the druid Derwyddon and the Grahl. Sidhe magics flowed across the lands, the Seelie Court was seen again, coming to support her. The common people, tired of blood shed, flocked to her. Some nobles resisted her, but overwhelming support for the young Queen swept them aside. By 1658 she had reunited the kingdom and was crowned at Caerleon.

Present day
Since Elaine ‘s coronation, Avalon has entered a golden and blessed age. The Sidhe have returned. Rulers who support her are firm on the Inish and Highland thrones. A new capital city, created magically by the druid Derwyddon, sprang up at the harbor of Carleon and is the Shining Star of Avalon, a place of beauty and Sidhe magic. Major cities – Caerleon (current capital, where the Queen’s main palace is found, where the parliament sits) and Luthon (trade capital, where a lot of the work of running the kingdom happens).

Things about the Sidhe
The Sidhe are POWERFUL. People who mess with them usually come out the worse for it. But those who cooperate, or are helpful in some way, may receive wonderful blessings – luck at cards, fair children, never to drown at sea etc. But there is a feeling that the Sidhe are fickle – they may treat a mortal as prey or pet, and their mood can change in the blink of an eye.

The Sidhe have three queens (The Queen of the Sky, the Lady of the Lake, and Mab, Queen of the seas). There is a rumour of a king, some sort of forest spirit, but little more is known. There are many sorts of Sidhe spirits – water horses, pooka, selkies, spriggins, among just a few.

The Unseelie – These are a separate court, refusing to pay homage to the three fey queens. They have been outcast. They are even more dangerous, unpredictable and cruel than the Sidhe – there is no bargaining with them and they never do a mortal a good turn. Legend says that the most wicked of humans are claimed by the Unseelie to be their own. Goblins and Firbolgs (giants) are among the members of the Unseelie.

The strength of the Sidhe is in water – Surrounded by water , Avalon is the centre of their power in Theah. For this reason, it is incredibly stupid to foul a stream or lake. Fishermen are also careful to return a portion of their daily catch to the sea.

Fairy hills and fairy circles are places that may ensnare mortals. Circles are linked to Bryn Bresail, allowing the Fey easy passage back to their home. Fairy hills are the abodes of the Sidhe within the mortal realm. Those who are invited to enter seldom return. As terrible as they may be, the Sidhe (or Seelie) are not deliberately malevolent. They are fascinated, enchanted by mortals, entertained by their mortality and powerlessness. This may lead to fairy pranks (shape changing someone, making them tell only the truth, giving them a HUGE fortune in gold) but these pranks, though they may seem devastating, last only the length of a single day. Come a new day, the fey magic dissolves. That said, a warrior who goes against one of the Sidhe who is turned into a tree, could then be lopped into pieces at leisure.

Weaknesses and Warnings
Your title here..Never, ever EVER try to harm a Sidhe – not only are they invulnerable to most weapons, they can step between the mortal realm and Bryn Bresail at will, and they hold deep and abiding grudges. Hurt one Sidhe, and all Sidhe know of it. Only one of the Queens can give permission for a mortal to attempt physical harm to a Sidhe.

The Sidhe CAN be outsmarted. Some magics can shield mortals from Sidhe Glamours. They are sometimes even amused to have been tricked by a mere mortal and will grant a boon or magic gift. And sometimes they are enraged, and will hunt the person down and make their life a misery. It’s 50/50.

Cold iron is deadly to the Sidhe. But it is rare, and the Sidhe actively hunt down anyone they believe to possess it, or the secret of making it. Most of the Sidhe power comes from their ability to cause Glamours ; they change their form at will, as well as the form of mortals. They can alter landmarks, make castles disappear, create feasts from air, horse from mice etc . Fey Glamour magic is never permanent however – with the next rising sun it melts away like snow.

Some things make mortals vulnerable to permanent enchantment: eating or drinking Fey food, entering a fairy circle, being struck with a Sidhe weapon, giving a Sidhe permission to cast the enchantment (And IMPORTANT, running out of DRAMA DICE).

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