While the Seelie Court celebrates the turning of the seasons, the Unseelie Court chooses the phases of the Moon as the focus of its merry-making. Much more comfortable with the shadows of the night, they feel a special kinship with the cold and harsh lunar mistress. These celebrations are sometimes a parody of the pomp and elegance of the Seelie Court, sometimes homage to their own twisted states of being, and at all times a chance to enjoy the misery of unfortunate "honored guests."
Festival of the Blood Moon
|Circe, John William
When the unfortunate fey formed their own court, they took the traditions of the Seelie Court and twisted them to fit a more macabre sense of self. Hence the Festival of the Blood Moon, a version of the Seelie's Fall Equinox festival, has been celebrated nearly as long as the Fall Equinox itself.
Like its Seelie counterpart, the Festival of the Blood Moon centers on a grand hunt, presided over by the Master or Mistress of the Hunt. This person, appointed by the queen from among the most skillful Dark Hunters (see next month's article), is responsible for choosing the quarry. Generally, it is a humanoid from another realm who has been first tortured to the point of insanity, then enhanced with camouflage, quickness, and other spells to make it difficult to catch. Preparations for the festival require many weeks, as members of the Unseelie Court who wish to increase their standing seek suitable prey to offer to the Mistress of the Hunt. If their prey is chosen and provides a particularly stimulating hunt, they may even receive a small gift from the queen herself.
The Unseelie Court holds this seven-day gala beneath the oldest tree in the forest. The dark fey cast numerous magical spells (many Evil) upon this tree, and at the end of the gala the tree is chopped down and burned in a huge bonfire. The remaining charcoal fuses into a solid disc the size of a fist. Upon command, the lump of charred wood becomes a forcecage. The winner of the hunt receives the cage, which, the spells having rendered the wood nearly invincible and invisible, can be used to catch all kinds of creatures unaware.
Blood Moon Forcecage: This lump of charcoal transforms into an immobile cubical prison (per the forcecage spell) when the correct command is uttered. The cage can take either shape described by the spell; the utterer of the command word determines the shape when activating the blood moon forcecage. This item can be used only once.
Caster Level: 13th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, forcecage; Market Price: 33,350 gp; Weight: --.
Ceremony of the Dark Moon
The Ceremony of the Dark Moon is held every four hundred and thirteenth year. The 41-day event is the most highly regarded by the Unseelie Court, for during this time two important astrological phenomenon occur simultaneously.
First, the comet Sharani Kel appears. Its orbit brings it close enough to be seen in both the day and night sky for forty days. Lying low on the horizon, its trailing asteroids and galactic dust create the effect of a red claw ripping a gash in the fabric of the universe.
During this event, the fey druids offer sacrifices of rare creatures, one for each of the elements (fire, water, earth and air) each day, thanking the deities for the fey's long life and health. The ceremony takes place at the ruins in the center of a large crater. The fey believe that the crater, caused by a bolt from the sky that destroyed the stone dwellings of an ancient religious order that had fallen into apostasy, was a warning from the deities against forgetting who granted the fey their powers. Each member of the fey is expected to bring a memento that is valuable to him or her, and cast it into the fire at the center of the ruins.
On the last day of the ceremony, the moon travels in front of the sun, causing the land to grow dark around midday for about an hour. During this time, parents bring their offspring to be blessed by the chief druid. As faerie births are rare, even among the less discriminating fey of the Unseelie Court, there are generally no more than seven children brought forward. Each child receives a small vial of blackest night on a leather cord. This vial, when opened, causes the land to darken while still allowing the wearer sight.
Vial of Blackest Night: Once per day, speaking a command word causes this vial to activate a deeper darkness effect that functions per the spell, except the vial has no effect upon its holder's vision. Only one person at a time can hold a vial and gain the benefits of seeing through the spell. The vial does not grant the ability to see through other deeper darkness spells.
Caster Level: 5th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, darkvision, deeper darkness; Market Price: 5,000 gp; Weight: --.
Festival of the Waning Moon
Gaining sustenance mainly from the fruit of the land, the Unseelie Court places vital importance on the success of the crops each year. Indeed, the popularity of the queen among her people and her ability to rule effectively are directly related to the harvest.
The Festival of the Waning Moon takes place at winter solstice. Held amidst the barren branches of the Queen's Orchard, the gala involves five days of feasting and gift-giving. Each member of the court brings gifts to the queen in keeping with his or her material success during the last eleven months. As all fey wish to be respected by their peers, as well as seek to make their rivals look bad, gift values can far outweigh any gains during the year. In addition, expensive, rare or extremely elegant and fragile gifts are given to friends and acquaintances, all in efforts to increase in standing within the court.
On the last day of the gala, the shortest day of the year, the queen walks to the center of the grove. There she pricks her forefinger with a dagger. Nine drops of blood fall to the ground; the queen is thought to be replenishing the health of the soil with her own life force. If the crop for the next year is good, then the life force of the queen is strong. If not. . . .
Next, the queen is given five small stones, upon each of which she smears a drop of blood. She places these briar blood stones into a small pouch and gives it to the fey whose gift most delighted her. To be used during times of pursuit, each stone can cause a wall of stone briars 10 feet thick to block the way, effectively keeping people either out or in.
Briar Blood Stone: Throwing down the stone causes a wall of thorns to spring up per the spell.
Caster Level: 9th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, wall of thorns; Market Price: 2,250 gp (per stone); Weight: --.
The New Moon Celebration
The New Moon Celebration occurs during the week of the first new moon of summer. This seven-day carnival of games, feasts and hunts takes place around the Ellaurial Lake, a mountain lake of glacial depths. The moon's reflection across the water causes the surrounding shore to glow an icy blue.
Each night, small boats built and decorated with flowers, feathers, rich cloth and glowing globes of light, sail across the lake for the amusement of the court. The Master of the Masquerade bestows prizes nightly to the sailors of the boats that gain the most accolades from shore watchers.
In the middle of the week, a masquerade ball is held on floating pavilions in the center of the lake. Fey use special potions or spells that enable them to become creatures of great oddity. Some more daring fey even create potions that turn them into creatures that have never existed or combine many features from a variety of animals and plants. The queen awards a pendant of true sight for her favorite costume. This pendant allows the wearer to see through any disguise, charms, and spells to perceive the true nature of others. It lasts until the next New Moon Celebration, at which time it loses its special abilities and reverts back to a sliver, leaf-shaped pendant carved from jade.
Pendant of True Sight: Upon speaking a command word, the wearer of this necklace can see as though affected by a true seeing spell. Each pendant has 10 uses before it becomes a pretty but nonmagical gem worth 1,000 gp.
Caster Level: 9th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, true seeing; Market Price: 11,500 gp; Weight: --.
About the Authors
Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrelis an editor for Wizards of the Coast's Roleplaying Games R&D department. Recent credits include editing Faiths and Pantheons, Oriental Adventures, and Magic of Faerûn, and designing part of the Book 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.