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Fey were creatures from the Feywild, a parallel plane to the Prime. Many were typified as having supernatural abilities and a connection to nature or to some other force or place. The language of the fey was called Sylvan. Fae, or faeries, as many liked to be called, were creatures of any size, shape, texture, or smell, that exemplified and inhabited natural wonder. They went by many names, like "Green Folk", "Fair Folk", "People of Peace", sometimes "Wee folk".
There were many unsubstantiated legends about fey on Toril, especially in the forested areas of the Dalelands, and the like. Faeries, in good and friendly lands, with warm lush forests and babbling brooks, were said to be short friendly folk, with a twinkle in their eye, pronouncing wealth and good luck on those deserving, who often happened to be the mortals who found them. In other places, blasted lands and choking swamps, fey were seen to be mad redcaps, devouring infants, corrupting youth, and bringing bad luck to any in whom they happened to take interest. The truly uninformed would see the elves, dwarves, gnomes, and even goblins as a form of fey.
As with any legend, there was a taste of truth within. Many fairies were tiny, and many of the legends about fey were quite true. Many fey, pixies, for example, could only be seen by those to whom they choose to reveal themselves, though powerful wizards could often make them out. Elves and fey were united by common belief, by their connection to natural purity, and for the fey, this was enough to create a connection of appearance. Gnomes enjoyed making light of supposedly serious things, and this united them with fey as well, though only in attitude. Fey and goblins might be connected more closely, by age-old blood lines, but this was conjecture.
As for whether fairies desired weal and woe, both were the case. Fey were creatures connected closely to nature, and just as rain from clouds saved farmers and troubled travelers, so did fey help some and injure others. Fey were a people of many different alignments and interests, like humans were, and just as most of humans, dwarves, and elves concern themselves little with the fair folk, so the fair folk, by and large, concern themselves very little with the mortal races.
The darkest and most powerful legend about fey went back eons, to the creator races. Some sages claimed that fey creatures known as the leShay were one of the four, possibly five, creator races. Others passed this off as pure nonsense. Going to the source, asking ancient fairies, proved only to be a headache, alas, as none seemed interested in providing a straight answer.
It was said that to protect oneself from fey one should carry iron, wear the color red, turn their clothing inside out, or be near running water. Iron was said to be detrimental to the skin of faeries, the color red and inside-out clothing a sort of camouflage because the Fair folk couldn't see it, and running water a source for disrupting magic spells or bad luck.
Species of Fey
There were many different species of fey, and connections between them could be hard to identify, other than being natives of the Feywild. A few common threads could be drawn between certain smaller groups, however, while some were simply impossible to classify.
Some fey were strongly bound or associated with specific natural locations such as water bodies, landmarks, or other geographical features. These included dryads, hamadryads, nymphs, naiads, nereids, oreads, and fossergrim.
One group of fey was confusingly called sprites despite this being a specific name- for one of its included members. All of the "sprites" were small, mostly humanoid fey, most with a few insect-like attributes (such as wings). Besides the classical sprite for which the group was named, there were the pixies, grigs, atomies, and nixies. The winterling, despite also being small and winged, was not included.
Of course, many fey could not be classified into any larger group beyond being related to either nature or emotion. These included:
- Blink dog
- Faerie fiddler
- Frostwind virago
- Hoary hunter
- Leanan sidhe
- Lunar ravager
- Ruin chanter
- Verdant prince
- Yeth hound
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Brian R. James (June 2009). “Realmslore: Sarifal”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #376 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 59–65.
- Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786966011.