Court of Stars
The Court of Stars can refer to either of two things relating to Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition; one version exists in-universe, and the other version exists as a meta-element of the setting.
In the Feywild of the World Axis, the Court of Stars refers to the informal ruling body of the fey: an anarchistic yet ritual-shrouded conclave of all the great political factions that dominate the denizens of the Feywild, under the banners of the various Archfey. Given how whimsy and emotion drives the minds of the various archfey, the Court of Stars is a complicated tangle of alliances, betrayals, deceptions, manipulations and realpolitik, with adventurers - mortals and lesser fey alike - often thrust into the fray as cat's-paws and expendable pawns.
Details on the Court of Stars and the different factions that make it up - the Summer Fey, the Green Fey, the Winter Fey, the Gloaming Fey and the Sea Lords - first appeared in the 4e version of the Manual of the Planes. A sidebar basically reiterating this knowledge would appear in "Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild", which also added the Unseelie Fey faction to the list.
The Court of Stars
Several times a year, at no set schedule, the archfey and their allies gather for a parliament and bacchanalia, merging their royal courts into one great congress. They spend the time negotiating, feasting, scheming, marrying, and betraying each other. The collected court has no true leader, but it is hosted by the archfey known as the Summer Queen. The eladrin call this assembly the Court of Stars.
Over the centuries the signatories to the Court of Stars have aligned themselves into factions. These vie for influence in the Court, which translates into arcane power and territory out in the Feywild. Most archfey and their followers count themselves as members of more than one faction, often supporting rival forces when it suits their purposes. Despite this chaotic mix of power, allegiances, ambition, and treachery, open conflict is rare in the Court of Stars. Favor is won through clever wordplay, duels using proxies, and ever-shifting schemes. Adventurers make useful cat’s-paws for eladrin nobles.
Separate from the eladrin archfey factions, the remainder of the Court of Stars is composed of attendant faeries, ambassadors from other fey races, centaur chieftains, and various interplanar hangers-on. Many creatures attending the Court have worked for decades to gain enough influence to seek an audience with the Summer Queen. Some of these attendants from other lands have gone native. They have forgotten their original missions, and they now live out their days in the wondrous, intoxicating beauty of the Feywild.
The Summer Fey
Tiandra, the Summer Queen is one of the mightiest of the archfey. With a smile, she can ripen a crop, and with a frown, summon wildfires. Noble eladrin infused with the spirit of summer count themselves as her barons. Other spirits of growth and good favor follow her banner. Her court and its followers are known as the Summer Fey.
Tiandra appears as an eladrin of great beauty, with honey-colored skin and hair that shimmers through all the colors of autumn leaves. Her eyes shine golden, like the sun. Her gaze alone can drive people mad.
The Summer Queen’s Court, in the palace of Senaliesse, is a reflection of her unearthly beauty, and the court can appear frivolous. Fairies flit at her side. Every inch of her throne room is decorated with flowers, fountains, and fine silks. This vivid and rich sensual imagery is all merely a distraction from her fierce intelligence. Tiandra is a master strategist, both in the Court intrigues and on the battlefield. She also possesses an odd, dry sense of humor and a surprising streak of pragmatism.
Tiandra has an amused fondness for mortals. She craves the unpredictability and urgency instilled by their brief life span. She commands performances by mortal playwrights and commissions poems from poets who strike her fancy. She even goes so far as to take the occasional mortal lover. These relationships have tempered in her the disdain most archfey carry for mortals. She is nominally less fickle in her dealings with mortals than most other powerful fey. The Summer Queen has granted favors to those who serve her well.
The Green Fey
Oran, the Green Lord, is the greatest of the archfey of nature. He could be mistaken for an elf, albeit one a head taller and far more muscular than any other elf in existence. Oran’s wild eyes are jet black and set in a rugged face the color of oak. His thatched hair is a mess of brambles and long braids. As a hunter and woodland warrior he is unrivaled. It is said even the god Corellon regards him with a cautious respect.
Oran is attuned to every branch and bough, every stream in every forest of the Feywild. In addition to elves who dwell in the Feywild, he has the loyalty of many treants, dryads, and satyrs. Those fey who pledge fealty to Lord Oran are known as the Green Fey.
If Oran has one weakness, it is the wild nature of his heart. He can fall sway to mood swings as violent as thunderstorms. His relationship with Tiandra, for example, is legendary. It was Oran who sculpted Tiandra’s palace of Senaliesse. Over the centuries, they have been lovers, they have been deadly rivals—and once, for two hundred years or so, they managed to be both at the same time. The fey of the Court often try to win favor by supporting one regent or the other in these times of romantic turbulence. At the present, the relationship of Oran and Tiandra is that of passionate friendship. Lord Oran is aware of his impetuous nature, and he values Tiandra’s cool intellect to temper his decisions. They often act in tandem when the Court of Stars is in session, particularly on matters of security and warfare.
Although Lord Oran is the most powerful of the Green Fey, many other perilous archfey also belong to this faction.
The Winter Fey
The fey lords who choose the path of winter—of deadly cold, biting ice, and blinding snow—are known as the Winter Fey. Although they have no true leader, the most powerful and ruthless of the lot is the Prince of Frost. When he bothers to convene his allies of the long night, his faction is known as the Winter Court.
Narrow of build, pale, and light-haired, the Prince of Frost has a smile that does not warm. He is not unnecessarily cruel, but he has not an ounce of mercy in his heart. He allies with other archfey only when facing the direst of threats. The Prince of Frost prefers to deal with his enemies quickly and viciously, with little regard for collateral damage. For some inscrutable reason, the Prince of Frost holds mortals in utter contempt. Although he appears content for now to rule his lands in the Feywild, rumors constantly circulate that he plots to freeze the entire mortal world into one long, eternal glacial age.
The Sea Lords
Merfolk and other aquatic fey collectively assemble in the Court of Coral. The fey of the rivers and oceans bow to the will of the eladrin archfey known as the Sea Lords. Elias and Siobhan Alastai are brother and sister, eladrin who only a few centuries ago achieved a level of power elevating them to the archfey. Because of their recent elevation, they are less emotionally detached than many of the archfey. They are, if not approachable, at least not as terrifying as many of the other great nobles of the Court of Stars.
Strangely, few eladrin manifest the aspect of nature related to the waters of the world, and the Sea Lords rule a council made up primarily of powerful noneladrin races native to the deep lakes and oceans.
Elias claims as his domain the shallows—the rivers, the lakes, even the shoreline reefs of the Feywild. His rulership of this domain brings him in constant contact with races who live along the strands. He considers their welfare a testimony to his mastery of the sea elements, and he is quick to aid his subjects if he senses unnatural dangers approaching. Elias is quick to laugh and loves music.
Siobhan is the more melancholy of the two. She rules the deep oceans and rarely leaves her underwater city, preferring to let Elias act as their ambassador to the Court of Stars when necessary. She considers herself the guardian of the ocean and all the deep places beneath it. Like the ocean waters she roams, Siobhan is slow to anger, but when she does, her wrath drowns entire lands. She can summon hurricanes, waterspouts, and tidal waves when her interests are threatened. Although Tiandra, Oran, and the Prince of Frost are considered the most powerful of the archfey, none of them has yet tested Siobhan at her full strength.
The Gloaming Fey
Sparked by the arcane influence within the Feywild, some archfey manifest more abstract qualities than seasons or living nature. Many are associated with dreams, darkness, stars, twilight, dusk, and other such nocturnal phenomena, and so they are collectively known as the Gloaming Fey. Although equal in power to the other courts, these archfey keep their own counsel. They are composed of a loose league, rather than a proper faction, but when the Court of Stars is in session, they band together during court intrigues.
The most well known of the Gloaming Fey is the Maiden of the Moon. She is a formidable hunter who carries a silver sword said to be able to cut through nightmares. The Maiden of the Moon wages a private war against lycanthropes and other savage killers, and she is considered benevolent toward mortals. Although she has many hunting camps in the Feywild, one in particular is a portal to her own private sanctuary on the shining moon above.
The Prince of Hearts is an eladrin archfey dedicated to the principles of beauty, gallantry, and love. One cannot be too careful around the Prince of Hearts. He has been known to grant boons to any who aid him in uniting true lovers separated by circumstance. At other times, the fire of unrequited love best suits his aspect. The Prince of Hearts sometimes meddles in the lives of mortals he believes should be in love, attempting to drive them together. If the unlucky pair dislike each other to begin with, he finds the attempt even more delightful.
A darker archfey affiliated with this faction is the Witch of Fates, a powerful oracle whose pronouncements spell doom. At the height of Cendriane’s might and glory, the Witch of Fates appeared clad in the black of mourning to speak a dreadful prophecy against the city. She seems moved to lay low the proud and powerful, but sometimes elevates virtuous people in wretched circumstances. Any folk who toil for a lost if noble cause may find in her a terrifying patron.
Fey creatures are divided into a number of factions. Though these factions claim some loyalty to their chosen archfey, there is little to bind a creature to a faction permanently.
Court of Stars: Periodically, representatives of the factions assemble in a grand conclave hosted by the Summer Queen. Each of these gatherings is partly a political or business meeting and partly a time of revelry and friendly competition.Among the factions that might be in attendance at any time are those described here.
Court of Coral: The Court of Coral encompasses the aquatic and island-dwelling fey, ruled by the Sea Lords. The Sea Lords are Elias and Siobhan Alastai, siblings who oversee the rivers and seas of the Feywild, respectively.
Gloaming Fey: The Gloaming Fey are associated with dreams, darkness, stars, twilight, and dusk. They owe allegiance to a variety of archfey, the most famous of which is the Maiden of the Moon, a formidable hunter and the bane of all lycanthropes.
Green Fey: The Green Fey are the servants of Oran the Green Lord, the loftiest of the archfey of nature. Most of the Green Fey are forest-dwelling creatures, such as hamadryads, satyrs, and elves.
Summer Fey: The Summer Fey embody the innate beauty and power of their patron, Tiandra, the Summer Queen. Of all of the archfey, Tiandra commands the largest following of Sidhe lords and other eladrin.
Winter Fey: Fey creatures bound to the icy power of winter rarely consider themselves to belong to any faction and have no true leader. The most powerful among them is the Prince of Frost, and those who follow him and similar fey lords are roughly grouped together as the Winter Fey.
Unseelie Fey: Though they have no true representative among the Court of Stars, there are fey creatures of evil, maliciousness, and corruption that are collectively known as the Unseelie fey. Many of these creatures draw power or are shaped by the power of shadow, drawn from the Feywild’s opposite counterpart, the Shadowfell.
"Court of Stars" was also used externally for the Nentir Vale setting as the title for as a series of articles in Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine that took place during the 4th edition lifespan of both magazines. The Court of Stars art of the sprawling family of articles that examined different figures of the World Axis, with its counterparts being as the Demonomicon of Iggwilv, Codex of Betrayal, Deities & Demigods and Lords of Chaos articles, this series focused on the notable denizens of the Feywild, the Archfey.
Before the sad cancellation of both magazines, the following archfey were covered:
- Dragon #374: The Prince of Frost
- Dragon #420: The Carrion King
- Dragon #420: Thrumbolg, First Lord of Mag Tureah
- Dragon #422: Hyrsam, Prince of Satyrs
- Dragon #428: Cerunnos, Horned Lord of the Wild Hunt
- Dungeon #185: Selephra, The Bramble Queen
- Dungeon #196: Baba Yaga, Mother of All Witches
- Dungeon #205: Tuxil, The Trinket Lord