The Autumn Fey - Rangers & Paladins & 1d20 Fey Artifacts

A dry wind full of warmth swept down the street, unable to find even a single stray leaf or debris to carry off. It left the pristine city as it arrived, empty-handed. A doorway sat open, and it allowed the sounds of merry feasting to spill out into the open avenue from the busy mead-hall. A few figures made their way deeper into the city, bundled tightly with cloaks and coats should the weather turn frigid. Not far from the joyous laughter and the howling winds was another noise, this one strangled and pleading.

One redcap stood guard at the entrance to the alleyway, propped up lazily against his longspear. His companion squatted over a ragged-looking elf who was curled up against the alley wall. The slim figure's jaw was shattered and the bones in both arms sat at awkward angles that wouldn't be possible without the aid of the redcap's stout truncheon. He waved the blunt weapon idly in the air before he glanced over and hissed loudly to his lounging accomplice.

"I dun think he knows what was in our cave, and he aint got a single copper on him." 

The club-wielding goblin stood and adjusted his loose skullcap before he spat at the bloodied figure sprawled on the ground. When the elf failed to respond, the irritable creature levied a kick with his solid iron boot, splintering the slim man's ribs with them. That forced out a sharp cry, which seemed to satisfy the redcap.

Glancing over his shoulder, the pikeman scoffed and abandoned his post. The pointed weapon was angled down and thrust into the hapless victim's stomach.

"Waste of time, no time to waste." Chanted the second of the malformed little fey. "Should have grabbed them both, both of them to grab," he muttered.

The elf's eyes started to fade, a gurgled death-cry slipping from his mouth. It was silenced as that pike passed through his throat, and the goblins both kneeled to inspect their handiwork. Their skullcaps were removed and dipped into the blood.

"Think we should head back, make sure none of his nosy friends are snooping around the hoard?"

"Hush, be hushings now. You hears that on the wind, the sound in the air so loud?"

"Bollocks. Let's go. Gotta get out of this blasted city 'fore someone shows up."

The pair of murderous fey made for the opposite end of the alley, their bloody footprints trailed off as they passed through an archway of brick and vanished from sight.

...

The first elf was clad in what looked to be three or four different outfits, layered upon one another. A cloak of dark crimson leaves with a drawn hood and matching facemask, beneath that a tabard of glimmering oak leaves in a golden hue. Beneath that, a leather cuirass, gloves, and jackboots, with slim metal greaves and vambraces. Beneath that, simple silk garments, light and airy. She had at least four knives in a bandolier, and six javelins hanging from leather thongs behind her left shoulder.

She was a tall waif in her mismatched garments, a poplar tree with weapons. Her gloved hand gestured at the ravine, and her voice was quiet, partially muffled by her mask.

"This way. Rocks are crushed along the path. Redcap trail."

The companion to which she spoke was much shorter and broader in stature. He wore only a leather loincloth, a few pouches on a tough leather belt, and multiple sets of eerie crimson tattoos inked into his flesh. They appeared to be stylized birds, with exaggerated wings and claws.

He followed her lead with war-axe at the ready, and the pair descended into the narrow, rocky landscape. A stream washed the bottom of the ravine, exposing white chalk. Along the edges of the water, piles of cast-off leaves sat in the shade while the trees from which they had fallen loomed over the ravine. The pair moved silently upstream, towards the huge wooden door that had been fitted into a natural cave entrance.

The axe-wielding paladin stepped towards the door and reached down to pluck free a charcoal wand from its storage pouch. A circular section of the door vanished as he smudged it with the charred stick. The waif peered over his shoulder to watch the ritual.

Her voice dripped with disappointment at what lay within the cave, once it was made visible.

"They cleared out. Must have figured the hunt was on."

His face split into a wide, toothy grin.

"Yeah, but they didn't get far. I can smell 'em. Filthy, ugly, lawbreaking little.."

He climbed through the hole he had made, followed by his more graceful counterpart. The duo hurried through the dark halls, a blind race as he broke through sturdy doors and she daintily avoided the splintered wreckage in his wake.

...

The donkey did not like being struck. He dug his hooves in against the soft soil, and neither the redcap pulling at the cord around his neck nor the redcap jamming at his hindquarters with a pike could get the beast to hurry up. Both he and the cart he pulled were stuck in place by sheer stubbornness.

"Get movin' you damn beast!" Roared the first of the redcaps, delivering a wallop to the donkey's maw that elicited a loud bray. This went on for half a minute as the pair of short, angry goblins continued to struggle against the creature.

The loud cry only ceased once the donkey noticed that one of the redcaps was running away as fast as his short legs and iron boots could carry him. A glance back at his other master revealed that the angry man had been pinned to a nearby oak by a slim javelin.

As a ranger raced down the path with one of her other javelins drawn, a shirtless paladin stepped out of the brush and approached him. He was all too happy to follow the elf once a feedbag had been pulled from the cart for him.

...

"It's going to slow us down," the ranger noted as the donkey-drawn cart came to a halt before her.

Sprawled out lazily atop the gleaming goblin treasures that had been hastily crammed in that cart, the paladin shrugged. His leisurely smile faded as the ranger dropped a pair of bloody hats and four severed ears into the cart next to him.

"What are we in a hurry for? You're not on patrol or watch until the new moon, and I'm not needed until next muster."

The donkey hardly noticed as the ranger hopped on his back, and he continued to drag his burden towards the towering pair of spiral towers that marked the Autumn court's capital city.

The two elves bickered about time and their newly acquired riches while the donkey trudged on, eating what was left of the oats in his feed bag.

fin


THE AUTUMN FEY

Fey who belong to the Autumn court are not intrinsically bound to either the Seelie or Unseelie courts; they are permitted to pledge service to either court if they desire. Likewise, they may withdraw their service according to an ancient and arcane set of bylaws. The result is that both Seelie and Unseelie fey work to entice these mercenary tricksters with incentives and political maneuvering. It also means that the territory of the Autumn court is both a neutral meeting ground for opposing fae and a dangerous place for anyone regardless of their alignment to these groups.

The chief reason for the Autumn court's lack of allegiance is that there is neither King nor Queen to rule over the court as a whole. Instead, a council of twenty-two faeries works to manipulate both sides of the eternal conflict. They take on many titles, though most common among these are Prince and Princess.

The fact that the Autumn court is governed by such a group does not mean that the Autumn Throne is empty, however. The seat of power rests in the Hall of Fading Light, in the heart of the autumnal realm. Upon the deadwood throne sits a desiccated corpse, consumed by a malevolent fungus. Any of the Council who wish to take the throne may freely do so, as the ritual merely involves conducting burial rites for the dead monarch.

Rulership over the Autumn court is fleeting. Fey that wish to take the throne often do so only for dire situations - enacting or dismantling a law, waging or calling off a war, or to order the creation of a new city in the borderlands. Still, there are two positions within the court that are static. Though the individual may change on a fleeting whim, the Paladins and the Rangers of the Autumn court are an everpresent force of law in the realm.

THE BACKBONE OF THE AUTUMNAL FORCES: THE WARDEN AND THE RANGERS

The forests of the autumn realm grow ever closer to the mundane world. There are swathes where the veil wears thin, and it is the responsibility of the Autumn Warden and his trusted scouts to patrol the feywild woods in search of trespassers, be they intentional or otherwise. Clad in a raiment of sequoia-bark armor and a tabard of orange oak leaves, these figures also serve alongside the city's paladins to maintain peace throughout the realm.

The Warden is a position available to any ranger who slays the King of the Forest: a great elk with golden fur and horns of electrum. One year after he is slain, the King will return from beyond the pale of death, ready to be slain again and anoint a new Warden with his blood.

The Warden holds one of the two honored positions within the Autumn court that is considered to be without political affiliation. It is exceptionally rare that the Warden will interject or use their lawful authority for political reasons. Sometimes referred to among the common folk as the ranger lord, the Warden is paid great respect by all natives in the feywild and by interlopers who understand the hierarchy of the fey.

THE WARDEN'S POWERS

The Warden is granted complete and unconditional command of the Autumn court's ranger forces. They are split into five 'wings' of 700. Typically, the Warden assumes command of one wing, leaving the other four to trusted lieutenants. The wings will behave differently under different Wardens, but typically they rotate duties - patrolling the forest, enforcing law throughout the realm, or riding out into the mortal world.

When a Warden claims their post they are entitled to claim an item from the Deadlight Vaults - the repository of treasures and artifacts that Autumn Fey have crafted, collected, or traded for in their dealings with other courts. A sample list of treasures can be found below.


RANGERS

Becoming a ranger of the Autumn court requires (16 - Intelligence Score, minimum 2) years of training. Once training is complete, the individual becomes a Level 1 Autumn Ranger. Further, Advance as Thief, Attacks, and Saves as Thief.

A ranger may wear any outfit and armor they desire, though all will wear a tabard of golden oak leaves when on patrol. As for weapons, rangers are well-versed with the blade, bow, and the long-spear. Furthermore, they learn how to utilize their weapons while riding their steed. Almost all rangers bring their personalized weapons with them, and it is customary for a ranger to carve themselves a new bow and wooden weapons out of the hardened deadwoods while they are in training.

Autumn Rangers gain the following abilities:

WEAPON LORE
A fey ranger is trained to recognize arms and armor. If they can study a weapon, arrow, piece of armor, etc. for one round, they can deduce without error: the creator's race, skill, crafting technique, and materials used. In addition, the ranger can detect whether the item is magical, though they may not understand what the enchantment does.

Furthermore, a ranger can read and write coded messages for one another that are traditionally notched into arrow-shafts. These messages are limited to 140 characters.

THE WILD HUNT
All Autumn rangers are trained in the art of riding steeds. Any non-hostile creature reared in the feywild will permit a fey ranger to ride it, and the Warden's stables are kept stocked with sturdy and swift elk.

Any ranger on a steed can navigate heavily forested areas at breakneck speed without difficulty. Furthermore, they can follow tracks and fire projectile weapons while riding at a full sprint as well.



THE QUEEN'S CHAMPION AND THE PALADINS

Named after the archaic and defunct practice of the Autumn Queen knighting her Champion, the Paladin Lord is the second honored position. Though the Champion commands a smaller force of roughly 1,000 paladins, these warriors are imbued with great power by their dedication to the land.

Champions hold their esteemed position until their death, or until they are unable to carry out the duties of their office. Many of these duties are the same as those required of all paladins, which are as follow.

1. Smite those who seek to harm the feywild forests or her inhabitants.
2. Escort to safety those who have wandered innocently into the feywild.
3. Apprehend wanted criminals, pursuing them beyond the borders of the feywild if necessary.

The following are duties required of the Warden, which cannot be delegated to paladins.

4. Hold trial over criminals and execute them as needed.
5. Plan wartime strategy alongside the Warden.
6. Make rulings in cases between two members of the nobility or council.

As the Autumn court is not regularly presided over by a queen, the Champion is permitted to select his replacement. Should the Champion be slain without a successor named, the council will hold an emergency meeting to select the new Champion of the Autumn Realm. When a Champion is elevated to their post they are gifted with a set of blessed mithril armor and a perfectly-honed blade of mithril, made specifically for that paladin. Furthermore, they are entitled to claim an item from the Deadlight Vaults - the repository of treasures and artifacts that Autumn Fey have crafted, collected, or traded for in their dealings with other courts. A sample list of treasures can be found below.

AUTUMN PALADINS

Known for their prowess in combat, paladins of the Autumn court require (16 - Intelligence Score, minimum 2) years of training. Only those with exceptional promise are selected, with great scrutiny paid to their alignment. Once selected and trained, an initiate becomes a Level 1 Autumn Paladin. Further, Advance as Fighter, Attacks, and Saves as Fighter.

A paladin is gifted with a mithril chain shirt at the end of their training, and it is customary for them to forge their own blade or axe during said training. While patrolling the realms, most fey will recognize a paladin by the tattoos they wear. A secret ink is used to scribe magical glyphs on the initiate's body. By the time they are fully trained, it is not uncommon for a paladin to have dozens of these markings in various colors and intensities.

Autumn Paladins gain the following abilities:

LAWBREAKER
To a paladin of the Autumn realm, all non-good and non-chaotic creatures have a distinct scent. It requires close proximity, but this form of alignment detection cannot be deceived by spells that merely alter one's aura. Lawful Evil creatures smell abhorrent and leave a lingering scent that most paladins can track for up to one mile.

Furthermore, when a paladin deals damage to a creature that has broken any of the thousand laws of the Autumn court, they may choose to roll twice as many dice while calculating damage and may declare their attack to be non-lethal.

NO PATH BARRED
By tracing a connected shape upon any solid surface with charcoal, an Autumn Paladin can open doors to and from the fey realms. They often use this ability to weave between the worlds and bypass obstacles or infiltrate areas unseen.

THE DEADLIGHT VAULTS

1. Star of Vasanta
The Star is a golden gemstone set in a necklace of fine silver. It absorbs sunlight, and when brandished it unleashes the stored light in a burst of cleansing energy.

2. Greeshma Kavacha
This mithril armor is hidden inside of a silk raiment. It is invulnerable to projectiles.

3. Varsha Incense
This crystal flask refills itself at sunrise. The liquid inside can be set alight so that it gives off a steady stream of scented smoke. It calls stormclouds that carry with them spirits both wicked and just.

4. Sharad Kapala
The Kapala is an elf skull with the eye sockets filled by rubies. Those who drink from this have their strength increased, but attract the attention of powerful, dangerous entities that even the fey have reason to fear.

5. Hemanta Grass
Though appearing to be merely a bundle of dried, dead plants, the Hemanta Grass is a living stalk that continues to grow even if deprived of water and sunlight. It can be chewed to provide energy and sustenance, as well as improving the user's reflexes and stamina.

6. Shishira Fig
This fist-sized emerald has been cut to resemble a fig. If hidden at the bottom of a travel-pack of any sort, it will hide the bag from those who might steal it. In addition, the fig attracts loose and forgotten coinage, increasing the owner's wealth.

7. Ashaya Tunir
This delicate quiver of ebony wrapped in translucent silk hums with a latent energy. Every sunset, 1d6 arrows of slim ebony materialize within. The quiver holds thirty arrows, and when full it will not create more.

8. Astra of Autumn
This Astra is a long spear made of dead wood, tipped with a cruel iron tip. A pair of long ribbons are tied near the top, seemingly made of orange leaves.

9. Astra of Summer
This Astra is an oaken shield, emblazoned with runes of antimagic. It pulses with life, encouraging growth in the wielder.

10. Astra of Winter
This Astra is a broken zweihänder. The upper half of the blade has been severed in a jagged break. Solid permafrost grows from the split in the shape of what was lost.

11. Astra of Spring
This Astra is a slim cord made from still-living flowers. It fashions itself into a noose on command, and escape from its hold is nearly impossible.

12. Astra of Monsoon
This Astra is a long wooden walking staff. When it strikes a target, they are unable to tell friend from foe.

13. Astra of Drought
This Astra is a delicate throwing knife. Wounds it inflicts take thrice as long to heal, and damage it inflicts to objects is impossible to repair through ordinary means.

14. Banner of the Ten Seasons
A massive cloth and leather banner emblazoned with the unified crests of ten different fey courts. A force led by this banner cannot have their morale broken, nor will they feel the fatigue of a forced march.

15. Banner of the Night Sky
A set of cloth pennants on a tall staff. It shatters illusions, returns summoned creatures to their original home, and nullifies other enchantments.

16. Vambrace of the Autumn Claw
A leather forearm guard with golden lacing and a paired dagger. When thrown, the dagger becomes a falcon that obeys the wielder. Beckoning with the vambrace turns the falcon back into a dagger.

17. Sunken Schynbalds
A pair of mithril shin-guards with sapphire inlay. They allow the wearer to walk on either the surface of water or on the underwater floor below. Wearing them for at least a day allows the user to breathe water as if it were air.

18. Night and Sky Hauberk
A mithril hauberk that weighs next to nothing and is entirely invisible when not exposed to direct sunlight.

19. Sniper's Sallet
A steel sallet with a slim horizontal eye-slit. When worn, it directs the owner's eyes towards weak points in both armor and cover.

20. Gem of Fey Friendship
A multicolored gem, impossible to identify. Brandishing it at crossroads, meadows, or the edge of forests allows the wielder to open a portal to any fey city or realm they desire.

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