The Feywild is commonly thought to be a reflection of the natural world. If this is true, some skeptical sages point out, then what parallel is there in the world for the mad fomorian tyrants in the Feywild? These kings and queens rule their kingdoms in the Underdark of the Feywild -- or the Feydark -- with an iron fist. Their madness is legendary, and few rulers of the Underdark can claim the level of power that these deformed creatures possess in the Feydark.
Fomorian monarchs rule their dominions mercilessly and cruelly, their tyranny fueled in part by typical fomorian madness. Among some fomorian rulers, this insanity manifests constantly, and their kingdoms are places of chaos and violence. Among others, their madness manifests in a more calculated form, allowing for rational thought, although this doesn't diminish their lust for power. All fomorian rulers, regardless of how insane, have one trait in common: extreme paranoia. For all their physical and magical might, they constantly fear rebellion from within, as well as conquest from without.Fomorian Rule
Wielding absolute power within their kingdoms, fomorians rule their Feydark territories through fear and oppression, and few dare to challenge a fomorian's grip on a kingdom. The unique madness of each ruler means no two courts are the same. One court, that of King Borunnor, for example, embodies the enigma of fomorian rulers. One week, he might seem merciful, granting pardons and sending emissaries of peace to neighboring kingdoms. But the week following, in a mercurial shift of temperament, he is just as likely to begin an inquisition to root out traitors, slaughtering pardoned souls and triggering sleeper agents among his ambassadors. Another king might revel in blood sports and hold grand tournaments between selected champions, as well as command the public -- and graphic -- executions of political enemies and conspirators, both real and imagined.
To an outsider, chaos seems to reign in fomorian kingdoms, but there is a method to their madness. The paranoia that besets fomorian rulers is one of the prime reasons that they manage to retain their power, because their constant fear is infectious. Their subjects tend to be suspicious and are likely to turn on one another if given an opportunity, for a fomorian tyrant shows favoritism to those fey who succeed in their ruler's plots and are willing to betray their fellows to do so. Fomorian tyrants are notorious for using their spies to stir up trouble within their own governments to try to expose traitors, and many of those accused, interrogated, and publicly executed are often just courtiers who failed to plan well enough for the onset of their ruler's latest mad investigations.
Each fomorian tyrant has an extensive spy network. The most elite of their spies are the Dark Hands, fey spies and assassins that act as a tyrant's secret police. Many Dark Hands are quicklings, dryads, or members of other fey races that are skilled at stealth or deception. These spies allow a fomorian tyrant to see much that happens within a kingdom, so the tyrant relies on them but does not necessarily trust them. Due to their constant fear of insurrection, fomorian tyrants keep few allies other than their loyal cyclops bodyguards, the only other creatures a fomorian will trust. Few other servants keep their positions for long before they are moved to a new one or are relieved of duty permanently.
Not every fomorian rules a kingdom. Those fomorians who lack this power hunger for it -- a trait that fuels the fears of the leadership. Such fomorians often seek service under a fomorian king or queen and then constantly scheme to usurp power. Still other fomorians seek advancement by overthrowing a power base in the Feywild -- perhaps an eladrin city or a gnome warren -- and claiming its magic and riches as their own.
A fomorian tyrant's spy network doesn't keep tabs on internal threats only. Fomorians plot against each other constantly, which is one of the main reasons they see traitors lurking in every shadow. A fomorian knows that his or her constant scheming is not unique among fomorians, that his or her lust for power is equaled by other fomorian rulers', who are doing whatever they can to undermine one another's authority. They have sent their agents across the Feydark and the surface of the Feywild, seeking chinks in the armor of neighboring fomorian kingdoms.
The natural suspicion of a fomorian tyrant's subjects serves a kingdom well when preventing incursions from external enemies. Untrustworthy of any creature they do not recognize, the tyrant's subjects are quick to report newcomers to the Dark Hands. A tyrant's subjects and spies keep an especially watchful eye on the drow, who commonly establish outposts or enclaves within the Feydark, and the hated eladrin (see "Fomorians and the Eladrin" below). But really, any race with a chance to accumulate power in the Feywild, especially magical power, is likely to gain the attention of a fomorian tyrant's wandering eye. And woe to them, for fomorians are tenacious in their madness, and usually nothing short of death will stop them from pursuing a goal.Entertainment
Fomorian kingdoms are filled with blood sports. Gladiatorial combat is common and usually involves captured creatures from the world as well as eladrin, other denizens of the Feywild, and supposed traitors to the crown. Sometimes these games go on for days of gory pageantry. Whether held in massive arenas built of crystal or staged as races through city streets and surrounding caverns, each contest is either to the death or, sometimes, until mutilation.
In the latter case, two opponents are given nonlethal but brutal weapons, such as lashes or staffs that emit a magical, low-damage dose of painful electricity or necrotic damage. Other times, contestants are put through a grueling series of tests. Sometimes these are public inquisitions presided over by a master torturer, and sometimes the contestants are made to compete at trivial games, with the loser being punished by the loss of a finger or possibly a nose or an ear. Some games continue until one competitor confesses to some crime, whether or not it was committed, and begs for death. The winner -- almost certainly deformed in some way -- is usually never seen again.
What happens to the winners? Those who show a penchant for surviving the deadly games of a fomorian kingdom often find themselves in a worse situation. Fomorians, perhaps because of their own disfigurements, often pursue bizarre breeding programs, trying to magically combine the fiercest creatures in the hope of creating new forces for their blood sports and armies. Those who find the most success in the gladiatorial arenas often find themselves subjected to these breeding experiments, which usually result in their minds and bodies being twisted beyond sanity. Most of these experiments go nowhere, but some result in new toys for fomorian tyrants: deadly new creatures that serve them in all manner of twisted endeavors.The Court
A fomorian tyrant's court consists of a variety of creatures. The most common, and the roles they often assume in these bizarre hierarchies, are described below.Cyclopses
: Perhaps the creatures most instrumental in ensuring a fomorian's rule -- other than the fomorian -- are cyclopses. These one-eyed giants serve their fomorian masters unquestioningly and without hesitation. They worship their fomorian masters as gods, a belief that fomorians foster through their practice of powerful magic. No one is certain why cyclopses view their masters in this manner, and many sages debate the behavior endlessly. Cyclopses act as a fomorian's valued lieutenants, spymasters (though they rarely take to the field themselves as spies), field generals, and bodyguards, and the number of cyclopses a fomorian ruler commands serves almost as a measure of the ruler's power in the Feydark. The eladrin, among others, believe that if they could unravel the secret of the cyclopses' blind obedience, they could sever the tie between fomorians and cyclopses and weaken all fomorian kingdoms permanently.
Most cyclopses are gifted in some sort of craft. Some show a knack for creating ornate suits of magic armor or magic weapons, and fomorians value any creature that can increase their store of magic.Quicklings
: Nimble and deadly, quicklings are the most numerous fey among the Dark Hands. They form squads of spies, assassins, and saboteurs and are frequently partnered with dryads, lamias, and hags on reconnaissance missions sent to infiltrate eladrin and other settlements on the Feywild's surface.Dryads
: It seems unlikely that these creatures -- tied so strongly to their trees on the surface -- would ever serve a fomorian. But it is precisely because of the dryads' ties to the surface that fomorians value their service; dryads' knowledge of eladrin communities is considered invaluable. After quicklings, dryads form the second largest contingent of fey among the Dark Hands, and briar witch dryads frequently command large groups of spies and assassins.Goblins
: Some goblin kingdoms populate the dark reaches of certain Feywild forests. Fomorians do not restrict their activities to their own plane, and when they do turn their gaze to the world, goblins are often their proxies. Only a few goblins serve within the dark, crystalline realms of the fomorians, usually as ambassadors from their own kingdoms on the surface.Magic
Because of how massive and brutish-looking fomorians are, many of their enemies assume that fomorians will attack only with the massive weapons they carry. While all fomorians enjoy the feel of their enemies' blood splashing against their skin, they are an inherently magical race of tremendous intelligence. Each fomorian possesses an evil eye that gives it a potent magical ability -- as well as the potent curse that is the source of a fomorian's madness.
Fomorian rulers employ some of the best magical artisans in the Feywild, some willing and some not. The cyclops armorsmiths and weaponsmiths in fomorian employ are legendary in the Feydark, although many a fomorian has enslaved members of other races. Captured dwarves are especially prized, as are enslaved shadar-kai from the Shadowfell. Fomorians value magic as highly as dragons, some say, and many adventurers and brave merchants have offered powerful magic items to gain audience with a fomorian ruler or to secure safe passage through a fomorian kingdom.
The struggle for power through the acquisition of new magic has led to some of the fiercest struggles between fomorians and the eladrin. The eladrin take to magic like a dryad to a forest and constantly develop new spells, rituals, and magic items of all sorts. Conquering one of the last bastions of eladrin power in the world ranks high on every fomorian ruler's list of desires, and they betray and compete against each other for the right to seize each eladrin city they discover. This competition among fomorians is likely what has allowed the eladrin to survive against such hostile odds in the increasingly dangerous Feywild.Fomorians and the Eladrin
Fomorians see enemies everywhere. Their spy networks are vast, and the conspiracies they sow endless. Other than fellow fomorians, few groups in the Feywild irk fomorians more than the eladrin. In contrast to the eladrin empires of old, which sought peace and stability in the Feywild, fomorians have always sought to spread tyranny and conflict. The two races' opposing goals have destined them for conflict.
The eladrin seek harmony with the natural world, while fomorians seek to bring everything they see under their malformed thumbs. With eladrin civilization now splintered into city-states, the eladrin seem more vulnerable than ever before, and fomorians covet their powerful magic. To a fomorian -- king, queen, or ambitious upstart -- an eladrin city looks like a treasure trove waiting to be plundered. Most of the creatures will stop at nothing to crack open these vaults and strip them bare. Glorious eladrin cities fall each year to fomorian forces, their beautiful spires crushed to rubble and their vaults pillaged of powerful magic items.
Of all the varied races of the Feywild, fomorians are perhaps some of the least understood. Utterly mad but possessed of nearly unrivaled power, they rule -- or seek to rule -- with unmatched avarice and ambition. Few can get close enough to the fomorians to fully understand their paranoid and magical ways. But if eladrin scholars can agree on anything, it is this: fomorians are a threat. Wielders of immense power, fomorians always crave more, and the threat they represent is not restricted to the Feywild. Who knows what they could do if given unrestricted access to a portal to the world . . . if this hasn't happened already.