The Counterrealm and the Fae Worlds

If you don't eat your carrots, then comes the demon from the counterrealm and takes you.
— Heard at a dinner table somewhere in Aquira.

The Fae Realms

  Fortunately for those who live on Ardu, the transformation of reality through the Fae necessitates a lot of spiritual energy in order to overcome the local reality consensus. Even casting a spell by "remembering" it into existence is a huge and taxing mental effort, which takes its toll on the wizard and limits the number of spells he can cast per day. Due to this fact, the fact that shaping the Fae is so hard, reality is left in a relatively stable state, an "energetic ground state" as wizards call it, which makes everyday life even possible. Hidden fears and desires, vivid dreams and secret curses are prevented from reforming reality by simply wishing them into existence.   At least immediately. But thoughts and wishes, ideas and concepts do not simply go away, and thousands over thousands of souls in countless generations have formed what is called the counterrealm and the fae worlds. No one knows if these realms were here before the advent of conscious thought, waiting to be shaped, or if they were created by the coming of consciousness. The closest of these worlds, hidden beind the Veil is the counterrealm. Its a place of neverwere and would-have-beens, and it is shaped by our routines, but also by our secret desires, our sins, our guilt and our secret, never-acted-upon wishes. It lies just on the other side.  

The Counterrealm

  Passing through the Veil in heavily populated places would take you to a mirrorrealm, eerily similar on the first glance, for it is made of the same places, shaped into existence by the daily experience and paradigms of those, who walk them every day on the other side. Hence the name Counterrealm.   Leaving those kind of places and traveling to the wilderness, the centuries often overlap, trees, world trees even, which have been dead for centuries or even millenia, still exist here, and even multiple versions of one place can exist, occupy the same place simultaneously, but, just like in a dream, be one thing in one moment, and another one in the next. The wizards call these multiple versions of one place "instances", and many a group of counterrealm travelers got separated, because one part of the group got stuck in one instance of a place, while the rest got stuck in another.   Nevertheless all places of the counterrealm, and their instances, still seem to be connected to the real world, anchored by it in a way that, if you pass through the veil in a certain place on Ardu, you can rely to arrive at the same place, or at least an instance of the same place, in the counterrealm each time. Therefore it is also called the "Close Realm", for this stability is something, which the other fae realms, that are shaped by more exotic concepts and abstracta, can't guarantee. Also, because to get to them, one has to pass the counterrealm first.   Beings on Ardu oftentimes do not leave a strong enough impression in The Fae to form a lasting avatar in the counterrealm. They are mere shadows, like spectres barely visibly and ever shifting by the shifting impressions they themselves and others have of them in the real world, their daily emotions too inconsistent to stabilize form. Where they follow a daily routine, idealized or demonized ghostlike versions of them may exist, doing the same stuff over and over, like for example the pious spectral shopkeeper who is just trying to sell goods, formed by the flawless impression he exudes to his customers in the real world every day, while at the same time in the back of said shop, lives a different shopkeeper, monstrous, formed by his own guilt and the rememberances of his children and wife, whom he beats every day.  



Passing the Veil

  There are basically two options to pass through the Veil, and they are both, in their own ways, potentially dangerous. Regardless, which one a would-be traveller chooses, and thus which dangers he accepts and which he forgoes, if he is not careful, the result remains the same: He becomes trapped in the Fae Realms and is doomed to scrape his "living" as a Fae Creature, a thought that is held together by a system of thoughts, and, over time, inevitably changed by the ocean of other thoughts, desires and opinions, until he becomes a true citizen of the Fae Realms, a demon.   Mind Travel / Mind Journey  
...hence it might be human arrogance which hinders us to resolve this issue. What if we adapted the word from them? What if we are just not as good as they are in handling it? Our closest word to their meaning of the word "Fae" is "Dream". But elves and gelf do not dream, do they? Or do they only "dream" when they deliberately pass through the veil? What if dreaming with elves or gelf is a deliberate choice? Journeys through the Veil to the counterrealm are dangerous, hence they might do so only when they really want to, whereas we humans still occassionally stumble over, because we cannot control ourselves so well in our sleep. We praise ourselves to be better adapted to the Fae, because we can sense it and manipulate it better. But what if, because of this, we must ask if it is not us who are better adapted to the Fae, but them?
— Excerpt from the forbidden issue of the “Monster Manual, Edition of Conscious Species”, stored in the vault of black books in the Church library in High Haven.
    The "easier" way to travel is the Mind journey, which goes by a lot of names. Wizards or Sorcerors which were trained in Towers often call it "Astral Projection", whereas Elvish or gelf druids prefer a term that must be translated as "Dreaming", a fact that has baffled many sages, because elves as well as gelfs are known to not dream like humans, but meditate in order to recover. Wolven shamans and gaeodes named it "spirit journey" and for orcs and goblins it is the "Soulwandering". And those are just the most common names.   Regardless of the name, the technic remains the same. The prospective Faerealm traveler meditates, and, once he reaches deep meditation and a state of lucid dreaming, he begins to separate his thoughts from his body by "forgetting" its earthly bonds.   This lets him pass through the Veil and arrive in the part of the counterrealm, which corresponds to the place of his body in the real world. Although it sounds arcane and even magic, this technique could theoretically be mastered by anyone, were it not so difficult and mentally taxing. Even for humans, superficially able to tap into the fae realm by dreams already, it takes several years to finally master it.   The apperance of mind travelers can be quite different from what it was in the real world, hugely depending on the picture the traveler has of himself. A wolven-dominant Halfwolven for example may appear as an especially strong and big wolven, or as a small and frail one, depending entirely on the halfwolvens acceptance of the halfwolven role as a subservient omega. Another traveller could be much older or younger than his physical self, entirely depending on his self perception. Clothes could change as can weapons, except if they are Fae artifacts, where the Fae that was infused in them keeps them in the shape they were, and, more important probably, available in the counterealm. A trait normal weapons, or other things, do not always share, especially if they are new.   The famous childrens story, "The emperors new clothes" for example tells about a king that wanted to impress the queen of the fairies, and ordered the creation of the best clothes his money could buy. Appearing on the other side of the veil, he was completely naked. Which wouldn't bother faeries, but it is a human story.   But solely learning to mind travel is a dangerous path. Mind travel leaves the body behind, and open for the possession by Fae creatures. To do this they just have to find the spot in the counterrealm at which a traveler passed through. Because the connection between the mind traveler and his body remains intact during mind travel, this spot represents a gate, through which a fae creature can cross over, possess the body and sever the remaining connection between body and travelling soul by simply waking up. With this, it cuts the traveller off from ever returning, and at the same time ensures it's dominion over it's new physical body, which immediately turns into a plaguefiend. Mind travelers have fewer options to defend against this. Just as a spirit in the real world is only partially there, so are mind travelers in the Fae realm, at least as long as their connection to their body still persists. This limits their options to manipulate the environment. Just pushing someting over in the Fae realm takes a lot of mental effort, and hitting something hurts it due to the intention much more than it does so due to the interaction, which is nonphysical anyway. Effective manipulation and defense can happen only through magical means... which means spells. If the traveler is no spellcaster though, he better owns some Fae artifacts that managed to pass through the Veil.   This makes a mind travel for non spellcasters a very bad idea.   For arcane spellcasters on the other hand, the ability to mind travel soon becomes vitally important, as it allows them to face and banish their Nemesis fiend before it is too late, and they are taken over by it. They usually have access to defensive spells or illusions, which could keep demons away from the spot where they appeared in the counterrealm, and thus prevent possession. Therefore, the mind travel meditation technic, although practised in dry runs already long before the end of an arcane spellcasters training, is only properly taught as it's last step, just before he has to face his Nemesis Fiend for the first time.   If a non-spellcaster does not want risk being possessed by creatures from the counterrealm, but want to travel anyway, he could attempt to become part of a Fae shift, which is the other way to travel through the Veil, but which comes with its own dangers. And it definitely needs an experienced spellcaster.   Fae Shift  
The most important thing to remember when doing a Fae shift, is your own identity.
— Proverb written above a doorway arch in the Tower of Eridu
  A much more elaborate technique to go through the Veil is the Fae shift, sometimes also called planar shift by some wizards. The only thing it requires is the complete dissolution of the physical form, and it's reconstruction as a Fae form in the counterrealm.   ...So... why not...?   First of all, it requires a lot of mental energy to cast this spell, and a spell it is, for it is for sure nothing natural. Most spellcasters never even come close to the kind of prowess needed to pull this stunt of. Even harder is the reverse path, the recreation of oneself as a physical being on Ardu. And this is what makes this technique so dangerous.   As a "true" fae creature, the Fae Shifter (often only called Shifter) might be equipped with all weapons he had when shifting through the Veil, and for all purposes they are now reality in the counterrealm. As is the traveler, and hence not resistant anymore against anything that lives on this side. Also not against the constant corruption of his form, which he submitted himself to by coming here.   There is no danger that a demon might find a way to the casters body, because it does not exist anymore, but the caster, or anyone who came with him, is in danger of becoming a demon himself. Without the "anchor" that his body represents, his self is threatened to change. The longer he remains in the Fae Worlds in this form, the more his self perception and thus identity becomes corrupted by the conglomerate of thoughts, opinions, desires and wishes that is the counterrealm, or by the alien concepts that make up other Fae realms, if he dared to step further. Once this change reaches his mind, such that he cannot recall properly who he was anymore, the way back is blocked. This is the reason why Fae Shifters, although they could do otherwise, watch closely to keep exactly the form they had in "reality" when they "shift", and keep it as a reminder who they really were.   Contrary to the mind journey, the Fae shifter is truly physically present in the counterrealm, and can interact with it, just as he was able to interact with the real world. He can push things, fight things, even take things, although bringing them back through the veil by shifting again could change his identity slightly, such that it makes the attempt to return harder, and there is only one try.   If the traveller, or any of his companions, fails to remember correctly who they were, the Fae Shift spell to return from the counterrealm will not work for those who failed, and they will become proper fae creatures and can only return like any other demon: By hijacking the body of another poor sod who was mind traveling, or by VERY powerful magic which was cast to save them.  

Traveling through the Fae Realms

  Traveling as, sort of, a spectral entity through the counterrealm and the Fae realms has severe boons for the travel speed of a mind traveller. First of all, the traveller cannot become tired and he can exploit this by always travelling at top speed. But beings without substance can also fly, which is what mind travelers usually decide to do in order to take direct paths. But that's about it regarding the travel speed when mind traveling. It severely enhances travel distance per day though.   Fae shifters have it harder. As physical representations, they can cover as much ground in the Fae world, as they could in the real world. They get tired and they have to make pauses. And if they couldn't fly in the real world,they can't fly here.   Some travelers to the counterrealm claim, that the distances in the counterrealm might be flexible, but that is poppycock, because the counterrealm and the real world are "isometric", as some wizards call it, which means the physical distance that has to be travelled in one world is exactly the same which has to be travelled in the other world. No exceptions. What can change is the terrain, if things are too new or had a strong psychic or emotional impact in the real world. If the mud avalanche happened yesterday, the way through the counterrealm might still be clear, yet not, if too many people witnessed and were appropriately terrified by it. If that was the case, the avalanche might even remain in the counterrealm, when it has long been cleared in the real world.   Once the traveler reaches other fae realms though, all bounds are off, and indeed what had been a short trip last time, could be a months journey today. Or the other way around. The reason?.. who knows?!?  

Traveling to other Fae realms

Passing a Link between Counterrealm and the Feywild
To travel to other fae realms that lie past the counterrealm, the traveler must first find a place in the counterrealm which is strongly connected to the concept of the Fae realm he wants to visit. The common name for those places is a "Link" or a "Gate". A link to the feywild for example could be a place where in the real world a particularly dense forest, or a worldtree exists.   This is not always directly possible, as the concept, whose realm he searches, might not be anchored stongly enough in the collective psyche of Ardu to warrant such a link. If he is looking for the realm of "cold fire", for example, he might not find a direct access through the counterrealm, if there were no places on Ardu strongly connected to this concept (like, let's say... a temple of cold fire somewhere in the Hammer of Ice for example).   But he might find one in the realm of fire, to which he then first has to travel to. It's link in the counterrealm could be the counterrealm representation of an active volcano in the real world. Once he would reach this link, he could then use one of the two technics available to pass the Veil, and thus pass over to the next Fae Realm.   Naturally this limits the options of a mind traveler. A mind traveler cannot Fae shift, but a Fae shifter can very well use the technique of mind traveling to reach the "next" fae realm. Because each realm travelled "deeper" by Fae shifting increases the difficulty of said Fae shifting, Fae shifters sometimes mind travel at the last stage of their journey, instead of adding just another layer of complexity, which could also prevent them from properly recalling themselves when they want to return home.   The technique of passing through several "links" to reach the realm of a specific concept is also called "link walking" by experienced Fae travelers.   The dangers of mind traveling remain though, even when the mind journey was started in the counterrealm or any other Fae realm further down the line. As each being in a Fae realm hungers for reality and substance, each realm tries to further its own agenda by not becoming "too far removed" from the "real" world, which is Ardu. Each Fae realm, and all its inhabitants, strive to make the counterrealm a representation of their own home, such that eventually their fae realm could replace the counterrealm, which woud give them the best shot to achieve true reality by directly overtaking mind travelers from Ardu.   A fae shifter who begins to mind travel at the afforementioned link between counterrealm and the "plane of fire", would thus be threatened to be possessed by Fae creatures of the fire realm, and turned into a fire demon in the counterrealm, while his soul remains trapped in the fire plane. And this principle carries forward with every link further "down the line".   By simple logic follows, that a mind traveler from Ardu, who travelled through afforementioned link, would directly endanger Ardu, for it is here, where his real body remains. Possessed by the Fire Fae Creature, it would turn into a plaguefiend "of fire" on Ardu, without even involving the counterrealm at all. The Fire Fae Creature just "took the shortcut" so to say.  

Inhabitants of the Fae Realms



  Well... not technically living in the counterrealm, but rather lurking, are the Demons, which is the technical term for all Fae creatures who haunt the counterrealm, regardless where they came from. As representatives of human concepts, they are not all "evil" per se, but all hungering for a way to achieve substantiality behind the veil, pass through it and reform reality on Ardu in their image, such that they may persist there eternally by common consensus. This agenda alone makes them dangerous, as they usually represent unbalanced concepts, which, taken out of context, are very harmful. Having gained conscience and identity they also have names, true ones, by which they can, allegedly, be summoned, but also common ones, by which they are known and refered too.   Some wizards have clustered the demons, into demons and devils, where demons represent the concepts that further chaos and destruction, like war and decay, whereas devils represent concepts like "order at all cost", "I only followed orders" or harmony devils that further Peace at all, even horrifying cost. Other, more clerically inclined wizards proposed systems like the "sins", and clustered them into lust demons, greed demons, rage demons, pride demons, gluttony demons etc... yet they soon ran out of sins but not out of demons to categorize. As of today no conclusive system exists.   Originally they hail from their own fae realms, which are shaped according to the concepts they represent, such that a war demon comes from a realm that reminds at an eternal battlefield, the decay demon from a maggotswarming place of death and decay, whereas the harmony devil would originate from a place where everyone is constantly smiling... or else! But they seek out the counterrealm for here they can expect chances to pass over to the real world by hijacking the body of a traveler through the entrypoint of his mind journey, or by being conjured into the body of a poor victim, by ruthless demonologists. There exists a third way, through pacts with warlocks, who, knowingly or unknowingly, further the concept of their patron, until it can pass through the veil on its own.



Mind Travel

  Resistances   1. The Mind Traveller gains resistance against all non magical damage from Fae Creatures (claws, non magical weapons, etc...)   2. All Fae creatures are resistant against non magical damage from the Mind traveller.   3. The mind Traveller gains the ability to fly   4. In order to achieve a simple physical change (open a door, push a glass) in the Counterrealm, the Mind traveller must succeed either an Intelligence(Arcana) check, a Charisma (Intimidation or Persuasion) or a Wisdom(Survival) check against 15.   5. The Mind traveler cannot perform physical tasks which would require a Strength check in the real world (lift a boulder etc...)  

Fae shift

  Fae Shift = Plane Shift   1. It is not possible to arrive at Fae Realms which are non adjacent to the realm the Fae shift was cast in.   2. Direct Planeshifting into a specific Plane is not possible, even if the caster has been there beforehand.   3. Fae Shifting, just as Mind Traveling, is only possible at a Link. The Counterrealm is linked to Ardu in all places.   3. From Ardu, the only adjacent Fae realm is the Counterrealm.   4. To travel through the Veil via a Fae shift, the traveller must either make a Wisdom (Survival) or Intelligence(Arcana) check against base difficulty 10.   5. Each day that passes after entering the Fae worlds, increases the base difficulty of the Fae Shift Wisdom(Survival) or Intelligence(Arcana) Check for 1.   6. Each realm beyond the counterrealm entered (not link passed, realms can be entered several times) increases the base difficulty of the Fae shift Wisdom(Survival) or Intelligence(Arcana) check for 2.   7. Each Fae object (object which never had a physical representation on Ardu) carried by the Fae Shift traveller increases the base difficulty of the Fae shift Wisdom(Survival) or Intelligence(Arcana) check for 2.   8. To return to Ardu, the Fae shift traveller must reside in the counterrealm. After the Fae Shift was cast, the traveller must succeed in a Wisdom(Survival) or Intelligence(Arcana) check against the actually valid base difficulty.   9. Fae Shifters stuck in a Fae realm can only repeat the necessary Wisdom(Survival) or Intelligence(Arcana) check, once they have been submitted to a Greater Restoration. The base difficulty resets to 10. A Greater Restoration can be cast as a preparation for a Fae Shift.
Dimensional plane


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