Monday, 22 March 2010
In my fantasy roleplaying campaigns, I've always preferred to lump together goblins, kobolds, knockers, redcaps, gnomes, sprites, ogres, griggans and what-not into a delicious dish of Faery Surprise, rather than treating them as distinct species.
That means that, gross physical differences aside, a sprite and an ogre are fundamentally the same, inasmuch as they're both faeries... though if you're going to be seduced by a faery and end up having a half-faery baby, it's probably going to be more pleasant to recall if you're seduced by the sprite rather than the ogre.
In my campaigns, faeries come in an infinite range of sizes and shapes. Some are inherently magical, others have minimal magical ability. Faery "races" are merely a human attempt at categorization of those forms that tend to repeat; for example, if a human were to see a beautiful little gossamer-winged woman flitting about above a meadow, that human would probably think "Aha! A sylph!", whereas a huge, tusked, muscle-bound humanoid might be identified as an ogre because of the way it keeps whacking you with its club and trying to boil you for dinner in a great big cauldron.
To faeries, both of these forms are just faeries. To a faery, saying "sylph" or "ogre" is like us referring to somebody by their ethnic background — there may be certain stereotypical assumptions implicit in the description, but they're not necessarily accurate, any more than a brain-damaged KKK enthusiast's prejudices are likely to be accurate. A sprite might sneer at an ogre because it's big, clumsy, smelly, and can't do magic for toffee. The ogre might sneer right back at the sprite's tiny, fragile form and effete fashion sense... but it might be crying inside, wounded to the heart by the sprite's cruel jibes. Then it might go off and take it out on something that isn't likely to turn it into a wart-hog, such as a human farmer. Maybe ogres are just acting out. maybe all that smashing and boiling is just a cry for help.
Just because they're all faeries together, that doesn't mean that there aren't hierarchies involved. Most faeries are snooty little bastards, when it comes right down to it. And for the most part, they don't care about us humans one whit.