Spindrift on the Astral Sea
The realm of faerie, full of beauty—and deadly danger.1
Some eladrin sages claim that the Feywild is the dream of the natural world itself. The Feywild is in many ways indistinguishable from the natural world. However, like a dream, the Feywild is a dangerous, vibrant reflection of the familiar. The geography of the Feywild parallels that of the mortal realm, if loosely. Various mountains, rivers, and seas on the natural world are found on the Feywild. However, the distances between landmarks in the Feywild—and the landmarks themselves—are often distorted.
Mortals come to this perilous realm to tap into the arcane powers that course like unseen rivers of magic through the wild landscape. Some wish to negotiate secret knowledge from the eladrin; some battle fey who inflict their capricious cruelties on innocents in the mortal world. Others seek to plunder magic artifacts still buried in the wreckage of crystal cities abandoned by the eladrin during the war with the drow. The dizzying forests, storm-kissed seas, and cloud-sheathed granite peaks of the Feywild hold countless mysteries for those with both the courage and cunning to survive.
Reaching the Feywild
The Feywild is unique in that it is the only plane commonly reached by accident. In the wild places of the world fey crossings—points where the barrier between the Feywild and the mortal world is thin—lie sleeping in hidden glades or brood under mistwreathed hills. More than a few mortals have strayed into fey crossings on the wrong day of the year or at the wrong moment of the day only to find themselves stranded in the world of the fey.
Over the centuries, the eladrin (and others) improved many naturally occurring fey crossings to create a number of reliable portals between the Feywild and the world. Such portals are marked by ancient standing stones, knee-high obelisks covered in ancient runes, groves of trees planted in a deliberate arrangement, or even circles of toadstools. Some fey crossings are as small as a single narrow archway between two menhirs, and others are sylvan glades the size of cities. Many of these sites have been abandoned. Their magic only slumbers deeply, waking when conditions are right or when ancient elven words of passage coax them to life.
Fey crossings can normally be activated one of two ways: a key phrase coded to that particular crossing point or the use of the Fey Passage ritual. As befits their connection to such a wild plane, some portals activate randomly or when certain specific conditions are met, such as when the right lunar phase occurs or the sun hits a certain angle through just the right trees. When a fey crossing activates through random or through rare but normal occurrences, creatures often pass through these open portals without even noticing the transition to the Feywild. A few fey crossings remain permanently open. These occur in the deepest forests of the world, places where the mortal world and the Feywild achieve the greatest harmonic convergence.
Fey crossings in the mortal world are surrounded in local legends. Old stories warn that encounters with fey are fraught with peril. People who wander into the Feywild return changed, and some never return at all. For alert adventurers, such tales are clues to a long-lost passage to the wondrous, savage world of the fey. A forest with a reputation for locals disappearing in it may indeed be home to savage beasts—or perhaps folks who walk between two twin trees atop a hill deep in the woods at moonrise leave one world for the next.
The second method of travel across to the Feywild is through a worldfall. Worldfall occurs when the ebb and flow of planar energy allows a huge tract of land from one plane to shift to the other. Eladrin cities often “ride” worldfalls, suddenly appearing in the mortal world in a flash of sunlight and scattered flowers. To travel to the Feywild, all a traveler need do is enter the gates of such an eladrin city while it rests in the mortal plane and then wait within until the city returns to the Feywild. Each worldfall is different. An eladrin city may appear regular as clockwork or once a century. The city of Shinaelestra shifts into the world every midnight, replacing a glade deep in the Howling Forest, then shifts back to the Feywild just before dawn. The towers of Astrazalian remain on the hillsides of a fair green island all spring and summer, fading into the Feywild with the coming of autumn and winter.
In the early days of the Feywild, wild magic swirled through the primal forest, giving birth to countless beasts that were more an extension of nature than inhabitants of it. Some deities found the bright splendor of the place more fitting for their creations, and so fantastic variants of mortal creatures were turned loose under the eternal green shade. Few truly dumb beasts reside in the Plane of Faerie. Most creatures are gifted with some sliver of intelligence, even if nothing more than a malign cunning.
The intelligent races do their best to bend the Feywild to their will. The main rivals attempting to rule the Feywild are the eladrin in their shining cities and the fomorians in their subterranean fortresses. Other races lurk at the edges of the conflict, and the unpredictable character of the fey keeps the balance of power fluid. When dealing with politics in the Plane of Faerie, only one thing is certain: Half of what seems to be true isn’t.
The most powerful of fey spirits are godlike avatars of their chosen aspect of nature. Some are noble eladrin so old and powerful that they have transcended the bounds of mortality, such as Tiandra, the Summer Queen, or Mab, the Winter Queen. Some are the awakened spirits of mighty forests, mountains, or rivers, such as the Green Lord Oran or Scamander, the guardian spirit of the river of the same name. Others are the sentient incarnations of different types of animals, such as the Cat Lord or the Monkey King. A few archfey are fey of other races who have achieved great age and power—for example, the hag Baba Yaga or the satyr prince Hyrsam. Few of these beings are as strong as a deity or even a demon lord, but within their own demesnes, few other entities could hope to best them.
Archfey range from kindly to malicious and from compassionate to uncaring. Most are perilous for mortals to deal with, but others find mortal heroes fascinating and sometimes favor them with gifts of power or knowledge. In general, the archfey are absorbed in their own rivalries, intrigues, and old enmities. They work at cross-purposes with each other, although the most powerful archfey govern factions of like-minded fey.
taken from the Dungeon Magazine article located here: http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ex/20081208