The realm of the Feywild (which many Eladrin refer to as “The Homeland”) is a foresty/wild reflection of the material world, in much the same way that the Shadowfell is a dark/creepy reflection.
From the Manual of the Planes:
The Feywild (sometimes known as the Plane of Faerie) is a verdant, wild twin of the mortal realm. Towering forests sprawl for a thousand leagues. Perfect amber prairies roll between pristine mountain peaks soaring into the flawless clouds. Emerald, turquoise, and jade green seas crash along endless beaches. The skies are a perfect blue not seen in the mortal world—until storms come, coaldark thunderheads boiling with fierce winds and torrential rains. In this world, arcane power thrums through every tree and rock. All existence is magical. The creatures native to the Feywild—the enigmatic eladrin, the vicious hags, the wild dryads, and the tyrannical fomorians—are all charged with the mystic energy of this plane. Some are blessed by it,
and some are warped. Like the land around them, the fey who inhabit this plane run to extremes. Good fey are noble and just, protectors of the natural world and those mortals they choose to show favor to. Evil fey are dark instinct unleashed, all blood and claw and rage. The creatures of the Feywild can be kind, cruel, noble, monstrous, and savage—often all at the same time.
The Feywild is the birthplace of most fairies, home to the Fairy Courts, the ancestral homeland of the Eladrin, and a pilgrimage site for druids. Of course, it’s not all fun and games in the Feywild. Any natural threat that you might see in the “real” world mixes with nightmares and imaginations to create whatever you’d run into in the Feywild (think Octo-Shark vs. Mega-Tarantula). See, the Feywild is not just a nature-based reflection of the material world… it’s also influenced by the dreams, magics, hopes, and passions of the material world. In some places it is what remains of great things that were forgotten. And remember, it’s not only mortals that have dreams and hopes. The dreams of gods and dragons and demons also have had their effect on the Feywild.
If you are not a creature native to the feywild (i.e., with the “Fey” origin type), staying there too long can also change you in some ways. Your dreams will be maddeningly full of chaos. Your perception of things like trees and grass and dirt may alter, so that you imagine all those things are looking at you in the real world. Of course, magic works a little easier/better in much of the Feywild, too, which is why any Elven or Eladrin wizarding school (like the Thellas Magirium near Altair) will have at least a portion of its campus in the Feywild.
Travel to the Feywild is not an easy proposition in most cases. It gets easier the closer you get to a place that has a Feywild reflection. For instance, most forests have feywild reflections. A stage where passionate songs have roused audiences to tears probably has a feywild reflection. A dark hollow where children fear to tread probably also has a presence in the Feywild. A city with stone-worked streets and iron forges does not. (Incidentally, there is no mention in any history or accounting of the Feywild that mentions a dwarven presence there). Occasionally there will be portals or areas where the veil between the worlds is thin (often called “Fey Crossings”). Timing can play a role, too. The full moon or the night of the winter solstice might be times when it’s easier to pass into the Feywild at certain points.
Of course, getting there (which may or may not require the Fey Passage ritual or some magical border-crossing device) is only half the trouble. Geography in the Feywild is different than in the material world. Two spots that are 50 ft apart in the Material world may lead to portions of the Feywild that are separated by miles. And because dreams and imagination have such an effect on the Feywild, it’s kind of impossible to create anything resembling a reliable map (though that’s kind of the Holy Grail for the Waterdeep Cartographer’s society. They’re currently trying to come up with a 3-dimensional magical model that rotates and shifts with the changes… but they’ve had very limited success. Though their efforts are constantly journalled in Cartographer’s Quarterly.).
Much like travel through the Shadowfell, taking quick jumps from one point to another in the material world using the feywild as an in-between can occasionally be hazardous. There are… things there that may never let go if they catch you. So be careful.
Once you get to the Feywild, you’ll probably want to pay attention to the folks in charge there. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely very clear. The Archfey are the most powerful creatures there, most of the time. But there are also gods and primordials that have followers there, and whose realms may be connected to the Feywild. Also, there are many Eladrin who are arranged as Sidhe Lords (pronounced “shee”), who are a sort of royalty in the Feywild. At the very least, while you’re there, you should align yourself with someone of some power.
As far as anyone knows, the Feywild has always been there, though it used to be much different. Ancient legends say that when Qu’ell Thellas, the elvish progenitors, split into three races, Lolth (Spider goddess of chaos) took the insane Drow into the Underdark, Corellan (god of archers and king of the elves) kept the Elven warriors in the material world to fight the orcish threat, and Sehanine (goddess of the moon and songs) took the Eladrin to the Feywild. The Eladrin quickly set themselves up as the Lords of that realm, building massive cities with their mighty magics and governing the other denizens of the realm in what they felt was a fair and just manner. It was probably around that time that the borders between the Prime Material world and the Feywild actually solidified. Prior to that, according to the oldest songs, any forest existed in both realms simultaneously, and great World Trees stood as symbols of life for all realms. Those days are over now, obviously.
The greatest of these cities was Myth Drannor, whose magic was so great that it existed simultaneously in both the Feywild and the Material World. However, when the Great Cataclysm toppled the empires of Bael Turoth and Arkhosia, the echoes of that tragedy rippled through the Feywild, causing Myth Drannor to fall and toppling the Eladrin’s hold on the realm. Since then, any other massive event in the material world (the arrival of Dragon Mountain, the disappearance of the Great Ionian Army, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, etc.) have had much bigger impacts on the Feywild than they previously might have. Certain areas of the Material World are now so messed up from a thaumaturgical/emotomantic point of view (like the Wild Magic zones in “The Maze” west of the Sea of Cataclysm) that their Feywild counterparts are avoided by even the scariest of Feywild beasts. If a nightmare dragon is afraid of a place, you can be damned sure I’M not going there any time soon.
Unfortunately, this has taken a huge toll on the Eladrin. See the Eladrin Racial Secrets section for more on just how bad they have it these days.
Places of Note
Astrazalian, The Starlight City: Once, this Eladrin city existed simultaneously in both the Great Pine Woods and the Feywild. Then, when the Great Cataclysm happened, they were in a lot of trouble. They reached out to the Winter Court for help, and Queen Mab was all too happy to answer. Her mists encircled the city, removing its ties to the Prime Material plane, and encircling it in winter. Now the city sits on the edge of the Frozen Lands in the Feywild, and its eladrin knights fight off any intruders who would seek to attack Queen Mab herself.
The Copse: This place, burried deep within the densest of forests, is a site where treant elders of every tree species gather to discuss matters of import. It is rare for outsiders to be invited in (or even for outsiders to find this place), but those that do find there way there are often bored to tears by the impossible pace at which treants conduct their business.
Court of Stars: One of several courts that some of the Archfeyh call home, this one focuses on the night sky, and is said to occasionally include dealings and discussions with star deities from the Far Realms, as well as the moon goddess Sehanine’s servants. It is also said that there is an Archfey who represents each of the constellations.
Feydark: The Feywild’s equivalent of the Underdark. Not a place anyone wants to go. It has been known to drive fairies (who are already a special flavor of mad) insane. Also home to the some of the bizarre dreams of things that dwell in the actual Underdark.
Fields of Nightmares: This realm is, not surprisingly, full of terrifying things… nightmares made real. However, the small plants that grow here, called Nightmareshade, have been used by the most clever of assassins to craft poisons that cause insanity as the victim suffers constant nightmares, both waking and asleep. Those who spend too long in this region have also been known to contract such a disease just by virtue of their proximity to the nightmares.
Illiyanbruen: The survivors of the former Elven civilization Illefarn (near present-day Neverwinter) found their way to this secluded forest site, where they set up their new home. The Great Cataclysm did awful things to the Feywild, though, and that eventually altered the mentalities of the Illiyanbruens, making them much more separatist. These days their woods and city are extremely suspicious, if not hostile, to outsiders.
The Land of Mab: The Queen of Air and Darkness, Mab, has her own pocket realm within the Feywild. It is a place of cold and winter, sometimes called The Frozen Lands, not unlike Narnia under the White Queen. Her fortress is made of ice sculpted by primordials of cold before the Dawn War.
Tree of True Striking: It is said that the branch Corellon used to make the arrow that took out Gruumsh’s eye came from this tree. If the spirit(s) of this tree are appeased, it may lend some of its essence for the creation of truly epic items.
Valley of Endless Music: A home to many Satyrs and the site where many bards have become lost eternally, this valley is a never-ending orgy of singing, drinking, merrymaking, and also the regular stuff you’ll find in normal orgies. Only the strongest of wills can resist the temptations here.