This trait has confused me for years. Can anyone tell me exactly what this trait signifies?
On the surface, the trait reads like a “rank of society”-type trait, like the Mannish Your Lordship or Your Eminence. That’s fine, but it gets confusing when you look how it interacts with other lifepaths and traits. Fea interacts with a half dozen or so lifepaths and traits in a confusing way, especially Prince/Princess and its lead to Etharch. Is the Fea trait a certain class or group within elvish society or is it specifically for the children (or close family) of the ruling etharch?
If it is specifically for the children or heirs of the etharch, wouldn’t the Aman trait and Prince of the Blood traits cover this type of character? Further, what sense does it make to burn a Prince/Princess character without the Aman trait (which isn’t required) when it requires that you have the Fea trait and automatically gives you the Prince of the Blood trait, saying you’re in the immediate family of the etharch, who is required to have the Aman trait?
I hope this makes sense. Am I missing the logic of this?
I have a reading that makes sense to me. I’m imagining an elective monarchy for Etharch with Loremasters and Prince’s legally eligible. However; it almost never happens that an Elf who is not Aman is chosen as Etharch. Thus for character creation purposes Aman is required for Etharch even though de jure within Elven society it is not required.
My reading is that Fea is anyone with an ancestor who was a Prince or Princess. Aman is a distinct but intersecting group of privileged Elven lineages. Etharchal includes Fea and Aman but also includes lesser families that share cultural practices with the Fea and Aman.
The way it’s written seems to imply that either there are non-ruling princes who don’t have the lifepath or that there are princes who rule at some level but are not in line for the position of etharch—something like a duke to the etharch’s king.
What really blows my mind is the possibility of Aman without Fea. What does that mean? You actually can’t be Etharch without being prince, at least by lifepath, and you can’t be prince without Aman. So…?
Add to that the double meaning of prince. The Prince of the Blood trait is pretty clear that prince here means an heir to the etharch, but prince in the Fea trait description reads like belonging to a class of noble princes, elven high nobility. But then the Prince lifepath requires Fea which says you’re from a princely family when you’re really from the etharch’s family…I don’t think I’m stupid but I don’t get it.
Yeah, you’re right. I’d noticed the “will be Etharch one day” part of Prince of Blood but not the “Directly related to Etharch or forebears” bit. The trait Fealty to the Fea also conflates Fea and the family of the Etharch.
However, Etharch does not require Prince (and thus doesn’t require Fea). You can also get there through Loremaster (Etharch Born -> Lead to Citadel -> Song Singer -> Bard -> Loremaster -> Lead to Etharch -> Etharch). But I agree with you that such a character contradicts the combination of Prince of the Blood and Prince requiring Fea.
This could be completely wrong, but I always pictured it along these lines:
Etharchal is similar to “Mark of Privilege” in that both affect the mannerisms aquired from growing up in a environment of wealth and/or privilege.
Fea is similar to “Your Lordship” in that it shows a families tendency and eligibility to rule others (like a royal family).
Amam doesn’t have any human trait equivalent but is similar to the way some aristocratic families have famous lineages trace back to historical figures, some even to the first settlers or pioneers. It’s more of a society thing that can cause others to gawk and stare as it does carry a certain celebrity status with it (the Elf-folk of the Wilderlands and Citadel treat him with a mixture of fear and adoration, sonething they do not do with the Fea)
Until Wrathbone started this thread that is also how I had interpreted the traits. Having closely re-read the trait descriptions and looked over the life-paths I no longer think that this interpretation is consistent with the text.
Thanks for the feedback guys. I did think of one explanation, but it’s purely conjecture. An explanation for princes/princesses automatically having Fea even though their father doesn’t (he was an Aman Loremaster but not Fea before becoming Etharch) is that the Etharch’s family is “ennobled” purely by reason of being the ruling Etharch’s immediate family.
However, this doesn’t explain how you can take the Prince lifepath without taking the Aman trait. This seems impossible.
I am sorry for not getting it, but I don’t understand why you keep saying that you have to be a Prince before being an Etharch. I don’t think we get a full enough description of Elven inheritance law or the succession process for the Etharch to conclude what you are saying. Prince of the Blood says that the Princes and Princesses are heirs of the Etharch, it doesn’t say that they are the only heirs. That is, every Prince will be an Etharch some day, but that doesn’t rule out Etharchs who were not Princes.
Correct. I’m really just trying to clarify the meanings used in the mechanics as they are presented in canon, not get into hypotheticals about elven succession law (which you can make up as you like). I want to stick to the RAW.
The main question for me is the Fea trait as it relates to the Prince/Princess lifepath and its lead to Etharch. The problem as I see it is that you can burn a Prince/Princess without the Aman trait (it isn’t required). You have to buy the Fea trait to take this lifepath, which says you are from a princely (noble) family (see Lord of Ages: “The Etharch…governs the Althings, Princes, Captains, and Lords”). You are also required to buy the Prince of the Blood trait, which says that the character is “directly related to either the ruling etharch or his forbears.”
Now Aman is required for Etharchs, so how is it possible to burn an Etharch’s son, who Prince of the Blood says is his direct descendent, yet who does not have the Aman trait?
Note: I’m assuming for all of this the Prince lifepath refers to prince in the sense of “son of the king,” while the Fea trait refers to membership in a princely (noble) family. The first assumption is an easy one. My assumption about the Fea trait is based on the Lord of Ages description (quoted above) and the similarity in the way the trait is written to Your Lordship, Your Grace, etc. traits which describe ranks of nobility.
The Fea trait means you have Princely lineage. The Prince of the Blood trait means your lineage includes the Etharch, who has the hereditary trait Aman. What if the way lineage was determined differed for the traits. For example, what if an Elf only gained had Aman descent only through their Mother (or only if both parents were considered Aman) while Fea was inheritable through both parents?
I don’t love this explanation, but I think it solves the logic puzzle.
Aman means being in the lineage of Etharchs and is required to become Etharch. (though the trait says that “the Aman have most often tread [sic] the path of the Etharch”…)
Fea means a lineage of princes and is required to be prince.
Prince of the blood means being heir to the Etharch
I think Larkin’s closest. Get rid of the necessity of being heir from Prince and it makes sense: Fea means you have the blood of princes and may be a ruling prince. Aman means you’re of the lineage of Etharchs and may become one. Some princes are high nobility, who reign in their own right, but are not in the path of inheritance of the Etharch. Think kings vs. high king, maybe. Some Elves are descended from an Etharch and have Aman, but their descent is distant. Though they are eligible, they are no longer in reigning families—hence Aman but no Fea, and they’re not going to become prince.
If you want to be a child of the Etharch, even if not a prince, you’re probably going to need Fea and Aman unless the setting has some oddity of inheritance where the child may not be eligible. Being the Etharch’s child by a partner considered unfit for the position, the Elf equivalent of a Dalit, may mean no Aman, or neither Fea nor Aman. Or it might mean Aman—because the highest blood is the highest blood—but no Fea; you could become Etharch, but you can’t reign as prince, so ascending to the throne will require some other impressive act… like becoming a loremaster of renown.
Another possibility: Fea is what you’re born with. Aman requires demonstration that you are worthy of the lineage of Etharchs, that the blood still runs true in you. It’s something that can be earned in play by great deeds.