Fey and fairies in myths and fantasy are generally loaded with symbolism, usually about nature, both in its majesty and in its danger. Older stories, in a world where nature was still a threat, tend to focus more on practical morals, whereas in modern fiction, fey tend to represent the majesty of nature and the struggles of nature as humanity takes its resources and destroys the environment. In Aquarian Dawn, I wanted the fey to still represent that "magicalness" of the world, but in this case, they're more so a representation of the "magicalness" of human ingenuity, creativity, math, and engineering. Especially in a world where humanity has seemingly "peaked", they carry forward humanity's legacy in the coming age. That is, of course, assuming a fatalistic end for humanity...
Fey is a broad term for a range of creatures in Aquarian Dawn. The setting is all about the fantastical High Age of humanity transitioning into the Age of the Aquarians, so in such a world, what does it mean to be fey?
Fey are present in Howlston, the setting for my current campaign.
There are several other "traditional" fantasy species in Aquarian Dawn that also have a bit of twist to them, such as elves and dwarves, and then there are of course the titular aquarians.
Fey are quasi-mortal. They are inherently magical beings, both physical and metaphysical. They are not magic in the sense of some quantifiable arcane energy, but in the sense of wonder and awe, and the implausible. Towards the end of the High Age, humanity lost most of its magic, hunted most of the magical beasts to extinction, tore down the majestic forests to build their roads, and forgot how to work their wonders, and so the fey did diminish for a time. However, with the expansion of the aquarians, they are beginning to thrive once more.
But their manifestation is not quite like before. They're in a transitional phase. They resemble the fey of old still, for the most part, but their magic is not one of nature and the exploration of places, but increasingly of engineering, economics, and mathematics; of the nature and exploration of the mind and of systems. It is not quantitative magic per se, it is the magic that comes from the eureka, the je na sais quoi, that comes from understanding the application of math, or systems theory, or physics and chemistry, or mechanics.
A general term for a set of fey, usually halfling-sized or at most human-sized (although some are significantly smaller or larger), such as the goat-faced puca, goat-legged satyr, pig-faced orcs, the fungal, mutagenic trolls, and many others. Most goblins are hedonistic, playful, pranksters. They are intelligent, with a natural affinity towards mechanics and engineering, but not especially creative. They are able to build mechanical things that should not be possible, and only work to the extent that one believes in them. For as amazing as their mechanical contraptions can be, most fall apart quickly under the ownership of mortals, who usually cannot maintain their faith in the mechanism, or who try and fail to reverse engineer it.
Human-sized goblins (sometimes called hobgoblins), usually with gray, black, green, or yellow, leathery skin. It is said that they were created in heinous experiments by a Dark Lord of a prior age, descending from the orcs and some say even elves and humans. They are hierarchical, authoritarian, disciplined, and aggressive, generally considered both too orderly and too unsociable for human society. They are quick to fall under the sway of authoritarian rulers, sometimes even serving under human warlords, and it is believed that several kingdoms towards the end of the High Age relied primarily on hobb mercenaries for their armies. In the current era, not even the "empire" is powerful enough or cohesive enough to organize the hobbs, and so most wander the countryside as warlords and mercenaries, however hobbs living in fey or human society is not unheard of.
Halfling-sized fey coming to prominence in the dawning age of the aquarians. Their skin shimmers opalescent like a rainbow. They grow thick beards of iridescent hard-light, of any or all colors of the rainbow. They have a deep understanding of business, finance, economics, and politics, as well as being crafty engineers. Unlike goblins, their creations seem to follow real scientific and mathematical principles, and they appear to have creative inspiration, albeit derived from something like an interdependent muse-like relationship with humans and other mortals.
They also have the closest thing to traditional arcane magic from the High Age besides magically-inclined espers, although their magical aptitude is dependent on their wealth. Each leprechaun is tethered to a pocket dimension, contained within a pot, where they store their personal wealth. They can produce a rainbow from within themselves as a signal to the location of their pot. The pots are magical and cannot easily be destroyed, but if their pot is stolen, they are at the mercy of the thief.