A lot of people blame the Victorians for turning the noble Fae into Tinkerbell, but actually it was magic. Fae need magic to live. They metabolise it, absorbing negative thaumatons and, as a side effect, emitting positive ones. At the core of every fae is a reserve of magical energy which keeps them alive and gives them their power, and the bigger the fae, the more magic it needs to keep going. Before the Shattering, the bigger could just about survive on Earth, but they were weak, powerless, and not very happy. So they tended to stick to their Otherworld, a far more magical reality.
So, back in the Victorian period, the most common types of fae anyone would see were fairies and sprites. Physically the two are identical, roughly four inches in height with wings like feathery butterfly wings. They come in various colours, though sprites tend to be more pallid than fairies. The main difference is attitude, sprites are far more callous, and the innate ability sprites have to fire magical, toxic darts from their hands. Fairies and sprites are both able to turn invisible and lift things via a magical form of telekinesis.
After the Shattering the larger fae returned, the Sidhe. Human-sized, they are almost universally either fantastically beautiful or hideously ugly, though you might not know since they all appear exactly how they want to appear through their use of Glamours. Highly magical, they are often skilled magicians who use magic intuitively. They are not common in Britain, but they rule areas of France and Germany, and the whole of Ireland. Indeed, the Sidhe are responsible for the dissolution of the United Kingdom and its return to its former title of Great Britain; during the Shattering the British government backed entirely out of their neighbouring island as the Sidhe took over.
The fae are divided into two cultures or factions: the Seelie and the Unseelie. There are a few independents, but most of them fall into the two types. Generally, Seelie are good and Unseelie are not, but it would be better to say that all of them are capricious and uncaring, and the Seelie can be malicious about it. They don’t like technology, they’re allergic to silver-iron, and they think humans are annoying monkeys who use both.
If you happen to meet a fae, just remember one thing: don’t make deals because the fae have been doing it a lot longer than you, and they always stick to the letter. Beware a Sidhe baring gifts!