Dungeons & Dragons has always provided a wide variety of monsters against which players can test their mettle. A party can run up against orcs, ogres, perytons, basilisks, and (of course) dragons, to name just a few.
And while these monsters are all quite different on paper, sometimes in practice fighting them is just . . . fighting. Is there that much difference between hitting an ogre with your sword, or hitting a dragon?
Fortunately, D&D’s vast collection of creatures includes some that are genuinely cut from a different cloth, creatures that are foundationally different from those the players will normally encounter. These creatures, used wisely, can offer something more than just another combat.
So, let’s take a look at a monster that’s not your typical dungeon encounter. With the Fey 5e-centric nature of the most recent D&D adventure, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, it seems like a good time to dig into a creature right in that vein – the 5E pixie.
The Folklore of Pixies
Stories of pixies hail from the southwestern area of England. They are believed to inhabit the moorlands, particularly around Cornwall and Devon.
Pixies – also referred to as piskies or pigsies – were described as tiny fairies clad in green. Elusive creatures, they could sometimes be spotted dancing to the song of crickets or other noises of nature. Fey creatures of the sorts.
They were often described as helpful, especially to the needy. Widows, for example, sometimes found housework done for them. Yet they were also said to be mischievous beings that would lead travelers astray or frighten young women or children with pranks.
Pixies were said to be fond of horses, and to enjoy riding them. It was believed they would leave tangled ringlets in the manes of horses they liked or had “borrowed” in this way.
Among their other tricks, pixies were shapeshifters. They were particularly fond of taking the form of a hedgehog.
Pixies in folklore were apt to reward or punish humans, based on their behavior. Some accounts also had them stealing children or engaging in other less-than-mischievous acts, but these seem to be the result of conflating pixie stories with the broader lore of the fairies.
Pixies in D&D 5E – Appearance and Stats
In Dungeons & Dragons, pixies are small bipedal creatures that look like tiny elves, standing about a foot tall.
Depending on the source consulted, they have either the usual human range of skin tones and hair colors or have those mimicking the colors of the forests in which they make their home, everything from the green shades of Summer to the golds, umbers, and reds of Autumn to possibly even the blues and violets of Spring flowers.
Their most notable characteristic, aside from their size, is a pair of insect-like wings. These are usually reminiscent of butterfly wings, though some have wings more similar to those of a dragonfly.
They often wear clothing of fine silk but are also fond of incorporating both woodland materials (like acorn caps, leaves, or furs from smaller animals) and small castoff items from humans and other races (ribbons, buttons, etc.). Pixies are known to be very particular about their dress and take great pride in their appearance.
Pixies are vegetarians, living largely on nectar and fruits. They are generally more active at night, though they seem to sleep little, and be encountered anytime.
A typical pixie stat block in 5E is as follows:
Pixie 5e Stat Block
Armor Class: 15
Hit Points: 1 (1d4 – 1)
Speed: 10 ft (walking), 30 ft (flying)
|2 (-4)||20 (+5)||8 (-1)||10 (0)||14 (+2)||15 (+2)|
Skills: Perception +4, Stealth +7
Senses: Passive Perception 14
Language: Sylvan, Common
Challenge: 1/4 (50 XP)
In terms of alignment, pixies tend to be neutral good, though some might trend toward chaotic good or (more rarely) true neutral.
Pixie 5E Powers and Abilities
While not physically imposing (at least individually – a swarm of pixies can be something else altogether), pixies have a number of magical abilities that can make them challenging adversaries. They can cast superior invisibility as an action, maintaining it until their concentration ends.
Pixies can also cast the druidcraft cantrip at will, as well as the following spell effects once per day: confusion, dancing lights, detect evil and good, detect thoughts, dispel magic, entangle, fly, phantasmal force, polymorph, and sleep. Additionally, they have an innate magic resistance that gives them advantage against spells and spell-like effects.
When flying (and not invisible), pixies leave a wake of glittering dust. This “pixie dust” is magical, believed to do everything from granting the power of flight to causing confusion to sending creatures into a deep sleep.
This dust is coveted by mages and, as it is useful in a number of concoctions and magical items (dust of disappearance, for one, has pixie dust as a chief ingredient).
Pixie dust fades away quickly (a matter of a few minutes, at most) if not contained in glass of some kind – and even then, its shelf life isn’t particularly long, usually losing its potency within a few weeks to a month.
The pixie’s wings, when ground, are much more durable and have the same effect. Pixies look poorly on dust collectors and take offense if even a friend asks them to supply it (and obviously have a much more negative reaction to those seeking pixie wings).
Pixies live in small villages comprised of one or more clans or families. These villages are found only in the most remote and inaccessible areas of the wilderness, in secluded glens, the hollows of giant trees, or forest caves (though usually only ones with large openings in the cave ceiling which allow moonlight in).
Their homes vary in construction, with some being small lean-tos or cabins made of small branches and other natural materials, and others being small hollows in stumps or trees that have been modified to make a cozy abode.
They are also known to reside in burrows in small mounds, and sometimes use repurposed human items like buckets.
Pixies have little use for gold or other valuables. However, they do tend to keep a hoard of items collected for their shine or novelty – and while that can be things as simple as buttons and sewing needles, they can also collect gold coins, rings, or other true valuables (though to the pixie, these are no more or less important than the buttons).
Despite their clan structure, pixies generally have no concept of family names. Pixie names are commonly just combinations of whimsical or nature-related words, such as Moonspring or Silvermist, or a single such word, like Willow or Feather.
They are fond of coining nicknames for acquaintances based on first impressions or the first feature they notice and use these nicknames almost exclusively.
A Pixie’s Nature
The elusive pixies are shy and will rarely reveal themselves to strangers passing through their forests. Curious as a cat, they will watch and follow them, however, and venture as close as they can (which, given their abilities, can be quite close).
Naturally mischievous, pixies are also likely to use their magical abilities to play harmless pranks on travelers. They might pilfer small items, leaving them in another spot nearby, tie or untie straps or laces, use their druidcraft to effect candles or torches or to create scents or sounds, or any number of similar acts.
Pixies will often use the person’s reaction to these pranks as a gauge of their intent and character, and those that react badly or otherwise show unfriendly intentions will find themselves the target of escalating and merciless pranks until they leave the pixie’s domain.
The good-natured or kind, however, may be found worthy of aid – from gestures as simple as dancing lights leading them in the right direction to gifts of provisions or other needed supplies, to the possibility of even being greeted by the pixies themselves and offered more direct hospitality.
Pixies likewise are protective of their forests and will use their tricks to drive out those that harm the forest or its residents. More than a few supposedly “haunted” forests owe their reputation to their pixie guardians.
Not only are pixies wholly unsuited for direct combat, but they abhor the very idea of it. Pixies avoid violence at almost any cost, preferring trickery to misdirect opponents and usually fleeing as a last resort.
It takes a lot to stir a pixie to do more than this, but if their ire is sufficiently roused at a target that has wronged them, the same sort of tricks they use to prank travelers can be used to much more dangerous effect – luring or driving an enemy into the path of a dangerous creature, or into a hidden drop of some kind.
In the most extreme cases, they can attack, making use of their superior invisibility and other magical abilities, and while they do very little damage individually (usually only 1 hp), swarms of pixies working together are a much more serious threat. Not to mention, they are known to be skilled at making and using poisons when the need arises.
Where to Find Pixies
In the Forgotten Realms setting for Fifth Edition D&D, pixies are found in temperate forests, largely in Cormanthyr and the Laughing Hollow, as well as Evermeet, the Moonshae Isles, Sarifal and Gwynneth Isle.
In other campaign settings, especially homebrew ones, they would most commonly be found in temperate forests, especially ones removed from large human populations, or which are special or magical in some sense.
However, variant types of pixies could easily exist in any sort of terrain, from swamps to tundra (though most likely areas with vegetation, rather than deserts or similar terrains).
The new Wild Beyond The Witchlight adventure would make a perfect inclusion for pixies. One of the more exciting parts of this adventure is the carnival itself. We have plenty of fun D&D Carnival Games ideas for you to use with your pixie NPC’s!
Using 5E Pixies in D&D
When a monster is just a bag of teeth and claws, using them in an encounter is easy for a GM. Just drop them behind a door or around the next corner, and there you go. But what about something like a pixie, that requires a little more nuance?
While the nature and stats of pixies can make them more challenging to use as an antagonist for a party, it’s far from impossible. With a little creativity, in fact, pixies can make for a unique adventure.
For example, players could be tasked with searching a haunted forest for a lost child, presumed to be taken by the fairies – only to discover (eventually) that the child was in fact taken by her father, a ranger estranged from the town who is a friend to the pixies that “haunt” the forest.
With townspeople gathering with torches, pixies determined to protect their home, and the wronged father using the cover of their territory to rescue his child, how does the party find the right path?
In another case, a town could seek the help of the party in dealing with a strange curse that has fallen over the town – one that seems to be escalating in the severity of bad luck.
Unbeknownst to the players, a mage or alchemist in the town has captured a number of pixies, intent on extracting what he can for experimentation and crafting, and their fellows punishing the town unaware that they are ignorant of the mage and his actions. Can the players expose him, rescue the captives, and head off an all-out war?
These are a few rudimentary ideas, but give an idea of the kind of atypical, role-play heavy scenarios you can devise with pixies in your campaign.
Pixies as Playable Characters
But while pixies have potential as adversaries, what about as characters? While D&D gives a host of options with official races, there is a definite allure to exploring something totally new and different – and a tiny, winged pixie is definitely that.
And while it’s true pixies do not exist as a playable race in official sources, a number of homebrew options are out there. While specific stats vary – and of course you can devise your own rules instead – here are some general guidelines that can be followed when using the pixie race in 5E.
On their 5E stats, a pixie gets a +2 bonus to Dexterity and a +1 to Charisma. They have a -4 penalty on Strength. Their size, of course, is Tiny, with their walking and flying movement rates as normal for pixies.
Hit die for pixie characters should be one step lower than normal for their class (e.g., a d6 would become a d4, etc.).
A pixie’s carrying capacity should be half of what would be normal for its strength, and pixies are generally restricted only to weapons with the Light characteristic.
They can also use weapons sized to them (damage dice are 1 step lower – a d6 becomes d4, d4 becomes d2, etc.). These weapons weigh one-half normal weight. For ranged weapons, like a tiny short bow, range is one-half normal, as well.
Unlike NPC pixies, the playable version shouldn’t have the full range of magical abilities. However, given their physical weakness, it seems logical to give them something. One option is allowing them to cast druidcraft as a bonus action, but it feels like more is needed.
Another suggestion is to let them, as a standard action, use their pixie dust to cast either dancing lights or sleep (on a single creature only, possibly allowing a DEX save to avoid the dust) at 1st level, suggestion or (regular) invisibility at 3rd level, and fly or polymorph at 5th level, using Constitution as the spellcasting ability and casting at the lowest level for each spell. Limits can be placed on the number of uses of pixie dust between rests, if desired.
These are just possible options. Looking at the Monster Manual entry for pixies may suggest options, and of course GMs are always free to create their own versions out of whole cloth for their own campaign worlds.
As with any homebrew race, no player should bring a pixie character to the table without talking to their GM about it first. But if it fits into the campaign world and the GM welcomes the addition of this new race option (with whatever tweaks they want to make), a pixie can be an interesting choice for players looking for something truly different.
5E Pixies – Fun For All!
Whether you bring pixies into your game as a character option, use them as the centerpiece of an adventure, or just keep them as possible encounters in the wilderness, they can offer something new to characters too used to hack-and-slash battling against monsters of the conventional variety.
When handled well, dealing with these tiny tricksters promises your players a new and unique gaming experience.