The Controversy Around Pixies in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

The Controversy Around Pixies in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition
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The Controversy Around Pixies in D&D 5e

Pixies are a fascinating creature in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. As fey creatures, they possess innate magical abilities and can be quite powerful allies or dangerous foes. However, pixies have also been a source of debate and controversy among D&D players due to their unique traits and how they can be utilized by creative players.

An Overview of Pixies

In the D&D Monster Manual, pixies are described as diminutive fey that dwell in quiet, idyllic woodlands. They have transparent wings like those of a dragonfly and magical abilities like invisibility and polymorphing. Pixies are chaotic good in alignment and prefer to spend their time playing harmless pranks on other creatures. However, they can be dangerous opponents if threatened or attacked.

Pixies have a challenge rating of only 1/4, so individually they are very weak creatures. However, pixies have some abilities that make them advantageous for players to use as allies. First, they can cast several useful spells innately, including greater invisibility, confusion, and polymorph. Second, they have superior invisibility, allowing them to turn invisible and stay invisible while attacking, casting spells, and taking other actions. Finally, they have a powerful sleep poison attached to their arrows.

Why Druids Love Pixies

Druids in D&D 5e have the unique ability to summon fey creatures using their Wild Shape ability. At level 10, druids can expend two uses of Wild Shape to cast the conjure woodland beings spell, which allows them to summon up to 8 pixies using a level 4 spell slot.

Summoning eight pixies gives druids access to a variety of useful spells and abilities. With eight pixies, a druid can concentrate on greater invisibility and have the pixies turn the entire party invisible for an hour. They can also use the pixies' sleep arrows to incapacitate enemies. Polymorph allows them to transform enemies into harmless creatures. And confusion can sow chaos on the battlefield.

Because pixies can naturally turn invisible and stay invisible while attacking and casting spells, they make potent allies that are very difficult for enemies to target or deal with. Druids are understandably fond of this potent combo.

Why DMs Dislike Pixie Abuse

While druids love the potential of pixie allies, many DMs absolutely loathe pixie abuse tactics. There are a few key reasons pixies frustrate DMs.

First, eight invisible pixies casting spells is incredibly annoying for a DM to manage and adjudicate. It bogs down combat with tons of extra rolls and record keeping. Second, pixies used this way are extremely powerful for a level 10 druid. It far outclasses what other classes can do at the same level. Third, it doesn't make logical sense why these chaotic fey would follow orders and work together in such an optimized way.

For these reasons, many DMs ban conjure woodland beings from summoning pixies entirely. Or they heavily limit how pixies can be used by a druid once summoned. Strict DMs may rule that pixies resist being controlled or commanded. Or they may simply have conjured pixies disappear after a round or two to prevent them from being abused throughout an entire combat.

How to Use Pixies Responsibly

Banning pixies altogether does take away some of the fun and utility that they can provide. Druids in particular lose one of their iconic high level abilities. So some DMs prefer to allow pixies but with limitations and guidelines on their use.

Responsible pixie use comes down to not overly optimizing their abilities and working cooperatively with the DM. For example, a druid could summon 2 pixies and ask them to scout ahead invisibly rather than summoning 8 for combat. The DM then has pixies report back useful information rather than having to manage them in a complex battle.

Druids could also polymorph enemies into harmless animals to temporarily take them out of a fight rather than optimizing pixie tactics to steamroll battles. Polymorphing one or two especially dangerous foes for a couple rounds while still battling the rest of the enemies works better than incapacitating everything at once. And targeting creatures with lower Intelligence scores makes logical sense for a successful polymorph over trying to transform a genius wizard against his will.

At the end of the day, cooperation and communication between the player and DM results in the best experience. Druids should be thoughtful in how they employ pixie abilities. And DMs should allow some flexibility for druids to gain advantage from their level 10 feature.

Navigating Pixies as a DM

Pixies present a unique challenge for Dungeon Masters. On one hand, they make storytelling more magical and give druids a distinct ability. On the other hand, they can be disruptive or difficult to manage if not handled carefully.

Here are some tips for DMs on integrating pixies into their campaigns successfully:

Establish Pixie Motivations

Pixies are chaotic good fey creatures, not programmed servants. Consider what motivates them. Are they helping the druid out of boredom? Loyalty? For protection?

Giving pixies motivation makes them more than just pixel allies to command. It also gives you opportunities to have them resist orders that go against their values.

Limit Conjured Pixies

Instead of allowing druids to summon the maximum of 8 pixies, limit it to 2 or 4. This keeps their abilities potent but more targeted.

You can flavour this restriction as the pixies being wary to fully commit to servitude. Or make it a consequence of the druid still mastering the conjuration spell.

Enforce Concentration Rules

Since many key pixie abilities require concentration (greater invisibility, polymorph, etc), enforce those rules rigorously. If the druid takes damage and fails concentration, their pixie allies instantly become less powerful.

This provides counterplay against pixie abilities. Enemies can break a druid's concentration with a hit or by targeting them with saves against concentration.

Make Environments Pixie Unfriendly

Have certain adventures in locations that limit flying creatures. Tight dungeons, low ceilings, and enclosed spaces make life harder on pixies.

Weather effects like high winds may also impact tiny pixies more than other characters. Being creative with environments prevents every combat from being ideal for pixie tactics.

Add Counters to Pixies

Some monsters have abilities that directly counter pixies. Rust monsters can snatch pixies right out of the air. Trolls can regenerate from their sleep arrows. Anything with truesight or see invisibility negates their stealth and advantages.

Sprinkling in monsters with anti-pixie abilities makes druids reconsider if summoning them each fight is wise. And it creates diversity in combat encounters.

With some creativity and cooperation with the druid player, pixies can be a fun fey addition to a D&D campaign. Laying ground rules and making environments and encounters pixie-unfriendly at times maintains balance. Most importantly, work with your druids collaboratively so summoning pixies enhances the story and adventure!


What are the key abilities of pixies in D&D?

Pixies have superior invisibility, allowing them to attack and cast spells while invisible. They can polymorph enemies with their innate spellcasting. Their sleep arrows can knock creatures unconscious. And they have access to spells like confusion and greater invisibility.

Why do some DMs ban pixies or limit their use?

Pixies can be disruptive if abused by players. Having 8 invisible pixies casting spells bogs down combat. It also gives druids much more power than other classes at the same level. And their optimal tactical use may not make sense for chaotic good fey.

How can DMs allow pixies responsibly?

Limit the number that can be summoned to 2-4 pixies. Enforce concentration rules rigorously. Give pixies clear motivations. Make environments sometimes pixie-unfriendly. And sprinkle in monsters with anti-pixie abilities.

Should Druids avoid summoning pixies?

Druids shouldn’t over-optimize pixie abilities, but they also shouldn’t avoid using them altogether. Working cooperatively with the DM allows druids to gain advantage from pixies while maintaining game balance.

What are alternatives to outright banning pixies?

Instead of banning pixies, set limitations and guidelines on their use. Adjust environments and encounters to make them pixie-unfriendly at times. And enforce the rules around concentration rigorously.

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