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Faith, Trust, and Fairy Dust
Brand new to Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight gave us the opportunity to play fairies with a new race option. They’re a flying race I’m sure a ton of these magical creatures will be fluttering soon into 5e campaigns everywhere. They’re essentially small elves with wings, but with creative possibilities as vast as the feywild. Bright and cheery, dark and tricksy, maybe either depending on their mood, step with me into the lands of the fey as we go through everything you need to know in this D&D fairy character sheet and more!
The descriptions they give us for our new 5th edition fairy option are very vague and that’s a good thing. The potential characteristics for these fey creatures they suggest range from bird wings to insect legs, multicolor skin to shimmering magic effects, or just a generic fairy. This wide range and the vagueness of the base descriptions means that so long as it feels vaguely “fey” you’ve got free reign to do it. Your new fairy character could be a literal bug person, or a glamorous elf with fairy wings, so long as it passes as a denizen of the feywild. You could make the edgiest goth moth or a benevolent creature that's the sweetest cheery butterfly. As a fairy you’ve got one of the greatest blank slates to play with out of practically any of the other playable races, encompassing basically anything vaguely like fairy creatures you can come up with. You want an animal head? Go for it. You want to be covered in purple polka-dots? Go for it. You could even make another fey creature like a faerie dragon, pixie, sprite, or a tooth fairy work. Dungeons & Dragons has given you the green light to be creative.
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Fairies don’t have any subraces in dnd 5e, and they use the newer “lineage” format rather than the classic “race” format so we aren’t really dealing with your ability scores (since you can pick whatever bonuses you want). So, with lineages all you’re really concerned with is the features. Let’s go through the fairy’s features in their raw text and then go through what they’ll mean for your new fairy character in DnD 5E:
Creature Type: You are a Fey.
Size: You are small.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Fairy Magic: You know the druidcraft cantrip.
Starting at 3rd level, you can cast the faerie fire spell with this trait. Starting at 5th level, you can also cast the enlarge/reduce spell with this trait. Once you cast faerie fire or enlarge/reduce with this trait, you can’t cast that spell with it again until you finish a long rest. You can also cast either of those spells using any spell slots you have of the appropriate level.
Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells when you cast them with this trait (choose when you select this race).
Flight: Because of your wings, you have a flying speed equal to your walking speed. You can’t use this flying speed if you’re wearing medium or heavy armor.
Super quick stats huh? But let’s dig into each of these features:
Creature Type: This may just seem like flavor at first, but it can actually have some major effects. Not so much because you’re “fey” but because you’re not “humanoid”. Mechanically there are some spells and abilities that will only effect or target “humanoids” specifically, and since you aren’t one as a fairy you can’t be targeted by them, can't be an affected creature and are basically immune to them. For example, the spells charm person, hold person, and dominate person all specify that their target must be humanoid.
Size: You’re small, and not tiny because WotC are cowards! My nerd rant aside, the lineage format also infuriatingly doesn’t really specify their heights or weights other than “small”, so we’re left to speculate. By the artworks and other “small” races your new fairy character should probably be about 3 feet to 4 feet tall, excepting the wings which may be “taller” when extended. And we’re guessing here, but probably around 30-40 pounds.
Speed: Pretty basic, you’ve got a 30-foot movement speed. However, your flight speed is tied to it which is very interesting...
Fairy Magic: You're a magical creature and that entitles you to some racial spells. This gives you the “standard” racial spell ability akin to many others including a cantrip, a 1st level spell when you hit your 3rd character level, and a 2nd level spell when you hit 5th. Druidcraft is a fun “creative” cantrip that has a lot of potential uses, the main use of Faerie Fire is to find invisible enemies and Enlarge / Reduce has great combat potential for the enlarge half and good scouting potential for the reduce half. Not to mention you can reduce yourself to finally be tiny-sized (at least for a minute). It also lets you choose between your Wisdom score, your Intelligence score, or your Charisma score for the casting stat on these spells making them potentially much more useful due to a higher saving throw no matter what class you're in.
Flight: The fairy is (insert trumpet fanfare) a proper flying race. You get a fly speed equal to your movement speed and the only caveat is that you can’t wear medium or heavy armor. 1st level flight is HUGE and there are countless problems that can just melt away because you have the power of flight. The armor limitation makes it awkward for some of the martial classes to make the best use of the fairy race, but it’s absolutely perfect for practically any spellcaster and the martial classes that rely on Dexterity instead of tough armor. Be prepared though, a lot of DMs have banned previous flying races before and your particular DM may not allow fairies due to the awesome power of flight. The other interesting thing is that your flying speed is tied directly to your walking speed, meaning that if you increase your walking speed your flying speed increases just as much and if you have the opportunity, you should try and gain magic items or spells to increase your walking speed for some additional fly speed.
Building a Fairy Character
Since the lineage model detaches the playable race from the ability scores, there aren’t any “ideal” classes anymore. Your player character fairy can be a wizard, or a fighter, or any other class just as optimally. The one big glaring exception to this is the limitations placed on your flight. You can’t use your flight while wearing medium armor or heavy armor, which means optimally you should avoid builds that use those armors. Consider instead spellcasting classes that don’t gain those armors like Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards. And for martial classes consider classes that make more use of their Dexterity and those that don’t rely on heavier armors like Barbarians, Monks, Rogues, and Dexterity builds of Fighters or Rangers. This doesn't mean you can't build your fair folk into a fairy knight paladin or a wee folk druid if you want, but just know doing so will lose out on the flight utility you'd otherwise have.
Your flight will give you maneuverability options in combat, and especially at the early levels this can be a huge advantage. Try going for faery builds that can utilize ranged attacks and spellcasting, as there will be many dungeon enemies that simply can't reach you. Or use this maneuverability to get into combat and back out again when your hit points get low.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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