Libris Monstrum #1: Pixie Paladins
Welcome to the new and improved Libris Monstrum! I am so excited for this series and really hope that what I can share with you matches my wild ideas. This series is going to include some of the most notorious creatures from fantasy RPGs (like D&D) from gargoyles to pixies to demons to zombies. Evolving from the Libris Monstrum’s previous iteration, this series is no longer going to look at the myths that spawned these monsters but will instead look at the potential these monsters have. That might include real world myths but it might also work against the assumptions we all take for granted.
To kick this off we are going to work with a concept that came up in an Untamed Rant probably two years ago. I wrote that down simply as “pixie paladins with giant dragonfly mounts” and have thought about it a lot. Needless to say the concept as changed a bit, but we can do so much more with pixies than their one stat block.
Pixies vs Sprites
Let’s start off real quick by bringing up an important consideration, one which drives this entry and a future one. It is important to remember that my original concept was of small, winged fairies in plate mail and wielding needle-like lances on dragonflies. In 5th Edition, and in general, pixies tend to be more combat-adverse while sprites tend to be the opposite. And then there are many other tiny fey creatures throughout the editions as well. Sprites will see their own entry but today we will focus on pixies and, more specifically, breaking the mold with a specific order dedicated to the necessary evil of combat.
Oath of the Tranquil Grove
Okay let’s start narratively. This whole thing centers around paladins so we need an oath for these pixies to take. Since they are against combat and violence, in general, than we need an oath that works with this philosophy. That being said, we also want to work against that assumption and create a reason for pixies to engage in combat. This is, after all, going to entail potential combat stat blocks.
Herein lies the Oath of the Tranquil Grove. The name lends itself to the fact that peace is the main concern of pixies. So where do we go from there? As a people prone to playing tricks on others, the Oath of the Tranquil Grove would not be beyond fun and games. In fact they would probably be some of the most light-hearted paladins you would ever meet. That doesn’t make them any less dangerous, however.
Using tricks the paladins of the tranquil grove would certainly try to cause interlopers to avoid their lands and remain unaware of the pixies living there. When that doesn’t work we need to understand the tenants of the pixies’ oath. Due to their passive nature I see this as a very reactive and defensive order. Combat would have to be avoided with warnings made to invaders, warning shots fired if necessary, and combat entered only as a last resort or to defend those under their charge. They would be among the most honorable fae you might meet.
Tactics & Abilities
Okay so let’s talk about the things important to combat or, at least, events leading to combat. Pixies already have a wide array of spells they can cast to avoid combat so that helps us choose what kind of things we give to the paladins and how to work them. We also will need to give them mounts, because what paladin is complete without their mount!?
Interestingly they have 0 attacks, so we need to give them one of some kind and I am thinking having a simple club or staff that they cast shillelagh on. This will let them it hard for their size while fitting in with less deadly blunt weapons and nature magics. Bringing me to another concern, the features they will get from paladin. Important to include among these will be lay on hands, divine sense, and some sort of turn undead.
Since a base pixie is a CR of 1/4, we want to assume a good 4-6 levels in paladin. With that we can make something closer to a CR 1-3 pixie. It isn’t super high, but pixies never have been and, I think, groups of them and mounts will be what make encounters dangerous. Not to mention potential allies. Anyways, what this means is we should hook up the standard paladin of the tranquil grove with around 25 lay on hands points, divine sense a few times per day, shillelagh at will, and a single use of turn undead which maybe also targets fiends and aberrations.
As a final tactical note I might include a special ranged divine smite so they can fire warning shots and remain mobile combatants. To aid this a flyby attack might work for their main melee ability, as well. This would allow them to focus on driving people out rather than maintaining a fight to the death.
Okay, so we need to talk mounts. The nature of pixies and this entire order make for something other than dragonflies. Why, you might ask? Well, dragonflies are awesome ideas for mounts but they are hunters and literal chitinous helicopters. This kind of goes against the concepts we are playing with, even if we want to balance in some violent acts. As such we will save those for sprites and look to other insects. Note the general assumption is that these will be giant versions but not “get a small-large D&D stat block giant”.
Personally I see three major options: bees, beetles, and earwigs. That last one might seem odd but hold on and hear me out. Bees are a lovely choice because they are communal and, generally, peaceful. They make honey, collect pollen, and produce wax; all things that the pixies could utilize besides their ability to serve as mounts. Beetles are great because many of them are defensive creatures and they would act as wonderful tanks for an honorable paladin order.
But that brings us to earwigs, which I find to be a likely mount for such an order. For those who don’t know, despite the small hemilytera (leathery forewings), these insects have full wings and can fly. You just don’t normally see them. Moreover their personality of “look scary with false pincers but try not to fight” works perfectly! As such these insects could easily act as mounts for the oath of the tranquil grove and, even better, would be frightening mounts because, let’s be honest, something about earwigs makes them pretty creepy.
At The Table
Okay so full stat blocks are time consuming to develop, but we already covered a lot of the changes. What else is really important for a creature at about CR 2 or 3? Let’s up their Con to 14 (as trained paladins) and their hit points to 6d4+12 or 27. Make their AC 17 (size, speed, and some modest leather armor). Their attack will be Dex based still but assumes shillelagh so it will be +4 to hit and 1d6 (3) damage. We can give them multiattack with 2 attacks OR flyby on mount with 1 attack and an extra movement. Finally we don’t need to go spell crazy, just give them 2-3 uses of divine smite.
All in all this creates a much more durable pixie: healing themselves with lay on hands, darting in and out of combat, hitting as hard as an average human bandit, and generally being pretty scary.
Personally, I already cannot wait to include such a creature in one of my games and already want to work the new Libris Monstrum into a monster supplement. But that will have to be a future thing. For now we have plenty of ideas to work with and I can’t wait to hear what you think!