Pixies are pretty much the default fey. As part of that, like most faeries they’re a mass of contradictions. According to the Bestiary, they’re “the best known and most elusive” fey—which starts you at an odd place right off the bat. Good but mischievous and even dangerous. Combative but usually nonlethally so. They’re as likely to lead one party astray in the woods as they are to rescue another. And they’re innately magical to a highly varied degree.
Keep in mind also the wealth of material about pixies from previous editions of the world’s oldest role-playing game. (For instance, I’ve mentioned Tall Tales of the Wee Folk before—where pixies and sprites were warlike and mystical cousins respectively. It’s pretty much a must-have if you can find it. And in Paizo’s Into the Darklands, corrupted pixies—it’s never specified how—definitely have a presence.) And in “basic” D&D, pixies were renowned for being one of the only creatures that could stay invisible after attacking—but it wasn’t perfect. (If I’m recalling right, their shadows were still visible). You can replicate this with your Pathfinder pixies by offering a bonus to blind-fighting for PCs who make a Spot check to see the shadow, or by having pixies spontaneously appear every four rounds or when they fail concentration checks, etc….
Pixies are also ideal for upgrading with class levels, prestige classes, and templates—we’ve seen two new templates in the current Reign of Winter Adventure Path alone. And even without templates, the Bestiary encourages you to mix and match pixies abilities (baleful polymorph, beast shape II, irresistible dance, and so forth) and their arrow effects (confusion, fear, hideous laughter, hypnotism, etc.). So while they start at CR 4, you can keep throwing them at parties for a long time.
So how do we put this all together so it makes sense in your game? My suggestions: 1) Pixies are fey. They are creatures of the natural world and the faerie otherworld, and their logic is not ours. 2) They are adventurous. A pixie is as likely as a gnome or halfling to take up adventuring, so you might find them anywhere, despite their supposed elusiveness. 3) They are tribal. One set of woods might have three battling bands of pixies, with three very different sets of customs and tolerance levels for intrusion. 4) Their magic influences their personalities and hints at their characters. The pixies who cast entangle and use sleep arrows are good neighbors, while charming, memory loss pixies are pranksters. And 5) all of the above make pixies unusually prone to corruption and darker influences, despite their neutral good alignment. If you hear rumors of pixies casting baleful polymorph whose arrows cause hideous laughter…run. Run fast. At least if you value your teeth…
Local villagers often warn against being pixie-led—of travelers being led late at night by dancing lights into bogs, snares, and other hazards. This is true, and many a bone has been broken in the process. But the Alder Clan is not truly malicious. They know a green hag left a changeling child in the village. They seek to make the woods a place of fear, so when the girl comes of age she is never tempted to heed her mother’s seductive call.
A house spirit (likely a brownie or domovoi; see Pathfinder Adventure Path #67: The Snows of Summer) contacts adventurers in desperation. It overheard a bloodthirsty band of pixies planning to steal the children’s teeth at a local farm. The house spirit’s oaths prevent it from revealing itself to its charges, but it can seek outside help. If the adventurers don’t move swiftly enough, they will find to their horror what effective metamagic-boosting spell components children’s teeth are for evil fey…
The Ravenhope tribe is composed of pixie oracles—ravens and magpies guard their bower lair, and they foretell the future based on what trinkets the birds bring them. The Wythar are savage but good-hearted; they and some sprite cousins sport whorls of body paint and guard an enchanted elm tree and a magically sleeping behir with their lives. The courtly Troupe of Summer’s Passing are pixie royalty. The queen’s son wishes to squire himself to a human knight, and she has given him tiny enchanted mithral armor for the journey. His half-brother covets the armor and the prince’s title and will slash the throat of anyone who stands in the way. And Quez is a city-dwelling drunk who hasn’t seen the forest in years—he took a berth on a skyship and has been living in a lantern in the Crooked Cockle Tavern ever since.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 228
Finally, a HUGE THANKS to everybody who commented or reblogged yesterday’s entry—and it was a lot of you. I can’t reply to everyone personally at the moment, but I’m bowled over. In particular, thanks to Fuck Yeah Dungeons and Dragons for the props today. I had a feeling whoever’s doing the archiving there would dig yesterday’s entry, but I did not expect the kind words and subsequent follower explosion. Welcome, everybody!
PS: If you’re new and want to learn more, here and the second half of here are good places to start.
Really super-finally: I have jury duty tomorrow at…this can’t be right…8 a.m. That’s like…eight hours from now! What is this…I can’t even…? Ugh.