Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Sprites are—wait.  What game are we playing?  And what edition?  Because with sprites, that matters.

Obligatory boring history paragraph: In “basic” D&D sprites were exceedingly peaceful faerie creatures that loved magic; they had to team up in groups of five just to level a curse.  In 2e AD&D the name referred to both sprites themselves and a class of faeries that included sprites, sea sprites, pixies, nixies, atomies, and grigs.  3e was less kind to them—sprites took a huge hit courtesy of 3.0/3.5’s fey purge, existing only as the umbrella name for pixies, nixies, and grigs.

But in Pathfinder, they’re back!  In their current incarnation, they’re primitive but luminous protectors of nature and symbols of the wild at play.  Like pixies, they are pranksters, both by habit and to lure threats away from their homes and sacred spots; many travelers who complain of being “pixy-led” should blame a sprite’s dancing lights instead.  Sprites are still described as loving magic as well, so their presence might hint at ancient dweomers and ley lines, and they make good familiars for more powerful chaotic neutral casters.  At CR 1/3, they’re not exactly a threat to anyone but the greenest adventurers, but that’s not the point—encountering a sprite doesn’t have to be the goal of the adventure; rather it’s the first sign that your adventure has begin in earnest…

No less than three tribes of sprites defend the Flame Maple—a great sprawling, spiraling maple whose leaves remain a fiery orange all year long.  The Firecaps and the Sweetsaps are generally peaceful, but encroaching goblin and bugbear threats have made the Barkshields militantly opposed to all humanoid passersby.

The Lithmarch is a trail of menhirs that stretches across the Heather Counties and into the Brewer Wood.  Sprites linger here, drawn to the ley lines the stones signify.  The sprites are cautious allies of the dour rangers who mind the Lithmarch, helping them drive off those who would use the stones to power necromantic or enchantment spells.  However, should a caster seek a familiar in the Lithmarch, a curious sprite will almost certainly answer (sometimes even ignoring the usual alignment restrictions in his or her eagerness to share in the magical bond).

The technomancer Velin Haas has hit upon a novel new form of illumination—the faerie filament—which he believes has more long-term potential than continual flame or costly permanent light effects.  Of course, trapping sprites in glass bulbs has its own complications.  Since the supposedly immortal fey turn shockingly mortal in captivity, he is always looking for adventurers who can find new sprite livestock until he cracks the longevity problem.  Meanwhile, the outraged sprites who have thus far eluded Hass are setting traps and hiring adventurers of their own…

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 256

Obviously, there’s more about sprites in Amanda Hamon’s chapter in Fey Revisited, including a CR 5 sprite swarm suitable for more experienced parties.  And this is the part of the post where I yet again tell you to dig through used bookstores and the backwaters of the Internet to find PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk and Dragon Magazine #155—both must-reads for any faerie fan.

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