Last Updated: September 25, 2021
The Fairy, introduced in Wild Beyond the Witchlight (affiliate link), fits the pop-culture image of a generic fairy: basically a human with insect-like wings and some magic powers. While images of Tinkerbell might pop into your head, the Fairy is Small (rather than Tiny like a pixie or a sprite) so they fit readily into a typical party without needing to introduce rules for tiny players.
Mechanically, the Fairy’s defining traits are flight and innate spellcasting. The Fairy’s flight isn’t as good as that of the Aarakocra (which is faster) or the winged Tiefling (which can fly in medium armor), but flight is still extremely powerful. The Faerie’s innate spellcasting isn’t amazing, but it includes Faerie Fire, allows you to pick your spellcasting ability, and allows you to re-cast the spells using spell slots. That’s a huge asset for many builds, and between flight and Faerie Fire there’s a ton of room for optimization here. The Fairy can also cast Druidcraft, but I don’t think Druidcraft is especially useful.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.
The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
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This section assumes that you’re using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If you’re not using those rules, scroll down to the next section.
An artillerist is a natural choice for fairy artificers. Capitalize on your flight to fight at range right from low levels, and use Faerie Fire to get Advantage on attacks from your Force Ballista canons. Armorer artificers in infiltrator armor will find the same strategy effective, but alchemists may not find Faerie Fire useful (though your allies will likely still enjoy it) and melee builds give up the powerful defensive benefits offered by flight.
As much fun as a fairy barbarian would be (Path of Wild Magic seems like an especially fun choice), from an optimization perspective it’s not a great choice. Small creatures can’t use the big d12 weapons that most barbarians rely upon, though Path of the Beast can get around that issue. Being locked into melee makes flight less useful since it’s difficult to stay out of reach, though a reach weapon like a whip or a polearm might suffice. The fairy’s innate spellcasting is wastedon the Barbarian.
Flight is great on any spellcaster, and the innate spellcasting offers a few extra spells per day, though Faerie Fire is already on the Bard’s spell list and Enlarge/Reduce isn’t always useful. The Fairy works for any bard build, but I would avoid building for melee even if you want to explore College of Swords or College of Valor.
Clerics don’t get access to Faerie Fire, so on top of the benefits of Advantage on attacks, it provides an inexpensive counter to invisibility.
For a spellcasting-focused druid (anything except Circle of Spores or Circle of the Moon), the fairy’s flight is excellent, especially since staying out of reach can do so much to compensate for the Druid’s poor durability. Druids can already cast Faerie Fire and Enlarge/Reduce isn’t always useful, but it’s still a little bit of extra spellcasting to pad your spell slots.
A ranged build will always do great with a race that can fly, but it’s hard to find a build that both benefits from flight and benefits from the Fairy’s innate spellcasting. A Dexterity-based Eldritch Knight is the most obvious choice, but eldritch knights typically rely upon weapon attack cantrips like Booming Blade, which drags you witin 5 feet of your target. Building with normal Eldritch Knight ability scores (high Str or Dex first, followed by Con and Int) will work, but your save DC for Faerie Fire will be low so it won’t be reliable.
Flight is hard on the monk because you’re typically locked into melee combat. If you have a way to get reach (Way of the Astral Self) or to fight at range (Way of the Sun Soul) you can make it work. Splitting your increases between Dexterity and Wisdom can also keep your innate spellcasting reasonably effective, and Faerie Fire will offset relatively poor Dexterity. Unfortunately, without spell slots you’ll only be able to cast it once per day, so a dip into cleric or druid may be helpful.
A flying Dexterity-based paladin could certainly work. The Paladin’s exceptional durability will help keep you from being shot out of the sky, but you may also find that you’re not filling the Paladin’s typical role as a Defender. Faerie Fire works great for the Paladin’s attacks, but it requires Concentration so you can’t use Smite spells alongside it, which makes smiting difficult for ranged builds. You’ll likely need to fight in melee, so consider weapons with reach like a whip. Enlarge/Reduce to enlarge yourself may also make melee more appealing.
Faerie Fire provides easy advantage, improving your damage output with ranged attacks, and flight makes it easy to remain safely out of reach. The biggest challenge is that you give up the damage boost from Hunter’s Mark (which also requires Concentration), so you’re relying exclusively on whatever weapon damage you deal. Consider the Sharpshooter feat and/or Crossbow Expert if you plan to use Faerie Fire as your go-to tactic.
Flight is a huge asset for the Rogue, allowing you to stay comfortably out of reach, especially when combined with Cunning Action. Faerie Fire provides an easy way to get Advantage on attacks, especially for Arcane Tricksters who can re-cast it using spell slots. Unlike the Ranger, rogues are typically less reliant on Concentration, so it’s easier to fit Faerie Fire into your tactics, and with Cunning Action’s ability to Disengage as a Bonus Action you can easily dart in and out of melee, attacking at Advantage (and potentially using Booming Blade) before flying safely out of reach.
Sorcerers have few important spell options which rely on attack rolls beyond low levels (Chaos Bolt, Chromatic Orb), so Faerie Fire and Enlarge/Reduce are primarily buffs for the rest of your party. Flight is excellent, as always, but the Sorcerer has no unique synergy with the Fairy.
Flight and Faerie Fire on an Eldritch Blast/Eldritch Smite build or on a Hexblade. There’s not much other benefit here beyond what you would get from any other flying race, but honestly I think that’s enough. It’s somewhat redundant for archfey warlocks (which makes sense), but they’re the only warlock that gets Faerie Fire on their spell list.
Wizards have few important spell options which rely on attack rolls, so Faerie Fire and Enlarge/Reduce are primarily buffs for the rest of your party. Flight is excellent, as always, but the Wizard has no unique synergy with the Fairy.