Like many other DMs, I have fun fleshing out the fluff from the sourcebooks. This is ecpecially true for monsters, and I find it much easier to change them by altering the fluff than the stats. Since most monsters of the Manual are only granted a page or so of text, often including a picture, this leaves a lot to the imagination, and most monsters I can make my own without subtracting much.
I have always had a soft spot for old stories about fairies, trolls and witches, the evil forest dwellers that lead travelers astray, eat the flesh of innocents and steal human babies to replace with their own. The Monster Manual contains nothing that fits this description very well, and so I can’t include anything like this in a game without making a lot up myself. However, I kind of envision using old fairy tales as the basis for a campaign one day, so let’s see what can be done.
I’m creating a people/faction/society only using creatures from the Monster Manual. I might unearth a lot of good material sifting through obscure supplements for cool woodland creatures, but that’s more work than I plan to do before I even know whether it’ll ever be used.
Looking through the Manual, I found some fitting culprits.
The fey are obviously close, but I dislike the idea of them all looking pretty. Some fey should just be plain ugly.
Goblins could fit the bill, but the book only describes them as mischievous little buggers, without adding much more detail. Furthermore, using only one species would make the players bored fast, even if they have pets and class levels and all that.
Hags are always cool, but witches are only a small part of the fauna I’m imagining.
Trolls could also fit, but again, one species is not enough. Also, they are way too powerful if I’m going to start giving them character levels.
I decided to combine all of the above, and add a few more to the list for variety. I’ll name them the fair folk, or the fairies. There are other names that might sound cooler, like the goblins or the troll folk, but these are already names of existing Monster Manual creatures, which might lead to some confusion.
Types of fairy: Dryad, grig, nixie, nymph, pixie, ogre, ogre mage, troll, goblin, annis, green hag, sea hag, barghest, night hag. These are all one big family of creatures that can breed amongst themselves, and are all probably descended from the same species. In many ways the fair folk resemble the jotun of Norse mythology, with their seemingly endless variety of forms despite being closely related.
I will not change any stats until I deem it necessary. I do, however change all their alignments to “usually chaotic evil”. All fairies speak sylvan, and some learn the languages of the people they prey upon.
I’ll add descriptions of different kinds of fairies later, as well as how they relate to each other.