Welcome to Monstrously Helpful, a take on using the most dastardly villains and dreadful monsters to create positive experiences for everyone involved.
Yes, it is in fact a *real* dragon.
The Faerie Dragon is a small and mischievous draconic creature known for its love of tricks and mischief. Though minuscule in size, the Faerie Dragon is considered a true dragon according to D&D 5e canon (D&D 5e Monster Manual). Like many other dragons, the Faerie Dragon is often focused on a particular set of goals and pays little heed to potential obstacles it encounters. This common personality trait is particularly apparent in the avaricious and vicious actions of evil-aligned dragons, but is also demonstrated in good-aligned dragons who can appear self-important and stuck up due to the single-minded focus towards their (potentially noble) goals. As a result, they may ignore or disrespect the experiences and opinions of others.
In Faerie Dragons this self-importance manifests at a micro level. They sit upon hordes of stale cookies and sparkling sugared sweets as they plot their next prank or trick on the unsuspecting populace around them (the populace may or may not be unsuspecting, but the Faerie Dragon is generally unwavering in its confidence). The Faerie Dragon is well suited to its machinations as it sports a suite of surprisingly powerful magical spells that grow in power with age. Even at their youngest they are able to turn invisible for indefinite periods, create small illusions, and move small objects from a distance. At their most venerable they are able to create hallucinatory terrain or shapeshift themselves or others into animals. A Faerie Dragon that transforms into a giant elk is sure to get some attention!
Strengths to Model
Humor. Faerie Dragon’s particular focus is crafting and performing relatively harmless mischief and pranks. When modeling the Faerie Dragon, I recommend Game Masters (GM) play a friendly Faerie Dragon that models time and place for humor and the camaraderie and community that it can bring to a group. The amount, intensity, and tastes of humor differ from group to group, and should be adjusted accordingly. In one group, the players may be experiencing difficulty “getting” each other’s jokes. Faerie Dragons could be introduced to externalize and illuminate the humor creation and delivery process. A skilled Faerie Dragon may give pointers to characters and players, while a less-skilled Faerie Dragon may need advice from characters.
The Faerie Dragon can also be utilized to model appropriate humor for a group whose attempts at humor may be bordering on inappropriate for the group space of a therapeutically applied role-playing game (TARPG) group. Faerie Dragons have hordes of little treasures and trinkets that could be used as tokens of the dragon’s favor and approval for positive reinforcement when a player with a tricky sense of humor makes an appropriate joke or quip.
As always, a quirky monster should not take the place of explicit dialogue with players around group norms and the appropriate use of language when needed.
Opportunities for Growth
Self-Expression and Advocacy. Though often good-natured and not looking to harm others, a Faerie Dragon that has set their mischievous eyes on the party may create tricks and pranks that leave the party frustrated. A frustrated party is not inherently a bad thing, as it can be a catalyst for players to practice and learn coping skills, distress tolerance, and communication skills . While the Faerie Dragon’s japes should never be intensely hurtful, they can serve as an excellent foil with which the players can practice clear and assertive communication. The Faerie Dragon can be used to prompt players to explain how the actions of others make their characters feel.
One example of this is with a particular dragon that enjoys keeping invisible while changing humanoids’ skin color and has a penchant for creating inconvenient knots. In one day, the dragon has turned a character’s face blue, and tied together the shoes of another (twice!). Some of the players’ characters react with frustration, others with delight. The dragon, noticing their reactions, reveals itself and asks how the players liked it’s jokes. This gives the players an excellent chance to speak their experience of the situation. Communication can be scaffolded through the Faerie Dragon or through direct coaching from the GM. This also opens up a dialogue to naturally solicit feedback from players around the impact of the tricks. Finally, it creates space for the game master to model direct communication of internal experiences, thoughts, and emotions from the dragon itself.
To increase the difficulty of this encounter, the dragon can be introduced as impetuous and unapologetic in their actions at first. The dragon listens to the characters initial reactions, but immediately argues they just “didn’t get it,” asserting that the dragon found the jokes hilarious. The dragon’s response gives the players a chance to advocate for themselves and tell the Faerie Dragon that the dragon’s actions can hurt feelings, or cause unintended damage (especially in the case of tied-together shoelaces). The dragon’s cavalier response further provides the players the opportunity to be the responsible ones in the dialogue and teach the dragon to be more compassionate with its humor. They may even teach the dragon how to “properly” prank someone in a way that is less likely to cause unintended damage. The latter opportunity is intentionally silly and provides a sense of levity in the encounter.
As with any encounter design, the GM should know their players and be able to read the room and make adjustments in real time as needed. Everyone has different levels of frustration tolerance, and their daily capacity can be further impacted by variables such as environmental distress, sleep, and hunger. Building frustration tolerance should never be “pushed” but rather gently nudged over time, as when individuals are too distressed, their ability to learn is negatively impacted.
Story Hooks and Rewards
We have already gone over what a potential Faerie Dragon encounter may look like, but how might the party gain the attention of this puckish creature? If the intent is to model good humor perhaps the Faerie Dragon noticed one of the players’ characters treating an non-player character (NPC) poorly. Perhaps they intimidated a shopkeeper, maybe they broke down the door to the inn, or poked fun of an NPC’s name or looks. An apology was not forthcoming from the player when NPC told him how it made them feel, so the Faerie Dragon sets their sight on them as a whimsical vigilante of comedic justice. Brought to a tipping point in frustration the Faerie Dragon might reveal themselves and have a discussion about why the dragon did what it did, and advise the group on future behavior.
As with any encounter there is always a chance for reward and loot. Possible takeaways from the encounter could be magical candy that functions as charms or potions, small one-use magical items the dragon has sequestered away, or maybe even a favor from the dragon in the future for a particularly impactful prank on a “to be determined” mark.
The Faerie Dragon is a historic, yet often overlooked and underappreciated, monster included in 5e canon. It is a flavorful and powerful social adversary that expertly uses its guile and obfuscating magics. The Faerie Dragon is an excellent model of strength demonstrated outside of traditional physical attributes or prowess.
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Andrew Brazzale, LSWAIC, is a group facilitator and individual counselor. He approaches therapy with an earnest and open approach while helping clients develop better self-determination, valued living, and life satisfaction.
Game to Grow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the use of games of all kinds for therapeutic, educational, and community growth. We offer therapeutic social skills groups, trainings for mental health professionals, educators, and community members, and individual counseling services.