Sidhe is a term from the ancient Irish language; directly translated, it means "a mound of earth", but was used specifically to refer to various hillocks and barrows that were believed to be home to the Fey. Due to the fact several Irish fey have names featuring the term (Bean Sidhe - ancestor to the modern Banshee, Leanan Sidhe and Cat Sidhe), pop culture has assimilated it as a common moniker for the fey in general, usually used in loose equivalent to the elf race.
Sidhe in D&D
The term Sidhe has popped up several times in Dungeons & Dragons. The first and main usage was as a race in the first Creature Crucible splatbook for BECMI; "Tall Tales of the Wee Folk". Here, the Sidhe was presented as essentially a fey counterpart to humanity, differing mainly in its innate magical abilities and its aversion to iron. In Ravenloft, one of the Shadow Fey breeds is the Shee, which is the actual pronunciation of Sidhe, and this race is likewise based on the mystical Irish Celtic elf-type fairy.
Below is repeated the entire entry on the Sidhe from Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, complete with PC stats for BECMI.
The word “sidhe,” pronounced “shee,” is in fact a general term for a fairy, so technically it could be correctly used to describe any of the other fairy races. But in this supplement we mean it in more specific sense, excluding the other fairy races; though, as will be seen, it still applies to a very diverse group. In a sense, the sidhe are the “generic” fairies of legend; we are describing them in such a way that many fairies from literature and folklore could be described as sidhe.
Were it not for certain peculiar traits and abilities, many sidhe might be indistinguishable from humans and demihumans; they are at least as varied in appearance and temperament. Most appear to be humans, perhaps with slightly elfin features; others resemble the other demihuman races: dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings; and they may plausibly pass through all these societies without being recognized as anything different.
There are three characteristics that definitely distinguish the sidhe from humans and demi-humans: they are capable of becoming invisible to mortals at ill; they are capable of breathing water as easily as air; and iron is poisonous to them. A more subtle difference, related to the last one, is that their blood is not so deep a red that as the other races, since it lacks iron.
Iron’s poisonous nature is not quick-acting; for example, iron weapons do not cause sidhe additional damage. But long term contact with the metal will slowly and permanently drain a sidhe’s vitality (hit points and ability scores); ingested iron will do the same, but some damage can be reversed if the substance can be removed from the sidhe’s system. In any case, sidhe will never have weapons, armor, tools, or anything else fashioned of this metal; they use instead various stones (flint, obsidian, etc. ), and nonferrous metals and alloys (bronze, silver, gold, mithril, ect. ). Note that most powerfully enchanted weapons ( +3 or more) are made of allows containing little or no iron, and may thus be used by sidhe.
Some sages gave said, that humans are to demi-humans, so the sidhe are to the rest of the fairykind. Like humans, the sidhe are flexible. They can chose to combine either fighting or thieving skills with magic use; however, like other fairys, they can never become clerics. But again like humans, their general adaptability makes them natural leaders; the high king of fairies has been sidhe more often than any other race.
Normal sidhe, like normal humans, have 1/2 hit die and few abilities. Higher-level sidhe have more hit dice, and accordingly have higher-level abilities as magic-user and either fighter or thief. Those with fighting and magic abilities are warrior sidhe; those with thieving skills and magic are rogue sidhe.
Among the large groups of normal sidhe, these will be some extraordinary individuals, possible acting as leaders. Treat them as humans, except with regard to the differences as described. Exceptional individuals are totaled cumulatively. For every 10 sidhe, there will be a 2nd level warrior sidhe (compared to a second level elf), and a 50% chance of a rogue sidhe of 1st – 3rd level. For every 25 sidhe, there will be a warrior sidhe of 3rd to 6th level (1d4 +2). Groups of 50 have either a warrior sidhe (33%) pr 7th- 12 level (1d6 +6), or a rogue sidhe (33%) of 5th – 12th level (1d8 +4) , or both (34%). Groups of 100 will almost always (95%) be led by a warrior or rogue sidhe (Equal chances) of not less than 10th level.
The sidhe may be found anywhere at all, but they prefer to make their homes in beautiful, isolated, peaceful, natural locales, especially near woodlands. Sometimes they build grand palaces in underground caverns or underwater grottoes. Lairs are always well hidden and likely disguised, possible by magic.
Wandering is a favorite pursuit of the sidhe; while invisible to mortals, they love to travel around, playing jokes, assisting those in need, and generally looking for adventure. They are sometimes willing to befriend humans and demi-humans for long periods of time; it is even known for one of these fairies to marry into their societies. Many folk tales concern such fairies and their mortal families; inevitable the sidhe moves on, since his lifespan might cover millennia, and even an elven spouse would die of old age in a relatively short time.
All sidhe beyond normal monster level have fairy spellcasting ability, combined with either fighting or thieving skills; they may therefore be warrior sidhe or rogue sidhe. Most are the former; to be a rogue sidhe, a minimum dexterity of 8 is required.
Both class combinations progress on the same level advancement table; but while the warrior sidhe have eight-sided hit dice, those of the rogue sidhe are four-sided.
No sidhe may use weapons or armor fashioned of iron; see the section of “equipment” for information on non-ferrous. Otherwise, warrior sidhe can use any weapon or armor open to fighters, and rogue sidhe may use any open to thieves. Sidhe may use any magic item permitted to magic-users and either fighters or thieves, according to class combination.
- Sidhe of 1st level and above have spellcasting ability, as shown as Table 16 below. As can be seen, their spellcasting ability is not equal to that of human magic-users, elves, sprites, neither in terms of total spells nor spread of spell level mastery.
- Spells are chosen from the list of fairy-charms (see page 41).
- Recommended Spell List Adjustment: The sidhe are particularly renowned shapechangers, for this reason, they may take polymorph self as a second level spell. Also, this spell lasts until the sidhe wills to return to old shape, is killed, or until a dispel magic successfully counters it.
Other special Abilities:
- Warrior sidhe can make multiple attacks at higher levels, like fighters.
- Rogue sidhe have special skills of thieves of equal level (lockpicking, backstabbing, etc. )
- All Sidhe may become invisible to mortals; and, since they often have underwater homes, they can breathe water and air with equal facility.
- A Sidhe can take Polymorph Self as 2nd level spell. Additionally, when they cast this pell, the spell lasts until the sidhe willingly returns to their former shape, is killed, or has it countered by a dispel magic.
|Sidhe Level||Experience Points||Warrior Hit Dice||Rogue Hit Dice|
|Subsequent||290,000||+1 hit point||+1 hit point|
|Fairy Spells by Level|
|Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races|
|Basic Set:||Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human|
|Creature Catalog 1:||Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao |
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
|Creature Catalog 2:||Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy |
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
|Creature Catalog 3:||Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie - Triton|
|Dragon Magazine:||Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:||Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubbit - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:||Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll
Mr. Welch's Work
Mr. Welch, for whatever reason, decided to include the Sidhe as a playable race in his Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition splatbook, "The Mystara Player's Handbook. It's a lot less complicated than the above, but still pretty complex as 5e races go:
- Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Charisma, +1 Dexterity
- Size: Medium
- Speed: 30 feet
- Eternal Creature: You cannot take the Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Paladin or Warlock class.
- Fey Magic: From 2nd level onwards, you gain the ability to cast Illusionist and Enchanter spells. At every even-numbered level (2, 4, 6, etc), pick one Wizard spell from the Illusion or Enchantment school with a level equal to half your character level, or lower. You can cast each spell selected from this racial trait 1/day.
- Water Breathing: You can breathe air and water.
- Iron Allergy: You are Vulnerable to damage inflicted by iron weapons (anything with a +2 or higher enchantment is not considered iron), and cannot use your Fey Magic spells whilst touching, wearing or wielding iron weapons or armor.
- True Fey: You are immune to nonmagical diseases, can see other fey that are invisible, and take damage from holy water as if you are undead. Raise Dead and related spells do not function on you unless cast within 10 minutes of your death.