The Conjure Woodland Beings spell says
You summon fey creatures that appear in unoccupied spaces that you can see within range. Choose one of the following options for what appears.
One fey creature of challenge rating 2 or lower
Two fey creatures of challenge rating 1 or lower
The DM has the creatures' Statistics.
Very recently I've discovered the DM is the one that chooses the creatures that appear. Per Sage Advice:
When you cast a spell like conjure woodland beings, does the spellcaster or the DM choose the creatures that are conjured? Some spells of this sort specify that the spellcaster chooses the creature conjured. Other spells of this sort let the spellcaster choose from among several broad options.
The design intent for options like these is that the spellcaster chooses one of them, and then the DM decides what creatures appear that fit the chosen option. A spellcaster can certainly express a preference for what creatures shows up, but it’s up to the DM to determine if they do. The DM will often choose creatures that are appropriate for the campaign and that will be fun to introduce in a scene.
However, me and my players are having trouble matching our expectations and even progressing the game quickly enough. The player will cast this with some expectation:
I need this for combat, I need crowd control, I need utility
How am I, the DM, meant to choose the creatures that appear without screwing over the player but also not giving him exactly what he wants?
Then, how do I make this a fast choice? Am I supposed to have a list available of all fey or all beasts or all elementals by CR? If so, should I, before each adventure, run through the list and decide which creatures should appear? Or make them random?
I'm having trouble with these decisions because they seem to contradict each other.
- If I try to appease the player, I can't decide a basic set of creatures that get summoned.
- If, to make it quick, I prepare this set, then the player's plans might be ruined and he just wasted a valuable spell slot (we have 2 Rangers on our party with Conjure X spells).
- If I pick randomly, then it's random, so it might not make sense in the adventure.
- If I have to prepare these sets of creatures, it's a lot of additional prep work. People don't like the Wild Magic Sorcerer because the DM has to remember to roll for Wild Magic Surges, this feels like something similar.
What are your experiences with these spells and how do you handle these situations?