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In UA 2021: Folk of the Feywild, the description of the Fairy race's Fey Passage trait says:

You can squeeze through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide.

And the basic rules provide the following rules for squeezing into a smaller space:

A creature can squeeze through a space that is large enough for a creature one size smaller than it. Thus, a Large creature can squeeze through a passage that's only 5 feet wide. While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extra foot for every foot it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it's in the smaller space.

Would the Fey Presence trait enable a UA Fairy character to escape from manacles, ropes that are tied around them, etc.?

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It depends on your DM.

Fey Passage does not inherently allow you to escape from restraints; if it did, it would say that. Squeezing is generally about moving through spaces that are too small to effectively fight in, not dealing with being tied up or handcuffed.

However, it is reasonable that handcuffs sized for a small creature are bigger than an inch across, and if you can fit your whole body through a one-inch space, clearly your hand should be able to do the same.

It's unclear from the UA article what Fey Passage is actually supposed to represent in-world. It doesn't actually say the fairy has innate size-changing magic, but I'm pretty sure they didn't intend that Fairy characters can bonelessly squish through small openings like a slime or fire elemental. I assume this ability represents switching between a smaller pixie-sized form and a larger form that's more suitable to dealing with the human world, something like the fairies in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, but since the Fairy doesn't have any sort of innate reduce magic, that seems questionable.

In any case, your DM could certainly decide that being able to fit through tiny spaces means you can use that same ability to slip out of ropes or manacles, but it would have to be their choice to allow that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As a sort of addendum: if you as a DM do decide to allow this, be aware that in situations where it's useful, it will be exceptionally useful, but outside of those specific situations, it would be basically useless. Unless the fey character getting captured and clapped in irons is going to be a recurring theme, this benefit may only come up once in a campaign, if it comes up at all. \$\endgroup\$ May 4 '21 at 13:41
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I had a look at a nearby cat, a tiny creature, to see the size of their wrist. It was about 0.9 inches. As such, a small creature with slightly larger wrists would probably be able to squeeze out.

The book doesn't define the width wrist of fairies, so you would have to ask your DM if the manacles were 1 inch or larger, and so you could squeeze through. If the manacles were not properly sized to hold you then you could ask about escaping them, but that is DM discretion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Cats are tiny, not small. \$\endgroup\$ May 3 '21 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ To support what @DarthPseudonym said, the cat statblock: dndbeyond.com/monsters/cat \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 4 '21 at 2:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ The size of the cat is less significant than the lack of coherency in this answer. Please try to focus it a bit. \$\endgroup\$ May 4 '21 at 13:42

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