There is a dead pixie that the PCs have been carrying around for a couple of days, and based on an unsubstantiated story they were told* they want to feed it to a PC's giant goat companion. Because it's been unrefrigerated for a couple days the Paladin (Oath of the Crown) prepared Purify Food and Drink so it will be safe to eat:

All nonmagical food and drink within a 5-foot-radius sphere centered on a point of your choice within range is purified and rendered free of poison and disease.

The question is whether or not a pixie corpse meets the required criteria for this spell:

  • is it food?
  • is it nonmagical?

Since virtually everything organic is food for something else, the definition of food needs some limitation.

I've heard an argument that says since the source of this spell is divine, whatever your god would deem as food is acceptable. However, since our Paladin has no god and her loyalty lies with a dragonborn prince who is game to eat anything, this feels like a loophole. Additionally, whose perspective do you take into account? In this case, the intended consumer is an herbivore (the giant goat), but the Paladin who would be casting it is an omnivore. Does the definition of food matter to the one casting the spell, or the one for whom the food is intended?

For the second criterion, are fey innately magical? If so, do they remain magical after death?

* Someone told them about an ape that devoured pixies and over time mutated into a murderous King Kong–sized monster.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Dude, is this the same goat? That thing's nothin' but trouble! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2016 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan How he gets the goat to eat meat might be an adventure in itself. Maybe cover it in collard greens ... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2016 at 20:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Something else to consider, something that causes beings to radically change size over time may be removed by the purification. It's like casting Purify on a magic mushroom...Now it's just a mushroom! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2016 at 20:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ There was a popular Reddit thread about a reformed Ogre cleric that used Purify Food and Drink to stop a plague. Interesting view point. reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/35tvc7/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Ceribia
    Feb 5, 2016 at 22:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast - not really. Most of the herbivores don't mind snacking on some protein. For example: youtube.com/watch?v=sQOQdBLHrLk. And I must point out, this isn't anomalous. It's actually pretty normal. \$\endgroup\$
    – Davor
    Feb 6, 2016 at 11:41

2 Answers 2


The PCs are testing the rumor—so make a choice!

Your campaign is a custom one, so while purify food and drink maybe should apply only to food and drink that's consumable by a creature of the race casting the spell or by the god that grants the spell or something, that doesn't mean the campaign's pixies aren't actually food for everybody.

In other words, the PCs have heard rumors of a creature that gains power via snacking on pixies, so when the PCs cast purify food and drink on a pixie corpse and they or their goat friend is about to dig in, you've to decide if those rumors of greatness through faerie feasting are true. (Fun Fact: PCs—and players!—will likely be disappointed if such rumors are untrue.)

If the rumors aren't true, the spell simply fails. No harm, no foul, no pixie picnic, no übergoat. All done.

If the rumors are true, then you've to decide how true. Can anyone partake of this pixie power-up? Need the pixie be alive? (Ew.) Some degree of fresh? (A day sounds good.) Must the entire pixie be consumed? ("Pixie wings taste like fruit roll-ups!") Is that healthy? (Likely not.) Must pixie be prepared a certain way? ("It must be served... on a stick!") Do a certain number need to be consumed to gain ultimate pixie power? And so on. Then the spell works, but, maybe, after consuming the pixie, the PCs are left wondering why their goat has a bellyache instead of awesome pixie powers.

This is your campaign, and—to challenge the frame a bit—this is less about how the spell purify food and drink works and more about the effects of pixie-eating in your campaign. That is, determine event's outcome and steps required to reach it first, and the question about the spell likely answers itself.


5e defers a great deal to DM's discretion. So the real answer is to discuss it with your players, lay out your concerns for abuse, and decide on an answer as a group.

That said, there's no good reason not be liberal in your definition of food, especially considering that your PCs do plan on eating it and aren't doing this for some other purpose, like preserving the body for who-knows-what. Whether or not fairies are magical or not isn't particularly relevant.

It's way more interesting for them to proceed than not. Also, there's great roleplaying potential when the fairy kingdom (etc.) finds out about it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When it comes to this specific case, I 100% agree with you, but I do want to be careful about opening the spell's definition too wide without carefully considering how they might abuse it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaric
    Feb 5, 2016 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would argue that a fairy corpse is magical if (and only if) the fairy gave an effect when eaten (say, by turning the goat into a raging monster). Which means the spell is fairly silly - if the effect would happen, it's magical, and the spell won't work; if the effect doesn't happen, what's the point in the first place? \$\endgroup\$
    – ArmanX
    Feb 5, 2016 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ The point is to remove the possibility of food poisoning. This is important for adventurers whose food sources come from the land, rather than rations. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2016 at 21:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, but I think the biggest issue is whether the spell will purify out the effect the PCs want. \$\endgroup\$
    – DCShannon
    Feb 5, 2016 at 22:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ "That pixie is probably someone's godmother!" This will not end well. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Feb 8, 2016 at 0:32

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