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The description of the find steed spell reads:

You summon a spirit that assumes the form of an unusually intelligent, strong, and loyal steed, creating a long-lasting bond with it. Appearing in an unoccupied space within range, the steed takes on a form that you choose: a warhorse, a pony, a camel, an elk, or a mastiff. (Your DM might allow other animals to be summoned as steeds.) The steed has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of its normal type. [...]

That mount is a spirit, not a common animal of that type. Since the spell doesn't go into details, I assume I don't have to feed it as I'd have to feed a warhorse, for instance. However, do spirits need to eat in D&D?

The reason being: although celestials/fey/fiends most likely eat unless otherwise specified (e.g. angels), they can be killed by bringing them to 0 HP.

On the other hand, a mount from find steed "disappears, leaving behind no physical form" and can be brought back fully restored if the spell is cast again - basically, if it drops to 0 HP, its body simply fades and it won't die. That fits the "spirit" part in the spell's description and strongly indicates that it's not just fluff, as it doesn't work exactly like the usual celestials/fey/fiends nor the base animal.

The summoned spirit might come in the form of a celestial horse, but that doesn't imply it actually eats like one, just like it doesn't die like an ordinary horse or celestial.

Is there any factual or explicit rule to conclusively support an answer of "yes, the steed from find steed needs to eat" or "no, the steed doesn't need to eat"?

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Most likely yes

The spirit part of the effect seems to have no rules associated with it. What we should be looking at is the fact that it becomes a Celestial, Fey or Fiend. The question then becomes, do Celestials, Fey or Fiend require sustenance?

I scoured the monster manual and found various examples of Fiend type creatures eating, such as the Hellhound and Rakhasa eating humanoid flesh and most demons feeding on Manes. It's not mentioned whether it's a physiological need or just pleasure, but some descriptions speak of their "hunger", so I'm tempted to go with he former.

No information about whether or not Fey and Celestial type creatures require food, but I would infer that yes, they do. It doesn't say that specifically about any creature type in general, but pretty sure the majority of creatures in the MM do need food anyways. The exception to this would be some undead creatures which have the follow feature:

Undead Nature. A ghost doesn't require air, food, drink, or sleep.

Going back to your specific case, the Horse does require food and it would appear that becoming one of those creature types does not get rid of this need.

Clarification for your second question: Still YES

In the rules, specific always trumps general. The spell effect states that the creature behaves differently when brought to 0 HP. Since, as you correctly pointed out, not all the creatures of the aforementioned types behave in this way upon being destroyed, this information had to be added to explicitly point out the differences between this Horse and a typical Fiend/Celestial/Fey Horse.

The rules of being a Fiend/Celestial/Fey Horse continue to apply, but with the listed modifications ONLY. Since those modifications do not point out that it stops requiring sustenance to survive or apply a mechanic that would lead to it gaining such feature, I'm forced to conclude that it does nothing to change that result, the same as before.

A spirit creature type or template description would be required to actually know the full implications of that effect.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If it helps, the Monster Manual often sites <creature type> Nature (undead, ooze, etc.) that specifies what that type of creature doesn't need. Oozes don't need sleep, but undead nature specifically cites not needing food (MM pg. 147). I think this helps confirm your argument. \$\endgroup\$ – Guy Apr 1 '17 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Point of order, there is no “fluff” in spell descriptions. The fact that the steed is a spirit adopting a form doesn't affect the conclusion you reach, but it can affect other things. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant Apr 2 '17 at 3:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless it is specifically mentioned as not having to eat, the assumption is that it does. There is no compelling evidence to the contrary, only speculation. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Apr 2 '17 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great clarification in your updated answer. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – Pedral Apr 2 '17 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pedral sorry if it's not the answer you hoped for. I would still probably not ask for it to be fed if I was GM, but we gotta be pedantic on this site. Thanks for giving me the answer~ \$\endgroup\$ – ChibiNya Apr 2 '17 at 19:27
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The rules don't specify.

So it will be up to your DM.

My interpretation is that the summoned steed is a magical spirit that doesn't require sustenance. Even if a DM doesn't interpret the spell in that way, they should still ask themselves what having the steed require food adds to the game. Remembering that the caster of find steed can always release a summoned steed and conjure a new one, it doesn't seem like there's much real gameplay value in fiddling around with the player character having to forage for sprit-horse feed. As a DM, I'd rather that the players enjoy the benefits of having a magical spirit animal to ride without any of the tedious realities of horse ownership.

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Maybe not

The steed has the Statistics of the chosen form

The Statistics, or stat block, of a monster starts with Size (MM6). Descriptions that come before size are thus not part of its Statistics. While there are several monsters with Undead Nature or Construct Nature that say they do no need to eat, these traits are listed before the stat block and are not, properly speaking, part of their Statistics.

Thus, whether or not an animal eats is not part of its Statistics. A spirit can assume the "form" of an animal, including all of its statistics, without necessarily assuming its need to eat (or lack thereof). Whether or not a spirit needs to eat is based on the nature of spirits, not based on the nature of the forms they assume.

Unfortunately, little is official about the nature of spirits and we are not told directly whether or not they need to eat. As an extended analogy, however, consider how similar the description of the Find Steed spell is to the description of the Find Familiar spell, which also allows a spirit to take the form of a creature.

a spirit that takes an animal form you choose...Appearing in an unoccupied space within range, the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast...As an action, you can temporarily dismiss your familiar. It disappears into a pocket dimension where it awaits your summons.

The familiar may be dismissed into a "pocket dimension" and later recalled. No time limit is given for how long the familiar may remain in the pocket dimension, a place where it is neither eating nor apparently breathing, since we know from the description of a bag of holding that the air inside that pocket dimension is finite.

Breathing creatures inside the bag can survive up to a number of minutes equal to 10 divided by the number of creatures (minimum 1 minute), after which time they begin to suffocate.

Since a familiar can survive indefinitely in its pocket dimension, it seems reasonable that it does not need to eat. And if celestials, fey, and fiends that take the form of familiars don't need to eat, it seems at least possible that the same spirits also don't need to eat when they take the form of steeds.

Given that feeding is not part of the Statistics a steed must necessarily assume, and given the similarity of found steeds to found familiars that apparently do not need to eat or breathe, it seems possible that the spirits taking the form of Found Steeds do not need to eat (or breathe) either.

Related: What all is included in a creature's game statistics?

Is the interior of a Bag of Holding actually an extradimensional space?

Is the "pocket dimension" a familiar goes into a demiplane or an extradimensional space?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Im not understanding your logic here. Can you identify a single example from any of the three monster books where a creature is specifically described outside of its statblock as needing to eat? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Aug 1 at 7:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ And if I am understanding you correctly, if I true polymorph and remain in that form, I never have to eat or drink again? That sounds pretty obviously wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Aug 1 at 7:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can I identify a single example? How about: "While prowling for substantial prey, a tyrannosaurus subsists on carrion". MM79. More to the point, all I am saying is that a spirit can have exactly the same stat block as the animal whose form it assumes WITHOUT sharing its need for food, because food requirements are NOT part of the stat block. This is in contrast to the argument that the spirit MUST need food because it has the same stats as an animal that DOES need food. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Aug 1 at 8:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov 2 days ago

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