An attempt at Organized Flight Rules

Since this has been requested a couple times, here we go. These are my house rules. Again, house rules I use that seem appropriate to me. I even read up a little and tweaked from what I had been using.

Flight can be based upon three things. They all react differently. Magic, Muscle and Floating.

Applies everywhere and always: (some argue it doesn't apply on the fly spell if the creature does not have natural flight)
Maneuverability: Clumsy –8, Poor –4, Average +0, Good +4, Perfect +8
Size: Fine +8, Diminutive +6, Tiny +4, Small +2, Large –2, Huge –4, Gargantuan –6, Colossal –8.

Reach: If using your arms for attack, you have your standard weapon reach to each side and above. If you are using feet to attack, you have your standard reach to each side and below.

Orientation: Flying with the body horizontal is disorienting with gravity being in the wrong direction. -2 to perception and attacks. Flying upside down, -5 to perception and attacks.

45 degree up (or down, turning, etc) is counted as straight squares and not the 1-2-1 as in 2D movement on the ground. Taken from suggestion by James Jacobs.

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Muscle driven Flight:

You have to keep flapping your wings, so it requires exertion. Air passing over the wings is what gives lift, so the wings have to keep moving.

DC 15: Hover in place. Fail by 1-4 and you start falling. After 10' down, you can recover and move laterally away, aka, diving swoop. Make the DC 10 or DC 0 checks for less than or greater than half for distance you were forced to move to recover. If failed the hover by 5 or more, fall up to 500' (start of your next round).
~~ The Hover feat removes the DC. If large, hovering creates a 60' radius debris field if within 20' of the ground.
DC 10: Move less than half your fly speed in a round
DC 0: Move more than half your fly speed in a round
DC 15: Turn greater than 45° by spending 5 feet of movement, failure: didn't turn
DC 20: Turn 180° by spending 10 feet of movement, failure: turned only 45 degrees
~~ Wingover feat makes this one free action per round, no DC.
DC 20: Fly up at greater than 45° angle, failure, didn't climb any height

So, turning is a Fly check. 0-14: you are going to take 4 rounds to get back to where you were. 15-19: 2 rounds to return. 20+: you can return the next round.

Another house rules I have:
A) In combat, if two sizes smaller than opponent, an attack can be a "clutch and attack". Example: Celestial eagle summon. Flies at an opponent, grabs an arm or shoulder to perch, and bites. The grab does no damage, only the bite does. It is effectively an uneasy landing on the creature it is attacking. Next round, talon/talon/bite. Otherwise, it has to circle as a move action, and only bite once on each pass. Works the same for the flying fighter grabbing onto a dragon's scale or horn upon its back.

B) The other option to this is a move, DC 15 hover and bite the first round. Second round is a DC 15 hover while talon/talon/bite.

A) is a house rule. B) I think is RAW. C) The reverse of the size issue is Crush. Described in the bestiary's dragon intro section. Three sizes larger, THUMP! Ouch! Continuous ouch until you stop squirming.


Attacks:
With Flyby Attack: move up to, take one attack and move past with possible turnaround with DC 20.
Without Flyby Attack: move up to, take one attack. Next round, move away, turning with DCs, return for 1 attack. OR
Without Flyby Attack: hover DC 15, take all attacks.

This is the reason most dragons have the Vital Strike chain of feats. They are only taking one attack per pass. So, they Vital Strike to double/triple up the damage of that attack.

So, that ancient red dragon, who is a gargantuan clumsy flier, is +3 class, -1 dex, -6 size, -8 clumsy or -12 fly before spending skill ranks. Since it has 25 "levels", it can get up to a +13 if it maxes out fly. It has to roll to be able to just hover. So, watch the feats taken for dragons and flight. They are really needed or he can strafe for only one attack every couple rounds. Flyby Attack gets it down to 1/round. Hover and WingOver remove the DCs that a dragon could actually miss in the heat of battle. Smart dragons learn the overland flight spell to aid them so that flapping wings are not a requirement. Tumbling in air is better than falling out of the sky.

Web: Nasty spell to use against a winged flyer. Reflex save or grappled in the web. Wings become useless. Fall five hundred feet before its turn comes up to get a chance to make the strength check to break free.

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Magic Flight: The "On strings" or "superman" method. Via spell or (Su).

DC 15: Hover in place. If you fail, you stay in place, but are tumbling and unstable. -5 to skills or attacks and flat-footed. If fail by 1-4, you can choose to fall 10' and swoop away in order to gain stability. By 5 or more, you are stuck tumbling for the round.
~~ Hover feat removes the DC. If large and flapping big wings for the heck of it, create 60' radius debris field near ground.
DC 0: Move less than half your fly speed in a straight line in a round. The "as much concentration as walking" line kicks in here I think.
DC 0: Move more than half your fly speed in a straight line in a round
DC 15: Turn greater than 45° by spending 5 feet of movement. Exerting force in a different direction, takes skill to not tumble. Fail: tumble
DC 20: Turn 180° by spending 10 feet of movement. Ditto. Fail: tumble
~~ Wingover feat makes this one free action per round, no DC.
Fly up: Double movement cost.
Fly down: 1/2 movement cost.


Attacks:
With Flyby Attack: move up to, take one attack and move past with possible included turn.
Without Flyby Attack: move up to, take one attack. Next round, move away, turning with DCs, possible return if you have the distance for 1 attack. OR
Without Flyby Attack: hover DC 15, take all attacks.


Again, turning is a Fly check. You are applying mentally invoked force to alter your current trajectory. (think spacecraft ballisitic travel) 0-14: you are going to take 4 rounds to get back. 15-19: 2 rounds to return. 20+: you can return the next round. Failures: uncontrolled tumbling.

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Third method:
Levitate or the "hot air balloon". I think the Levitate spell covers this enough.

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Moral of the story, get your fly skill over +20 AND buy a Ring of Feather Fall. Then try flying on a regular basis. Otherwise, use it for just emergencies.
 
I would like to point out that there is at least the possibility for raw mechanical know how to be utilized to engineer the capability for flight at least in a rudimentary form. I mean I totally expect that a Gnome who puts his mind to it could invent a mechanical flying machine if he wanted too.

I also disagree with the flying horizontal being disorienting. Afterall that is the natural position of flight for many species of creatures, such as Dragons and Birds. It makes sense that it would be the natural position of flight for humans as well due to it causing less wind resistance when in that position ala Superman and virtually every other super hero that has the ability to fly. Add to the fact that the human's head can be repositioned in such a way that it does not hinder their perception all that much.
 
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Gnomes might use hot air balloons. That was the third type which I didn't bother to cover. Flappy flight by gnome tinkering is not likely, given that magic is so prevalent.

But how stable was Lois Lane? :) Long term natural ability, aka Superman, is different than occasional spell, aka Lois Lane.
 
in the official canon (not counting smallville) when did Lois Lane ever get the ability to fly? She may have, I just don't recall it ever happening. But that's neither here nor there, because it is possible for a human or humanoid to gain full time natural flight (or psuedo natural flight). Take for example the Dragon Disciple Prestige Class, they gain fully functional wings.
 

GlassEye

Community Supporter
I'd like to see/know about possible penalties to attacks when flying. I think it likely that PC flyers will attack with archery or spells; what penalties, if any, exist for these types of attacks? Based solely on the fly skill, I don't see penalties to attacks so is the -2 you mention above with magic flight one of your house rules or extrapolated from some other rule?

Also, I feel turning over multiple rounds to get back to your target to be an unnecessary complication. The next round you can move in a different direction from the previous round without any sort of check.


EDIT: For example, does attacking from a higher elevation count as attacking from higher ground and give a +1 to melee attacks? This sort of thing is what I was asking about above.
 
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perrinmiller

Visitor
What about an intentional free fall with Flappy flight to drop 10 feet and then begin flying normally to avoid AoO for movement?

What about the ability to charge while flying?

As I read the rules you can turn more than once at 45 degrees as long as you spend 5ft of movement each time. That would assume you moved at least 5ft feet straight afterwards before turning again. That prevents it from being a greater than 45 degree turn. I don't see where you must continue in a straight line after the first turn the rest of your movement.
 

Systole

Community Supporter
I'm on the fence, frankly. Before I get to suggested tweaks, there's a bigger question: Is the added complexity worth the realism? Using these rules means that we have to start thinking about velocity (read: speed and direction) in addition to just plain old location. It's going to get complicated.
 

perrinmiller

Visitor
I'm on the fence, frankly. Before I get to suggested tweaks, there's a bigger question: Is the added complexity worth the realism? Using these rules means that we have to start thinking about velocity (read: speed and direction) in addition to just plain old location. It's going to get complicated.
But all movement has velocity. ;)

Speed is the Xft movement per Move Action, direction is the movement from square to square. Sort of like moving spaceships in StarWars RPGs. It is not more complicated than land movement really where you have to worry about difficult terrain.

But when you have flight, you need to track elevation. I would say the +1 Attack still applies whether you are flying or standing.
 

perrinmiller

Visitor
I went through them again, and yes there are some complicated things. But, I do understand them.

Honestly, trying to run mounted combat or letting characters fly is going to be challenging on a DM no matter what. Complex is unavoidable for aerial combat, I think. As they are written in the Core Rules, there were too many questions in my mind, things not considered that exist in for land movement.

But if the clarifications and rules are published, then everyone is on the same page and that is what keeps people from having disagreements and provides the DMs and Players a standard to go by. ;)
 

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