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General How has flying affected your games?


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I'm reading that series to my nephew as bedtime books. We're currently a dozen or so chapters into "Life, the Universe, and Everything." (His favorite character by far: Marvin.)

Johnathan
 

And to get back on topic, towards the end of a previous campaign (about 15th level or so) the PCs took out a bunch of drow who all had "floatdisks" - shields that could be ridden like a hoverboard - and subsequently took the time to get proficient in their use. That certainly changed the way combats often played out from that point on.

Johnathan
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Hi everyone. How has having flying PCs affected your game? Whether it has been spellcasters, magic items, or aarakocra characters, have you seen trouble? How much do you value flying?

In my own games, I only had one character who did a lot of flying. He was a fighter/sorcerer/Eldritch Knight who loved using haste and flight. That was like level 12 in 3.5, so we were way past the time when fights with animals were regular. Also, he was a melee build so I didn't have to worry about flying artillery.

What has your experience been?

Depends on the type of flight. I have recent experience with 3 types: an aarakocra PC who joined the party around 6th level, an overland flight ritual around 8th level, and the druid's wind walk spell at 11th level.

Aarakocra was able to access all kinds of places that were harder for other PCs, but this often made him the main or only target for enemies, which led to a lot of fights where he was knocked out. There was a learning process here about the danger of aerial scouting ahead. There were also a few cool locations and treasures he discovered thanks to his flight. Because of his wings we ruled he needed at least a 10' by 15' indoor/underground area to use his flight.

Overland flight ritual was my adaptation of a magical flight plot device from Tomb of Annihilation. It reduced travel time a fair amount and also reduced the number of random encounters the PCs had, which actually came at just the right time for us as there'd been plenty of random encounters already. I restricted this to overland non-tactical flight, so anytime they opted to fight, they safely sank to the ground.

Wind walk was video game fast travel, no ifs ands or buts about it. It totally trivialized travel, though there was a cool scene where the party got hit by a tropical storm and the druid decided to try and "ride the storm" toward a destination; it was a nice moment of tension and offered the players an interesting choice. They ended up 40 miles off course and where able to course correct the next day.
 

Johnny3D3D

Adventurer
I’m always curious about this scenario, and how it plays out.

I get that a longbow with SS has an enormous range, and ignores all but full cover, but how did you regularly have a clear shot without full cover from 200+ feet away? Or even 100+ feet away?

A reasonable copse of trees will provide full cover to anything inside it from even 80ft away.

In open terrain, did your PC ever draw creatures like rocs or dragons or other giant flying predators?

I mean I get that other people don’t see giving enemies feats, pets, and tactics that take into account what other creatures are capable of as basic adventure design, but even without those things I have trouble seeing how a flying archer wrecks adventures like some folks have seen.

My opinion...

The three primary aspects of a combat unit are to shoot, move, and communicate. In a D&D context, "shoot" turns into "attack" I guess.

In terms of movement, flight multiplies the options readily available -making another dimension of movement readily accessible in a controlled* way. (*as opposed to a limited and somewhat uncontrolled way such as jumping.) In this way, flight is a force multiplier.

Having more avenues of approach for tactical movement also opens up greater options for attack. This goes beyond linear attacks such as using a bow or attacking with a sword -though the benefits of being able to do those from increase avenues of approach should not be ignored. A 3-dimensional attack such as fireball could be more-easily placed in a way which hits the enemy, but not the attacker. Sure, the enemy could decide to target the flying PC (and they would be smart to do so,) but would that then also not mean that the enemy is -to some extent- having their tactics further dictated by that one PC? In terms of both defense and offense concerning the "attack" element of a combat unit, flight again acts as a force multiplier.

Arguably that is minimized in a dungeon due to close-quarters combat being more prevalent in a dungeon, but not all encounters take place in a dungeon. I would agree that trees and such could (and should) block sight, but D&D includes a lot of cheap magic items which make mimicking modern warfare tactics fairly easy. (Sending Stones are a lot better than people typically give them credit for being, even without flight.) It is here that the "communicate" aspect of combat is multiplied by flight. In addition to increased scouting and recon capabilities for the land-bound PCs (via virtue of being able to communicate with the flying PC,) the PCs can also communicate information to the flying PC to help guide attacks. In instances where sight is impaired, attack options which do not require site to be successful can be employed. Again, flight is a force multiplier.

I would not categorize flight as a game breaker (especially not in light of other abilities and other aspect of how the game works which are arguably more problematic,) but I believe that flight easily becomes a force multiplier for a combat unit, especially in a system which is built to ignore the granularity to address the common drawbacks to flight (among other things).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
My opinion...

The three primary aspects of a combat unit are to shoot, move, and communicate. In a D&D context, "shoot" turns into "attack" I guess.

In terms of movement, flight multiplies the options readily available -making another dimension of movement readily accessible in a controlled* way. (*as opposed to a limited and somewhat uncontrolled way such as jumping.) In this way, flight is a force multiplier.

Having more avenues of approach for tactical movement also opens up greater options for attack. This goes beyond linear attacks such as using a bow or attacking with a sword -though the benefits of being able to do those from increase avenues of approach should not be ignored. A 3-dimensional attack such as fireball could be more-easily placed in a way which hits the enemy, but not the attacker. Sure, the enemy could decide to target the flying PC (and they would be smart to do so,) but would that then also not mean that the enemy is -to some extent- having their tactics further dictated by that one PC? In terms of both defense and offense concerning the "attack" element of a combat unit, flight again acts as a force multiplier.

Arguably that is minimized in a dungeon due to close-quarters combat being more prevalent in a dungeon, but not all encounters take place in a dungeon. I would agree that trees and such could (and should) block sight, but D&D includes a lot of cheap magic items which make mimicking modern warfare tactics fairly easy. (Sending Stones are a lot better than people typically give them credit for being, even without flight.) It is here that the "communicate" aspect of combat is multiplied by flight. In addition to increased scouting and recon capabilities for the land-bound PCs (via virtue of being able to communicate with the flying PC,) the PCs can also communicate information to the flying PC to help guide attacks. In instances where sight is impaired, attack options which do not require site to be successful can be employed. Again, flight is a force multiplier.

I would not categorize flight as a game breaker (especially not in light of other abilities and other aspect of how the game works which are arguably more problematic,) but I believe that flight easily becomes a force multiplier for a combat unit, especially in a system which is built to ignore the granularity to address the common drawbacks to flight (among other things).
A well reasoned argument. Flight is certainly useful, but there are races with advantage on half the saves vs any magical effect, or who gain really good spells, etc. Not to mention what fairly low level spells and class features can do.
 

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