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D&D 5E On fairies and flying

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So...characters and flying.

There's the new fairy: "Flight. Because of your wings, you have a flying speed equal to your walking speed. You can’t use this flying speed if you’re wearing medium or heavy armor."

There's also the aarakocra: "Flight. You have a flying speed of 50 feet. To use this speed, you can’t be wearing medium or heavy armor."

There's also the aasimar: "Radiant Soul...at 3rd-level...Your transformation lasts for 1 minute or until you end it as a bonus action. During it, you have a flying speed of 30 feet..."

So clearly the game designers think flight is something that should be limited. Either by limiting armor worn or limiting by level and duration or as a short-duration concentration spell that's not available until 5th level.

Okay. So some DMs think early access to flight will destroy their games others think it's no problem at all. But flight is a really potent ability. Sure, there's are a lot of ways flight can go against the flying character. Wind gusts, lack of cover, inability to hide, being an obvious target, easy line of sight, etc. But flight lets the character bypass a lot of stuff. Traps, difficult terrain, any and all ground-based effects, etc. It also lets the flyer make athletics and climbing redundant...but there's also spider climb (2nd level, 1-hour, concentration).

To me it comes down to style. If the DM is one who wants those things to matter and easy access to flight removes those as obstacles...there's a problem. There's also the ease of abuse of fairy flight. As written, anything that boosts your walking speed also boosts your flying speed. So mobile, monk, barbarian, haste, etc.

As a player, I still want to play a wild magic barbarian fairy...or a drunken master monk fairy.

But as a DM, I'm torn. I can go either way on it being too much or no big deal.

So help me out. Why is it too much and why is it no big deal?
 

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So...characters and flying.

There's the new fairy: "Flight. Because of your wings, you have a flying speed equal to your walking speed. You can’t use this flying speed if you’re wearing medium or heavy armor."

There's also the aarakocra: "Flight. You have a flying speed of 50 feet. To use this speed, you can’t be wearing medium or heavy armor."

There's also the aasimar: "Radiant Soul...at 3rd-level...Your transformation lasts for 1 minute or until you end it as a bonus action. During it, you have a flying speed of 30 feet..."

So clearly the game designers think flight is something that should be limited. Either by limiting armor worn or limiting by level and duration or as a short-duration concentration spell that's not available until 5th level.

Okay. So some DMs think early access to flight will destroy their games others think it's no problem at all. But flight is a really potent ability. Sure, there's are a lot of ways flight can go against the flying character. Wind gusts, lack of cover, inability to hide, being an obvious target, easy line of sight, etc. But flight lets the character bypass a lot of stuff. Traps, difficult terrain, any and all ground-based effects, etc. It also lets the flyer make athletics and climbing redundant...but there's also spider climb (2nd level, 1-hour, concentration).

To me it comes down to style. If the DM is one who wants those things to matter and easy access to flight removes those as obstacles...there's a problem. There's also the ease of abuse of fairy flight. As written, anything that boosts your walking speed also boosts your flying speed. So mobile, monk, barbarian, haste, etc.

As a player, I still want to play a wild magic barbarian fairy...or a drunken master monk fairy.

But as a DM, I'm torn. I can go either way on it being too much or no big deal.

So help me out. Why is it too much and why is it no big deal?
Limiting it to light armor is not really a gameplay restriction, because if you are flying, using a ranged weapon will give you advantage and you want high dex anyway. Only a cleric suffers a bit.

The big deal is, that it trivializes quite a few encounters, as explained in the other thread:
  • climbing (bringing the end of the rope to the top)
  • fights against monsters without ranged weapons (killing a tarrasque with acid spray at level 1)

You might notice that I don't take it too serious. A flying familiar is nearly as annoying as a flying character, but as a DM, you should just accept it and make the player suffer when it is appropriate.

TThey might miss an archer and are an easy target. A hold person or tasha's hideous laughter hurts a lot more if you fall 60ft first. And there is no question, that this is what your enemies do if they have the means.
So in the end it balances out.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
As a DM, I don’t view flight as especially powerful. Regardless of any flyers, I pepper encounters with flying enemies and archers/spell-snipers(often falconer teams with a flying beast and an archer), and I don’t design terrain challenges that can be wholly bypassed by one character using an ability to individually bypass the obstacle.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Limiting it to light armor is not really a gameplay restriction, because if you are flying, using a ranged weapon will give you advantage and you want high dex anyway. Only a cleric suffers a bit.

The big deal is, that it trivializes quite a few encounters, as explained in the other thread:
  • climbing (bringing the end of the rope to the top)
  • fights against monsters without ranged weapons (killing a tarrasque with acid spray at level 1)

You might notice that I don't take it too serious. A flying familiar is nearly as annoying as a flying character, but as a DM, you should just accept it and make the player suffer when it is appropriate.

TThey might miss an archer and are an easy target. A hold person or tasha's hideous laughter hurts a lot more if you fall 60ft first. And there is no question, that this is what your enemies do if they have the means.
So in the end it balances out.
Generally I avoid stuff that comes across as punishing the PCs for being good at things, but yes, in the case of flying, this stuff is literally just obvious tactics against flyers.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I actually posed this very concern in the Levelup forum as they now have a Dragonborn that has limited fly. I immediately got replies from several parties that say they have flight in their game and its no big deal.

I think it probably depends on the type of campaign. If your doing mostly dungeons, flight is nice but it gets limited by the constraints of the dungeon and so is naturally hindered.

However in a more outdoor game, I can't see how flight isn't a win button in many circumstances:

1) Fly up for super scouting
2) Crossing natural hazards
3) Avoiding melee heavy combats (animals are a good example)
4) Unstoppable ranged assaults in open ground.

Sure, DMs can craft encounters to thwart flight, but that does put a continuous onus on the DM....so its about whether they want to deal with that or not.
 


So clearly the game designers think flight is something that should be limited.
Actually, this tends to come from player feedback. The UA versions tend not to have this restriction.

And I think it has more to do with suspension of disbelief. A fairy flapping around on insect wings in full plate just looks dumb. A few points of AC don't make any difference if the thing you are fighting can't reach you in the first place.
 


AtomicPope

Adventurer
Everything depends on the campaign. I've excluded swimming races and races that don't breathe from pirate campaigns to put all of the PCs on an even keel. Half of the danger of being on a boat is drowning. The same goes for flying. If I was running a campaign were travel and exploration were thematic then I would restrict/forbid flying races. It's best to have the PCs separated by skills rather than a single feature that allows them to ignore obstacles and difficult terrain.
 

It is perhaps more interesting to point out the difference between "you have a flying speed equal to your walking speed" and "You have a flying speed of 50 feet". Fairy flight speed is affected by things that change walking speed, such as barbarian fast movement, whist aarakocra's is not.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
If anything, allowing flight to work in heavy armor would actually help STR focused Melee characters keep up with Ranged builds somewhat. After all, light armor + full DEX is only one AC behind heavy armor, and functionally better than medium armor due to the lack of a stealth penalty.

As for encounter design, flight would totally decimate ground-bound enemies in a "white room" featureless-plain-with-no-roof deathmatch. But on the other hand, who actually designs real encounters like that? You can include things like enemies with ranged attacks, a celling, trees, strong wind currents (for difficult terrain), hazardous gasses, raised wire traps, an ally that also needs to get across that pit, or a city that is going to be eaten by the Tarrasque if you don't stop physically impede them.

Furthermore, if you are flying and stopped somehow, you fall to the ground and take extra damage. Which makes it dangerous, Like if an arrow knocked you out, you are automatically down one death save from the fall damage, and possibly far away from any allies who could save you.
 

But on the other hand, who actually designs real encounters like that?
The majority of enemies in the Monster Manual have both melee and ranged attacks. Unless your DM's idea of an epic fantasy encounter is a dozen wild goats flying isn't going to make much difference.

I have come across players who don't carry a ranged weapon - some min-maxers can't tell the difference between "not as good with a bow" and "can't use a bow". They deserve what they get.
 

With flight the PC can cross the hall without touching walls and floors, avoiding the most of traps. You don't need climb skill to go to the window in the top of the tower and from there to throw a rope ladder to the rest of the team, or to use a teletransportation rune. You shouldn't worry about most of pitfall traps. Or go to over the roof and from there to use ranged attacks against the enemies.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
With flight the PC can cross the hall without touching walls and floors, avoiding the most of traps. You don't need climb skill to go to the window in the top of the tower and from there to throw a rope ladder to the rest of the team, or to use a teletransportation rune. You shouldn't worry about most of pitfall traps. Or go to over the roof and from there to use ranged attacks against the enemies.

Exactly. Yes, there are certainly lots of countermeasures that a DM can take against permanently flying characters, but flying is certainly a plot-breaker in many situations, and an extremely strong advantage to have for exploration and combat phases of the game, way stronger than most racial benefits.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
The only MAJOR problem I have with flight is some Tier 1 modules used lack of flight with environment obstacles. These will need to be updated for free.
The Private problem is some players are flighty.
 



Environmental obstacles have always been trivial in 5e. Jump, Spider Climb, Wildshape, Misty Step are all readily available at low level. The average adventurer can jump 10 feet completely unaided!
Jump and Misty Step etc are all fine, since you have to spend limited resources on it. It's not permaflight.
 


jgsugden

Legend
PCs are the heroes of the story. They're supposed to do cool things that separate them from the crowds. Flight is one of those things for some PCs. Celebrate, don't hate. Use the flight to help the player, and PC, feel cool and special.

Your PCs are able to overcome a physical obstacle with flight? Good! That makes flight feel cool and special. It is working just as intended. DMs need to be prepared for PCs to overcome obstacles. If you put a river in your adventure and assume PCs can't pass it, you need to be better prepared.

Your PCs can fly up out of danger and attack from range? Cool! That makes flight feel special and cool. It is working just as intended. Set up situations in which it benefits them to make them feel cool!

And even if you want to put aside the elements where the PCs are supposed to feel cool - remember that it is not a solo game. If some PCs are hard to target, the targets get redirected to the other PCs. That depletes their HPs faster, and results in the party needing more rest. I find that when I've used a flying PC, I need to swing into the battle to intentionally absorb some targets to keep the hp depletion balanced! (Speaking of which, we didn't mention the flying variant tiefling yet).

Also - flying is dangerous! If you drop to zero hp while flying you're going to start 'down' a death save from your ground impact. Maybe 2 if you're dropping into dangerous terrain. When you add that to flying PCs often being separated from the party as they exercise their mobility, it is pretty common for 'downed' flying PCs to die.

Additionally, there are a lot of situations in which flight does nothing for you. 10 foot ceilings, yo.

This is much ado about nothing.
 

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