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D&D 5E On fairies and flying


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Bolares

Hero
Then that DM can only blame themselves when flying PCs ferry non-flying PCs across their river crossing challenges! ;)
Meh, there are ways to make that crossing challenging. If I allow flying races in my table, it's my job to challenge them. Make it windy when tey are crossing... Also, all the flying races we've seen are small, and ferrying a big fighter in heavy armor may no be possible because of the carrying rules.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Yes, it's true that they make no distinction, but that just leaves space for a reasonable ruling. Why would a DM rule that the flying PC, despite being unable to wear medium or heavy armor and still fly, can just pick up a cumbersome non-flying PC with no issue, then complain that flying PCs are beating all their river crossing challenges?
Then that DM can only blame themselves when flying PCs ferry non-flying PCs across their river crossing challenges! ;)

Why is it significantly more preferable for a DM to allow a PC race choice, and then turn around and change the rules to nerf one of the main abilities of the race instead of just not allowing it?
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Meh, there are ways to make that crossing challenging. If I allow flying races in my table, it's my job to challenge them. Make it windy when tey are crossing... Also, all the flying races we've seen are small, and ferrying a big fighter in heavy armor may no be possible because of the carrying rules.

I can imagine the debate... it's well under a minute to cross that pass, and I can cast reduce a bunch of times and carry all three of you. What's the worst that could happen?

(As an aside, why does reduce give disadvantage on strength checks and weapon damage when going from medium to small, when simply being small to start doesn't?)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Meh, there are ways to make that crossing challenging. If I allow flying races in my table, it's my job to challenge them. Make it windy when tey are crossing... Also, all the flying races we've seen are small, and ferrying a big fighter in heavy armor may no be possible because of the carrying rules.
Yes, for sure. This is just an example of DMs ruling in a way that makes flying PCs more effective, then complaining that they're now too effective. This was also revealed in another thread a while back on exploration challenges. When we dig into why people are taking issue with something, we can see a lot of DMs are just very handwavy and loose with the rules, ruling way on the side of making certain things too effective, then pointing the finger at something other than themselves as the culprit.

Why is it significantly more preferable for a DM to allow a PC race choice, and then turn around and change the rules to nerf one of the main abilities of the race instead of just not allowing it?
No rules are being changed here. The carrying capacity rules make no distinction between walking and flying. Fine. But perhaps the matter of carrying a non-flying PC across a river or whatever isn't really one of carrying capacity. Maybe it's just as cumbersome as wearing medium or heavy armor which means no flight is possible. There is space for a ruling here and, if one is inclined to have a lot of river crossing challenges as it seems some DMs in this thread are, then there's a solution - don't rule in a way that makes the flying PC more effective than they already are at certain challenges.
 

Bolares

Hero
Here's my philosophy (that no one asked for): I don't like saying no to character ideas (unless they are really dissonant with the campaign themes), so if a player wants to play a flier I'd allow it. In the lower levels I'd adapt some of the challanges to account for their flying. I say some and not all because I want the player to feel smart and usefull, so if they trivialize some encounters because of flying, GREAT, the table is generally happy about that. That can't happen all the time, because I have to challenge the characters... but that's true for every player and every character option.
 

I'm not sure what you gain by making a claim nobody disagrees with repeatedly. Yes, some DMs will have a problem with flying PCs outside of thematic concerns - some are even emotional about it by the looks of it. That some DMs have a problem with flying PCs seems to be what the thread is about since the first post. The question is why and what to do about it.

To that I say: The problem is mitigated if the DM works on how to create and present challenges with the possibility of flying PCs in mind. Also, it's worth examining in my view how the DM thinks about challenge and difficulty as concepts in general. Building on what you are saying, is it actually a problem in general that players can position their characters to overcome a challenge with no ability check or resource expenditure?
Why and How, indeed.
This is where we actually disagree. I have stated that for some campaigns, your "how" to deal with it might lead the player to think it is a game of tit-for-tat where they feel targeted. This is especially true if only one PC is able to fly. That is why I gave the examples. But, let me try one more time.
Party of four. One flying. Searching for some lost tomb in the desert.
  • Scene 1: Navigation of desert terrain to find the canyon that the tomb is in. Much easier with a flyer.
  • Scene 2: Bizarre sand trolls that hunt from on top of the chasm. They toss big rocks down. That's how they kill their food. Pretty easy for a flyer to stay above them.
  • Scene 3: Crazy sand worm or scorpions that burrow into the sand and pop out. Flyer stays out of range.
  • Scene 4: A steep canyon wall climb to get to the hidden door. Flyer does it no problem.
  • Scene 5: Small cave entrance with an iron door. Party huddled inside the door which is trapped. The flyer is just hanging outside the cave.
  • Scene 6: Inside finally. The flyer's potential in an Egyptian style tomb is negated for the next four or five scenes.

So the flyer can dismiss half of them. That is a lot. Now, of course any DM can make sure there are stirges next to the scorpions, and the trolls have small rocks too (for whatever reason), and there is always a sandstorm in the distant that makes navigation by air impossible, and the door explodes with gas that just happens to reach the flyer. But, if a DM did do all of that, the flyer might feel targeted.

I don't know. This is just a quick example. But, it demonstrates my point. The "how" a DM handles the flyer, even when doing it right, might still come out as negatively perceived.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Why and How, indeed.
This is where we actually disagree. I have stated that for some campaigns, your "how" to deal with it might lead the player to think it is a game of tit-for-tat where they feel targeted. This is especially true if only one PC is able to fly. That is why I gave the examples. But, let me try one more time.
Party of four. One flying. Searching for some lost tomb in the desert.
  • Scene 1: Navigation of desert terrain to find the canyon that the tomb is in. Much easier with a flyer.
  • Scene 2: Bizarre sand trolls that hunt from on top of the chasm. They toss big rocks down. That's how they kill their food. Pretty easy for a flyer to stay above them.
  • Scene 3: Crazy sand worm or scorpions that burrow into the sand and pop out. Flyer stays out of range.
  • Scene 4: A steep canyon wall climb to get to the hidden door. Flyer does it no problem.
  • Scene 5: Small cave entrance with an iron door. Party huddled inside the door which is trapped. The flyer is just hanging outside the cave.
  • Scene 6: Inside finally. The flyer's potential in an Egyptian style tomb is negated for the next four or five scenes.

So the flyer can dismiss half of them. That is a lot. Now, of course any DM can make sure there are stirges next to the scorpions, and the trolls have small rocks too (for whatever reason), and there is always a sandstorm in the distant that makes navigation by air impossible, and the door explodes with gas that just happens to reach the flyer. But, if a DM did do all of that, the flyer might feel targeted.

I don't know. This is just a quick example. But, it demonstrates my point. The "how" a DM handles the flyer, even when doing it right, might still come out as negatively perceived.
I could write a bunch of examples that prove my point, too. But where would that leave us?
 

I could write a bunch of examples that prove my point, too. But where would that leave us?
I know there are examples on your side. There are also tables where the flying character would expect the DM to go out of their way to target them because they fly. And there are tables where the DM would construct challenges that could be overcome with flying. And in all those cases - the tables would be happy.

But there are tables where thematically it is a struggle. There are tables where the player feels like they are being picked on if the DM adjusts encounters. And there are tables where DMs might not know how to adjust or deal with the flying PC. And, as per carrying rules, there are some players that would find the DM's ruling as immersion breaking. And in all those cases - the table might not be happy.

So when someone says, flying can be problematic. And your rebuttal is: Why are they designing encounters so "flat" or "undynamic," or you come to these types of conclusions:
When we dig into why people are taking issue with something, we can see a lot of DMs are just very handwavy and loose with the rules, ruling way on the side of making certain things too effective, then pointing the finger at something other than themselves as the culprit.
From your tone and words, it seems as if you believe the DM is the most likely culprit of table difficulty concerning flying. But, I just as that you consider that maybe it's not the DM, but the actual rule and power within the low level structure of the game that is the problem.

You see, you keep asking "why" is flying a problem. And when someone points out the dozens of reasons now given, you dismiss them and state they are not problems. So why ask "why?"

What to do about it? That is a good question. Let's try this:
Accept the fact that it is a problem for certain tables thematically. What to do about it if there is a player that really has their heart set on a flying PC?
Accept the fact that some DMs use resource management as a way to increase the tension in the game. Yet the flying PC allows those drained resources to keep the tension low. What to do about it?
Accept the fact that the DM has now adjusted several encounters in a row. They are clearly tweaked to make sure the flying PC can't get away with their fly up and shoot arrows stunt. Now they feel as though their PC is targeted. What to do about it?
 

So the flyer can dismiss half of them. That is a lot. Now, of course any DM can make sure there are stirges next to the scorpions, and the trolls have small rocks too (for whatever reason), and there is always a sandstorm in the distant that makes navigation by air impossible, and the door explodes with gas that just happens to reach the flyer. But, if a DM did do all of that, the flyer might feel targeted.
The problem is moreso we're getting into the deeper mess of player character specialities

Like, let's take this tomb example. In the tomb there's writing that can onyl be read by one player, so only they are able to do the typical tomb puzzles to get through, and anyone else is just going to flounder about. Its the same situation, someone having something that lets them completely negate challenges. In the temple you've just switched who's potential is being shown from "The flier" to "The one who put all of his points into knowledge skills". Likewise the moment you get into town and oh no, its politics time, flier and knowledge guy aren't very useful, but the Diplomancer who has every charisma thing possible and also went into Changeling for more mischief? Oops, literately every possible challenge here is also negated. Or you're in the wilderness? Oops, the Ranger, Druid or Outlander just negated everything to a debatably worse degree.

Problems really should be designed around the party they're being thrown at. We're playing D&D here, not Skyrim, so stuff can be edited. Just because you've heard some super optimised team can take down the Tarrasque at level 1 doesn't mean you'll start throwing Tarrasques at every group

(Also just saying, on point 5? The party's not making good decisions if they're huddling around the door not expecting a trap. Sounds like the flier's the only smart one in the party by not hanging around the kind of obvious trap. Iron's a bit of a dead giveaway in the desert. You send up the scoutiest character to set the line and check for the trap, then everyone else comes up)

Accept the fact that some DMs use resource management as a way to increase the tension in the game. Yet the flying PC allows those drained resources to keep the tension low. What to do about it?
Consider it the party's resources, not the player's resources. If someone's plonking away with arrows at a distance, it means the rest of the party is spending more resources to deal with that.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I know there are examples on your side. There are also tables where the flying character would expect the DM to go out of their way to target them because they fly. And there are tables where the DM would construct challenges that could be overcome with flying. And in all those cases - the tables would be happy.

But there are tables where thematically it is a struggle. There are tables where the player feels like they are being picked on if the DM adjusts encounters. And there are tables where DMs might not know how to adjust or deal with the flying PC. And, as per carrying rules, there are some players that would find the DM's ruling as immersion breaking. And in all those cases - the table might not be happy.

So when someone says, flying can be problematic. And your rebuttal is: Why are they designing encounters so "flat" or "undynamic," or you come to these types of conclusions:

From your tone and words, it seems as if you believe the DM is the most likely culprit of table difficulty concerning flying. But, I just as that you consider that maybe it's not the DM, but the actual rule and power within the low level structure of the game that is the problem.

You see, you keep asking "why" is flying a problem. And when someone points out the dozens of reasons now given, you dismiss them and state they are not problems. So why ask "why?"

What to do about it? That is a good question. Let's try this:
Accept the fact that it is a problem for certain tables thematically. What to do about it if there is a player that really has their heart set on a flying PC?
Accept the fact that some DMs use resource management as a way to increase the tension in the game. Yet the flying PC allows those drained resources to keep the tension low. What to do about it?
Accept the fact that the DM has now adjusted several encounters in a row. They are clearly tweaked to make sure the flying PC can't get away with their fly up and shoot arrows stunt. Now they feel as though their PC is targeted. What to do about it?
Yes, I do believe the DM is often the issue at a given table rather than the game itself because the DM is the one choosing what to create, how to present it, and how to adjudicate it. Why is the DM presenting mostly challenges that a single flier can trivialize? Why is the DM presenting situations where the spotlight is disproportionately on the flier because they are uniquely equipped to deal with said situations? Why is the DM ruling in a way that makes the flier more effective than they might be if they had just ruled in a different, yet still reasonable way?

So when someone has a problem and refuses to even look at themselves as a potential source of it - or even gets offended at the very idea of it - one has to wonder what's going on there. I suppose it's easy to blame the rules. It's perhaps a bit harder to examine oneself for the blame. It's a great place to start though in my view.

As for what you're asking us to accept: Yes, if the flying PC is not a thematic fit for the game, by all means, don't white-list them, as I've said. The player can play that flying PC in some other game. For DMs who use resource management, continue to do so - the game's built around it, after all. But, again as I've said, understand that not every challenge requires resource expenditure to resolve, that some characters will be better at certain challenges than others (fliers and non-fliers both), and how to create challenges that present a measure of difficulty for all characters. Finally, for players that believe they're being singled out, the DM can have an adult conversation with them and come to an understanding. Not every 10-foot ceiling or goblin with a shortbow is a punishment.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The problem is moreso we're getting into the deeper mess of player character specialities

Like, let's take this tomb example. In the tomb there's writing that can onyl be read by one player, so only they are able to do the typical tomb puzzles to get through, and anyone else is just going to flounder about. Its the same situation, someone having something that lets them completely negate challenges. In the temple you've just switched who's potential is being shown from "The flier" to "The one who put all of his points into knowledge skills". Likewise the moment you get into town and oh no, its politics time, flier and knowledge guy aren't very useful, but the Diplomancer who has every charisma thing possible and also went into Changeling for more mischief? Oops, literately every possible challenge here is also negated. Or you're in the wilderness? Oops, the Ranger, Druid or Outlander just negated everything to a debatably worse degree.

Problems really should be designed around the party they're being thrown at. We're playing D&D here, not Skyrim, so stuff can be edited. Just because you've heard some super optimised team can take down the Tarrasque at level 1 doesn't mean you'll start throwing Tarrasques at every group

(Also just saying, on point 5? The party's not making good decisions if they're huddling around the door not expecting a trap. Sounds like the flier's the only smart one in the party by not hanging around the kind of obvious trap. Iron's a bit of a dead giveaway in the desert. You send up the scoutiest character to set the line and check for the trap, then everyone else comes up)


Consider it the party's resources, not the player's resources. If someone's plonking away with arrows at a distance, it means the rest of the party is spending more resources to deal with that.
I don't necessarily agree that problems should necessarily be designed around the party being played (I don't do this at all), but the rest are great points in my view. Some characters will shine in certain situations and others will shine in others, as you say. If the DM is creating and presenting challenges that favor just particular characters for whatever reason, they don't really have any room to complain in my view.
 

How about a compromise? In exchange for flying PCs, monsters do an extra an d20 damage on natural 20s for every 4CR it has. Legendary monsters get advantage on those D20s.
 

If a flying PC can't wear medium or heavy armor and still fly, why would the DM rule that they can carry non-flying PCs across a river?

Lifting and Carrying​

Your Strength score determines the amount of weight you can bear. The following terms define what you can lift or carry.

Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough that most characters don't usually have to worry about it.

Variant: Encumbrance​

The rules for lifting and carrying are intentionally simple. Here is a variant if you are looking for more detailed rules for determining how a character is hindered by the weight of equipment. When you use this variant, ignore the Strength column of the Armor table.

If you carry weight in excess of 5 times your Strength score, you are encumbered, which means your speed drops by 10 feet.

As per rules, if you can carry the PC you can do your normal movement with them. I would rule that if you are encumbered (5xSTR) you can't fly, but that's a house rule. That probably means a small PC can be carried, but a medium one is too heavy, especially with their gear, which typically is at least 80 lb.

You might also rule that a small PC can be mounted on a medium PC.



It's much more common for the flying PC or familiar to string a rope across the obstacle for the rest of the party to use though.
 

  • Scene 1: Navigation of desert terrain to find the canyon that the tomb is in. Much easier with a flyer.
A familiar can do that just as well as a flying PC. In either case they risk being shot by enemies who would not see party members on the ground. A 1st level ranger could find it automatically without the risk. Once you get past 3rd level there are divination spells that can do the job.

"Getting Lost" is not a thing in 5e.
  • Scene 2: Bizarre sand trolls that hunt from on top of the chasm. They toss big rocks down. That's how they kill their food. Pretty easy for a flyer to stay above them.
Doesn't do the non-flying members of the party much good, does it? Any why can't your trolls toss rocks up?
  • Scene 3: Crazy sand worm or scorpions that burrow into the sand and pop out. Flyer stays out of range.
And the rest of the party die. Not a win.
  • Scene 4: A steep canyon wall climb to get to the hidden door. Flyer does it no problem.
As does the tabaxi, damphir and 3rd level thief.

Climbing is easy in 5e.
  • Scene 5: Small cave entrance with an iron door. Party huddled inside the door which is trapped. The flyer is just hanging outside the cave.
I don't understand this. Why can't everyone be outside the cave apart from the person disarming the trap? And if the flyer is the character who can disarm traps, they will obviously need to be inside. And an Egyptian style tomb wouldn't have a door made of iron.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith

Lifting and Carrying​

Your Strength score determines the amount of weight you can bear. The following terms define what you can lift or carry.

Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough that most characters don't usually have to worry about it.

Variant: Encumbrance​

The rules for lifting and carrying are intentionally simple. Here is a variant if you are looking for more detailed rules for determining how a character is hindered by the weight of equipment. When you use this variant, ignore the Strength column of the Armor table.

If you carry weight in excess of 5 times your Strength score, you are encumbered, which means your speed drops by 10 feet.

As per rules, if you can carry the PC you can do your normal movement with them. I would rule that if you are encumbered (5xSTR) you can't fly, but that's a house rule. That probably means a small PC can be carried, but a medium one is too heavy, especially with their gear, which typically is at least 80 lb.

You might also rule that a small PC can be mounted on a medium PC.



It's much more common for the flying PC or familiar to string a rope across the obstacle for the rest of the party to use though.
I addressed this in a subsequent post: Because it says nothing about flight, there's space here in my view for a ruling that says carrying capacity doesn't really apply in this case.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I addressed this in a subsequent post: Because it says nothing about flight, there's space here in my view for a ruling that says carrying capacity doesn't really apply in this case.

It also says nothing about carrying capacity while on a sand, gravel, snow, ice, bridges, wading shallow creeks, or any number of other things either. If this is space for a ruling, then it feels like everywhere has space for a ruling - especially given we have clarification that flying was included on the twitter post. (Having such rulings seems fine. Should it be something the DM fiats, or should the table discuss it?).
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
RE: Carrying Capacity while Flying

Is this issue of carrying capacity while flying (and specifying with armor instead), a side-effect of de-emphasizing encumbrance in 5e? If they don't want the players to have encumbrance tracked, but do want to have flying limited somewhat it might be the only choice. I wish they'd added an extra few words in the optional encumbrance section that if you're using the variant encumbrance rules then here are some guidelines for flying, swimming, and climbing. (I'm still stuck on the baseline 15 lbs. per point of strength default being a thing. I wonder how they came up with that. Enough to make it where an average person wouldn't be carrying another average person around?).
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It also says nothing about carrying capacity while on a sand, gravel, snow, ice, bridges, wading shallow creeks, or any number of other things either. If this is space for a ruling, then it feels like everywhere has space for a ruling - especially given we have clarification that flying was included on the twitter post. (Having such rulings seems fine. Should it be something the DM fiats, or should the table discuss it?).
Yeah, if it says speed, and never specifies what speed it's talking about, I assume it refers to all speeds.
You're the DM. You get to decide this. If you decide it in a way that makes fliers more effective, you can't complain that fliers are now too effective.
 

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