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D&D 5E On fairies and flying

Stalker0

Legend
Have you actually experienced as a DM or a player a DM feeling like they lose freedom because of a character creation choice, or is it something you made up for this conversation?
I definately felt that way about counterspell. It changed my entire approach to enemy spellcasters so much that I finally just banned it after several attempts to houserule it. I of course was able to find ways around it....but over and over and over again, eventually I just didn't like being constrained by that one spell.
 

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BookTenTiger

He / Him
But it's related. Players expect all options on the table. They expect multiclassing...despite it being optional. They expect feats...despite them being optional. They expect to start as superheroes and become gods, not to start as zeros and become heroes. So when DMs who are adverse to allowing flying PCs at 1st level speak up, the players freak out.

Just so you are aware, it is difficult to have an actual conversation if you make blanket statements like this. Obviously, not all players act like this. I've personally never had a player freak out because I don't allow something in a game.
 

jgsugden

Legend
So despite knowing that I am aware that flight has been a thing for ages, you decided to pretend I didn't. Okay. That makes sense.
I had not read your other later post when I replied, but thanks for assuming the worst.
...It proves that you had fun with flying. The next obvious question is: what did you do in the game? What was the focus? Where and what were the adventures? What was changed to accommodate for flight? The escalation I mentioned up thread.
As a DM: I build a campaign then adjust it to account for the story of the PCs, but not their abilities, except where they have a clear gap in capability I expected them to have (which is insanely rare). If a PC has an ability that trivializes combats, I will sometimes just narrative past the combat, but otherwise I just let them shine, as I discussed up thread. PCs are heroes - and having them be successful is not a problem. I let the heroes be heroes.

As a player - 3 PCs have had a lot of flight in 5E for me. A 4th one just started at 8th level in DotMM. The ability has not been world shaking. It allowed a wizard to avoid a lot of melee, but so did being in the rear of the party for other PCs. It got one PC killed (taken to 0 hp by push/damage, crashed into lava (2 auto failed death saves - fire and fall), then died right after on their turn to a failed death save roll). All in all, it was not disruptive to the game.

Much ado about nothing.
 


Dausuul

Legend
I definately felt that way about counterspell. It changed my entire approach to enemy spellcasters so much that I finally just banned it after several attempts to houserule it. I of course was able to find ways around it....but over and over and over again, eventually I just didn't like being constrained by that one spell.
This is really what it's about--when an ability warps the adventure design process so you have to game out "Okay, what will happen when they use X?" every dang time you sit down to plan a session.

Such issues tend to be specific to particular groups and DMs, which makes it difficult to have a productive discussion about them on ENWorld. I have never encountered problems with counterspell, myself. But man, does long-range teleportation grind my gears. Flight is a minor nuisance for me, upgraded to a moderate pain once the entire party can take to the air (hence my "no flight/some flight/all flight" hierarchy above). But I can well believe that many DMs have no trouble at all with flying parties. It's all down to your particular style of DMing and whether it clashes with that particular power*.

Considering how much work the DM has to put in already, I'm a firm believer in the use of precisely targeted bans, announced up front, to let you design the kinds of adventures you enjoy running and spare yourself headaches. If one of the players really wants that thing you banned, you can sit down with that player and work out a solution that satisfies everybody. But I usually find the players just shrug and pick something else.

*And how aggressively and efficiently your players wield that power when given it.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
As a DM: I build a campaign then adjust it to account for the story of the PCs...
I build a campaign world or sandbox, fill it with various kinds of obstacles and challenges and set the PCs loose. The world exists independently of the PCs. If they make some parts trivial, fine, there will be other parts that are not trivial. Where things like exploration in 5E, skip buttons, and flight become a problem is that the game I want to run is focused on exploration. Sandbox hexcrawl. West Marches. Whatever. So for the entire purpose of the game to not be trivialized, I have to make a lot of house rules in 5E that I wouldn't in other games. Throwing flying into the mix is just one more skip button that trivializes the main focus of the game, for me.
If a PC has an ability that trivializes combats, I will sometimes just narrative past the combat, but otherwise I just let them shine, as I discussed up thread.
Sure. Sometimes. Not all the time. Not for the majority of the game. They shouldn't be able to trivialize most of the game from level 1. Exploration focused hexcrawl in 5E...plus flight at first level? Might as well not bother unless you want to make a heap of house rules.
PCs are heroes - and having them be successful is not a problem. I let the heroes be heroes.
It's not an issue of letting the heroes be heroes, it's an issue of how much of the game they can trivialize. The quantity of skip buttons in 5E is ridiculous. I'm down with letting the PCs shine, I'd just like to have some game left to actually challenge them after they're done shining.
As a player - 3 PCs have had a lot of flight in 5E for me. A 4th one just started at 8th level in DotMM. The ability has not been world shaking. It allowed a wizard to avoid a lot of melee, but so did being in the rear of the party for other PCs. It got one PC killed (taken to 0 hp by push/damage, crashed into lava (2 auto failed death saves - fire and fall), then died right after on their turn to a failed death save roll). All in all, it was not disruptive to the game.
At higher levels of play...where flight is expected and generally accounted for. That's not permanent flight from 1st level. They are drastically different beasts.
 

With flying you can easily destroy the one ring, and often quickly complete other quests
Nah they just get corrupted thus failing the quest.
This is really what it's about--when an ability warps the adventure design process so you have to game out "Okay, what will happen when they use X?" every dang time you sit down to plan a session.

Such issues tend to be specific to particular groups and DMs, which makes it difficult to have a productive discussion about them on ENWorld. I have never encountered problems with counterspell, myself. But man, does long-range teleportation grind my gears. Flight is a minor nuisance for me, upgraded to a moderate pain once the entire party can take to the air (hence my "no flight/some flight/all flight" hierarchy above). But I can well believe that many DMs have no trouble at all with flying parties. It's all down to your particular style of DMing and whether it clashes with that particular power*.

Considering how much work the DM has to put in already, I'm a firm believer in the use of precisely targeted bans, announced up front, to let you design the kinds of adventures you enjoy running and spare yourself headaches. If one of the players really wants that thing you banned, you can sit down with that player and work out a solution that satisfies everybody. But I usually find the players just shrug and pick something else.

*And how aggressively and efficiently your players wield that power when given it.
I thought that was the point of osr where people try to outwit and play each other?
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

I don't quite understand why so many folks are "against" flight at low levels.

Actually, scratch that. I have a theory...

Many of the DM's who poo-poo flight ability at low level are likely the type of DM's who like their "Adventure Paths & Stories" to unfold as they expect them to. I'd also say that many of the DM's who have no problem with it are the type of DM's who like the story to unfold as the Players dictate. (basically, "new school" versus "olde skool", I guess).

For me...a decidedly "Olde Skool" DM... I present the world as I see it in my minds eye. The Players react to that as they see fit. So, in my game, a sextet of adventurers find themselves at an impasse; a HUGE river, 2 km wide, probably with huge crocodiles in it (or worse!).

Now, a "new school" DM might be expecting the PC's to build a raft out of the wood from the collapsing ruins of an old log cabin, make their way across, get attacked by the giant (and hungry) snapping turtle that lives in the water (and is why the cabin is deserted...it's owners having been eaten years ago). BUT...if the PC's have a means of flying everyone over the river...well...then this "cool and climactic battle" that the DM was looking forward to and ties into a Druid NPC they can meet on the other side...is decidedly FUBAR. Ergo, the DM feels "cheated" that they didn't get to run the encounter, didn't get to hurt the PC's (and thus have them be in debt to a Druid's help), and the hour and a half he spent "designing the encounter" is wasted. So... "Flight is bad!"

On the other hand, an "olde skool" DM presented with the same scenario wouldn't have the same reaction. Sure, there might be disappointment that the "cool water fight with the turtle" didn't go down, but the general mindset isn't of "presenting a story" so much as it is "letting a story present itself". The OSDM wouldn't be expecting the PC's to do anything specific other than "get to the other side" (and even that is up for grabs!). So if the PC's fly across, decide to walk downstream or upstream, or even just turn around and say "Nope. Not crossing that river"... that's all fine. The challenge is "here's a river" in the OSDM's mind...in the NSDM's mind it's more "here is an encounter in a river".

I hope this is making sense. Basically, "expectations of play". "Specific storyline oriented DM's" might be more prone to annoyance with Flight-capable PC's because it messes with the "narrative the DM want's to tell", I guess is what I'm trying to say. I, as an older style DM, don't care what the PC's do or the choices the Players make...whatever they do, THAT is the story being told. That's one of the main reasons I love DM'ing...I never know what the PC's will do or what turn the story will take! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


jgsugden

Legend
I build a campaign world or sandbox, fill it with various kinds of obstacles and challenges and set the PCs loose. The world exists independently of the PCs. If they make some parts trivial, fine, there will be other parts that are not trivial. Where things like exploration in 5E, skip buttons, and flight become a problem is that the game I want to run is focused on exploration. Sandbox hexcrawl. West Marches. Whatever. So for the entire purpose of the game to not be trivialized, I have to make a lot of house rules in 5E that I wouldn't in other games. Throwing flying into the mix is just one more skip button that trivializes the main focus of the game, for me.
I disagree that flight trivializes the exploration in a hexcrawl.

First, it is not the only way that PCs see far. Find Familiar gives you access to sight at great ranges at first level (in potentially many different ways), as do a variety of other abilities that do not require flight, or take advantage of another creature's flight. Solutions off the top of my head I've used in 5E at 1st and 2nd level: Gaze of Two Minds on a Winged Kobold, Find Familiar for a flying scout, hiring a Giant Owl, taming a Hippogriff ...

Second, you can't really see that far, and when you can see far, you don't see terribly clearly. If you fly up 500 feet you can see the horizon at 30 miles on 'flat' ground. However, what are you seeing? A three story building would be an indistinguishable speck! You could fly up 500 feet and get an idea where there are lakes, villages, and hills - but the first time you converse with an intelligent creature in the region you could likely get that for the 30 miles around you, plus perhaps much further.

Honestly, high charisma will get you more information than flight. You can concoct some excuse why they can't gain this information from speaking to other creatures, but in a sandbox game created for the PCs to explore, it would be odd to have nothing capable of conveying information to the PCs.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Hiya!

I don't quite understand why so many folks are "against" flight at low levels.

Actually, scratch that. I have a theory...

Many of the DM's who poo-poo flight ability at low level are likely the type of DM's who like their "Adventure Paths & Stories" to unfold as they expect them to. I'd also say that many of the DM's who have no problem with it are the type of DM's who like the story to unfold as the Players dictate. (basically, "new school" versus "olde skool", I guess).

For me...a decidedly "Olde Skool" DM... I present the world as I see it in my minds eye. The Players react to that as they see fit. So, in my game, a sextet of adventurers find themselves at an impasse; a HUGE river, 2 km wide, probably with huge crocodiles in it (or worse!).

Now, a "new school" DM might be expecting the PC's to build a raft out of the wood from the collapsing ruins of an old log cabin, make their way across, get attacked by the giant (and hungry) snapping turtle that lives in the water (and is why the cabin is deserted...it's owners having been eaten years ago). BUT...if the PC's have a means of flying everyone over the river...well...then this "cool and climactic battle" that the DM was looking forward to and ties into a Druid NPC they can meet on the other side...is decidedly FUBAR. Ergo, the DM feels "cheated" that they didn't get to run the encounter, didn't get to hurt the PC's (and thus have them be in debt to a Druid's help), and the hour and a half he spent "designing the encounter" is wasted. So... "Flight is bad!"

On the other hand, an "olde skool" DM presented with the same scenario wouldn't have the same reaction. Sure, there might be disappointment that the "cool water fight with the turtle" didn't go down, but the general mindset isn't of "presenting a story" so much as it is "letting a story present itself". The OSDM wouldn't be expecting the PC's to do anything specific other than "get to the other side" (and even that is up for grabs!). So if the PC's fly across, decide to walk downstream or upstream, or even just turn around and say "Nope. Not crossing that river"... that's all fine. The challenge is "here's a river" in the OSDM's mind...in the NSDM's mind it's more "here is an encounter in a river".

I hope this is making sense. Basically, "expectations of play". "Specific storyline oriented DM's" might be more prone to annoyance with Flight-capable PC's because it messes with the "narrative the DM want's to tell", I guess is what I'm trying to say. I, as an older style DM, don't care what the PC's do or the choices the Players make...whatever they do, THAT is the story being told. That's one of the main reasons I love DM'ing...I never know what the PC's will do or what turn the story will take! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
It's really odd. I consider myself an old-school DM. I don't have a pre-planned story. I agree that the story is whatever happens at the table as a result of the PCs' actions. I have a populated hexcrawl for the PCs to interact with. The PCs can go anywhere and do anything. If they skip something, I don't care...because there will be other stuff for them to explore, interact with, etc. But flight bothers me because it trivializes so much. It removes too many obstacles automatically.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I disagree that flight trivializes the exploration in a hexcrawl.
That's not what I said. It's part of the problem, not the whole problem. In aggregate, all the skip buttons in 5E trivialize exploration. Permanent flight from 1st level is one of those skip buttons. It just happens to be a rather big one.
First, it is not the only way that PCs see far. Find Familiar gives you access to sight at great ranges at first level (in potentially many different ways)...Find Familiar for a flying scout...
For 10 gp a cast. It's not free.
Solutions off the top of my head I've used in 5E at 1st and 2nd level: Gaze of Two Minds...
Requires a willing creature with flight. Which requires your DM to want you to be able to do that and places such a creature before you.
on a Winged Kobold...
Convenient it's both willing and friendly. But that's what charms are for, right? Again, it's a spell slot to get that ability. There's a cost. It's not free and permanent. PC flying races get flight for free and permanently.
hiring a Giant Owl
Is that a thing you do? Without some other spell or ability the owl sees what it sees then stares at you while you ask it questions. Those other abilities are generally going to be spells that require slots or rituals that require time and both can have component costs attached.
taming a Hippogriff...
Your DM let you tame a hippogriff at 1st or 2nd level? Okay. But that kind proves my point. Sorry. I'm still used to them being a threat and showing up in packs of 2d8 at a time instead of solo for easier killing.
Second, you can't really see that far, and when you can see far, you don't see terribly clearly. If you fly up 500 feet you can see the horizon at 30 miles on 'flat' ground. However, what are you seeing? A three story building would be an indistinguishable speck!
At 500ft the distance to the horizon is 27.4 miles. Taller things are easier to see, not harder. It's why you can see mountains farther away than cars.
You could fly up 500 feet and get an idea where there are lakes, villages, and hills - but the first time you converse with an intelligent creature in the region you could likely get that for the 30 miles around you, plus perhaps much further.
Exactly. You know precisely where everything is around you. And you didn't even have to ask for directions. So it's effectively impossible to get lost. Among other fringe benefits.
Honestly, high charisma will get you more information than flight. You can concoct some excuse why they can't gain this information from speaking to other creatures, but in a sandbox game created for the PCs to explore, it would be odd to have nothing capable of conveying information to the PCs.
Some NPCs are willing to talk some aren't. That's not a "concocted excuse" that's how people are. If you're an otherwise neutral party and you're approached on the road by a band of 4-8 battle-ready wandering adventurers in full kit looking hungry, are you going to tell them where your village is? Probably not. Not unless you want to risk your village being wiped out. You might tell them where an enemy village is. Point the inevitable death that follows PCs in an advantageous direction.

But is that NPC going to even know perfectly what and where everything is around their village? At a short distance, yes. Most medieval peasants lived and died without ever traveling more than a mile or two away from their village. Most who did travel more than a few miles didn't travel more than 30 miles away from their birthplace. So with that one swoop up into the air, your flying character knows more about the layout of the surrounding area than your above average peasant ever would. And you can do that for free, an infinite number of times.

Sorry, but flight is huge.
 


jgsugden

Legend
That's not what I said. It's part of the problem, not the whole problem.
And the response by some of us is that it is not really a problem, or even part of a problem.
For 10 gp a cast. [Find Familiar] is not free.
Most PC wizards start with it in their spellbook and use 10 gp of their starting wealth to start with it. Not allowing that is kind of a %$#@ move for a DM - it is an iconic part of the toolset of a wizard.
Requires a willing creature with flight. Which requires your DM to want you to be able to do that and places such a creature before you.
In a sandbox, I'd say that it requires the DM to not actively avoid it. There are plenty of flying creatures out there.
Convenient it's both willing and friendly. But that's what charms are for, right? Again, it's a spell slot to get that ability. There's a cost. It's not free and permanent. PC flying races get flight for free and permanently.
It was convenient when I encountered it, but I elected to obtain the ability before I knew there would be flying kobolds - and we made it a good offer.
Is that a thing you do? Without some other spell or ability the owl sees what it sees then stares at you while you ask it questions.
They are intelligent creatures. You can hire communicate with them. They can't speak, but there are a lot of ways around not speaking to communicate.
Those other abilities are generally going to be spells that require slots or rituals that require time and both can have component costs attached.
And in a hexploration game, you often have days to spend slots without any other specific use for them, right?
Your DM let you tame a hippogriff at 1st or 2nd level? Okay. But that kind proves my point. Sorry. I'm still used to them being a threat and showing up in packs of 2d8 at a time instead of solo for easier killing.
You're going to throw 9 CR 1 monsters at a 1st or 2nd level party? Errrr... That is quite a bit into deadly. I mean, I would do it, but it would be something where I gave them clues that the hippogriffs were too tough to fight in that situation....
At 500ft the distance to the horizon is 27.4 miles. Taller things are easier to see, not harder. It's why you can see mountains farther away than cars.
But they still appear smaller the farther away you are. At that distance, a 30 foot tall building is almost indistinguishable.

Here is a view from Sather Tower in Berkeley. In the distance, beyond that island, is San Francisco.
views-from-the-sather.jpg

That is roughly 8 miles distance. at ~30 miles things would be about 1/4 that size. And those buildings you can barely see are in the ballpark of 800 feet tall. Identifying landmarks from 10 miles out, even at a height, unless they are gigantic is not really possible.
Exactly. You know precisely where everything is around you. And you didn't even have to ask for directions. So it's effectively impossible to get lost. Among other fringe benefits.
Which you can get by just talking to any intelligent creature around you that knows the area. The benefits of flight that concern you are trivial to acquire with just a little talking.
Some NPCs are willing to talk some aren't. That's not a "concocted excuse" that's how people are. If you're an otherwise neutral party and you're approached on the road by a band of 4-8 battle-ready wandering adventurers in full kit looking hungry, are you going to tell them where your village is? Probably not. Not unless you want to risk your village being wiped out. You might tell them where an enemy village is. Point the inevitable death that follows PCs in an advantageous direction.
You might find some adverse to speaking, but if everyone is? That is odd behavior. Further, for every PC looking to hide away from armed adventurers, there are others seeking them out to solve problems for the, right?
But is that NPC going to even know perfectly what and where everything is around their village? At a short distance, yes. Most medieval peasants lived and died without ever traveling more than a mile or two away from their village. Most who did travel more than a few miles didn't travel more than 30 miles away from their birthplace. So with that one swoop up into the air, your flying character knows more about the layout of the surrounding area than your above average peasant ever would. And you can do that for free, an infinite number of times.
While they did not travel 60 miles to the large city - they likely heard it was there. They may not have seen the ocean, but they knew it was 8 days travel that way.
Sorry, but flight is huge.
You've convinced it is. I have rampant experience that shows it is not - over several editions and specifically in 5E where I have DMed for several PCs that have had it, and played several PCs that have had it, since first level. And, to top it off, I usually run hexploration style adventures in a sandbox setting for levels 5 to 11 of a campaign ... which is right where most parties get easy access to flight.

I sense that this conversation will go nowhere. I wish you luck.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
By making full flight available at Apprentice Tier, the designers are going bravely where angels fear to tread.

But I am cautiously optimistic that the designers can make flight-as-normal work.

My one consolation is, the bowshot has a range that is much farther than most than the range of most spells.
 

These are all tactics enemies can and do use. Anyone too dumb to come up with ways of countering them isn't worth fighting.
This is not the point. What you are implying is that the DM should do a tit-for-tat style encounter. You can fly during the fight? Then my giant scorpions can now shoot venom. You can fly over the pit trap. Then I will make sure there is a trap above the pit trap. etc. None of that leads to fun. It leads to players being upset that their powers are worthless (even if the counter isn't used all the time) or leads to DMs feeling as though their encounter building needs to looked at through a microscope.
You mention enemies, but the point of an adventuring party is - they can counter anything the enemy can do as long as the CR is taken into consideration. You have a flying beast attacking you, spells and arrows do wonders. You have a pit trap, players have a skill called acrobatics. Players have an answer for everything. Natural beasts (as was mentioned in the post you replied to) and environment might be used by the DM for resource management. The little flying first level adventurer might make those null and void.
 

With flying you can easily destroy the one ring, and often quickly complete other quests
Or, more likely, are a big obvious target for some felbeasts to handle you and pick you out of the sky. Or, as spoken as a true blue bloody Aussie, the moment you take to the sky you have announced to every bird around that you are in the sky and therefore a predator. Use flight poorly and you'll end up being swooped by magpies, mate.

For 10 gp a cast. It's not free.
Once you cast it the first time, it hangs around with you to use it going on from there
 

Just adding some examples:
  • Navigating Mirkwood
  • Gandalf getting off Saruman's tower, Orthanc.
  • Frodo escaping the nazgul when they were on their horses
  • Getting into Lake Town
  • Navigating the Dead Marches
I think you could basically do this with any book.

All that said, I doubt flying i really a game changer. But it does change the feel of certain campaigns, and can definitely be a spotlight hogger.
 

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