D&D 5E What's your opinion on a flying PC race?

LexStarwalker

First Post
I've been working on a fae PC race for my homebrew world of Primordia. They are small creatures. Thematically, I think it would be cool if they could fly, but I feel like that may be a bad idea. I think there are some solid objections to giving flight as a racial ability.


1. Otherwise flight can only be obtained via casting a 3rd level spell, or with some high level class abilities (eg. Tempest cleric gets flight at 17th level, Storm sorcerer at 18th level). Giving flight as a racial ability at 1st level really cheapens these high level abilities.


2. Some argue that flight can make various hazards inconsequential (eg. lava flows, walls, chasms, water, etc.). However, a counter to that argument is that an obstacle that only one PC in the party can get past is still an obstacle.


3. Flight can just be an annoying headache for the DM, especially if she uses miniatures. It's not quite so bad in theater of the mind, but can still cause added confusion and/or complexity that some DMs just don't want to do with.


Assuming the race were well-balanced with other races, what is your opinion about flight as a racial ability (say, fly speed of 50, and can't fly in medium or heavy armor)?
 

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What kind of flight do you envision them having?

How awkward a flier and what kind of maneuverability they have has a huge impact on how much of a pain in the butt this will be in play. Always on perfect flight control such as a fly spell could be problematic.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I think 50 is too high a fly speed for a small creature. I'd make it 30, so they move at the same speed as medium creatures.
 

LexStarwalker

First Post
I was looking at a fly speed of 50 and a walk speed of 25, which is identical to the aarokocra PC race in the Elemental Evil players companion.

Pixies have a fly speed of 30, and Sprites have a fly speed of 40, and they're both tiny creatures, so I think a 50 fly speed for a small creature is fine. My concern isn't with the speed, it's whether flight itself will cause problems.

There is no maneuverability in 5e. :)
 


ccs

41st lv DM
I've been working on a fae PC race for my homebrew world of Primordia. They are small creatures. Thematically, I think it would be cool if they could fly, but I feel like that may be a bad idea. I think there are some solid objections to giving flight as a racial ability.

]

I don't see a problem with a flying PC race. And they already exist - the Aarokoca (sp?), winged elves (from SCL book), and winged tieflings from ? (UA PDF I think).
The constant ability to fly though WILL influence you on what types of adventures & challenges you write for the party. Or it should.
Because it's a lot different option wise than a wizard who has the Fly spell. The wizard MIGHT cast fly. Or he might use that slot for something else. And when he runs out of slots he won't be flying again for a while.
Not so with a naturally flying character.... Odds are they'll want to fly about whenever they can, especially when it's advantageous.
But at least with the medium sized characters you can limit that mobility a bit with cramped enviroments. (our parties winged tiefling isn't doing much flying inside Death House!)

If you make the race small though? That just allows them to fly about with more freedom.

1. Otherwise flight can only be obtained via casting a 3rd level spell, or with some high level class abilities (eg. Tempest cleric gets flight at 17th level, Storm sorcerer at 18th level). Giving flight as a racial ability at 1st level really cheapens these high level abilities.

]

But it comes at the cost of having to play whatever the winged race is & accepting any limitations that might entail.
Or are you worried another player will complain "But I can't fly...., I have to use a spell...." Well then, if that's important to them, they should've picked the flying race instead of whatever they did.

2. Some argue that flight can make various hazards inconsequential (eg. lava flows, walls, chasms, water, etc.). However, a counter to that argument is that an obstacle that only one PC in the party can get past is still an obstacle.

]

Like I said, you'll need to think some about how you design things.

3. Flight can just be an annoying headache for the DM, especially if she uses miniatures. It's not quite so bad in theater of the mind, but can still cause added confusion and/or complexity that some DMs just don't want to do with.

]

Well then they shouldn't be using any # of monsters out of the MM. Anything from stirges to dragons & lots in-between.
Sorry, but flight is already something a DM gets to deal with on their end.

Assuming the race were well-balanced with other races, what is your opinion about flight as a racial ability (say, fly speed of 50, and can't fly in medium or heavy armor)?

See above. As for the flight speed/armor restrictions? Those are the same as the Aarakocra....
My first thought is that flight speed should be x2 normal speed. Aarakocra walk 25', same as a 1/2ling or gnome. So 50' flight for another small 25' move creature seems ok.
I'd look at the MM & the winged tiefling though & see if that's consistant.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
Not a problem at all as long as they have some balances.

In my campaign for Princes of the Apocalypse, we have an Aarakocra PC who used to play with us. He had some advantages when they were outdoors and it actually made the first few levels of the game more exciting. He was able to scout ahead, and when a Goblin tried to escape the party, he flew it down and took it out before it could get to its buddies in a cave. On the flip side, because the Aarakocra was at that point hundreds of feet away from the party, if I had any of the Goblin's buddies come out of the cave (and they had ranged weapons), that Aarakocra would have been in a little bit of trouble. Additionally, when the party did catch up, they all went into the cave. Inside the cave, the others (who were Gnomes, Half-Orc and Half-Elf) went in, they didn't need light to see in the dimly lit cave. Without a proper light source, the Aarakocra was attacking at disadvantage because he did not have Darkvision. This balance worked well.

In my opinion, the DM should be able to challenge a party without setting up situations that are dependent on players not being able to fly. Flying is both a boon and a curse. If the flying creature is shot out of the air (or subjected to a hold spell or paralysis) the fall will be quite frightening. That risk, to me, makes it more exciting and thus adds to the game.
 
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S

Sunseeker

Guest
Typically less of a problem than they sound.

Sure, fliers can get over general ground hazards, such as say, the Grand Canyon. But what about the rest of the party? More often than no, a flying character ends up playing the "flying familiar" role in situations where most of the party must climb up or down something the old fashioned way. I don't enfoce any sort of banking rules because I don't enforce facing anyway. It's really just more headwork for me that I don't want to do.

I also made a rule that players need at least double their space in order to fly, if they are flying via typical wings. So, a Winged Tiefling needs a 10^3 area in order to fly. Which means that in a lot of narrow dungeons or caves or canyons, fliers can't fly, save by magical means. I do also apply this to monsters who fly via physical means, so it can both work for and against the party.

Otherwise there are obvious solutions: arrows. Ranged spells. Flying monsters. The flying PC has essentially isolated themselves away from the party. This will put flying monsters at an advantage against them, since the rest of the party will have trouble reaching them, some likely won't be able to reach the monsters at all.

I agree with the other posters that a fly speed of 50 is WAY too high.
 

Jabborwacky

First Post
In terms of natural fly speeds, highly overrated. The character bypasses some climb and jump checks, whereas flying during combat is a liability -> get shot and you might end up falling to your death. Especially if its a sleep spell. Plus, the flyer can easily end up isolating himself from his party members. Don't let the AL restriction fool you: It's not allowed within the AL for purposes of cert fodder more than anything else.

As for really high fly speeds, its pretty much the same advantage as having a really fast ground speed, but doesn't fully negate the problem of getting shot down.
 
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