Flying PCs in DnD can be a challenge for Dungeon Masters, especially early in the game. I’ve heard of more than a few DMs who ban playable races that have flight. All of the new content from Humblewood got me thinking about this. For me, offering my players the broadest range of options for their characters is important, so I focus on ways I can adjust the game to keep flyers from breaking it, or at least from breaking it too much.

Flying PC in a dungeon.
I asked Copilot for a picture of a flying PC in a dungeon…geddit?

The Limitations of Flying PCs

Before I get to ways to protect your game from flying PCs, I want to talk about flight is not always the advantage it seems.

  1. Fall Damage is a Serious Thing – Unless a creature has the ability to hover, a flying creature can fall. 1d6 of bludgeoning damage per 10 feet of elevation is a pretty persuasive amount of damage. It should be able to convince your aarakocra and owlin friends to stay close to the ground. Assuming that flight isn’t an oddity, the parties enemies would have ways to deal with flying combatants, especially attacks that prone, which will subject the flyer to the vicissitudes of gravity.
  2. Flying is Just Another Way to Split the Party – Often DMs don’t like flying PCs because they can go unexpected places. Just keep in mind that a flying PC is likely to find something nasty if they fly off on their own. The rest of the party is likely to find themselves short handed if trouble shows up when their fine feathered friend has flown the coop.
  3. Who Wants to do Geometry? – Some people like it, or so I hear. In the middle of the game though, calculating how far up and over a flying creature has moved can be clunky. Just remember, you don’t bother doing that when anybody moves diagonally on the horizontal plane. Why start just because of vertical movement?

Keeping Your World Safe from Flying PCs

Some characters are going to find ways to break some encounters. I think that, as a DM, that something you should celebrate, and then adjust for. Players love it when they think they’ve found a shortcut. Just make sure you keep it from becoming cheese.

  1. Dungeons, It’s Right There in the Name of the Game – In a dungeon, you have full control of the environment. Low ceilings keep flyers from getting to far from the action. Traps can make it dangerous for them to spread their wings. Chasms can give them the chance to get (or fall) into trouble. Remember not to punish a flyer. You just want to make them work for it a little.
  2. Select the Right Enemies – Make sure your encounters include creatures with a mixture of ranged and melee attacks. This is good planning no matter what the PCs are. Previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons made it a lot easier to identify ranged vs. melee attackers. Now you’ll have to pick through them a little bit. Any of the major monstrous races (e.g. goblin, gnoll, orc, etc.) should have a mix of combat types.
  3. Give Your Baddies the Right Tools for the Job – Walloping ammunition can knock a flyer prone, dropping them to the ground. Earthbind can take them out of the sky too. Again, don’t always make it about taking down the flying PC. Just make it happen enough to make them worry.

Hopefully now you’re a little less worried about aerial combat. Maybe check out some nice monsters to throw at your players.

1 Comment

Average Heights and Weights of Humblewood Races - Dungeonsports Coliseum · March 9, 2024 at 8:01 am

[…] of new character race options. I’ve talked about them a bit in an early article on how to manage flying PCs. As I do here, I’ve gotten into the nuts and bolts of calculating the average heights of the […]

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