The flight of Aarakocran should not be viewed as a game-breaking power in Dungeons & Dragons, but rather as a unique opportunity to create a memorable game.

Much of the fun in tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons It’s about indulging the fantasies of Dungeon Masters and players alike, and when it comes to fantasies, it’s hard to get more basic than flying. There is a long tradition of the power of flight in Dungeons and Dragons, but nowhere has it been more controversial than as an Aarakocra racial ability.

By granting players the ability to fly from level 1, many DMs are so frustrated by the complications the ability presents that they completely prohibit running in their games. This is a mistake. Aarakocran’s flight is relatively easy to balance, and the benefit of doing so is a net benefit to everyone’s game experience which is a shame that many DMs report it as a game-breaking misstep.

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How the flight works

Many of the game mechanics behind flying are relatively flexible, and newer players flipping through possible playable races can easily miss that one race even has the ability. If a creature naturally has the ability to fly, its flight speed will appear in the “speed” section. Since it is not listed as a separate ability, the rules governing it are not as clear cut as many other racial abilities such as dark vision or being amphibian. However, more than those abilities, he is an absolute asset to a character and a boon for the options available to him.

Flying speeds are typically faster than walking speeds, but more importantly, they give you the freedom to move in three dimensions. The applications are almost innumerable, and players use it offensively, defensively, and evasively in combat or completely dodging certain challenges or puzzles outside of combat. The biggest danger that flyers must be aware of is the threat of fall damage, as being knocked down in the air and taking 20d6 on impact with the ground is an instant death at worst and a pretty serious loss of health. At worst. On the other hand, the trade-off means that you rarely have to worry about fall damage at any other point in the game.

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Why the DMs forbid it

Flight proves to be a powerful enough ability at such an early level that there is a large contingent of DMs who believe it breaks the game or makes encounters too difficult to balance. While no other racial ability requires resetting counters or entire campaigns, the ability to fly can alter the course of everything the DM has in store for his players. Whether it’s crossing a rickety bridge or running away from a pack of wolves, there are many problems that become irrelevant if the players involved can literally fly through them.

Although there are other breeds with the ability to fly, and even more so with the introduction of Owlfolk and Fairies, avian Aarakocra are often treated as the face of the problem because much of their build depends on the ability to fly. Their other racial advantages pale in comparison to other options, and in fact their walking speed suffers to explain the benefit their flying speed gives them. The flight ban leaves players with little reason to choose aarakocra as a playable character, making it easier for many DMs to ban them altogether.

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Why these are not real problems

An illustration of the crowded Candlekeep Castle

But the real problem is not in the mechanics of the game, nor in the balance, nor in how the game is designed. The real problem comes with not viewing the challenges that flying offers as an opportunity rather than a hassle. There are so myriad and convenient ways to balance a flight that there is no reason to fall into either extreme of “let it solve all problems” or “ban it altogether.” The best case scenario is to find a middle ground between what the player wants and what allows the game to work. When it comes to flying, it really isn’t that difficult.

Unless the entire group is aarakocra, many planned encounters remain a challenge for the group as a whole, meaning the rickety bridge and wolf pack remain a threat. Caves, dungeons, and interior ceilings are such common limitations against flight that a party is bound to find them. Even when threats are out in the open, inclement weather, ranged attackers, or opposing flyers can still challenge PCs. If a DM is determined to treat the integration of these factors as a nuisance, then he will be. Those who accept the challenge can see their encounters turn into a unique, dynamic and engaging experience.

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Why does flight really improve the game?

The main goal of “balance” as a concept is to benefit from the best of both worlds. Flight-ban DMs often see no point in allowing you to limit yourself to it in dungeons, hurricanes, etc., but that misses the whole reason for balance in the first place. At times, flight should allow players to feel powerful, easily bridging a ridiculous chasm or taking down their enemies from an untouchable distance. But you should also occasionally challenge them, forcing them to consider whether it’s worth risking falling damage or making them a target for archers and spellcasters. At times, it can even be an active obstacle, separating them from peers who need them at critical moments. The fact that it’s so variable is exactly what makes it balanced and fun rather than game-breaking.

Flying dynamism adds to encounters by making verticality more important than ever and creating an experience that draws players into the world a DM creates. Suddenly, a battle map is no longer just a flat grid with green spots, but a forest stretching skyward with goblins crawling through branches to catch up with an archer Aarakocran who lost sight of her allies through the canopy. . The weather never matters so much in Dungeons and Dragons like when hurricane-force winds threaten to sink a winged Aasimar into the sea. Only on paper do the advantages of flight seem insurmountable. Still, with just a little creative thinking, your problems turn into strengths that give Dungeons and Dragons the magic that makes it so different from many other games.

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