I’ve seen a few posts about why flight is such a contentious point between DM’s and Players. There are a few reasons ranging from visual spatial representation to game mechanics of flight. Some DM’s or GM’s will avoid flight all together as a means to make the game easier on everyone. Let’s face it, flight adds a third dimension to all aspects of the game and being able to fly, even for a short time, can be pretty broken at level 1. That would be more work added to the already full workload the DM takes on.
Everyone loves flight. My own character, Aleera, could eventually fly at speeds of 80ft. per turn. I’m not saying it shouldn’t or can’t be done just exploring why sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. I loved being able to zip around during battle but once most of our team gained access to flight or higher level travel spells we didn’t need to walk anywhere or take a cart. When you can be somewhere in the blink of an eye, you lose the ability to explore the areas you travel past.
When we got our abilities to fly, much of the map of the island we were on was lost to us because we could fly over the land and bypass the roads and any land based enemies. Orcs and goblins aren’t looking up for marks, they’re looking over the roads. Many of the obstacles in Dungeons and Dragons are based on a horizontal map. It isn’t very much of an adventure if you can just avoid the wolves on the trail or the bugbear that was waiting in that cave. What’s the fun in avoiding all the obstacles?
That being said, if your DM is willing to do the extra work of building flight specific fights your might find yourselves in more complicated encounters. There were a few interactions with the Griffin Riders of Waterdeep, some fights on the seas from wyvern riding kobold pirates, and eventually dragons and dragon gods came into the mix. They can be cool encounters and were super fun but don’t be surprised if the wolves start flying to make up for your advantage.
Flight can add as much danger as it can take away. It is much easier for enemies to surround you in the open skies. There are now 360* of movement that doesn’t just benefit the players. A band of flying wyverns can surround and pincushion your team in just a few rounds without extra help. They can also be much harder fights. Adding moving terrain can be a cool way to eliminate huge open spaces. Risers can be expensive so it is a personal decision. My husband and I bought some dowels and pieces of thin plywood to create our own large terrain risers for flight based battles.
Flight can be tricky but if everyone works together it can be done. It is also good to understand that some DM’s won’t use flight or allow flight based characters at level 1 and, all that means, is that you need to find a table that does. Some people have preferences about how the game is played just like there are differing views about the rules and other aspects of Dungeons and Dragons. As always have fun and remember, that it is the only requirement to “win” D&D. If you have any other views on flight and it’s role, let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @DnDWifestories or Instagram @dndwife.
2 thoughts on “Follies of Flight”
Almost all of my campaign and games are on VTT, and some of them have some pretty great tools for managing changes of elevation. I think one of the things that can be really challenging is calculating range for attacks. I do the same thing as I do with any angle, and count the diagonals the same as straight lines. As long as the attacker and target aren’t separated in elevation greater than the range of the attack, it is in range.
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Yeah that does make it easier on the DM, we’re exclusively tabletop with a pretty solid group so elevation is more of a visual and physical interaction because we use terrain. It would be really nice not to have to make all those calculations on the go. Thats a really good way to calculate attack range! We might use it if you don’t mind?