Flying Characters?



Hey Hey!

I’ve got a player who wants to play a “Bird-Man” character in the Alfheim Setting. Like an Aarakocra from DnD 5e.

Do you think the Lifeform Abilities - “Gain Flying Ability” & “-2 Con” are good enough? Or should I also tack on some additional restrictions/downsides.

I know that flying is a particularly difficult thing to balance in games because it can be so strong, so I thought I’d ask for some advice.


I’d model it after Kitt “Lil’guys” card in Warpshell pg 55 of Master Editions

Start with 5hp and can fly … done


My thought is that flight is a starting ability, not just a life form bonus, and like any starting ability, it should be roll to use under stress. Oh, you want to fly across that gap during combat? Make your CON roll.


This is a good idea! I think I’ll do this instead of my original idea


I meant to say starting ability. I do like the idea of making them roll con or dex to stay aloft!


Well, it’s not far off the mark for a lifeform
Bonus. For example, look at the reptoid “walk on any surface” bonus. It’s possible that flight is just a thing he can do with no mechanical requirements. In a way, making it that simple means it kind of fades into the background.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m leaning in that direction. Obviously, you can’t challenge this player with a rickety rope bridge, but a confined tunnel is still an issue. And for the bridge scenario, perhaps there are other flying adversaries, and part of the dilemma means ferrying other PCs across while under threat/barrage. And that’s probably when you need a roll: “Roll STR to carry your colleague across!”


I would not allow flying for PC races. It’s broken in 5E, and it would be broken in ICRPG. Just my 2c.



I would take a cue from the warpshell loot of the jump pack which gives a big movement bonus (move FAR still take an action). I would be hesitant to give straight up flying as a bonus at the table, instead giving movement bonuses, can “jump” far, protection from falls, shielding with the wings, etc.

Flying is a huge variable to adjust as a GM, so if you are up for it rock on! I know I personally would ask for no “flying” as a favor to me as a GM to keep my sanity, and try to negotiate some of it into needing to roll at the very least.


Never DM’ed before, but my heart just really wants to make flying characters possible at character creation. There’s an item on the Epic Loot table that grants flight, plus some other great benefits, so it’s not out of the question completely.

Maybe, if the player tends to abuse the power in a way that’s making the game unfun for everybody else, introduce them to the Snozzwangers. The Snozzwangers are tiny biting flies that are attracted to large flying creatures. Their bites don’t cause any damage(unless the swarm gets really huge) but they itch and burn, making all rolls HARD.


Maybe they can fly anywhere up to X distance and then land but can’t do it again for 1d4 ROUNDs. Kinda like a high jump almost.

X can be whatever you’re comfortable with. Far, double far, anywhere on the visible map, etc.


In a previous campaign with my kids, they were all forest creatures. Two of them wanted to be birds. We talked about how birds have hollow bones so they’re light enough to fly. So the trade off that we came up with was this simple rule:

Flying characters can’t carry “heavy” gear (nothing metal or stone).

This worked really well for us.


Very elegant solution for it!


I think it sounds great. The fix for flying being very powerful is this:

  1. Can’t fly if you are in a tiny space. Flying like a bird is not hovering whenever you want. Basically you are running but in the air. Oh and you probably have to get a running start to even start flying.

  2. What happens when a flying creature gets hit by an arrow or knocked unconscious? They probably start to fall. Falling a long long distance is going to hurt…

I never understood how people think flying in 5e is broken. It’s powerful sure, but as long as there is some logical consistency to the rules of how it works, it has upsides and downsides. That makes for a fun player experience!


It’s broken in 5e because a DM has to work really hard to challenge a flying character with 80 hit points. For the reasons you point out, that’s not a huge problem in ICRPG, which is why upon consideration, I wouldn’t be worried about letting a player have flying.


That makes sense. There are some great suggestions in this thread about how it could work and still be fun for the player.

I think there is a perception in 5e that you are not supposed to or are not allowed to do things like work with the player to come up with fair upsides and downsides of player abilities (Something you should absolutely do in ICRPG). Of course this is totally false and the DMG even tells you to mess with the rules to make your own game. But there is an inherent feeling of “Punishing the players” when you do change things or limit certain abilities, especially the ones that are core features of a character. It’s not a great feeling so I am sure that’s where the flying thing comes from.


Don’t allow it or let him be a “bird man” who is unable to fly. See what he thinks of that. I am sure the idea will be dropped quickly. A player does not want to fly for role-playing purposes, it’s for unfair combat advantage.


I generally don’t have a problem with flying characters. It is as much of a problem as a benefit.
Flying inside is just impractical or downright dangerous (checks and saves). Seriously. Ever see a parakeet flying in a cage or even inside a living room?
The main issue I hear about with flying is being able to stay out of reach of melee and make combat a breeze. But to me that is just a lack of imagination from the GM.
In the air you don’t have cover from arrows or spells, and unless you are zooming around like a startled pheasant, you are easy pickings, and even those get shot too. Then there’s the added bonus of falling damage when you not only get hit, but also drop out of the sky.
Players have plenty of ways to deal with flying enemies. The enemies should apply the same methods.

Then there’s the whole issue with chasms, rope bridges and climbing. I think I can count on one hand the number of times in 30 years of gaming where I used those things as an important obstacle. And every time involved a wizard with levitation or fly. So… don’t worry about it. Let the players feel clever for flying a rope across for the others to cross, because even though you can fly, you can’t carry anything larger than a halfling. That’s why birds of prey don’t eat dogs. Just too big to carry. And so is that plate wearing half ogre.

If you’ve ever seen an eagle snap a smaller bird in mid air, imagine what that would look like with an avian character and a dragon. Yum, feathers!

My advice, don’t sweat it. If the player starts looking for ways to abuse it, then introduce a pack of kobolds with harpoons and a craving for PC buffalo wings. Getting your wings chopped off, dipped in BBQ sauce and eaten by kobolds will get the point across.

Have fun. :beer::sunglasses::beer:


There is plenty of good advice above in solving the problem, but why not pile on in naming the problems? I think there are three ways flying is “broken” in D&D, and ICRPG only fixes one of them, but the other two are well within any DM’s power to fix.

  1. They leave out a bunch of logical limitations, like weight, equipment, and space. People have mentioned above what kind solutions are possible, but the rules leave it out. This makes people feel like there should not be rules, but c’mon. You cannot fly in heave plate or in a 10 foot wide corridor, not with wings anyway. So the DM has to fill in the gaps in the rules. But it should not be hard.
  2. Flying away from monsters or over traps makes everything “too easy”. Running away from monsters also works. That is, as said above, just the DM not fitting the story to the characters. I especially like @Meadbeard comentary. Make it a plot point. At the outer limit, if you do not fight or solve problems you do not get XP or whatever from fighting - but that is a pretty adversarial relationship with your players. Instead find a way for the solution to be fun.
    2a. (I guess that makes 4 problems, sorry) If flying is the way they do everything, that might be kinda boring. That might be more a between player problem, but it is also self-correcting. If playing a birdman is boring your player will stop and do something more interesting. Or you can provide a mix of things you can solve with flight and things you cannot. Or maybe they will do things differently for different problems to make it interesting themselves.
  3. And the one ICRPG fixes by default - the struggle to get flying or any other “broken” ability. With all the races and subraces and classes and subclasses and backgrounds explicitly defined in D&D you have a bazillion choices but no freedom. It seems like now there is an option for everyone to get Misty Step - but you need to be one of the new-release ones, not the PHB ones, or homebrew something, or “dip” X levels in whatever or take whatever feat. Flight is like that. You bend over backwards - with all the tortured backstory to justify it - to fight against the rules rather than have rules with the flexibility you need.

So at the end, do what feels right, after reading the advice smarter people than I wrote above. Don’t let everyone fly unless you have a flying campaign. Make it a trade-off and reasonably realistic and it’ll be fun.