of Ere Campaign Setting offers new options to players in the way
of flying mounts and player characters, including two races that
have the option of a constant fly speed by the end of Paragon tier.
many Dungeon Masters are hesitant to include such options due to
concerns over the increased complexity created by using a three
dimensional encounter area or of the capabilities of flying PCs.
But this need not be the case. Page 47 of the DMG provides and excellent
starting point on the road to understanding and utilizing flight.
This article attempts to provide further insight, commentary and
rules to aid DMs in incorporating PC flight in their Dungeons and
The primary problem with flying PCs comes from poor encounter design.
Against enemies with no ranged attacks or flight capability, arrayed
on a featureless plane or any area where the only terrain features
exist in two dimensional space, flight, even clumsy flight (which
is the kind most PCs will if they have constant flight) is a powerful
is, of course, not to use this type of encounter, and indeed, it
is not recommended to use such an encounter at all, as if doesn’t
make for an exciting combat even with all grounded PCs.
solution is to include monsters with ranged attacks an/or fly speeds
into the encounter. While controller and artillery monsters are
the most obvious choices for this, minions with ranged attacks work
especially well to this effect as they add to the bulk of the encounter
without making it too difficult. Likewise, monsters with pull effects
prove especially useful and interesting in this capacity. Even monsters
without any of these options can still pick up and throw rocks or
debris as a basic attack.
is encounter location. The game is called Dungeons and Dragons after
all. It is a simple thing to stage many encounters in an enclosed
space such as underground, or inside structures. As a rule of thumb,
humanoid creatures of medium size or larger lair in places that
are one square taller than their typical member. Temples, guildhouses
and other structures meant to convey grant effect, may be two or
three squares taller than the creatures that make use of them. This
allows fliers to still make use of the extra dimensions afforded
by their fly speed, while keeping them within reasonable striking
distance of ground based melee opponents and opportunity attacks
form them. Remember: the nine squares above and the nine squares
below and opponent are still adjacent to them.
should always make use of terrain for all characters. DMG pp. 48
offers some discussion on this, but this article provides more and
as always, your own imagination is key in developing new and creative
not all encounters should be built this way. Like all abilities,
you should provide the occasional encounter that showcases flight
and it’s advantages.
Flying creatures are often able to avoid ground based terrain, but
are subject to terrain effects that extend into three dimensions.
Common sources of this terrain are trees, stalactites, ceiling adornments
and airborne clouds.
Mundane Aerial Terrain
Hanging ornamentation can create blocking terrain in the air with
difficult terrain in the squares occupied by the chains and ropes
connecting it to the ceiling. Creatures may also climb up to fight
on chandeliers that are sufficiently large. In those cases, the
ironwork of the chandelier itself is difficult terrain.
and Smoke: Fires typically extend upward into the same
space they occupy on the ground and create all sort of complications
for flying creatures. In addition to the danger of the fire itself,
a bloom of smoke extends above fires, creating obscuring terrain
(the extent of which depends on the size of the fire) and leaping
sparks that, while less dangerous than the fire, still create hindering
Pillars are blocking terrain that typically extends from floor to
ceiling. Sometimes, they are broken somewhere along their length,
providing a space a flying creature can squeeze though.
Stalactites are blocking terrain, extending their height. Clusters
of thin stalactites can also create challenging terrain for flying
creatures as they must make Acrobatics checks to avoid them.
Clouds of sulfurous or just scalding steam jet from the ground in
some places and collect in the air above, creating hindering and
obscuring terrain while leaving lower levels relatively clear.
Trees provide blocking terrain up to their height and difficult
and covering terrain in a burst (usually 1, but some trees have
a larger crown) starting 1 or 2 squares from the ground.
Wind works like current (DMG pp.45), sliding flying characters if
it is strong enough. But even light updrafts or downdrafts can create