Thursday, October 29, 2020

D&D: Winged Elves

My current Calidar project deals with elves. One ancestry concerned winged elves. I thought of including game mechanics for maneuvering, in case none are available in the game system players choose to run this campaign world with. The following material is written for the D&D® game's BECMI rules, although Calidar is officially system neutral. I'm looking for a few contributors to look this over and point out anything broken (or unclear). If you do, thanks!

Here we go.

These winged elves can fly using large eagle-like wings on their backs. Immune to fear of heights and altitude sickness, Elëan elves can maintain flight while moderately encumbered for up to an hour, half that if encumbered (120 Lbs or more), two hours with light encumbrance (60 Lbs or less), after which they should land to rest for at least two hours. Raise encumbrance limits +10 Lbs per Str bonus. Load carried in flight can never exceed twice the elf’s own unencumbered body weight. A winged elf must land when:

1.    Carrying or holding on to more than the maximum weight limit.

2.    Incurring 75% or more combat damage.

3.    Sustaining more than twice normal flight times.

            While in flight with moderate or no encumbrance, Elëan elves receive a +1 bonus to AC and saves against physical and magical attacks. Incurring 50% damage or flying while exhausted halves vertical speeds when climbing (round down) and maximum flight ceiling.

Ø Horizontal Flight Speed: 60’ per round; –10’ if encumbered or if climbing; +20’ if diving.

Ø Vertical Speeds: Climbing—40’ up; –10’ if encumbered. Diving—80’ per round at an angle or 120’ if diving straight down, head first (requires a Str Check to pull up; –2 penalty if encumbered). An unconscious Elëan elf should spin downward at about 30' per combat action, incurring 3d6 damage when hitting a horizontal surface. 

Ø Flight Ceiling: 15,000’ maximum altitude; –3,000’ if encumbered; +1,000’ per Str bonus.

            Maneuverability: Winged creatures do not fly like airplanes. They can use wing and body motions to effect tight maneuvers such as slowing down enough to land on a branch or on a rocky promontory, hovering, or making a tight turn. The latter two require a Dexterity Check. If the roll fails, the flying creature stalls, immediately dropping altitude equal to half its level flying speed; it must resume level flight during the next round. A critical failure results in a drop equal to its full level flight speed. If Dex isn’t known, the following chart summarizes possible ratings and outcomes. Actual Dex for PCs may differ.

            Hovering: If the Dex roll succeeds, the time spent hovering corresponds to the creature’s size, regardless of its actual Dex score. It must resume normal flight afterward. For Example: An Elëan elf with 18 Dex is still limited to 3 combat rounds hovering. A failed roll results in a stall as described earlier.

            Turning: If the Dex roll succeeds, a tight turn (more than 90˚) still requires the clearance noted in the chart, regardless of actual Dex scores. Normal flight must occur during the next round. For Example: An Elëan elf still requires a 10’ radius to perform a tight turn regardless of actual Dex. A failed roll results in a stall as described earlier.

            Flight Conditions: Elëan elves are comfortable at cooler temperatures up to 8,000’ altitude (about freezing level). Damage from exposure to cold temperatures begins past the freezing point. Their breathing also becomes more labored above 8,000’ (Con –1 per extra 1,000’ altitude), unless they wear enchanted devices enabling free breathing. Strong winds affect level flight speeds (double with tailwinds, halve with headwinds). A Str check is required to fly against gale-strength winds (one roll per occurrence while in combat or one check per hour when travelling). Updrafts and downdrafts can alter climbing or diving speeds +/– 50%. Elëan elves can sense the direction of air currents within a 300' unobstructed radius.

Travel Speeds: The limitation on the number of consecutive hours winged elves can fly limits their ability to travel fast. If unencumbered, Elëan elves can travel 40 miles/day at best, regardless of terrain, assuming resting time equals flying time, or 27 miles with moderate enc., or 14 miles if encumbered. Double these speeds with good tailwinds or halve them with headwinds (round up).

            Swooping Attacks: They do no require Dex checks, but a foe should always be able to swing back at its attacker as it flies away. A swooping attack involving a high speed dive (head first) requires a Str check to pull up in time. A failed check would result in the elf hitting an intervening floor (if any), or continuing the dive during the following combat actions until a Str check succeeds.

            Drawbacks: Elëan elves dislike hot weather (Con –2 in weather 86˚f/30˚c and up). They suffer from mild claustrophobia in places where flight is either impractical or impossible (–2 to Wis and Cha while in these conditions); NPCs also incur a –2 penalty to Morale Checks. Elëan elves feel miserable underwater and will refuse to go unless some emergency compels them to do so; they don’t typically know how to swim and are usually unskilled with horse riding. Furthermore, armor does not protect their wings, so their backs remain essentially unarmored. Elëan elves may also need to consume more energy if much flying is involved, possibly going through food supplies twice as fast during rest periods as they would when walking. Overweight elves are both terribly unfortunate and thankfully quite rare.