I'm in a campaign where our party are spying on and trying to retrieve relics from Thay. I have a raven familiar and I was planning to use it for sending reports back to Waterdeep. (We are only level 2 so we don't have access to travel spells.)

The thought came to me to also use this bird to send cash back for magic items to be bought out of Thay. According to the Carrying Capacity it could carry it, but I'm not sure if carrying a Handy Haversack (5 lbs.) would be possible, because I have no idea how flight and carrying capacity work together.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Just remember, it's not a matter of where it grips it. It's a matter of weight ratios. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mordred
    Mar 31, 2018 at 9:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ As an advise hiring a spellcaster to use dream costs 500 gold and the spell dream allows you to instantly deliver a message so instead of sending your raven on a five month journey you might want to fork up 500 gold. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2018 at 10:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ The scientific answer is a bit complicated, but luckily we have now a rich source of (currently unpublished research) data concerning the unladened European and African swallow. Extrapolating weight and wing ratios, Reynolds number and drag coefficient we can estimate 1.365 kg for a reduction to 95% range and 5.654 kg for a reduction to 5% range for the common male raven \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2018 at 10:49

1 Answer 1


From the rules on movement modes:

A creature with a fly speed can move through the air at the indicated speed if carrying no more than a light load. (Note that medium armor does not necessarily constitute a medium load.)

Unlike walking, there's no rule that lets you move slower with higher loads; if you exceed light load, you just can't fly. If you need a more explicit prohibition rather than mere lack of permission, consider the feat Reinforced Wings from Races of the Dragon, which says:

Normal: Flying creatures can't fly in medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.

Now, a raven has Strength 1 and is Tiny. Being a familiar doesn't change either of those properties. So look that up on the carrying capacity chart, which says that Str 1 has a light load of "3 lb. or less", and Tiny multiplies that by ½.

Conclusion: your raven can carry at most 1.5 pounds while flying.

Even if carrying capacity weren't a problem, the distance from Thay to Waterdeep is about 2400 miles. A raven's 40 ft. base speed translates to overland travel of 32 miles per day. So a round trip would take 5 months.

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    \$\begingroup\$ that's a coconut! well almost. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jasen
    Mar 31, 2018 at 4:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ if the mage gan get hold of a scroll of treasure stitching and some suitable silk (it doesn't have to be 10' square) he can probably send plenty of tools back. but on the receiving end you'd be waiting for the spell to expire , or need a way to dispel it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jasen
    Mar 31, 2018 at 4:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ then i guess there's no way to do it, and yeah i figured it would be at half just didn't know about the "only light load" bit...hmmm maybe if i get a portable hole but i doubt i'll be able to get ahold of one.....oh well looks like fun times ahead of me XD \$\endgroup\$
    – Firealarm
    Mar 31, 2018 at 5:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, but tiny creatures carry only 1/2, not 3/4 of the listed weight. Only quadrupeds can carry 3/4. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ols
    Mar 31, 2018 at 7:36

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