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How much room does an Aarakocra need to fly/take-off?

I've tried to list the factors I could think of below:

  • Inability to hover if speed reaches zero
  • Wingspan of 20ft
  • Medium sized creature.

Clarifications

Do you mean how much room above them? Around them? Are you asking how fast they can gain altitude?

Less about how fast they can fly up, and more about how much room they would need to spread their wings and take off. My thought process so far is that you would need to flap your wings and go in a direction. I'm just not sure if there are any rules/advice for how much space you would need around an Aarakocra in order to do so. Is it a 20ft cube, 50ft sphere etc.


Reasons for asking:

Sometimes it seems useful to post reasons for asking, mine is that I'm interested in how much use flight has for an Aarakocra in a inside setting. Both from a DM game build perspective what will and will not have greater effects on my Aarakocra players and from a player perspective so I have a better understanding of what I would naturally know as a winged creature.

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They only need space enough to move into a space

Flying isn't treated specially in the rules compared to other modes of movement. To fly, all you need is enough space to move off the ground. Then, as long as you have a fly speed and movement enough to move you there, you can fly. The same rules apply when you are walking/swimming/climbing/burrowing and want to move into a valid space next to you.

Aarakocra can't really hover at all

Aarakocra can "hover" but only in the sense that they can remain in one spot in the air with no issues. Just like a character can stand in one spot with no issues. However the game does not call this "hovering" it is simply staying in the same spot and not moving. Hovering does have a special meaning though:

Some monsters have the ability to hover, which makes them hard to knock out of the air (as explained in the rules on flying in the Player's Handbook). Such a monster stops hovering when it dies.

Aarakocra do not have this ability which means that they will be vulnerable to falling caused by situations listed in the PHB:

If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by the fly spell.

Aarakocra do not have a defined wingspan

Please do note, that Aarakocra do not have a 20 foot wingspan according to the rules. In the rules, it doesn't say what their wingspan might be, but since they are medium creatures it means they control a 5ft area so a 20 ft wingspan seems excessive. In the end, this is a kind of detail the DM can decide.

All this is to say that D&D does not try to simulate game mechanics like flying to the point of being realistic in any way. Sure, a real flighted creature would need time and space to take off, but the rules in D&D just say they can just do it for ease of play.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Well.. That makes sense! \$\endgroup\$ – GPPK Apr 10 '18 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ So does that mean they can fly horizontally indoors assuming there is enough head room (say typical 10 foot from floor to ceiling) and no obstacles like a table? \$\endgroup\$ – Clarus_Nox Apr 11 '18 at 1:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Clarus_Nox: Yup. Nothing in the rules says that is anything remotely special for a flying creature. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 11 '18 at 1:33
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An aaracokra only needs it's space to remain airborne.

As a medium size creature, they control a 5 foot square (or cube when considering the third dimension). They do not need any more space than that. They do not need extra room to take off, to fly or to hover in place.

Hover has a specific meaning in D&D. It refers to creatures like beholders, who just seem to float in space, and only have to come to ground when they are killed. An aaracokra could fly directly up ten feet, say, and never move horizontally. If their speed is reduced to 0, however, they will fall if airborne. As long as a creature with flight has any positive speed value, they can maintain a discreet position in space.

From DMG:

A monster that has a flying speed can use all or part of its movement to fly. Some monsters have the ability to hover, which makes them hard to knock out of the air (as explained in the rules on flying in the Player's Handbook). Such a monster stops hovering when it dies.

From PHB:

Flying creatures enjoy many benefits of mobility, but they must also deal with the danger of falling. If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by the fly spell.

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