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So we're 5 or 6 meets into my first d&d campaign (3.5e), and I'm really enjoying playing my 5th level elven druid. However, the chance that they die at the next meet is pretty high*.

I'm not too sad though, because I discovered the Aarakocra race. As a huge bird lover, I really really really want to play this race, probably as another druid or as a ranger. It's just a 5e race, though, so I'm looking for recommendations as to making an Aarakocra race in 3.5e- racial stat bonuses, abilities, and the like.

I've only ever made my druid (and that was with quite a bit of help), and I've only ever played 3.5e, so I wouldn't exactly call myself experienced xD. Thanks!

*I'm talking wild shape as an eagle flying over a pool of magma with an angry fire elemental that nobody knows how to fight throwing fireballs at me exclusively kind of chances.

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While, as The Vagrant Dog’s answer notes, aarakocra are a “playable” race in 3.5e, that is almost a technicality: their LA +2 means you are allowed to play them under the rules, but that you basically never should. Level adjustment, if you are unfamiliar, means you count as a higher level (2 higher, in this case) without actually being higher level. In theory this is done because the race is more powerful than average (e.g. aarakocra can fly, which most races cannot and is a pretty big advantage), but ultimately it is almost never worth it. In fact, it’s almost-always crippling. LA means you have drastically fewer hp, far weaker saves, attacks, and skills, and you have fewer and weaker feats.

Instead, since you are a lover of birds, and not necessarily aarakocra in particular, I would point out the raptorans in Races of the Wild. These can only glide, not truly fly, until 5th level, but they are LA +0—meaning they are playable without any adjustment. That makes them vastly superior to aarakocra, and really, they’re a quite solid race. You will most likely fit in with your party far better, and have a much better time, playing a raptoran rather than an aarakocra.

In fact, in my games, if a player wants to play an aarakocra, my answer would be “OK... as long as you use the stats and rules for raptorans.”

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You're in luck.

Aarakocra are a playable race in 3.5, subject to your DM of course. They show up in the book Races of Faerun, though you can probably find them elsewhere.

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The Aarakocra have numerous versions available.

First appearing in AD&D (2e) in the Complete Book of Humanoids followed by an Athasian version in the 2e Dark Sun campaign setting, these avianoids have been around for a while.

There are official 3rd ed stats given in both the Forgotten Realms setting (mentioned in another answer) and in the official 3rd edition Dark Sun material co-owned by Athas.org and WotC. The Athasian version is notably more user-friendly as it only has a +1 LA as opposed to the Forgotten Realms version which has a +2 LA modifier.

(The file named ds3_r7.pdf is the one you want; which is the latest official 3rd edition Dark Sun setting material available as the r8 is still under review. Pages 6-9 contain the Aarakocra racial notes. Like all material produced under the Athas-WotC agreement, it is free of charge.)


Found in the same book, the Pterrans are a pterodactyl-like humanoid, but the Athasian version does not have functional wings, only stubs, so would not meet the desire for flight.

Also found in the same book, the Athasian Thri-kreen used to be winged in a previous age, but lost them over the eras. However, there is a prestige class which can enable to Thri-kreen to undergo an atavistic evolution and regain the wings, though that is a lot of effort and levels just to gain flight.

Plus, psionics, which is almost always a win in my book. ^^

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3.5 has also has raptorans, which are similar to aarakocra, but aren't held back by LA. The tradeoff is that they don't get actual flight right off the bat.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't answer the bird lovers question for a bird race. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 10 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you explain what Raptorans are, and how they could solve the OPs problem? \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Jun 10 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. You may also want to review KRyan's existing answer, which seems to point this out already with relevant explanations. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 10 at 21:45

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