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Another PC in a new campaign is an Aarakocra druid, with a (wooden) shield and a free hand for spellcasting (or throwing javelins). At first, the DM and some PCs (myself included) thought the wings and arms were the same limbs. This would mean the druid could not carry a shield while flying. However, most imagery online (and in the books) clearly show they are different limbs: a set of humanoid arms, and a pair of wings on their back. So the ruling of the DM was simple: he allowed to use the shield and other weaponry while flying.

I'm fine with this ruling, but I'm still curious whether the rules say something about flying PCs that carry and use weaponry mid-air, such as a shield in this case. Is our DM's ruling correct, by RAW?

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Yes

There is no language in the Aarakocra stat block that says they must have a hand or arm free in order to fly. They simply just have a fly speed.

Adding a rule that if they hold a shield, or possibly a weapon/focus/etc, then they won't be able to fly complicates the race and introduces rules and requirements that don't exist. This definitely nerfs a racial ability (flight) without a rules reason to do so.

The only limiting language is with regard to medium and heavy armor - and a shield is not one of those:

You have a flying speed of 50 feet. To use this speed, you can’t be wearing medium or heavy armor.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Having a fly speed is generally considered to be a very strong racial ability. Preventing casting of spells, attacking, and holding shields while doing it sounds very interesting to me... \$\endgroup\$ – Nacht Jun 4 at 6:05
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They can fly with a shield

Note the only restriction on flying for the aarakocra is:

You have a flying speed of 50 feet. To use this speed, you can't be wearing medium or heavy armor.

Since shields are not considered medium or heavy armor, Aarakocra can use them and still fly.

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Yes, you can.

The rules only state one limitation in this racial trait of the Aarakocra (emphasis mine):

Flight

You have a flying speed of 50 feet. To use this speed, you can’t be wearing medium or heavy armor.

So yes, the DM is correct in ruling to allow the druid to use a wooden shield whilst flying.

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A druid Aarakocra can use a wooden shield while flying.

Yes, druids can wear wooden shields (PHB 65):

Proficiencies

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields (druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal)

The only limiting language in the Aarakocra stat block (EEPC 5) exists with regard to medium and heavy armour - and a shield is not one of those:

Flight. You have a flying speed of 50 feet. To use this speed, you can’t be wearing medium or heavy armor.

There are no limitations but the limitations of your PC's proficiencies in regard to their weapon usage.

A Javelin (PHB 149) can be used in one hand, so the PC can throw the Javelins while also using the wooden shield.

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By RAW, and I am sure by RAI as well, yes.

Having said that, I could imagine a DM ruling that the shield does not help them against some attacks, due to the angle of the attack that is possible (because the target is in the air), and the difficulty of effectively using the shield against attacks while flying. But this comes more down to what the DM wants.

As written, there is no rule preventing it so it would be allowed.

Personally, in most cases I would as a DM allow it to be used just fine.

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