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Imagine there is an Aarakocra PC who has an Adventurer’s Pack for starter equipment. It includes a backpack to store all the character’s stuff.

Also Aarakocra have a fly speed.

How should such character wear their backpack while flying? Is it possible for an Aarakocra to wear a backpack on their back while flying?

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Presumably, their backpack is designed so that it allows for flying.

The only restriction the Aarakocra fly speed poses is medium or heavy armor.

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

So as far as mechanics of the game go it is possible.

They are an intelligent race with a society so they probably had to deal with this problem at one point. It makes sense that they designed backpacks and other equipment to be worn while flying and depending on how common Aarakocra are in the setting, stores could easily carry equipment tailored to specific needs of the race similar to any other races.

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Why does it have to be a "back" pack?

Before now, I've taken backpacks for people who've hurt themselves and needed help. Since I've been carrying a pack myself, I've put their pack on my front. I can report that the result is well-balanced, fits fairly well if it doesn't have a structured back, and causes no problems at all. The only issue for carrying a regular backpack that way is that it can be hard to see over the top of it, since it's designed to go behind your head. Any race with a reason to need their back free could easily shape a pack to mount on their front, with no other ill effects.

You could also consider that it doesn't need to be a single large pack. Humans use those because it's practical. There's no reason a "standard" pack layout for another race couldn't be a harness with both front and back packs, containing the same overall volume but arranged slightly differently. Other possible pack layouts for a flying race might also include pouches strapped to the legs (you don't need those when you're flying), or even simply a large underslung bag dangling on the end of a rope.

Edit based on ChrisH's comment: Much of this mirrors how paratroopers carry equipment, because a paratrooper's back is occupied with their main chute. Their reserve chute goes on their front; various equipment is secured elsewhere on their body, and their main pack is, as I said above, hung on the end of a strap.

Forcing a non-human race to use a "back" pack simply because the rules were originally written for human-bodyplan PCs seems like an extreme rules-lawyer stance which most players would not accept.

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Have you ever noticed how a flying animal's wings come out from their sides?

Every illustration I see of an aarakocra places their wings at rest a slight distance to each side. In normal use, their wings should never need to extend far enough back to touch each other, and the use of a backpack shouldn't inhibit an aarakocra's attempts to squeeze into a tight space more than it would for an orc.

Your table should decide if they really want to be bogged down by little concerns like this. Have a talk about it. The best outcome is if there's a new, interesting worldbuilding element to come out of this.

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Short answer: Magic.

I came across this video today of Todd Kenreck from D&D Beyond interviewing Jeremy Crawford from Wizards of the Coast about the difference between Arcane Magic and Divine Magic. Crawford gave a great answer to this question at 0:30 expressing that, in our world, dragons couldn't fly, but they can in the D&D multiverse because of magic.

The long-short of it is that magic within D&D comes from something called "The Weave", a series of threads that span most of the multiverse from a goddess named Mystra. It's because of her that non-deities can learn to pluck those threads and mold it into desired effects through words, gestures, and materials. Else we would rely on weaving raw magic that would require a much greater price (like part of our soul).


So putting that all together, you might look at wings in D&D 5e like the material component to cast fly on one's self more than considering how non-aerodynamic winged humanoids are in actual fact.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the only sensible answer to this question imo. DnD is not a physics simulater. So, how do Aarakocra fly with a backpack? The game doesn't care. They just do. If you have to blame something, blame magic. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Feb 17 at 11:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tiggerous you're half right, but from the interview, it seems like WotC actually DID care. They did consider it, maul it over, and came to the conclusion that if they were to worry about all the physics, you'd have a science fiction game rather than a fantasy game (at least that's how I see it.) Best use the mechanic that flight is a magical source using wigs as the material aspect than making Eagle Harpies who have no hands. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Feb 17 at 11:40

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