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The aarakocra gains a base 50 flight.

Step of the wind: wings unfurled states

When you use your Step of the Wind, you can unfurl spectral draconic wings, gaining a flying speed equal to your walking speed until the end of your turn.

My question is-do these two stack?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question can be generalized to "What happens if a creature that already has a Flying speed gains a Flying speed from another source?". It can be further generalized to "What does gaining a speed of a given type do if the creature already has that movement type?" \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMoon93
    Apr 29, 2021 at 13:13

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They definitely don't stack.

"Gain a flying speed" does only and exactly what it says: You gain a flying speed of the specified value. If you already have a flying speed, the two don't interact with each other; you just have two fly speeds at the same time. If it wanted to you be able to increase any existing fly speed, it would have said so.

As an example of the latter, many magical effects that grant darkvision have some variation on the text, "You gain darkvision out to a range of X feet. If you already have darkvision, this increases its range by Y feet." Some such effects don't have that text, so in that case, if you already have darkvision, you'll just have darkvision out to two different distances, so the longer one is functionally the only darkvision that matters.

We could have an argument about whether the new fly speed replaces the old one or if you have both fly speeds available to you and you can just pick whichever one you want to use, but that's a different argument. Personally, just to keep the bookkeeping to a minimum, I'd rule that you have multiple iterations of the same speed available, and you can choose either one or a combination of them when moving, subject to the normal limitations of combining movement types (Player's Handbook, p.190, "Using Different Speeds").

There are good reasons to potentially want to use a secondary fly speed, such as if you normally use winged flight and are being magically granted a fly speed, which prevents you from crashing if you get knocked prone (Player's Handbook, p.191, "Flying Movement") and may add the ability to hover, or to fly through areas too narrow for your wings.

However in this particular case, it seems to me that the two fly speeds in question function almost identically, so you probably don't gain anything from the wings unfurled ability until you have a walking speed greater than your innate flight speed, whether that's from a spell or item, or just by reaching Monk level 14.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with your answer, I feel applying vision logic to speed is unsubstantiated. Is there some way to elaborate some more on that? \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMoon93
    Apr 30, 2021 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The language of "gain" versus "increase" is pretty common in 5e. The darkvision example is just a useful example because it clearly illustrates that "gain" doesn't mean "add it to what you already have". The alternative would be to suggest that in one case they use "gain" to mean one thing and in another case "gain" means something entirely different. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2021 at 13:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sound reasoning, +1 \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMoon93
    Apr 30, 2021 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 good points It also made me reflect that in a case where a creature's original walking speed is greater than its flying speed (e.g. walking 30 ft, flying 10 ft) then, as a DM, I would rule that the creature gets flying speed equal to its walking speed, regardless of its original (e.g. 10 ft) in this case. \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    May 2, 2021 at 9:55
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RaW, unclear.

This is a bit of a corner case which the rules don't make explicit, but let's analyze this.

Some features have you gain a speed.

Fly

The target gains a flying speed of 60 feet for the duration.

Others have you increase your speed.

Boon of Speed

Your walking speed increases by 30 feet.

Longstrider

The target's speed increases by 10 feet until the spell ends.

From these 3, we can see 3 different effects happening:

  • You gain some amount of X Speed: you now have X Speed of some amount
  • You increase X Speed by some amount: you add some amount to one you already have
  • You increase Speed by some amount: you add some amount to all the speed types you have

Some things aren't covered by the rules:

  • What if you have X Speed when you gain it?

  • What if you don't have X Speed when you increase it?

It comes down to DM fiat, but they probably don't stack.

My rulings would be as follows:

If you gain X Speed and already have X Speed, you now have both, and choose which to use (subject to the movement rules as usual). An Aarakocra has 50ft Flying Speed, and if they are targeted by Fly, the now also have a Flying Speed of 60ft they can use.

This basically prevents you from stacking random things, and is the simplest option. You will usually use the highest speed, but you also keep other speeds (they may have benefits like magical flight, where you don't fall even if restrained).

If you increase a speed type which you don't have, nothing happens.

This prevents a shark from being able to somehow walk on land.

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