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The Flyby special trait states, for example:

The peryton doesn't provoke an opportunity attack when it flies out of an enemy's reach (MM 251).

The name of the trait implies that an creature approaches an enemy target while in flight, attacks, and then continues past out of the enemy's reach without provoking (thus flying by). The description, however, doesn't appear to restrict the advantage to this particular sequence.

Would you apply this advantage if a creature starts its turn on the ground adjacent to an enemy and uses its fly speed to move away (thus flying out of an enemy's reach)?

For the purposes of this question, it would probably be helpful to ignore the mechanics necessary for a winged creature to launch itself into the air, and think more in terms of magical (i.e. instant take off) flight.

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It looks like, yes, it does apply when starting on the ground next to an enemy. There's no restriction on it about starting the turn in flight, nor any rule elsewhere that would make starting to fly not count as flying for the first square of movement.

However, a DM who cares about what abilities actually do fictionally and what they actually look like is within their rights to rule that it can only be used while reasonably doing an actual flyby. Since it's a DM-controlled monster, that would be ruling in the PCs' favour too, so it's unlikely to be a point of contention.

A DM heading a group who wanted to play in more of a D&D 4e style, with abilities doing only and exactly what they say — a playstyle that 5e can support with some thought — would also be perfectly in their rights to say that Flyby can be used during takeoff and landing. Since this is unfavourable to the PCs though, a DM who isn't playing in a group that explicitly wants that kind of combat style might want to reconsider playing this ability literally.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that with the Find Greater Steed spell from Xanathar's, the peryton may not necessarily be a DM-controlled creature. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 16 '18 at 20:53
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If you going by the book, then the answer yes. The peryton can be on the ground and fly away without risking a attack of opportunity.

The reason for this is Specific versus General on page 7.

Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

With that being said, the whole point of the rules is to help the players and the referee adjudicate what characters are attempting to do in the setting of the campaign. It is obvious from the Flyby special trait that it to simulate the real life fast diving attack of a hawk or similar raptor. Thus if the flyer is already on the ground or was hovering the previous turn the flyby trait doesn't apply.

However you could also say that the peryton is that fast of a flyer even when starting from a cold start on the ground. The flyby trait should be taken as meaning this creature is so fast and agile flying that it doesn't incur attacks of opportunity when flying.

Which interpretation is best depends on how you view these creatures in your setting.

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