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Gliding is usually listed as an extraordinary ability, for example the Raptoran entry in RotW (pg. 68):

Gliding (Ex): A raptoran can use her wings to glide, negating damage from a fall of any height and allowing 20 feet of forward travel for every 5 feet of descent. Raptorans glide at a speed of 40 feet (average maneuverability). Even if a raptoran's maneuverability improves, she can't hover while gliding. A raptoran can't glide while carrying a medium or heavy load.

If a raptoran becomes unconscious or helpless while in midair, her wings naturally unfurl and powerful ligaments stiffen the wings. The raptoran descends in a tight corkscrew and takes only 1d6 points of falling damage, no matter what the actual distance of the fall.

Would this be considered a move-action? For example, if a Raptoran were to glide above an enemy, can it use a full-round-action to shoot it multiple times, or would gliding use up a move action, leaving him with a standard action?

What causes my confusion is the fact that there is no indication of having to spend a move-action in the original entry, and the fact that it is a special ability (I.E. not every creature with wings can glide).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I apologize, I misread the tags and thought this was a 5e question. I don't know 3.5 so I have removed my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Escoce
    Dec 29 '15 at 15:33
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Glide replaces falling. Instead of free-fall, you glide 40 ft. horizontally and 10 ft. vertically each round. This does not take any action on your part (any more than falling does).

At least, I think that’s what’s going on. The text is quite odd and if I’m right, you’d kind of expect the text to just say that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While not as definitive as I'd like, at least I'm glad to see I'm not the only one confused with the description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joninean
    Dec 29 '15 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Joninean You're not! This is baffling. If using gliding isn't a move action, it's an incredible advantage over many creatures' regular tactical flight capabilities (especially dragons!), and, if using gliding is a move action, it's pretty dumb. That description is terrible. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 29 '15 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't it make sense to restrict the "no-action" gliding to a straight line and require a move action to maneuver? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30 '15 at 7:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. Something like that might make sense, but the rules certainly don’t say anything like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 30 '15 at 14:15
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Gliding is a movement mode just like burrow, swim, land, or climb. Treat it like flying, but limited as described (descend 5 feet for every 20 feet of horizontal motion). So, you don't get it as a move action or anything, instead you get the normal set of movement options (move, charge, run, etc.) and can take them using this movement mode. I don't have the glide description in front of me, but IIRC you are also not allowed to gain altitude with it.

Maneuverability also strictly implies a minimum forward motion (half your speed each round for average, per the maneuverability table), or you start falling. It's not perfectly defined how this interacts with raptorians, but it looks like they fall at normal rates, but happen to take less damage from doing so.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is exactly the answer I was going to post. Have a +1 instead. :) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 1 '16 at 10:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was going to say this; this is what I always assumed and it makes much more sense. But on rereading it says “glide, negating damage from a fall of any height,” which definitely sounds like it’s replacing a fall. Hence my answer. I think your answer should address that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 2 '16 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I see a few things that support my reading: first, "glide at a speed of 40 feet (average maneuverability)" is difficult to read as anything other than a movement mode. Second, "Gliding (ex):" matches the form flight uses when it needs some specific explanation (see e.g. Gibbering Orb). Last, read this way, the whole thing is coherent. Any other reading seems to involve a lot of guesswork. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Jan 2 '16 at 17:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ But it also requires ignoring significant aspects of the rules text. Doesn’t sit well with me. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 2 '16 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan oh? What do you need to ignore? A lot of it is awkward, but it all seems consistent. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Jan 2 '16 at 17:17
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It is either No Action or it is a Standard Action

From Special Abilities:

Using an extraordinary ability is usually not an action because most extraordinary abilities automatically happen in a reactive fashion. Those extraordinary abilities that are actions are standard actions unless otherwise noted.

The ability to glide provides two abilities. First, the ability to glide deliberately which allows 20 feet of horizontal motion for every 5 feet of descent and negates all falling damage. Second, the reaction to becoming helpless or unconscious in midair, which allows no horizontal motion and negates all but 1d6 points of falling damage.

I would probably rule the first ability granted by Gliding as a standard action; after all, the Raptoran can use her wings to glide, but is not forced to - therefore it is an action. Since it does not specify otherwise, it is a Standard Action, which moves the Raptoran up to 40' horizontally (as if flying with Average maneuverability) and 10' down. Presumably, they would then have their move action free to do something else - but they would have a hard time moving in mid-air.

The second part of the ability is automatic - and thus take no action; it triggers when the Raptoran becomes helpless or unconscious while midair. In such a case, the Raptoran would fall as normal, but take only 1d6 points of falling damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless the Raptoran "chooses" to not glide, "her wings naturally unfurl and powerful ligaments stiffen the wings. " \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Dec 31 '15 at 7:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut No. That ability only triggers if she becomes helpless or unconscious midair. If the Raptoran is capable of taking actions, but chooses not to glide, she takes full falling damage like anyone else. I've clarified a bit on the duality of the ability in my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim C
    Dec 31 '15 at 9:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would there be other examples of movement-related (extraordinary) abilities that are standard actions? Also, would a Raptoran need one Standard action to "activate" gliding, or would they have to continue using up Standard actions to keep gliding? \$\endgroup\$
    – Joninean
    Dec 31 '15 at 10:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also relevant, from the SRD: "Flight (Ex or Su): A creature with this ability can cease or resume flight as a free action." You can choose not to fly as a free action, even though it's not a reaction. I realise that, in this case, it might be an exception, but it might have some relevance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joninean
    Dec 31 '15 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joninean Flight expressly says that it's a free action - but that's Flight. Glide is a separate ability. Good catch on reminding me to double check Glide's maximum speed. I will revise my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim C
    Dec 31 '15 at 21:13

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