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The following examples I think capture the question:

  1. Let's say a Giant Eagle is on the ground, walking. It has a 10 foot movement speed on the ground and an 80 foot flying movement speed. In one round, can it attack, then take off and move its full 80 feet of flying movement? Can it attack, move 10 feet on the ground and then fly 80 feet, using all of its allowance in both movement modes in a single move action?

  2. If a creature with good or perfect maneuverability (and therefore the ability to hover) simply wants to take its feet off of the ground (because lava or something), does this require an action, or could it do this and then a full attack in a single round?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, about that lava... \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 22 '16 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Would you mind if I replaced "Dire Hawk" in your question with Giant Eagle? I ask because unlike the Dire Hawk, the Giant Eagle is a core game creature that falls under the Open Game License and can therefore be very easily referenced, and it has the same movement speeds - 10 ft, fly 80 ft. - as you specified for the Dire Hawk (for which I can find no OGL reference). See also the comments on my answer, below. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Henderson Apr 25 '16 at 19:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, good idea. I've gone ahead and made that change myself. I was using the MM2 Dire Hawk since that was the context in which the question came up in-game, but the Giant Eagle is just as good. \$\endgroup\$ – shaydwyrm Apr 26 '16 at 21:15
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Your first question is utterly undefined in the rules. I have searched high and low for an answer to that question, and it just does not exist. Any time one move action involves different movement modes (and thus different speeds), how much you can actually move is just one big question mark.

The most “fair” thing is to pro-rate your movement speeds (e.g. you move 10 ft. with your 30-ft. land speed, that’s ⅓, so you have ⅔ of your movement left, so you can fly 40 ft. with your 60-ft. fly speed), but that would be massively tedious to calculate on the fly. This example used nice, neatly-divisible numbers; other situations easily might not (including yours).

I have not come up with a good answer for this, and mostly just try to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. When it comes up, I mostly just eyeball it and call it something reasonable, rounding in the PCs’ favor if necessary. It doesn’t actually come up that often.

For your second question, I would rule that a free action (not a 5-ft. step, which is a free action but can only happen once per turn and prevents other forms of movement), but I do not believe the rules cover that, either. Easier to rule on, though.

Basically, the rules seem to constantly assume that everyone will always use one single type of movement mode for all time, and that’s the end of it. They never address transitioning.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ House rules for this case which has come up all of twice. I just gave the pc a little more movement than I thought was fair and let it go. If it would be a constant I'd do the math and make a chart for him. \$\endgroup\$ – Vethor Apr 21 '16 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Vethor Yeah, that’s exactly my approach and my reasoning. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 21 '16 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Found the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Oct 30 at 0:20
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  1. Yes, the eagle can use a Standard Action to attack and then a Move Action to fly 80 feet. Or, it can use one Move Action to walk 10 feet, and forego its Standard Action to take a second Move Action and fly 80 feet. It definitely cannot do both of these to move 90 feet with a single move:

    A climbing thief can use part of his speed to climb down a short wall and then use the remainder to hustle toward a foe.

    (DMG, page 20) - emphasis mine

  2. According to d20SRD.org:

    Fly

    A creature with a fly speed can move through the air at the indicated speed if carrying no more than a light load.

    ...

    Flight (Ex or Su)
    A creature with this ability can cease or resume flight as a free action.

    While this certainly implies that creatures that have a fly speed, but do not have the Flight ability, cannot cease or resume flight as a free action, I'm not aware of another rule that indicates what type of action it would otherwise be to cease or resume flight. And I honestly can't think of any justification for using any other type of action for the transition.
    Also, most creatures with Perfect maneuverability would probably never deign to stand on the ground at all, since hovering is as effortless for those creatures as drifting with the currents is for an aquatic creature.

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  1. No; a creature can change modes of travel so long as its total movement doesn't exceed 100% of all its modes together. If the hawk you describe has movement of 20/fly 80 then walking 10 feet uses 50% of its movement, leaving 50% or 40 feet available for flying.

  2. This would be a 5 foot step and it would be able to do a full attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I know the question's not tagged rule-as-written, and this seems really reasonable, but do you have source for this or is this a house rule? (Note: I don't use the term house rule pejoratively, but, instead, as a term for a rule you had to make because the rules aren't explicit.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 21 '16 at 11:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, if it doesn't take any other actions during the round, it can take two move actions and walk 10 feet, then fly 80 feet, no problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Henderson Apr 21 '16 at 12:48
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The Rules Compendium has your answer.

Pages 91 and 92 of the Rules Compendium contain rules for movement via flight, including the movement cost for the effects of climbing (such as lift off), and maintaining flight versus being forced to land due to insufficient flight speed.

Here is an excerpt of the definitions:

Minimum Forward Speed: If a flying creature fails to maintain its minimum forward speed, it must land at the end of its movement. If it’s too high above the ground to land, it falls straight down, descending 150 feet in the first round of falling. If this distance brings it to the ground, it takes falling damage. If the fall doesn’t bring the creature to the ground, it must spend its next turn recovering from the stall. It must succeed on a DC 20 Reflex save to recover; otherwise, it falls an additional 300 feet. If it hits the ground, it takes falling damage. If not, it has another chance to recover on its next turn.

Hover: The ability to stay in one place while airborne.

Move Backward: The ability to move backward without turning around.

Reverse: A creature that has good maneuverability uses up 5 feet of its speed to start fl ying backward.

Turn: How much the creature can turn after covering the stated distance.

Turn in Place: A creature that has good or average maneuverability can use some of its speed to turn in place.

Maximum Turn :How much the creature can turn in any one space.

Up Angle: The angle at which the creature can climb.

Up Speed: How fast the creature can climb.

Down Angle: The angle at which the creature can descend.

Down Speed: A flying creature can fly down at twice its normal flying speed.

Between Down and Up: An average, poor, or clumsy flier must fly level for a minimum distance after descending and before climbing. Any flier can begin descending after a climb without an intervening distance of level flight.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don’t see an answer to the question here. None of those address mixed movement modes; they’re all about different uses of flight but staying in the air. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 30 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ The climb speed obviously applies to take off, and consulting the table will answer the question. I don't think I can quote the table legally here. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Oct 31 at 2:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ The flying section on pages 91-92 uses the word “climb” only twice, both of which you have quoted. Neither is relevant to this question; both have to do solely with how movement works when your entire movement is spent in the air. The question is about how to move when you want to spend some of your movement in one mode and the rest of your movement in another, e.g. to walk some before lifting off when you have a land speed of 10’ and a flight speed of 80’ as in the question. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 31 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ (But, for the record, quoting the table would probably be fine.) \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 31 at 2:55
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Pretty much the only thing that is allowed to attack and have its full movement are the characters/ players. due to the fact they are given a free action, moving action, and other action which is usually an attack. But I'd check the DM's guide and Monsters guide to double check for curtain monsters/creatures

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