Aerial Combat

Attack Modes
Conducting Combat
Aerial Missile Fire
Adventures in the Air
The Adventure

Most creatures which can fly do so by means of wings,
either natural or magically augmented
(as in such inherently magical beings as demons && devils, dragons, griffons, etc.).
Most winged creatures must be constantly flapping their wings to provide enough thrust to keep their weight in the air.
Some creatures are light enough and powerful enough to allow them to actually hover in one place,
but most must be constantly moving forward.
This means that aerial combat is nearly always going to be a swoop and slash,
hit-and-run affair.
Grappling of opponents in the air will generally result in both of them plummeting to the ground,
unless they are at a high altitude and disengage almost immediately.
Even then, it is a risky business.
Only beings with the ability to hover (gained either through quick and powerful wings or some form of magical flight)
will be able to engage in combat that resembles the round-after-round melee system employed in ground battle.

It will therefore be seen that maneuverability is of prime importance in conducting aerial combat.
Flying combatants
-- whether they are eagles or dragons, men mounted on broomsticks, or hippogriffs --
must make attack passes at their opponents, wheel about in the air, and attack
again. Those which are more maneuverable will be able to change
direction and speed in a shorter time than those which are less maneuverable,
and thus have some advantage in pursuit and avoidance.

To conduct an aerial battle, a DM must know the speed, maneuverability
and attack modes of each creature involved.


SPEED of flight of each creature is listed with the other information in the AD&DMM,
and it will be noted again in the list of aerial creatures at the end of this section.
When conducting aerial combat that takes place entirely in the air,
it will be convenient to convert inches per turn to inches (or hexes) per round.

For the sake of standardization,

  • all flying creatures can climb at one-half, and
  • dive at twice the stated movement rate.



    They will be able to climb one foot for every three feet they move forward,
    but they may dive up to one foot downward for each foot travelled forward
    (i.e., at a 45-degree angle.
    None of the above applies to creatures with class A maneuverability,
    which can move in any direction they choose.).
    When diving, all creatures' physical attacks will do double damage to all targets which are not themselves diving.
    This includes diving attacks at earthbound creatures which come from a height of 30 feet or more.
    There is no damage penalty for attack while climbing.
    No creature will be able to climb above 5000 feet (due to lack of breathable air) as a general rule,
    but you may alter the ceiling if you wish.


    Naturally, every type of flying creature maneuvers differently from every other type,
    but in order to make the game playable and aerial combat
    possible, maneuverability has been broken down into five classes.
    These vary from A to E, most maneuverable to least maneuverable.
    Note that the stated amount the creature can turn per round assumes that the creature is moving at full speed.
    Creatures moving at half speed turn as one class better.
    Winged creatures cannot move at less than one-half speed and remain airborne (except for class B).

    Class A:

    Creature can turn 180° per round, and requires 1 segment to
    reach full airspeed. Creature requires 1 segment to come to a full stop in
    the air, and can hover in place. Class A creatures have total and almost
    instontoneous control of their movements in the air. Examples: djinn, air
    elementals, aerial servants, couatl.

    Class B:

    Creature can turn 120° per round, and requires 6 segments to
    reach full airspeed. Creature requires 5 segments to come to a full stop in
    the air, and can hover in place. Examples: fly spell, sprites, sylphs, giant
    wasps, ki-rin.

    Class C:

    Creature can turn 90° per round, and requires 1 round to reach
    full airspeed. Examples: carpet or wings of flying, gargoyles, harpies,
    pegasi, lammasu, shedu.

    Class D:

    Creature can turn 60° per round, and requires 2 rounds to reach
    full airspeed. Examples: pteranodons, sphinxes, mounted pegasi.

    Class E:

    Creature can turn 30° per round, and requires 4 rounds to reach full airspeed.
    Examples: dragons, rocs, wyverns.

    Attack Modes:
    As mentioned previously, grappling in the air is usually out of the question.
    This means that many different creatures will use considerably
    different combat tactics in the air, and their "natural" methods of attack
    will often be substantially altered.
    The following list should help the DM determine how certain creatures will fight in the air.
    SPEED && maneuverability class are also listed.
    For reasons of space or redundancy,
    not all flying creatures have been included.
    Once familiar with the system,
    the DM should be able to apply it to any aerial monster.

    Conducting Combat:

    Conducting aerial combat will be much simplified if the DM will
    remember that most flying monsters simply cannot execute complicated
    maneuvers like barrel rolls or loop-the-loops. Most can do nothing more
    than climb, dive and/or turn, and all of these actions are easily simulated
    and quantified using speed and maneuverability classes.

    There are two methods you can use to conduct aerial combat. The first
    way is simple but less accurate. The second method is more accurate but
    requires the use of hex paper or a hex map. Though both can be done on
    paper, the best way to visualize the relative positions of the combatants
    is to employ miniature figures or paper counters. A running record of
    absolute (or relative) altitude should be kept, either on a separate sheet
    or on a small piece of paper under each figure or counter.

    The simple method is to move each flyer in the direction they are facing
    at the beginning of the move, and execute the turn at the end by simply
    refacing the flyer in its new direction. Speed would be in actual inches of
    movement, or some ratio thereof.

    A more accurate method entails the use of hex paper so that actual arc
    turns can be indicated, and so that these turns may take place at any
    time during a move.

    Turns will actually take place through several hexes (the only exceptions
    to this are creatures from the elemental plane of air, which can turn on a
    dime in any direction they wish). A turn need not be executed through
    consecutive hexes. To illustrate, here are possible variant turns for a class B
    flyer, which can turn up to 120° in one round:

    The orders for the first example would read: Straight 1, right 60°, straight 3, right 60°, straight 1 .

    Each flyer can move 1 hex per 3" of speed;
    thus, a gargoyle, with a speed of 15", could move 5 hexes,
    while a griffon, with a speed of 30", could move 10.
    Keep in mind climbing and diving speed alterations.

    In both the simple and complex methods, movement should be simultaneous.
    If there are several players involved, you may wish to have
    them write out their moves ahead of time (the DM, of course, is not obligated
    to do this). If two opponents are clearly making for each other, and
    it is within their ability to intercept but their written orders would cause
    them to miss, some slight adjustment should be made.

    Aerial Missile Fire:
    For all missiles fired in the air,
    treat short range as medium (-2 to hit) and medium range as long (-5 to hit) as pertains to chance of hitting.
    Fire at objects at long range will always miss.
    The above applies to missile firers on flying mounts or using a broom or wings of flying only if they have spent several months in practice.
    Otherwise, they will not be able to hit at all.
    The range penalties also apply to missile-firing creatures such as manticores (treat as composite long bow as pertains to range).
    Note that the above applies only to those who are moving.
    Those hovering with a fly spell or on a carpet of flying will suffer no penalties.
    Those levitating will be penalized as delineated in earlier subsection Attack Modes, Men: Levitation.

    Dragons and similar creatures with breath weapons (such as chimerae) will have a slightly harder time hitting other flying creatures. For this reason, moving aerial targets of flying dragons add +2 to their saving throws.

    Any winged creature which sustains damage greater than 50% of its hit points will be unable to maintain flight and must land.
    Any winged creature which sustains more than 75% damage will not even be able to control its fall,
    and will plummet to the ground.
    This simulates damage to the wings,
    as in aerial combat,
    the wings will be a prime point of vulnerability.
    Feathered wings are not as easy to damage as membranous wings,
    and in flight should be given an extra HP value equal to one-half the normal HP of the creature they support,
    for the purpose of figuring how much damage need be taken before the creature can no longer fly.
    Thus, a griffon with 30 hit points would add an additional illusory 15 points in aerial combat,
    for a flight-damage total of 45, and thus would be able to take 23 points of damage before it would be forced to land.
    In contrast,
    a membrane-winged creature like a succubus with 30 hit points would only be able to sustain 15 points of damage before it could no longer fly.
    Under no conditions are the extra flight-damage points to be added to the monster's actual hit points for the purpose of absorbing damage.
    A flying monster will only be able to sustain the normal amount of damage it usually takes in order to incapacitate or kill it, i.e.,
    if the exemplary griffon above takes 31 points of damage from dragon breath, it is dead.

    As a final note,
    remember that heroic aviators who leap into the saddle of their hippogriff and rise to battle without taking a couple of rounds to strap in will tend to fall out in the first round of melee,
    and it is 1-6 hit points of damage for every ten feet they fall (up to a maximum 20-120 points).