Characters that obtain racial flying features have been hounding DMs since early in 5th Edition. The flying Aarakocra race was introduced in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion released alongside Princes of the Apocalypse (PotA) in 2015. Later that year, the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (SCAG) introduced another flying race option: Winged Tieflings. They haven’t really touched the design since, with good reason.
While a creative DM can plan around a flying PC, it’s not so simple when running a prepackaged module. Especially in a restrictive environment like D&D Adventurer’s League (AL).
Historically, players have always been able to build their characters from a selection of options available in the Player’s Handbook, plus one other book. Recognizing the headaches caused by flying races, the AL character creation guidelines (Player’s Guide v 9.2) create a specific ban on Aarakocra and Winged Tieflings.
Most characters see a significant power bump when entering Tier 2 at 5th level. Indeed, this is the level where the Wizard gets access to the fly spell. So, it makes sense that the no-fly zone might be lifted at level 5.
Getting a racial trait that radically alters your form as you level up feels a little weird. Well, there’s a better solution…
D&D Adventurer’s League has announced new changes to the character creation guidelines on their new website, the Yawning Portal. These open up the PHB+1 rule to most of the core rulebooks, vastly expanding the character options available to players.
It also did a tidy little thing with Aarakocra and Winged Tieflings! Since they’re not in the core books, they can’t be slipped in under the PHB+1 Rule, so they don’t require a specific ban.
But, there’s still campaigns where you can play them!
You’re explicitly allowed to play an Aarakocra in a Masters campaign (starting at level 5) or a Historic campaign (where they don’t really care what you do because you can’t play in other campaign tiers).
Here’s a refresher on the different tiers of play via Wizards:
Though, there’s a glitch. Campaigns set in the Forgotten Realms (including next season) can also dip into SCAG, which gives them access to the Winged Tiefling.
So, that little disclaimer may persist in the AL Player Guide. We’ll have to wait and see.
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