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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Moldvay Musings X: We have liftoff!

I've talked about flying in D&D before, but I wanted to briefly touch upon a nugget of wisdom in Cook that I recently re-read.

In the section on Traveling by Air (X20), it actually gives guidelines for how big (in HD) a creature needs to be to pick up or carry a person. This is useful not only for transport, but for whether a monster can snatch up a PC and carry him off into the air. For example, 3+ HD is required to lift a halfling or smaller. Therefore, technically, a cockatrice could carry a halfling or gnome off. Weird!

This information is incredibly handy, IMO, as it gives me as a DM a quick reference to decide about the tactics of aerial encounters, which can be complex enough as it is. For example, my group recently fought some harpies. While there were no hobbit-sized PCs or NPCs, it would have been nice to know ahead of time that they could have been carried off. (The idea of a charmed halfling just holding out his arms and being flown to the nest for devouring makes me laugh.)


  1. Very useful, and I never really took notice of that table before. Thanks for pointing it out. Now that I'm looking at the table, it can be extrapolated into a formula, where it takes 1HD to carry 1 foot of something: 3HD lifts a halfling, 6HD lifts a man, 12HD lifts a horse (say 6' tall + 6' long), etc. So, a normal 1/2HD hawk can lift a rabbit (6" tall), and a 1hp bat can only lift a 2" bug, mouse or fruit.

    1. Very cool mathing on your part!

    2. Yeah, mostly it's just interesting to see that it works out to what you'd already expect a bird could lift, but it does let you scale upward to figure out what huge birds can carry. A giant roc has 36 HD, so it should be able to fly off with a caecilia, a great white shark, a sea serpent, or even a 10' wide by 20' tall tower or section of castle wall.

      The list of castle plans on X52 only have structures that are too big for a single giant roc to carry away, but two rocs could fly off with a small round tower or bastion. This has me imagining a fantastic siege scenario with rocs swooping in to rip towers right out of the castle walls!