Custom Rules:
Winged Creatures: Developing Wings
 
 
By: Arjan Wardekker
Game: Dungeons & Dragons (D&D)

In D&D Third Edition and Edition 3.5 it is possible to play non-standard races or use templates on a race. These races and templates are often more powerful than standard races. To compensate for this additional power, they are assigned a "level adjustment" value. This value reflects the power of the race expressed in levels. Effectively, taking such a race or class costs you that number of levels. E.g. a level 6 character could be a level 6 fighter, but if this character would take a race or template with a level adjustment of +3, the character would only be a level 3 fighter.

This system however sometimes runs into problems when an ability of the template is very useful and powerful at low level, but much less useful at higher levels.
The ability to be able to fly, e.g. because a race has wings, is one such problem. Flight is extremely valuable at low level and this ability alone therefore has a level adjustment of +2. Thus, a winged level 1 fighter is as powerful as a level 3 fighter. However, at higher levels, this is far from the case, especially with spellcasters and characters with prestige classes, because it makes the difference of an entire new spell level with much more powerful abilities than flight. Furthermore, this also goes for other characters, as items that grant a character flight are easily bought at higher levels and therefore "cost" less (in terms of how powerful a character is) than 2 entire class levels. E.g. a winged level 11 mage is much less powerful than a level 13 mage, and the same goes for a fighter.

Therefore, it might be better to reduce the standard level adjustment of wings or flight and make the ability itself dependent on the character's level (or at least, to make this optional). That is, its usefulness is reduced for lower levels (compensating for the reduced level adjustment and its power for low level) and steadily increased to full flight capabilities at the higher levels (preventing it from becoming an overly large investment for high level characters).
For many abilities, such as spell abilities or damage reduction, this is already done and it seems only fair to do the same for flight. Therefore one might opt for "Developing Wings", that are useable for limited amount of time during low levels, instead of the standard immediately functioning wings.

Developing Wings:
Level Adjustment: +1
Character Level:Maximum Flight Time (per day):
1-2
3-4
5-6
7-8
9+
5 rounds/level
1 minute/level
10 minutes/level
1 hour/level
indefinitly
NOTE: That the flight time is indefinitly doesn't mean that the character can fly on forever. The character is still limited to the normal travel time maxima (standard 8 hours of travel per day and more with constitution checks; see Player's Handbook). It means that the character has full flight capabilities.

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