D&D 5e: Aarakocra Fighter Guide

A male black arrakocra fighter holding a shield and spear.

D&D 5e: Aarakocra Fighter Guide

Flight is an inherent part of an aarakocra’s life; it’s their most distinguishing feature, what they need to soar through the skies, how they access their mountainous homes, and just as importantly, it’s every optimizer’s dream. You and the aarakocra are in agreement; flight is cool.

These mighty bird people aligned with elemental air have some strange traits in addition to flight, but the flight is the one thing everyone plays an aarakocra for, so the sharp talons and the free Gust of Wind are hardly worth mentioning in comparison.

Remember that not all tables are alright with flying races, due to both combat and out of combat concerns. It’s certainly possible for a dungeon master to redesign encounters and other challenges to account for your tactics, but the ease of doing this varies from campaign to campaign.

A white male arrakocra fighter carrying a sharp spear.

How to Make an Aarakocra Fighter

A melee fighter should perform fine, but the true strength of the Aarakocra can be brought out by doing disgusting things with a longbow or a hand crossbow. Pump up your dexterity first, constitution next, and then finally wisdom, dump the other three stats unless you have a reason or desire not to, and then grab the Sharpshooter feat (and if you lack spite towards the hand crossbow for being too good, grab Crossbow Expert too). High damage, hard to hit, decently durable; mission accomplished, and we haven’t picked a subclass yet.

The core of a flying bow/crossbow user with Sharpshooter is good enough to slot any subclass into it, but the versatility of Battle Master is nice. Good maneuvers include Precision Attack, Pushing Attack, Tripping Attack, and Menacing Attack. Turn a miss into a hit, move your enemies, make your enemies fall over, or scare your enemies; none of these require that you use a melee weapon, so they’re all good.

Bait and Switch has an unusual interaction with flight; you can fly up to an ally, use this on them, and give them a huge bonus to AC, and then you can fly away so that the enemy has to either target you, which it can’t do if it lacks ranged options, or attack this ally who has several points of additional armor class.

Remember, there’s more to battle master than mindlessly spamming Precision Attack four times and then taking a nap: the power comes from knocking that dragon prone when it’s most needed, from saving an ally from death, from keeping enemies away from your whole party for turns on end due to fear, and so on, applying your maneuvers in galaxy brained ways. Precision Attack is just a decent use of a superiority die when nothing else would be super potent or if you want a more reliable option.

How to Play an Aarakocra Fighter

step one: fly up

step two: shoot bow

…If that were all you had to do, I wouldn’t need to write a guide for it, but it’s more complicated than that, especially since flight is involved.

Even though flying is what you want to do, it’s not what you always should do; if all other party members are dying or down to low single digit hit points, you had better get your feathered rear down there and start tanking on behalf of the wizard who has half a hit point left, because the alternative is everyone but you dying instead of nobody dying.

If enemies have ranged options, then your flight is less useful, and it’s significantly less so if their ranged options are superior to their melee ones. If you use a hand crossbow with Crossbow Expert, try to get into melee range of those ranged enemies to impose disadvantage on their attacks or foil their other tactics.

As someone relying on a -5/+10 feat, advantage on attack rolls (and any bonus to hit) is extremely potent: if the wizard casts Web or the cleric casts Bless, you will be hitting very often for massive damage. And remember to never use your sharpshooter’s -5/+10 option on enemies that you can only hit on a very high die roll, or against enemies who have two hit points left anyway; if you’re interested, there are calculators online telling you when you should apply the -5/+10 or not.

Lastly, remember that gravity exists; if you are unable to fly, whether because someone knocked you prone or paralyzed you, you might take a horrifying 20d6 damage. Do not fall, and stay near the ground if an enemy with the ability to make you fall shows up.

How to Roleplay as an Aarakocra Fighter

You can fly, and that’s what the aarakocra love most. But how much does your character love flight? How much do they look down on others who lack it, literally and otherwise? How do they feel when forced to spend time in confined spaces? The little things can make an otherwise simple flight based race seem richer and fuller.

Consider what led you to begin adventuring; did you get into a conflict with your fellow aarakocra, did you happily leave hoping to use your gift of flight for good, or have you never seen another Aarakocra in your life? Might you even be from the Elemental Plane of Air instead of the mountains of the Material Plane? An origin, a reason for adventuring, a worldview; it all mixes together.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *