The creation mythos shared by the various irdan peoples usually revolves around the union of Father Sky with the hawk or other predatory bird aspect of the Nature goddess, patroness of all who hunt. Her aspect as the Great Hawk or Eagle or Falcon, etc. shares its heart still with Father Sky, as it must. It is they who look after them still. It is rumored that at one time they served as the messengers of the gods, but the reason that is no longer so is lost in the mists of time, so long ago it does lie in the past.
Irdanni are humanoids with almost disproportionately slim, lithe legs, wide gracefully sweeping feathered bird wings, and a slightly elfin caste to their features, somewhat less even than the average halfelf. There is no common blood between elf and irdan that either race is aware of. Irdanni plumage will commonly be of the same color to that of their hair, though the feathers may show variations in shading and/or a striped or mottled pattern as opposed to simply solid color, with the undersides being a very pale shade, almost white.
In daylight irdanni can see 4x the distance a character of any other race of the same AWA would.
For example, an object as small as a rabbit could be sighted in the open in daylight at distances of about half a mile.
The average wingspan of an irdan is equal to his [(height) x 2.25]. The maximum altitude an irdan can achieve without suffering from lack of oxygen will be [(CND) x 750] in feet. The average life expectancy for an irdan is 120 years. Characters with an above average CND can expect a longer life, barring any unforeseen injuries and/or accidents, a shorter span for those with below average CND.
Because the irdanni are hauling around a great deal of wind resistance in the form of their wings when trying run on the ground, their ground Sprint Speeds should be reduced by 10% before dividing down into the quarter rates. Flight statistics for irdanni are covered in the text immediately following.
The irdanni are an airborne race who love to soar the lonely heights on the winds. Like predatory birds, irdanni build their eyrie cities upon remote mountain tops. From these soaring, jewel-studded, filigree towers flying, free-form walkways, and wide, sweeping suspended terraces, they observe the movements and events of the other races below. For the most part, irdanni are often even more reclusive than most of the elfin kindreds, most often even going to the trouble to cloak their citadels, cities and towns with Glamourie to keep them hidden. The paths leading to their mountain homes are frequently protected with great wardings and enchantments.
Point of View
The irdanni look on most all of the other races in the world in much the same way, for they live down below, on the ground. They are “ground grubbers” to one extent or another, incapable of knowing the irdanni way. They cannot know the joys of flight, are bound to drag themselves across the ground by one means or another, so there is little common ground on a very profound level as a basis for regular social interchange. The elfs are admired most for their achievement by the irdanni, but then they have had the greatest amount of time to get there, so the achievement is not so impressive as to be intimidating. To the staid irdanni, though, the elfs are surprisingly unsettled. They seem wild, even unpredictable on a day-to-day basis, like the rest of the ground dwellers. The dwarfs, living underground, despite sharing the mountains with them from time to time, are the ultimate land grubbers, the very thought of their halls marching through the hearts of the mountains (which some irdanni simply refuse to believe) makes them shudder with confused horror. The traditional predator/prey relationship between avians and felines does not necessarily apply to irdanni and pumatharæ, except as a basis for a bit of humorous ribbing or pointed teasing jokes.
Thoughts & Beliefs
A stoic and contemplative folk, irdanni are generally slow to really show reactions or talk about their feelings, and given to long periods of deep thought. As a people, this makes them slow to act or change, but once the decision is made, they move with the speed of a striking falcon. Until those decisions are made and the timing deemed proper, they stand upon the formalities of traditional custom. Once they have committed to any act, though, it is often more difficult to get them to stay their hand or change their course than to stop the rising of the sun. In matters of honor they are equally staunch, much like the dwarfs, with the same integrity but lacking the drive to seek advantage or profit. Sharing the rough and independent spirit of eagle, hawk, or other predatory bird, irdanni are strictly sworn to keep their word and maintain their honor. Irdanni make the strongest and most reliable friends, the most implacable of enemies. The generally cool and inscrutable irdanni demeanor make what actions they do take seem sudden, even unpredictably so. One never knows when the irdanni will act or what direction they will go, or for what purpose.
Irdanni have a special fondness for their noble brothers of the sky, the predatory birds. They commonly keep a number of them around and they, in turn, tend to build their nests or eyries nearby. They can be companions, sentries, brothers on the hunt, or messengers. Living practically all their lives out of doors under the open sky, claustrophobia is rampant among irdanni, as agoraphobia is among the dwarfs.
Any time an irdan is caught inside an enclosed space that is [(wingspan) + (40 – AGL)] feet in diameter or less, regardless of the nature of the structure, how rich or how poor, but especially if there is not enough room for the irdan to even stretch out his wings, he will be thoroughly shaken to point where his skills and abilities will all be impaired. Regardless of how high or fair the ceiling or walls may be, irdanni do not like to have anything between them and the sky. The higher the irdan character’s AWA att. mod. the more keenly he will feel the sense of exposure that unnerves him and drives the irdanni claustrophobia.
In any enclosed spaces (as defined), the irdan will suffer a (AWA) point penalty to the AV’s for all skills and abilities prorated either by 10-minute, quarter–hour, or half-hour segments, (GM’s discretion), over the course of each hour he stands so exposed, to a maximum of 1/2 any given AV. If the irdan is under the canopy of boughs, bounded about by tree trunks, most forest lands will impose the latter form of penalty, unless the GM should determine that the forest is so thick the sky is no longer able to seen through the leafy boughs.
If an irdan should be imprisoned, shackled and thrown in a prison where not only can he not spread his wings but his movement in general is hindered, he will be near hysterical and the maximum penalty will be raised so the character’s AV’s may in time be reduced to one (1).
In castle yards and great halls, the streets of walled towns, great cathedrals, large merchant halls and similar settings larger than (AWA) feet in radius where the irdan is surrounded by walls, even if it has some sort of roof overhead (even a rose or grape arbor), so long as he still has room not only to stretch his wings but conceivably fly (GM’s discretion), the rate of the penalty will be cut in half, and the maximum penalty will become 3/4 any given AV. So long as he can see the daylight or better yet, the sky, he will have some small measure of comfort.
The more freedom to soar a building allows and the less it blocks the view of the surrounding countryside, the less it will hinder them. This feeling of vulnerability and restriction will not touch the irdan at all if he is outdoors with room to spread his wings, take off and climb to the skies, regardless of what stands around him. Tests of AGL in flight around rock formations and through gullies and canyons and the like are a favorite source of entertainment for the adrenalin junkies among irdanni.
In their high mountain fastnesses, the irdanni obviously are not able to do much farming, not to mention the fact that they are built for flight, not for the sort of hard manual labor farming and husbandry require. This coupled with their claustrophobia makes mining impossible, except for a little light digging to get to surface deposits, or panning for placer deposits in the streams around their mountain homes. Irdanni live mostly by hunting and foraging. As hunters, particularly as bowmen, they are the rivals of the elfs. Many of the plants and herbs that grow in their environs are valued by the lowlander physicians, herbals, apothecaries, and alchemists, and there are a number of wild plants that grow locally that sustain the irdanni as well, and with these they have developed a sort of informal farming similar to that used by the elfs. Working in the dirt makes the irdanni extremely uncomfortable. Irdanni take great pride in all they do, part and parcel of their honor, bound up in every craft and trade. The craft trades that produce goods for trade are esteemed above all others, enjoying a little extra prestige among those who work for their bread. There is no sin of pride seen in the degree to which the irdanni prize knowledge and skill honed beyond the common measure. In fact, it is considered a very low act to conceal or refuse to use special knowledge or skills. particularly when they may be of use to profit not just one’s family but all of the community. To profit the whole community improves the honor and status of the whole family, in fact. So, the irdanni work ethic is strong and deeply ingrained, almost as much so as that of the dwarfs. Almost.
“If you want something, pursue it;
Nothing speaks louder than achievement”
Where their friends the predatory birds may be difficult for other races to handle, the irdanni tend to have a special knack for working with them, being mentally wired much the same way.
Though their society exists largely on foraging, hunting and trading – bartering hides, furs, and herbs – their craftsmen produce many finely carved objects that are widely appreciated in neighboring realms. Though focused largely on practical use, irdanni craftsmen love bright, fanciful, intricate ornamentation. Things that glitter and gleam really catch their eyes, but so do finely wrought twining patterns. Where ever they may, irdanni craftsmen cover the objects they prize most (tools, weapons, clothing, furniture, house trim, jewelry, etc.) with very beautiful sinuous intertwining motifs, cunningly carved after the traditions of the Arabs, Persians, and Hindi peoples.
Any irdan character who is equipped with the Beastmastery of hawks (or other predatory birds) or Craftsman/Artisan trades will receive a 25% bonus to any experience points gained towards its use, including any bundled skills.
Theft among irdanni is as offensive as lying – a good way to lose a hand on the first instance. A good way to lose one’s head after that.
Wizards among the irdanni are treated the same as any other scholar or accomplished craftsman, with those who manipulate air, weather, and light or illusions being the most highly honored and respected (Seers, Shadow Weavers and Enchanters, Druids and Witches and their ilk).
Irdanni are guarded until they can make a fair judgement about strangers they encounter, for occasionally they do visit the races of the lands below, and largely treat others as fairly as they may. Like the elfs, it is difficult at best to get the irdanni concerned about matters that do not affect them directly, for they are of little consequence to them or the irdanni way of life up in the clouds. Most of their concerns with those of the world below the mountains has to do with obtaining the goods and materials they cannot forage for themselves, and matters that interfere with their meeting those needs and seeing them transported to their cities. Rather serious-minded and dour, they require proofs and new information before they will consider reevaluating any person’s character or the relationship they may have with them or the import of any situation to determine if it’s impact on them has changed and become more immediate. The aloofness of irdanni resulting from an adherence to tradition and ceremony that doesn’t allow much latitude for strangers is commonly interpreted as arrogance. Only a tolerant, privileged few are allowed to spend the time with them to discover it for the noble reserve it truly is. These usually have the means to arrive by air themselves following irdanni guides, or even more rarely, the irdanni may bring them through the Glamouries and Enchantments, allowed to ride the tall freight elevators to their high cities. Such allowances are only made for those considered very special, indeed. Prolonged exposure makes it easier for an outsider to separate the actual personalities from the formal social roles that each irdan fills and the rules their social interplay must follow.
The elaborate rituals and rules for social interplay are designed to allow the irdanni to interact while mostly avoiding opportunities for tender feelings and honor especially to be injured. Any action besmirching a family’s name is considered a capital crime by the members of that family. If the one responsible can be obtained, it is punishable by death. Lying is rare in the extreme, for none may do so and be found out twice. The first instance is usually sufficient cause to rip the offender’s tongue out. It is never wise to excite the irdanni precipitous temper. All irdanni are treated with equal courtesy and respect when face to face, regardless of social rank. The nobles are treated more as ‘first among equals’. Actual privileges are all that really divide the classes, and those who lack a privilege simply ignore that fact when it happens in front of them. Each keeps to his place and does not concern himself with the affairs of those above or below, unless the need be dire.
“The eagle does not waste his time hunting flies.”
That which is due the upper classes is no concern of those lower on the social ladder. One of the most important practices of irdanni social life is the focus on one’s own affairs. Minding one’s own business is the best way to avoid a lot of misunderstandings. This is only a rule of thumb followed with strangers, though. All bets are off once one’s friends and/or family are drawn into the matter.
The irdanni have compiled an elaborate system of law that is much used by those who can afford it, but the ancient system of trial by combat is used equally frequently by the common and noble classes who supply the armed defense for the irdanni communities. Trial by combat is at least 200-300 years out of date for most of the medieval societies that neighbor the irdanni, but the fierce predator burns strong in irdanni veins when they are irked by perceived injustice. Social dueling for the sake of honor outside the law courts is highly frowned on, however. A time and a place for all things. Even this must be ruled by their customs and rituals. Thus, the occupation of hired champion is one much respected, where it will usually be reviled in neighboring cultures on religious grounds. The merit of one party over another in any dispute coming to trial by combat can be measured by the quality and skill of champion who will present himself to offer his services. Unlike the rest of their people, the business of others is the business of the professional champion. Honor is all, and it is up to them to defend it for others, not merely for those who can pay. To defend the poor but righteous adds to the prestige and honor of the champion, much like any chivalrous knight.
While the overwhelming majority of the irdanni population adhere strictly to these rules, rituals, and principles, those who do not must not be over-looked. Every once in a while an irdan becomes disaffected or disillusioned or too deeply offended by his community to continue to stay with them. If he feels his honor has been wronged too greatly to continue to hold his head up there he may take off as well. Some of these are exiled by the irdanni law. Many of these exiles will form small tribal bands and live like scavenging vultures, turn to preying on their own people in retribution if they feel they have been wronged by them, or turning on those who crawl about the ground below them in neighboring lands – any they perceive as weak or vulnerable. Sometimes they will offer themselves to the ground-dwellers as mercenaries, scouts, and/or spies, but equally as often resort to thievery and brigandage. They must make up what they can no longer get from the stores of the community from somewhere, once separated from their people. Often, they put together their own modified codes of conduct, if honor means anything to them any more after their departure from their native people. Regardless, all of these are treated as outlaws by the mainstream irdanni, a bounty on their hides and all their goods belonging to he who takes their heads.
The roles of male and female among the irdanni are by no means traditional for a medieval milieu, for they live and work side my side as equals. Indeed, though not unknown occasionally among humans, the irdanni females have a distinct tendency to dominate the domestic side of life. As is common among raptors, males share in the care of the young after they are born (not hatched). Indeed the wives commonly require their mates to spend fully half or more of their time this way. Like their raptor cousins, irdanni are also inclined to wait and marry later, and for life, though this has more to do with the fact that they are slow to make such weighty decisions, as they are in making many such considerations that affect their lives. Those widows and widowers who marry a second time are rare in the extreme. Most commonly they devote their lives to a craft or care of family on the passing of a mate.
Irdanni young require a good deal of close supervision in towns designed for the easy use and access of folk who can fly. Railings and retaining walls are very few. Nursery lodgings for mated pairs are always located towards the heart of any given irdanni community. The young do not get their true flight feathers until they reach roughly age seven, after the first couple moltings. Up to this point, much time is spent teaching the fledglings their roles in the family and responsibilities of their class and station. Once they have had their first flight, the young are expected to take their place fully in the family and learn the rules and rituals of society at large. At this point they also begin their formal education (according to the needs of their craft, class and station). No later than the age of 12 they are apprenticed to their crafts or trades, in much the same manner as human folk. By age 18 they enter adult society and the community at large, fully responsible for their actions before the law, accountable to those around them for their conduct. Females are not expected to marry any time soon, perhaps sometime between 30 and 50 years old, but there is no hard rule. This is due to the fact that they marry according only to the call of their hearts, and for life. Their dedication to fidelity in marriage is such to make the elfs proud – if the elfs but knew it.
The hunting and foraging the irdanni do provides much of what they need, but they are not as migrant as once they were and preferring to try and stay in a single location anymore, where once they had temporary shelters in a number of places to protect them on their travels to warmer climes when the weather and the seasons turned cold. Though rather inconvenient for them, and an admission of weakness that makes them more than a little uncomfortable (making their honor even more prickly), irdanni must trade in order to survive. The mercantile life sustains this winged folk, but to maintain a semblance of independence and face they are always adamant in insisting on providing their own means of transport to bring their purchases home again.
Not only on the hunt, but at war, irdanni are some of the greatest bowmen in the medieval fantasy gameworld, the equal of the elfs, as noted. They are also fond of the javelin and spear, lances or almost any polearm, as well as favoring thrusting blades for the melee. Slings, fustibals, and the like do not work for them, as they put their wings in danger, especially during flight. When hunting or fighting over open ground, they make very effective use of sweeping attacks with large multi-manned weighted nets in entangling prey or foes.
An irdan character who is given skill with any type of bow will receive a 25% bonus to any experience points gained towards increasing its skill level.
Flight in Play
Stall Speed & Flight Speed
In order to find out how fast the character can fly and what the lesser rates are he can use so he does not tire so quickly, we must first find out what the very slowest speed the irdan can fly without falling out of the sky. This is called the Stall Speed. Afterwards we will determine how fast he can fly, and between these two speeds all the other rates will lie.
The Stall Speed is the easiest and slowest pace at which the character may fly without stalling and falling out of the air.
The character’s Stall Speed will be equal to his (STA ÷ 2), in mph. The STA score modified for Build is to be used here.
The Flight Speed is the fastest all-out effort that an irdan can attain in level flight by continuous effort in flapping his wings, without the benefit of a tailwind.
The base Flight Speed will be equal to the irdan character’s (AGL + STR) scores.
The Stall Speed and Flight Speed movement rates will be used to determine the character’s graduated movement rates in the air, to which varying WND costs will be applied.
Subtract the Stall Speed from the Flight Speed.
Divide the difference into 1/8th, 1/4th, 1/2, and 3/4th’s values, rounding to the nearest whole number.
Add the Stall Speed back to each of these values, in turn.
All these figures will be read in mph.
From the Stall Speed to the 1/8th or “Zero” rate there will be no cost in WND to use. The 1/4th, 1/2, and 3/4th’s rates will have gradually increasing costs. The “full” value will be equal to the Flight Speed, and this will cost the character the most to use.
This may not seem like much of a speed variance, but the player must remember that the irdanni are built for soaring more than any other mode of flying, more like eagles, with deep slots (spaces) between the primary pin feathers at the tips of the wings, not long and narrow for speed like a peregrine falcon or swift.
This is why their homes are built high atop mountain peaks. They love to soar about on the wind sheers for literally hours.
In an irdan’s flight, the Climbing Speed is another important consideration. It represents the maximum amount of altitude the winged character may achieve in any given 12-second Combat Segment while in flight.
Climbing Speed will be equal to the character’s [(STR + AGL att. mod.), round to the nearest whole number.
Multiply the results by 3.
The result will be read in feet per CS, divided by 10 to determine feet per Pulse.
As all other movement rates, this will be divided into 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and full values for the purposes of determining WND costs for taking off or climbing in flight in tactical and combat situations.
The player and GM will please note that while climbing the character is still flying, and must maintain no less than his Stall Speed in forward movement at the same time.
When executing a dive in flight, the irdan may achieve speeds faster than his maximum level flapping Flight Speed.
The Dive Speed will be equal to the irdan’s [(Flight Speed) x (modified STA ÷ 4)].
Obviously, an irdan can go as fast as he likes, up to and including free-falling at terminal velocity, BUT this figure represents the maximum speed at which the character can dive and maintain control, without the need for any sort of AGL check(s) continue safely, still considered to be flying rather than falling.
IF he also has the Aerial Acrobat skill, that SL may be added to the Dive Speed limit.
Divide the results down into 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4th’s fractions.
The result will be read in mph’s.
The GM will have the details for dealing with characters who wish to attempt to exceed this safe limit. This information is provided in Chapter 2. The Humbler Aspects … of Part II. The Rules of the Game.
In order to get aloft, an irdan needs to get up to his Stall Speed or slightly over, whether through his own movement on the ground (running) or by a combination of movement and a headwind. If the character is facing a wind that is blowing steadily and consistently at a speed equal to or greater than his Stall Speed, the irdan need merely spread his wings and he will have the lift he needs to start flying.
Similarly, a Leap off a high point such as a wall, tower, tree limb, balcony, high terrace, or the like will allow the character to start flying after a drop of roughly [(raw STA) – (average AGL + STR)] feet. A wing-assisted Jump will also put the character in a position to start flying, but he must have room to start immediate forward movement.
If the GM is dealing with a character NOT of the irdanni race to whom wings have somehow (magickally) been applied, the recipient’s speed must be modified for the Build of the race, as follows, since the method set forth here was based on the irdanni Light frame.
Medium-Light x 0.9
Medium x 0.8
Medium-Heavy x 0.65
Heavy x 0.5
IF the adjusted air speed is not greater than the Stall Speed, the character will not actually have the capacity to fly. As a character with AGL of 4 will be VERY rare, this is not likely to come up. It is possible that an irdan or other magickally enhanced character with less than average scores in AGL and STR and above average STA will be rather slow, however, he generally WILL still be able to fly.
The irdan or other winged character must always maintain forward movement while in flight, every Pulse continuously even while diving. The steeper the angle the faster the dive, up to the character’s maximum. The only exception to this is a character bearing dragonfly-like wings, which allow him to hover at will.
The winged character must maintain no less than the forward movement required by the Stall Speed, every Pulse continuously, in order for the character to maintain control of the Dive at maximum speed;
Up to the 1/4 Flight rate in forward movement to maintain the 3/4th’s Dive Speed;
Up to the 1/2 Flight rate in forward movement to maintain the 1/2 Dive Speed;
Up to the 3/4th’s Flight rate in forward movement to maintain the 1/4th Dive Speed.
The character can press for a faster Dive speed than determined for him, but this will require a successful AGL/Aerial Acrobat check on d100 vs. the additional speed and his own (modified) STA score in order to accomplish safely, otherwise he will lose control and fall at the whim of the winds and gravity. AGL rolls may be made to attempt a recovery, but otherwise he cannot escape free-fall, eventually reaching terminal velocity. The distance he has to fall and the time it takes him to get there determine his chances for success with the AGL roll. If he succeeds, the character will only be able to slow himself down by (STR) mph per Action until he has brought himself back to within his normal, safe Dive Speed.
Irdanni and others with standard bird-type wings are limited by their wingspan as to how much room they need to fly.
A winged character needs [(wingspan) x 2] – (CRD att. mod.) space in which to fly, BOTH side-to-side AND above and below.
This allows players to plan their characters’ actions more prudently, and allow GM’s to design some settings that preclude flying due to sufficient free space. On the other hand, a flying character might attempt to dive through a tight space too narrow for his wingspan by gathering speed and diving at it, furling his wings as he hurtles through on momentum, then opening his wings again once through it to resume flying normally. This is easy enough to handle with a Dodge check through the opening based on its dimensions and the (modified) STA of the character.
Alternately, he might encounter a narrow cleft or defile or gap between a couple large objects, columns, walls, monolithic statues, etc. and turn sidewise to glide between them, for which he must have the same lateral space, but for which he really only must have [(raw) STA x 2] inches to fit between them. This assumes he is wearing or carrying nothing on his person that will require additional space to clear.
To do this, the character must fly for at least (modified STA) feet before reaching the tight space, them make a AGL/Aerial Acrobat check
The DV for this check is equal to the length (in feet) of the tight space plus one per foot by which the gap is narrower than [(wingspan) x 2] – (CRD att. mod.). On a failed check, the character falls after traveling a number of feet equal to the Fly check result, and/or clips one of the obstacles he is trying to negotiate his way through and bounces between them to fall.
IF an irdan is flying before a tailwind, the mph of the tailwind should be added to the irdan’s speed. This can save him some energy.
The fastest tailwind the character may safely fly before will be equal to his AGL score. If the character should try to fly before faster winds, he will be tossed before them to tumble out of control to the ground. When flying into a headwind, the wind’s speed should be subtracted from the irdan’s. This can cost the irdan more energy, as he fights to maintain his minimum Cruise Speed. If the character’s speed is reduced to BELOW zero by a headwind, he will be blown out of the sky.
An irdan can glide once he has the altitude at any speed he chooses up to his full dive speed, BUT the player and GM must keep in mind he will be descending the entire time, using his Climb Speed in reverse to determine how fast he is losing altitude, unless he has an up-draft of some sort to hang onto in order to maintain altitude.
The winds of most use to the irdan are the ridge lift, wave lift, and thermals.
A ridge lift is found where the wind blows against the face of a hill and the air is forced to rise. These are very local and relatively weak, rarely allowing a character to climb much higher than about 2,000 ft. above the terrain. It can also be augmented by thermals, however, when the slope also faces the sun. In places where a steady wind blows, a ridge may allow virtually unlimited time aloft.
A wave lift is a standing wave in the atmosphere, they are similar to a wave in the ocean’s waters; wave lifts have been used to reach altitudes greater than 50,000 ft.
Thermals are streams of air that are formed on the ground, the result of the warming of the land by sunlight, as the heat rises. They are common over towns and freshly-ploughed fields (dark earth condenses and releases more heat), but it is hard to associate with any specific feature on the ground. Cumulous clouds resulting from condensation of moisture from rising warm air or dust devils on the ground can be used to locate thermals so they can be used in flight. Rates of several meters per second are common (GM’s discretion). Depending on the climate and terrain, thermals can facilitate climbs in excess of 10,000 ft. in flat country and much higher above mountains (add the mountain’s elevation).
Once a thermal is encountered, a character can fly in circles just within its edge to keep within the thermal, to gain enough altitude to enable flying towards the final destination or at least to the next thermal. Alternatively, a winged character on a cross-country flight can choose to ‘dolphin’. This is where the pilot merely slows down when encountering rising air, allowing it to lift him up, and then speeds up again in the non-rising air, losing altitude, thus following an up-down, arcing dolphin pattern. ‘Dolphining’ in this way allows the character to minimize the loss of altitude over great distances.
Thermals also may form in a line usually due to the prevailing wind or the contours of the terrain, creating what are known as “cloud streets”. These allow the character to fly straight while climbing up on the thermal’s continuous lift. As it requires rising heated air, thermalling is only effective in the mid-latitudes from spring through into late summer. During winter the solar heat can only create weak thermals, HOWEVER ridge and wave lift are still available. Also, the boundaries where two air masses meet are known as convergence zones. These can occur in sea breezes or in desert regions. In a sea-breeze front, cold air from the sea meets the warmer air from the land and creates a boundary like a shallow cold front. Glider pilots can gain altitude by flying along the intersection as if it were a ridge of land. Convergence may occur over considerable distances and so may permit virtually straight flight while climbing
A Word about Characters & Flight
Before making the decision to allow the irdanni in the GM’s game, a few points must be discussed. In most games the capacity of flight is rare and comes at a premium. This is to postpone the great advantage flight can provide. This is one of the reasons for placing this race among the Advanced rules set. Flight can enable a character to avoiding or nullifying a wide variety of mundane dangers and obstacles that could otherwise pose a challenge to flightless characters (pit traps, chasms, high walls and cliffs, foes lying in wait hiding behind a blind but visible from the air, and the like). One of the other more important reasons is the complications it brings to the GM’s game, especially in battle.
Of course, there is also the problem of who will save the rest of the party when they are ALL deep in a pit and can’t get out. The party might end up dying there when the GM had no such intention.
While it might allow one or more (flying) characters to skip parts of certain encounters and avoid others entirely, it also provides an opportunity for the GM to come up with different sorts of encounters with various denizens of the air. If a flying character should soar off scouting on his own, the game world and the skies above are no doubt replete with dangers that can make him rue being so rash and incautious. Then again, he might return with valuable information to move the plot of the storyline at hand along.
Only the GM of each campaign can tell if the fun of adding flying PCs is worth watching them flit across rivers, flutter over pits, and soar to the top of castle walls or towers without difficulty – well, at least until the resident guards spot them and bows, slings and other missile and hurled weapons to bear, and their polearms and other melée weapons when the flying character(s) try to land without a proper invitation.
However, UNLESS the whole party consists of flying characters – which provides its own challenges, especially in RoM, where the irdanni are relatively small and weak – even if one PC can bypass some threats, the party as a whole cannot. And they bring with them new storyline opportunities, new plot twists and devices, as well.
Irdanni and winged PCs generally are rather limited in the loads they can carry, thus unlikely to be able to carry other PC’s over/across some obstacle. If he is able, there is the danger the rest of the party may start treating him as their own personal Porter. This presumes they ask him REAL nice first and he deigns to allow himself to be so used. It is something of a stretch as irdanni are a proud race. It simply is NOT going to happen if the irdan is noble born, unless perhaps he is a knight or sacred knight and the rest of the party can convince him of his Chivalric duty (meaning LOTS of begging and pleading and explaining there just are no other alternatives).
Having wings is a trade-off. Tight quarters, especially small antechambers and passageways too small to allow the winged character to even spread his wings carry with them a load of mental anguish that can saddle the character with AV penalties so long as he remains there. Net traps are the aerial equivalent of a pit trap to a character in flight, and they may be rigged to simply allow the quarry to drop to the ground for more than a few bruises, depending on the height at which it was encountered. Storms of missiles of any kind present a special danger to those in the air, as they can bring them down in a hurry, and spell the character’s end just as easily.