Soaring through the air, their keen gaze scouts below for the enemies that crawl along the ground, disguising themselves as harmless boulders. But the Aarakocra know that they are anything but harmless.
They are gargoyles that drag themselves across the ground and ever closer to the Elemental Plane of Air border, determined to drag all that fly above them to the ground. They could fly, but they are at least smart enough to know they do not stand a chance against the Birdfolk above, who fly in flocks, wielding their weapons.
Occasionally the Birdfolk cluster together and pick off their elemental enemies below, sharpened javelins piercing through stone-like flesh and claiming victory repeatedly.
They are the victors of the air, whether they exist in the Material Plane or the Elemental Plane. The star of this Aarakocra 5e Guide will protect their homes and dominate the skies, whether adventurers or warriors.
Aarakocras can be both NPC and Player characters with little change between their background or abilities.
- AC 12
- HP 13 (3d8)
- Speed 20 feet walking, 50 feet flying
- STR 10 (+0) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0)
- INT 11 (+0) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 11 (+0)
- +2 points to Dex, +1 point to Wis
- 25-foot walking speed, 50-foot flying
- Cannot wear heavy or medium armor to keep the 50-foot flying speed.
- Best paired with a Rogue or Ranger class.
- You can make your Aarakocra into any bird (I vote for a rooster).
Where they Roost
Aarakocra, also known as Eisfuura, are humanoid Birdfolk with large wings that either sprout from their back or take the place of their arms. In the Material Plane, Aarakocra can often be found on the highest mountaintops or among the tallest trees. However, Aarakocra aren’t native to the Material Plane.
They originate from the Elemental Plane of Air, where they are free to soar through the skies and extend their wings to the fullest of their lengths.
In the Elemental Plane of Air, Aarakocra are fearsome warriors who guard the borders of their homes from the enemies originating in the Elemental Plane of Earth—specifically their sworn enemy, Gargoyles.
The Fearsome Warrior NPC
Non-Player Character Aarakocra and often Neutral Good characters. In their sworn service to the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, Aarakocra are supposed to scout the many planes of existence in search of Elemental Evil and their temples.
They will act as spies, reporting back to the many Dukes, or they will take action to destroy these Elemental Evil and their temples. Outside of their service to the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, Aarakocra prefer to live their lives free as a bird, drifting to where the wind will take them.
Found in the Monster Manual on page 12, Aarakocra are listed with a Challenge rating of 1/4. Despite their reputation as fearsome warriors in the Elemental Plane of Air, they aren’t that hard to fight. Unfortunately for most who may try to take them on, however, those who aren’t scouts often travel in large flocks.
So fighting them will likely end up proving a challenge regardless. Before you and your party charge in to fight a flock of Aarakocra, however, consider trying to be diplomatic and friendly first. But, if you still want to fight them, knowing their stat block can help you.
- AC 12
- HP 13 (3d8)
- Speed 20 feet walking, 50 feet flying
- STR 10 (+0) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0)
- INT 11 (+0) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 11 (+0)
- Skills: Perception +5
- Passive Perception 15
- Languages: Aarakocra, Auran. Suppose they have lived on the Material Plane for an extended period of time. In that case, it is likely that they will have picked up on the local language or that they speak Common.
Aarakocra have very few diverse attacks, with their most unique racial feature being their Dive Attack. The only way that they can do this is by flying at least 30 feet into the air above their target.
However, this makes Aarakocra exceptionally annoying to fight, considering that not only are they fast in the air, but they can easily stay out of the range of most melee fighters. At the same time, they pick you off, one at a time.
|Dive Attack||Aarakocras have a feature available to them when flying called Dive Attack. They can dive at least 30 feet straight toward a target and hit it with their melee weapon. If attack, if it hits, it will deal an extra 1d6 damage.|
|Talon||Melee Weapon Attack
+4 to hit, 5-foot reach, single target
Damage: 1d4+2 slashing damage
|Javelin||Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack
+4 to hit, 5-foot reach or 30/120 feet, single target
Damage: 1d6+5 piercing damage
If you’re a Dungeon Master, it’s also important to remember that these stats and abilities can easily be changed to fit your situation and needs. Dungeon Masters have (almost) total control over their games. If you need to make an Aarakocra that is harder to fight, go ahead and do that! Suppose you want to give them another weapon.
In that case, nothing is stopping you from doing that – just make sure that weapon can actually have a ranged ability before you try to use it from the air.
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
There is at least one other ability that Aarakocras have, but it cannot be performed alone. Listed in the Monster Manual on page 12, a small group can summon an Air Elemental without casting a single spell.
Five Aarakocras within thirty feet of each other can summon an Air Elemental. Each of the five Birdfolk must use their action and movement on three consecutive turns to perform an aerial dance. They must maintain concentration during the dance, or the entire thing will need to start over.
When all five Aarakocra have finished the third turn of the dance, the Elemental will appear in an unoccupied space within 60 feet of the group.
The Air Elemental will remain friendly toward the Birdfolk who summoned them, obeying their spoken command. It will stay for one hour, until all of its summoners die, or if one of the summoners dismisses it as a Bonus Action.
An Aarakocra who performs the summoning ritual cannot perform the ritual again until after a short rest. Any Aarakocra within five feet of the Air Elemental can return to the Elemental Plane of Air after dismissing it.
This ability essentially means that if you’re facing an army of Aarakocras, you can expect to face an army of Air Elementals pretty quickly as well. This ability also gives the Birdfolk a quick escape route if things start to go south.
Entire groups within five feet of the Air Elemental (up to eight Birdfolk) can escape to the Elemental Plane of Air if necessary.
Becoming a Birdfolk
Aarakocras aren’t only enemies or NPCs you can face off against or befriend. The Aarakocra race was introduced in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (ironically). The general history and environment that Aarakocras exist in doesn’t change between the Monster Manual and the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion.
However, due to its nature as a Player race, this provided background and history is something that is a basis that Players can choose to work off of or completely ignore.
- If you choose to become an Aarakocra, you gain a few perks.
- Ability Score Increase: A two-point increase to your Dexterity score and a one-point increase to your Wisdom score.
- As an Aarakocra, you reach maturity by age three, though you probably won’t live longer than 30 years.
- You are more likely to have a good alignment. Tribal leaders and warriors are more likely to be lawful good. In contrast, explorers and adventurers are more likely to be chaotic good.
- You a Medium creature, about five feet tall on average and weighing between 80 and 100 pounds.
- Your walking speed is 25 feet. Your flying speed is 50 feet. To use this fly speed, however, you cannot wear heavy or medium armor.
- You are proficient with unarmed strikes, dealing 1d4 slashing damage on a hit.
- You can speak, read, and write in Common, Aarakocra, and Auran.
Already off of the bat, an Aarakocra gives a new player a good basis to work off of. It gives them a direction that they can take their character in terms of alignment and attitude, and it can give them a short-lived character.
This short lifespan can embolden a new player to be riskier or go for the fun options rather than the safest and most careful route (which is often the most boring route).
Even more, if a new player decides that they don’t want to play anymore, it makes sense for an Aarakocra to return home to finish out its life or for them to die heroically in battle without being tragically young. That lifespan also allows Aarakocras to be characters that are easier to sunset than other characters like Elves.
Refeathering Your Aarakocra
Although the Monster Manual and the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion portray Aarakocra and eagle-like Birdfolk, you don’t have to make your Aarakocra an eagle. You can make it any kind of bird of fowl that you want. I offer this suggestion to you: the rooster.
The rooster is possibly one of the funniest reskins you can do of an Aarakocra, especially if you make it into a Rogue Assassin class. If you have roosters, you know where I’m going with this… or maybe I just have a rude rooster.
They pace around, acting as if everything is fine and they are doing nothing, but as soon as you turn around, they Sneak Attack you, out to see blood.
On top of being funny, it’s a genuinely viable concept. With the +2 Dexterity you gain from the class and the lightweight armor that Rogues often wear, Aarakocras lend themselves to becoming Rogues.
Flying High with Complimentary Classes
There are other complementary classes that Aarakocra players can take. Aside from the Rogue class, additional Dexterity based classes, such as a Dexterity based Fighter, Monks, and Rangers.
Both Monks and Rangers, whose primary abilities are Dexterity and Wisdom, play into the additional Ability Score points you gain when building an Aarakocra character.
The biggest issue with a Monk, however, is that it doesn’t play into an Aarakocra’s ability as a ranged fighter very well, nor does it play into their Dive Ability, which requires a Melee Weapon Attack.
If you want the absolute best complimentary class for an Aarakocra, I would go with a Ranger or a Rogue. Both classes can play into the ranged ability. While equipped with a Melee weapon and their Ranged weapon, you can make your Dive Attack and still deal extra damage to your enemies before swooping back into the air.
You don’t have to play one of these classes, however, you can play whatever you believe would be the most fun. Choosing a Strength or Intelligence based class doesn’t take away your extra Ability Score Points.
However, before you take a class that sends you diving headfirst straight into the action, it’s important to remember that you can’t really wear any heavy or medium armor, lest you hinder your fly speed.
With a walking speed five feet less than other races, your fly speed is important, and you probably don’t want to give yourself an unintentional handicap while playing.
Question: Do Aarakocra Have Dark Vision?
Answer: No, they don’t. Aarakocras only have normal vision, though if you work it out with your DM and your Aarakocra is reskinned to be a hawk Birdfolk or something similar, you might be able to gain advantage on Perception checks that rely on sight.
Question: Why do DMs Ban Aarakocra?
Answer: Flight is a very powerful ability early on in the game. While you may have Rogues or Monks that can move upwards of 120 feet per round towards the end of the game, Aarakocra have a 50-foot movement speed from the very beginning.
Paired with Haste, a spell you can also get early on in the game, Aarakocra can have a 100-foot fly speed by level five (so long as they have the help of Haste). This makes any and all terrain pretty much avoidable for our Birdfolk.
Regardless, there are workarounds all of you Dungeon Masters can do instead of just outright banning Aarakocras from your players!
Don’t take the ability from your players entirely, but put them in a few situations where they need to find workarounds and not just rely on their fast flying speed! Consider having some battles occur in caves, where flying isn’t an option, or under the dense cover of trees.
Question: Can Aarakocra Fly Indefinitely?
Answer: Can you walk indefinitely? If the answer is no, then probably not. While Aarakocra can fly for up to months on end while in the Elemental Plane of Air, in the Material Plane, that isn’t as viable. Even birds in real life need to find somewhere to settle down for a rest, whether in trees, on top of roofs, or on powerlines.
However, that isn’t saying that Aarakocra can only fly for short bursts of time. From birth, they learn to fly, and the muscles used to fly are developed. With lightweight bodies and armor, they can easily carry on for hours at a time.
Now Be Free and Fly Away
So there you have the Aarakocra. It is possibly one of the most appealing races to play. Aarokocras hold the opportunity for vibrant coloring, interesting backstories, or just being a rooster who is finally deadly.
They are undoubtedly an intimidating race to look at when you first start, as they offer more mechanics than the traditional human race, but I would argue they are one of the better races for new players.
While Aarakocras are a great choice for old players, they can also offer more to new players – especially in their ability to customize and shorter lifespans.
With such a detailed background provided by Wizards of the Coast and Dungeons and Dragons, Aarakocra also offers new players a solid foundation that they can build their characters off of without being too nervous about fitting into the world.
Considering that the Birdfolk are not native to the Material Plane, it also lends players an excuse for their character being awkward or out of the ordinary.
For more seasoned players, Aarakocra can offer them a chance to be wild and chaotic, diving straight into the fun, if somewhat dangerous, options without sitting and debating about it for a few hours.
You won’t live for eighty years, so why act like you have all the time in the world? Let the wind take you where it will, and enjoy the freedom that the Aarakocra race offers.
For Dungeon Masters, Aarakocra can offer an entirely new world to explore, filled with different tribes of Birdfolk with different customs and beliefs.
Each tribe can consist of a different type of bird and a unique aesthetic, offering your players an entirely new experience that the traditional fantasy world could otherwise not lend. They are one of my favorite races, and I hope you can enjoy them too.
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