Aerial Combat & Prone the game-killer

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Has anyone put any good house rules into effect that don't make powers inflicting the prone condition kill an exciting aerial combat?

RAW, prone knocks flying creatures to the ground (if they are no higher than their fly speed, i.e. usually no higher than 30-60 feet, they take no damage and land standing). If you're in a high altitude fight, say an airship vs. wyverns or griffins vs. dragons, the prone condition can effectively drop an enemy out of the sky. IOW words it's utility scales off the charts from simply requiring an extra move action to potentially killing an enemy outright or at least dramatically altering the flow of the aerial combat.

Normally I have no problem with this. It's fun to see players feel frickin awesome! However, there are certain dramatic high altitude aerial combats where this is just a game killer.

Any solutions you've come up with?
I had no idea the RAW of prone equated to a kill on a flying creature.

In my games, knocking a flying creature prone makes them slowly (no damage) descend.   It might only be a kill if it were over lava or something.

AFAIC, prone = kill?   Not a chance.   Prone equals prone, no more.
First, I think they errata'd prone while flying, so that even if you don't have hover, you won't fall to your death.

I would just houserule prone to do something else in high altitude combat. I think if you give it to your players staight they won't mind. It's also in thier interest that prone doesn't make you fall to your death.

 I would recomend that prone be treated just like it would on the ground. You do not fall, but you take the usually penalties from prone. Cinematically speaking, this could be because you are rolling and spinning out of control and you must use your move action to steady yourself. Alternatly, you are danging or are hanging off of your mount/airship, and must pull yourself back up.  (ie. stand up).

If you don't want to get rid of the "dropping" affect, but also do not want damage, then houserule that you fall your fly-speed each round you are prone. If you are high in the air (50-100 squares) then this means they have 5-10 rounds to "stand up" and fly back to where they started. The risk of death from falling is almost none, but cinematically still feels like you are plumbeting, and mechanically costs them a half a round, or a couple rounds at most. Unconscious creatures (such as downed wyverns) obviously would not be able to ever catch themselves, and would hit the ground and die. Because you only fall your speed, if a player becomes unconscious, the leader would double move downward and then heal them, sort of like doing an aerodynamic tuck.
Ok, the relevant rules I'm speaking of, as of the latest errata are thus:

 "FLIGHT (Falling Prone): If a creature falls prone while it is flying, it falls. This means a flying creature falls when it becomes unconscious or suffers any other effect that knocks it prone. The creature isn't actually prone until it lands and takes falling damage."

And related is...

"CRASHING (Falling While Flying): If a creature falls while it is flying, it descends the full distance of the fall but is less likely to take damage than a creature that can't fly. Subtract the creature's fly speed (in feet) from the distance of the fall, then figure out falling damage. If the difference is 0 or less, the creature lands without taking damage from the fall. For example, if a red dragon falls when it is 40 feet in the air, subtract it's fly speed of 8 (8 squares = 40 feet) from its altitude. The difference is 0, so the dragon lands safely and is not prone."

Corollary: if that same dragon is at 240 feet altitude and is hit by, say a Spectral Ram spell, it falls and takes 20d10 damage.

So yes, by RAW, prone is a game killer in high altitude fights. Got it? 
I would just houserule prone to do something else in high altitude combat. I think if you give it to your players staight they won't mind. It's also in thier interest that prone doesn't make you fall to your death.

 I would recomend that prone be treated just like it would on the ground. You do not fall, but you take the usually penalties from prone. Cinematically speaking, this could be because you are rolling and spinning out of control and you must use your move action to steady yourself. Alternatly, you are danging or are hanging off of your mount/airship, and must pull yourself back up.  (ie. stand up).

If you don't want to get rid of the "dropping" affect, but also do not want damage, then houserule that you fall your fly-speed each round you are prone. If you are high in the air (50-100 squares) then this means they have 5-10 rounds to "stand up" and fly back to where they started. The risk of death from falling is almost none, but cinematically still feels like you are plumbeting, and mechanically costs them a half a round, or a couple rounds at most. Unconscious creatures (such as downed wyverns) obviously would not be able to ever catch themselves, and would hit the ground and die. Because you only fall your speed, if a player becomes unconscious, the leader would double move downward and then heal them, sort of like doing an aerodynamic tuck.


Yeah, I'll probably do something like that, where prone force a creature to descend a certain amount (it's fly speed?) and for all intents and purposes they are considered prone.
I don't know...i kinda like the danger of crashing down if you fly high, both for monsters/enemies and PCs...is like real life...
If you're in a high altitude fight, say an airship vs. wyverns or griffins vs. dragons, the prone condition can effectively drop an enemy out of the sky.

- DMG p.44 has recommended height limits.
- After falling 100 squares (500 feet) a creature can attempt to stop its descent by flying again (DMG p.48).

So if you're going to exceed the recommended height limits, you might as well exceed them by a lot.


Yeah, I'll probably do something like that, where prone force a creature to descend a certain amount (it's fly speed?) and for all intents and purposes they are considered prone.



Yeah, If you make it fall it's speed each round it is prone then that means "faster" more aerodynamic creatures fall faster as they "nose dive". If you want to make it simpler, then just pick a number between 6 and 10, everyone falls that amount each round they are "prone".

Remember if they have a hover speed, they don't fall, even when "prone". You could use that to make an interesting encounter, where the monsters have hover, and prone the party,  forcing them downward.

Also,if they are on mounts, save yourself shenanigans, and houserule that a mount and rider are considered the same creature for prone/push/pull/slide/immobilize while mounted. That way you don't get riders sliding off thier mounts, and mounts falling from under riders. Even though that would be realistic, in DnD it is stupidly deadly.

If you're in a high altitude fight, say an airship vs. wyverns or griffins vs. dragons, the prone condition can effectively drop an enemy out of the sky.

- DMG p.44 has recommended height limits.
- After falling 100 squares (500 feet) a creature can attempt to stop its descent by flying again (DMG p.48).

So if you're going to exceed the recommended height limits, you might as well exceed them by a lot.




I think thats a funny number they use. One round is 6 seconds. In real life, an object will fall about 480 feet in six seconds, assuming no air resistance. A flying creature with big wings that create alot of drag, would probably fall about 300 feet in 6 seconds. So according to DnD, if you start falling, you are not allowed to catch yourself the next round, even though you have the flight space, and the actions. By RAW must wait until you have fallen 500 feet, or hit the ground, whichever comes fist.

Not to mention, being 100 squares away from the encounter, means about 8 rounds that you get to do nothing. Either as a player or a monster.

If you are going by the RAW without that recomendation, the creature would fall an infinite distance in one round. Because it says it "descends the full distance of the fall". That means you could be 10,000 feat in the air (the maximum hieght without a pressurized cabin), you get knocked prone, and BOOM, fall 10,000 feet in one turn. A turn is a fraction of a 6 second round, about ~.75 seconds Thats 13,300 feet per second. You body rip to shreds and spontaniously ignite into a ball of fire.

So new idea, Get airship. Fly to 10,000 feet. Drop pebbles above lichs tower. Laugh as it gets smashed into a million pieces by rail-gun pebbles.

Yeah, I'll probably do something like that, where prone force a creature to descend a certain amount (it's fly speed?) and for all intents and purposes they are considered prone.



Yeah, If you make it fall it's speed each round it is prone then that means "faster" more aerodynamic creatures fall faster as they "nose dive". If you want to make it simpler, then just pick a number between 6 and 10, everyone falls that amount each round they are "prone".

Remember if they have a hover speed, they don't fall, even when "prone". You could use that to make an interesting encounter, where the monsters have hover, and prone the party,  forcing them downward.

Also,if they are on mounts, save yourself shenanigans, and houserule that a mount and rider are considered the same creature for prone/push/pull/slide/immobilize while mounted. That way you don't get riders sliding off thier mounts, and mounts falling from under riders. Even though that would be realistic, in DnD it is stupidly deadly.

If you're in a high altitude fight, say an airship vs. wyverns or griffins vs. dragons, the prone condition can effectively drop an enemy out of the sky.

- DMG p.44 has recommended height limits.
- After falling 100 squares (500 feet) a creature can attempt to stop its descent by flying again (DMG p.48).

So if you're going to exceed the recommended height limits, you might as well exceed them by a lot.




I think thats a funny number they use. One round is 6 seconds.In real life, an object will fall about 480 feet in six seconds, assuming no air resistance. A flying creature with big wings that create alot of drag, would probably fall about 300 feet in 6 seconds. So according to DnD, if you start falling, you are not allowed to catch yourself the next round, even though you have the flight space, and the actions. By RAW must wait until you have fallen 500 feet, or hit the ground, whichever comes fist.

Not to mention, being 100 squares away from the encounter, means about 8 rounds that you get to do nothing. Either as a player or a monster.



i don't see a problem there, i don't think we need air resistence tables for falls in the game...having 500 feets per 6 seconds is quite close to real life counter part assuming no air resistence, that's enough for me.

I also think it takes you 6 seconds to stabilize yourself again to fly...they are hitting you with something that would knock you off from your feets on land...i think that's enough force to do that.


i don't see a problem there, i don't think we need air resistence tables for falls in the game...having 500 feets per 6 seconds is quite close to real life counter part assuming no air resistence, that's enough for me.

I also think it takes you 6 seconds to stabilize yourself again to fly...they are hitting you with something that would knock you off from your feets on land...i think that's enough force to do that.



You have obviously missed the point. MFW x_X
From what I've gathered, using the Rules Compendium:

1. You fall at a rate of 500 feet per round, taking 1d10 damage per 10 feet fallen (max 50d10).
2. If you fall an amount equal to or less than your Fly Speed, you land and take no damage.
3. After 100 feet (20 squares) of falling, if you have a Fly Speed you get one chance to make a DC 30 Athletics check (with a bonus equal to Fly Speed) to stop falling as an Immediate Reaction.
4. As a last resort, you can make a trained-only Acrobatics check to break your fall (reducing damage by half the check result; no damage means you don't land Prone).

Going through the Monster Vault, I had a hard time finding monsters that are likely to be encountered at 100+ ft. altitude but unlikely to make that Athletics check. Specifically from the original post:
* Wyverns have a +20 on the Athletics check.
* Griffons have +18. (Hippogriffs aren't so lucky - no high-flying for you!)
* All adult chromatic dragons have at least a +20 on the check, with the exception of black dragons (+17).
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.

So yes, by RAW, prone is a game killer in high altitude fights. Got it? 



My point was only that having prone = kill is ridiculous and overpowered IMO.   Therefore, that won't happen at my table.

my take: when knocked prone while flying, you fall, but that doesnt always mean you hit the ground. if you are thousands of feet up, and each round is just a few seconds, you will still be falling when your next turn comes around. so, when you or your mount start your turn "prone" and are still falling, you can "stand" (ie resume flying) as a move. then, having fallen some considerable distance, you would have to charge or double move to fly back up or anywhere else. so depending on how far you want the prone creature to be required to fall (20 to 30 squares maybe for purposes of playability?), this can still be a significant punishment, taking them out of combat for a round, or making them burn all of their actions just to get "back up".

that is the sensible way to rule it imo; note i said sensible, but not scientific. i mean, if the flying creature is just like 10 sqrs up or what not, yes it should hit the ground (perhaps landing on its feet). but i have played some cool adventures where we were waaaay the hell up and all had griffons; if we played it where you fell all of the way down thousands of feet it would have been unplayable, and pretty stupid.

From what I've gathered, using the Rules Compendium:

1. You fall at a rate of 500 feet per round, taking 1d10 damage per 10 feet fallen (max 50d10).
2. If you fall an amount equal to or less than your Fly Speed, you land and take no damage.
3. After 100 feet (20 squares) of falling, if you have a Fly Speed you get one chance to make a DC 30 Athletics check (with a bonus equal to Fly Speed) to stop falling as an Immediate Reaction.
4. As a last resort, you can make a trained-only Acrobatics check to break your fall (reducing damage by half the check result; no damage means you don't land Prone).

Going through the Monster Vault, I had a hard time finding monsters that are likely to be encountered at 100+ ft. altitude but unlikely to make that Athletics check. Specifically from the original post:
* Wyverns have a +20 on the Athletics check.
* Griffons have +18. (Hippogriffs aren't so lucky - no high-flying for you!)
* All adult chromatic dragons have at least a +20 on the check, with the exception of black dragons (+17).

It is harsh if you do fail that 20 squares check though, and breaking your fall from a 50d10 damage (average about 250 damage) isn't really doing much for you. The fact that it is very hard to get back into the fight is rough too, maybe the worst part.

Honestly the 4e aerial combat rules aren't designed for dealing with dogfighting. They work pretty well when dealing with a PC or monster flying above a melee or monsters attacking from the sky, people flying off ledges or fighting from airships (or boarding them from flying mounts), but that's about it. The lack of any rules for maneuvering and the simplistic falling rule etc make things rather sketchy and unrealistic/not very cinematic.

I think it is a reasonably tradeoff though. You'd need something like "Fight in the Skies" or somesuch to have realistic flavorfull dogfighting and that would require many pages of complex rules to cover a situation that might come up once or twice in a campaign. If you wanted to have a campaign where this was a major theme, then I'd actually just go find an old copy of FitS and adapt it (we did this once in an AD&D campaign way back when, it was fun). Short of that arrange your aerial hijinks around terrain and whatnot, or use SCs for avoiding enemies etc. Fighting in free air is like any blank-map fight in 4e anyway, if it isn't really short and sweet it is going to get dull fast.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

So yes, by RAW, prone is a game killer in high altitude fights. Got it? 



My point was only that having prone = kill is ridiculous and overpowered IMO.   Therefore, that won't happen at my table.




If you are struck from over five hundred feet and fall that distance in less than six seconds before you are able to unfurl your wings/cast a spell, it's not that hard to assume you might get splattered all over the countryside. Average damage from that 500ft fall is only 275. I mean, that's only enough to turn anything but a very much HP optimized character into a pancake and then some.
Spiteful Wizard and Voice of Reason of the House of Trolls The Silent God of the House of Trolls Unfrozen OTTer Arbiter of the House of Trolls Yes, I have many titles. Deal with it.

So yes, by RAW, prone is a game killer in high altitude fights. Got it? 



My point was only that having prone = kill is ridiculous and overpowered IMO.   Therefore, that won't happen at my table.




If you are struck from over five hundred feet and fall that distance in less than six seconds before you are able to unfurl your wings/cast a spell, it's not that hard to assume you might get splattered all over the countryside. Average damage from that 500ft fall is only 275. I mean, that's only enough to turn anything but a very much HP optimized character into a pancake and then some.

Oh, epic level PCs can certainly survive a 500 ft fall, though they won't LIKE it and if they're already beat up it could easily prove fatal. OTOH if you're 26th level and you don't have some way to arrest your fall or deal with the damage then you're kinda asking for it. Honestly any PC that is seriously anticipating aerial battles and is 16th + level should be quite capable of equipping themselves with a way to avoid death. For instance the Elixer of Levitation is 8th level and you could simply consume one before a fight at dangerous altitude. There are various other items that show up starting in low paragon which can arrest a fall if used properly. Feather Fall is always another option if you happen to be a Wizard.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

So yes, by RAW, prone is a game killer in high altitude fights. Got it? 



My point was only that having prone = kill is ridiculous and overpowered IMO.   Therefore, that won't happen at my table.


If you are struck from over five hundred feet and fall that distance in less than six seconds before you are able to unfurl your wings/cast a spell, it's not that hard to assume you might get splattered all over the countryside. Average damage from that 500ft fall is only 275. I mean, that's only enough to turn anything but a very much HP optimized character into a pancake and then some.



My point is that simply the act of knocking something prone will NEVER do ANY damage in my games.   I don't care if they are 5 feet up or 5000.   Almost every prone power does some damage as well as knocking the target prone.    And prone powers are common.   To equate prone = a **** ton of damage is just plain broken IMO.    The flying creature being knocked prone is taken out of the sky (or reduced 500 feet in altitude), that is plenty of bonus already for applying such a simple and common affliction.

At which point you have to deal with the fact that a vanilla human can be hit by something that pushes them off a mountain several thousand feet in the air (Beguiling Strands) and fall all the way to the bottom. Only to pick himself up and walk back home because he fell several thousand feet.

Have fun.
Spiteful Wizard and Voice of Reason of the House of Trolls The Silent God of the House of Trolls Unfrozen OTTer Arbiter of the House of Trolls Yes, I have many titles. Deal with it.
Remember if they have a hover speed, they don't fall, even when "prone". You could use that to make an interesting encounter, where the monsters have hover, and prone the party,  forcing them downward.


Where are you getting that from?

According to DMG pg.48:

"SPECIAL FLYING RULES (Hover): A monster that can hover can shift and make opportunity attacks while flying. It remains flying even if it does not move the minimum distance normally needed to remain aloft. It stays in the air even if it takes no move action to fly."

Nowhere does it say that hovering creatures are immune to the "dropped from the sky" effect of prone.


They errata'd Hover a long time ago. Check the Rules Compendium or the Errata files.
Spiteful Wizard and Voice of Reason of the House of Trolls The Silent God of the House of Trolls Unfrozen OTTer Arbiter of the House of Trolls Yes, I have many titles. Deal with it.
I think thats a funny number they use. One round is 6 seconds. In real life, an object will fall about 480 feet in six seconds, assuming no air resistance

From the 3.5 D&D FAQ:
"A falling character accelerates at a rate of 32 feet per second per second. What that means is that every second, a character’s “falling speed” increases by 32 feet. The distance he falls in that second is equal to the average of his falling speeds at the beginning of that second and at the end
of that second. Thus, during the first second he falls 16 feet (the average of 0 feet and 32 feet, which are his speeds at the start and end of that second). During the next second he falls 48 feet (the average of 32 feet and 64 feet). He falls 80 feet during the third second, 112 feet the fourth second, 144 feet the fifth second, and 176 feet the sixth second. That’s a grand total of 576 feet fallen in the first round alone, hence the short answer given above—the number of falls occurring in any campaign longer than this is probably pretty small. For ease of play, you could simply use 500 feet as a nice round number—it’s easier to remember.

Of course, the character falls even farther the next round, although acceleration soon ends due to the resistance of air on the falling body (this is what’s called terminal velocity). If the Sage remembers his high-school physics, terminal velocity for a human body is roughly 120 mph (equivalent to a speed of 1,200 feet per round, or 200 feet per second); thus, the character’s falling speed hits its maximum in the first second of the second round. It’s safe to say that after 2 rounds the character will have fallen nearly 2,000 feet, and will fall another 1,200 feet per round thereafter."
I think thats a funny number they use. One round is 6 seconds. In real life, an object will fall about 480 feet in six seconds, assuming no air resistance

From the 3.5 D&D FAQ:
"A falling character accelerates at a rate of 32 feet per second per second. What that means is that every second, a character’s “falling speed” increases by 32 feet. The distance he falls in that second is equal to the average of his falling speeds at the beginning of that second and at the end
of that second. Thus, during the first second he falls 16 feet (the average of 0 feet and 32 feet, which are his speeds at the start and end of that second). During the next second he falls 48 feet (the average of 32 feet and 64 feet). He falls 80 feet during the third second, 112 feet the fourth second, 144 feet the fifth second, and 176 feet the sixth second. That’s a grand total of 576 feet fallen in the first round alone, hence the short answer given above—the number of falls occurring in any campaign longer than this is probably pretty small. For ease of play, you could simply use 500 feet as a nice round number—it’s easier to remember.

Of course, the character falls even farther the next round, although acceleration soon ends due to the resistance of air on the falling body (this is what’s called terminal velocity). If the Sage remembers his high-school physics, terminal velocity for a human body is roughly 120 mph (equivalent to a speed of 1,200 feet per round, or 200 feet per second); thus, the character’s falling speed hits its maximum in the first second of the second round. It’s safe to say that after 2 rounds the character will have fallen nearly 2,000 feet, and will fall another 1,200 feet per round thereafter."



This sage remembers his hichschool and college physics, and they are calculating incorrectly. I mispoke a little in that posting because I was trying to be breif. To clarify; the combat round is in sequence, and actions do not happen simultaniously. The time you fall in the first round would be a fraction of 6 seconds. Assuming 6 places in the initiative (5 PCs and 1 monster) and you are knocked prone on the second round (unless you go first and leap off your airship) you fall for 5 seconds in the first 6 second round. 0+32+64+46+128+160=480ft. This assumes falling in a vacuum.

But again that is not taking into acount air resistance. The drag coefficient of a roughly cylindrical and spherical person, spread horizontolly is ~20 times higher than if they make themselves into a "bullet" shape. The drag coeffiecient of a tumbling or spinning person is at worst, still ~10 times higher than in the "bullet" position. Including that they are probably wearing clothing that is less aerodynamic than a body sock or jumpsuit, thier drag is going to be significant within the first round, e.g. thier drag will become a factor before they approach terminal velocity (relevant at the 30% mark of the inverse of the coefficient of drag with the gravitational constant, where x is tme in freefall)

In the first paragraph they are calculating the distanced traveled incorectly. In the second paragraph they have calculated terminal velocity incorectly. Terminal velocity is reached after ~12 seconds of freefall.

Just sayin. It's not really relevant to the game anyway. The point of DnD is not to achieve hyper realism. For all intents and purposes, both mechanically and cinematically, it makes more sense for a character to only fall a short distance while engaged in arial combat.
The time you fall in the first round would be a fraction of 6 seconds. Assuming 6 places in the initiative (5 PCs and 1 monster) and you are knocked prone on the second round (unless you go first and leap off your airship) you fall for 5 seconds in the first 6 second round.

Note that this paradigm is incorrect. The end of the initiative count doesn't really mean anything. A round usually just represents a span of time from one initiative count to the same initiative count in the next round.
 
It's not really relevant to the game anyway. The point of DnD is not to achieve hyper realism.

Indeed. I posted the FAQ calculation quote ironically.

 Note that this is paradigm is incorrect. The end of the initiative count doesn't really mean anything. A round usually just represents a span of time from one initiative count to the same initiative count in the next round.



Oh, thats odd. But arn't there some things that reset each round? such as immediate actions? I'm perhaps slightly confused by your statement.
 
Indeed. I posted the FAQ calculation quote ironically.


Oh god, lol. I'll be over here in the corner.

arn't there some things that reset each round? such as immediate actions?

They reset on the creature's turn rather than when the initiative count reaches zero. Example from PHB p.268:
"You can take only one immediate action per round, either an immediate interrupt
or an immediate reaction. If you haven’t taken an immediate action since the end of your last turn, you can take one when a trigger allows you to"

They errata'd Hover a long time ago. Check the Rules Compendium or the Errata files.


I stand by my question. All the RC says is "a creature that can hover, such as a beholder, can remain in the air even when stunned." Same goes for the errata. To the best of my knowledge, nowhere does it say they don't fall when knocked prone.

Funny story, our party Mage cast "Foe to Frog" on a red dragon flying at 100-ft...I ruled he lost his fly (hover) trait cause of the polymorph, and so that dragon took full falling damage. The players rejoiced...all of them except for the one on the dragon's back that is ;)
They errata'd Hover a long time ago. Check the Rules Compendium or the Errata files.


I stand by my question. All the RC says is "a creature that can hover, such as a beholder, can remain in the air even when stunned." Same goes for the errata. To the best of my knowledge, nowhere does it say they don't fall when knocked prone.

Funny story, our party Mage cast "Foe to Frog" on a red dragon flying at 100-ft...I ruled he lost his fly (hover) trait cause of the polymorph, and so that dragon took full falling damage. The players rejoiced...all of them except for the one on the dragon's back that is ;)



Hover prevents falling while stunned. I don't see anything about hover versus knocked prone.


✦ Remaining in the Air: A flying creature does not
need to take any particular action to remain aloft; the
creature is assumed to be flying as it fights, moves,
and takes other actions. However, a flying creature
falls the instant it is stunned, unless it can hover.
The FAQ was correct, the formula for falling distance in Earth-like gravity (acceleration = -32 ft/s2, negative because gravity pulls down, and in the general reference frame, up and right are +, while down and left are -) is:

D =  0.5*a*t^2 + Vi*t + Di
where
D= distance (in feet) fallen
a= acceleration (gravity in this case, which is -32 ft/s2)
t= time (in seconds)
Vi= Downward Initial Velocity (for a free fall like we are discussing, you assume no initial  downward velocity, just like dropping an object, rather than throwing it down, so Vi = 0)
Di= Initial height of the object. This is relative, and so we can assume a reference height of 0 which means are D values will be negative, indicating the object is falling to a height lower (below) than our reference of 0. It makes D give the distance fallen which is what we want.

So for a 6 second fall, assuming no wind resistance, you get:

D = (0.5)*(-32)*(6)^2 + (0)*(6) + (0)
D =  -576 feet

For 12 seconds (2 rounds):
D = (0.5)*(-32)*(12)^2
D =  -2,304 feet

For 18 seconds (3 rounds):
D = (0.5)*(-32)*(18)^2
D =  -5,184 feet (5,280 feet = 1 mile, so you fall about 1 mile in 3 rounds assuming no wind resistance)

As for house rules, since I love aerial combat, I have used the following:


Aerial House Rules

1) Changing Altitude: (no more free altitude changes as per 4E rules)

a) Ascending (non-hover) - You may only increase your altitude by 1 square for every square of movement you spend toward doing so.

b) Ascending (hover) - If you have the (hover) trait, you can increase your altitude by 1 square for free for each square you move horizontally; but if you choose to move vertically, you do not get a free square of altitude increase in this manner.

c) Descending (all) - You may decrease your altitude for free by 1 square for every square of movement you make. If you move down, you can effectively decrease your altitude by 2 squares for each square down you move.


2) Aerial Prone (all): You are considered Prone just like you would be if on the ground. You can only "crawl" but in an aerial version, moving half your speed just like if grounded, cannot Shift, and still suffer a -2 attack penalty. You can end being Prone by spending a Move Action to "stand up" just as if on the ground. While Prone in the air, apply the following differences:

a) (non-hover) - You Grant Combat Advantage to all creatures while you are Prone in the air.

b) (hover) - If you have the (hover) trait, you only Grant CA to Melee attacks as per normal ground rules for Prone.

c) (all) - Ranged Attacks do not take a -2 penalty against you while you are Prone in the air.


3) Forced Movement: As per normal 4E rules


4) Stunned:

a) (non-hover) - Creatures without (hover) do not fall while stunned, instead they can make a Save and if they succeed they do not change altitude that Round due to being stunned, otherwise, if they fail, they lose 6 squares of altitude as they struggle to "tread air". If they start their turn stunned, they make this Save at the start of their turn to see if they maintain their altitude. If they fail the Save, they lose 6 squares of altitude that Round for being stunned. If this altitude loss causes their altitude to become 0, they suffer falling damage as if they fell the distance from where they were before they lost those 6 squares (so at most suffering a 6 square fall or 30 feet = 3d10 damage).

b) (hover) - As per normal 4E rules (which means stunned does not change their altitude)


5) Hover: In addition to the normal 4E benefits related to being stunned, and those in the house rules above (regarding altitude changes and being prone), hover fliers also gain the same benefit as a creature with the aquatic trait while fighting underwater against those without it. Creatures with (hover) gain a +2 bonus to Attack Rolls against other creatures without (hover) if those other creatures are airborne.


Mounted Combat feat: In addition to its normal benefits, it also grants:
1) Proficiency with all weapons that have the Mounted keyword (currently only the Lance in 4E)

2) You are considered to have the (hover) trait if you are mounted on a creature with that trait

3) When you make an Athletics, Acrobatics, Endurance or Stealth check while mounted, whether you use your own skill or that of the mount, make the check as if both you and the mount were trained in that skill (this gives no additional benefit if you and/or the mount were already trained in the skill)

4) You may make a Quick Mount. When you Move or Shift, you can Move or Shift into the same space as your mount and are then considered to be mounted. Doing so, however, costs 1 extra point of movement/shifting and you may spur your mount into motion, allowing it to move a distance equal to its speed less the number of squares of movement/shifting you used during the action that allowed you to Move or Shift. If this value is 0 or less, the mount cannot be spurred into motion, but you are still mounted.

5) You may make a Quick Dismount. When you Move or Shift while mounted, you can use part of that Move or Shift to move/shift into any open square adjacent to your mount and are then considered to be dismounted. Doing so costs 1 extra point of movement/shifting. You may continue moving once dismounted up to a distance equal to your speed less the number of squares of movement/shifting you used during the the action that allowed you to Move or Shift. If this value is 0 or less, you cannot make any additional movement, but you are still dismounted.




Example of Quick Mount:
Your mount has a speed of fly 6, you have a speed of 8. You take a move action to use a power than lets you Shift your speed +1 (9 squares). You shift 3 squares adjacent to your mount, and spend 2 more to shift into the mount's space (this costs 1 square normally and 1 extra for using the Quick Mount feature) and are now considered mounted. You have 4 squares of shifting left (having spend 5 so far to shift up and mount), so you want to spur your mount into motion. Your mount has a speed of 6, you used 5 squares of shifting so far during this action, so your mount can move (not shift, even though you were shifting, you mount can only move normally) a distance equal to its speed less the number of squares of movement/shifting you used during the the action, which is 6 - 5 = 1 square. So your mount can fly 1 square (with you now riding it) at which point your movement ends.

Example of Quick Dismount:
Your mount has a speed of fly 12, you have a speed of 8. You take a Move action to fly (while mounted), and fly 4 squares to the ground, where you spend 2 more to quick dismount into a square adjacent to your mount (this costs 1 square to move out of your mount's space and into an adjacent square and 1 extra for using the Quick Dismount feature, a total of 2 squares of movement used up) and are now considered dismounted. You have 6 squares of movement left (having spend 6 so far to fly down (4) and then dismount (2) onto the ground), so you want to continue moving. You used 6 squares so far during this action, so you can move (not shift/fly, even though you were flying during this movement initially, you can only move normally for the rest of this movement, unless one of your normal movement modes happens to be fly, then you could use this extra movement to fly) a distance equal to your speed less the number of squares of movement/shifting you used during the the action, which is 8 - 6 = 2 squares. So you can move 2 squares at which point your movement ends.


New Equipment:

1) Aerial Saddle: this saddle straps the rider in. While strapped in, the rider cannot be knocked Prone. The saddle constrains the rider and imposes an additional -2 Check penalty to the same skills as Armor or Heavy Shields would. If the rider does not have the Mounted Combat feat, it is not considered to be proficient in the use of this saddle, and suffers a -2 to Attack Rolls as well while using it. While the saddle is usually designed for use on aerial mounts, it can also be used for other mounts, such as war horses.

It takes a Standard Action for the rider to unstrap himself before he can attempt a dismount. While strapped in, the rider must go where the mount goes, and the mount must move with the rider if the rider is forced to move. If the mount is Prone, so is the rider.

 
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