Vehicle Writeup: Scout Ornithopter

William T. Thrasher
Flying away on a wing and a prayer.

Reading recent comments regarding Michael O. Varhola's commentary on the classic science fiction novel Dune, I couldn't stop thinking about ornithopters, those fantastical vehicles that literally fly like birds. Despite the amazing and atmospheric imagery these vehicles imply, they receive little exposure in space opera, romantic science fiction, and tabletop gaming. I hope to remedy that now. Please enjoy this write up of a basic scout ornithopter perfect for your Pathfinder campaign.


Huge air vehicle

Squares 8 (5 ft. by 20 ft chassis, 5 ft. by 20 ft. wings); Cost 5000gp


AC 8; Hardness 5

hp 80 (40) 

Base Save +2


Maximum Speed 120 ft. ; Acceleration 30 ft.

CMB +2; CMD 16

Ramming Damage 2d8


The scout ornithopter is a versatile and highly maneuverable flying vehicle that takes its name from a unique method of propulsion; articulated wings extending from just behind the cockpit. Used for reconnaissance, search and rescue, and the drop off/pick up of light cargo or specialized personnel, the scout ornithopter finds use in military, civil, and criminal fleets throughout charted space.

The ornithopter is made from lightweight materials and a frame designed to provide maximum support while using a little mass as possible, resulting in lower hardness than most vehicles of its size. When flying with the wind, the vehicles base speed and acceleration both increase by 50%, while flying against the wind decreases speed and acceleration by 50%. An ornithipter is capable hovering and vertical takeoff and landing, requiring no runway and enabling it to land on rough surfaces normally inaccessible by conventional aircraft.

Propulsion alchemical in fantasy settings (1 square alchemical engine behind/above cockpit, 4 squares of canvas wings), miniaturized fusion cell in scifi settings (1 square fusion cell array behind/above cockpit, 4 squares of polymer wings)

Driving Check Craft (alchemy) or Knowledge (arcana) for fantasy settings, Pilot Aircraft for scifi settings

Forward Facing ships forward

Driving Device​ joystick and control board

Driving Space one square at the front of the ship

Crew 1 (pilot)

Decks 1 (1 square for vehicle control, 1 square for propulsion, 2 squares for passengers/cargo)

For more high flying excitement, check out Clint Staples' Gyrfalcon Heavy Ornithopter for Knight's Marshall of the Commonwealth.