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Some spells, like Gust, can push a target to a specified distance (ex: 5 ft for Gust). Some physical effects, like the Battlemaster pushing attack or the default Shove push, can also push a target.

My question is: can you use such an ability/spell to push yourself ? (ex: to move horizontally when under the effect of a Levitate spell, or when your speed has been reduced to 0)

The key part often is "away from you", which could potentially be interpreted as "away from your initial position".

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I have actually thought of this before, not for the sake of Levitate, but just to use certain things in this manner.

  1. First off, we have Thunderwave. A caster can include themselves in the area of a spell voluntarily (PHB 204-205, descriptions of each AoE shape). Thus, I have merrily Thunderwave-ed myself in painful attempts to propel myself 10 ft.
  2. With a similar line of thought, we have Gust of Wind.

Mundane options are pretty straight-forward: reach a solid surface or object.

  1. To that end, the first thing that comes to my mind is: a 10 ft Pole, ever useful. Place it between yourself and that which you wish to move away from, and push. Think Gondola.
  2. On the other hand, you can get yourself a Grappling Hook and some rope. Toss the hook and pull.
  3. Get someone/something else to Grapple you and pull/push you where you need to go.

Keep in mind:

  1. You are probably still going to provoke Opportunity Attacks. This is still pretty much voluntary movement, since you're going out of your way to move even with special means. If you are a player, ask your DM about the consequences of whatever options you explore.
  2. You cannot opt to fail a saving throw, even to your own effects. Per this answer, according to RAW you cannot. As that answer mentions, the designers said they'd be fine with a house-rule allowing it, but you'll still have to talk to your DM about it for good measure.
  3. You probably aren't going to increase your movement via the non-magical means. If your speed has been reduced to 0, for example, you would need to talk to your DM to see what, if anything, you can do with these.
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You need a fixed object or surface from which to physically push

Levitate (PHB, 255) requires that:

The target can move only by pushing or pulling against a fixed object or surface within reach (such as a wall or a ceiling)

Sadly, you can't locomote yourself, you need something physical to push/pull in order to move. But there are options:

Creating a fixed object or surface

With none available, you could create one using a spell like Wall of Stone/Force/Ice that could then be used as a point to push or pull off of. However, you'd need to work with someone on that as those are all concentration spells.

Some other magic items may work as well such as Nolzur's Marvelous Pigments (DMG 183) could make a surface.

A much simpler item would be an immovable rod (DMG 175). Activate and push/pull.

Non-magical options

I haven't been able to find any non-magical options that would create a fixed object or surface. Unfortunately, magic is your only option to create a fixed option where there was none before.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So your answer to my specific question is "No, you cannot push yourself away from yourself", correct ? (by the way, thanks for the immovable rope, I hadn't thought about it, very clever !) \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Jan 2 '18 at 21:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, yes and no @GaelL. You can, you just need a fixed object or surface to do it :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 2 '18 at 21:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Very good. I'll wait a bit then accept your (valid) answer if no other answer competes with it. \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Jan 2 '18 at 21:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ You cannot push yourself with gust and the like, even with the help of a surface, in this form your answer is misleading IMHO. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Jan 2 '18 at 21:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Notably these would also be voluntary rather than forced movement, with all the opportunity attack implications of the difference. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 3 '18 at 0:32
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If there is a target within reach, succeeding on a Shove attack, or the Battlemaster's Push, I would say would enable the levitating character to move laterally (indeed, that's probably the result I'd say happened, whether he wanted to move or not). Tossing a grappling hook at something and then pulling himself by the rope would also work.

Gust only blows away from the caster, so I would not let a character move himself that way (although of course if someone else cast it, they could fly him like a kite). Likewise, Thunderwave, Repelling Blast, Thorn Whip, and similar spells and effects do not have "an equal and opposite reaction" and would also not be effective at self-propulsion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What is the target of your push/shove attack? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 3 '18 at 3:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ An opponent within your reach, just as normal. You can't do either if there's nobody within reach, obviously. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Jan 3 '18 at 4:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thunderwave/etc don't have an explicit kickback, but you can choose to aim a thunderwave/etc at yourself, within the limits given in the targeting rules. There's maybe a question of what "pushes ... away from you" would mean in the context of pushing yourself, but it's honestly not a real difficult question to resolve since the action of the scene is pretty obvious. I mean, yeah, it'll hurt, and you can't intentionally fail a save (outside of house-rules) so it isn't guaranteed, but it's an option. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jan 3 '18 at 15:22

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