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I was wondering recently, when I looked at this question, what exactly happens to you if you're prone and levitating.

How would levitate behave with prone creatures? If I were to cast levitate on a prone orc and float him 20 feet into the air - would he still be prone?

There's no floor around him that he could be lying on, so regardless of which direction he is facing, he doesn't have solid ground to stand / stabilize himself on - unless the spell would keep him upright, but it doesn't state that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ related: What happens when a flying creature is knocked prone? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 30 '18 at 16:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it necessary to include the raw/rai bit in the question? I think it's confusing and the question is really JUST about "How do levitate and prone interact"? Let the answers handle raw vs rai. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 30 '18 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ RAI is apparently an ambigous term of art. According to the Meta, it can mean "rules as intended by the designers", "rules are intended by the DM", or "rules as interpreted." I personally think it is clear what you are asking, but the Mods will ding you to change it text for clarity of what you are asking. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Jan 30 '18 at 16:36
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If I were to cast levitate on a prone orc and float him 20 feet into the air - would he still be prone? - Yes

Jeremy Crawford has clarified:

You can almost always be knocked prone. About the only time it's physically impossible for you to be knocked prone is when you're affixed to something that keeps you upright.

and further:

Being underwater doesn't stop you from being knocked over. Hovering also doesn't stop you from being knocked over, but hovering does stop you from falling when you're knocked over in the air.

The prone condition does not have a requirement that the creature be on the ground. In fact, even flying creatures (as you correctly said) and swimming creatures can be prone.

The only thing that would prevent a creature from having the prone condition would be a specific effect (from a spell or the like) or from an immunity that would be listed in their stat block.

So barring any of the above immunities, the levitated creature would suffer all of the effects of the prone condition as listed in the PHB.

Flavor

Prone as used in D&D 5e is not what we traditionally think of when we hear the word: lying flat on the ground. Instead it is better to think of prone in D&D as a creature being in a position that is unfamiliar or inconvenient to them thus requiring to right themselves and putting themselves at a disadvantage.

For a levitating creature they may be upside down or tangled up in their stuff or any variety of other circumstances that fits the above.

A good comparison might be how Jeremy Crawford describes a creature knocked prone underwater:

If you're knocked prone underwater, you're subjected to the effects of the prone condition as normal. One way to visualize it is that you're floundering.

"Prone" is a game term first and foremost

It is important to remember that "prone" is a defined game term, with set conditions and effects. Always think of it in that sense even though it carries slightly different connotations in plain English. Some cases of being "prone" don't make sense from a physical perspective when thought about in non-game terms, but that is fine because D&D only uses prone to describe a condition that is imposed on creatures. How that manifests is up to the DM and players to work out.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So in this specific circumstance - perhaps the character is being levitated upside-down or something, making it difficult to cast spells/attack etc (thus the disadvantage) \$\endgroup\$ – Shadow Jan 31 '18 at 2:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shadow Also consider that prone results in disadvantage for a ranged attacker to hit the prone creature. This leads me to imagine prone as not simply upside down in such a case. \$\endgroup\$ – Luke Jan 31 '18 at 5:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Luke, I did consider that when writing it. It's a fair point, but remember that it's just flavour. The effect is defined - the cause? Well, that's up to the narrator I suppose, whether they be DM or player. \$\endgroup\$ – Shadow Jan 31 '18 at 5:16

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