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Situation: A PC with Extra Attack is standing on a raised platform. Below and slightly to the side is a Wizard NPC floating mid-air under the effects of Fly.

The PC wants to (on their turn) jump off the platform and try to grab onto the Wizard mid-air. Horizontally speaking, the Wizard is within their long jump distance (let's say the straight line path is within the long jump distance as well, although it would be interesting if anything changes if it were not).

They make a grapple check. If they succeed, they have grabbed the Wizard and arrested their fall. If they fail, are they able to make another grapple check due to Extra Attack? Or are they unable to given that they are constantly in motion due to the falling and only got one shot to grab the Wizard, as they arced through the Wizard's space?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The fly spell does not grant hover flight. How is the wizard staying aloft when the pc grapples him/her (so as to arrest their fall). \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 12 '18 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron "If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or is being held aloft by magic, such as the fly spell." So it seems the fly spell and other magical flight/levitation grant effective hover flight, if not literal hover flight. \$\endgroup\$ – Vigil Apr 12 '18 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I should've checked before I commented. You are right, just misremembered \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 12 '18 at 18:15
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RAW: You can get a second grapple attempt if you do it as part of your jump, otherwise it is a DM call

The rules currently assume that a falling creature immediately drops the entire distance to the ground once it starts falling as proven by this statement1:

The rule for falling assumes that a creature immediately drops the entire distance when it falls. (XGE)

Though the rules do not say it, logically the falling must start after your jump concludes or else there would not be a way to jump over even a trivially small crevice. And since you can break up movement however you want, that means that you can act during that movement (the jump) for sure.

If you do not grapple as part of your movement, then, RAW you cannot do it at all. After the jump completes, you fall "immediately" which means no time for any actions.

Rules as fun: There's no harm in allowing it probably

In this case, it seems natural (and potentially PC death avoiding) to allow a second grasping attempt by the fighter to snatch at the hem of the wizard's cloak. As a DM I'd allow it because it doesn't break anything in this instance and makes sense in the fiction, to some extent.

1 - Which appears as a rules clarification in the section for the optional rule for falling in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Apr 12 '18 at 19:57
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There are no rules that govern precisely when you fall

The section on falling in the Player's Handbook says...

A fall from a great height is one of the most common hazards facing an adventurer (PHB)

... and then describes the damage taken from a fall.

As such, ask your GM when the fall starts. Here are a few options

  1. The fall starts as soon as the jump distance is covered, then you don't get any attacks as you immediately fall. In that case, consider jumping past the wizard and making multiple attacks during your movement (mid-jump).

  2. The fall starts at the end of your turn. With this ruling, you will get the full set of attacks.

  3. You get one activity after the jump. This ruling is an extension of the first method, but with some more realism and flexibility. It would result in one grapple chance before falling.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Xanathar's gives some additional optional rules on how to handle falling. But great call on the jump past the wizard to utilize your movement and ability to break that up. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 12 '18 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Xanathars still doesn't say when the fall starts IIRC \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 12 '18 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ related on falling start \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 12 '18 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch yes, once you fall you go up to 500 feet immediately, but what starts the fall. If it's being over a drop, your jump would do nothing. No rules on when, while in the air from a jump, you actually fall. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 12 '18 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, now I understand! \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 12 '18 at 17:04
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As mentioned, there does not appear to be any rules indicating when the fall starts, though it seems pretty clear that the fall is considered instantaneous once it starts.

When does the fall start?

It seems reasonable to assume that it doesn't start in the middle of a jump, or getting across chasms would be impossible as you'd immediately plummet to the bottom the moment your leap carried you over open space. So, this presents a few possibilities that will, of course, be a DM call.

  1. It starts at the end of your move. This makes a good amount of sense as it allows you to complete the jump, potentially clearing pits and chasms. If you don't have a fly speed, then once you complete a jump, you would be forced to end your move. I don't have the rule books, so I can't determine what it says about breaking up a jump like you can other move, but once you start a jump, you are committed - that is, you can't decide to stop mid jump, which could make begin jump-attack-finish jump something that is not a given. Though, see below about using reactions.

  2. Immediately. For reasons mentioned above (clearing pits), this seems unlikely.

  3. At the end of the character's turn. Since move can be broken up, it could be argued that this and number one are functionally the same since you could always choose to move again unless you were completely out of move, so the distinction could be made that move ends when your remaining move is 0, though you might still have remaining actions, making the end of move and the end of turn obviously different. This also overcomes the oddness of being forced to end your move in mid air due to not having a flight speed, falling, then suddenly having move available again once you hit the ground and can again make use of your non-fly movement.

  4. When the character decides. This is probably the easiest to work with. The character doesn't have to wait until the end of his turn to fall, he doesn't have to end his move to fall, he simply falls when it is convenient. If he wants to jump over a pit, he doesn't fall until he has reached the end of his jump and, if his jump is not sufficient to the task, has exhausted all options to try to avoid falling. If there is no help for it, he can decide to fall, then complete both his movement and his turn once he has reached the bottom. The obvious supplement to this rule is that the fall can't be avoided, and so if the creature has not yet chosen to fall when its turn ends, it falls then. This could also allow falling mid jump, so that one could jump to a lower ledge on the far side of a chasm. Optionally, and perhaps advisedly, some actions might need to be declared before the fall begins (or the jump preceding the fall begins) to show preparation and some level of aiming before control was completely ceded to gravity and momentum.

Treating the Fall

Once you decide on when it starts, then you have to decide how to treat the fall itself. The rules say that falling is instant, but really the same can be said of many actions, such as regular move and attacking. Even most spells just have a "duration" of "1 action". We know that a round is roughly 6 seconds, we know that the turns are supposed to be simultaneous, and thus are also roughly 6 seconds, but the length of time that each part of a turn takes is vague. If your character walks from point a to point b, it is effectively treated as instant, and yet other creatures can use their reactions to affect you mid-move. It makes sense that the same would be true of a fall. This is borne out from existing rules such as the Feather Fall spell, or the monk's Slow Fall ability, which allow a reaction to be used to reduce or eliminate damage from a fall (even by a third party in the case of Feather Fall), among other effects (such as changing the speed at which you fall). However, from the rules regarding Opportunity Attacks (PHB p195), you do not provoke OAs when falling, though nothing is said about other reactions, including readied actions, from being prohibited.

So it appears that the falling creature, and other creatures around him, can treat it just as any other type of movement, with the advantage that it does not trigger OAs, and the disadvantage that you have no control over where you end up unless you find some method of stopping the fall (and where you end up very likely comes with some HP loss). But like any other movement, you can take any actions you choose at any point in the movement that you choose, and others can respond to your movement as they would any other form of movement, aside from OAs.

Ruling at my Table

My preference, considering all of the above, is to allow the falling creature to choose when the fall takes place as per option 4. By this interpretation, in your example, the character could then make all of his attacks as he plummeted by the floating wizard (or leapt past him, or landed on him, depending on how he targeted his jump). Again, it may seem unrealistic to take what seems to be a 4-6 second action during what would likely be a half second or so window, but the rules aren't designed to closely model reality, and frequently favor simplicity and flexibility over such realism.

DM Adjudication

As always, the DM can decide on a case by case basis that even the rules as written (or this interpretation of them) create a preposterous result and disallow it, but this particular scenario does not seem to me to warrant such a ruling, though imposing disadvantage to the PC due to not being able to properly brace himself for the attacks, and also making them hastily, would make perfect sense.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mind if i take a crack at editing your format? You have a lot of good ideas that might be easier to parse with some organization. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 12 '18 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Go for it. I'm at work, and so didn't have the time to spend on formatting, intending to address it later, but it'd be a great help if you don't mind. \$\endgroup\$ – cpcodes Apr 12 '18 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand why option B would require that ready actions don't trigger. And especially OAs. Since jumping uses the creature's movement, it should absolutely trigger OAs. I could see the idea that it's an atomic unit of movement for the character (though I wouldn't rule it that way; jumping and hitting something while in the air seems perfectly reasonable) but the idea that nobody can interrupt it with OAs or ready actions seems entirely arbitrary. \$\endgroup\$ – Zeus Apr 12 '18 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a result of categorizing it a forced (or involuntary) movement, which specifically does not trigger OAs. However, upon further research, that may be the only restriction on forced movement. The PHB (p 195) states "You also don't provoke an opportunity attack when you teleport or when someone or something moves you without using your movement, action, or reaction", which seems relevant to falling as something - gravity - moves you without specifically using your move, action, or reaction. This answer further supports that view. \$\endgroup\$ – cpcodes Apr 12 '18 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zeus In fact, I found the entire quoted passage (unfortunately, I don't have my books handy and so couldn't find it before), but it specifically states (again on PHB p. 195) that "For example, you don't provoke an opportunity attack if an explosion hurls you out of a foes reach or if gravity causes you to fall past an enemy." (emphasis mine) So OAs are out, but you do appear to be correct with ready actions, as well as other reactions and effects (such as entering a spells area of effect) triggering normally. I appear to have confused this with 4E, and have corrected the post to match. \$\endgroup\$ – cpcodes Apr 12 '18 at 21:41

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