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I have seen it happen at numerous tables: there's a corpse on the ground, and the DM says that the space in which it lies is difficult terrain. As far as I know there is no rule explicitly requiring this, and it is just a DM judgment call. Am I missing something?

Per PHB p. 190, a creature's space is difficult terrain -- but we know that a corpse is not a creature.

The same page lists examples of environment features that might give rise to difficult terrain: "[l]ow furniture, rubble, undergrowth, steep stairs, snow, and shallow bogs...." A corpse arguably might present the same general sort of obstacle as low furniture, so a DM could choose to riff on that. But it is a choice, not strictly a requirement. Correct?

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    \$\begingroup\$ (It's cool if you want to confirm your understanding of a rule. Go ahead and put it all out there and let folks confirm or deny. However, if you want a straight-up answer to your question, it's usually best to omit your own opinions on what the answer may be, saving that for your own self-answer to the question if no answers take the stance you seek.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 10 '18 at 3:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough, thanks. I am indeed looking to confirm my own understanding of a rule. \$\endgroup\$ – screamline Jun 10 '18 at 3:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ If they were a good friend, then yes, it would be a difficult emotional terrain to get past \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 10 '18 at 4:41
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Unconscious enemies are difficult terrain

Jeremy Crawford points this out here:

What about unconscious enemies? Would that be a difficult terrain, at least?

The space of another creature is always difficult terrain (PH, 190). Many DMs let people walk over the unconscious.

No official rule on corpses

Jeremy Crawford states his own ruling as a DM here:

Do corpses left over from dead creatures create difficult terrain for the purposes of movement in combat?

As DM, I treat corpses as difficult terrain.

The fact that he's responding in terms of how he rules it as a DM suggests that there is no official rule on whether corpses - which are no longer creatures, as you point out - are difficult terrain. One could logically rule that being dead doesn't keep them from making it a little more difficult to walk over/around them.

In practice, many DMs don't treat them as difficult terrain

In all the games I've been in as a player, and the few games I've DMed (in person), it has almost never been ruled that the creature's corpse creates difficult terrain. The only exception to this experience has been with particularly sizable creatures, such as the Fire Giant Dreadnought, a Huge creature from Volo's Guide to Monsters.

All in all, the fact that there's a gap in the rules means that the DM is free to make their own ruling. (To be fair, they could still rule otherwise even if there were an official rule, but in this case they can do so and still abide by the rules as written.)

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Difficult terrain due to a corpse is not an official rule.

While it is impossible to prove a negative, there is no published rule stating that a corpse constitutes an obstacle for purposes of causing a space to count as difficult terrain. Since a corpse is not a creature, and since there is no general rule that the presence of an object in a space forces it to count as difficult terrain, there is no explicit rule to cover the situation.

It's entirely reasonable for a DM to adjudicate that the space of the corpse is difficult terrain, and in my experience it's common*, but it's a ruling the DM makes using their own judgment, not a rule for the game.

(*Typically at my table, if we leave the miniature for a dead creature on the grid, we see it as an obstacle and count it as difficult terrain. If we immediately remove the miniature when a creature dies, we see no obstacle and we don't count it as difficult terrain.)

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