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The levitate spell description states:

One creature or object you can see rises vertically, up to 20 feet, and remains suspended for the duration. The spell can levitate up to 500 pounds. An unwilling creature that succeeds on a Constitution save is unaffected.

The target can move only by pushing or pulling against a fixed surface, which allows it to move as if it were climbing. It can also move up or down as part of its movement. You can change the target's altitude by up to 20 feet on your turn. Otherwise, you can use your action to move the target, but only within the spell's range.

What happens to a flying creature if levitated?

It sounds like the targeted levitating creature would need to push/pull a fixed surface to move, but this doesn't make sense to me for a creature that is already flying.

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Flying creature that fails the save stops flying and begins levitating

tl;dr spell does what it says it does.

Spells do what they say they do

Q&A about spells doing what they say they do

From the Levitate spell description it sounds like it would need to push/pull a fixed surface but this doesnt make sense for a creature that is already flying.

For rules as written, it doesn't need to make sense in a physics sort of way. It's magic. Seems like a clever use of levitate is to stop a flying creature from being able to fly. The magic does what it says it does.

Specific beats general

Basic rules intro on specific beats general.

Magic accounts for most of the major exceptions to the rules.

The specific description of the spell beats the general fly speed movement.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not that it matters, because Mearls isn't official, but he does disagree. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 17 '18 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch If the spell didn't involve a save and was just on a willing creature, I would be inclined to agree. However specific beats general, and the content of levitate seems more specific than the general fly speed. \$\endgroup\$ – GcL Jul 17 '18 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with you, just wanted to provide Mearls' input as well to sow confusion...muahahahaahahahaha. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 17 '18 at 14:43
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100% RAW

I would agree that

The target can move only by pushing or pulling against a fixed surface, which allows it to move as if it were climbing.

means that the target can no longer fly and can only move using fixed surfaces.

My interpretation

I would personally rule that the target can still fly because they are using some force to move, either pushing the air or with magic, just as they would do if they pushed off a solid surface.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Feb 6 at 3:12

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