The description of the water walk spell says:

This spell grants the ability to move across any liquid surface - such as water, acid, mud, snow, quicksand, or lava - as if it were harmless solid ground (creatures crossing molten lava can still take damage from the heat).

If I cast water walk and then stand on a flowing river, do I get carried along by the current (like a conveyor belt) or not? Can I choose?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello and welcome! You can take the tour for a quick site introduction. This looks like a good question to me. Thank you for participating! \$\endgroup\$
    – Sdjz
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 10:02

3 Answers 3


Up to GM

The spell description states that the player gains the ability to move across the surface "as if it were harmless solid ground", but then directly contradicts the "harmless" part of the statement by listing fire damage from the heat when crossing lava.

This shows that there are exceptions to the typical effect of the spell, and should be determined by the GM as appropriate. In your particular example the GM would choose whether the river carries you away, or if you are able to cross it freely.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Although not explicitly stated they could be referring to the heat radiation that would be emitted from the lava. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Considering what Water Walk protects against (getting stuck in mud, burned by acid, etc.) and what it doesn't (heat from lava), it almost looks like it's intended to make you hover slightly above the surface. Under that interpretation, you'd be dragged along by entrainment of the air above a moving surface but not by friction with the surface itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth That's a possibility. I was looking at it more as a game, so contact with lava = fire damage. I wanted to avoid applying real world physics to the question, as the effects tend to translate poorly in most cases. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells if you were hovering without encountering friction with the surface, wouldn't that produce an effect more like walking on ice or grease? There needs to be some form of friction or anchoring for normal walking to occur. The question (if we're applying real-world physics) is, what frame of reference would the spell anchor you to/against — the surface of the liquid, or just “the world”. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 23:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterChaplin Good point. It is Water Walk, after all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 23:02

Your movement is not affected by the current.

The surface you move across is treated "as if it were harmless solid ground." Since solid ground does not flow beneath you (except during precluded non-harmless events such as avalanches, earthquakes, mudslides, and sinkholes), neither is the river treated as flowing beneath you, so you are not carried along.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be improved by including a rationale that "harmless" somehow precludes movement. Solid things are mobile all the time, carts as an example and one could argue that a cart is harmless unless you were hit at high speeds by it. Consider a conveyor belt as another example... albeit more modern. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 17:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Treating the river as "harmless solid ground" doesn't preclude it carrying you along, since that doesn't harm you. If you stand still on solid ground, your velocity relative to the ground is zero. Why should standing still on the river be any different? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 17:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ The key point was not "harmless" but rather "solid." Revised to clarify that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 19:20

Yes, because the water you're standing on still "flows". The spell does not mention changing the behavior of the liquid, so we can assume the flow is unaffected. Things on the surface of the water move with it if they're not anchored, and even though the spell lets you stand on the surface as if it were "solid ground", it's the liquid/"solid ground" that's moving and carrying you along.

Another way to look at it is if you were standing on a long carpet and someone pulled it along the ground, you'd go with it.


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