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One of my players suggested using the levitate spell as a weapon in our last session.

Following his logic, he’ll levitate an enemy 20 feet up and then slam it into a wall or the ground or keep pushing him up and then slam it for a “falling” damage of X feet.

I’m uncertain whether the spell can be used that way as the speed you move a target is not specified. If the levitate move action imprints an acceleration equal to gravity then the action can be considered an attack.

Can levitate be used on this way?

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TLDR: While levitating, a creature is not falling, therefore the rules for falling damage cannot be applied.

To answer your question, lets look at the rules for the two things involved here: Levitate and falling

Levitate (PHB 255)

One creature or object of your choice that you can see within range rises vertically, up to 20 feet, and remains suspended there for the duration. The spell can levitate a target that weighs up to 500 pounds. An unwilling creature that succeeds on a Constitution saving throw is unaffected.

The target can move only by pushing or pulling against a fixed object or surface within reach (such as a wall or a ceiling), which allows it to move as if it were climbing. You can change the target’s altitude by up to 20 feet in either direction on your turn. If you are the target, you can move up or down as part of your move. Otherwise, you can use your action to move the target, which must remain within the spell’s range. When the spell ends, the target floats gently to the ground if it is still aloft.

First partial problem with the idea is that slamming the target into walls doesn't work, because the caster can only change altitude.

Falling (PHB 183)

A fall from a great height is one of the most common hazards facing an adventurer. At the end of a fall, a creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it fell, to a maximum of 20d6. The creature lands prone, unless it avoids taking damage from the fall.

Here is the big problem. Nothing in the description of falling says anything about acceleration, or gravity, or the like.

Instead, it says "At the end of a fall". While a fall is a change in altitude, a change is altitude is not necessarily a fall.

I would rule that while the levitate spell is active, no fall is taking place, and so no falling damage can occur.

Obligatory: 5e is not a physics simulator.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ “You can use your acción to move the target”. You can, therefore move them OR change their altitude. \$\endgroup\$ – Jorge Córdoba May 24 at 7:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JorgeCórdoba The movement you can do refers to the target's altitude change that was just described. That sentence is talking about using your action, to facilitate the movement, not describing an additional option. See Jeremy Crawford's tweet: sageadvice.eu/2017/01/27/… \$\endgroup\$ – Willem Renzema May 24 at 7:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ That’s weird. I would have thought that by saying “otherwise” it meant... well, otherwise... :) \$\endgroup\$ – Jorge Córdoba May 24 at 8:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JorgeCórdoba In this case, the "Otherwise" is used in relation to the "If you are the target...", and describes which part of your turn (Action, Bonus Acton, Reaction, or Movement) is consumed to change the target's altitude. So, those sentences are meant to be read as "If you are the target, you use your movement, otherwise (if another creature is the target), you use your action." \$\endgroup\$ – Willem Renzema May 24 at 9:11
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No

The relevant parts of levitate are:

One creature or object of your choice that you can see within range rises vertically, up to 20 feet, and remains suspended there for the duration.

You can change the target's altitude by up to 20 feet in either direction on your turn.

When the spell ends, the target floats gently to the ground if it is still aloft.

It’s remarkably silent about slamming or dropping people for damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Remarkably, or unremarkably? :D \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 24 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch sarcasm or not sarcasm (by me) :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M May 24 at 21:58
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No, but the wording is ambiguous

You cannot use Levitate to move a creature in any direction other than up & down. Slamming them into a wall isn't one of the capabilities of this spell, that is something even Telekinesis cannot do.

And while the wording is somewhat ambiguous, you're also unable to drop them to the ground, only change their altitude, as per the description of the spell:

You can change the target’s altitude by up to 20 feet in either direction on your turn.

You're also unable to raise them up to a height then drop them by cancelling the spell - as described here:

When the spell ends, the target floats gently to the ground if it is still aloft.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 24 at 8:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Short and sweet, and answers the question. I'm pretty sure this spell was specifically designed to be a non-damaging spell (hence the floating gently to the ground bit, and only being able to adjust altitude). Of course it has utility of taking combatants out of play (enemy barbarian? float him into the air and watch him flail futilely trying to get close enough to smack you; meanwhile your allies take care of the remaining threats, then form a welcoming party below him as you end the spell) \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J May 24 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DoktorJ short? \$\endgroup\$ – András May 24 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @András "Short and sweet, and answers the question" refers to Whambulance's answer. Myself, I have a tendency toward verbosity... (my comment is almost as long as the answer, LOL) but I tend to not talk about myself and my writings unless asked :) \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J May 24 at 19:56

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