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So in my current game, I am playing as an Air Genasi, which gives me access to the Levitate spell (emphasis mine):

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.

However when I used it, we came to a bit of a clash in interpreting the rule. The way I read it, it says that I can move them 20 feet up or down on my turn. The way the GM read it however, was that it was to a maximum altitude of 20 feet.

If cast on another object, is the maximum altitude of the spell just 20 feet (above a solid surface)? Or is the maximum altitude only limited by the range of the spell (i.e. 60 feet)?

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Levitate's maximum height is only limited by the spell's range

The first sentence in the description of the levitate spell says:

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

But this only describes the initial effect of the spell. You target a creature or object of your choice within range, and it rises up to 20 feet into the air (at your choosing). It says you remain suspended there - but the spell description continues:

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.

This part tells you how the creature can move or be moved during the spell's duration. In particular, the caster can move the target either straight up or straight down as an action, up to 20 feet, as long as the target stays within range.


Rules designer Jeremy Crawford unofficially confirms this interpretation here on Twitter:

Can levitate only rise to a max of 20ft? Or can it go higher? My player says it goes higher?

The levitate spell can raise someone higher than 20 feet.

His answer is quick and short, but this ruling fits with the second paragraph of the spell description.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Range only applies when the spell is cast. You can levitate someone then teleport 10,000 miles away and keep moving them up and down \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M May 31 at 3:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM: ...Except where the spell explicitly says "Otherwise, you can use your action to move the target, which must remain within the spell's range." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 31 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I read that not as a fixed point but as a range from the caster. ie must remain within 120ft from the caster. in the same way that "Mass Fly" has a limit that they must remain within 30 ft of another target effected. Is the reading incorrect? \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Clarke May 31 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConnorClarke: Yes, they have to stay within the spell's range (60 feet from you, unless modified by Heightened Spell or similar) from you. If you move/teleport further away, then I'm not sure if the spell would end immediately, but certainly you wouldn't be able to move them if they're more than 60 feet from you. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 31 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @v2Blast But if you were both transported simultaneously by say a "Dimension Door" spell, then the spell would conceivably still work as if both of you ahd never changed location correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Clarke May 31 at 17:21

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