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The fly spell says that you have 60 feet of fly movement.

Is there a "default height" for flying?

Can you fly 5 feet off the ground? 10? 20?

In your first turn can you fly 60 feet into the sky?

Can you choose to fly back to the ground while concentrating on the spell?

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The Fly spell grants flying movement. How you use that movement is entirely up to you

The spell Fly grants flying movement:

You touch a willing creature. The target gains a flying speed of 60 feet for the Duration.

Flying movement is described in the Movement and Position section of the basic rules:

Flying creatures enjoy many benefits of mobility, but they must also deal with the danger of falling. If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by the fly spell.

When you have flying movement, you are free to move through the air at any altitude you like.

The only limitation is how far you move. You can move through the air up to your flying movement (which the Fly spell grants 60) at any altitude (or change altitude) so long as you do not exceed 60 feet of movement during a turn.

You may, of course, take the Dash action while flying to move 120 feet in this way. Some classes/races allow you to also Dash as a bonus action, which would increase this to 180 feet. And some affects will reduce your flying movement. (Warding Wind spell creates a 10' radius that is treated as difficult terrain, which would effectively halve the movement of a creature flying through it for that distance).

If you have not moved and are standing on the ground, you may fly up to any height that is less than or equal to your flying movement (ignoring the Dash action).

You continue to fly and may fly back to the ground as long as the spell is affecting you and, crucially, you do not get knocked prone. If the spell ends or you are knocked prone, you immediately fall and, if you are high enough (>10 feet), take damage.

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There is no limit on the height you fly at. It could be 1 foot off the ground or 300 feet. The only real limit is the duration of the spell, by which you better be back on the ground or have some other spell prepared to catch you as you fall.

As for the first round, the rules for flight used to specify that you climb at half the movement rate and descend at twice the movement rate. I can't recall off hand if that still applies in 5e, but if that's the case, in the first round, if you flew straight up, you would end the round at 30' above the ground.

While flying, you can move in any direction. Unlike the flight of a bird, the fly spell itself will keep you aloft and you can change directions at will, including returning to the ground. It's not like a bird's flight where you have to be moving forward or flapping wings to maintain your flight.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding your second paragraph, there are no such special rules for flight in 5e. The only flying rules are here, along with some optional rules about flying creatures and falling in Xanathar's. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 13 at 21:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Ah, good to know. Still pretty new to 5e and haven't had a character use that ability yet. \$\endgroup\$ – BBlake Jun 20 at 13:11
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However high you want to go.

There is no default height. When fly is cast, the target gains a flying speed. Using that flying speed they can use their movement as usual. The subsection on flying movement specifically addresses some issues with flying.

Example

  1. A character casts fly on themselves.

  2. They now have a fly speed of 60.

  3. On that turn, they fly up 5 feet and horizontally 55.

  4. The character is now 5 feet off the ground.

  5. On their next turn, they use all 60 feet of movement to go directly up.

  6. They are now 65 feet above the ground.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically, since diagonals still count as one square, they could move a horizontal distance of 60' while simultaneously moving 60' vertically, ending up 60' high and 60' downrange with one 60' move. I simply point this out because point 3 makes it sound like the 5' of vertical movement is subtracted from the horizontal movement (which it could be if they decided to move at a 90 degree angle for tactical reasons, but doesn't have to be). \$\endgroup\$ – cpcodes Jun 13 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @cpcodes That's only applicable if you're using grid movement, and even then, it's not very clear how the grid extends into three dimensions. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 10 at 14:43

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