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The Freedom of Movement spell states this in its description (emphasis mine):

For the duration, the target's movement is unaffected by difficult terrain, and spells and other magical effects can neither reduce the target's speed nor cause the target to be paralyzed or restrained.

A Gibbering Mouther has an ability called Aberrant Ground, which states this (emphasis mine):

The ground in a 10-foot radius around the mouther is doughlike difficult terrain. Each creature that starts its turn in that area must succeed on a DC 10 Strength saving throw or have its speed reduced to 0 until the start of its next turn.

Can the Freedom of Movement spell prevent a Gibbering Mouther's Aberrant Ground trait from reducing a creature's speed to 0 on a failed save if the creature fails its Strength saving throw?

That ability doesn't appear to be magical.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems like the core of this question is are there different types of difficult terrain. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 12 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Or, equivalently, "Does the speed reduction effect here come from the difficult terrain, or by some other means?" \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Sep 12 at 18:29
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Yes, Freedom of Movement counters the Gibbering Mouther ability.

You've already quoted the relevant portion of Freedom of Movement, and the important bit is covered under the qualifiers. I'll emphasize them here:

For the duration, the target's movement is unaffected by difficult terrain, and spells and other magical effects can neither reduce the target's speed nor cause the target to be paralyzed or restrained.

The Gibbering Mouthers ability is either a magical effect or it isn't. Either way Freedom of Movement has it covered. The saving throw is irrelevant because Freedom of Movement doesn't permit the reduction in speed. If the origin of the save is due to the terrain, FoM ignores it. If the reduction in speed is due to a magical effect of the creature, then FoM ignores it.

The only way to reduce a target's speed when they're under the effects of Freedom of Movement are to grapple it, injure it, or prevent it from moving by imposing a condition FoM can't overcome, like casting Sleep to render a target unconscious. None of those situations is prevented by Freedom of Movement.

To dig down a little deeper let's look at the wording on the Mouther's ability:

The ground in a 10-foot radius around the mouther is doughlike difficult terrain. Each creature that starts its turn in that area...

The emphasized bits are the important part. The ability does not state, "Creatures within 10' of the Gibbering Mouther." It clearly states that a creature standing on the difficult terrain has to make the save, clearly linking the terrain to the effect.

This is why FoM is unaffected by Aberrant Ground. You are safe because you are unaffected by the difficult terrain created by the creature. If you have to make a saving throw for standing in that area, then you're being affected by the terrain, something FoM prevents.

I'm also going to point out that 5e is meant to be read as plain English. So an ability called Aberrant Ground is clearly and inextricably linked to some degree on the terrain it's affecting.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem I see is that freedom of movement only prevents the reduction in speed if the effect is due to magic. The abberant ground feature is not stated as being such. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Sep 12 at 6:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ FoM is literally designed to do exactly what it says. If a creature's ability makes the terrain harsh, you ignore it and any saving throws associated with the harsh terrain. That's exactly what the Gibbering Mouther's ability does, it describes it in detail. If you want to reduce somebody's movement to zero with a creature ability, look for something that grapples them like a Roper or Mimic. That isn't bypassed by FoM. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Sep 12 at 11:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ The aberrant find feature might not be stated as magic. But can a non magical effect warp terrain around a creature making it dough like? \$\endgroup\$ – Garret Gang Sep 12 at 16:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GarretGang Don't see why not. It's a physical aspect of the creature. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 12 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GarretGang Keep in mind, 5th edition differentiates between magic and background magic so to speak. A spell like fear is magic. A dragon's ability to cause fear isn't. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Sep 12 at 23:19
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The freedom of movement spell only prevents difficult terrain from affecting our movement. The saving throw happens regardless. The effects of failing the save depend on whether you think the terrain is what forces us to make the save in the first place

The freedom of movement spell states:

For the duration, the target's movement is unaffected by difficult terrain, and spells and other magical effects can neither reduce the target's speed nor cause the target to be paralyzed or restrained.

From that we can conclude what things the spell does:

  1. Difficult terrain does not affect our movement. Note: it does not provide immunity to other effects of difficult terrain, such as changes to our speed, hit points, or anything else.

  2. Spells and magic effects cannot reduce our speed.

  3. Spells and magic effects cannot make us paralyzed nor restrained.

To further support that freedom of movement only applies to the movement affecting effects of difficult terrain: there are also spells like spike growth, which create a damaging area of difficult terrain; freedom of movement will not somehow prevent us from taking damage; it only prevents the area from affecting our movement.

The Gibbering Mouther's Aberrant Ground feature is not magical, so the latter two points do not apply. What the Gibbering Mouther's feature does do is this:

The ground in a 10-foot radius around the mouther is doughlike difficult terrain. Each creature that starts its turn in that area must succeed on a DC 10 Strength saving throw or have its speed reduced to 0 until the start of its next turn.

  1. Ground within a 10-foot radius becomes difficult terrain.

  2. If a creature starts its turn in that area (a 10-foot radius), it must make a saving throw; failing this saving throw makes their speed become 0.

I view these as separate effects. The area is difficult terrain, and a creature that starts its turn in the area must make a saving throw. The feature never says that being immune to the normal effect of difficult terrain makes us automatically succeed on (or not have to make) the saving throw. The feature never says that certain creatures are immune to the save, so any creature that starts its turn in the area will make the saving throw.

The terrain is still considered difficult terrain, and freedom of movement only prevents difficult terrain from affecting our movement. Simply making a saving throw is not affecting our movement so we would make the save no matter what. If we were to fail the save, there are two possibilities:

  1. Failing the save does not count as difficult terrain affecting our movement, instead the Gibbering Mouther or the Aberrant Ground feature itself is affecting our speed; our speed, and thus movement, will both reduce to zero.

  2. Failing the save does count as the difficult terrain affecting our movement through affecting our speed; our speed will reduce to zero but our movement will remain the same. This is a strange, though not inherently impossible, situation.


In the end, we will make the save no matter what as making a save has no effect on our movement and freedom of movement only prevents difficult terrain from affecting our movement, nothing else. That said, what happens when we fail the saving throw depends on whether a GM believes the difficult terrain is what caused us to make the save.

Nothing in the description links the terrain to the save; however, the feature is called "Aberrant Ground" so I can see arguments made both ways.

Personally, I believe the difficult terrain is not forcing us to make the save; the two effects of Aberrant Ground are separate, neither relies upon the other. The creature makes nearby terrain difficult and forces nearby creatures to make a saving throw. Additionally, nothing says that the terrain itself is forcing us to make the saving throw. This also prevents the odd scenario of having full movement but zero speed. And finally the two effects of Aberrant Ground occur at different times, difficult terrain is always difficult, but our speed can only be reduced at the start of our turn. This leads me to believe the effects are entirely separate and that the difficult terrain is not what causes us to make the saving throw.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 13 at 10:18
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Freedom of Movement will stop a creature from having its speed reduced.

It specifically says in Freedom of Movement that the target is unaffected by difficult terrain, and the Aberrant Ground ability specifically describes its effect as "doughlike difficult terrain", therefore Freedom of Movement allows the target to move freely through that area.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not concerned about the difficult terrain movement. I'm asking if the saving throw to drop the creature's speed to 0 will be prevented by freedom of movement. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Sep 12 at 1:07
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Yes, because it's difficult terrain.

The question of whether Aberrant Ground is "magical" aside, what it does is make difficult terrain. Usually, difficult terrain only slows your movement, but in this case you can also get stuck in it. Freedom of Movement makes you unaffected by difficult terrain, so you can't get stuck.

One might argue to the contrary that getting stuck is not an effect of the difficult terrain. In response I'd ask, What is causing it, then? The Mouther's ability alters the ground, making it "doughlike". Does it also project some weird force field that occupies the same area as the altered terrain and directly acts on creatures? Occam's Razor would suggest not. We know the ability creates an area of soft ground where a creature could conceivably get stuck, so if creatures get stuck when traversing the area, that's probably why.

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