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I've encountered in several threads how wonderful a spell Solid Fog is. While removing someone from an encounter is a relatively big deal, at first glace, moving out of an area of Solid Fog should take one or two rounds, and you have already wasted this round on casting it.

At best you can put it straight ahead of a creature to create four squares of effect between said creature and yourself. Then, given the "target" doesn't have some escape method, it should be able to move two squares towards you before having to end its turn. On the next turn it moves again, and now there is a single square of effect between the two of you, allowing the target creature to cast a spell on you (or attack you with a ranged attack, which is probably less problematic).

But I've noticed that there seems to be a consensus (or at least more or less of one) that a creature may only move 5 feet a round while in an area of Solid Fog. While I could assume that’s an application of The Move 5 Feet Through Difficult Terrain rule, I actually don't see why it should be the case. Having a move speed of 5 feet allows a creature to move 5 feet as a move action. Also, there are effects, like Entangle and Web spells, which specifically say the target must use a full-round action to move, and Solid Fog is not one of them.

So, am I wrong that a creature caught in an area of Solid Fog may move 5 feet twice? If yes, could you explain why?

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It's assumed, because that is the text of the spell:

This spell functions like fog cloud, but in addition to obscuring sight, the solid fog is so thick that any creature attempting to move through it progresses at a speed of 5 feet, regardless of its normal speed, and it takes a –2 penalty on all melee attack and melee damage rolls. The vapors prevent effective ranged weapon attacks (except for magic rays and the like). A creature or object that falls into solid fog is slowed, so that each 10 feet of vapor that it passes through reduces falling damage by 1d6. A creature can’t take a 5-foot step while in solid fog.

However, unlike normal fog, only a severe wind (31+ mph) disperses these vapors, and it does so in 1 round.

So no, a creature caught in a solid fog may not move 5 feet twice, unless the DM allows it as there is no specific RAW preventing a double move in the spell (As pointed out by Hey I Can Chan, see below). And yes, while they can move out of it in two turns, that is two turns that they are effectively hampered and out of the fight, or if you have clustered enemies, everyone caught in the cloud area is hampered. It's a control tactic for the most part, or can be used to effectively divide the battlefield as well.

Added clarification courtesy of @Hey I Can Chan from the comment thread:

A creature in a solid fog effect that takes a move action to move up to its speed spends that move action traveling 5 ft. Likewise, it seems that a creature in a solid fog effect that takes a double move to move up to twice its speed spends that double move also traveling 5 ft.—unless the DM rules that the creature's "attempting to move through" the effect twice, in which case it'd be 10 ft. – Hey I Can Chan

And:

Yeah, although the tendency is to see two move actions taken in a turn as discrete actions (as I often do, too!), taking two move actions in a turn still doesn't actually increase a creature's speed, and the cumulative distance can be intertwined (e.g. a creature could spend the last 5 ft. of its first move action on its turn and the first 5 ft. of its its second move action on its turn to travel its second 5 ft. diagonal). The original printing of the Player's Handbook (2000) is a little bit clearer on this point, but I totally agree it's a fuzzy, fuzzy thing. – Hey I Can Chan

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnP The rule doesn't say the speed drops, just that "any creature [...] progresses at a speed of 5 feet". In theory that could mean your speed may actually increase, if some other condition or effect has reduced your movement speed to something below 5 feet. In that case the rules say that being in the Solid Fog actually makes you faster. :) \$\endgroup\$ – aroth Oct 29 '19 at 2:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Now, after rereading this answer several times, I see that I accepted our exchange in a hurry. It actually doesn't answer my initial question (why creature's speed suddenly becomes distance traveled in a round under discussed interpretation?). I appologize for being impatient. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Oct 29 '19 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp - Speed = potential movement. Speed of 30' means you can move up to 30' in a round. If your speed drops to 5', then your maximum movement also becomes 5'. You can move 2', act and move 3' for example. But you can't move 5' act and move another 5'. (Unless as Chan says, your DM allows a double move). \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Oct 29 '19 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I invite you to enter a chat. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Oct 29 '19 at 19:05
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In addition to the fact that the spell’s description limits those within to moving 5 feet total, as JohnP’s fine answer explains, there is also the fact that solid fog hinders vision—those within do not necessarily know which way is out. In fact, they almost certainly don’t know the shortest route to outside of the cloud.

There is also the fact that the wizard can include multiple creatures within the cloud. This might give those creatures some hints as to which way is out, but you aren’t trading your turn for an enemy’s 2-3 turns, you are potentially trading your turn for multiple enemies’ 2-3 turns.

Finally, it’s also very important to recognize that 2-3 turns is an entire fight. It might not literally be over, but it will most likely be decided in that much time—so much can happen on a single turn, that by the time you’ve gone through an entire round, one side usually has a decisive advantage—and a second round usually seals the deal. Sometimes you might get to a third meaningful turn, but often not: a lot of times you’re just on clean-up by that point. So when you say that solid fog robs the enemy of 2-3 turns, what you should be thinking is that it robs the enemy of their opportunity to contribute to the encounter. Solid fog can turn one encounter into two encounters of half the size—and two half-size encounters are vastly less threatening than one big encounter.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The other answer is right; this one is better. Largely because it answers all of the question, including the implied “why is this good?” \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Oct 29 '19 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Two tanks and a spell caster is bad. Solid fog the caster or two tanks and you've won already. \$\endgroup\$ – Nelson Oct 29 '19 at 2:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ It may be important that the answer you quoted has changed to effectively opposite conclusion. Maybe you could expand the first part? You may also be interested in our chat exchange for arguments. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Oct 30 '19 at 6:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp That isn’t how I read that answer or the quotes in it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 30 '19 at 11:49

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