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Elves have the Trance trait:

Elves don’t need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious, for 4 hours a day. (The Common word for such meditation is "trance.") While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.

Can a Trancing elf move, such as by slowly walking in circles (pacing), without interrupting the Trance?

(The specific reason I’m asking: I have an Elven Speedster character whose concept includes to be “always on the move, lest he dies”, a bit like a shark.)

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Yes, but only up to 1 hour.

Nowhere in the rules does it say that an elf has to remain stationary when they Trance, so it does appear possible (though problematic for avoiding falling prone). However, they are still limited in how long they can walk for.

The rules for Long Rests state

If the rest is interrupted by a period of strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity, the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.

Thanks to Medix2 for this detail:

The Sage Advice Compendium has this for how to address the Elven Trance feature

"[...] A meditating elf otherwise follows all the rules for a long rest; only the duration is changed."

So, since a Trance replaces sleep during a Long Rest, and pacing (walking) is considered strenuous activity, an elf can only do it for up to 1 hour without having to restart their Long Rest.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose that walk=strenuous would also apply for the “Aspect of the moon” invocation, which lets you do “light activity” instead of sleeping ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Gael L
    Nov 2 '19 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL Yes, if something is listed as strenuous activity (or like it), then it isnt eligible for Aspect of the Moon. \$\endgroup\$
    – Journer
    Nov 2 '19 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL Only way I know of is choosing the warforged race (at least the Wayfinder's Guide version), as they dont experience exhaustion due to lack of rest. \$\endgroup\$
    – Journer
    Nov 2 '19 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ constantly on the move -- maybe when you sit "still" you still fidget, bounce your leg, play absentmindedly with something in your hand. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 2 '19 at 23:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Depending on how broken the character concept is, I would just say that by necessity the character has learned how to move slowly in circles while trancing in a way that doesn't interrupt a long rest. If the character concept is broken then this is the perfect excuse to nix it. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 3 '19 at 5:52

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