The description of the earth tremor spell says:

You cause a tremor in the ground within range. Each creature other than you in that area must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone. If the ground in that area is loose earth or stone, it becomes difficult terrain until cleared, with each 5-foot-diameter portion requiring at least 1 minute to clear by hand.

My players argued that the area affected would be the ground, and thus flying or hovering creatures wouldn't be affected by this spell. If it was meant to affect creatures over the ground, it would say 10-ft cube in its range/area description.

Does this interpretation seem right? Or there is something 'more RAW' we've missed that says otherwise?


1 Answer 1


Your players are right

It affects “the ground within range” (10 feet) causing damage to creatures “in that area”. It does not affect the air.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ By that logic, it should only affect burrowing creatures, since it specifies creatures within range. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 2:02
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The characters are in direct contact with the effect, though. Direct as in "the gravity of the world pushes them toward it", as opposed to a character standing near a fireball - the gravity does not push him toward the explosion. \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 2:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you want to get technical on the spell, "You cause a tremor in the ground within range. Each creature other than you in that area". The only effect to people standing on the ground in the area would be the difficult terrain if it happens, it specifically states you must be in the ground to take damage... I think it's quite reasonable for a DM to rule "stuff is happening in the area, everything is effected even if you were hovering just above the ground" \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 11:22
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ "In that area" does not imply "in the ground" in plain English, which is how 5e rules are intended to be interpreted. This answer is very reasonable. One could potentially interpret "in that area" to also cover some air space above the ground (I'd be somewhat inclined to do this in an enclosed area or one with tall structures where debris might be flying through the air), but interpreting it as only "inside the ground"/"underground" is ridiculous. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 13:41
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman: That is not a semantically valid reading of the word "within". It does not mean "in the ground", it means "in the area". What is relevant though is if there's a burrowing depth at which the tremors can be avoided. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flater
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 14:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .