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How much movement would a wood elf have left if they spent half of their 35 feet of movement standing up from being prone?

Do they still have 15 feet of movement remaining? Or do they have 20 feet left?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 12 at 22:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm sad the title wasn't "How much move would a wood elf have if a wood elf had half move?" \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Pederick Apr 13 at 6:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ The overarching question may also be relevant to non-wood elves, such as Small characters with a speed of 25 feet, or monks or characters with other features that cause their speed to not be a multiple of 10. Since the issue isn't really specific to wood elves in any way, just a result of them having an overall speed that's not a multiple of 10, you may want to edit the question/title accordingly and simply use wood elves as an example in the body of the post. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 13 at 7:06
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35 divided by 2 equals 17.5

Nowhere in the rules does it state that movement has to be an integer multiple of 5 feet. There is nothing wrong with moving 17.5 feet, i.e. 17' 6".

But 7 divided by 2, rounded down, equals 3

The problem only comes in when you play on a grid. The variant rules for playing on a grid are found on page 192 of the PHB, and they state:

Rather than moving foot by foot, move square by square on the grid. This means you use your speed in 5 foot segments.

Hence, 35 feet correspond to 7 squares. 7 divided by 2 equals 3.5, but half squares are not accounted for in these variant rules. Therefore, you will have to round. By default, you always round down, unless a specific rule says differently. Hence, standing up from prone costs 3 squares of movement, leaving you with 4 squares of movement for your turn.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When standing from prone, were calculating the cost to stand, not the amount of movement remaining. So your math is right, but the result is the cost to stand (3 squares). \$\endgroup\$ – lucasvw Apr 12 at 13:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not clear to me that this answer is true- namely, I don't see why we must convert "movement speed" to "how many squares we can move" at the time of standing up. Is there a reason it would not be valid to say "We start at 35 feet of movement, we expend half (17) to stand up, and we now have 18 left. I can then expend movement in segments of 5 feet, which allows me to move 3 squares before I no longer have enough movement to go any further. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcosa Apr 12 at 22:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or, put another way- it's not clear from the rule cited that all speed is used in 5 foot segments, vs "when moving, you expend speed in 5 ft segments". \$\endgroup\$ – Carcosa Apr 12 at 22:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcosa That's a good point. I used to think that when you use a grid, you entirely switch to using squares for measurement instead of feet. This was the assumption under which I wrote this answer, and it is vaguely supported by the following quote from the rules for playing on a grid: "If you use a grid often, consider writing your speed in squares on your character sheet." \$\endgroup\$ – Mars Plastic Apr 12 at 22:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ One thing I would like to point out that this answer seems to overlook by defaulting to the "round down" rule which backs up this answer is that to enter a square you must have at least one full square of movement left. (two if it's difficult terrain). See the same variant rules you mentioned: "Entering a Square. To enter a square, you must have at least 1 square of movement left, even if the square is diagonally adjacent to the square you’re in." \$\endgroup\$ – Himitsu_no_Yami Apr 13 at 15:53
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You would have 3 squares remaining

The "Variant: Playing on a Grid" sidebar says of speed/movement (PHB, p.192):

Rather than moving foot by foot, move square by square on the grid. This means you use your speed in 5-foot segments.

The rules for moving on a grid only provide guidance for how the player expends their speed, and does not say that all movement distances/requirements/penalties must be phrased in units of 5 feet (1 square).1 The relevant passage also recommends that players translate their speed into squares for convenience, but certainly does not mandate that all distances and movement be expressed in squares.

Therefore: A wood elf has a speed of 35 feet. They are prone, and would need to expend half that speed to stand up, which is 17.5 feet. (Possibly rounded down to 17.)

There are two ways to interpret this, both of which give (basically) the same answer. The first is that the "5 feet rule" applies to *all expenditure of movement", in which case the elf must expend 20 feet of movement to stand up, resulting in 15 feet remaining. (3 squares.)

Alternatively, the above rule only applies to moving around, not other expenditures of movement. Therefore, the elf may expend 17.5 (or 17) feet of movement to stand up, resulting in 17.5 (or 18) feet of movement remaining, which translates into 3 squares.

The distinction does matter in edge cases, (for example, if the elf immediately falls prone again after standing up), but the rules are ambiguous on which case is correct, so I won't make an argument for either over the other (considering how trivial the stakes are.)


1 If you don't see this, consider: An object is 17.5 feet away from a PC. A player cannot just claim that the distance gets rounded down to 15 feet; rather, they must expend a full 20 feet of movement to reach it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may also want to reference the sentences following the ones you quoted: "This is particularly easy if you translate your speed into squares by dividing the speed by 5. For example, a speed of 30 feet translates into a speed of 6 squares. If you use a grid often, consider writing your speed in squares on your character sheet." Some might argue that this means that "all movement [...] must be phrased in units of 5 feet" - but I think this actually further reinforces that converting "feet" to "squares" is simply something a player/DM can do for simplicity, and not an actual universal rule. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 12 at 22:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think additional support for this answer is the section under playing on a grid that states "Entering a Square. To enter a square, you must have at least 1 square of movement left." This indicates that although movement happens in squares, movement is still tracked foot by foot \$\endgroup\$ – lucasvw Apr 13 at 0:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @lucasvw Why do you think so? This quote explicitly measures movement only in squares. I actually think it supports the opposite of your claim. \$\endgroup\$ – Mars Plastic Apr 13 at 10:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarsPlastic I interpret this the same way as lucasvw - "you must have at least 1 square of movement left" seems to imply that movement can be tracked in units smaller than one square (whether you call these feet or fractions of squares). Otherwise, adding this statement makes little sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Drubbels Apr 13 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Drubbels 0 squares is also less than 1 square, so this statement still makes sense when measuring only in squares. But I am starting to see your point - the statement would indeed sound a bit odd if this were the only case it was supposed to cover. \$\endgroup\$ – Mars Plastic Apr 13 at 20:46

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