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I have a question regarding the interaction of the Jumping rules (PHB, p. 182) and the Using Different Speeds rules (PHB, p. 190).  The first paragraph of the rules for long jumping concludes with this sentence:

Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.

My initial thought was to assume "movement" here means walking speed. However it becomes ambiguous when the jumping creature lacks a walking speed, or has multiple movement modes. Is jump distance meant to be constrained specifically by walking speed, or can each "foot of movement" be subtracted from other speeds?

I see three possible interpretations:

  1. Jump distance is subtracted from your walking speed only.
  2. Jump distance is subtracted from one of your speeds (but not necessarily your walking speed).
  3. Jump distance is subtracted from all of your speeds simultaneously.

Option 1 results in a world in which many aquatic creatures cannot jump at all, so I don't think it makes sense.  I think option 2 makes the most sense, but also leads to some odd results at the extremes.  Option 3 has the same problems as option 1, and also is problematic because it essentially double-counts the jump distance against every speed.

As an example: a dolphin has a Strength score of 14, a speed of 0 feet, and a swim speed of 60 feet.  Could a dolphin swim 10 feet to get a "running start" before jumping 14 feet horizontally out of the water and through the air (subtracting this distance from its swimming speed)?  I would presume that dolphins can use their swimming speed instead of walking speed for jump distance, because the alternative would be that dolphins cannot jump at all (as they would be constrained to a distance of 0 feet by their walking speed).

Now, let's complicate the example by introducing multiple speeds: A giant octopus has a Strength score of 17, a speed of 10 feet, and a swim speed of 60 feet.  I would assume it could jump in a manner similar to the dolphin using only it's swim speed - but what if it were on land?  Could the octopus use its 10 feet of walking speed to get a running start, and then jump 17 feet horizontally (subtracting the distance of the jump from its unused swimming speed)?

Another example involving climbing speed instead:  Can a brown bear (Strength 19, speed 40 feet, climbing speed 30 feet) climb 30 feet up a tree and then jump 10 feet horizontally (subtracting the jump distance from its remaining unused walking speed)?

So, which interpretation is correct? Or is there another interpretation I've missed?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! This is a great first question! Please take the tour when you get the chance. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Jun 4 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure if there is more than one question in here, but it seems like you are asking 1) Can creatures without a walking speed jump and 2)how do some of the specific questions you have work. It may work out better to separate those into separate questions, but they are fairly well related. We do try generally to keep things to one question, but i'm just not sure if these are closely related enough to keep bundled, but my hunch is they aren't. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 4 at 18:21
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The Rules as Written

Speed

All creatures have a walking speed, simply called the monster's speed. Creatures that have no form of ground-based locomotion have a walking speed of 0 feet. Some creatures have one or more of the following additional movement modes.

Jumping

Long Jump. When you make a long jump, you cover a number of feet up to your Strength score if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing long jump, you can leap only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.

High Jump. When you make a high jump, you leap into the air a number of feet equal to 3 + your Strength modifier (minimum of 0 feet) if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing high jump, you can jump only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.

Using Different Speeds:

If you have more than one speed, such as your walking speed and a flying speed, you can switch back and forth between your speeds during your move. Whenever you switch, subtract the distance you've already moved from the new speed. The result determines how much farther you can move. If the result is 0 or less, you can't use the new speed during the current move.

Your third interpretation doesn't work because of this passage. In effect, you total up the movement used before the change and compare it to the new movement type. You don't track each movement individually, just "consumed this turn" and "total possible in current mode".

Strict Interpretation

The first passage doesn't apply to your example creatures, but untyped movement mode (like the Orc statblock's "Speed 30 ft.") is "walking". If a creature has other types of movement, they will be called out by type. Again, it isn't relevant for your examples, but it's important for parsing statblocks.

The Long Jump and High Jump passages actually supports your Interpretation 1 - a creature without a walking speed is clearly not capable of moving "at least 10 feet on foot" and therefore cannot perform a running jump. It may not be realistic, but we're looking strictly at what is written here.

a dolphin has a strength of 14, a speed of 0 feet, and a swim speed of 60 feet. Could a dolphin swim 10 feet to get a "running start" before jumping 14 feet horizontally out of the water and through the air (subtracting this distance from its swimming speed)?

Dolphins are never on foot, because they don't have feet, and don't have a walking speed. A dolphin on land has a speed of zero. It has no movement to spend, and therefore Dolphins cannot jump on land.

The last passage addresses splitting movement types, this covers your octopus example:

A giant octopus has a strength of 17, a speed of 10 feet, and a swim speed of 60 feet. I would assume it could jump in a manner similar to the dolphin using only it's swim speed - but what if it were on land? Could the octopus use its 10 feet of walking speed to get a running start, and then jump 17 feet horizontally (subtracting the distance of the jump from its unused swimming speed)?

If the octopus is on land, it must use walking movement. It has limbs that can serve the same purpose as feet, so we'll give it a pass on that threshold, too. As both types of jump need ten feet of movement before a running jump, an octopus cannot do any sort of running jump - they're out of walking movement after ten feet. That said, an octopus still has a walking speed, Strength 17 allows for a standing long jump of 8.5 feet, or a standing high jump of 3 feet.

Relaxed Interpretation

What D&D's rules are primarily concerned about is useful tactical movement in a combat situation. Anybody who has been to Sea World knows that dolphins most certainly can jump out of the water, and when they're on land they can sort of waddle-wiggle from dry land into the water. Neither of these would be terribly useful in combat, and submarine-launched ground attack war dolphins aren't a thing (as absurdly amusing as the image may be).

As far as water-to-water jumps go, or perhaps jumps out of the water, I would allow a creature that started in the water to use swimming speed to meet the 10-feet pre-move requirement for running leaps, and subtract the jump distance from that swimming speed. What they can do after the jump depends on where the creature lands and what available movement modes it has. This where the last passage comes into play.

  • If the dolphin swims 10 feet, then jumps for 14 feet, it has used 24 feet of movement. If it lands in the water, it can keep going because 60 - 24 = 36, greater than zero. If it lands on the ground, it's done moving because it has to "switch modes" and 0 - 24 is definitely less than zero.
  • If the octopus swims 10 feet, the jumps for 18 feet, it has used 28 feet of movement. Landing in water leaves it with with 32 feet. Landing on the ground also leaves it with less than zero walking movement. It's done moving for the turn, but can walk on its next turn.

Some of that jumping movement would be "over" land, but I would still count it against swimming speed until the creature actually lands.

Going the other direction, a dolphin on land is out of luck. It has no walking movement speed and is pretty well immobilized. The octopus on the other hand could potentially leap an 8.5 foot wall, land in the water, and swim another 51.5 feet (or be dumb, swim 10 feet, jump 18 feet back onto land, and be stuck for the rest of the turn).

This is most similar to your Interpretation #2, but takes Using Different Speeds into account.

As an aside, partially because it's irrelevant to 5E and partially because it was a semi-traumatic experience, the 3.xE-era OGL setting/system Blue Rose had uplifted animals available as player characters. Dolphin was an option, and it could do a full round action (a 3.xE term for "do nothing else the entire round") to move 5' on land. It also had rules for skill checks without appropriate hands, so suffice a phrase that circulated in my playtest group was "No, Flipper! Not the forge!"

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A running jump requires a walking speed.

From the PHB, p182 (emphasis mine):

When you make a long jump, you cover a number of feet up to your Strength score if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing long jump, you can leap only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.

You must move 10 feet using a walking speed before making a long jump. A standing long jump lacks this requirement, and thus, in the absence of any rules suggesting otherwise, can be made regardless of what movement modes you have. High jumps use the same wording and thus work the same way.

So by RAW creatures that are unable to walk due to circumstances of birth or location also cannot make full distance long/high jumps. As a house rule, I would probably allow a creature with a swim speed to use that in place of walking speed for "running" long/high jumps, assuming they started the jump at the surface. It's hard to build up enough momentum to realistically make a "running" long or high jump while climbing, and flying creatures are wasting everyone's time using the jump rules.

Jumping, like other forms of movement, counts against all speeds.

From the PHB, p190 (emphasis mine):

If you If you have more than one speed, such as your walking speed and a flying speed, you can switch back and forth between your speeds during your move. Whenever you switch, subtract the distance you've already moved from the new speed. The result determines how much farther you can move. If the result is 0 or less, you can't use the new speed during the current move.

If you have a climbing speed of 30' and a walking speed of 30', you can move a total of 30 feet during the round, divided up however you choose between walking, climbing, and jumping. If you have a walking speed of 10' and a swimming speed of 60', you could walk 10 feet, switch to your swimming speed, and jump another 50 feet (assuming your Strength score is somehow high enough for a jump that long).

That's the RAW; if you're houseruling to allow swimmers to make a "running" jump I would also house rule that you can't switch speeds during or at the start of a jump.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I struggled with the "on foot" language too. If we take this literally, does this mean that creatures that lack feet (snakes, worms, etc.) cannot jump, despite the fact that they have a "walking" speed? \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Jun 4 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 See the note I added about house ruling that out. By RAW, however, you can switch movement modes at any time during your movement; nothing says you can't do it mid-jump, therefore you can. When you switch speeds you subtract the distance already move from the speed you switched to, so switching has no effect if your speeds are the same. You could, however, switch from a slower speed to a faster speed in mid jump. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Jun 4 at 19:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Anonymous "On foot" and "walking" are basically synonyms in the English language, but in D&D "walking" has been expanded to cover any form of movement along the ground (jumping/flying go over the ground). I think the question of whether snakes and other creatures without feet should be capable of jumping is better handled in another question, as that gets into some pretty ugly RAW/RAI thickets. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Jun 4 at 19:06

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