25
\$\begingroup\$

I couldn't find an answer to this in my reading of the source books nor on Stack Exchange.

My players were engaged in an encounter in which enemies were able to manipulate air to "gust" them off a cliff. They did recognize that they needed to stay away from the edges but started to lose the battle because of pretty sour rolls. They decided they would leap from the cliff knowing that the sorcerer had the feather fall spell.

The description of the feather fall spell states (emphasis mine):

Choose up to five falling creatures within range. A falling creature’s rate of descent slows to 60 feet per round until the spell ends. If the creature lands before the spell ends, it takes no falling damage and can land on its feet, and the spell ends for that creature.

Because of this targeting restriction, the spell could not be cast unless someone was already falling. As this takes a reaction, there seems to be no way to (prophylactically or otherwise) have the group under the spell if they all decided to jump in the same round of combat. In fact, it seems like it would take 5 castings (party of 5) over a series of 4 or 5 rounds to effect this strategy (with the sorcerer going last), which meant certain doom.

I decided to call the session (it was time) to give me a little time to investigate this, but I basically told them there was no way I could see saving the party via feather fall. They were quite dejected considering they/he thought that feather fall could be cast as a proactive spell so that they could all jump safely on their own turn.

Can I confidently confirm that I have interpreted this right, whether RAW or RAI? Is there no way to have a single casting of feather fall affect the whole party if they jump off a cliff during combat?

\$\endgroup\$
0
50
\$\begingroup\$

I ready my movement until Sorcerer's turn to walk off the cliff.

You are correct to observe that feather fall can be tricky to coordinate during the heat of battle, and that without proper coordination, it would indeed take several castings across multiple rounds. But there is an easy way around this: Ready.

The Ready action is described in the Actions in Combat section of the PHB:

Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn.

First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it.

If everyone in the party has the clarity of thought to use the Ready action to use their movement come the Sorcerer's turn, we can all wait till the Sorcerer's turn and jump at the same time, and fall peacefully to the bottom, thanks to the Sorcerer's feather fall.

But of course, Ready comes at the cost of your action and your reaction. You spend you turn's action using Ready, and you're committing your reaction for the plan to work. And a note for the DM - there is always the possibility of enemies complicating this plan with things like grappling.

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Sep 8 '20 at 18:09
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ In this situation I would allow my players to ready there movement but still allow actions, this gives a great cinematic vision of players holding a line waiting until the last moment to all move at the same time but is also far more realistic in terms of how you would act in real life. \$\endgroup\$ – Richard C Sep 9 '20 at 21:10
59
\$\begingroup\$

If your whole party jumps off a cliff combat has ended

There is the unlikely scenario where the enemy jump after them, but as soon as the party declare their intention to jump off a cliff and feather fall to a safe landing you can immediately drop initiative and just narrate what happens afterwards; "you all jump off the cliff and the wizard casts feather fall to slow your landing, the lemmings giving chase fail to realise this and all follow you over. By the time you reach the ground it is so thick with lemming corpses you could probably have had a safe landing even without the spell".

This completely avoids the scenario where your players have to stand on a cliff readying actions, which is basically a mechanically horrible way to fudge the flaws of combat to allow the players to do something they should easily be able to co-ordinate.

Don't let the rules of the game bog you down, once the method of ending combat has been decided, just narrate it and get the players back to something interesting. Best will in the world having 5 players say 'I hold my turn to jump off the cliff' is not fun, and doesn't need you to run the full combat round to get there.

\$\endgroup\$
8
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ I quite like this solution. For me, a solution like this very much reinforces the idea that the game is not “DM vs Players”. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Sep 8 '20 at 23:36
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Would you accept this as an outcome if the enemy did it? "All five of them jump off the cliff to safety. No, you don't get a chance to grapple them. No, you can't counterspell their feather fall. They just escape, end of story." \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Sep 9 '20 at 3:54
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells I guess a caveat to the rule might be ‘if the enemy can still do something to you it doesn’t apply’, but always story > mechanics; SeriousBri says ‘don’t let the rules of the game bog you down’ for a reason. \$\endgroup\$ – Fivesideddice Sep 9 '20 at 6:12
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @markwells 100% I would, as soon as the outcome of a fight becomes obvious I look to wrap up the mechanical aspects and get back to moving the story along. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Sep 9 '20 at 8:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells I would the first time it happened, because it is so unexpected. The next time the party fights that particular enemy, you bet I would looking to prevent it from happening again. And, in the OP's scenario, I would expect also expect complications the second time the party did this. But the first time? Points for clever and surprising. \$\endgroup\$ – aherocalledFrog Sep 9 '20 at 14:54
25
\$\begingroup\$

You are basically correct but it's not a problem for this plan.

Feather Fall can only target creatures that are already falling. It's clear about that.

But they can all go to the ledge and say "Now we all jump off and I cast Feather Fall", right? If you weren't running on combat turns, that would be sufficient. You're not going to go around the table asking what order they jump off.

In terms of the turn-based mechanics, the way to represent this is for everyone except the sorcerer to go to the edge of the cliff, and ready an action to jump off when the sorcerer jumps. Then the sorcerer jumps, they all use their reactions to jump, and the sorcerer casts Feather Fall on the whole group. (In general, any time you have a plan that involves coordinating the timing of your actions, you should think "readied actions".)

It's not necessarily obvious that this is the way to use the mechanics to get what they want. In the play style I'm accustomed to, the players' job is to decide what their characters will try to do, and if they need help representing that in the mechanics, the DM should provide that help. (Note that you are still using the mechanics--you're not fudging and saying "OK, sure, you can all take your turn at the same time". For example, they could get attacked between readying their actions and actually jumping. This is a reasonable consequence of trying this plan.) Since you are asking here, I assume you're following a play style similar to that.

\$\endgroup\$
4
\$\begingroup\$

Of course this spell will work on the entire group. This is exactly what this spell is for.

It says so in the description: up to five creatures. To deny them that is to violate the intent of this spell.

Sure, by a strict turn-based board/computer game interpretation, everybody who jumps off the cliff would plummet to their death until it's the next player's turn, but that's a stupid interpretation of the rules that violates the intent of this spell. The entire reason RPGs have a GM, is to have someone who can say: yes, this works. Of course it works. It's meant to work.

Focusing on the turn-based abstraction of combat and letting that override roleplay opportunities means you're turning the game into a boardgame. It's not. This should work, because it's what the spell is for. Feather Fall would be a pointless spell if it didn't work.

If you really insist on sticking to the turn-based straight-jacket of the combat rules, I suppose you could let everybody delay their action or ready an action until everybody is ready to jump, but in my opinion, even that is missing the point of the game. The turn-based mechanics of combat isn't what the game is about; they're an abstraction to help you manage combat as part of a larger overarching story. Don't let the game mechanical abstractions overrule the roleplaying opportunities. It's not chess, it's a roleplaying game. You can do whatever you can imagine, not merely what's specified by the rules.

\$\endgroup\$
4
\$\begingroup\$

Under Actions in Combat: Ready:

First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it.

the group could use their reactions to move up to their speed, towards and off the cliff on the same turn as the sorcerer, allowing the player to cast feather fall, targeting everyone.

\$\endgroup\$
4
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ The Ready action does not forgo your action and movement, it is an action which you can take on your turn before or after moving. \$\endgroup\$ – smbailey Sep 9 '20 at 15:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ smbailey is correct, and just to add to that, the "or move your speed" is designed to cover for a slight glitch in the Ready action where you could in theory Ready to take the Dash action as a reaction, but then you can't actually make use of it because Dash only increases your speed for this turn and you can't normally move out of turn. So Ready provides you with the alternative of just moving your speed out of turn, so you'd move the same total distance as if you'd Dashed on your turn, but half the movement happens as a reaction. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Sep 9 '20 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ That wasn't the best way to word it, but I meant it as "the thing you want to do, but you do it on someone else's turn, not now/on your turn \$\endgroup\$ – Aaron Sep 10 '20 at 7:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The key point of the comments is that you don't need to already be within 1 move-speed of the cliff edge at the start of your turn. You can move toward the cliff edge on your turn, and use your Action to Ready a move / jump. You don't need to forgo your movement, only your Action, to Ready something. (Or one of your actions, if hasted and/or using action surge.) \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Sep 10 '20 at 19:09
1
\$\begingroup\$

First off, I think SeriousBri is basically correct in his interpretation. Just to add another wrinkle to this, though, as the DM you also have the ability to adjudicate when "falling" begins.

Do they have to actually be in the air, or is tipping or starting to step off of the edge enough?

If so, you could argue that once each individual is more or less backed up to the edge of the cliff and beginning to slip over the edge (think about Wiley Coyote launching himself into the air), then it would take effect on all of them, regardless of if they're all in an exact line. No need to ready actions, then, just proximity to the edge is enough for the Sorcerer to hit each of them with the spell.

Point is, this feels like a place where there are plenty of ways for you to just rule on this and justify it if needed, though I doubt your players would argue with you anyway.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.