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In 5e, Specters have the Incorporeal Movement trait, which says:

The specter can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. It takes 5 (1d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.

Therefore, I assume Specters can move through ground as if it were difficult terrain.

Could a specter attack a creature, move into its space, and then move straight down into the ground to avoid an Opportunity Attack?
Regardless of whether it would be intelligent enough to do so, would the OA happen before it is fully submerged below ground? Or would the ground protect the Specter?

My guess would be that the ground would protect it, because once it leaves the 5-foot reach of its target, it would be mostly submerged.

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No, they still provoke an opportunity attack.

You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach.

You cannot reach into the ground, and the Specter entering the ground means it has left your reach, provoking an opportunity attack. Though Jeremy Crawford's tweets are not official Sage Advice, he has still agreed with this position (specifically about burrowing, though it applies the same with incorporeal movement):

Tweet 1:

Q: Does an earth elemental trigger an OA when it burrows? It is within 5 ft, but the creature can no longer reach it

A: An opportunity attack occurs right before the target leaves your reach (PH, 195).

Tweet 2:

Q: thanks. yes, the debate here was does it ever leave your reach if it goes into the ground adjacent to you

A: Your melee reach does not extend into the wall or floor.

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Yes, they can.

You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach.

So a spectre could attack, sink into the ground straight down (putting them diagonal from the enemy but still "within reach"), and then -- being invisible and having full cover -- move away and reemerge. That's definitely a valid strategy, and spectres are of average human intelligence, so they should be able to understand the advantage. Your question includes "move into [the target's] space", which isn't strictly necessary to pull this off, but doesn't present any additional difficulties either, and may be desirably creepy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't moving into the ground take the specter out of the creature's reach? You can't reach into the ground. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Oct 18 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reach is defined by distance, not intervening obstacles. Things under your feet are technically within reach, they just have full cover, which generally stops you from affecting them. This is the same scenario as a character in melee combat stepping sideways to get behind a thin metal wall -- they didn't leave reach, they just put cover in the way of any potential retaliation. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 18 at 0:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells Notably, this answer contrasts with the ones that answer the related questions linked under the original here. In particular: "Does moving behind full cover count as “leaving the opponent's reach” for purposes of Attack of Opportunity?" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 18 at 1:02

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