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A frightened creature A is standing horizontally or vertically next to the source of its fear B.

The creature can't willingly move closer to the source of its fear.

Can A freely circle B, for example to flank them or to attack another of its enemies, or to pass them with impunity in a 10' hallway (subject to OA rules as normal of course)?

I am asking, because this seems somewhat counter-intuitive: If you are next to the source of your fear, the fear does not practically restrict your movement. I hope there's something in the rules or maybe sage advice which clarifies this, other than just lack of restrictions that would apply.

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Yes, a frightened creature can circle the source of its fear.

There are no secret rules and I'm not sure this needs that much more clarification. If you are 10' away from a creature you are frightened of then you can circle it, as long as you do not move closer.

This is not too dissimilar to my sister fearfully circling the spider in the middle of the room so she can make for the door!

It is worth noting that this rule is just for the base frightened condition. Many spells and creatures that actually cause the frightened condition also impose additional rules. For example, the description of the fear spell says:

While frightened by this spell, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from you by the safest available route on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess it also comes down to role playing, in tables that put emphasis on that Even if the rules don't prevent something, doesn't mean the creature will do it. They might do the circling to get away, but would be far less likely to do it in order to reach another target (probably exposing themselves to easy flanking). \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Oct 23 at 10:17
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You can’t willingly move closer

Staying at the same distance is not moving closer.

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