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The updraft spell in the spell compendium states you rise 10 ft per level and float back down. Do you have to go all the way up or can you choose to stop at any height? does the rise and float down all happen in your action?

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The spell Updraft (Spell Compendium, p. 228) says that you "gain 10 feet per level of altitude". It does not say up to 10 feet per level. But if you don’t want to rise as high as you normally will, you can simply reduce your caster level

You can cast a spell at a lower caster level than normal, but the caster level you choose must be high enough for you to cast the spell in question, and all level-dependent features must be based on the same caster level.

Updraft is a 1st level spell, so the minimum caster level you need to cast it is only one. Consequently a caster can always choose to rise only 10 ft - or any other distance up to their normal caster level multiplied by 10.

Since "you make all pertinent decisions about a spell (range, target, area, effect, version, and so forth) when the spell comes into effect" (see: Casting Time) you do not have to set your caster level in advance when you prepare your spells.

The spell's duration is "instantaneous". Rising up and floating down all happens within your swift action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ great, so at caster level 9, the person experiences 90 feet in about 2 seconds, or 30 feet per second movement. That's an acceleration of 60 feet per second on the first half and a deceleration of that on the second half. Good that it's magic or the spell would stress people with one second of +2g and then -2 g, for about 4g whiplash. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Apr 29, 2023 at 12:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish I guess it's probably best not to think about things like that too logically – it is bound to cause headaches. :) Yes, it's magic, it's fantasy, everybody is a hero, and the laws of physics have to submit to the game rules. I mean, an 18th level human monk with the Run feat can move 450 ft in a round (or 75 ft in a second) without having to accelerate or decelerate - and without any magic support... \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    May 1, 2023 at 10:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you cite the lowering of caster level quote? I checked your casting time link and didn't see it there. \$\endgroup\$
    – joedragons
    May 8, 2023 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @joedragons You find the quote here \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    May 9, 2023 at 6:22

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