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The Lightning Lure spell (Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, Ch. 3) is able to lift a creature into the air, and a creature in the air without the ability to maintain that position falls immediately (Xanathar's Guide to Everything Ch. 2). However, the meaning of "immediately" is unclear as related to an intervening "if" in the middle of a single sentence without a comma as it is in Lightning Lure:

The target must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be pulled up to 10 feet in a straight line toward you and then take 1d8 lightning damage if it is within 5 feet of you.

Is there an instant in which the creature can immediately fall between being pulled up 10 feet and potentially taking lightning damage, or does that instant not exist until the spell ends since Lightning Lure's duration is "Instantaneous"?

Put another way, if a wizard flying above an orc pulls them up 10 feet with Lightning Lure, will the orc take only falling damage, or will the orc take both falling damage and lightning damage?

(If no rules cover this and thus it's left to DM interpretation, why should a DM rule one way or another?)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking if it takes damage, or if there is a time that something else can happen? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Dec 5, 2023 at 22:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri The former. I just added clarification in a "Put another way" section. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kerrick
    Dec 5, 2023 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain why falling would prevent the lightning damage? I'm not seeing any reason for you to think it might, unless maybe you're talking about someone flying over a pit that would drop them more than 10' from the caster, in exchange for more falling damage? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2023 at 6:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger If the caster is high enough above the target on the ground to cause falling damage, they are further than five feet from the target both before the spell is cast and after the creature has fallen. If the lightning damage “if” check is after the fall, they would be further than five feet away and thus would take no lightning damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kerrick
    Dec 6, 2023 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can the Gravity Fissure spell deal damage twice to a creature of larger than Medium size? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Dec 6, 2023 at 16:02

2 Answers 2

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Timing is not relevant here

The damage is if the target is within 5ft, it doesn't say ends it's turn within 5ft. As long as it gets within 5ft at any point the damage triggers.

There are optional rules (as you suggested) in case the order of damage matters (maybe you have resistance to the next damage source so you want to resist the bigger impact) but that is a different matter.

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Use the Simultaneous Effects rules from Xanathar's Guide to Everything

Because the falling and the check for lightning damage would happen simultaneously, they should be covered by the rules for Simultaneous Effects (Xanathar's Guide to Everything Ch. 2). According to those rules:

If two or more things happen at the same time on a character's or monster's turn, the person at the game table—whether player or DM—who controls that creature decides the order in which those things happen.

As such, the person who controls that creature (the creature whose turn it is) decides the order in which those things happen.

If Lightning Lure is targeting a monster on the monster's turn (perhaps due to a Ready action), the DM would choose—and would likely choose to fall before the lightning damage could happen. If the Lightning Lure is targeting a monster on the caster's turn, the caster would choose—and would likely choose to order it so the lightning damage could happen before the fall.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I did not downvote (I'd need to think more about this one, seems one possible perspective, but it somehow feels that this is taking the rule for simultaneous effects a bit far). In any case if you argue for simultaneous resolution rules, might be good to mention that use of all rules in Xanathar's is at the DMs option, and by default there are no rules for this so the order of resultion by core rules is also the DMs decision. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 5, 2023 at 22:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Every rule is at the DM's option, so I'm against adding that to every answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kerrick
    Dec 5, 2023 at 22:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's fine. I think there is a difference though between every rule being overrulable via rule 0, and things not having a core rule and thus falling to the DM to adjucate more naturally, as is the case here. What I mean is this rule is explicitly an optional rule, different from rules like how many actions you can take in a turn, where the DM would need to overrule the actual rules. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 5, 2023 at 22:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how this is relevant as the effect of the spell is a very clearly defined sequence: You are moved and then damage is triggered if the move takes you withing a specified range. What do think are the separate simultaneous effects here? The idea that you could decide to fall before you are lifted off the ground and thus never move up at all is nonsensical and would render all effects lifting unwilling targets off the ground nonfunctional. That cannot be right. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kryomaani
    Dec 6, 2023 at 2:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kryomaani The separate simultaneous effects are falling and possibly taking lightning damage. The fall is happening after you’re lifted off the ground, but at the same time as the possible lightning damage —which happens after the lift due to the “then” in the spell text. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kerrick
    Dec 6, 2023 at 14:12

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