Suppose a Slow spell is cast on a creature with a minimum forward speed while flying: is it required to spend his/her sole action on movement to prevent falling and crashing down?

The relevant rule from the SRD:

If a flying creature fails to maintain its minimum forward speed, it must land at the end of its movement. If it is too high above the ground to land, it falls straight down...

The reason I raise this question is because the rules seem to indicate the answer is "yes", but on the other hand I can quite well imagine an adult dragon that gets Slowed mid-air to glide on and take standard actions while gliding?

I guess that leads me to ask this question in a rephrased way: Can a creature with poor or clumsy maneuverability glide as a swift or even free action?


3 Answers 3


You can choose to just fall, if you want.

There’s nothing saying that you have to use your singular action to stay aloft, you just need to if you, ya know, want to say aloft.

Some sources of flight specify the ability to glide or use wings as parachutes of sorts, even when paralyzed or what have you (see Dragon Wings from Races of the Dragon). This is not the default however. In the absence of such a feature...

Yes, the dragon falls straight down, taking the appropriate falling damage, unless he spends his singular standard-or-move action maintaining forward momentum.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course, the dragon only takes damage if it hits the ground. What happens if it ends up falling for a round - can it then 'stop' suddenly (distance to ground less than current speed), or is the falling otherwise 'active'? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 14, 2013 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the dragons starts to fall so quick, could she get to the minimum forward speed, and try to land normally? (for both cases of the spell duration ended or not ended) \$\endgroup\$
    – RMalke
    Jan 14, 2013 at 21:21
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @RenanMalkeStigliani: I'm confused by the question. The dragon is entitled to spend its turn attempting to move if it likes, and if it does, it can move normally for its (reduced) movement speed. If the total movement was insufficient for its minimum, it falls. If not, it stays aloft. If it reaches the ground before falling, obviously it does not fall. If it is so high up that it doesn't reach the ground before its next turn, it may use its move action to move horizontally (and it could stabilize if it moved far enough, or land if it could reach). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 14, 2013 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan my question was badly formulated, but you answered it anyway, thanks \$\endgroup\$
    – RMalke
    Jan 14, 2013 at 21:29

No, sustaining the minimum forward speed is not obligatory.

The gliding you are speaking of is by itself movement and requires time, if not actual effort, to perform (and, therefore, some action on your side, be it move, standard, swift or some other type).

You are not prohibited to forego movement in your round in favor of other activity, but if in any given round you didn't move forward the requisite distance, you fall.

The dragon in your example is perfectly in its right to spend its actions on something other than movement (and, in fact, is required to do so if, for example, it wants to cast teleport and get away from whatever managed to slow it).

Answering your rephrased question - no, it cannot, unless it has means to move the requisite distance as a swift or free action (and there is a number of ways to move as a swift actions, such as chronocharm of horizon walker or anklet of translocation).

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for mentioning normal methods of moving without spending a Standard or Move action. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 14, 2013 at 21:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ The chronocharm is good for the situation as well as some other means (like a charge from a belt of battle), but I think the anklet and other teleport-like stuff will not work - it does not cause you to actually move the distance, instead you re-appear in new place instantly and still have to either fly or fall. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15, 2013 at 4:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ That would be a valid interpretation (and the one I'd be using myself for the given situation), but it is not covered in the rules as written. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15, 2013 at 7:50

If minimum flight speed said half normal, he would fall, but it doesn't, it says half speed, so anything that halves his speed halves his minimum speed as well.

Slow is a transmutation spell, transmutation spells change the properties of some creature, thing, or condition. The dragon has a flight speed halved by the spell, and all effects based on flight speed, including minimum, change in step with that.

Since minimum speed is half flight speed, and the slow spell reduces speed by half, minimum speed is reduced by half as well.

So if the dragon has average maneuverability and a 100' speed, he must maintain greater than 50' forward movement or fall.

When slowed he now has a 50' flight speed, so he must fly at >25' or fall.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point. The question remains though: does the dragon need to spend an action (and if yes: what kind) to move 25 ft? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeroen
    Jan 2, 2014 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ A “minimum speed” is not a form of “movement speed,” so moving slower does not affect your minimum speed. I see absolutely nothing in the rules that even suggests that this is the case. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jan 2, 2014 at 16:38

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