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At my last session, a scenario arose in which a character was attempting to cover ground as quickly as possible, but was knocked prone. On their next turn, they proceeded to stand up and Dash. This led to a moment of confusion while I attempted to figure out exactly how prone and Dash interact.

The player commented offhand that standing from prone halves your movement and Dash doubles it, so the two cancel and they had 30ft to move that turn. Reading the rules, however, I interpreted things differently.

Dash

When you take the Dash action, you gain extra movement for the current turn. The increase equals your speed, after applying any modifiers. With a speed of 30 feet, for example, you can move up to 60 feet on your turn if you dash.

Any increase or decrease to your speed changes this additional movement by the same amount. If your speed of 30 feet is reduced to 15 feet, for instance, you can move up to 30 feet this turn if you dash.

(PHB p192)

Being Prone

[...] You can drop prone without using any of your speed. Standing up takes more effort; doing so costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed. For example, if your speed is 30 feet, you must spend 15 feet of movement to stand up.

(PHB p190)

My interpretation is that your speed is constant - say, 30ft - and your movement is a separate quantity representing distance you can cover this turn. You start the turn with available movement equal to your speed, and then Dash adds another quantity to your movement, while standing up removes a quantity from your movement. Neither affect your speed.

That means that this player starts with 30ft of movement, gains an additional amount equal to their speed (30ft) from Dash, then spends an amount equal to half their speed (30/2 = 15ft) to stand, leaving them with 45ft of movement available for this turn.

In the end, they needed less than 30ft of movement to get into position to attack the bandit leader and the party all made it out alive, so it didn't affect the outcome of our game, but I'd like to get this straightened out for the future.

Is my interpretation of the interaction between speed, movement, the prone condition and the Dash action correct?

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Your intuition is correct. The Dash action simply increases your movement, but doesn't actually increase your Speed.

If your speed were 30 ft. and you decided to Dash, you'd still only spend 15 ft. (of the gross 60 ft. of movement) to stand up from Prone.

If you had an item, effect, or class feature that increased your Speed (e.g. the Boots of Speed, which double your walking speed while active, or the Mobile feat), then standing from Prone would cost more, according to the rules as written.

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Speed is a set stat on the character sheet. Taking a dash action does not change this stat; magic items, conditions, feats, spells and racial abilities do. This number (we will use 30ft as it is very common) is used to calculate various actions.

  1. Standing Up: This option costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed. (PHB pg. 190-191). In the case above this will equal 15ft, so 15ft of your speed is up for the turn.

  2. Move: You get to move up to a distance equal to your speed on your turn. Difficult terrain has an extra cost of "Every foot of movement in difficult terrain costs 1 extra foot". This isnt changing the speed stat, just increasing the cost to move a distance. (Pg. 190 phb)

  3. Dash: This is action you can take on your turn that replaces an attack action, or can be done as a rogue as a bonus action. This is extra movement you gain equal to your speed. This isnt changing the speed stat, it is just giving extra movement equal to this stat. (Pg. 192 PhB.)

So, in the example above, a prone character with a speed of 30ft would start the turn with 30 available feet of movement. 15ft of this is used (1/2 of speed), and there is 15ft left, the dash action is declared for the turn, granting another 30ft of movement (this is equal to the speed stat) which totals 45ft of available movement. As long as terrain is not difficult and there are no other variables, the character can cover a distance equal to that 45ft after being prone and taking dash.

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Speed is a game noun

The basic rules define speed as:

Every character and monster has a speed, which is the distance in feet that the character or monster can walk in 1 round.

On your character sheet this is probably listed as "speed: 30ft" or something similar. Anywhere the game says "speed", it is talking about this speed. You use it for standing up, swimming, climbing, etc.

Dash does not increase your speed:

When you take the Dash action, you gain extra movement for the current turn.

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I wish to offer an alternate interpretation which sidesteps the issue:

The player begins their turn prone, with 30 feet of movement. They spend half their movement to stand up, putting them at 15 feet left of 30 total. Then, they take the Dash action, increasing their speed by 30 feet. They are now at 45 feet of 60 total.

If the player, for whatever reason, took the Dash action while still prone, then standing up would be more costly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Speed =/= movement. Standing up from prone uses up an amount of movement equal to half your speed (if you have enough movement in order to stand-up). Dash gives you additional movement, it does not double your speed. As a result the last sentence of your answer is incorrect. Standing up is never more costly than half your speed (and your speed is a fixed quantity that is only mutated by specific effects, like a successful sentinel OA). \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Feb 24 at 14:53

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