As a flying character there are a few scenarios that I'd like to know are valid/RAW, invalid, or up to the DM.

Assume in these scenarios that all characters fall at 1000ft/round (this is not up for discussion (no matter how strongly you feel about it) as my DM has made this ruling.) Also assume the fall is intentional (on my turn/not done by an enemy or enemy's turn).

  1. Fly at 1,005ft, fall (drop prone?) in 1 round (1000ft), next round recover (stand up from prone), land safely or continue to fly.

  2. Fly at 600ft, fall, to 60ft recover to fly normally.

  3. Fly at 600ft, fall, to 60ft cast feather as a reaction to falling. This scenario could also include carrying a halfling (600ft), then dropping her, and she can cast feather fall (as a reaction) 60ft before hitting the ground.

Feel free to add additional cool scenarios that could work. Or if a scenario doesnt work, what would be needed to make it work.

If possible please use citations, especially if any of the scenarios are invalid/against the rules.


3 Answers 3


Breaking up your Movement doesn't take separate actions or triggers.

Consider that you can do the following in 1 turn:

Move 15 ft, attack a target (action), move 5 ft, attack another target (extra attack or bonus action off hand), move 10 more feet.

So if you're playing a flying character, and the DM has house ruled a 1000 ft/round drop, the DM has increased your movement by a potential 1000 ft in a downwards direction for free.

Falling while flying doesn't cost you an action. All you have to do is stop flying. Starting flying again is also movement, and does not cost you an action. If I was your DM, your flying speed would be how far you could move in any combination of directions, regardless of whether you were going up, down, left or right. Your DM apparently thinks gravity is sympathetic to the atmospheric pressure of Venus, and has multiplied the effects by 30.

In actual physics:

Distance = 0.5 (gt^2); where g = gravity @ 9.8 meters per second, and t = time in seconds. End result = 176.5 meters, or approximately 574 feet

But the bottom line is this:

Movement doesn't take an action.

So long as you haven't moved your speed in your turn (and the DM ruling of falling 1000 ft/round is not you moving your speed, that's him moving you with his house rule), you are free to move it, by RAW, in whatever order you want.

Ref: PHB pg. 190

Breaking up your move

You can break up your movement on your turn, using some of your speed before and after your action. For example, if you have a speed of 30 feet, you can move 10 feet, take your action, and then move 20 feet.

So fly, stop, fall however far you want, then fly the last bit of your movement. You control your movement, and if he says you can't just choose to drop, tell him that's fine, but if you get knocked prone in the air then the enemy can't just choose to drop you 1000 ft. Frankly, it sounds like your DM hates flying combat and is trying to get you to play a grounded character. You might want to consider discussing that with him/her.

Xanathar's has been released since this answer was submitted, and there is a straightforward 500ft/turn rule now.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I did discuss with my DM that falling is 1000ft per round doesnt make sense, but that's his ruling and I wont belabor the point. He did say he's fine with me playing a flying char - we played a campaign together already to level 20 (no flying race), this is a new campaign and he purposely opened up the Arok/flying race. Maybe after I try this one time he might reconsider changing his ruling, we'll see. Thanks for your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Al Sun
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 23:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Despite less votes I choose this answer after re-reading flying movement (PHB p.191). If one of 3 things happen you cannot recover from falling/have no choice but to fall (unless you have hover, flying by magic). It also says you fall (not automatically hit the ground). 1. knocked prone (by someone or something else) 2. speed reduced to 0 (restrained, grappled, paralyzed) 3. Deprived of the ability to move (hold person, petrified, etc.) Thus, if none of the above has taken place/or is some how resolved before you hit the ground, you can simply continue to use your flying movement. \$\endgroup\$
    – Al Sun
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 22:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Falling is 500 feet, by rule in Xanathar's Guide. Which has come out since. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 20:09

While not explicitly given as an example by the RAW, I see no reason why this wouldn't work. That's the whole point of the 'Ready' Action (PHB 193).

First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it.

It also talks about being able to ready a spell.

Reaching "about 60' from the ground" is a perceivable circumstance. Therefore, you could Ready an Action to cast a spell, or spread your wings to come to a halt, or whatever you want to do with that as the trigger.

Feather Fall would work perfectly in this situation, but your DM may rule that it takes time for natural wings to arrest your falling velocity. Perhaps ruling that it consumes your movement for that turn in order to stop. That is purely DM's prerogative there since it is not a scenario laid out explicitly in the books.

To cover the full details of how...lets go with Idea 2...would work, here you go.

You are flying; 'dropping prone' while flying causes you to fall. Dropping Prone does not count as an Action and consumes no movement (PHB 190-191). So, before you Drop Prone, you Ready an Action of "spread my wings and come to a hover" with the trigger of "when I am about 60' from the ground."

With this readied, you drop prone and begin to fall. If your turn ends before you fall far enough, your Readied Action expires and must be renewed, which you can do while falling. Once you reach 60' from the ground, you may now use your Reaction in order to arrest your fall.

Consult with your DM to see how much work he is going to make you put forth in order to actually stop. He may require more than one round worth of 'braking' in order to come back to a hover, or he may allow you to simply use your Action to come to a hover Or he may consider it 'rising from prone' and have it consume half your movement. The RAW does not have clear rules for arresting a fall by use of non-magical flight, therefore it is up to your DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer. You might want to comment on the potential danger of losing your reaction (by spells/things like Shocking Grasp, Arms of Hadar, Dissonant Whispers, and Confusion) and not being able to open your wings. Which would, of course, cause fall damage. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ In 3.5 and PF iirc it had speeds going down and up which led me to believe you could not do this. 5E removed that so I like this and would allow it with a bit of calculation on how able you would be to pull out of a dive as it were. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ A follow up question on the Actions in combat and their order - Ready an action (standard action), that if I fall within Xft of the ground I stand up from prone (thus restoring my movement/flight speed - albeit at the cost of half my move - no sure this matters as I dont think I can move after my reaction). Drop prone (free action). I still have a move action but not sure if I can use it after my reaction. So I could use my move (to line up where I fall) prior to dropping prone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Al Sun
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 21:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Roleplaying a little here, if I had wings, you can bet your workboot I'd be proficient at falling and then hovering out of a fall. \$\endgroup\$
    – corsiKa
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 22:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer. Re: "With this readied, you drop prone and begin to fall. If your turn ends before you fall far enough, your Readied Action expires and must be renewed, which you can do while falling" You might make it explicit that this works with the falling rules in XGtE because there you fall at the end of your turn on your second turn of falling when falling a great distance, while it might not work with the PHB default, where you instantly fall the entire distance regardless. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 22:38

So long as you can fall

The RAW stipulate

you instantly descend up to [insert appropriate terminal velocity parameters]

Which seems like you must fall the full distance. But there is a caveat.

Feather Fall, with a duration of 1 minute--i.e. not instantaneous, indisputably lets you avoid falling the full distance and/or taking damage. And, importantly, it's casting time is 1 Reaction

which you take when you or a creature within 60 feet of you falls

This implies that it must possible to use a reaction between the beginning of the fall and the full "instantaneous" descent.

It's also possible to spend flying movement while prone. Here you can find some more details. In brief, the excerpt

But if that creature starts any of its later turns still falling and is prone, it can halt the fall on its turn by spending half its flying speed to counter the prone condition (as if it were standing up in midair). (XGtE)

Stipulates that you can spend flight speed to halt the fall. So, RAW this is certainly possible for case 1 if you are prone.

Cases 2 and 3 are trickier and might require a ruling. But, if you can use a reaction to cast Feather Fall, it seems reasonable that you can use a reaction to "stand" and halt the fall if you Ready a trigger. And, finally, if this all happens on your own turn, you can arguably spend half of your movement instantaneously at will--as the (currently) accepted answer argues.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The rule quote does state that you can do this on later turns, but doesn't say anything about this turn. Can I do it on the same turn I start falling? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 19:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov And the example scenario in the question involves falling 1005 feet at a rate of 1000ft/round, so there is a later turn \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 19:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic Oh right. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 19:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, actually, only one of the three examples involves that. So I think this answer could be improved by detailing what happens in the other two cases, namely, colliding with the ground after a 600-foot fall \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 19:55

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