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A witch that's using the flight hex to fly 20 ft. up in the air fails her saving throw against my halfling bard's hideous laughter spell. The spell says that an affected creature

collapses into gales of manic laughter, falling prone. The subject can take no actions while laughing, but is not considered helpless.

Does the witch become prone in the air? Does the phrase take no action mean the witch falls to her death, grappled and subsequently slain by her own foolishly placed black tentacles?

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Flying creatures can't be rendered prone

Pathfinder creative director James Jacobs addresses whether or not a flying creature can be rendered prone in this 2012 exchange:

Can a creature… with natural or magical flight be knocked prone?

Not when they're flying. You can mess with a creature in the ways detailed in the Fly skill, which might make them fall, but you can't make a flying creature prone. Or a swimming or burrowing or climbing creature, for that matter.

Absent this pronouncement, the GM determines the effect of rendering a flying a creature prone. Note that flying creatures were already immune to the trip combat maneuver (which, when successful, often results in a prone foe): "Some creatures—such as oozes, creatures without legs, and flying creatures—cannot be tripped."

Creature that fly without wings usually stay aloft even if they can't take actions

As per this question, a creature that's flying without the use of wings (like a witch employing the hex flight to use an effect like the spell fly) doesn't fall from the sky even when it gains the condition paralyzed: "A winged creature flying in the air at the time that it becomes paralyzed cannot flap its wings and falls," yet creatures that fly winglessly go unmentioned and therefore are unaffected.

Since the spell hideous laughter inflicts upon the subject a condition substantially less restrictive than the condition paralyzed, the unfortunate witch will still be unable to act but likely won't plummet into her own black tentacles.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited to clarify the 'can take no action' part of the spell. I'm guessing it doesn't change. \$\endgroup\$ – FrancisJohn Feb 2 '17 at 19:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here's to hoping my GM is feeling generous. \$\endgroup\$ – FrancisJohn Feb 2 '17 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I want to complement that Aquatic Adventures campaign setting confirms that a flying creature cannot be tripped (page 45). While a swimming creature that is tripped, instead of gaining the prone condition, is forced to make a Swim check agaisnt the CMB result or gains the state off-balance, which denies dex to AC and attackers gain a +2 to attack them until they succeed a Swim check to move. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Aug 2 '17 at 1:27

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