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This doesn't appear to be covered by the rules, and there's not much more to this question other than the basic movement mechanics.

For your answers, consider the possible movements a character can be undergoing. For instance, if you can cast while falling, could you cast while jogging?

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From a roleplay perspective, yes, you can be moving while casting.

From a mechanics and rules perspective, no, you are generally not considered to be in motion during the casting, because the casting a spell in combat is usually an Action, and an Action represents an instantaneous thing. For spells with longer casting times, the rules do not mention whether you can be in motion during that time; they do say (Player's Handbook p202) that your target has to be in range, but that's all.

This means that:

  • a spell with a casting time of 1 action or 1 bonus action happens in an instant
  • a spell with a longer casting time takes place at the instant of the last action used to cast it. For example, a 1 minute casting time is 10 rounds; the player would have to spend their action each turn for 10 turns to cast it in combat, and the effect would happen when they take the 10th action.

Explanation

The different things you can do in a turn are not necessarily separate things; they are simply a way to represent how much you can get done in a short, roughly 6-second long interval.

Imagine a character with a 30ft speed, taking the following turn:

  • move 10ft
  • take an Action to Cast A Spell
  • move 20ft

That doesn't have to mean you walk 10ft, stand still, cast, and then walk again. All it means is that you move 30ft during that 6-second time, and that your spell happens after about 10ft of movement. You could be running, and choosing to cast at the best point during that run.

(It's worth noting that you don't necessarily stop moving at the end of your turn, either; if you move 30ft on this turn, then a goblin has their turn and shoots you with a crossbow, and you move 30ft on your next turn, it could be that you just ran 60ft, but got shot halfway.)

The only relevant restriction on casting a spell is that your target has to be in range while you cast it. If, as a result of your movement, you are in range at some points and out of range at other points, you have to take the Action to cast at a point where you're in range. There are no restrictions on whether you spend movement before or after that, or on saying for the sake of roleplay that you're in motion while casting - just that from a rules perspective, the spell happened while you were in a certain place.

If the spell has a casting time of 1 action or 1 bonus action, this means you could move however you like during your turn, and take your action to cast at a point when your target is range.

If a spell has a longer casting time, whether or not the target has to be in range for the whole time is a question for your DM - the section on a spell's range on page 202 of the Player's Handbook is unclear - but in general I'd say that it has to be in range the whole time. For example, to cast hallow, you'd have to remain touching the point you're targeting for the whole time, so you couldn't move around.

If a spell is affected by movement, it would say so. For example, feather fall says you can cast the spell when you "begin falling", which means you are moving (downward) while casting. If a spell requires you to stay still while casting it would say so. It would be strange if you couldn't cast while on a ship, for example, or riding a horse - and the rules certainly don't say that this is the case.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why must an action be an instantaneous thing? You can split up an Attack action, so why does that not apply to spells? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because a special exemption is only made for moving between attacks, not moving between parts of a spell. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 21:15
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No, you cannot move while casting a spell (under a strict mechanical interpretation of the question).

The following unofficial ruling from Jeremy Crawford is relevant for clarification (see this tweet).

You can move before/after casting a spell on your turn, speed permitting. The casting isn't part of the move.

Although you can cast a spell during a turn in which you break up your movement before and after casting, you cannot move during the act of casting of a spell. So, no, you cannot cast while moving, such that "moving" refers to the game mechanic whereby you use your speed to move some distance.

Jogging is an active form of movement. It would require your character to use their speed to move. So, if on their turn they use their move to jog, they can cast by breaking up that movement before and after the casting, but they cannot jog any distance during the casting of the spell.

Falling is essentially a passive or consequential form of movement. You could cast a spell while falling because falling does not use your speed to move. However, you would not actually fall any distance during the casting. You would cast the spell at some point during the ongoing fall.

To avoid ambiguity, let the following suffice: You cannot travel any distance during the casting of a spell, but you can break up your movement before and after casting a spell. This answers your question mechanically. It does not account for the action economy abstraction which is detailed well in anaximander's answer.

Please note the following edge cases.

  1. Specific overrides general, so if there is a spell that includes movement as part of casting the spell, this answer does not apply to that spell.

  2. Spells with a longer casting time than 1 action require you to spend your action on each turn casting the spell until the casting time has elapsed. The answer still applies as written to each individual casting action. Therefore, you can move between the casting action on one turn and the casting action on the next turn, and on any one turn you can move before and/or after the casting action, but you can't move during one of the individual casting actions.

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In combat you cannot cast while moving.

The rules for spellcasting do not explicitly cover the case in which a caster is allowed to walk/run/fly1 during their turn in combat.

There are nonetheless some parts in the combat rules that may help in clarifying this. Recalling that in combat usually one has to take an Action or a Bonus Action (BA) for casting a spell (via the Cast a Spell Action), since the casting time is Action or BA, in the Breaking Up Your Move section one can read:

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.

From a mechanic point of view (which has been perfectly covered by anaximander's answer), movement and taking an Action are two discretized things, even when breaking up the movement. Under the Specific beats general principle, one can read the exception for features that grant multiple attacks:

If you take an action that includes more than one weapon attack, you can break up your movement even further by moving between those attacks. For example, a fighter who can make two attacks with the Extra Attack feature and who has a speed of 25 feet could move 10 feet, make an attack, move 15 feet, and then attack again.

There are no specification regarding moving while casting, for example when a caster wants to reach two targets for a spell with range of touch (see this question).

Moreover, here one can find a table which enlists options to do in tandem with your movement (and with your action): the option Cast a Spell is not present.

Cast a ritual spell or a spell with a long casting time: do I have to stand where I began casting?

I would consider two cases: in combat and outside combat.

In the former case, the rules say:

When you cast a spell with a casting time longer than a single action or reaction, you must spend your action each turn casting the spell, and you must maintain your concentration while you do so.

The sole requirements are the caster spending their Action and maintaining concentration, no restriction about movement: under the above cited rules, if a wizard begins to cast Animate Dead to create allies from the corpses of the slain enemies during a combat, they can move within 10 feet of the targets, take the Cast a Spell action, move again towards an ally to get an Healing Potion. Next turn, they can get within 10 feet of the corpses and take the Cast a Spell action, and so on.

For casting time of 10 minutes or longer (that usually take place outside combat), one should consider the specific spell. For example, Hallow requires to touch the point for the entire casting, so no movement is allowed. Hallucinatory Terrain does not require touching, and moving during the cast does not seem to provide any issue: even in this case, a DM may apply the same rule above for longer casting times.


1 I did not include swim or climb because this case require proper ruling, due to eventual somatic components.

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Yes, but it's not applicable mechanically

A casting is mechanically instantaneous. When you use an action, reaction or bonus action to cast a spell it just happens. Sure, your character probably spends at least some time waving hands and/or saying stuff, but mechanically there is no concept of a duration when casting a spell. Nothing in the rules ever reference the duration while you're casting a spell. There are two relevant parts of the rules.

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 mechanically you can insert an action to cast a spell at any point in your movement. That's narratively indistinguishable from being able to cast a spell while moving. The character doesn't have to physically stop to cast a spell since again, there is no duration to the actual casting of the spell.

Longer Cast Times

When you cast a spell with a casting time longer than a single action or reaction, you must spend your action each turn casting the spell, and you must maintain your concentration while you do so.

Even for longer cast times, the rules mechanically break it down to separate instantaneous actions. Use an action, with no concept of duration, each turn to keep casting the spell. No one would argue that your character is stopping the cast between all these actions. It's not like you start the cast, then stop to move and perhaps take the Use an Object action then cast a little bit more before you open the window to let some air in. It's most likely a continuous casting that takes some time. And we see no mechanical constraints to what you can do outside of taking an action each turn to continue casting and keeping concentration. Therefore it must be acceptable to move while casting.

But since taking an action (or reaction or bonus action) to cast a spell doesn't carry with it a duration, there is no mechanical consequence of being able to move while casting a spell. Of course, if you're using your action to cast a spell, you're not using it to take the Dash action. So a character can not cast while moving the fastest they're able to when not casting.

PS: Feather Fall is an honorable mention that simply wouldn't work if you couldn't cast while moving.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think falling and running is really comparable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 10:46

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