“The Earth it seems you wish to kiss/you’re diving fast, but I say you’ll miss!”
“On angel’s wings you will descend… git.”
“And now you’ll float, too!”
These and more can be verbal components to the spell that has saved more bacon than any Vegan Convention: Feather Fall.
- Casting Time: 1 Reaction
- Range: 60ft.
- Duration: IN minute
- School: Feather Fall
- Class: Bard, Sorcerer, wizard, Artificer
- Level: 1
- Damage/Effect: Utility, exploration
- Attack/Save: None
- Components: V, S, M
- Ritual/Concentration: No
Spell Description. Choose up to five falling creatures within range. A falling creature’s rate of descent slows to 60 feet per round until the spell ends. If the creature lands before the spell ends, it takes no falling damage and can land on its feet, and the spell ends for that creature.
Who Can Cast Feather Fall?
Only your primary Arcane casters can cast Feather Fall — that means wizards, sorcerers, artificers, and bards.
The reason for this is beyond me. You would think that clerics, with all of their life-saving mumbo jumbo, would be more interested in stopping you from dying from defenestration.
Or druids! They like feathers, right?
This does mean, however, that Arcane Tricksters can cast Feather Fall, and suddenly, that opens up many possibilities.
Is Feather Fall Better Than Other 1st-Level Spells?
If you or your buddies are being tossed out of a tower, then yes, there is no greater spell than Feather Fall.
Admittedly, that is an oddly specific instance. You could have Feather Fall prepared for an entire campaign and not cast it a single time — but that one time you need it, it better be there.
Other ways of dealing with falls are simply curing yourself and your buddies afterward with a Prayer of Healing or a Cure Wounds.
Short of that, though, you will need to argue with your DM about whether or not a Thorn Whip or Lightning Lure can slow your fall and help you hang on to a wall.
However, to carry around a 1st-level spell slot open for something you might or might not need is a lot to ask a fledgling spellcaster.
There is nothing worse than your party being one round away from victory or TPK and you are last in the initiative. When it all depends on you, you don’t want to look in your spellbook and find that your only option left is Feather Fall.
In truth, the best use for Feather Fall is when nobody has to cast it but you instead have it on a generic magic item that allows you to cast Feather Fall as a reaction when you fall.
When Should You Cast Feather Fall?
Okay, let’s slow down a bit. The obvious answer to this is that you or anyone available should cast Feather Fall as soon as someone else starts falling, duh.
But hold on a minute… How far are they really going to fall? I mean, the barbarian can keep raging and halve the bludgeoning damage, and it’s only 1d6 for 10 feet… so, maybe it’s best if you let the fighter or the paladin take 3 or 4 d6 damage while you use your reaction to Counterspell.
Is it wrong to consider that? Yes. But is it also right to consider the full consequences of your actions and decide whether or not saving someone from damage that won’t kill them might just leave your party open to further attack? Yes.
In other words, not immediately casting Feather Fall when your teammates fall might make you an a—hole, but it doesn’t make you a wrong a—hole.
What Happens When You Fall?
When you fall, you move at the rate of gravity, which, if you are on a world our size, means 10 meters/second or roughly 30 feet.
You only fall on your turn. So, if someone pushes you out of a window on their turn, you don’t actually begin falling until your turn, and your movement is used on the fall.
You land prone, and from there, you can take your turn if you’ve survived the damage. The damage is 1d6 bludgeoning for every 10 feet you fall. If you happen to land on a spear tip or a fence post, you take 1d6 from the spear plus 1d6 for every 10 feet you fell. You can take a maximum of 20d6 for a fall of 200 feet or more.
You can not use uncanny dodge, evasion, or resistance to attacks that deal bludgeoning damage since this is not a weapon attack… unless you think gravity is attacking you here. That isn’t true, though. Gravity is just loving you and wants to give you a really, really powerful hug.
Fun Things To Do With Feather Fall
Sometimes the simplest spells give us the most versatility in exploiting the hell out of them!
- If you can use a longbow or a heavy repeating crossbow, you could cast Misty Steps or Dimension Doors straight up 600 feet and then cast Feather Fall. For the next minute, you will descend slowly and safely enough for you to attack from a sniping position with your ranged weapon.
- If you can jump from an airship or off of a large tower, you can intentionally use Feather Fall on the reaction to slow your descent and negate the need for big, visible parachutes.
- If you want to slow an enemy down, you could push them off of a ledge and then cast Feather Fall. If you think they will survive the falling damage, then instead of failing to kill them, you have simply given yourself a head start on your escape.
- Similarly, one of the best ways I’ve seen a group kill Strahd is by tackling him off the roof of the tower in swarm-tackle and then hoping the wizard casts Feather Fall on everyone except Strahd. It worked.
Common Questions About Feather Fall
Believe it or not, even a simple spell like Feather Fall can bring in a lot of questions or comments. We gathered the most pertinent and insistent questions we’ve received and put them in this nifty little FAQ for you.
Can the Target of Feather Fall Carry Someone Else Who Is Not a Target of Feather Fall?
You just had to complicate things, eh? Technically, yes, you could carry someone while Feather Falling (falling featherly?), but the question is whether you would fall more quickly or would the other person cause you or themselves to take damage.
I would say this requires a Strength check on behalf of the person carrying the other. If they can hold on with a DC 10-15 Strength check depending on the size of the character, then, sure, they can hold on. If they fail that check, the person who is not benefitting from Feather Fall falls and takes the damage.
To determine that DC, add that character’s Strength and Constitution together and divide by 2. Strength and Constitution are probably representative of the size of a person’s body. Let’s say they are absolutely huge and have an 18 for Strength and a 17 Constitution. Add those together for 35, divide by 2, and you’ve got a DC 18 Strength check to carry that person if you are under the effects of Feather Fall.
If you are a wizard (Harry), you might consider casting Feather Fall on him instead and hoping he will hold you tight all the way to the ground.
Can You Use Feather Fall To Glide Horizontally?
This is another interpretation left up to the DM, yet it is often followed by a misunderstanding of physics.
When you jump outward, your downward speed is unaffected. If you can only jump 10 feet out, when those 10 feet are spent, you will drop straight down. Otherwise, people could just jump from rooftop to rooftop without serious effort.
Things do not move in parabolic arcs indefinitely without the assistance of tools such as parachutes and hang gliders. Therefore, DMs should limit this type of expectation and require more effort from their PCs. Make them swing from a rope at least.
If Someone Falls 100 Feet Away From You but Comes Within 60 Feet on the Next Turn, Can They Still Trigger Your Casting of Feather Fall?
Geez, you don’t make this easy, huh? Okay, the spell says that Feather Fall is triggered when the target falls within 60 feet of you. If they are 100 feet away, you can not cast Feather Fall. If they come within 60 feet in subsequent turns, you can then cast Feather Fall with your reaction.
The spell’s exact words are “when you or a creature within 60 feet of you falls.”
The difference between someone who “is falling” and “something that falls” is only a difference in grammar. Whether they start the fall within range or not is irrelevant.
Can Feather Fall Be Used on Objects?
Finally, a simple question. No, the spell can only be used on creatures unless the DM specifically says otherwise.
For the DMs
Whenever I sit and think about a spell, my mind eventually turns to how I can use the spell as a trap or obstacle for the PCs.
The only thing I could think of this time involved a complex platforming obstacle a la Eddie Murphy’s The Golden Child meets Super Mario Bros. in a “floor-is-lava” situation of the Nine Hells. The PCs got a limited number of Feather Falls with which they had to time their jumps and falls to make it through the obstacle course.
It was either that or somehow getting them stuck in a perpetual falling loop and then casting Feather Fall to slow them down and make it much more boring. They would eventually have to stop screaming. Honestly, either one would be great.
Happy Gaming, and remember that if you’re going to kill the PCs, at least do it fairly.
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].