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View Full Version : Falling and Swift Actions.



Tyger
2010-11-15, 08:42 AM
Your character (in D&D 3.5) is standing on a tile when suddenly the pit trap opens beneath you, large sharp spikes at the bottom covered in greenish venom pointing straight up at your tender elven flesh.

You don't have Feather Fall prepared, but you do have Swift Fly (from the SpC) memorized. It takes a Swift action to cast.

Can you get the spell off before you hit the spikes?

Came up in our game last night and I wasn't paying close enough attention to catch it. The DM let it go, but I think he thought it was more like Feather Fall.

My understanding is that you'd fall (up to 150 feet) assuming you didn't make your Reflex save, and only after 150 feet of falling (1 round) would you get a chance to cast said spell.

Is that a correct interpretation of the Traps + Swift Actions + Falling rules?

Curmudgeon
2010-11-15, 09:03 AM
My understanding is that you'd fall (up to 150 feet) assuming you didn't make your Reflex save, and only after 150 feet of falling (1 round) would you get a chance to cast said spell.

Is that a correct interpretation of the Traps + Swift Actions + Falling rules?
If you're a winged character that's the right distance (of course, you'd probably just fly instead). But nonwinged characters drop a lot faster than the stall speed for those with wings. This is all worked out in the FAQ, but essentially:

You fall about 500' in the first round and reach terminal velocity just about the end of that round.
You fall 1200' each round thereafter.

Person_Man
2010-11-15, 10:34 AM
It's a DM call.

I would rule that he could not use Swift Fly because he was surprised by the trap, and thus Flat Footed. Someone who is Flat Footed cannot act until their turn in the Initiative, including Swift and Immediate Actions. But I could see how a more generous DM would allow it, especially if the trap was not a prelude to combat.

Grendus
2010-11-15, 11:30 AM
Honestly, it would depend. If you hadn't acted yet, I'd give you a reflex save. No leaping towards the edge (though if it only covered a single 5 ft square I might let you grab for the edge with a secondary strength check), but if you had a swift action ability like swift flight, quickened dimension door, Anklet of Displacement, etc you could try to blink to the edge. But the rules don't cover this, it's all up to the DM.

Ormur
2010-11-15, 12:17 PM
I would allow something that took an immediate action to save you from the fall.

Volos
2010-11-15, 03:08 PM
If you have already failed your reflex save to avoid falling into the pit, it would make sense that you wouldn't have the swiftness needed to cast the spell. Besides, I'd have a trap waiting in the next square, one with a longer drop and more damage, and perhaps even poison. The trigger for this trap? Casting said spell.

Darrin
2010-11-15, 04:08 PM
You don't have Feather Fall prepared, but you do have Swift Fly (from the SpC) memorized. It takes a Swift action to cast.

Can you get the spell off before you hit the spikes?


Depends on whether or not the pit opened on your turn. If you were actively moving when the pit opened, and you still had your swift action left, then I'd allow it.

Swift actions can't be used when it isn't your turn. If the pit opened during someone else's turn, then you'd need an immediate action.

If this happened outside of combat rounds... DM's call, but again, if the PC was actively moving over the pit and still had his swift action available, that should work. Otherwise, Reflex save.

ericgrau
2010-11-15, 04:38 PM
Technically by RAW you couldn't use a swift action to react to anything including falling. If you still have a chance to grab a ledge, step back or etc. then the DM might rule that you also have time to perform a swift or move action. Or a readied standard action, but that already works by RAW without DM fudging.

aboyd
2010-11-15, 05:10 PM
I would allow something that took an immediate action to save you from the fall.
Yeah, this. Immediate actions are designed to be used when it's not your turn. If someone had an immediate spell, they could use it. But swift actions are meant to come in the initiative order, on your turn only.

If you were not currently in initiative, then like most here I'd probably give a reflex save. If you made it, I might allow you to cast a swift action spell before the trap got to skewer you. It'd be very circumstantial.

Stegyre
2010-11-15, 06:09 PM
I think it's pretty clear that it's not RAW.

. . . and I'd allow it. Not that a game (especially a fantasy game) must be logically consistent, but some things do offend my sense of game logic:

(1) By RAW (as discussed above), if the character triggered the trap during his own phase, he could use the spell, no problem (provided he had not already used his swift action).

(2) By RAW, if someone else readied an action to trigger the trap during the character's turn ("I'll pull the lever opening the pit trap as soon as anyone steps on that tile."), the same result: he flies out of danger.

(3) If someone else triggers the trap during that character's (or NPC's) turn, the character gets a reflex save to avoid the trap. (Not certain whether that's RAW, but I believe in the principle of "Thou shalt not diddle players out of their saving rolls.")

(4) But if someone else triggers the trap during that character's (or NPC's) turn, the sudden-flight character is SOL, because he has a swift action save rather than an immediate action save.

The turn sequencing is a necessary fiction to order characters' actions, and also to create a necessary action economy. It can be exploited, and certain builds or strategies may depend on those exploits. IMO, this is not a good one.

If the character had a swift action available for something that could avert this disaster, I'd let him use it. I'm already acknowledging (by granting a reflex save), that he at least has the potential to react and avoid the danger, so why not allow this to be his reaction?

Actually, thinking about it, requiring the reflex save may be a good compromise for this and a number of other situations that have always bothered me: IF you can make your relfex save, you may use a swift or immediate action that you have available.

But perhaps that opens a whole 'nother can o'worms.

Mark Hall
2010-11-16, 12:18 PM
If you'd allow Feather Fall, I don't see any reason to disallow Swift Fly.

Tyger
2010-11-16, 12:21 PM
If you'd allow Feather Fall, I don't see any reason to disallow Swift Fly.

Feather Fall is an immediate action, which RAW means it can be used at any time. In fact, this situation is exactly what Feather Fall is RAW and RAI designed for.

Swift Fly is a swift action, which RAW means it can only be used on your turn.

That's the distinction.

Psyx
2010-11-16, 12:36 PM
Yes to FF, as it's immediate. No to swift fly, because it's not.

I'm assuming the player falls outside of combat. Typically they'd get a Reflex save to grab hold of the edge. If you fail that save it means that you're too surprised or too slow to grab on... which means to me the same would apply for the spell.

If the character FIRST declared they were using the spell, I'd maaayyybe consider it and allow a bonus to the Reflex save. Spell is used, either way.

Essentially: This situation is what FF is made for. Swift Fly might be a fast-cast spell, but it's not fast enough.