D&D 5E Movement in whirlpool control Water weird dash action issue

We had an issue with The whirlpool part of Control Water:

Whirlpool. This effect requires a body of water at least 50 feet square and 25 feet deep. You cause a whirlpool to form in the center of the area. The whirlpool forms a vortex that is 5 feet wide at the base, up to 50 feet wide at the top, and 25 feet tall. Any creature or object in the water and within 25 feet of the vortex is pulled 10 feet toward it. A creature can swim away from the vortex by making a Strength (Athletics) check against your spell save DC.

The bolded part is what the discussion was about.

One PC is caught on the edge and he wants to escape - he's 20 feet under water. He has waterwalk that floats him up 60 feet up/round...but he's caught.

DM decides to give PC advantage to swim away.

Player rolls and fails. He then says, "ok, that's my movement, so I will use my cunning action to dash again and roll again"

Here is the discussion: GM says, you only get one check because dash action adds to your movement. It doesn't give you 'two move actions'. You've already failed your check, so doing a dash action won't work.

It's not a saving throw against the spell it's a skill check so, should he have gotten another check?
 

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toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
If movement worked as the Player wanted, versus this spell any player could say "I'm moving 5 ft." to trigger a check, then "I'm moving another 5 ft." to trigger a check, and so on until they're out of movement, thereby getting multiple attempts to resist. That'd be abusive at any table. As the spell says, you "can swim away" if a check is made. The check was not made. Ergo, they can't swim away this round.

You can look at a prior edition for guidance as well. In D&D 3.5, the water elemental created a Whirlpool near identical to the above effect. It said "each round" a creature could make a check to escape.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
It's not a saving throw against the spell it's a skill check so, should he have gotten another check?
This is the key phrase. Making that skill check takes zero of your move. And, like any ability check, takes your Action. So Action Surge is about the only way to get two checks in one turn.

Spells like Web work the same way. A Check is so nasty - it takes your Action, so even if you succeed you only have a move and possibly a bonus action left.
 


Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
This is an interesting spell interaction. Here's a couple of the key points that I see:

1) Let's first consider the spell Water Walk. I've bolded the relevant sections.

Water Walk said:
This spell grants the ability to move across any liquid surface—such as water, acid, mud, snow, quicksand, or lava—as if it were harmless solid ground (creatures crossing molten lava can still take damage from the heat). Up to ten willing creatures you can see within range gain this ability for the duration.

If you target a creature submerged in a liquid, the spell carries the target to the surface of the liquid at a rate of 60 feet per round.

From what I can tell, this spell doesn't specify the conditions of the liquid aside from its potential to deal damage. It doesn't state that the liquid surface must be still or calm. Weather it's a still pool, a raging river, or even a snowy avalanche, it is treated the same by the spell. Likewise, the later part of the spell does not specify the conditions of the liquid. It simply states the if you are submerged, you float to the surface at a specified rate.

So just from that analysis, I don't think I would have required a check from the PC in this circumstance. The Control Water spell doesn't specify that the effects of the spell counter or negate any magic ability to move through water. While it is a higher level spell than Water Walk, Water Walk is such a niche spell that is seems like it was tailor-made for just these kinds of circumstances.

2) Let's assume the PC didn't have Water Walk cast on them. How does the vortex created by Control Water interact with creatures that have higher movement speeds or additional movement modalities? The spell doesn't seem to care how fast you move. Whether you have a 30' walking speed (which translates to a 15' swim speed) or a full 60' swim speed, the spell says you either succeed that check or move closer to the vortex. To me, this is one of those ways that 5e has preferred simplicity and parsimony over a more simulationist approach to rules. Personally, I think it would make sense that a creature with more speed in the water would be better able to move against the pull of the vortex. However, with this spell a strong fighter with no swim speed may have a better chance at getting away from vortex than a weaker creature that is more at home in the water.

I think this spell would have been better if it were worded more like this:

Whirlpool said:
This effect requires a body of water at least 50 feet square and 25 feet deep. You cause a whirlpool to form in the center of the area. The whirlpool forms a vortex that is 5 feet wide at the base, up to 50 feet wide at the top, and 25 feet tall. Any creature or object that starts its turn in the water and within 25 feet of the vortex is immediately pulled 10 feet toward it. A creature can use their action to attempt a Strength (Athletics) check against your spell save DC. On a success they can move their swim speed away from the vortex, with the water treated as difficult terrain. On a failure, a creature can only move one-quarter their normal swim speed.

I think the above version helps to clarify the intent of the spell while allowing for creatures with additional swim or movement capabilities more consideration.
 
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This is a case of a player trying to bamboozle the DM. The skill check has nothing to do with movement, it's an action.
Nah. He just came from 3.5 where there were multiple ‘move actions’ and was confused. I’m just trying to get confirmation.

@Blue the difference between web and this spell is web requires your action to escape. This does not. It just says, ‘if you want to move’ you must succeed the check. So you could still try to move and then do an action. If you caught in the centre of the whirlpool, you have to start making saving throws to escape or take damage. That part is more like web

@toucanbuzz
Well, not just 5 feet of movement. He has 5 feet of movement which triggers the check. fails, uses his main action to dash, triggers a check and fails, uses cunning action to trigger a check and fails. He's used all his action and has done nothing for the round. (but this is how 3.5 did 'move actions'. I think this is where the confusion was.) The thing is, he wasn't IN the whirlpool. He was 25 feet from the whirlpool. Being in the whirlpool is like being caught in web or Black Tentacles: You're stuck and take damage unless you make a save. Being outside the whirlpool but within 25 feet pulls you 10 feet closer and trying to move requires a check....so it feels like two different things to me.

@Hawk Diesel the character also had fly cast on him. Fly, water walking and water breathing. Then he plunged into his own ally’s control water spell to try to save another, paralyzed, ally.
 
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
@toucanbuzz
. . . He has 5 feet of movement which triggers the check. fails, uses his main action to dash, triggers a check and fails, uses cunning action to trigger a check and fails. He's used all his action and has done nothing for the round. (but this is how 3.5 did 'move actions'. I think this is where the confusion was.) The thing is, he wasn't IN the whirlpool. He was 25 feet from the whirlpool. Being in the whirlpool is like being caught in web or Black Tentacles: You're stuck and take damage unless you make a save. Being outside the whirlpool but within 25 feet pulls you 10 feet closer and trying to move requires a check....so it feels like two different things to me.
Dash would have moved him much further from the vortex, at his swim speed, if he hadn't failed his check.

By the way, calling it a "skill check" isn't going to help the player get out of a 3.5 mindset. It's a "strength check."
 

aco175

Legend
I might allow the Dash movement to make a second check. I would likely have the PC make a second check if he was trying to sneak up to a guard, attack, and then dash to sneak to stairs.

Part of the issue is the player himself and if he was ignorant and just thought that is the way you would interpret it. Maybe allow once and clear the air on how you run it, or maybe allow him to retake his turn with the new information the way you see it as the DM. I would not want to play gotcha with the players for a rule that is not understood. Maybe next time once we establish how it runs.
 

I might allow the Dash movement to make a second check. I would likely have the PC make a second check if he was trying to sneak up to a guard, attack, and then dash to sneak to stairs.

Part of the issue is the player himself and if he was ignorant and just thought that is the way you would interpret it. Maybe allow once and clear the air on how you run it, or maybe allow him to retake his turn with the new information the way you see it as the DM. I would not want to play gotcha with the players for a rule that is not understood. Maybe next time once we establish how it runs.
I’m not the dm. It was a 15 minute discussion. No gotchas
 

Dash would have moved him much further from the vortex, at his swim speed, if he hadn't failed his check.

By the way, calling it a "skill check" isn't going to help the player get out of a 3.5 mindset. It's a "strength check."
I think the take-away is it was an ability check and not a saving throw. Also, it’s an ability check that doesn’t take up an action as it would if the spell was web.
 

Nebulous

Legend
the character also had fly cast on him. Fly, water walking and water breathing. Then he plunged into his own ally’s control water spell to try to save another, paralyzed, ally.
Water Walk and Fly both? I would think he didn't even need to make a check., He's be flying on the water or just above it. The spell would prevent him from submerging, right?
 

Water Walk and Fly both? I would think he didn't even need to make a check., He's be flying on the water or just above it. The spell would prevent him from submerging, right?
The player flew off the boat and plunged down 20 feet under the water and got caught on the edge of the whirlpool.

in retrospect, I feel he should have floated to the top after his turn because of water walk but I don’t know if he should have been able to fly out if the water If he was caught in it though.

but it’s kind of the point of the thread. To review the call and see if there was a different way to call it.
 

Nebulous

Legend
The player flew off the boat and plunged down 20 feet under the water and got caught on the edge of the whirlpool.

in retrospect, I feel he should have floated to the top after his turn because of water walk but I don’t know if he should have been able to fly out if the water If he was caught in it though.

but it’s kind of the point of the thread. To review the call and see if there was a different way to call it.
So he had water walk cast before he went down 20 feet? I would have ruled the spell repelled him and he couldn't have gone down at all. Only because there is nothing in the spell about picking and choosing if a liquid is solid for you or not. It is like "ground" for an hour.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
The player flew off the boat and plunged down 20 feet under the water and got caught on the edge of the whirlpool.

in retrospect, I feel he should have floated to the top after his turn because of water walk but I don’t know if he should have been able to fly out if the water If he was caught in it though.

but it’s kind of the point of the thread. To review the call and see if there was a different way to call it.
He should have been able to Fly out, as that's a different movement type that wasn't restricted by the spell. Only swimming is difficult.

That said, it's definitely an area rife for rulings. Although, I'd have made sure that any such ruling was in place prior to the PC diving in.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
@Hawk Diesel the character also had fly cast on him. Fly, water walking and water breathing. Then he plunged into his own ally’s control water spell to try to save another, paralyzed, ally.
Even more reason to allow the PC's plan to work. They used a significant number of resources to make their plan work. At the very least, rule of cool for attempting a heroic action should have allowed this to proceed without a check being necessary given everything that's been said here.
 

So he had water walk cast before he went down 20 feet? I would have ruled the spell repelled him and he couldn't have gone down at all. Only because there is nothing in the spell about picking and choosing if a liquid is solid for you or not. It is like "ground" for an hour.
We rule that it isn’t ground. You just float to the top. Like an inflated ball being dragged to the bottom of a pool, it floats upwards. So we say you can dive down and swim but you just float back up at the end of the round. Thinking back, I think the flying PC forgot he even had water walk cast on him.

the whole thing was a bit of a mess. Our party is traveling by water for a while so I imagine we will get it sorted out before the next time it comes up.
 


He should have been able to Fly out, as that's a different movement type that wasn't restricted by the spell. Only swimming is difficult.

That said, it's definitely an area rife for rulings. Although, I'd have made sure that any such ruling was in place prior to the PC diving in.
I see that. There was an argument to say that his movement wasn’t swimming but we also decided that your movement is halved while flying through the water. And since ‘swimming’ is just half your walking speed unless you have a swim speed, it should apply equally to flying speed.

there is an argument to make that fly shouldn’t work at all in the water since you can’t use a flying speed in the water. We just split the difference.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Here is the discussion: GM says, you only get one check because dash action adds to your movement. It doesn't give you 'two move actions'. You've already failed your check, so doing a dash action won't work.
I agree with others that the check is the character's action for that round, and you get just one check against the whirlpool per round.

I disagree with your DM about Dash though. A character with Cunning Action (CA) can Move their base speed and then perform an action, like Attack. If their attack drops their opponent, they can then decide (after already moving some) to use their CA to Dash to another opponent. It can't be affecting their movement from the first part of their turn (making them faster) at this point. One could always hand-wave it away, retroactively saying that the CA Dash was chosen at the start of the turn, but it flies in the face of the flow of events, and could rupture the space-time continuum. ;)
 

I agree with others that the check is the character's action for that round, and you get just one check against the whirlpool per round.

I disagree with your DM about Dash though. A character with Cunning Action (CA) can Move their base speed and then perform an action, like Attack. If their attack drops their opponent, they can then decide (after already moving some) to use their CA to Dash to another opponent. It can't be affecting their movement from the first part of their turn (making them faster) at this point. One could always hand-wave it away, retroactively saying that the CA Dash was chosen at the start of the turn, but it flies in the face of the flow of events, and could rupture the space-time continuum. ;)
In which case, it becomes another attempt to move against the flow of the water, which requires a check. This is what prompted the discussion
 

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