[RPG] Is there no way to have a single casting of the Feather Fall spell affect a whole group of people who decide to jump off a cliff during combat

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I couldn't find an answer to this in my reading of the source books nor on Stack Exchange.

My players were engaged in an encounter in which enemies were able to manipulate air to "gust" them off a cliff. They did recognize that they needed to stay away from the edges but started to lose the battle because of pretty sour rolls. They decided they would leap from the cliff knowing that the sorcerer had the feather fall spell.

The description of the feather fall spell states (emphasis mine):

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.

Because of this targeting restriction, the spell could not be cast unless someone was already falling. As this takes a reaction, there seems to be no way to (prophylactically or otherwise) have the group under the spell if they all decided to jump in the same round of combat. In fact, it seems like it would take 5 castings (party of 5) over a series of 4 or 5 rounds to effect this strategy (with the sorcerer going last), which meant certain doom.

I decided to call the session (it was time) to give me a little time to investigate this, but I basically told them there was no way I could see saving the party via feather fall. They were quite dejected considering they/he thought that feather fall could be cast as a proactive spell so that they could all jump safely on their own turn.

Can I confidently confirm that I have interpreted this right, whether RAW or RAI? Is there no way to have a single casting of feather fall affect the whole party if they jump off a cliff during combat?

Best Answer

I ready my movement until Sorcerer's turn to walk off the cliff.

You are correct to observe that feather fall can be tricky to coordinate during the heat of battle, and that without proper coordination, it would indeed take several castings across multiple rounds. But there is an easy way around this: Ready.

The Ready action is described in the Actions in Combat section of the PHB:

Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn.

First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it.

If everyone in the party has the clarity of thought to use the Ready action to use their movement come the Sorcerer's turn, we can all wait till the Sorcerer's turn and jump at the same time, and fall peacefully to the bottom, thanks to the Sorcerer's feather fall.

But of course, Ready comes at the cost of your action and your reaction. You spend you turn's action using Ready, and you're committing your reaction for the plan to work. And a note for the DM - there is always the possibility of enemies complicating this plan with things like grappling.

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