Does Evards Black Tentacles affect the 5 foot cubes above its area?

So I’m playing in a tomb of annihilation game and there were some succubi that we were fighting. We had information ahead of time that a lot of them were grouped up together talking to someone and so I decided it would be a good time to whip out my new spell Evard’s Black Tentacles. Now the problem is that the Dm said that the creatures are flying creatures and are unaffected.

My problem is this, when the spell designates that the 20 foot square area is the area of the spell, does that actually mean hostile enemies have to be physically touching the ground or does the spell reasonably affect the 5 foot cubes that the 20 foot square has above them.

In Forgotten Realms lore, can gods use spells above 9th level?

After Karsus’s folly, Mystra imposed a ban on use of magic above 9th level (I believe there are specific conditions for 10th level spells, but that’s not the main issue here). However, I believe the specific mentions of Mystra’s Ban have unclear wording:

In the aftermath of Netheril’s fall, however, Mystra banned certain high-level spells that she deemed too powerful for mortals to wield responsibly. Thus, current-day spellcasters no longer have access to true spells of 10th level and higher. Instead, access to epic magic comes via two feats—Improved Spellcasting Capacity and Epic Spellcasting—that function in very different ways.

(p43, Lost Empires of Faerun)

When Mystryl reincarnated herself—this time as Mystra—she used the form of a beautiful peasant girl learning the basics of cantra magic but with the capacities for archwizardry. Her first priority was to recreate the weave of magic. This time, she made magic follow a few more rules, and no spell above 10th level would function.

(p12, Netheril: Empire of Magic)

The second text seems to imply that the weave doesn’t allow for spells above 10th level. Which means that the gods, if they use the weave, couldn’t either. The first one, however, says that this ban is due to mortals not being responsible enough to use those spells. So perhaps the gods, who haven’t shown such irresponsibility, can use them?

I fear that other source material isn’t particularly optimistic. The Deities & Demigods book for 3e doesn’t mention the use of spells above 9th level.

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Are there any spell level restrictions, above 3rd, for an Arcane Trickster Rogue without multi-classing?

When leveling a pure bread (non-multi-classed) Rogue, at 3rd level you can chose the Arcane Trickster Archetype; and you are only allowed to choose 1st level wizard spells.

You know three 1st-level wizard spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the enchantment and illusion spells on the wizard spell list. The Spells Known column of the Arcane Trickster Spell casting table shows when you learn more wizard spells ‘of 1st level or higher’. Each of these spells must be an enchantment or illusion spell of your choice, and must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

Per the PHB at 7th level you can only choose a 1st or 2nd level spell. There is no mention of being able to choose a 4th (or higher) level spell. The confusion I am having is in the wording much like this question:

What spells can an Arcane Trickster Rogue choose from when gaining levels?

"Higher Levels" is mentioned multiple times however it is not clear if they are referring to higher character levels or higher spell levels.

It states here:

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the wizard spells you know with another spell of your choice from the wizard spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots, and it must be an enchantment or illusion spell, unless you’re replacing the spell you gained at 3rd, 8th, 14th, or 20th level from any school of magic.

With no restrictions as to what spell level as long as it’s a Wizard spell.

My Question: What is the highest spell level I can choose at each level for a Rogue Arcane Trickster?

Can you flank from above?

If a character is on top of a creature, does this count for flanking?

Context: a group I play in was killing a dragon, and one of my fellow players (a fighter) grappled it and hung on to its neck. One of the other fighters stabbed it on her next turn, and the DM was unsure whether the dragon was flanked or not. Eventually, he said that sure, it was flanked, because technically there was a straight line drawn between the two characters. This group runs pretty heavily on RAF (as evidenced by the polymorph incidents), so this isn’t a “was this right” question. The decision worked for us, but I was curious about what RAW says on it.

Thus: Can you be counted as an enemy for flanking when you are on top of the target? When you are grappling the target? What rules prove this one way or another?

Does the illusion described in the spell mental prison extend to the space above the target creature?

The spell text reads:

you make the area immediately around the target’s space appear dangerous in some way. (XGtE, pg. 161)

And the spell’s 10d10 damage triggers when,

the target is moved out of the illusion…or reaches any part of its body through it.

It seems this can be interpreted to mean the illusion appears on all sides around the target and not necessarily above the target. Can a creature with immunity to restrained and a flying speed avoid the 10d10 damage by flying up and out of the illusion?

What happens when a character fails to reject influence that would put a label above +3 or below -2?

The Labels in Masks are fixed between -2 and +3. From the rulebook:

If you ever need to shift a Label and can’t (because the Label is at +3 and would shift up, or is at -2 and would shift down), you must mark a condition, GM’s choice.

When a character with Influence over you tries to shift your labels, this can be prevented with the reject someone’s influence move, but:

On a miss, their words hit you hard. Mark a condition, and the GM adjusts your Labels.

What happens if someone would shift your labels outside the allowed range and you fail to reject their influence? Do you take two conditions?

When creating a character above 1st level, can you give them the effects of spellcasting services?

Page 199 of the DMG explains how new characters can start with magic items, even those they choose to make themselves (with the assumption these items were created some time before the character became a PC)

But let’s say a non-spellcaster wants to give themselves an extra point to an ability score. If they have 27,500 gp, they could start with a Manual of Quickness of Action and either use it immediately or possibly say they’ve used it already and begin with an inherent +1 bonus to Dexterity.

That book costs 27,500 gp. Using the formula on page 129 of the PHB, however, it would only cost 26,530 gp to have a 17th-level wizard cast wish on them as a service. For an 8th-level character (or a higher-level character with lots of other gear), that’s the difference between getting the bonus, and not.

Can the character simply decide to begin with this effect present (or a different spell with a permanent duration, like enlarge person+permanency, since 9th-level wizards are easy to find in large cities) and 26,530 gp less, or since the DMG only describes starting with magic items, must they spend 27,500 gp for the magic item?

Can you ever use an ASI to increase an Ability Score above 20?

My question stems from this one: Does the Star card from the Deck of Many Things increase your ability score above 20?

How exactly does increasing an ability score above 20, by any means, work at all?

Relevant quotes:

Ability Score Increases: Some of these features allow you to increase your ability scores, either increasing two scores by 1 each or increasing one score by 2. You can’t increase an ability score above 20. -PHB pg. 15

Manual of Gainful Exercise: …your Strength score increases by 2, as does your maximum for that score.

Say you have a Strength score of 18, and use a Manual of Gainful Exercise to increase it to 20, can you still not use an ASI to increase it to 22, despite the “maximum” now being 22? In fact, is 20 even the maximum for your ability score when using items; the quote seems to only apply to Class Features.

Can the Bag of Beans increase an ability score above 20?

The Bag of Beans states:

[…] 81-90: A nest of 1d4 + 3 eggs springs up. Any creature that eats an egg must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, a creature permanently increases its lowest ability score by 1, randomly choosing among equally low scores. On a failed save, the creature takes 10d6 force damage from an internal magical explosion. […]

Interestingly, this item does not a list a cap on the increase like nearly every other item:

  • Star card of the Deck of Many Things:

Increase one of your ability scores by 2. The score can exceed 20 but can’t exceed 24.

  • Ioun Stone of Agility:

Your Dexterity score increases by 2, to a maximum of 20 […]

Even Ability Score Increases and similar features clauses under “Class features and Hit Dice” and also under “Ability Score and Modifiers”:

[…] You can’t increase an ability score above 20. […]

[…] Adventurers can have scores as high as 20 […]

There are also a multitude of “half-feats” which include lines like the following:

Increase your Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.

Meanwhile there are other items that explicitly increase the maximum of 20 such as the Manual of Gainful Exercise:

[…] your Strength score increases by 2, as does your maximum for that score.

The Bag of Beans does not list a maximum score from its ability score increases; does this mean it does not have one?

If the inherent maximum is actually 20, does that mean that things like the Ioun Stone of Agility and various half-feats did not have to include “to a maximum of 20” in their descriptions?

Some related questions:

  • Does changing race allow for the increase of ability scores beyond 20?
  • Can you ever use an ASI to increase an Ability Score above 20?