Rules Clarifications

Mage Hand and Open/Close

Question:

Mage Hand can be used to lift and move objects up to 5 lb in any direction.
Can it then be used to lift and move chest lids, door latches, levers or push/pull a door open or closed from a distance (close range)?

To what extent does this not substitute for Open/Close?

Answer:

90% of doors weigh more than 5 lbs in the game universe (because they're not hollow as most doors in real life are). The same goes for many chest tops - a fair number of them are either very solid or iron-bound (or made of metal to begin with). Unlatching a door is not nearly the same as opening it, and in fact if a door is latched Open/close will not work to open the door, as the latch is an obstruction. If the latch weighs less than 5 pounds, Mage Hand would be able to unlatch the door, allowing Open/close to function. Levers cannot be "opened" (except in very rare custom-designed cases), and as such would have to be manipulated in some other fashion, such as by hand, by lassoed rope, or by Mage Hand.

Mage Hand is one of those frustrating things to rule about, as the spell allows (at "maximum output") 25 foot-pounds per second (~33.8 Watts) of work done, but that potential for Work is not constant but rather limited in two axes: by the 5 pound weight restriction and the 5 ft/second movement restriction. Neither of these can be violated in the system of a functioning Mage Hand spell, so if whatever object you're trying to move either weighs more than 5 pounds or has some sort of restriction on it preventing from moving as slowly as 5 feet per second, the spell will fail. Granted, many levers are not restricting in either of these ways, and as such, Mage Hand would be able to manipulate them (though if the lever's arc is somehow longer than 15 feet, it would take more than one round to manipulate the lever).

In the event that any particular door, lid, or other object weighs 5 pounds or less, you certainly would be able to move that object with mage hand (at up to 15 ft per move action), but in certain cases this might not be enough movement to completely open or close the object (hard to imagine, I agree, but stranger things have happened).

On the other hand, Open/close has a weight restriction of 30 pounds, but completely opens or closes any container, door, window, etc. of 30 pounds or less that is openable or closeable, that you can see. Also, open/close is not restricted (as Mage Hand is) to non-magical unattended objects, and therefore could be used to open an opponent's backpack, for example, even if it's a Heward's Handy Haversack being worn by your foe. Unlike Mage Hand, Open/close is restricted to acting only on objects that can be opened or closed.


More to come, I'm sure!

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License