5E Can you cancel Forcecage early?

jayoungr

Explorer
This came up in my game last night.

It's not a concentration spell, and the rules don't say anything about canceling it. They do say that it can't be dispelled by Dispel Magic.

So, can the caster cancel the spell, or does it always last the full hour?

Also, does the cage stay in place if a monster successfully uses teleportation or interplanar travel to get out of it?
 
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DM Dave1

Adventurer
RAW, I'd say no, it never ends early unless someone casts Wish.

I'd also say it stays there even if someone successfully escapes via teleportation or interplanar travel. I mean, more than one creature could be trapped by the force cage and perhaps only one is a mage who can save themself. No reason for the other creatures to receive the get out of jail free card.

Out of curiosity, why did the player (or NPC) want to cancel their casting of the spell?
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Out of curiosity, why did the player (or NPC) want to cancel their casting of the spell?
The fight was against a boss and minions. The player trapped the boss in a forcecage so the party could take out the minions separately. During this fight, the paladin popped an aura that lasted for an hour, plus another character [ETA: had already] summoned an elemental that would last for an hour. They wanted to drop forcecage so they could fight the boss while the other buffs were in play.
 
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DM Dave1

Adventurer
The fight was against a boss and minions. The player trapped the boss in a forcecage so the party could take out the minions separately. During this fight, the paladin popped an aura that lasted for an hour, plus another character summoned an elemental that would last for an hour. They wanted to drop forcecage so they could fight the boss while the other buffs were in play.
Ah, possibly wrong tool for the job then. Probably should have tried Banishment (if known, prepared, etc). But it does create an interesting setup where the party could theoretically wait until 6 seconds before the spell finishes and Ready Actions accordingly (if boss was ahead of any of them in the initiative order). Assuming no other complications arise in the meantime...

I suppose if the Aura and Summoned Elemental were activated in a later round than the Force Cage, the party would have then have at least one round with these in play once the cage went away.

How did you rule?
 
Probably no hope for the paladin, but conjure elemental takes a minute, so you should get a few rounds out of it. If you killed the minions really fast, you might have time to cast most of planar binding (have everyone keep the big bad off of the caster doing the binding for the last couple of rounds), so you can keep the elemental around for 24 hours.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Do you generally assume a spell with a duration can be canceled early unless the spell description says it cannot? Or do you assume that it cannot be canceled early unless the spell description says it can?

Light, for example, says that it lasts for an hour, but it ends if you cast it again or use an action to dismiss it.

I can't think of any spells that specifically say they cannot be ended early.

Ah, possibly wrong tool for the job then. Probably should have tried Banishment (if known, prepared, etc).
I don't think anyone had banishment. The player (Bard) was excited because she was bringing out her "big guns" for this fight. I also didn't realize that forcecage required 1,500 gold pieces' worth of expensive components, which I'm pretty sure the Bard didn't have. I'm a little sad because it made the fight super-anticlimactic, but I guess the players are happy for being clever in saving so many abilities until the end.

I suppose if the Aura and Summoned Elemental were activated in a later round than the Force Cage, the party would have then have at least one round with these in play once the cage went away.
Probably no hope for the paladin, but conjure elemental takes a minute, so you should get a few rounds out of it. If you killed the minions really fast, you might have time to cast most of planar binding (have everyone keep the big bad off of the caster doing the binding for the last couple of rounds), so you can keep the elemental around for 24 hours.
The elemental had already been summoned several combats ago (the party had been using it as a trap detector through multiple rooms), and I don't think anyone in the party had planar binding.

How did you rule?
We'd had a long session, it was getting late, and I didn't want to rain on anyone's parade. So I told them I'd allow it once and then do some research.
 
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Satyrn

Villager
This hasn't actually come up at my table.

I'm mightily swayed by [MENTION=6921763]DM Dave1[/MENTION]'s "wrong tool" comment.
 

Dausuul

Legend
This came up in my game last night.

It's not a concentration spell, and the rules don't say anything about canceling it. They do say that it can't be dispelled by Dispel Magic.

So, can the caster cancel the spell, or does it always last the full hour?
As far as I know, 5E has no "dismiss" option. If the spell has no concentration requirement and the caster is not explicitly given the option to end it (as with light), then it persists for the full duration. This can become an issue with certain spells. For example, if you can lure a monster into a demiplane, you can seal it away forever--but only if you have a way to end the spell before the monster can force its way out through the door.

Also, does the cage stay in place if a monster successfully uses teleportation or interplanar travel to get out of it?
Sure. Forcecage targets an area, not a creature. There doesn't have to be a monster inside it.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
Do you generally assume a spell with a duration can be canceled early unless the spell description says it cannot? Or do you assume that it cannot be canceled early unless the spell description says it can?
If a spell requires concentration and has a duration longer than a minute, it can be ended simply by choosing to end your concentration on it with no action required.

If a spell does not require concentration and has a duration longer than a minute, it will have details in the spell description if/when the caster may end it (e.g. Phantom Steed, Geas, Imprisonment)

So, my assumption is that a spell cannot be canceled early by the caster unless it is a concentration spell or it provides details in the spell description.

We'd had a long session, it was getting late, and I didn't want to rain on anyone's parade. So I told them I'd allow it once and then do some research.
Yep, that's a good DM call, IMO. I would have done the same. But thanks for sharing as now I have a better handle on how to manage that in the heat of the moment.

All that said, players really need to master the rules of their spells as much as possible, which includes having spell sheets/cards for easy reference to their specific spell list during play. Questions about newly added spells can be posed to the group between sessions or before a session starts. The DM has enough on their plate during a session without worrying about the cost of components and whether an effect can be dismissed and...etc. Of course, sometimes it's not readily apparent that an aspect of a spell might be confusing until it comes up during play.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
In the games I'm in it's been ruled that the caster cannot end effects early if they lack concentration and the spell makes no mention of being able to end it early. Since I've never played a game past level 10 this hasn't affected much. The only time it's come up is with grease, where if we didn't want to wait the full minute for it to end before proceeding there was a chance we'd fall on our butts.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
All that said, players really need to master the rules of their spells as much as possible, which includes having spell sheets/cards for easy reference to their specific spell list during play. Questions about newly added spells can be posed to the group between sessions or before a session starts. The DM has enough on their plate during a session without worrying about the cost of components and whether an effect can be dismissed and...etc. Of course, sometimes it's not readily apparent that an aspect of a spell might be confusing until it comes up during play.
I remember toward the end of our Princes campaign during a climatic fight, the players wanted to polymorph someone into a dragon to help in the battle. We had used polymorph before in some edition of D&D, and these were all seasoned players who had read the spell description, so I allowed it even though something seemed off to me. I was juggling so much stuff at that moment that trusted their ability to understand the spell. The fight was next session, but in the downtime I read the spell myself closely, and you only transform into a Beast type, not a Dragon type. None of the players had noticed this very important detail, so I had to nix it next session and they went with a different plan of action.
 
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To answer your question, I will leave these 4 separate comics all dedicated to the misuse of forcecage:

(in order)
http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots1102.html

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots1103.html

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots1104.html

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots1105.html

(Or you can click on the first link and just advance the comic through the 4 pages.)

Edit: to clarify my opinion: I don't think you can end it early but I might houserule that the caster can use a second casting to dismiss it voluntarily. Which is a heavy price to pay but the advantage of a non-concentration prison is nice.
 
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MarkB

Hero
I've experienced this from the player side. Trapped a Bone Devil in the barred-cage version of Forcecage while we killed the rest of the cultists and stopped the sacrificial ritual. We could have then gone and tried to stab it to death through the bars, except that the underground temple started to collapse as a result of the disrupted ceremony. By the time we'd run out of there, the devil in the forcecage was probably the only thing left alive in there.

One solution to this issue is for someone in the party to have Disintegrate prepared - it will take down a construct of magical force in one shot.

There are other spells with similar issues. Whatever answer you come up with, you may want to consider whether it applies to spells such as Rope Trick, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion, or Demiplane.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
So far Sage Advice has nothing. During Season 6 especially in the Against the Giants chapter, I ruled that insect swarm could be cancelled early. It was slowing down combat especially once the pcs got the upper hand.
 

MarkB

Hero
So far Sage Advice has nothing. During Season 6 especially in the Against the Giants chapter, I ruled that insect swarm could be cancelled early. It was slowing down combat especially once the pcs got the upper hand.
I'm not familiar with Insect Swarm. If you mean Insect Plague, it's a concentration spell. Any concentration spell can be ended at any time by ceasing to concentrate on it - no action required.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I'm not familiar with Insect Swarm. If you mean Insect Plague, it's a concentration spell. Any concentration spell can be ended at any time by ceasing to concentrate on it - no action required.
No the insect cloud from the staff of swarming insects. It is found in the Fire Giant king. And in Season 3
Insect Cloud. Expend 1 charge swarm of harmless insect’s covers a 30 foot radius around you. Last 10 minutes. The area is heavily obscured. A wind of 10 mph > disperses the swarm
 

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