D&D 5E How do you DM Mage Hand Legerdemain and oil/acid/holy water

The knick is having the mage hand out though, because although you can use it with a BA, it takes an action to cast. So if it is not already out it when combat starts, it can be difficult to get it out.
As a DM we ran into this very early on, and yes it's a problem for Tricksters. Our AT got into the good habit of using his Mage Hand to open doors, thus always having the spell on and ready just in case. Not to mention, opening doors from a distance is quite safe.
 

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ECMO3

Hero
RAW - the hand cannot attack.

It's really only useful in combat for an Arcane Trickster, as it allow them to disarm traps or administer a potion (neither are attacks) as a bonus action.
You can also use it to steal things from enemies in combat - weapons, spell foci and component pouches, as long as they are under the weight limit and not being held. Stealing things from people is in the description of MHL, so it is RAW.

You can also use it apply poison, either applying an injury poision to an allies weapon or using an inhaled or contact poison against an enemy. Those would be a use an object, which the hand can do.

You can't use it to administer a potion, because potions are magic items and the hand is not allowed to use magic items. You could try to stabilize someone though, or feed them a goodberry.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
No one is claiming you can't. They're just pointing out that you can't dump it rapidly and accurately on someone as an attack, because the spell specifically prohibits making attacks.

It is not an attack, it is use an object. If you put the hand above an enemy and dump it out it is going to go somewhere.

The jug of oil is not invisible.

When you have invisibility, all objects worn or carried are also invisible. I believe Crawford confirmed this with Mage Hand Legerdemain specifically in Sage Advice.
 

It is not an attack, it is use an object. If you put the hand above an enemy and dump it out it is going to go somewhere.
Indeed. It is going to hit the ground.

If you want to splash a creature with the stream of oil that you're pouring out, you will need to make an attack roll. If you're prohibited from making attack rolls, you're not able to hit the creature, but the oil is still going to go on the ground.

See also "My familiar has the statistics of an owl, which include a claw attack. Therefore my familiar can attack!"

When you have invisibility, all objects worn or carried are also invisible. I believe Crawford confirmed this with Mage Hand Legerdemain specifically in Sage Advice.
Would you (and your DM!) actually accept Crawford's ruling on this? Those aren't always well-regarded for actual play.
 

jgsugden

Legend
As a DM, I'd follow the rules as written and not allow the Mage Hand to be used to make an attack role, and as an attack role is required to dump the material on he target ... not possible.

Then, I'd make sure I'd insert something into the game that allowed that PC to break that rule, and I'd provide them more opportunities to use the ability. Why? Because the players wants it to happen, it would be fun, and it doesn't break the game. It is part of their schtick, and being the one Arcane Trickster that can do it makes them feel special and cool. That is good for the game.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Indeed. It is going to hit the ground.

If you want to splash a creature with the stream of oil that you're pouring out, you will need to make an attack roll. If you're prohibited from making attack rolls, you're not able to hit the creature, but the oil is still going to go on the ground.

See also "My familiar has the statistics of an owl, which include a claw attack. Therefore my familiar can attack!"
Well I think you can do it with a contest, but even if it requires an attack roll; that does not necessarily make it part of the attack action. There is a difference between an attack roll and the attack action. Your familiar example actually illustrates this point.

From the Find Familiar Spell:
"..... when you cast a spell with a range of touch, your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell. Your familiar must be within 100 feet of you, and it must use its reaction to deliver the spell when you cast it. If the spell requires an attack roll, you use your attack modifier for the roll."

So even though a familiar "can't attack" (and I agree with you on that) you can within the limits of the spell, roll an attack roll for it to arbitrate success or failure for something other than the attack action that it can do. Your argument so far is you can't use oil in this way because using it requires an attack roll. An attack roll is different than the attack action and pouring oil on someone is not the attack action, it is use an object action.

The familiar cant take the attack action and as such can't use its claws but as the spell wording clearly demonstrates it is able to make an attack roll for things other than the attack action.


Would you (and your DM!) actually accept Crawford's ruling on this? Those aren't always well-regarded for actual play.

Yes, because there is not much point in the hand being invisible if what it is carrying is not invisible also. That would be largely irrelevant.
 
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S'mon

Legend
OK, I've read over Mage Hand and Mage Hand Legerdemain, and slept on this. One of my campaigns has an Arcane Trickster so it seemed worth putting the effort in.

My conclusion: the AT can pour out a vial (or similar) as a bonus action. They can pour it out while it's above a monster. There is a risk to the monster of it getting liquid on it, but the hand cannot make an attack roll, and the Arcane Trickster can't make an attack through the hand.

Therefore my ruling is that the monster should have to make a DEX save to avoid the liquid. I'd say DEX DC 5 if Tiny, DC 10 if Small-Medium, DC 15 if Large, DC 20 if Huge, DC 25 if Collossal looks about right. On a fail, some of the liquid goes over the monster.

Edit: I absolutely positively would never make picked up/carried items become invisible, though.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
So I play a lot of Arcane Tricksters and I have played with a lot of DMs and I have found a wide variance on how much they allow with Mage Hand Legerdemain in combat.

For example - the mage hand is out/active and the rogue is in combat. He wants to use a bonus action to pull a flask of oil (or holy water or acid) out of his pack and dump in on BBEG. Dumping oil is clearly allowed as it is in the description of mage hand.

Ranking the DMs I have played with 1-6 easiest to hardest.

1. The Santa Clause DM - It is one bonus action and it automatically gets on the BBEG.
2. It is one bonus action and you need to roll a slight of hand contested by acrobatics to see if you successfully dump it on him.
3. It is one bonus action and you need to roll a dexterity-based improvised weapon attack
4. It is one bonus action and you need to roll Arcana against his AC (thematically I really like this)
5. It is one bonus action to take it out of your pack and a 2nd bonus action to dump it on an enemy, so it takes 2 turns. It is a strength-based improvised weapon attack to hit with it.
6. The Grinch DM - Even though it says in the spell description you can dump out oil, you are not allowed to dump it on an enemy.

I have seen all of these examples with DMs and because the rules are ambiguous, all of these are defendable. I played with DMs that did all of these and 1 to 6 it DRAMATICALLY changes the power level of an Arcane Trickster Rogue in tier 2.

How do you play it? Which is best?
I rule that the Mage Hand spell cannot be used to make an attack.
 

Well I think you can do it with a contest, but even if it requires an attack roll; that does not necessarily make it part of the attack action. There is a difference between an attack roll and the attack action. Your familiar example actually illustrates this point.

From the Find Familiar Spell:
"..... when you cast a spell with a range of touch, your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell. Your familiar must be within 100 feet of you, and it must use its reaction to deliver the spell when you cast it. If the spell requires an attack roll, you use your attack modifier for the roll."

So even though a familiar "can't attack" (and I agree with you on that) you can within the limits of the spell, roll an attack roll for it to arbitrate success or failure for something other than the attack action that it can do. Your argument so far is you can't use oil in this way because using it requires an attack roll. An attack roll is different than the attack action and pouring oil on someone is not the attack action, it is use an object action.

The familiar cant take the attack action and as such can't use its claws but as the spell wording clearly demonstrates it is able to make an attack roll for things other than the attack action.
I do not believe that "cannot attack" has the same meaning as "cannot take the attack action", and believe that familiars have the former restriction, not the latter. There are ways of attacking that do not require taking the attack action. Trying to weasel around the prohibitions isn't like using the existing rules stating that the familiar can deliver your own spell attacks.

Yes, because there is not much point in the hand being invisible if what it is carrying is not invisible also. That would be largely irrelevant.
I do not believe Crawford shares your opinion, so I think it unlikely that you would actually accept his ruling.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
A penny dropped from a skyscraper can still kill.
Ahem! snort [stands up, pushes glasses up nose] AKSHUALLY... the Mythbusters proved in Season 2003 Episode 4 that a penny does not have enough mass to penetrate a human skull nor the concrete on the ground, even when falling at its terminal velocity. If it hits you it will sting, but it cannot kill you on its own.

[sits back down with arms crossed smugly, then looks around and sees no one gives a crap about his anal retentive bullshite and his face drops in shame]
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
As an example, one of my DMs let me use my Mage Hand Legerdemain to dump an entire waterskin full of holy water on to a vampire (equivalent to 4 vials). She had me do an intelligence (slight of hand) check contested by his dexterity (acrobatics). I succeeded and did 8d6 radiant. If I remember correctly I had Hex running against the Vampire at the time and he had disadvantage on the acrobatics check.
Yeah, I get it. The trickster can use it to do some pretty fine manipulation, but can’t use it to dump something out on someone according to the rules. That’s some dissonance in the concept of the spell and it’s uses.

But the reason it’s there is to avoid the kind of shenanigans your DM allowed you to get away with. You know any other cantrips doing that kind of damage on a bonus action?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Yeah, I get it. The trickster can use it to do some pretty fine manipulation, but can’t use it to dump something out on someone according to the rules. That’s some dissonance in the concept of the spell and it’s uses.
That's kind of what I was trying to get at earlier. There's a disconnect between what mage hand can do in the fiction, what is should be able to do mechanically as a result of what it can do in the fiction, and what its actual mechanics are. It's not quite a disassociated mechanic, but it straddles the line. In-fiction it can pour out a vial...mechanically it can pour out a vial...in-fiction it should be able to pour out a vial onto someone because physics (if there's enough liquid and you pour it out above someone, they will get hit with some of it)...but mechanically it cannot pour out a vial onto someone because game balance. I'm not arguing against the game balance. Or arguing against what the RAW clearly states. Rather my issue is the disconnect between in-fiction description, physics, and the game mechanics. You can lift up to 10 lbs and pour out containers...but mage hand also becomes magically clumsy the moment someone happens to be under the container you pour out. It's goofy.
 

I mean, I allowed a Warlock PC to use Mage Hand to slap a Bandit's horse, in the face, to cause the pursuing carriage to spiral outta control because the Horse wasn't having any of that bs strangeness.

And Kobold Press is gonna allow it in a Sorcerer Subclass to fire a bunch of handguns with multiple Mage Hands.


So uh, put me down for +1 to rule of cool.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
...but mechanically it cannot pour out a vial onto someone because game balance. I'm not arguing against the game balance.
I don't really think game balance is an issue. oil is 5 damage, after it is lit with something else using another action or bonus action (unless already on fire). Acid and holy water are 7 damage average. The cost for this is high too. You are giving up dashing, disengaging, hiding or getting advantage on your main attack to do this.

If you do it with someone other than a Rogue and need an action the cost is even higher.

I think the intent for balance reasons is you can't take the attack action, because that would make it unbalancing.
 

Irlo

Adventurer
I don't really think game balance is an issue. oil is 5 damage, after it is lit with something else using another action or bonus action (unless already on fire). Acid and holy water are 7 damage average. The cost for this is high too. You are giving up dashing, disengaging, hiding or getting advantage on your main attack to do this.
You must admit the question of balance changes somewhat when you start dumping buckets full of holy water onto vampires, though, right? :)
 

ECMO3

Hero
You must admit the question of balance changes somewhat when you start dumping buckets full of holy water onto vampires, though, right? :)
Yes it is. :)

I did not expect to be allowed to do that and at the time I don't think I would have allowed it as a DM. But I also was not about to argue it as the player. I think we were around 7th level when this happened. It was not something I planned to do. I filled my waterskin with holy water because we found a pool of holy water, I did not have another container and I needed it as a material component for protection from good and evil.

The whole story:

Our party was trying to escape from the vampire and his minions. Most of the party was near dead, one was actually unconcious and being carried by the Barbarian, although my character had not yet been hit. I started the turn with the vampire hexed, and with him blocking the only way out. I grappled the Vampire (I have expertise in athletics) and then moved him out of the way so the rest of my party could flee. I already had the mage hand out and it already had the waterskin full of holy water. When I won the check I figured I would dump out the equivalent of 1 vial and still have the other 3 but she said roll 8d6. Since the party was almost dead I was not about to argue. It still didn't kill him or even come close though.

The following turn I misty stepped away from him, dropped some caltrops behind me and then moved to catch up to where the rest of the party got with a dash on the previous turn. I had to leave my mage hand and my water skin behind. Since we never again made it to civilization, I spent the entire rest of the campaign bumming water off my allies.

Unfortunately the Vampire and his minions were faster than most of the party. They were not faster than me or the monk, but I had to essentially fight a running battle to slow them down for a couple turns until the Ranger, Sorcerer and Barbarian got way ahead and I could start double dashing.
 

S'mon

Legend
When I won the check I figured I would dump out the equivalent of 1 vial and still have the other 3 but she said roll 8d6.

I don't think I'd have had it do more than 4d6, the waterskin must be a pretty inefficient applicator compared to individual vials. Switching off regeneration for a round is handy, though. In game on Saturday a PC brought silver arrows to use vs vampires, I ruled they counted as radiant for switching off regen.
 

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