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D&D 5E Telekinesis damage?

gweinel

Explorer
Here is the scene.
There is a mage on the top of the cliff and casts Telekinesis on a 1000pounds boulder and drops it down to the party. Lets say the height is 30 feet.

How would you handle a situation like this? Attack roll? Dexterity saving throw for the party member(s)? And what damage the boulder would inflict?
 

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Waterbizkit

Explorer
It's got less to do with the telekinesis spell and more to do with what kind of damage you want a one-thousand pound boulder to do. It doesn't matter if it's a spell caster dropping it with telekinesis or a trap being triggered, not to me anyway so opinions will vary.

So that said I'd probably improvise the damage roughly based on the trap tables in the DMG. I'd allow a dexterity save to avoid the damage and damage would be 4d10+ depending on just how deadly I wanted it to be and what the level of the party was. But that's just my take on it while away from my books and shooting from the hip. Others might offer far better suggestions.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
Characters typically take 1d6 damage per ten feet fallen, and medium creatures typically max out at 400 to 500 lbs. A 30ft drop would be 3d6 damage for a medium character. If you double that to 6d6, that would be probably the ball park for the 1000 lbs boulder's damage from 30ft. For those in the area, I would say a Dex save is appropriate and for simplicity would probably just use the caster's save dc, with a successful save still taking half damage.

Edit: Also, why is this happening? Is the caster intending to hurt the party? If not I would say the caster is able to coordinate well enough with the party for them to avoid damage at all. If it is in combat it get's stickier, but should still be avoidable in some way at least for the players that haven't gone yet.
 
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Telekinesis is a 5th level spell so I'd ballpark damage in the same area as other spells of that level, like Cone of Cold. A 1000lb object dropping 30' is pretty impressive so similar damage to Cone of Cold (8d8) seems okay with a Spell Attack Roll to hit. If hit add a Dex Save at Caster DC to see if the target is pinned, too. Just a thought.
 

Devin Matthews

First Post
I would say 3d6 damage (30ft falling) then however much damage the boulder does. Dex save for half, or possibly becoming trapped underneath. It's really up to you but the suggestions here are solid.
 

gweinel

Explorer
First of all, thank you for your replies.

Edit: Also, why is this happening? Is the caster intending to hurt the party? If not I would say the caster is able to coordinate well enough with the party for them to avoid damage at all. If it is in combat it get's stickier, but should still be avoidable in some way at least for the players that haven't gone yet.

I am preparing an ambush from a mad driven cultists/bandits. The spellcaster is a warlock of the great one (from Volos). The party will be on a ship in a river journey. They will have to pass through a canyon and in the canyon there will be the ambush.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Don't overthink it. Don't try to wrap the rules together. Come up with a reasonable comp under the rules and use it.

If you throw it at the PCs right away, you'll avoid sabotaging the immersion. If you wabble back and forth on how to rule it, you'll take them out of the action. The first comp that came to mind was Biby's Hand Clenched Fist - 4d8. Then I thought it might be fun if a PC was restrained under it, so a dex save to avoid being restrained under it would be a fun addition. That took me 3 seconds.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If the party's on a boat (as per post #6) when this hits they're screwed! The key roll will be the warlock, to hit the ship with the boulder - if the ship's moving at any speed this would be tricky, and if it misses the ambush is in trouble. But if it hits...yeah, the outright damage might not kill them (in fact I'd even mitigate the damage a bit as the ship will absorb some of the impact) but the subsequent ship-sinking and possible drowning, plus whatever other missile fire and-or spells the ambushers can pour in, ought to put them in a world o' hurt. They're fish in a barrel; and you're into TPK territory.

And if the warlock has time to get another boulder going (is the telekinesis by device?) you're set! Or, if you really want to be vicious, use the telekinesis to hold someone underwater till they drown.

Lan-"if I could ever get my PCs onto a boat I just might have to nick this setup"-efan
 

Aston Line

First Post
Telekinesis Rules 5e Explained in Full

Telekinesis Rules 5e Explained in Full

Caster “flying”

It is established and widely agreed that the caster forms the “anchor” for the spell, and so cannot move as a result of the spell’s influence. For example, in crossing a chasm you could theoretically (provided the Spell’s weight and range allowances) sit all of your friends on a platform of some kind and then you could shift them over to the desired side. You however, would remain on the wrong side of the canyon. If you were on the platform too, you could not pick it up as you would be moving yourself.

Objects

As worded in the PHB:
“Object: You can try to move an object that weighs up to 1,000 pounds. If the object isn't being worn or carried, you automatically move it up to 30 feet in any direction, but not beyond the range of this spell.”
For comparison to something else, a polar bear weighs almost exactly 1000 lbs, so that is about the weight you can lift.

Objects Being Carried

“If the object is worn or carried by a creature, you must make an ability check with your spellcasting ability contested by that creature's Strength check. If you succeed, you pull the object away from that creature and can move it up to 30 feet in any direction but not beyond the range of this spell.”
In attempting to strip a creature of an item unwillingly, it is their Strength check against your “spellcasting ability check”, i.e. NOT a Spell Attack roll, it is your straight Intelligence / Charisma modifier + whatever is on the d20.

Fine Control

You can exert fine control on Objects with your telekinetic grip, such as manipulating a simple tool, opening a door or a container, stowing or retrieving an item from an open container, or pouring the contents from a vial.”

A point of contention online appears to be that people seem to not like the idea that you could theoretically use Telekinesis to wield a weapon with your mind. I on the other hand see no real problem with this and think in practice that it could rather fun.
If you were to try this, I would say that you make a “melee spell attack” with your Spell Attack bonus, and then the damage is just the base damage of that weapon. Obviously, not being proficient in any martial combat, or the manoeuvring of weaponry, you would not add any modifiers afterwards, but could be situationally useful.

Targeting Creatures

“Creature: You can try to move a Huge or smaller creature. Make an ability check with your spellcasting ability contested by the creature's Strength check. If you win the contest, you move the creature up to 30 feet in any direction, including upward but not beyond the range of this spell. Until the end of your next turn, the creature is Restrained in your telekinetic grip. A creature lifted upward is suspended in mid-air.”

Firstly, like with taking their stuff, in attempting to move a creature unwillingly, it is their Strength check against your “spellcasting ability check”, i.e. NOT a Spell Attack roll, it is your straight Intelligence / Charisma modifier + whatever is on the d20.
The wording for this part of the Spell is extremely poor to say the least, I could not understand how you can only move an object weighing 1000 lbs or less (and the object obviously isn’t contesting / resisting) but you can move a Huge creature that is fighting to stay where it is (for example, a Fire Giant’s approximate weight being 7500 lbs).

But after checking what Wizards of the Coast have to say it appears that “try” is the important word, and one for the DM situationally. Apparently even with 20 INT there is no way in a million years you would manage to pick up a Giant and suspend them in the air, (even a Bulette is a huge jump if we consider the 1000 lbs capacity, and that’s only a Large creature). You might, however, if they were busy fighting your companions, be pulled off balance by you. Fall prone, pushed a number of feet back etc… Additionally:
“On subsequent rounds, you can use your action to attempt to maintain your telekinetic grip on the creature by repeating the contest.”

The creature can repeat its save on every turn.

Damage

Okay, so this will inevitably have an occasional bit of improv on my part depending on what you influence, but the broad rules are as follows:
Fall damage in 5e is 1d6 bludgeoning damage per 10ft fallen. You fall at a default rate of 25ft per round (10ft per round with Feather Fall). So if you lift something 30ft and just drop it, it will take 3d6 damage. I will say that if you use your action to throw it into something horizontally, it will take the same level of damage. If however, you work with gravity and throw it downwards we’ll increase the dice to 1d10 per 10ft fallen.

Telekinesis has a range of 60ft, so if you want to hold something that high, you need to either be 60ft from it horizontally, or directly underneath the thing (which probably isn’t the best place to be).
For objects being thrown into creatures damage, I have until now just guessed, however, upon looking at what other DMs are doing, and comparing it to the damage of other spells of Fifth Level, we will say that a 1000 lbs object does the same amount of damage as a fire giant’s boulder, 4d10+7. If that 1000 lbs thing being thrown is another creature, the one being thrown will still take the 1d6 per 10ft travelled damage, as though it were thrown into a wall, but the recipient takes the much higher impact damage. If the creature being thrown is considerably lighter than 1000 lbs, then the damage dice of the impact will be adjusted accordingly.
 

jaelis

Oh this is where the title goes?
It is established and widely agreed that the caster forms the “anchor” for the spell, and so cannot move as a result of the spell’s influence.
Not sure I'd agree with that one. Are you intending to explain the rules as written, or just how you would play it?
 

Thurmas

Explorer
I think the suggestion several people have had of comparing the damage to other 5th level spells is the way to go. Just a few examples:

Cone of Cold - 8d8 (36)
5th level fireball - 10d6 (35)
Destructive Wave - 10d6 (35)

All of these do damage to multiple creatures.

The only single target 5th level spell I saw after a quick glance was immolation, arguably not a great spell, at 7d6 damage.

Perhaps animate objects, at potentially 10d4+40 (Tiny)?

I think what any of these show is that the damage potential shouldn't be small. After all, even gently setting a 1000lb boulder on top of something would do tremendous amounts of damage, never mind flinging it at them.

I would probably make it an attack roll or dex saving throw, that deals around 5d12 (32) damage. I would also not allow the same boulder to be used twice, having it shatter on impact, wedge itself into the ground, roll out of range, etc to limit the nature of repeating the same thing round after round. You could have a pile of boulders handy if you want, though.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I generally use the guidelines in Page 284 of the DMG which gives damage per level for custom spells for this kind of thing.

A 5th level spell is 8d10 if it targets a single individual, or 8d6 if you're thinking it would target multiple people and probably dexterity save for 1/2 damage. If you add other aftereffects like stunning you may want to drop the damage a bit.
 


Satyrn

First Post
Oh man. I think I'd handle this differently. It looks more lika an attack on the ship to me, and one that wouod just work. But I'd have the players spot the caster a round or 2 before he looses the boulder - give them a chance to prevent the attack however they might, but if they aren't real quick about it the boulder gets flung at the ship. Here, I'd give them another chance - one round - to stop/deflect the boulder. Failing that, the ship is hit, damaged, and begins taking on water.

So now, if they failed to act against the attack, they have a minute to deal with a sinking ship.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
You could make it more interesting by doing damage 6d6, plus chance to pin PCs under it. Since the telekinesis pretty much directs it to where it is going, have the PCs make Dex saves to try to avoid it. If they fail, they can be pinned (restrained) until they wriggle out with an additional dexterity check or pull themselves out with strength check. I'd even have them take 1/2 damage on a save, but no pinning.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Resurrecting this thread as I am curious myself on this one.

A lot of people are comparing it to other spells, but seem to be forgetting that Telekinesis can be used over and over again.

Any new guidelines in the time since this was last discussed on what appropriate damage would be?
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
Resurrecting this thread as I am curious myself on this one.

A lot of people are comparing it to other spells, but seem to be forgetting that Telekinesis can be used over and over again.

Any new guidelines in the time since this was last discussed on what appropriate damage would be?

Giants throw such things so should use them as a baseline.

Ranged Spell Attack - 4d10+spellcasting modifier bludgeoning.

Boulder selection will probably be limited. Some will be 2d10, 3d10, or too heavy to lift.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
So when I first answered this, I had assumed the caster was a player character and not an enemy NPC. Given that, I don't think a DM needs to follow any kind of specific rule or raw. As I see them, rules are meant for players' characters to be balanced against one another (to equalize share of the spotlight and fun) and to effectively provide a framework to understand what a player is capable of and their relative chance for success on a given attempt of some discrete action.

Things work differently for the DM. Rules for a DM act as a guide and give an impression of what might be an appropriate challenge for the players within a given context or scenario. A DM can choose to follow or ignore the rules, and they are given this ability due to the trust of their players to curate a fun and challenging experience/story.

So I would change my answer to whatever is appropriate for the players and the situation. Maybe the ship starts sinking and the players avoid any damage, creating a challenge for the players to deal with in addition to any combat on deck. Maybe they see the boulder coming and have an opportunity to react to either get out of the way or redirect it with their powers/abilities to save the ship or hurt their opponents. Maybe they take enough damage to weaken them and make the combat more difficult with no other side effect.

The answer changes if this is a player character using telekinesis in this way. But for a DM, I don't think its much of an issue.
 

Stalker0

Legend
So flaming sphere can do 5d6 damage per round (when its weaved up to 5th level), dex save for half. Now that is to multiple targets and with a bonus action (on subsequent rounds), but on the other hand its purely a damage spell.

Immolation does 8d6, dex save half on the first round...but only 4d6 future rounds (and dex ends). However, this one doesn't consume future actions. And generally that is considered a crappy 5th level spell.

Right now I'm leaning towards 7d6, dex save half. That's roughly in line with the 4d10+stat boulder idea from earlier, its a middle ground between flaming sphere and immolation. Considering the other utility uses for telekinesis, it seems a reasonable value.
 

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