What can you do with Mage Hand

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I can not be the first DM faced with a creative PC who wants to use the Mage Hand cantrip for this or that. And this topic must have been discussed previously, but I did not find the thread.

Cantrip Description:
"You conjure a spectral, floating hand in an unoccupied square within range. The hand picks up, moves, or manipulates an adjacent object weighing 20 pounds or less and carries it up to 5 squares. If you are holding the object when you use this power, the hand can move the object into a pack, a pouch, a sheath, or a similar container and simultaneously move any one object carried or worn anywhere on your body into your hand.
As a move action, you can move the hand up to 5 squares. As a free action, you can cause the hand to drop an object it is holding, and as a minor action, you can cause the hand to pick up or manipulate a different object."


So the word "manipulates" becomes quite important.
1. Can it be used to unlock a chest from a distance if you have the key?
2. Can it be used to open an unlocked door from a distance
3. Can it pull a rope in any direction?
4. Can it open an unlocked chest

I said no to 1,2, and 4 above as I get the feeling reading the text that the hands can only exercise a pull or push force to an object it can grasp with the hand. If the answer is - yes it can do the things above - it becomes a quite powerful cantrip to avoid traps for low level characters.

Any guidance from anyone?
My personal take is that 1, 2, and 4 are all valid uses, since I consider those "manipulation."

Perhaps you can draw the line at anything that would require a skill check? For example, you can turn a key with Mage Hand, but you can't use lockpicks to make a long-distance Thievery check?
Smack the wizard around with a Carp while saying "No"?

...

Actually, smack you around with a Carp while saying "Read the DMG." ;)

You're still thinking of traps like "Here's the treasure... PSYCH! 2d10 damage!" Traps are parts of encounters now, not random things thrown about to screw over the man on point.
1. Can it be used to unlock a chest from a distance if you have the key?
Yes.

2. Can it be used to open an unlocked door from a distance
Yes

3. Can it pull a rope in any direction?

Yes

4. Can it open an unlocked chest?
Yes
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
(from a previous discussion)

Can you move the hand vertically?
Can you move the hand vertically?

Depends on how the person chooses to ask Customer Service. Omitting context can go a long way toward receiving clipped answers. :D
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Any guidance from anyone?

I just let it do whatever a regular hand could do, with the 20-lb weight limit strictly enforced.

-Lefty
make sure to have some limits to the traps, make it a pressure plate on the tile, not on the key hole.
My personal take is that 1, 2, and 4 are all valid uses, since I consider those "manipulation."

Perhaps you can draw the line at anything that would require a skill check? For example, you can turn a key with Mage Hand, but you can't use lockpicks to make a long-distance Thievery check?

I like the line with anything that would require a skill check. 20 pounds would mean the same as a Strength score of 1 or 2 (depending on if you see it as normal or heavy load).
i've got a player who tried to use mage hand to poke at the eyes of a monster during a combat encounter. having to think on the fly, i allowed him to do it as a minor action (manipulating object) and make a roll of Int vs Ref. i probably should have imposed a penalty since he's trying to manipulate a very small object (creature's eyes). when successful, it caused the monster to be affected by the blindness state until the end of its next round.

i'm kinda looking for people's opinions on this, on whether the method i used is too advantageous to the players and what i can do to balance it out.
i'm kinda looking for people's opinions on this, on whether the method i used is too advantageous to the players and what i can do to balance it out.

This is very wrong.

Making it a minor action means you can do it three times a round.

But even worse, you're allowing a mage hand to do something that a player could not, unless you houserule otherwise. As far as I can see (no pun intended), blindness can only be afflicted with daily powers, or mid-level encounter powers. You're allowing it to happen with a low-level at-will. Not cool at all.

This bears mentioning in every mage hand thread, because these things come up all the time: A mage hand is weak, slow, and has no sense of touch. Anything you can do with your mage hand, I can do 100 times better with my two hands. If you're not comfortable having a PC doing the exact same as the mage hand with a substantial advantage, don't allow it.
Deaths caused by mage hand in my 3e campaigns 30 over a 5yr period 6 kills a year (uses in a lethal attempt per year 7)
mage hand is a very versatile weapon back in 3e and I don't think it has changed much in 4e you just have to be very creative, I once had a charcter that had it attack with a rusty nail that he had found, it killed the goblin, it only did one point of damage but the goblin just couldn't grab a hold of the mage hand to disarm it, plus he tried to run away.
In 4e I haven't had a wizard try to kill with mage hand probably because they aren't desperate enough what with their at will powers dealing more damage, but I have seen many things done with mage hand from dropping objects from the sky on peoples heads to causing distractions to allow the party to sneak away or the thief to steal.

remember that mage hand is a crazy useful spell just like prestidigitation, and any other cantrip used properly.
This is very wrong.

Making it a minor action means you can do it three times a round.

not really. the mage still needs to spend one minor action to sustain the spell, and a move action to move the hand to the square where the monster is.

But even worse, you're allowing a mage hand to do something that a player could not, unless you houserule otherwise. As far as I can see (no pun intended), blindness can only be afflicted with daily powers, or mid-level encounter powers. You're allowing it to happen with a low-level at-will. Not cool at all.

i dont see why a creative fighter would not be able to do this as well (throwing sand, etc). furthermore, goblin hexers (level 3 controller) a very common monster for level 1 combat encounters, have a range 10 at-will spell that not only blinds (save ends) but damages their target.

This bears mentioning in every mage hand thread, because these things come up all the time: A mage hand is weak, slow, and has no sense of touch. Anything you can do with your mage hand, I can do 100 times better with my two hands. If you're not comfortable having a PC doing the exact same as the mage hand with a substantial advantage, don't allow it.

its true that a mage hand spell can only manipulate objects weighing 20 pounds or less (PHB 158), but if someone were to poke at your eyes with the force of 20 pounds behind it, it would hurt something awful.
i dont see why a creative fighter would not be able to do this as well (throwing sand, etc). furthermore, goblin hexers (level 3 controller) a very common monster for level 1 combat encounters, have a range 10 at-will spell that not only blinds (save ends) but damages their target.

So let's the this straight: You would be comfortable allowing any character to use their move and minor actions to get two eye-poking attacks to inflict blindness, and still use their standard action to attack as normal, every single round?

Are you going for a Three-Stooges style of combat?
So let's the this straight: You would be comfortable allowing any character to use their move and minor actions to get two eye-poking attacks to inflict blindness, and still use their standard action to attack as normal, every single round?

Are you going for a Three-Stooges style of combat?

If you're talking about the wizard with the mage hand spell, they only get to 'eye-poke' once per round at the cost of their attack: minor action to sustain mage hand, move action to move the hand to the square where the enemy is, standard-to-minor action to 'poke'. So no, there isn't a way for the wizard to take 2 eye-poking actions and still attack as normal "every single round." The only way for the wizard to get 2 eye-pokes a round is if they either spent an action point, or if the mage hand were already on the target square from the previous round. If the latter were the case, then it means the wizard is standing 5 squares away from the enemy (mage hand ranged 5), thus the enemy would have to be pretty silly to just stand in the same square when the juicy tofu-like wizard is within reach. Secondly, the 'blindness' status I'm implementing is a temporary state of effect, one that ends at the end of turn without requiring a saving throw.

In comparison to the above-mentioned goblin hexer's Blinding Hex at-will spell, the mage hand eye-poking technique doesn't do damage and has a shorter range. It usually requires some form of set-up (casting and moving the hand into position), puts the wizard closer to the battle and sacrifices the wizard's attack, all just to provide his/her allies a round of advantage. Personally, I like it when my players get creative and try to find some way of making it rewarding for them without making the game unbalanced, rather than just saying 'no'. But perhaps that's just me.
There's no comparison between PC at-wills and monster at-wills. They are completely different.

My point is this: What do you do when one of your players says, "Hey, if he can eye-poke as a minor action with his mage hand, why can't I do the same with my free hand?"
I just let it do whatever a regular hand could do, with the 20-lb weight limit strictly enforced.

-Lefty

This is more or less how I'm doing it in 4.0, with two important additional restrictions:

2) The text specifically says you can move an object up to 5 squares as a move action. I interpret this to mean that the maximum speed you can propel an object with mage hand is roughly equal to a steady walk. So you can't get something moving fast enough to hit somebody and cause damage, throw something through the air, etc., with Mage Hand.

3) I do allow Mage Hand to do fine manual tasks like, for example, making a Thievery check to pick a lock. However, while I will let you use Mage Hand to manipulate a lock and thieves' tools from across the room, I strictly enforce the idea that it does *not* let you see the intricate workings of someting (such as a lock) from cross the room any better than you normally can. So I often assess a substantial circumstance penalty on attempts like this, not so much due to Mage Hand per se, but because of the obvious difficultly of doing such an intricate task from a distant vantage point. If the players come up with a creative way of getting around this (I suppose you could use some kind of remote viewing divination ritual to get a closer vantage point, for example), I'll reward them for being creative and remove the penalty.


As far as poke-them-in-the-eye and similar tactics, none of my players have ever tried it, and I try not to say absolutely no to players, but I'd probably take a pretty restrictive view of such a tactic. For reference, a brisk walk is roughly 4mph. Even an untrained person punches at about 20mph, and trained fighters punch considerably faster than this. Even if I'm generous, and give the Mage Hand a 5mph speed, that's still only 1/4 the speed of an unarmed strike; I don't think that's going to be much of an eye-gouger. Even just moving it fast enough to hit the face of someone bobbing and weaving in combat is going to be a challenge, never mind any effects if it actually connects.

I'd probably rule it something like a Standard Action, INT vs. Reflex attack, at a -2 (or maybe worse) penalty due to the small target area and slowness of the attacking projectile. On sucess, rather than complete blindness, I'd probably just rule a -2 to attack for one round or something - I really don't see it as having the power to cause more than temporarily blurred vision and distraction.

So, in combat, the Wizard's almost always going to be better off just using an at-will attack power. But in a non-combat situation, I would reward appropriate use of such a creative tactic to gain some advantage -- distract the guard long enough for the rogue to make a Stealth check to sneak by him, etc. I'm fine with that.
This "eye-poke" is most definitely a called shot *shudder*. Why doesn't everyone run around poking each other in the eyes? Man, a sword in the eyes would be EVEN BETTER. And then, as a follow up, swing your sword but ONLY AT HIS NECK - if you hit, he's dead! Yay!



The very concept of eye poking with a mage hand goes directly against RAW and RAI. If you're allowing this, your house-rules are free-based. If you enjoy it (and all the subsequent massive abuses and contradictions), go for it! But I wouldn't expect a lot of empathy from most posters on these boards.
Im pretty sure that I would not allow a mage hand to work in the 'eye poke' manuever. Besides, wouldnt it be just as easy or even easier to allow the hand to interpose itself over the enemies eyes similiar to the "peek'a'boo" baby game?

Seriously, no attack roll would be needed and the enemy would be constantly blinded.

No, Im pretty sure I would not allow mage hand to be used in any of these manners.

I would allow a mage hand an attempt to pick a lock at a distance granting it an automatic failure and setting off any traps that may be on the lock...
No, Im pretty sure I would not allow mage hand to be used in any of these manners.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that all these little cute uses of Mage Hand should just be rolled up in to a ranged Aid Another action.
That's a great approach!
I certainly think thats a great practical approach as well. It gives a little benefit for the players and doesnt break the game, all while encouraging creative useage of spells.
3) I do allow Mage Hand to do fine manual tasks like, for example, making a Thievery check to pick a lock. However, while I will let you use Mage Hand to manipulate a lock and thieves' tools from across the room, I strictly enforce the idea that it does *not* let you see the intricate workings of someting (such as a lock) from cross the room any better than you normally can.

Keep in mind, that you have only one mage hand. Most lock picking techniques require the use of both hands. This is my opinion puts a damper on many "broken" uses of the mage hand. I would rule that you could get it to unlock a door with a key (minor action), but that actually opening the door would be another minor action. Some chest would require the use of two hands two open. I could easily construct mechanical devices, that require two hands thus making it impossible to activate them with mage hand.
All that being said, I do believe that there is something to be said for rewarding players that think creatively.
Someone incapable of lifting 20 pounds is going to have trouble with a rust-stiffened lock, or even just a very large padlock, and chest lids are another matter entirely. Even small iron-bound chests have heavy lids.

Someone else suggested going to a bathroom scale and pressing down on it until 20 pounds shows. That's it, mage hand cannot apply or resist more force than that, and it's really not much at all.

As for attacking with it, I simply wouldn't allow it at all, unless you spent a power selection on a homebrewed mage-hand basic at-will ranged attack. If you a superior mage hand at-will that goes and pokes at people's eyes, figure out what other spells it's equivalent to, and replace one of them with your new spell.

1. Can it be used to unlock a chest from a distance if you have the key?
Yes, assuming turning the lock does not require the use of more than 20 lbs of force, which is not guaranteed.
2. Can it be used to open an unlocked door from a distance
Again yes, assuming that pulling/pushing the door requires no more than 20 lbs of force, realllly not guaranteed in a dungeon environment. Doors are generally big and heavy, not lightweight like modern doors.
3. Can it pull a rope in any direction?
Certainly. It could lift a 50 foot loop of silk rope (5 lbs) attached to a grappling hook (4 lbs) 25 feet up, place the grappling hook, and repeat as necessary to fairly easily climb most things.
4. Can it open an unlocked chest
It depends entirely on the chest, and the opening mechanism. If the force required to lift the lid is more than 20 lbs, then it can't lift it. If a latch has to be held out of the way while lifting the lid, it can't do it.
Ranged Aid-Another action, i like it. Usin' that.
I just kind of assume it can do anything a child of say, 6 can do with one hand.

Edit: Oops! Sorry about the necro.