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Let's say I were to create a level 5 gnome sorcerer, and they happened to pick Greater Mage Hand as a spell. Since I get to set the weight of the character, let's say they're 35 pounds, and less than 50 with gear.

The text of Greater Mage hand reads:

Target: One object or creature weighing up to 10 pounds per caster level


An object can be telekinetically manipulated as if with one hand.

Does this mean that a lightweight gnome could fly? If not, why not? If so, how can/should this be limited mechanically rather than by GM fiat? This is... beyond overpowered, if it is allowable.

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Minor nitpick but sorcerers get 3rd level spells at 6th level. – amcintosh Aug 14 '13 at 11:42

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Just curious, but why do you think this is overpowered?

The spell Fly is available at 5th level, since it is a 3rd level spell. Directing the Mage Hand is "a move-equivalent action", and moving under the influence of Fly is a move action. Mage Hand seems to have a far greater maneuverability, but given the duration is a lot less, that doesn't seem that out of balance.

Edit: Due to the way concentration works, you can concentrate on a spell with duration: concentration for as long as you want. Thus, Mage Hand has infinite duration- theoretically. Practically, it costs a standard action to maintain concentration, and you cannot cast spells while concentration. In combat, a wizard not casting spells and with no standard action is not in any way overpowered. Out of combat, infinite duration fly is cool- but five minutes of flight and my standard action is usually better. There may be some exploit making Mage Hand preferable, but apart from being able to roleplay "I can fly!" all day I don't know what it is.

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It is more powerful than fly, but upon second review, I agree not by much. It allows flight for any amount of time. Fly is significantly restricted in that regard for good reason. – Emrakul Aug 14 '13 at 6:34
Edited to explain why I disregard the duration disparity. – IgneusJotunn Aug 14 '13 at 6:46
Yeah, it's not overpowered, and in fact is strictly worse than fly. After all, it's a hand. How is that supposed to hold up a gnome? You'd have to wear a sturdy harness with a little carrying handle on it, and you'd be uncomfortably dangling the whole time. – SevenSidedDie Aug 14 '13 at 22:22
Even through the use of Extraordinary Concentration, which makes concentration a swift action, the movement would only be 20 ft. per round. They would be able to cast other spells at this point. As for infinite duration, only is the char does not sleep. – CrimRei Aug 19 '13 at 5:10
@CrimRei: no, the hand is holding you, or it doesn't work. if you try to do it by pushing the ground away from you, then the spell fails (the ground weights a LOT more than 50 pounds). it only works if you weigh low enough and are yourself the target. – Matthew Najmon Sep 22 '13 at 6:18

The warlock class from Complete Arcane can get an infinite-duration flight spell-like ability at 6th level, and that class is far from overpowered. The dragonborn and raptoran races get extraordinary, infinite-duration flight as racial qualities at 6 HD or 5 HD, respectively, regardless of class, and they’re LA +0. Using mage hand or greater mage hand in this fashion is a neat trick, but it’s not breaking anything.

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Well, as far as I can see... It's not THAT overpovered. The reason? It's just a weak telekinesis with very limited duration (just while you are concentrating. And yeah, enemy won't stop shooting arrows at you just because it's not very nice).

Sure, you can fly with this spell, why not? But there is one point that makes it not that good. You get "Fly" spell on the same level AND it's 1 min/level instead of "Concentration" time. What does that mean? You can fly for 5 minutes on 5th CL AND do stuff at the same time instead of getting out of your way to just keep floating. And then there's Levitate spell which is 2nd level spell and 1 min/level. Sure, Greater Mage Hand gives you more utility use, but in terms of staying in the air it's utterly inferior to these spells, as far as I understand. So - no, it's not overpowered, it's just trading "power" for "versatility"

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