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The question Can I Have More than One Tenser's Floating Disk? inspired this question:

The rules concerning Tenser's Floating Disk states that:

It remains stationary unless you move more than 5 squares away from it, in which case it moves with your base speed once per round until it is within 5 squares of you.

This then begs the question:

You see a magician who is being followed by Tenser's Floating Disks which are piled high with loot. You kill the aforementioned magician.

What happens next? Do the Disks disappear immediately the caster dies, or do they faithfully attempt to remain within 5 squares of the caster despite the caster being deceased, meaning that you can take his body and the disks full of loot will follow the corpse until their durations expire or you move too fast for them and get the corpse too far away from them for too long, at which point they will disappear? Will something else happen?

I'm looking for an answer more based on RAW than opinion, with justification.

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What makes you think there's a RAW answer? –  Oblivious Sage Jun 17 at 0:59
    
@ObliviousSage Are there any rules stating what happens to cast spells if the caster dies before his spells' durations expire, is an obvious one. If there are, then that's an answer, if not, that's an answer too, based on the unwritten rule, "If it isn't written down that it happens, then it doesn't happen". –  Monty Wild Jun 17 at 1:02
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Methinks the real question here is "What is the base speed of a corpse?" –  Grubermensch Jun 17 at 2:13
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@DCShannon Being unable to move, or being unable to take actions, doesn't change your base speed. It just deprives you of the circumstances in which you'd apply it. –  Jonathan Hobbs Jun 17 at 3:20
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Clearly the disk will follow the magician into the afterlife, causing many adventures along the way. –  ioanwigmore Jun 17 at 3:55
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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The Rules

The only rules text I can find related to a general ritual's duration is from the 'Duration' description on page 299 of the Player's Handbook:

This entry shows how long a ritual's effects last after the completion of the ritual. The effects usually last longer than those of a power.

Tenser's Floating Disk has '24 hours' as its Duration.

Within the description for Tenser's Floating Disk, it says:

If you are more than 5 squares from the disk for 2 consecutive rounds, the disk disappears, dropping whatever it was carrying.

Let's assume the disk is within 5 of the caster when the caster dies.

The Issue

I think the biggest question here is whether the corpse continues to qualify as "you" or not. I would tend to think that a corpse is not the person that it was when it was alive, so I would say that the disk is no longer within 5 squares of "you", as you either no longer exist, or are in the afterlife.

On the other hand, the disk might not know you're dead, and just try and stay within 5 of your body. There's also the argument that death can be temporary in DnD, so your corpse isn't much different than your body when you're unconscious.

The Corpse is You

If the corpse is still the caster, then the disk is within 5 of the caster, and it will last out its duration.

Furthermore, if the corpse is still the caster, then when the corpse moves the disk will try to follow.

If you attempt this, a vital question is what the caster's speed is. Is it still what it was when it was cast? Is it what it was when the caster died? Is it zero since the caster can't move anymore?

I don't have any idea, and I don't see much guidance from the rules. Jonathan Hobbs made a fairly convincing argument that in DnD-4E, death is essentially an advanced version of unconscious, which is a temporary condition, which doesn't change your speed while in effect. That seems pretty reasonable, so let's say the speed remains what it was when the caster was alive. In any case, if the disk still identifies the corpse as the caster, then it doesn't seem to be paying much attention to the current situation, and I would expect it to use the caster's speed at the time that the ritual was completed.

The other question is where exactly you are. If we're going with the temporary effect concept, then you'd still be where your corpse is.

So, in this case, yes you could totally hijack the disk, and it would follow the corpse using the corpse's speed from when it was alive.

The Corpse is Just a Corpse, and You're Dead

If the corpse is just a corpse, and no longer the caster, then the disk is no longer within 5 of the caster.

A this point, the ritual's description says the disk "moves with your base speed once per round until it is within 5 squares of you". How to interpret this could vary wildly. I say you no longer exist, therefore you don't have a speed, therefore the disk can't move even if it knows where to go. Even if you want to use the speed of the caster at the time the disk was conjured, or at the time the caster died, I still don't think it would know where to go.

So, since it can't rectify not being within 5 squares of the caster, after 2 rounds it would disappear. This would occur whether you moved the corpse or not, since it no longer cares about the corpse.

Therefore, in this case, no you could not hijack the disk.

My Opinion

It makes more sense to me that the disk would remain stationary and disappear after 2 rounds.

However, given the nature of death in DnD-4E, it might be more in line with the rules to say that the disk follows the corpse around for its full 24 hour duration.

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If death affected your base statistics in some way, the rules would say so. Since the rules are silent on the issue, what makes you think that dying changes your base speed, intellect, or any other stat to 0? –  Ellesedil Jun 17 at 15:04
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In a similar example, let's say that you are permanently immobilized, but still alive. Do you still have a base speed? Of course you do. You simply can't take advantage of it. Why is that any different when the character is dead? –  Ellesedil Jun 17 at 15:05
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@Ellesedil The rules don't say anything at all about what happens when you die. If you want to stick to only exactly what the rules say about dying, then you can still take actions and continue like nothing happened. You're left to assume what death means, and I would assume that all your statistics are gone because you're dead. It's unclear though, which is why I specified both interpretations. –  DCShannon Jun 17 at 17:51
    
I'm inclined to go by Occam's Razor and say that since the rules don't say what happens, the disk follows the caster's body, dead or alive, and only does something else when the caster concentrates on it. The rules don't say the caster needs to keep the disk in mind or even be conscious for it to keep following, so why not dead too? –  Monty Wild Jun 17 at 22:56
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@DCShannon, the rules pretty much state that characters have a soul, and that when they die, it goes... elsewhere, and can be returned to the body, or reincarnated with the appropriate magic, so based on the rules, I disagree that under normal circumstances a character just ceases to exist upon death. Still, I agree that this has to be left to the individual GMs, which is why I accepted your answer. –  Monty Wild Jun 17 at 23:29
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