A boon too far? Riding Tenser's Floating Disk with Tenser's Circular Shield

Tenser's Floating Shield has the following propertyDDI:

You can use this item as an optional focus for the Tenser’s Floating Disk ritual. When you do, a force bubble over the disk prevents creatures other than you from moving anything on the disk without your express mental permission, and objects gain resist 20 to all damage while on the disk. (It can easily hold her weight based on her arcana.)

I put this item as part of the treasure parcel for last night's climatic encounter - the same encounter one where the mage first decided to use Tenser's Floating Disk as a perch. Now I'm afraid that being used as a mount with Tenser's Circular Disk as a focus will grant her resist 20 to all. What have I wrought?

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Wouldn't the combination of a disk and a shield be airtight...? How long do you think the air inside would remain breathable? – Monty Wild Jun 17 '14 at 1:11

This seems pretty simple to me. The mage is not an object, and thus would not gain the resist 20.

The clear intention of the Floating Shield is that anything you have stowed on the floating disk is going to be harder to explode.

Sure, your mage is probably going to argue that point, but you're the GM, and the intention of that item is pretty obviously not to give someone who is standing on the disk resistances, so I would simply inform the mage that she isn't an object and doesn't qualify. :)

Edit: Alternatively, it says a force bubble is what is giving the resist 20 all, so if you do allow it, just say that everything else has a resist 20 all to her as well.

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The "the mage is not an object" interpretation was what sprang to my mind as well, although finding a rules citation for it is a pain. The closest I could come was page 65 of the DMG, which lays out the rules for damaging objects. It begins with the phrase "like characters, objects have hit points and defense scores..." implying that in 4e-speak an object and a character are not the same. – AceCalhoon May 17 '11 at 14:49
I think the argument that if any damage coming in is reduced that any going out will also be reduced makes perfect sense. There's no little window for shooting out of it. – mirv120 May 17 '11 at 16:07
@dpatchery That just creates a bit of creativity on the part of the GM. Healer allows you to use a healing surge? No sir, the disk blocks that. Allowing the item to be used to unbalance the game just because the rules would allow you to do that would be a terrible idea. Though, I still think Mage doesn't equal object, so it shouldn't apply in the first place. – Cthos May 17 '11 at 16:46
@dpatchery If the GM says it doesn't work outright without any explanation or reasoning then that would limit gameplay. If the GM explains "you can't do that because the force bubble limits effects that pass through it (in either direction)" that I think would be a reasonable explanation. (It also helps if the GM does their best to limit special rulings.) If the GM can't adjudicate unclear rules then what's the point of having a GM in the first place? – mirv120 May 17 '11 at 17:34
@dpatchery No doubt, it's a fine balance you have to maintain. In this case I think it's as simple as you're not an object. You could also make it so that the field covers anything you set on it that is inorganic, and is snug as a glove, so you can't get under it. – Cthos May 17 '11 at 17:35

You can use this item as an optional focus for the Tenser’s Floating Disk ritual. When you do, a force bubble over the disk prevents creatures other than you from moving anything on the disk without your express mental permission, and objects gain resist 20 to all damage while on the disk.

While I see no reason that the ritual can't be used as a mount, I don't think the caster qualifies as an object.

EDIT: After some research I could not find any citations for what exactly constitutes an object. But we can infer that creatures do not count as objects from the language used in various places:

Darkness

Darkness prevails outside on a moonless night or in rooms with no light sources. Characters who have normal vision or low-light vision can’t see creatures or objects in darkness. Characters who have darkvision can see without penalty.

Teleportation

An effect type. A teleportation power transports creatures or objects instantaneously from one location to another. Typically, a creature teleports by means of a magical power, such as the wizard spell dimension door.

Tremorsense

A creature that has tremorsense can clearly see creatures or objects within a specified radius, even if they are invisible, obscured, or outside line of effect, but both they and the creature must be in contact with the ground or the same substance, such as water or a web. The creature otherwise relies on its other senses.

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If you tried to come to the table arguing that a mage is not an object, you would need some clear rules citations like this, because -- in English -- a mage is definitely an object. – DCShannon Jun 16 '14 at 23:57

I see several alternatives here.

1. You allow the mage to ride the floating disc, granting the damage resistance that is given to objects. However, you make her dismount before casting any spells. They are blocked by the force bubble. The mount rules probably make this cost prohibitive as dismounting and mounting are both standards.

2. Same as above, you just grant the Damage resistance to anything on the other side of the force bubble. This makes sense as firing a spell through the bubble will reduce the effectiveness of the spell. Again mount rules make this fairly cost prohibitive. And giving up 20 points of damage off the top is fairly lousy.

3. You interpret object to not include creatures. This is more limiting and I think the other two options are better. However, in the strictest sense it is probably the RAW interpretation.

4. Let her use it with the DR20. Find monsters that ignore damage resistance, do more than 20dpr or can knock her off the mount. Perhaps also make her grant combat advantage from squeezing (disc is only 3ft in diameter)

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I would have a hard time with #2 or #4. Keep in mind the item is only level 4, so we're talking low-level parties that have access to this. The resist 20 could easily be abused for scouting, defenders with powerful marks, pacifist healers, etc. And knocking her off the disk isn't an option as the disk prevents creatures other than you from moving anything on the disk without your express mental permission - although I suppose that language could be debated as well. – dpatchery May 17 '11 at 15:38
I see your point. It can definitely be easily abused. I have seen it mentioned that because its only 3 ft. in diameter you could tell the caster that they are squeezing while aboard. – wax eagle May 17 '11 at 15:55
+1 for the squeezing - this is totally correct, iirc from the rules, since it is less than 5x5. – aperkins May 17 '11 at 16:57

How about allowing a creature to be an object, and therefore gain the boon, but modify Tenser's Circular Shield to scale with tier, thusly:

You can use this item as an optional focus for the Tenser’s Floating Disk ritual. When you do, a force bubble over the disk prevents creatures other than you from moving anything on the disk without your express mental permission, and objects/creatures gain resist 5/10/15 to all damage while on the disk.

Still a pretty awesome boon, but not game-breaking. Thoughts?

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I don't have access to DDI... But how does this compare to other items in the shield's slot (which is probably nothing, since they can cast the disk and then stow the shield)? What slots do other items with this level of DR occupy? The other big question is how you interpret the movement prevention clause... Can the character still be pushed? Pulled? Grabbed? Teleported? Restrained? – AceCalhoon May 18 '11 at 3:50
If I recall correctly there are very few things that are a level 4 item which give you resist anything all. At most you'll get resist 5 to one type. I really don't think it is necessary to give the Mage damage resistance for the Shield, it's already making their loot-carriage neigh indestructible assuming creatures aren't objects. – Cthos May 18 '11 at 4:23
Has anyone done the math for resist? How many levels of standard defenses is probability-equivalent to 5DR? (Assuming the rider is 4th level, if that matters...) I do know that 5DR would make the player immune to many level 1 & 2 fixed-damage minion attacks - even if they hit. – F. Randall Farmer May 18 '11 at 14:22
For a Level 7 PC attacking a monster with DR5 would be the equivalent of a +6 to AC. (I ran the calc using a dwarf warden at level 7 weilding a +2 craghammer with his basic attack). Typical avg dmg vs 21 AC is 9.05, avg damage against 27 AC is 4.4. Not sure how avg damage scales with a monster, couldn't easily find that on a per level basis, id imagine its a bit higher and thus the AC boost wouldn't be as high, but its still impressive. – wax eagle May 18 '11 at 15:20
I have another alternative: If you want the Floating Shield to be able to grant damage resistance to creatures in addition to objects, make it so the shield, as the focus of the spell, becomes the means of directing the disk, so attempting to mount the disk while it is under the control of the shield becomes slightly more difficult and/or the disk spirals out of control when mounted with the shield in hand, as if it thinks it is constantly being told to turn or move in the same direction. – Cobalt Oct 24 '12 at 1:57