Prior questions have established that the 5th Edition iteration of Tenser's Floating Disc can move around obstacles, but will not move (or even exert horizontal force) when it does not have a legal path to a position within 20 feet of the caster. Therefore:

Suppose an enterprising wizard were to commission the construction of a structure on an empty field. The structure consists of a spiraling ten-foot-tall wooden wall or fence, with an outer radius of 100 feet, an inner radius of 20 feet, and a distance between each loop of 5 feet, thus creating a spiral corridor 5 feet wide and about 6000 feet long. A gate is placed at the outside opening of the spiral, and ladders and bridge over the structure allow the wizard to climb up and over the spiral to easily move from the outside to the inside.

An overhead view of the structure

The wizard, who has no sense of right and wrong and therefore has not tested the following procedure at all, then offers any curious onlookers an exciting experience for a modest fee. The wizard casts Tenser's Floating Disk while outside the spiral and has the attendee seat themselves upon it. The wizard then climbs the ladder and traverses the bridge until they are in the center of the spiral structure. Then they signal to an assistant stationed outside the spiral wall, who opens the gate. At this point, the floating disk has a path to a space within 20 feet of the wizard which does not violate any of its movement constraints.

Does the disk move along the spiral path, and if so, how quickly?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan By my understanding of the rules, the floating disk is unable to ascend ladders or to rise more than 10 feet straight up, so it can't follow the wizard up and over the fence. But if it helps, imagine a roof over the entire structure and a roofed enclosure with a gate into the maze wherein the wizard conjures the disk. The underlying question is whether the disk will traverse an arbitrarily convoluted legal path from its location to a point within 20 feet of the caster, and how fast it does so. \$\endgroup\$
    – sptrashcan
    Aug 13 '17 at 10:36
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I believe that for the purpose of this question, any discrepancies (like the maze wall thickness, and that it should be less than 100 feet in diameter actually) can be handwaved. The real question is the pathfinding algorithm and the move speed of the disk. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Aug 14 '17 at 3:42

Unfortunately, the only thing that can be said based on RAW is that it will move once the gate is opened and end up at the inside of the spiral.

It isn't explicit, but it's heavily implied that it should travel the full path. If it didn't have to, obstacles wouldn't be a problem.

The biggest contention is the speed. The spell description does not list a speed. No ruling can be made on how fast it travels unless Wizards comes out with an errata. Previous editions had speeds listed, so the exclusion had to have been deliberate. The lack of correction, with at least two erratum published, seems to contradict the idea that it was an oversight or accident. Ultimately, this is going to have to come down to DM fiat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am going to tentatively accept this answer. I asked in the hope that a speed or at least an upper bound could be inferred from the interaction of other rules I hadn't considered, but it seems the general consensus is that the speed really is undeterminable under the rules as written. \$\endgroup\$
    – sptrashcan
    Aug 13 '17 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're willing to look at older rules... D&D 3.5E specified that Tenser's Floating Disc was speed-capped at the normal (unbuffed/unmodified) walking speed of the person who cast the spell. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 5 '18 at 2:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I noted this. Previous editions did have a speed cap, but 5e RAW, which this question is asking about, doesn't have any speed listed at all. This omission seems deliberate. So older editions' rules are the exact opposite of what we are looking for. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 5 '18 at 4:10

If I carefully craft a contraption that allows a spell to exhibit a behavior according to the RAW (Rules As Written) it will exhibit that behavior.

The unspecified details of how it exhibits that behavior are something you learn when you cast it. You try it and see. If you're lucky it behaves the same way every time you cast it. It might not. This isn't science, it's magic.

Whole adventures could be centered around penetrating the mysteries of such behavior. It may turn out that your particular copy of the spell actually achieves this effect by summoning a demon that occupies the astral plane while packing your stuff. It maybe that you're really bound to the disk with an astral tether that you had put under tension when you pulled away. It may be that the disk violently vibrates as it tries to find a path to you and bangs into things. And these may be different every time you cast it.

In short, try it and see. It may be that your DM has no sense of right and wrong either.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would +1 for the first sentence, but I have significant reservations about the rest of the answer, especially for a question with the RAW tag. \$\endgroup\$
    – Icyfire
    Aug 13 '17 at 16:03

The disk moves along the path to the center. The speed at which the disk moves is undefined, but presumably at least sufficient to keep up with your average wizards ambling around at average wizard pace (since this seems to be the intent of the spell's moving at all), and possibly infinite. How fast the disk moves in your particular game and why it moves that fast is a matter of setting. As you note in comments, a fence really is sufficient-- the disk can't ascend or descend more than 10'.

This is a reasonable carnival attraction.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ But does it follow the speed of an African or European Wizard? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Aug 14 '17 at 3:39

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