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It's established that Wall of Force can't poké-ball a tarrasque, but can it be cast in a way that squeezes smaller creatures? 7th-level Forcecage is clear:

When you cast the spell, any creature that is completely inside the cage's area is trapped. Creatures only partially within the area, or those too large to fit inside the area, are pushed away from the center of the area until they are completely outside the area.

But 5th-level Wall of Force is vague on this point, saying only:

If the wall cuts through a creature's space when it appears, the creature is pushed to one side of the wall (your choice which side).

But what if you make a sphere or hemisphere, or arrange your 10×10" panels so there's a section where two panels leave a gap only two feet wide? (Assuming a reading which allows the flat panels to be put at angles rather than next to each other.) The wall appears to the left and right of the target, but topologically the creature is facing the same side of the wall (call it the inside) and the caster chooses "inside" to push the creature towards.

Or, as Ben Barden notes, what about a stone wall on one side, and then Wall of Force on the other, pushing into the wall? (This problem would also apply to Forcecage.)

What happens? Is the creature squeezed between the walls? (If so, how squeezed can they be? What if there's only a one inch gap?) Or is that somehow an impossible configuration for the spell? Or is the creature pushed outside the area of the wall entirely (similar to what is described in the higher-level spell)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I'm up to two deleted answers in comments... Comments are for clarifying the question. Write answers in answers; if you 'don't have enough for an answer' - yield the floor to those who do. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Oct 17 '17 at 21:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ It would be better to make the 1 inch gap idea later in the question the primary value rather than the 2 foot gap so that answers did not get hung up on ambiguous discussions of what happens to slightly squeezed people. Clearly the primary point of the question is can you kill enemies by squeezing them between a Wall of Force and something else? \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Oct 18 '17 at 11:15
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Squeezing

what if you arrange your panels so there's a section only 2" wide? Is the creature squeezed between the walls?

First, the space a creature takes up is not the same as the size the creature controls.

A creature's space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature isn't 5 feet wide, for example, but it does control a space that wide. If a Medium hobgoblin stands in a 5-foot-wide doorway, other creatures can't get through unless the hobgoblin lets them. (PHB 192)

The rules on squeezing are pretty clear for most cases:

A creature can squeeze through a space that is large enough for a creature one size smaller than il. Thus, a Large creature can squeeze through a passage that's only 5 feet wide. While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extra foot for every foot it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it's in the smaller space. (PHB 192)

So, a medium creature can squeeze into a space that is Small, which according to DMG page 6 is a 2.5x2.5 ft square it controls.

Squishing

2 feet is less than 2.5 feet so what happens? The rules simply don't say, and a ruling is necessary. So here are some options the DM might rule.

The Creature Takes Bludgeoning Damage

The DM could rule that like in real life when getting stuck in a space that's too small, the creature gets squished into the space, all the things of being squeezed applied, and take some amount of bludgeoning damage. They may also say the space so cramped he's not just losing a foot of movement, but maybe he's in difficult terrain or even restrained.

The Creature is Pushed The Other Way

The DM could rule there isn't enough room and spell isn't a damage spell, and the spell simply shunts them the other way instead.

The Creature is Squeezed

The DM could rule that sizes are an approximation and abstraction. All medium creatures fit inside of a 5' square, but maybe the elf has a slight enough frame can squeeze not only into a 2.5' square but even into a 2' square. The DM could continue that logic to even smaller spaces if they felt appropriate.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note 2" is two inches, not two feet. (Although reasoning for 2' is still helpful here.) \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Oct 17 '17 at 18:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ N.B. I edited my question to start with two feet after all, and then ask further about one inch. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Oct 17 '17 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would have done it the other way around. Start with "can you kill people" and then work your way down to the less likely use of just injuring them a bit. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Oct 18 '17 at 11:17
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Probably not, depends on DM fiat though.

While a creature can squeeze into smaller area (SRD link). The rules suggest it is willing and not forced to squeeze into a smaller space.

A creature can squeeze through a space that is large enough for a creature one size smaller than it. Thus, a Large creature can squeeze through a passage that’s only 5 feet wide. While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extra foot for every foot it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it’s in the smaller space.

The wall of force spell doesn't suggest you can force a creature to squeeze into a space by the spell. So as the caster you can choose where to push another creature but if there is not enough space for that creature that area doesn't become a valid target for you to push someone.

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Wall of Force (PHB p. 285):

If the wall cuts through a creature's space when it appears, the creature is pushed to one side of the wall (your choice which side).

To distill your question down you are asking "Can I damage enemies by using this rule to squash them between the wall of force and an immovable solid object such as a stone wall?"

RAW you can force them into the space you leave between the second wall. You just can, because that is what the spell says you can do. So your question "Can I squish people with a wall of force?" has the answer yes.

However given that there is no more RAW guidance than the rule above for what this means, it is very much DM judgement as to what actually happens in terms of damage etc. What follows is a suggestion for how a DM might run it, though I have no play test evidence having never met this aggressive use of the spell!

  • If you leave no space between the two walls, then you cannot choose to push a target to that side.
  • If you leave a space that is small enough to severely injure or kill the target then you can judge that they are being forced to try and occupy a spot that is already occupied. There are various spells that have consequences for this situation, such as as Dimension Door, Meld into Stone and Etherealness, but only a little consistency between them. The one that has the closest match, for me anyway, is Etherealness (PHB p. 238) which has the following consequence, which I would strictly apply to the target as they are forced out into a free space:

If you occupy the same spot as a solid object or creature when this happens, you are immediately shunted to the nearest unoccupied space that you can occupy and take force damage equal to twice the number of feet you are moved.

  • If you leave enough room to cause the the target to be squeezed but not actually injured then I would apply the rules for squeezing (PHB p. 192):

While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extra foot for every foot it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it’s in the smaller space.

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