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For the purposes of moving ORS, when it says:

The sphere is weightless and just large enough to contain the creature or object inside

Does it mean that the creature and the sphere becomes weightless, or does it mean only the sphere is weightless but the creature's weight still count for the purposes of lifting/pushing/dragging etc?

It also says (emphasis mine)

The sphere is weightless and just large enough to contain the creature or object inside. An enclosed creature can use its action to push against the sphere's walls and thus roll the sphere at up to half the creature's speed. Similarly, the globe can be picked up and moved by other creatures.

Does this imply that other creatures outside of the ORS can move the sphere at half their speed without the need to bother with weight, size, shove checks, etc.?

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2 Answers 2

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The sphere is weightless only when empty

The sphere and the creature are described separately

A Sphere of shimmering force encloses a creature or object of Large size or smaller within range.

Notice how there are two things described here: the sphere and the enclosed creature.

Here is another example, even more compelling

The Sphere is immune to all damage, and a creature or object inside can't be damaged by attacks or effects originating from outside

So the sphere is immune to damage, but the creature explicitly is not. Clearly, when the rules are meant to apply to the creature they say "creature" and when they say "sphere" they apply only to the sphere itself. If it were otherwise and "sphere" did mean "sphere and creature" then this sentence in particular would make no sense at all.

The sphere is weightless but the creature is not

The Sphere is weightless and just large enough to contain the creature or object inside.

So when it says the above (and again makes the distinction between sphere and creature), it says that the sphere itself is weightless and that it contains the creature. It says nothing about the weight of the creature, thus the spell had no effect on it.

Thus, with the creature inside it, the sphere should have the same weight as the creature itself (including equipment etc.).

The "half-speed" part of the description applies only to the enclosed creature

An enclosed creature can use its action...and thus roll the sphere at up to half the creature's speed.

When it says:

Similarly, the globe can be picked up and moved by other creatures.

I just read that as saying that the sphere can be moved by others, but that it does not specify rules for doing so. To read it the other way would be confusing seeing as the previous sentence does not say anything, for example, about how movement would work with picking up the sphere.

So, creatures external to the sphere will need to use the normal rules for moving another object.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The bead of force description supports this interpretation. The sphere created by the bead of force specifically weighs "only 1 pound, regardless of the weight of creatures inside." Since the Otiluke's resilient sphere description doesn't contain similar verbiage, it suggests that this sphere is not intended to weigh nothing even when occupied. \$\endgroup\$
    – mdrichey
    Jan 24 at 22:20
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The sphere is weightless, even when filled

Although the spell could certainly be more clearly written, the language context clues tell us that not only is the sphere itself weightless, but that it renders the occupant effectively weightless for the purpose of being moved by others.

The sphere is weightless and just large enough to contain the creature or object inside. An enclosed creature can use its action to push against the sphere's walls and thus roll the sphere at up to half the creature's speed. Similarly, the globe can be picked up and moved by other creatures. [Actual spell text]

Let's consider this last sentence, especially the word 'similarly'. Suppose the sphere itself was weightless, but a creature wanting to move it had to contend against the weight of the creature inside, using the normal rules for lifting and carrying. If that were the case, it could simply say, "The globe can be moved by other creatures." Or, more explicitly, "The globe can be picked up and moved by other creatures according to the weight of the creature inside." But it does not say that. Rather, it adds the word "similarly" - so what about the last sentence is similar to the one preceding it?

Certainly not who is moving it; that is clearly different. Nor how it is being moved - it is being picked up, not pushed. Thus the only things that could be similar are the cost to move it (an action) and the speed at which it can be moved (half the speed of the mover). Therefor, what the last two sentences are actually saying is:

An enclosed creature can use its action to push against the sphere's walls and thus roll the sphere at up to half the creature's speed. Another creature can also use its action, but to pick up and move the sphere at up to half that creature's speed. [interpretation of intent]

The spell is saying that it is granting the ability to move the creature inside to any creature on the outside that picks up the sphere, and that this is a special situation created by the spell. If the normal rules of lifting and carrying applied, why say that a creature on the outside can lift the sphere? It would be as redundant as if the conjure animals spell said, "By the way, you can pick up the beasts you summon if you are strong enough." Of course you can!. To pick up the sphere while taking into account the weight of the creature inside, however, you would need to know its weight - which you almost never would, since NPC stat blocks contain size, not weight.

Further, even knowing the weight of the creature inside the sphere, you would often not be able to pick the creature up at all, since the total weight you can move is twice your carrying capacity (including the gear you already have on), and at anything more than your carrying capacity you can move at only 5 feet, not half. You can also move a creature by grappling and dragging it at half movement, but you are limited to creatures of one size larger than yourself. Since the sphere can enclose a creature of size Large, by means of the spell, even a size Small PC can pick up and move a size Large creature.

The default assumption of D&D is that the objects and creatures created by spells interact with the world the way you would expect them to, unless the spell description says otherwise. By specifying that the sphere can be picked up for an action and moved at half our movement, the spell is telling us this is unusual behavior, unusual because it is possible regardless of the trapped creature's weight, as if it were stuck in some sort of cartoon soap bubble that somehow buoys it up. The spell says that the sphere is weightless - even when there is a creature inside, which there almost always will be, since "the creature is enclosed for the duration."

[Note that in comments, Matthieu suggests that the special nature of the sphere is not that it renders its captive weightless, but that it can be moved at all, since other spells that create force barriers are immobile. This is a valid point, but if we extend our comparison to magic items, we see that a cube of force is mobile as well.]

If we accept that the purpose of the spell is to make its captive weightless and transportable, ]other parts of the spell become more clear:

The sphere is immune to all damage, and a creature or object inside can't be damaged by attacks or effects originating from outside, nor can a creature inside the sphere damage anything outside it.

The creature inside can't be damaged by effects originating from outside - and this would include falling damage. Drop your ensphered creature off a cliff and it might plummet, or might gently drift down, but it won't take damage when it hits the bottom, and it won't do damage to anything underneath it when it hits - and that only makes sense if not only the sphere is weightless, but if it renders null the weight of the creature inside as well.

Nothing--not physical objects, energy, or other spell effects--can pass through the barrier, in or out, though a creature in the sphere can breathe there.

D&D is not a physics engine, so we won't quibble about the differences between energy and force, but suffice to say 'nothing can pass through' includes gravity going in, and the weight of the creature going out, which is the reason the weight of the creature inside does not get translated to anyone outside picking up the sphere.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe that the fact the spell explicitely mentions other creatures can move the sphere is because all other spells that create force structures (be it walls, hemispheres or anything of the sort) cannot be pushed or carried by other creatures, no matter their size. This seems to me to be a difference important enough to mention it explicitely. Apart from that, while I do not like your reading of the text, it seems just as valid as the accepted answer's reading, rules as written, good job building it up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Aug 23, 2022 at 12:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu That's a valid point that the 'specialness' of the sphere is that it can be moved, unlike other force structures, and I will address in an edit. Counterpoint (though not a spell): cube of force \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Aug 23, 2022 at 15:14

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