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In the Dungeon Masters Guide, the Staff of Power and Staff of the Magi have an effect "Retributive Strike":

You can use an action to break the staff over your knee or against a solid surface, performing a retributive strike. The staff is destroyed and releases its remaining magic in an explosion that expands to fill a 30-foot-radius sphere centered on it.

Is there any reason you couldn't use something like a Telekinesis spell or some other elaborately designed trap to break the staff by dropping a boulder or something on it, thereby avoiding the effects of it yourself? I would consider that a solid surface personally.... if you can break it over your knee, a 1,000 pound boulder should do it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that remote detonation is avoiding one of the useful side effects of the staff; you have a 50% chance to not even be on the same plane of existence afterwards, which might be preferable to your current situation. \$\endgroup\$ – phyrfox Feb 28 '18 at 23:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ True, but I was also thinking to be used as a trap, by say a powerful wizard with more than one of these lying around to spare. Also note that TECHNICALLY it doesn't say you must be in the blast radius for that 50% chance... \$\endgroup\$ – Corwin62 Feb 28 '18 at 23:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you can break it at range, so can others. Are you sure you really want to be carrying that item around...? \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Feb 28 '18 at 23:45
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Magic Items are normally difficult to break, especially powerful items. Of course, this will be a DM ruling, but I would rule that breaking the staff for a Retributive Strike would be one of the ways the item is specified that it may be used, and thus require that breaking it for this strike be done with intention, and by the person attuned to it only.

The general idea in 5e is that magic says what it does, and doesn't do other things. In this case, it is stated that "you" can break the staff for this purpose, in a series of paragraphs describing its uses consistently using the word "you" to mean the Wizard, Warlock, or Sorcerer who is attuned to the staff, and does not state any other options.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Curiously, 3.5 says that the action must be intentional and declared by the player (e.g. the caster has to intentionally activate the effect), but this isn't in the 5e rules that I can tell. \$\endgroup\$ – phyrfox Feb 28 '18 at 23:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ The general idea in 5e, though, is that magic says what it does, and doesn't do other things. In this case, it is stated that "you" can break the staff for this purpose, in a series of paragraphs describing its uses consistently using the word "you" to mean the Wizard, Warlock, or Sorcerer who is attuned to the staff, and does not state any other options. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Mar 1 '18 at 0:30
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No, there's not. You could also just throw it. Note that either way you are sacrificing one of the rarest and most powerful magic items in the game in exchange for a glorified fireball.

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