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Could I first cast Mage Hand, then Polymorph into a Tiny creature less than 10 pounds then use the Mage Hand to pick myself up and fly at 30 Ft per turn?

Polymorph says:

The new form can be any beast ... The target's game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the chosen beast. It retains its alignment and personality ... The creature is limited in the actions it can perform by the nature of its new form and it can't speak, cast spells, or take any other action that requires hands or speech.

This keeps me from casting spells, which keeps me from just casting Mage Hand to fly as long as I want to over and over. But for that initial duration of the Mage Hand cantrip, could I use the Mage Hand to fly as a Tiny polymorphed creature until the spell runs out?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not really an answer here but....couldn't you just....turn into a sparrow or something? This seems wildly inefficient. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Oct 5 '18 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure you could, but the point of this is not about finding a way to fly, but to use mage hand to do it. Not sure why this was downvoted. Some people just dislike things and downvote out of crankiness I guess. \$\endgroup\$ – MarkTO Oct 5 '18 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mark Wells Yes, the stat blocks DO say they can climb, but specific trumps general, and the spell is a specific case, and the stat block is general, so RAW, Polymorphed monkeys and apes cannot climb, the way I read it. \$\endgroup\$ – MarkTO Oct 5 '18 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkTO This question seems contingent on whether monkeys can climb per RAW. I'd wait for that question to resolve before pressing this one forward as this may set relevant precedent. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Oct 5 '18 at 19:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkTO Climbing doesn't require hands. Cats and rats can clearly climb, but lack hands, after all. That said, I'm unclear as to why the ability to use hands has anything to do with the question at hand (ha!). It seems you're really asking about whether the action to control the Mage Hand spell counts as spellcasting, and whether you can lift yourself with a Mage Hand (provided you're within the weight limit), which would really constitute two different specific questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 5 '18 at 19:54
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No...

...because being carried is not flying in the real world, nor is it in D&D.

That said...

...Flying is a type of movement in D&D, and movement is a non-action. Manipulating something with mage hand requires an action.

Plus, according to the text mage hand can interact with objects, not creatures.

You can use your action to control the hand. You can use the hand to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container, stow or retrieve an item from an open container, or pour the contents out of a vial. You can move the hand up to 30 feet each time you use it.

The Arcane Trickster Rogue's Mage Hand Legerdemain specifically grants the ability to interact with objects in the possession of another creature at 3rd level. This is clear indication that the general case for using mage hand does not allow it to interact with objects in the possession of another creature.

It isn't until ten levels later (13th) that an Arcane Trickster can directly interact with a creature, and only enough to be distracting. This specific ability is further evidence that the general mage hand cannot interact directly with creatures.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "mage hand can interact with objects, not creatures" — what about this? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Oct 5 '18 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor: Both answers to that question acknowledge that mage hand can only manipulate objects - even if the one with more votes has a misleading header. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 6 '18 at 0:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does a willing creature become like a de facto object? The rule against interacting with creatures makes a ton of sense if trying to interact with unwilling or non-willing creatures, but a still, willing creature should certainly be ok to lift and carry. What's the difference between a rock and a turtle in its shell from the hand's (or spell's) point of view? \$\endgroup\$ – schroeder Oct 6 '18 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @schroeder it depends how much of a stickler for RAW people are. Most answers on here concentrate on reading the letter of the law. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 8 '18 at 11:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Mage Hand use in this case could add 30 feet of 'free' movement, one for the hand, and another for jumping out and moving during your own move. That's the answer to 'why not just turn into a bird'. If you become a bird and then get 'carried' by your Mage Hand 30 feet, your own Move is not used up until you move yourself. \$\endgroup\$ – MarkTO Oct 8 '18 at 19:35
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Yes

There are several particulars that must be addressed in detail:

  1. Can the Mage Hand carry a creature? Yes, if it is under ten pounds.
  2. Does the polymorphed beast shape have the mental acuity necessary to control the Mage Hand? Depends on beast chosen, RAW is vague on this point and it is ultimately up to the DM. This is the most significant barrier to this maneuver.
  3. Flying. Is unfettered flying in this situation available with the Mage Hand? If the DM rules that the polymorphed shape can control the Mage Hand then according to RAW, the answer is yes.

Can the Mage Hand carry a creature?

There is nothing in the Mage Hand spell description the limits what you can carry other than (PHB 256):

The hand can’t attack, activate magic items, or carry more than 10 pounds.

This segment of the spell description:

You can use the hand to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container, stow or retrieve an item from an open container, or pour the contents out of a vial.

In no way limits what you can carry. It is simply describing what you can do with objects. There is no exclusionary language.

It's worth looking at Mage Hand Legerdemain an Arcane Trickster Rogue's special feature gained at 3rd level, to see if there is any additional information there.

Mage Hand Legerdemain offers these extra features (PHB 98):

... when you cast mage hand, you can make the spectral hand invisible, and you can perform the following additional tasks with it:

  • You can stow one object the hand is holding in a container worn or carried by another creature.
  • You can retrieve an object in a container worn or carried by another creature.
  • You can use thieves’ tools to pick locks and disarm traps at range.

This language explains what a rogue can do with the hand and in no way excludes any action by the standard Mage Hand cantrip. This is an explanation of precise and stealthy actions that can be done with the Rogue's Mage Hand Legerdemain while the hand is invisible. They are a huge upgrade from the simple tasks enumerated in the basic spell description. Again, there is nothing that excludes carrying.

Lastly, the 13th level Arcane Trickster Rogue gains these additional features with Mage Hand (PHB 98):

... you gain the ability to distract targets with your mage hand. As a bonus action on your turn, you can designate a creature within 5 feet of the spectral hand created by the spell. Doing so gives you advantage on attack rolls...

This last entry on Mage Hand also has no limitation on carrying. Once again it is describing what can be done, which in this case is precise control of the invisible hand during combat to target your adversary.

In all the entries on Mage Hand in the PHB the only restriction on carrying is the ten pound limit in the spell description.

Considering the examples presented in the spell description and that the Mage hand can't attack, I would suggest that the creature the hand picks up must be a willing creature under ten pounds, which works just fine for your situation.

Can the polymorphed beast shape control the Mage Hand?

The Polymorph spell indicates:

The target’s game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the chosen beast. It retains its alignment and personality.

and

The creature is limited in the actions it can perform by the nature of its new form, and it can’t speak, cast spells, or take any other action that requires hands or speech.

Considering you will have the intelligence of your new form, can a creature of 1-3 INT control the Mage Hand? Maybe 2 or 3 INT like a rat or cat. 1 INT, a frog? Most likely not. This would be the DM's call. I've seen different DMs handle the mental acuity aspect of Polymorph in different ways, but I'll leave that to another conversation. However I will include this quote from Jeremy Crawford from this related convo not as a definitive answer, but as food for thought:

A spell doesn't erase/suppress your memories unless the spell's text says it does.

When the text of a spell, like polymorph, says you retain your personality after a transformation, that's a terse way of saying, "You're still you, despite the radical changes you undergo."

Ultimately, if the DM says you're not smart enough to control the hand this maneuver won't work.

Flying

While completely unfettered flying may seem unreasonable with the Mage Hand there is nothing in the spell description that would limit this:

A spectral, floating hand appears at a point you choose within range. The hand lasts for the duration or until you dismiss it as an action. The hand vanishes if it is ever more than 30 feet away from you...

The only limitation for use is that the hand must be within range (30 feet) when cast, and it must remain within 30 feet of the spell caster for the duration. There is no limitation in the description as to how high off the ground the Mage Hand can be, as long as it is within 30 feet of the caster.

For example if a warlock casts the Fly spell on you and then you cast Mage Hand the hand will be able to fly with you. Likewise if you are at the edge of a chasm that is 1000 ft. deep and 20 feet wide, you can cast Mage Hand and the hand can go over the 1000 ft. chasm to pull the pin that releases the draw bridge across the chasm.

There is nothing in the Mage Hand spell description that limits the height at which the hand will function. If the mage hand is carrying the caster it is clearly within 30 feet and can go to any height and any distance at the rate of 30 feet per round. Although it may go against common sense, it is clearly within the limitations of RAW that you can fly unfettered as a polymorphed small creature being carried by the mage hand.

Spell efficiency

A final consideration might be is there a more efficient way to do this? Sure, but where's the fun in that? Also, being a non-flying creature like a rat, is far more useful for crawling into small chinks in a wall, but not so good at getting across the quipper infested moat. Being carried by the Mage Hand opens up a lot of possibilities.

Still, it's worth asking yourself,

Could I just polymorph into a bat and fly?

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    \$\begingroup\$ OK, which one; a bat or a fly? 8^D You can't polymorph into both. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 6 '18 at 16:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Help me! Help me!" Aaaaaaah it's a fly-bat! \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Oct 6 '18 at 16:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkTO, mage hand doesn't "take orders", it uses your action to control it. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Oct 8 '18 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkTO It wouldn't work that way. You need 1 action to cast the spell, one action to control the hand, and one action to polymorph. So in retrospect the Timing section of my answer would not function as I wrote it. Because you simply do not have two actions in a turn (1 to control hand, 1 to polymorph), you can't do it. This means that the primary concern for this maneuver to work properly is will the DM allow a polymorphed creature the ability to control the hand? If the DM doesn't allow that, then you can't pull off this maneuver. If they do, Hello flying cat! \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Oct 8 '18 at 23:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkTO I removed the Timing portion of my answer due to the double action problem. While I would rule that a polymorphed beast could control the hand, any GM is well within RAW to decide that you can not. That aspect of the Polymorph spell is vague and open to interpretation. I've seen some GMs that are very strict with polymorph and some that are very loose. Jeremy Crawford has said much about Polymorph most of which I have found to indicate you could control the hand. Including the fact that you can continue to concentrate on a spell while polymorphed into a beast. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Oct 8 '18 at 23:55

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