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The local wizard lives in his wizard tower, which is located just outside the city walls. He sends the low-level adventuring party into the city to uncover some crucial information. He himself is not welcome in the city, due to some misunderstandings. Said wizard wants to be informed about the party’s success as soon as possible, but none of the party members is able to cast message (or other spells that could be used to send some kind of message).

Would the following plan work: The wizard casts tiny servant on his favourite spoon and commands it to return to the wizard’s tower as quickly as possible. The party puts the spoony messenger into a bag of holding and goes on to investigate. After the mysteries are uncovered, the party releases the spoon with a message tied to it, all within the spell’s duration.

Would the spoon return to the wizard’s tower?

The command was issued by the wizard while being within 120 feet of the spoon. And the spoon should continue to follow its orders until its task is complete.

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This could work but it's probably up to DM fiat

Spellwise I'd agree with your interpretation, it could be possible to make this work, provided that the tiny servant is created, dispatched and capable of returning within an eight hour period. The command could also arguably be expressed pretty simply - 'As soon as a message has been securely attached to you, return to me, in my tower'.

However, there are a number of things you might want to think about, about which there's no real RAW guidance:

  1. Does the tiny servant actually know the way back? There's nothing RAW to suggest that it does. Some landmarks might be obvious, others not so much.
  2. When someone spots a tiny spoon running unattended through the centre of town, what's the likelihood that they'll try to grab it?
  3. If the spoon is in any way prevented from returning to its master, will it resort to violence to try and free itself and fulfil its mission? The average commoner could easily be killed by a single hit from a tiny servant (1d4 + 3 bludgeoning damage).

These could all be fun questions to consider as part of your narrative. Has the wizard had a limited success rate doing this in the past? Unbeknownst to the wizard, is the town on high alert, searching for the mysterious 'cutlery killer', recently implicated in a number of deaths?


Note: Thanks for the interesting idea hohenheim. I'm very tempted to incorporate something like the following into my own campaign:

A wizard hires the party to perform an apparently simple task and presents them with a 'message spoon'. A little later, while trying to complete the mission, the party find themselves trapped. Their first indicator that something is terribly wrong is finding another spoon on the floor - wrapped around it is a half-crazed note hastily scrawled. It seems to have been written by the last party to be hired by the wizard, shortly before they met their untimely demise. The spoon, like the party, clearly never made it back.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Beaten to death by a spoon" is certainly a way to die... \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Mar 7 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Assuming the spoon knows his way around, I guess he would have traveled around the city before. Assuming people would try to grab or attack an animated spoon, I imagine the spoon has had to fight back in the past. All of this perfectly works to explain why the wizard is ostracized from the city. \$\endgroup\$ – Luke Mar 8 at 20:29
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It depends on your interpretation of a "simple command" and how capable you rule the spoon to be

I'm assuming you are the DM in this scenario since the wizard is described as a stereotypical NPC.

Tiny servant has a duration of 8 hours.

The relevant spell text is

you can issue a simple, general command, such as to fetch a key, stand watch, or stack some books. [...]. Once given an order, the servant continues to follow that order until its task is complete.

There are two questions here needing an answer:

  1. Is the command simple enough to be given?
  2. Is the spoon capable of returning?

The example given of "stand[ing] watch" would be similar (in this DMs game) to "return to me when you are taken out of the bag".

How effectively the tiny servant would be able to carry out the command is a different question however. It would certainly try to carry out the command, but orienting oneself in an unfamiliar city to get to a destination that you don't know (it's never seen the outside of the tower and the bag) would be a difficult task for a humanoid who can speak, let alone an animate spoon that can't!

If you allow it then you need to remember that turn about is fair play, and you are giving the PCs access to this ability too if they cast the spell.

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