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A PC traps an enemy inside a cage-shaped Forcecage:

A prison in the shape of a cage can be up to 20 feet on a side and is made from 1/2-inch diameter bars spaced 1/2 inch apart.

How should ranged and melee attacks against this enemy be adjudicated, given the size of the gaps between the bars? Some considerations:

  • Some kind of cover should surely apply
  • Should all types of weapons be able to attack? e.g. it might be easier to attack with a piercing weapon than a bludgeoning/slashing weapon, or some weapons, like a Maul, might simply be too large to attack through the bars
  • The bars are invisible, so it's hard/impossible to work out where you should be shooting/stabbing (without giving the enemy inside very advance warning you're about to stab through that particular location), although this consideration could be negated if the group had Faerie Fire or similar anti-invisibility measures
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Clearly, any weapon wider than a half-inch in any dimension can't reach through the bars at all. A half-inch is rather tiny; most broadhead arrows and crossbow bolts won't even fit through that. Blowgun needles and spells* are probably the only things you can get through those bars without custom designing weapons meant to fire or reach between such tiny gaps.

*and not even all spells, if they create a projectile of some sort that's more than a half-inch across; that's just approximately one and a quarter centimeters, if that's your preferred unit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Various looking around on the internet (although nothing solid enough to cite) indicate that most swords are less than a half-inch thick in their thinned dimension. (likewise broadhead arrows). Of course having to stick your sword/arrow through the bars in a particular orientation would make it harder to successfully hit anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Vigil Apr 26 at 15:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ In their thinnest dimension, sure. But outside of certain rapiers and epees, they're not less than half an inch in both dimensions they'd need to be to stick through a mesh cage. Unless you're saying the bars only run one way, but that gets tricky since it's not a flat plane, but rather a cube. I'll admit I have no proof the bars run both ways, but it makes the most sense to me. Have an OOTS link: vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/oots/images/d/d0/OOTS0627.gif/… \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Apr 28 at 8:39
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The description of Forcecage and the English definition of cage don’t explicitly mention crossbars. So it would depend on how the DM interprets a cage. The space between the bars could be 1/2” by 1/2” meaning anything wider than about 45/64” or just under 18mm on the hypotenuse would not fit. Or the space between the bars could be 1/2” by 20 feet without crossbars, meaning most swords with the exception the Great Sword would fit. Even without crossbars the attack would have to be made through invisible bars making it extremely difficult.

As far as how attacks are handled, could depend on the weapon used. A Human with a Rapier may not have an issue stabbing through, while the Elf’s Short Sword might be bouncing off. You could impose Half/Three-Quarters/Total Cover depending on weapon used.

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