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I'm new to 5E. I recently had an encounter where my Arcane Trickster used Mage Hand to steal an idol. Another PC then tried snatching it away from the Mage Hand. The DM had the other PC make a Strength check against my STR score. I didn't argue the call because it seemed to make sense. Plus the PC kept failing his rolls and then ultimately let go once I brought him down to 0 HP with a thrown dagger.

I'm just curious to know whether this was the right call to make.

Can another character physically take something that my Mage Hand is carrying/holding?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and check out this meta for other places to find help, or you can ask me in the comments with @linksassin. Thanks for contributing and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jun 24 at 6:29
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A creature can take something from a mage hand but there are no explicit rules for this situation

The spell text for mage hand doesn't state the conditions under which an item could be taken from the spectral hands grasp.

However, the game does provide DMs with tools, which I have applied as follows in this situation in my own game.

Isn't the mage hand pretty weak?

The rules state that '[t]he hand can’t carry more than 10 pounds.' But this doesn't explicitly refer to it's grip strength and so doesn't necessarily mean that, once it's holding an object, that an object can easily be taken from it by a much stronger PC. It might be a reasonable logical step - but real world physics or logic don't have any official bearing on the rules for this situation.

It's up to your DM to decide how much weighting they'd want to give this reasoning. They could decide that the mage hand's perceived weakness makes removing an item from its grasp essentially trivial, if so no roll would be required. Otherwise...

...this could be a resolved via a contested check.

Sometimes one character's or monster's efforts are directly opposed to another's. This can occur when both of them are trying to do the same thing and only one can succeed, such as attempting to snatch up a magic ring that has fallen on the floor. This situation also applies when one of them is trying to prevent the other one from accomplishing a goal — for example, when a monster tries to force open a door that an adventurer is holding closed. In situations like these, the outcome is determined by a special form of ability check, called a contest.

Both participants in a contest make ability checks appropriate to their efforts. They apply all appropriate bonuses and penalties, but instead of comparing the total to a DC, they compare the totals of their two checks. The participant with the higher check total wins the contest. That character or monster either succeeds at the action or prevents the other one from succeeding.

From your wording 'The DM had the other PC make a Strength check against my Strength score' it's not clear to me if this was a contested check - it sounds like your DM used your strength score to set a DC, rather than having you both roll, as you would in a normal contested check.

In this situation, your character's strength has nothing to do with the strength of your mage hand. So a contested check should probably more appropriately pit the opposing PC's strength against your spellcasting ability (intelligence for Arcane Tricksters).

If your DM wants to account for the apparent weakness of the mage hand in this situation (as discussed above), as part of a contested check, then I would advise employing the rules for advantage and disadvantage here:

The DM can [...] decide that circumstances influence a roll in one direction or the other and grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result.

So, in summary, in my own games I have ruled that this situation should be resolved via a contested strength check from the opposing PC against an intelligence check with disadvantage from the Arcane Trickster.

As an aside, don't forget that 'you can move the hand up to 30 feet each time you use it', so to avoid items being stolen from your mage hand in the future, you could simply keep it floating high up enough so as to be out of reach of most others, whenever it was not needed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the very last point on its own. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 24 at 11:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ To help dissuade someone pointing to the 10-pound limit, there are really two factors at play: grip strength and lift. You could imagine a real-world drone with a mechanical claw. It could have a hugely powerful claw grip, but if the drone can't generate enough lift to move the object it's not going anywhere. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Bouchard Jun 24 at 18:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisBouchard Though, given such a low lift, a character weighing much more than 10 pounds would likely be able to take the object and drag the Mage Hand along with it (no matter how high the grip strength). \$\endgroup\$ – Brilliand Jun 24 at 22:13
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A creature can take something from a mage hand fairly easily

The rules for mage hand state (emphasis mine):

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

Mage Hand Legerdemain lets you control the hand with your bonus action and retrieve an object container worn or carried by another creature. It does not allow you to take their items.

Your mage hand can only lift up to 10 pounds. In contrast a PCs carrying capacity is equal to their Strength score multiplied by 15. So the average PC (Strength 10) is 15 times stronger than your mage hand. This means if they can get their hands on the item there isn't much your mage hand can do about it.

The question is whether or not they can get their hands on it. A mage hand is stationary unless you are actively controlling it and since you have no way to control it outside of your turn (barring the Ready action) the other creature can simply take the item from the air.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure turns are a good way to manage things like this, they are an abstraction to try and make combat work, but outside of combat that mage hand would be constantly moving. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 24 at 8:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri when I answered the question was tagged combat so I answered in that context. I might add a clarification if I get time. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jun 24 at 10:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ "A mage hand is stationary unless you are actively controlling it and since you have no way to control it outside of your turn..." I disagree with this assessment. I don't know anywhere else in the rules that assumes something is stationary between turns. The assumption seems to be that all turns happen "simultaneously" and that everyone is constantly dodging, weaving, and moving when not acting. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Bouchard Jun 24 at 18:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisBouchard I took that from "you can move it 30 feet each time you use it" That is the only text that we have to the movement of the mage hand and I see no reason to believe it should act in a way not described in the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jun 25 at 0:11

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