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Inspired by this answer to this question about greater invisibility, it occurred to me that certain readings of the spell don't make sense, specifically in relation to this comment.

Is it clarified anywhere in any of the official rulebooks if the word anything includes anyone, or if it just relates to objects and other items that are described as things rather than people?

For an example of a use of "anything", from greater invisibility:

Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If it didn't include carried creatures, that raises the question of what would happen with someone who was inside of a sack that was being carried. \$\endgroup\$ – Admiral Jota Jun 28 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @admiral Jota as opposed to how many invisible gnome wizards can a barbarian carry? And what happens when one of them casts fireball (assuming normal invisibility)? \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 28 at 19:32
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As far as I am aware, there has been no official ruling on this topic, nor is there anything in the written rules governing this, except for 1 possibility, in that specific rules (such as from a spell) override general rules, if such specific rules exist.

As shown by the spell Create Bonfire:

The bonfire ignites flammable objects in its area that aren't being worn or carried.

A spell will typically be specific about what is affected by it (in this case specifying objects, which are flammable), and since both Invisibility spells list "anything", but do not specify objects, it would appear that creatures also count.

Also, to address another example, the spell Enlarge/Reduce says:

If the target is a creature, everything it is wearing and carrying changes size with it. Any item dropped by an affected creature returns to normal size at once.

This seems to suggest that the effects of Enlarge/Reduce do not apply to carried creatures, given the specific mention "any item" rather than 'anything', for when something is dropped (loses contact).

Basically, it would appear that indeed, if a spell lists the word 'anything' or 'everything', then the effect of the spell would apply to all objects and creatures on that target, unless further text suggests otherwise.

Example from user NautArch: The spell Find Steed allows the user to target their summoned steed as well, which means anything on it would be treated the same as the castor.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I really like your logic. Also; welcome to the site! \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 28 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was looking at find steed as a specific example of when one creature carrying another (by way of being mounted) nets both creatures a single-target spell effect. But the spell target is the mounted creature, not the mount (the one carrying), so not totally relevant. But an example of a way to get two creatures for one that is specific. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 28 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Great example! I would say that in that case, yes, anything the steed carries or wears would be affected the same (and Enlarge/Reduce would be very interesting in that case). \$\endgroup\$ – Journer Jun 28 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Feel free to add it to your answer :) Was just something I was considering :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 28 at 15:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ To clarify: does this answer assert that Enlarge/Reduce affects carried creatures, and they will stay Enlarged/Reduced if dropped (since they are not 'items')? \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Vincent Jun 28 at 16:31
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"Anything" means "any object".

In the absence of special game definitions for terms, D&D 5e reverts to natural language in interpreting the rules.

The word "anything" is defined on Dictionary.com as:

pronoun

  1. any thing whatever; something, no matter what:
    Do you have anything for a toothache?

noun

  1. a thing of any kind.

The word "thing" has many definitions/uses, but its primary definition is:

noun

  1. a material object without life or consciousness; an inanimate object.

(Other dictionaries display similar definitions.)

In this context, what this means is that a spell like greater invisibility (when cast to target a single creature) turns the creature and any objects being worn (e.g. clothing) or carried (e.g. weapons) are invisible as long as the spell remains active. The word "anything" does not somehow make a single-target spell into a multiple-target spell just by the targeted creature carrying another creature.

Objects are defined in the basic rules/DMG:

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

This generally matches the definition of "thing" above.


A question in the 2019 Sage Advice Compendium addresses a very related topic:

Some spells (like eldritch blast) target a creature. Some others (like fire bolt) target objects too. Does this mean that I can’t attack the door with eldritch blast?

The target specifications (creature, object, or something else) in spells are intentional.

For instance, greater invisibility clearly targets a single creature at its lower level, and allows the invisibility to extend to "anything" worn or carried by the creature. In this context, it clearly uses a term used to refer to objects, and doesn't mention the word "creature". If the spell's benefits were meant to extend to creatures carried by the target, it would clearly say so.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ #V2Blast So you'd say the choice of using "anything" instead of "all objects" is just an unfortunate oversight/mistake? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jun 29 at 4:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2: I'd say "anything" is a pretty clear word already. It doesn't need to say "objects" to mean objects... Because that's what "thing" means. There's no "unfortunate oversight/mistake"; words mean what they mean. "Anything" doesn't mean "anyone". \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 29 at 4:35

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