Inspired by Can mage hand be used to trip an enemy who is running away?, and possibly an alternative solution to that problem.

My bard is an obnoxious jerk who enjoys a laugh at anyone else's expense. The gods saw fit to equip bards with the gift of Mage Hand. Can he use it to yank someone's pants down to cause them public embarrassment?

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.

Pants are, of course, an object. Unlike many spell effects (such as Catapult or Enlarge or the "ignites flammable objects" language in spells like Fireball), Mage Hand has no restrictions about being used on objects that are worn or carried.

The Arcane Trickster's Mage Hand Legerdemain enhances Mage Hand by allowing it to access the contents of containers that are being worn or carried, which implies that the containers themselves, or worn or carried objects in general, are already valid targets.

Related but distinct: Can Mage Hand grab opponents' items? (we're not actually trying to lift anything off them, just reposition it).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this can be answered without knowing the definition of "pants" in your world. Using modern examples, loose fitting sweat pants are a lot easier to pull off than tight fitting denim jeans, right? Also, are the pants held up on their own or do people attach belts or suspenders to hold the pants up? \$\endgroup\$ – krb Jul 10 '19 at 2:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you pants someone with 10 lbs of force (the limit mage hand can carry) with only 1 hand? I suggest you give it a try on a real life willing participant to see just how difficult that would be. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Jul 11 '19 at 9:43


Someone's pants would inherently qualify as an attended object, and there are protections on those. Cantrips are often, in effect, weakest form of various spell types. Minor Illusion is the least of the illusion spells. Friends is Least Charm. Mage Hand can be thought of as Least Telekinesis

I include a pertinent bit of the quote for Telekinesis (a fifth level spell, that requires concentration):

Object: You can try to move an object that weighs up to 1,000 pounds. If the object isn't being worn or carried, you automatically move it up to 30 feet in any direction, but not beyond the range of this spell.

If the object is worn or carried by a creature, you must make an ability check with your Spellcasting Ability contested by that creature's Strength check. If you succeed, you pull the object away from that creature and can move it up to 30 feet in any direction but not beyond the range of this spell.

Even in the case of this spell, consuming a relatively high-level spell slot, and able to carry up to 1000 lbs, an attempt to move an item attended by a creature (such as their pants) requires an opposed ability check. Mage hand isn't going to be able to pull it off for free.

Of course, like so many things in 5e, it's DM's call...

Mage Hand does permit you to " to manipulate an object" - allowing for standard object interactions... the sort of thing that anyone can do, without a roll, once per round, without spending their action. This sort of action is on par with drawing or sheathing a weapon. Now, the DM could adjudicate that "pull down someone's pants" can be done at any time as an object interaction, without need for a roll, in which case, yes, you could do it with Mage Hand.

...But there would be consequences.

The problem with that, though, is... well, anyone can do it. Every player gets an object interaction every round, and in many rounds, they won't have anything better to do with it. Every enemy gets an object interaction every round, and they're even less likely to have something to do with it. Do you really want to give Goblins the ability to pull down your pants, with an autosucceed, any time they happen to be within reach of you? You're not the only obnoxious jerk in town. What about your boots? Are they allowed to steal your boots while in the middle of combat, without bothering to slow down the stabbing? This one could get real ugly, real fast.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There is the argument that spells only do what they say they do, and Mage Hand makes no distinction I know of about unatended and attended objects. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 10 '19 at 18:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar it also doesn't define exactly what the limits of "manipulate an object" are. They have to be constrained in some fashion. If nothing else, "transform my longsword into a +3 longsword of smiting" is something that could be described as "manipulate an object". That's a wildly overgenerous interpretation... but all of the arguments that suggest that you can pants someone with it depend on a wildly overgenerous interpretation as well (if somewhat less wildly). \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 10 '19 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Manipulate" means "to operate/use by the means of the hands", so I wouldn't share of your interpretation. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 10 '19 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar although you could say the arcane tricksters Legerdemain is the difference maker between manipulating worn vs unworn objects \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 10 '19 at 21:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar "Manipulate" means a number of things, including "to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage", and "to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one's purpose". My whole point is that it's obviously possible to interpret this overgenerally, so some degree of constraint has to be applied. You may hold whatever interpretation you choose to. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 10 '19 at 21:07

Not sure what your childhood was like but if you've ever pantsed someone you'd know it requires two hands and a decent tug. That's on waistband secured pants. If its securely fastened it would be even harder.

So can it work?

Yes. But I doubt it ever would. You would likely need two Arcane Tricksters both doing it for coordination and even then I would likely require a STR roll at disadvantage (Mage Hand can only manipulate 10 lbs) to be successful.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a very specific potential DM adjudication on the subject, rather than anything that draws from the broader rules directly. Admittedly, it is an entertaining DM adjudication... which nearly begs for a set of pranking NPC Arcane Trickster twins to bedevil the party. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 10 '19 at 21:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fred and George Weasley endorse this plan. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 12 '19 at 14:47

So much fun to be had with this question!

The plain language of the text implies that something like "pantsing" could be attempted. You can "manipulate an object,"(PHB) in this case, a belt buckle and button. That is certainly no more technical than opening a doorknob or picking a lock. (examples in PHB)

It also requires less than the specified 10 pounds of weight strength to achieve.

But as for the effect of someones pants actually falling down? I think it is unlikely to succeed as intended, though it logically could cause a significant and fun distraction. Even with pants undone, a tug with roughly ten pounds of pressure won't make someones pants fall to their ankles.

Try it. I just did, and it didn't work!

But ... a slight pants slippage could prompt the person to quickly want to rectify the potentially embarrassing situation in private.

I think this solution aligns with the intent of the arcane trickster and avoids moving mage hand toward the area of battle tactics.

Generally, I do not favor the idea that spells "know" what they are being used for. When the PHB text says something can not be used as an attack, I choose to explain that in terms of weight and precision - not effect. DMs' discretion, of course.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 30 '19 at 23:46

So yes, pants worn by a creature are an object.

What you are doing however could be considered assault (in a rule of law way):

An assault is the act of inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in either criminal and/or civil liability.

Emphasis mine. As a DM I would rule pantsing as (sexual) assault.
People didn't always wear underpants, and even if they do, they might also slide off. Imagine your target being a woman? Very unwanted and improper.
People IRL have been charged with assault for pantsing.

The words Assault and Attack are synonyms in the english language.
Mage hand says:

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

Simple RAW no "but's". It does not say you cannot perform "Attack actions" with it, is says no attacking (of any kind).

Pantsing somebody without mage hand and without a surprise round would surely become a grapple or shove action starting a round of combat and thus I would rule it as attacking somebody.

If you were fixing someone's buttons up, that 's not assault.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's not the definition of Attack that DnD 5e uses, though. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Jul 10 '19 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not talking about an attack action (and try to provide a link to where D&D actually define what an "attack" is. Mage hand's definition is "The hand can't attack", so I would rule, no (sexual) assaulting with it. \$\endgroup\$ – DrTrunks Bell Jul 10 '19 at 12:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here is the 5e definition of attack. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 10 '19 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ The legal and/or RL definition of "assault" simply has no relevance to this question. "Attack" is a defined game term so when interpreting game things you use that definition. Even if legal definitions were relevant, you'd then have to justify why you chose this particular legal framework over the myriad of other competing ones for it to really be convincing. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 10 '19 at 17:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the idea that pantsing someone by hand would be a grapple (or something like that) is potentially a much stronger argument. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 11 '19 at 15:17

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