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As an Artillerist Artificer, if I create a tiny-sized Eldritch Cannon with legs, can I place this cannon somewhere on my person and let it use its legs to hold on to my character (on my head, shoulder (Predator!), wrist, belt, top of my backpack, etc.)?

I understand that with RAW, it cannot move on its own into an occupied space, so it would not be able to climb up onto me, but I think that I should still be able to pick it up and place it somewhere as an object interaction. It could use its legs to hold on once in place. If I can control it from up to 60 feet away, I would think that it shouldn't hinder the use of my hands for other actions once it is there.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you basically asking if the tiny cannon can mount a medium character? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jan 21 '20 at 17:08
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Yes, a Tiny-sized Eldritch Cannon (with or without legs) can be worn or carried on the body elsewhere than in the hand.

The key to understanding this issue is to recognize that an Eldritch Cannon is explicitly an object, more specifically

a magical object

rather than a creature.

As an object, the Eldritch Cannon doesn't work like a creature.

The rules on creature movement and creatures occupying spaces don't apply to objects. The rules don't expect players to engage in complex inventory-management or to supply sophisticated reasoning for carrying or navigating objects in the ordinary course. Objects, even sizable ones, can be borne about the body in any number of ways. A hat or helm might be worn atop the head, or secured by a chin-strap to dangle behind the head, or affixed to a belt, etc. A backpack or shield might be larger than one's torso, and yet they can be slung over the shoulder by a strap, or carried by a hand holding that same strap. A shield can even be strapped to a backpack. When a creature goes to pick up a backpack, we don't ask whether it's problematic that the creature is moving into the backpack's space. When the creature is carrying the backpack, we don't suppose that the backpack wouldn't naturally remain with the creature when the creature moves.

As an object, a Tiny cannon does not occupy its space. The requirement that an artillerist must

create a Small or Tiny eldritch cannon in an unoccupied space

does not mean that all such cannons always occupy their spaces. The rules specify that

a Small eldritch cannon occupies its space . . . .

Absent that specification, a Small cannon would not occupy its space. So we know that if the designers wanted a Tiny cannon to occupy its space, they would have said so.

The liberal wording of the Eldritch Cannon ability offers an artificer latitude in shaping the cannon for convenience and portability.

The Eldritch Cannon ability says

When you create the cannon, you determine its appearance and whether it has legs.

That statement gives an artillerist maximally broad power to give a cannon almost any form imaginable. The only limits are the ones set out in the ability regarding size and legs-or-no-legs. An artillerist could create a cannon in the form of a hat, or a brooch, or a ham sandwich. If the chosen form is one that common sense suggests can be borne about the body, then the cannon can be borne about the body. The ability's statement that

a Tiny [cannon] can be held in one hand

(emphasis added) does not mean the cannon must be held in the hand. A cannon in the form of a hat could be worn on the head. A cannon in the form of a brooch could be pinned to clothing. Silly or not, it is a rules-accurate proposition that a cannon in the form of a sandwich could be clamped between the teeth. Heck, a cannon could be given a form that includes integrated straps, buckles, etc., for the very purpose of wearing it.

Finally, it is correct that a cannon with legs cannot move itself into an occupied space -- but only because the ability description says so. If the ability did not say so, there would be nothing to preclude a cannon from moving into an occupied space. By the same token, nothing prevents the artillerist from picking up a Tiny cannon and placing it on her body. Again, if the cannon were any other Tiny object, such as a glove, a key, or a lantern, we wouldn't think twice about letting a creature pick it up and wear or carry it around, moving from place to place with it. So there's no basis to say no when the Tiny object is an artillerist's cannon.

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Probably not because making it work gets a bit messy

As you point out, the rule for Movement and Position (Moving Around Other Creatures) states:

Whether a creature is a friend or an enemy, you can't willingly end your move in its space.

However, the Eldritch Cannon is not a creature, despite the fact that it is kind of talked about in that way:

The cannon is a magical object.

It's a little confusing because it seems to function in the same way a familiar or animal companion might but the normal rule for creatures sharing a space doesn't quite apply because of its status as an object.

So, from a rules standpoint, it could occupy the same space as you and you could use your reaction to get it to move with you. Narratively, you could say that it is perching on your shoulder as you do the moving.

However, the issues you will run into with this are:

  • There's likely a big difference between your character's movement and that of the cannon. You'd have to limit your movement to the cannon's 15 movement.

  • The cannon isn't a creature, so it can't mount, but that is effectively what you're trying to simulate and so you'd probably have to evaluate the rules interaction in this context. Plus, if you treat it as "walking with you" by the rules but "on your shoulder" for the story, what happens when you get fireballed? Do you treat the cannon as worn/carried?

I really like the idea of a ride-along cannon and I personally really want to work out a solution with you, so it's a good idea to talk with your DM about your intent and see if you can work out a (homebrew) solution.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think my DM is more concerned about this bypassing the Cannon's own limited movement by allowing it to move with me. He feels that I should require one of my hands be unavailable if it rides me as an added cost. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kelderek
    Jan 21 '20 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kel That's a good point. I suppose you could say your character has only 15' of movement (maybe a bum leg) and compromise that way lol! \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Jan 21 '20 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ "A Small eldritch cannon occupies its space, and a Tiny one can be held in one hand.". This says that you CAN hold it in your hand, but does not say anything about how you use it while it is in your hand. This and the fact that I can control it from 60ft away leads me to believe that my hands are not any part of it's operation. It is also interesting to note that there is no mention of occupied space for the tiny version. I wanted to be able to do this for flavor, but for me it is not worth giving up the use of my hand or gimping my movement. It sounds like I should just leave it on the ground \$\endgroup\$
    – Kelderek
    Jan 22 '20 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Important question: what's the difference between the cannon sitting on this guys shoulder, and the guy sitting on a horse? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13 '20 at 15:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ "...so you'd probably have to evaluate the rules interaction in this context." Isn't that the point of the question...? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    May 29 '21 at 14:47

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