I have been watching/listening to Chance's D&D Spellbook, which highlights a potential 'loophole' in that the spell doesn't list how much the hang can drag, say if attached via a rope that weighs less than 10lbs.

Normally a spell only does what it says, but carrying and dragging seem closely enough related that there might be some room for interpretation.



Neither does the spell description provide any rules that would increase the weight that can be dragged above the weight that can be carried; nor do the rules apply which let characters drag double their carrying capacity. Therefore, the weight detailed in the spell description limits dragging as it does carrying.

The spell description does not talk about dragging

The spell description of mage hand gives multiple examples of what the hand can or cannot do. None of those are related to dragging, except the capability to

manipulate an object

which can be interpreted as including dragging. In the end, there is no specific information about dragging, suggesting that no extra rules (such as increased dragging capacity) apply.

Rules for carrying and dragging apply to monsters and characters with a strength score.

The rules on carrying capacity are found under Using each Ability (PHB p. 175):

Every task that a character or monster might attempt in the game is covered by one of the six abilities.

Neither is the mage hand a monster or character, nor does it have abilities or ability scores. Carrying, specifically, is explained under Strength (PHB p. 176):

Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough that most characters don't usually have to worry about it.

Push, Drag, or Lift. You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score). While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet.

All these explanations consider creatures with a strength score. The mage hand does not have these properties. Specifically, these rules state that a strength score entitles a creature to have a carrying capacity and a dragging capacity. These rules do clearly not entitle the mage hand to anything a priori.

A case could be made, that a carrying capacity implies a dragging capacity. However, RAW, this does, a priori only apply to monsters / characters with a strength score, especially so, since the dragging capacity restates the reliance on a strength score.

In the end, it seems like the mage hand's carrying capacity (which is not even specifically declared using that term) is gained another way, i.e. the spell's description which the rules from PHB p. 176 do not apply to. Therefore, the mage hand does not gain increases dragging capacity and cannot drag more weight than it can carry.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Therefore, the weight detailed in the spell description limits dragging as it does carrying." How is that? Your argument is that the rules about pushing/dragging don't apply to the hand, so why is there any specific limit? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jun 28 '20 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see why you say that these rules explicitly consider only something with a strength score. The rules say that something can drag 2x its carrying capacity or 30x its strength score. Although mage hand does not have a strength score, it does have a carrying capacity. What is the argument for denying it the "2x its carrying capacity" to push drag or lift? If only things with a strength score can push drag or lift, then mage hand can't do anything other than carry, according to your interpretation. \$\endgroup\$ – roger-reject Jun 29 '20 at 9:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did not say that. The PHB gives rules in the strength section under "using each ability" that provide a carrying capacity and an extra increased dragging capacity. The increased dragging capacity is something which the spell description does not provide and my reasoning is that the stated rules do not provide it as an extra to the hand either since it is clearly connected to ability scores, specifically strength. \$\endgroup\$ – Anagkai Jun 29 '20 at 9:30

RAW says No, but I believe the rules as intended or at least the rules as practical are that it cannot exert more than 10lbs of force.

This is such a poorly worded spell (and has always been). In previous editions, mage hand was just the telekinetic ability to move small objects, but in 5th ed they made it actually take the form of a spectral hand, which adds to the confusion. Whether it is a spectral hand or not, the spell only mentions lifting and moving objects, nothing else, which means technically you can't open a door with it unless the entire door weighs less than 5-10lbs depending on the edition. It also means it has strange physics interactions. For example I can't move a door but what if I move a rock and push it against the door? Physics says if you push hard enough, the rock should move the door, but the spell doesn't allow for that. Every DM I have ever played with has ruled it this way: Mage hand cannot exert more than its carrying capacity in force. In the case of 5th ed this means it can't apply more than 10lbs of pressure. This allows you to open doors directly, given it is a well oiled wooden door that is not stuck. A very heavy door such as a stone door or a door with a badly rusted hinge might not open because it might require more than 10 lbs of force to do so. This would answer your question in that it could only push or drag something if it could be pushed or dragged with 10 lbs of force. Which means yes, if you are moving something a bit heavier but it is smooth and being dragged on a smooth surface it would work. Ruling mage hand as pressure also means it can press buttons, set off pressure plates, and pull levers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ that's how I'd interpret it as well. Telekinesis is a force. And the explicit mention of opening unlocked doors seems to indicate the same. carry as in The hand can’t attack, activate magical items, or carry more than 10 pounds. I always interpreted it as 'lift' So for dragging it depends on the smoothness of the object and the surface it is placed on and the GM can decide depending on the context. \$\endgroup\$ – gelonida Jun 29 '20 at 14:32

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