If I'm a wizard on the material plane and I cast Summon Lesser Demons, then capture one of the demons with an Iron Flask, what happens to the captured demon when the spell ends one hour later? Does it disappear and return to its home plane, leaving the Flask empty, or is it bound by the Flask now?


It's unclear, and generally up to DM discretion

The creature can stay bound indefinitely

Summon Lesser Demons acts as any other spell: Once its duration ends, its effect effectively disappears. And Iron Flask dictates that, emphasis mine:

Once trapped, a creature remains in the flask until released.

This rules that the creature cannot be moved from the flask by any means, unless it's specifically released by the Flask's topper being removed. If we act under the assumption that this is a specific rule that affects one creature, thus overriding the general rule on summoning creatures, one can argue, using the PHB, that:

If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

Thus, the rules on spell durations, as written, only apply to whenever the spell ends, there are no further rules in place to what happens if the creature cannot fulfill the condition at that point, but it isn't the only way the rules can be interpreted.

But it might not stay bound, despite being "in" the flask

Using a different, equally valid, interpretation of the rules, however, one could argue that the effect of a conjuration spell also specifically targets one creature, invalidating "Specific Beats General" as both are equally specific.

Additionally, the Flask does not specifically bind a creature, nor does it restrict traveling through planes explicitly, so it stands to reason that the creature is automatically returned to that plane, regardless of its current condition when the duration ends, as it's no longer under the effects of the original spell.

As there are no official rulings on this combination, it's down to the DM's judgement as to which interpretation to use.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Why wouldn't the spell be the more specific here? It seems like these are equal 'specifics' and a reason to go with one or the other is needed for support. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 30 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ My interpretation of specifics versus general in this context is: Summon Lesser Demons affects every demon ever summoned by its effect, while Flask targets and affects only one creature, but you do bring up an interesting point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tsugihagi
    Apr 30 at 14:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Or, you could convert your answer into a "it's unclear, here are some reasons a GM might go with option A, here are reasons to go with option B" \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30 at 14:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think people misinterpret the "specific vs general" concept a lot. There are only two classes of things: General rules as given in e.g. the Combat chapter of the book, and specific rules ("exceptions") that come from class features, spells, feats, magic items, and so on. "Specific vs general" does not apply to questions like a spell effect vs a magic item. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30 at 14:41
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with the General versus Specific distinction here but upvoted as your answer covers most options. If you'd like to be more exhaustive, you could also include a third option "Is bound in the flask until released, and then disappears immediately once released." \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Apr 30 at 15:01

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