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So the Telekinetic feat allows you to attempt to move another creature 5 feet with a bonus action

As a bonus action, you can try to telekinetically shove one creature you can see within 30 feet of you. When you do so, the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw (DC 8 + your proficiency bonus + the ability modifier of the score increased by this feat) or be moved 5 feet toward you or away from you. A creature can willingly fail this save.

Could you use this on a creature that is stuck in a Gelatinous Cube?

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The books don't specify one way or another (and are very messy when it comes to concealement vs cover), but I would rule…

No

Justification #1: Other telekinesis can't

The telekinesis spell cannot remove the engulfed target from the ooze, so it makes sense that the telekinetic feat can't either.

Justification #2: Consistency between spells and features

Allowing non-spell features to work through total cover can lead to nonsensical results. Stone walls don't block dragon breath, for example. Fear and aura effects work even though the monster is in the next room in the dungeon.

Total cover protects against ghast stench and pit fiend fear and acid breath, so for consistency, it should protect against telekinetic feat.

But…

I would allow telekinetic feat to pull a submerged person out of the water, so maybe allowing it to pull them out of a semi-liquid (?) jelly is also acceptable?

Also…

Clever tactics should be rewarded. The players came up with a good plan to rescue a trapped party member. Maybe allow it, but make a note that this is an exception?

From the Monster manual entry for Gelatinous Cube

Creatures inside the cube can be seen but have total cover.

A creature within 5 feet of the cube can take an action to pull a creature or object out of the cube. Doing so requires a successful DC 12 Strength check, and the creature making the attempt takes 10 (3d6) acid damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My DM did allow me to use Thorn Whip to pull a fellow PC out of a gelatinous cube! I ended up rolling quite high on the damage, but probably not as much as they would have taken from the acid on their next turn :) \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Aug 16 at 7:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer. Might be useful to quote the rules that state that being engulfed in a Gelatinous Cube gives you total cover (i.e. "Creatures inside the cube can be seen but have total cover." MM, p. 242) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It would be nice if you could add some rules reference for your first statement, why telekinesis wouldn't work. \$\endgroup\$
    – findusl
    Sep 6 at 7:47
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As an old school DM, I would allow a telekinesis spell or telekinesis feat/ability to be used to try to pull or push a person from the interior of a gelatinous cube. To me, this would be similar to using the same spell or ability on a person or object in relatively clear water or air (clear enough to see the person or object). All of these substances are transparent or translucent fluids or gels. You could even try to use the telekinesis spell/ability on someone encased in a block of ice or glass, but the spell would move the whole block unless you could crack it open so that the person could be moved separately. As a corollary to this line of thought, you cannot apply telekinesis to an invisible creature or object because you can not see them.

To me, “total cover” means that someone is obscured or hidden (e.g., a person has “taken cover” or is hidden around a corner or behind a table, etc. As a result, the constraint on being able to view the target would be violated. This is all about vision being necessary to focus the ability.

If a person were submerged in a mud pit, then telekinesis would not work. If there was a hand or arm visible, even if covered in mud, then it would serve as an appropriate focus for telekinesis. But the telekinetic force would be applied to the visible part, at least until more of the person or object was revealed. So, if a person’s head was the only part visible, you would initially be dragging them out of the mud by their head (ouch, neck damage!)

Consider another case - a fighter totally encased in plate armor or a person fully wrapped on a big robe - with no visible flesh or features. In the spirit of the spell/ability, you can discern the person because the armor or clothing is “connected” to them. The mud covering an outstretched arm would be treated similarly, since you can discern the protruding arm coated by the mud. You could not fish around in the mud to find a person or object because there would be no visible feature to focus the spell/ability.

Don’t take the fun out of the game! Encourage creativity. AD&D was never meant to be hidebound to the rules.

P.S. In my opinion, the saving throw in the example would be rolled by the gelatinous cube attempting to hold onto its prey. The person isn’t resisting the spell/ability, but the cube is.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's definitely worth stating how you interpret the rules, but I'm not sure I understand how this interacts with the rules about the Gelatinous Cube that states "Creatures inside the cube can be seen but have total cover." (MM, p. 242). It sounds like you're talking about whether or not someone in the cube having "total cover" is ambiguous, but it seems pretty clearly spelled out. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3 at 13:59
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No, you can not attack a creature that is under total cover.

The Telekinetic feats allows you to (emphasis mine)

[...] try to telekinetically shove one creature you can see within 30 feet of you

Shoving a creature is an attack (emphasis mine):

Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you.

This Q&A further clarifies this aspect.

The engulfed creature can be seen but have total cover, and the rules say that a creature under total cover can not be directly targeted by an attack or a spell: hence this feat does not allow you to (try to) free a creature caught by a Gelatinous Cube.


A DM may rule otherwise.

As noted in Greenstone Walker's answer, a DM may overrule this and reward the players for the original strategy, or they may decide that in this case being seen is sufficient to use this feat.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not so sure the shove mentioned in the feat is actually referencing the Shove attack, see my answer here. If we have to follow one rule for the Shove attack when using the telekinetic feat, we have to follow all of the rules. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I see your point, but my reading is that shoving and grappling are always attacks, even when you do not use the Attack action. Take the example in the SAC about Sanctuary spell: the cleric may say "I use my action to do an ability check to make the enemy fall on the ground". This is equivalent to shoving but it is not an attack (as described by the player...), thus the spell does not end. Anyway, I'll leave this answer here for now, but I am going to think more about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Aug 16 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ But the objectively correct ruling in that case is that the cleric uses the Attack action to make a shove special melee attack. Players cannot just decide to make ability checks unless a feature says they can (as in the description of the shove attack). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I totally agree with you, but letting shoving (and grappling, I imagine) to be considered as non-attacks when the PC is not using the Attack action is in someway contradictory (at least, to me). \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Aug 16 at 13:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Combat rules say you can shove a creature as an attack. This does not mean that all shoves are attacks. \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Aug 16 at 22:38
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Telekinetically shoving with Telekinetic requires your target to be both visible and not behind total cover

The rules on "A Clear Path to the Target" state:

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover. [...]

Thus, if something is behind total cover (like when engulfed), there is no clear path and it cannot be targeted at all, even by the Telekinetic feat.


A small aside: When the Telekinetic feat says you affect a creature you can see this is adding an extra requirement. Ordinary features do not require you to see your target, so Telekinetic is adding a restriction in addition to the requirement that there is a clear path (no total cover).


The rules quoted earlier do not apply only to spells

One reason for this is because the rules quoted above are found in "Chapter 10: Spellcasting" in the section "Casting a Spell", subsection "Targets" ans also found in chapter 10, in the same Casting a Spell section, are the rules that define cones, cubes, cylinders, lines, and spheres. Clearly those rules apply to non-spells (those shapes are used for things that are not spells), and I see no reason the rules requiring a clear path would not also apply to non-spells.

Also in that section is this rule:

If you place an area of effect at a point that you can't see and an obstruction, such as a wall, is between you and that point, the point of origin comes into being on the near side of that obstruction.

This rule also clearly applies to non-spells so I see no reason the rule on total cover preventing targeting wouldn't apply to non-spells as well.


Another reason the clear path requirement applies to Telekinetic is because it also applies to various monster abilities. A Dragon's Acid Breath doesn't go through walls, nor does a Beholder's Eye Ray go through windows. These features require a clear path to their targets just like spells do and the Telekinetic feat requires one as well. If Telekinetic did not require a clear path, why would various monster abilities? Thus, they both require a clear path.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm sorry, what's your basis for thinking the clear path rule applies to Telekinetic at all? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Aug 15 at 15:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Telekinesis is neither a cone, cube, cylinder, line, nor sphere. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Aug 15 at 15:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you see the comment by @Medix2 attached to the question, about channel divinity, it is not an attack nor a spell. Similarly, Telekinetic is neither an attack nor a spell. The top answer in that question says that because channel divinity is neither an attack nor a spell, Total Cover does not apply, and because the only requirements listed by the feat is that the target be "one creature you can see within 30 feet of you", I think this answer can't mutually exist with the channel divinity answer. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user273 I already answered that question, and I just believe the top-voted answer is wrong. There are numerous instances across this site of top answers not being reconcileable. Humans aren't perfect \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jason I believe I have now addressed your claim. I was using those rules solely as an example of the fact that rules found in the Spellcasting chapter apply to much more than just spellcasting. The total cover rules can do the same. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15 at 15:45
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An engulfed creature can try to escape by taking an action to make a DC 12 Strength check. On a success, the creature escapes and enters a space of its choice within 5 feet ofthe cube. MM. p242

Engulf is a specific feature of the gelatinous cube with specified methods of escape. There is no-other way to escape than the two specified.

A creature within 5 feet of the cube can take an action to pull a creature or object out ofthe cube. MM p242

You can shove the creature in the cube with telekinesis, but they remain effected by Engulf and are restrained.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You could perhaps support this by pointing out that grappling, a similar thing, does explicitly say things like shoving and thunderwave can end the grapple \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16 at 2:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I follow this line of reasoning. Why do the two specified methods of escape given rule out any other options? For example, would you rule that an engulfed creature couldn't use the Misty Step to escape? (Let's assume the spell is cast with the Subtle Spell metamagic to avoid questions of whether you can cast verbal-component spells when you can't breathe). And would you similarly rule that a grappled character can't use Misty Step to escape, because the rules also provide a specific way (an contested Athletics or Acrobatics check) to escape a grapple? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme yes, that is correct - in my strict reading - misty step may teleport you, but you’re still ‘engulfed’ so the character may not be in the creature but they still are restrained etc. Although this should be its own question because misty step normally has a verbal component and you can’t breath while engulphed. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ So you'd rule that the engulfed creature who cast Misty Step (with the Subtle Spell metamagic, allowing them to cast it without a verbal component) is now 30 feet away from the cube (or at least 20 feet, since the cube is about 10 feet per dimension), but it still "can't breathe, is restrained, ...takes 21 (6d6) acid damage at the start of each of the cube's turns... [and] [w]hen the cube moves, the engulfed creature moves with it"? I see how that is within the boundary of RAW, but I find it surprising. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would be similarly surprised if you ruled that a character that took an action to escape the cube with a DC 12 Strength check (at which they succeeded) remains engulfed and restrained. You could argue that they have "escaped," but that the rules do not specify that escaping ends the engulfed or restrained conditions. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3 at 14:25

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