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I, as a Proper Villain, have acquired minions. These minions are known as Noodle Bugs, tiny, stealthy creatures that look like rotini noodles. The possibilities are endless! They can use my magic items! They can throw oil! They can wake me when I am put to sleep by magic! They can bite for 1 damage to help kill dying people before they are healed! But I need more. My hated enemy has just found the Sword of Holy Wrathness, a powerful artifact that requires attunement. Can my Noodle Bugs sneak into his camp, attune to his weapon, and so prevent him from using it against me?

Basically, can an arbitrary creature with enough Intelligence attune to someone else's weapon (already attuned by the enemy) to disable it? What if it's being held by someone else? Assume that meditation is a legal way to attune to any magic item, and my noodle bugs don't have to practice with the sword to attune. Or just assume it's a Silver Orb of Zappyness instead of a sword. Additionally, don't worry about spaces and positioning and house rules about holding onto a sword.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Probably not a fun experience for the player with said item, but an awesome thing to happen! \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 2, 2021 at 16:47

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It's up to your DM

The rules say:

Attuning to an item requires a creature to spend a Short Rest focused on only that item while being in physical contact with it (this can’t be the same short rest used to learn the item’s properties). This focus can take the form of weapon practice (for a weapon), meditation (for a wondrous item), or some other appropriate activity.

  • Most DMs would expect your bug to pass a stealth check when sneaking into an enemy camp.
  • Most DMs would probably rule that attuning to a weapon required weapon practice.
  • If the weapon is an artifact, a DM might rule that the artifact has preferences about what wielder it will tolerate.
  • If someone is carrying the object in question, a DM might rule that it was difficult or impossible for your bug to stay in contact with it, or that it was difficult or impossible for your bug to avoid detection.
  • If someone abruptly became un-attuned to an item, a DM might rule that they would notice this right away.
  • If they didn't notice it right away, a DM might rule that they'd notice upon interacting with the item.

But, if your DM chooses to rule favorably to you in all of these cases, then yes, your plan can totally work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for pointing out these possible problems! Some of them sound much more house-ruley than others, but I could still imagine a DM ruling on that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Nov 2, 2021 at 17:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ The (in-)ability to attune by merely touching a weapon is probably going to be the limiting factor here. A tiny bug can't meaningfully use a longsword so it seems unlikely they can attune to it. That said, even if they could, what would prevent the paladin from brushing the noodle-bugs off his sword and taking an hour to re-attune to it? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 3, 2021 at 14:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym These bugs are quite sneaky - there's a risk he notices, but if he doesn't, he won't figure out what happened until one of its powers doesn't work. Even then, he might not realize for a while. Yes, I know that the weapon attunement rules will ruin this - I wanted to know about a general case, not specifically a holy sword. I guess I shouldn't have used a sword as my example, then. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Nov 4, 2021 at 16:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I recommend considering the case of a cat familiar and a magical cloak -- nobody will think twice about a cat making biscuits on something soft! \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2021 at 16:11

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