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In our last session, the party was in a large ice cavern which the adult white dragon boss monster was attempting to enter through a tunnel that was just wide enough for itself. The party evoker had placed an Arcane Hand, set for "Interposing" just inside the mouth of the tunnel to prevent the dragon from entering the larger space and being able to make use of its fly movement, better targeting of breath weapon, etc.

The "Interposing Hand" says:

The hand interposes itself between you and a creature you choose until you give the hand a different command. The hand moves to stay between you and the target, providing you with half cover against the target. The target can't move through the hand's space if its Strength score is less than or equal to the hand's Strength score. If its Strength score is higher than the hand's Strength score, the target can move toward you through the hand's space, but that space is difficult terrain for the target.

Since the Hand's Strength is 26, and the dragon's is 22, the dragon "cannot move through the hand's space".

However, could the dragon attempt to push the Hand back a space, and then move forward into the space the Hand had previously occupied?

The Hand is explicitly an object. This question (thank you @Thomas Markov for the link) asks whether it can be Shoved as if it were a creature. The accepted answer there says that because it is an object, it cannot be Shoved, but does not suggest how it then might be moved as an object.

An alternate answer there agrees that it cannot be Shoved since it is an object, but then clarifies that an attempt to move it as an object should be resolved 'the same as a Shove attempt against a creature'.

So that this question is not a duplicate of the referenced one, let's agree that the Hand cannot be the subject of a Shove attack per se because it is not a creature (if you disagree, you should post an answer to the other question).

Since the hand is an object, can it be moved by a push as an object? Should I read the "the target can't move through the hand's space" as a specific over general prohibition against any kind of pushing attempt from the target (but perhaps not from the orc minions of the dragon),
or as a specific over general exception so that the Large Hand only prohibits the movement of Small and Gargantuan creatures through its space, which it otherwise would not do?

If the Hand CAN be pushed, how should this be resolved? If the dragon is permitted to push the Hand (or if not, when the dragon's minions attempt to move it instead), can the Hand simply be moved as an object, automatically but subject to the rules about weight limits when pushing an object? Spells do (only) what they say they do, and nothing in the spell description explicitly gives the Hand the ability to resist being moved, especially by creatures that are not the target.
Or should I read "The hand interposes itself between you and a creature you choose" as giving it the ability to actively resist being moved, such that any attempt to move it must be resolved in the manner of a Shove attack and it can use its Strength score to make an Athletics check even though we acknowledge it is not a creature?

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4 Answers 4

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There is nothing to push against

The paragraph describing the hand's characteristics includes one critical sentence, which I have highlighted in bold below:

The hand is an object that has AC 20 and hit points equal to your hit point maximum. If it drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends. It has a Strength of 26 (+8) and a Dexterity of 10 (+0). The hand doesn't fill its space.

This means that you can't push the hand because if you push against it, you just go right through it instead!

Interposing Hand doesn't enable the hand to be pushed

Somewhat counterintuitively, Interposing Hand doesn't actually modify the above rule:

The hand interposes itself between you and a creature you choose until you give the hand a different command. The hand moves to stay between you and the target, providing you with half cover against the target. The target can't move through the hand's space if its Strength score is less than or equal to the hand's Strength score. If its Strength score is higher than the hand's Strength score, the target can move toward you through the hand's space, but that space is difficult terrain for the target.

Thematically, an interposing hand impedes the target from "pushing" past the hand by pushing back at them. However, mechanically, there is no mention of pushing. Instead, Interposing Hand restricts the target's movement, by either making the hand's space impassible or difficult terrain, depending on the target's strength score. There is nothing in the text of Interposing Hand that allows the target to push the hand.

In summary, the hand's description does not give any way to push it, and none of the effects caused by the hand modify that in any way, not even Interposing Hand.

Incidentally, note that the effects of Interposing Hand apply only to the target. All other creatures can still move through and occupy the hand's space without impediment, which underscores the fact that even while the hand is interposing, there is (mechanically) nothing to push.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As you say, that the hand does not occupy its space is critical, and I missed that. This is the best answer so far, and I will consider accepting it. Is it true that the effects of the hand apply only to the target? The hand gives its caster half cover from the target, and cover literally "blocks" attacks - so presumably an arrow fired by the target at the caster could be stopped by the hand? I am uncomfortable with the asymmetry of 'the target can't push it, but the Forceful Hand can push the target' and 'the target can't push it, but can strike it', but this may be the best we can do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt Yes, Interposing Hand very specifically limits all its effects to the target only, e.g. "that space is difficult terrain for the target". (The other effects trivially affect only the target.) As for the weird asymmetry, if Tiny Hut can let specific people walk through but block spells and arrows, then presumably Arcane Hand can be similarly selective about what it interacts with and when. There are also lots of monsters of varying degrees of fluidity, corporeality, and ethereality with similarly odd mechanics. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 18:24
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No, but...

The spell lists the conditions where the creature can move through the hand's space: when its strength is greater than the hand's, it can treat the hand's space as difficult terrain. Otherwise it can't move through the hand's space at all.

The spell works as it says it does, needing little to no outside rules.

... It's strongly implied that it can be attacked:

The hand is an object that has AC 20 and hit points equal to your hit point maximum. If it drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends.

No resistances are listed, so it appears reasonable that the dragon could have attacked the hand. Alternatively it may only have been able to attack past the hand; the spell only says that it applies cover for the caster, not the rest of the party.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You do not need to move through a creature's space to Shove it; you can Shove it 5' and then enter the space it is no longer in. Pushing an object does not specify how this works, but presumably it is the same - I can push an object the distance of my reach without entering its space, and then enter the space when it is no longer there. Is this prohibited by the spell? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 5:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt The hand is a magical object made of force, with a strength score; it's not normal. The spell says what can be done, and while it doesn't say what can't, I still say that spells say what they can do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 5:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's made of force, if you push hard enough you sink into it (it is not moved), if your strength is too low it stops you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jasen
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jasen I would ask you to make this an answer, but this seems the basis of Ryan C. Thompson's post that came a few hours after your comment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 17:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus The edit adding the part about cover is an improvement. I'd say it is more than implied that it can be attacked; it is given an AC, hp, and the spell ends when the hp reach zero. In my case, the dragon did end up attacking it, but with AC20 and 70hp was unable to disrupt it before the end of the fight. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 17:38
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Your DM decides.

From the alternate answer you linked:

However, the list of actions one can take in combat is non-exhaustive, as per "Actions in Combat" in the SRD:

"When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the GM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success or failure."

There is nothing in the combat rules about what happens when you push an object, especially if the object has a Strength score and is trying to resist your push. So the DM decides what happens.


My suggestion is that the DM should allow the dragon to take the shove action against the hand as though it were a creature. However this is a house rule and your DM may rule differently.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "There is nothing in the combat rules about what happens when you push an object". That is true; but there is something in the Using Ability Scores rules about what happens when you push an object. Do these rules cease functioning as soon as initiative is rolled? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 5:01
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You ask:

could the dragon attempt to push the Hand back a space, and then move forward into the space the Hand had previously occupied?

My reading of the spell is that it outlines all the ways of the hand being interacted with. Any other interaction is purely up for GM arbitration.

Without a weight we can't apply the rules for pushing objects:

You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score).

Even in the rules for the Interposing Hand option, it doesn't follow this rule currently, as you pass through the hand, not move it.

So the only conclusion I can come to is that although the hand is explicitly an object, it's not interacted with as one for all intents and purposes.

If the GM would like to make an informed decision, the closest analogy I can come up with is the Immovable Rod, which contains the salient rule:

A creature can use an action to make a DC 30 Strength check, moving the fixed rod up to 10 feet on a success.

It would feel to me, against the intended use of the spell to give the dragon extra ways to circumvent the spell, but if you did, setting a very high DC would seem somewhat appropriate. This does leave the unusual situation where a high enough strength to be able to push the hand would then instead pass through it instead. Again, this decision is up to the GM.

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