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The spell says nothing can pass through the gem except light. Does that include the imprisoned creature moving around the inside of the gem?

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The creature can move within the gem

The spell does not mention anything about the creature being frozen or being unable to move, so it does not do that to the creature, as presented in detail in Darth Pseudonym's answer here.

As additional evidence, see this Magic: the Gathering Card, created in consultation with the D&D creative team by the same company that publishes D&D, Wizards of the Coast (from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set):

Creature in Minimus Containment

The creature clearly is distressed by its unhappy circumstances, and it pounding and pressing against the prison wall to get out, so it is moving and not frozen in space.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure most people will count that as evidence (for one, that's totally a pose the creature could be caught in). MTG cards are probably quite non-canonical, though I should check if that's true. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 19:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ My take here is that this is a "for what it's worth..." piece of secondary evidence, and Darth Pseudonym's answer provides a good, detailed analysis of the primary evidence we would be looking for with this question. My recommendation would be to link to Darth's answer specifically, rather than to the generic "spells do what they say they do" Q&A, acknowledging that Darth has provided the primary evidence in their answer, and that this answer is supplemental to that. I'm not downvoting because this is useful info, but reframing as I've described would be worth my upvote. Up to you. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi @Phoenices. You're likely right. You can make the plain "Spell does not mention it so, no." argument, I added that. Do only the core rules count as evdidence of how things are supposed to work? I'd think evidence from other sources can help too. This is after all by the same guys that print D&D. Its also a rare opportunity to have visual answer for the question, rather than a purely rule-mechanical one. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi @ThomasMarkov, yes totally right, I updated to refer to Darth (who anyways is the top rated answer). I find it confusing to have a link to the answer, as if it went somewhere else, so I rather kept the link on explaining the principle, but mentioned his answer explicitly. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 19:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I'm not saying it's not good evidence; I'm not going to make a judgement on that, even on whether it convinces me. I'm only saying that I believe most people won't think this is evidence. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 20:02
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Spells only do what they say they do.

While that general concept can be applied too harshly, the spell text is usually pretty specific about any game effects.

The containment options given for imprisonment are pretty clear about what they do. In general, "the creature doesn't need to breathe, eat, or drink, and it doesn't age", but nothing there says the spell generally keeps the target unconscious or paralyzed.

Burial has the target "entombed" (which is not a game term) but otherwise makes no claim about the target being unconscious or paralyzed. Chaining causes the restrained condition and prevents escape, but that's all. Slumber causes the target to fall asleep, which is the unconscious condition.

Since Minimus Containment doesn't say the target is restrained, paralyzed, unconscious, asleep, petrified, or otherwise incapacitated, there's no reason to think they are. The target is just tiny and trapped inside a gemstone. In this context, "nothing can pass through the gem" should probably be read as meaning the surface of the gemstone, not saying the person inside is embedded in the gem like a fly in amber. If that were the case, I would expect it to say so.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell also doesn't say that the interior of the gemstone becomes anything other than the solid rock that it previously was. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cellheim
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 20:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it were entombing the target in solid crystal, it would say so, just like the Burial option does. That reading is what I meant by applying the concept too harshly. The spell doesn't need to specify every minute detail of its function, but if it were inflicting anything on the target, it would need to say so. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ It says the target is imprisoned in a crystal, and nowhere does it says the crystal is no longer solid. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cellheim
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 21:19
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Yes, same as Forcecage

Yep, it can! Other spells reference passing through. For instance, Forcecage:

A prison in the shape of a box can be up to 10 feet on a side, creating a solid barrier that prevents any matter from passing through it and blocking any spells cast into or out from the area.

The fact that Forcecage stops people from passing through doesn't mean they can't move inside it! In the same way, Antilife Shell says

The barrier prevents an affected creature from passing or reaching through. An affected creature can cast spells or make attacks with ranged or reach weapons through the barrier.

And yet, a living creature can easily move around inside and out of it, it just can't go through. Tiny hut, too, that most essential of protections, says creatures can't pass through but doesn't restrict the creatures inside it.

But, it's also a gem

It looks like it's intended for the creature to be able to move, because it's cool for a princess imprisoned by an evil wizard to be screaming for help and banging on the gem's walls (see Groody's answer). On the other hand, it's your DM's call. It's a solid gem; the spell doesn't explain how you end up inside the gem, and it doesn't explicitly say that the inside of the gem is hollowed out. If your DM says the spell makes the target trapped in there, only able to see, stuck in an expression of fear and horror for all time... that's fine and plausible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem with your analogy is that forcecage is hollow inside, while gems usually aren't. If the entire inside of the forcecage was composed of the same solid barrier as the exterior is than you would probably be stuck motionless inside it. Such is the case with the gemstone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cellheim
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cellheim I'd say your argument proves too much: at least some part of the gem must be hollowed out by the spell to make room for the creature's body. The spell doesn't say the creature itself turns into gem material. Because the spell is entirely silent as to how any of this happens, it's necessarily a DM call as to whether the spell hollows out only enough for the body (leaving the creature frozen in place) or more than enough (leaving the creature able to move). \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 21:14

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