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Carpet of Flying says:

You can speak the carpet's command word as an action to make the carpet hover and fly. It moves according to your spoken directions, provided that you are within 30 feet of it.

A monster ambushes me. In a panic, I activate my flying carpet, get on it, and say "go up!". We take off but the monster grapples me and pulls me off the carpet (or bites me in half, knocking me to 0hp) before I can get away.

Does the carpet stop moving when it is 31 feet away from me because I am no longer within 30 feet? And if so, does it continue to hover or does it immediately drop to the ground?

Or does the carpet continue up forever as that was the last command uttered while I was within 30 feet of it?

This question rests on the interpretation of the sentence in bold. Does the 30 foot range apply only to giving directions to the carpet, or does it apply to the carpet's movement as well.

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Unfortunately there is no good answer/it's your DM's interpretation. That said, there's some background you could use to help make the decision.

You could either assign it to how you want to play the action rules of the carpet. There's no turn limit in its description:

"It moves according to your spoken directions, provided that you are within 30 feet of it. DnD Beyond, Carpet of Flying.

Using this logic, the carpet would continue to take the last action given to it as a command until told otherwise, and you can only make a new command whilst within 30ft. So if the command, "Fly east" was given, the carpet would fly east, moving at its movement speed per turn until it ran out of world to travel through unless specifically commanded to stop.

That's the hypothesis in this comment.

This might be the most appealing option to DM's to limit the story breaking potential of a magic carpet, without nerfing its power.

Alternately, you can rule that it only takes the last command given to it for the duration of one action or turn, so that you would need to continue to give the command "Go East" over and over, but less of a danger of, for example, you giving the command to fly up, falling off or being knocked to 0hp and your wonderous flying carpet sodding off into the sunset.

If you wanted to use the logic of a similar spell effect to guide you, Tensers Floating Disk, ends if you get further than 100ft from it, and so you could use this to rule that the carpet ceases to fly if you get further than 30ft from it.

Another spell using the specific terminology of Command is Unseen Servant, this also specifically states that the spell will end if the target, in this case the unseen servant, strays from range.

A final close equivalent might be the Artificers Steel Defender, who has to be commanded to take an action, and will otherwise only take actions to dodge in battle, and otherwise does not act of their own accord. When separated from the Artificer, the Steel Defender effectively falls still, waiting for a command, but as it has a minimal intelligence, it can choose an action to take if the Artificer is incapacitated. Without an intelligence stat, the carpet would either just hang in midair, awaiting a new command or continue to complete the last one given.

Hopefully this is helpful in a way that will at least allow you to back up your arguments either way if you're trying to convince a DM or a player more one way or the other.

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Up, up, and away (but you should have gotten away *)

While a DM can always make a ruling, the text (and lack of text) provide a clear direction as to what is going to happen. There isn't any ambiguity, because the only way to create ambiguity is to introduce text that isn't there that is with other mechanics.

You've quoted the relevant rules around the use of the flying carpet - and it dictates you need to be within 30' of it in order to command it. That's it. That's all. Give command? Be in 30' of the item. Other than that, there are no other requirements or limitations.

Without any limitations, the carpet has no reason to follow a new command. It's just listening to your original. The lack of language detailing what happens when outside of 30' means there is nothing new that happens outside of 30' (other than not being able to command it.)

However - it sounds like the creature used an opportunity attack to hit you as you flew away. You have not used any of your movement, so you did not trigger an opportunity attack. Without that attack, you woudn't have been hit and the carpet would have whisked you away to safety (assuming that attacker didn't have any ranged options for later.)

But let's go with the on-the-fly ruling at the table and look to see if there is any language specifically stating what happens if the rug is outside of 30' (besides not being able to command it.)

There are other mechanics which limit how far something can be in order to stay under control

But those aren't used in this item - so we really shouldn't just add them in.

Something like Tenser's floating disk has qualifying language:

The disk is immobile while you are within 20 feet of it. If you move more than 20 feet away from it, the disk follows you so that it remains within 20 feet of you. It can move across uneven terrain, up or down stairs, slopes and the like, but it can’t cross an elevation change of 10 feet or more. For example, the disk can’t move across a 10-foot-deep pit, nor could it leave such a pit if it was created at the bottom.

If you move more than 100 feet from the disk (typically because it can’t move around an obstacle to follow you), the spell ends.

These qualifications are in place to limit how and when you can command what happens when it goes out of range.

The Carpet has no such qualifications, so it doesn't really make sense just to add them - or to try and use the command limiter to mean more than it says.

Range limiting

Without any language directly stating that the carpet stops once outside of command range, then it would say so. Adding it in may include some unforeseen issues such as wanting to command it to do something that is more than 30' away and not being able to do so (maybe you want to allow an ally to get on.)

Again, without any direct limiting language, the sentence is clear that this is about when you can command it and not what happens when it leaves command range.

To the moon!

In this case, what happened in narration was you hopped on your carpet in a panic to escape a monster. You commanded the carpet to "go up!" (with no limitation on how far or specified distance.) With no limit, I would just have the carpet move at it's max movement - and will continue to do so until it receives a command to stop or do something else.

Unfortunately, if you can't get up to within 30' of it, it'll just keep going up. And up. And up. And up.

Failing forward

Good news is, this can become a plot hook! Whenever something suboptimal happens to my player characters, I do try and figure out ways to make it more than just a 'loss.' The search for the carpet may be a fun diversion for a session or two and would be a good way to complete the cycle of panicked loss to happiness with being reunited.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi @NotArch! What does the asterisk mean in your answer title? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Apr 8 at 17:52
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Interpretation is the DM’s domain

As you point out, there are two ways how the sentence can be interpreted, and both can be argued for or justified as valid.

Sometimes there are other, general rules that can be applied, but this is not the case here, I think. There is no more text in the object description to help either.

In such cases, we can at best explore the various pros and cons for either interpretation. But in the end it still requires a call as to what we prefer. This is the task of the DM. For example, Tashas’s Cauldron of Everything lists this as the first rule to remember:

THE DM ADJUDICATES THE RULES
The rules of D&D cover many of the twists and turns that come up in play, but the possibilities are so vast that the rules can't cover everything. When you encounter something that the rules don't cover or if you're unsure how to interpret a rule, the DM decides how to proceed, aiming for a course that brings the most enjoyment to your whole group.

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There is no good answer

Rules as written, both of the following are valid interpretations of the rule block :

  • As long as you are within 30 feet of the carpet, it will move according to the last spoken direction you've given.
  • As long as you are within 30 feet of the carpet, you can give it spoken directions, and it will keep moving as long as no other directions are given.

There is no general rules about magic items and having to be in a certain range for them to still be active, so we cannot rule out either of those in this way.

The only way to determine which one of those rulings to use is to discuss it with the DM, since they're the final referee for any unclear rule blocks, which is the exact situation we're in. It's also up to them if they want to use both restrictions, or any other hybrid solution.

But with the current situation, there is no proper way to determine which one of those interpretations is the "most valid" one.

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My thinking is that it does not move.

Primary reason (given no rules clarity): it makes for bad magic item design. Who would craft a magic item that is so easy to lose? Seems much more reasonable that it has a built-in safeguard that it never gets too far from the rider. As a programmer myself, I know how the most innocent of phrasing errors can have dramatically unexpected results, so you don't invest all that effort into an item that needs very specific instructions so as to not be lost forever.

I also tried reversing the text so that:

It moves according to your spoken directions, provided that you are within 30 feet of it.

becomes:

If you are not within 30 feet of it, it does not move according to your spoken directions

So you say "go up!", it reaches 31 feet, and now it should not longer move according to your spoken directions, so it has to stop.

In essence, if it's beyond 30 feet, it doesn't move because either it moves according to your spoken directions, which text clearly says it can't, or it moves for some other reason, and there's nothing in the rules to support that.

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It stops when you are outside of the 30ft range.

That is what the comma is for in the sentence.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think "It moves according to your spoken directions provided that you are within 30 feet of it." is a valid sentence at all. So the comma isn't changing anything. I feel you should support better that the sentence doesn't have the other meaning. Alternatively, a source on how that comma does changes the meaning would work well \$\endgroup\$ Aug 7, 2022 at 12:42

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