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The Carpet of Flying comes in four sizes. To keep it simple, let's just look at the smallest carpet, which is 3 feet by 5 feet in size, can carry 200 lb., and has a fly speed of 80. It can carry twice the amount of load by flying only half speed, so could carry 400 lb. of load flying 40 feet, still relatively briskly.

The base weight by race as given in the PHB (p. 121) includes small halflings and gnomes of about 35 lb. with most other medium-sized races weighing in at about 75-115 lb. (drow, elves, half-elves, humans, tieflings, dwarves). On top you can add some variable weight by height, typically about 30 pounds for small and around 50 pounds for medium races. You also can expect at least 35 pounds of gear per character, often more if you include heavy armor. Still, it is quite possible that a character with gear weighs no more then 200 pounds -- and if you are talking small characters, it may be less than 100 pounds. So purely going by the weight limit, you could have 2 medium characters, and up to four small characters on the smallest carpet.

However, each of these in combat situations requires a 5x5' space, and that carpet is smaller than even a single one of these spaces. At the same time, it does not make a lot of sense to me that just because they are entering combat, these characters suddenly fall off the carpet.

So, how many characters can fit on flying carpet, and how does that work in combat?

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a human (you'll have to take my word for it) who would ride a permanently-slow flying carpet even in just my pajamas, I'm cocking an eyebrow at those 75-115 lb. humans you're adventuring with.... \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Nov 13, 2022 at 23:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 A human per PHB is 110 lb. + 2d10 x 2d4 lb, so + 25 lb. on average, or 135 lb. total. The span given here is for all the various medium races. The elves in particular tend to be lite. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1, 2022 at 9:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect the OP looked only at the base weights (which, excluding mountain dwarves and dragonborn, do range from 75-115 lbs. for medium creatures), and didn't notice that the variable height additions and weight multipliers make most of them substantially heavier than that base 75-115 lbs. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5, 2023 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin: The post-edit question remains slightly self-contradictory. You say "at least 35 lbs." for each character's gear, so "no more than 200" in the next sentence is a little off (if 35 lbs. of gear is the lower bound, 200 lbs. is the lower bound for "average" human+gear). Beyond that, 35 lbs. is probably an underestimate; an Explorer's Pack, by itself, weighs 59 lbs, before the character wears a lick of clothing, let alone armor or weapons. Some packs are lighter (scholars apparently don't need food/water/bedding?), but I suspect 250 lbs. is closer to Medium average weight. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 6, 2023 at 22:43

6 Answers 6

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You must obey space constraints and weight constraints at the same time.

The answer is one medium creature, one small creature, or up to four tiny creatures, up to the weight capacity of the carpet.

Page 251 of the DMG notes 4 tiny per square, 1 small or medium per square; Your flying carpet isn't technically a full 5x5 square but you on the carpet still control that entire 5x5 square as a medium or small creature during combat.

Outside of combat you could maybe squeeze an extra medium or small creature onto the carpet, but the rules of combat on page 191 of the PHB specifically prohibit you from ending your movement in the same space as another creature on purpose, so when combat starts someone is falling off the carpet (although they might be able to hang on by the edge with a dex/str/athletics/acrobatics if I were going to enforce that kind of thing).

In all fairness two average-sized humans crammed onto a flying 3x5 square doesn't exactly sound safe in my head.

The smart move to avoid carpet-ejection mid-air in combat, in this case, would be for whoever wins initiative to make the carpet land - no one has to leave the square they're in until their own turn, and until their turn they're still on the carpet if you allowed them to squeeze into the space. This is also the only way the first person on the carpet who goes doesn't have to jump off the carpet to stop sharing the space!

Could be a problem if you're flying higher than 80/40 feet, though...

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    \$\begingroup\$ So I see a carpet flying along packed with people, send my attack pigeon out and most of them have to jump off in mid air? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 13, 2022 at 9:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Basically, yes! LOL I won't go too far into trying to make sense of why combat suddenly punches the eject button, b/c a lot of rules are more about balance than realism, but like I said, I wouldn't exactly feel safe on a 3x5 rectangle moving 80 (or even 40 feet) per six seconds through the air, and that's without having to share it. I believe rules for mounting specifically require creatures- you could try to slant mounting rules for the carpet, but as a 3x5 mount it could only carry small or smaller creatures and the medium party members would be up a creek without a carpet. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2022 at 21:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri The carpeteers cannot willingly end their turn in a shared space, so as Lloyd says, whichever one has the highest initiative should land the carpet if possible - which is a reasonable thing to do if on a crowded flaying platform and under avian attack. Or, if confident, take out the pigeon so that by the end of the turn they are no longer in combat. Cf: Does the rule that you cannot willingly end your move in another creature's space force or prevent certain actions? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 13, 2022 at 22:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ For a real world example, look at a motorcycle. On a standard motorcycle, you can reasonably get two medium sized people and it can speed along just fine. But if the two people decide to come to blows, they no longer fit as they would need more space than the seat of the bike uses in order to swing, punch, etc. Big spoon, little spoon works when cooperating, but not when attacking/defending. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Dec 1, 2022 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I don't feel it merited a change to the answer because it's very hinged on the table you're playing at, but in an edge case you could ask your DM to not put you in combat initiative on the carpet in exchange for the enemy getting uncontested advantaged attacks on you for every round's worth of movement the carpet makes until you land. If you're getting attacked by a a dragon instead of a bird, though, falling might be healthier... \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2022 at 0:12
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Clearly this is one of those scenarios where the base rules for combat don't work very well. That means you need to get back to that whole "The DM tells you the situation, you say what your character does, the DM tells you what happens next" cycle. So what happens exactly pretty much depends on what the DM feels would make most sense.

We've established that there's enough room on the carpet for 2 (or 4) people to sit peacefully. So outside of combat, there can be 2 (or more) people. We've also established that for proper fighting, a character needs 5ft×5ft of space.

That means two characters sharing a carpet, coming to blows, cannot fight properly. So the DM would need to make some calls, based on the situation. Which might not even involve rolling initiative.

Here's what I might do in some potential situations:

2 people on the carpet start fighting

Since there's no room for anyone to properly stand up and fight, this is basically a struggle for space and shoving the other person off the carpet. In this case, I'd ask for opposed Strength(Athletics) or Dexterity(Acrobatics) checks, player's choice, and whichever player gets the highest roll either pushes the other off the carpet or grapples/pins them down, whichever they want. There's no room to swing a sword, cast a spell, or any other fancy tricks. It's just a quick, raw, physical struggle to see who comes out on top.

More than 2 people start fighting

Lets say you have 4 Halflings on your carpet and they get into a fight. Resolution would be fairly similar; everyone rolls Strength(Athletics) or Dexterity(Acrobatics) and whoever gets the highest, is last Halfling standing, the rest is shoved off the carpet.

If there's a situation of two groups fighting, you might adapt the ruling to say that any characters who roll higher than all enemies stay on the carpet, so if A and B fight C and D and the roll come out A(12) B(11) C(8) D(5) then both A and B will remain on the carpet together, but if the rolls come out A(15) C(13) B(11) D(8) then only A will stay behind and B is shoved off by C.

2 people on the carpet are threatened by an outside force

If you're flying the carpet with a friend and a Giant Eagle decides you look like a snack, then the fight isn't happening on the carpet. This is the only situation where I'd ask for an initiative roll and start a normal combat.

In this situation, you need to make a DM call. It makes sense to just say "there's no room to fight properly, you both fall off." This rule requires the threat to be serious, if an angry pigeon attacks the carpet, having people fall off isn't fun. I'd probably also warn the player beforehand of the risks of flying a carpet, so they can maybe take some precautions.

You might also decide that two people being friendly to each other can try to cope with the situation as best they can. For example stating that both characters are Prone and Squeezing to stay on the carpet might work. That'll represent the uncomfortable position they are in, but doesn't instantly end the fight because both people fall to their deaths.

The carpet as a combat platform

I'd be wary about allowing even a single character on a carpet to fight normally. The carpet is not a mount, it's a small piece of cloth that you verbally tell roughly where to go. You won't have proper footing and it might even bend or fold as you step around on it. Even if you're alone, I'd probably assign penalties when fighting from it. That's just not what it was made to do.

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You can share the space, you just cannot fight effectively in it

The rules for creature size say:

A creature’s space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature isn’t 5 feet wide, for example, but it does control a space that wide. If a Medium hobgoblin stands in a 5-foot-wide doorway, other creatures can’t get through unless the hobgoblin lets them.

So if the creatures do nothing to stop each other from entering their areas, they can. The next sentence in the section explains why allies cannot share a space:

A creature's space also reflects the area it needs to fight effectively.

The allies can’t share the space with because they each need the full 5x5 area to fight effectively. However, if you opt to not fight effectively, you can share the space.

The rules unfortunately do not say what it exactly means to be unable to fight "effectively". So that part is going to be up to the DM to determine.

Kudos to this answer by @ThomasMarkov, that makes the same point of being able to share an area if one of the creatures plays dead.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m not even sure I’d say that playing dead is equivalent to not fighting effectively. Playing dead seems more like…playing dead and not participating. If you’re participating, then it doesn’t seem equivalent. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Nov 5, 2023 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NotArch, I don't think they are the same thing, but the logic that allows you to play dead is the same for allowing you to cramp together. Either a creature must have this space exclusive to them, or they can voluntarily allow other creatures into the space (at the cost of not being able to fight effectively, in some way). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 6, 2023 at 5:13
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It has more limitations than you think.

It's not a steed, it's cramped with just one person, and you don't talk fast enough to control it.

First, it's not a steed

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. Four sizes of carpet of Flying exist. The GM chooses the size of a given carpet or determines it randomly. A carpet can carry up to twice the weight shown on the table, but it flies at half speed if it carries more than its normal Capacity.

RAW, this is not a mount. You aren't riding it, nor using handle animal to guide it.

At best, it is a 3'x5' piece of terrain.

Since that is less than 5'x5', that is a squeeze, so it follows the rules for squeezing into a smaller space:

A creature can squeeze through a space that is large enough for a creature one size smaller than it. While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extra foot for every foot it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it's in the smaller space.

So it gives disadvantage on attacks & Dex Saves, gives enemies advantage on attacks, and it's slow to move around on.

There's one positive though -- you're not responsible for your movement, so no opportunity attacks against you!

How is it controlled? Command Words. And you don't talk fast enough.

The Conjure Animals and Summon Woodland Creatures spells have this problem too -- there's just too much going on in battle for 6 seconds of speaking to be enough to adequately coordinate everything. You get maybe 10 words in zero-phase time, but that's it. Speak any more than that, and you start using actions. Even if you could double that somehow, that's no substitute for fancy footwork.

Also, there's no stat block, so the verbal directions are just Command Words themselves. It's very rare - it's not an intelligent magic item.

You might as well be standing on Tenser's Floating Disk, which is an excellent parallel to this question. Yes, you can stand on the Floating Disk. It's cramped, at 3'x3', not enough room for footwork, but you can swing a sword from it with disadvantage.

You're a sitting duck.

Here, check out how Marty McFly does it on a hoverboard.

At first, yes, he's riding it. So when Biff takes a swing, he can dodge. But the moment he gets out into water, he's a sitting duck on an 8" x 3' surface with no power. All he can do is bail out and drop prone into a pool of water, causing his opponents to critical miss and fly into a plate glass window, just like his grandpappy did into a dumptruck full of manure.

With a cramped, verbally commanded method of carrying you, this is the best you can hope for.

If your players want to be like Aladdin, put a flying carpet skin on a Pegasus stat block and say it's a Legendary intelligent magic item.

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Not all characters need to be combatants

Based on this answer, one option is to have the players decide that a character is not going to be an active combatant, and instead huddle down.

As a consequence, they would not require space to control, but also would have no actions to influence the encounter. They still could be attacked and take damage, although it is likely that any attackers will instead focus on the actively opposing combatants (at least that is how I as a DM would run it). This is also in line with the answer to this question, where the same idea has been proposed in a similar situation, where the characters are in cramped space in a small boat.

The DM might impose disadvantage on the active character, due to the difficult circumstances of not only needing to stay on the carpet while fighting, but also to avoid stumbling over their huddled up ally.

Normally this of course would weaken the party's chances to successfully resolve the encounter, as they are giving up on some of their members' combat abilities. But in this special situation, it could be advantageous to have one character fight on the carpet, and one huddle down, instead of one character fighting, and the other having to fall to their death.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd argue that even if they're not participating, and thus do not "control" a space, any character would still be an obstacle to a fighter if that character is in the fighter's space. There's a good reason why during a fight, you cannot have your space intersect with a wall, or any other obstacle. At the very least, this kind of obstacle should give some kind of disadvantage, if it is allowed at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Dec 22, 2022 at 9:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu yes, Disadvantage probably makes sense. Difficult terrain could also be an option, but given there is no space to move around, would not work here. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2022 at 11:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 That is NOT what my answer implied or stated. Gaming the system to allow this is not kosher. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Dec 22, 2022 at 13:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Then I do not understand your answer, it seems? " if a player doesn't want to participate, then that's kind of on them. Their absence will likely make the encounter much more deadly for their companions and they'll end up just sitting around the table while everyone else plays." \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2022 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've downvoted because your "based on this answer" is quite plainly not at all supporting your answer here. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2022 at 14:11
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There is a way to reconcile this, at least for 2 characters fighting

First off, landing the carpet may not be an option. If you are flying high, say at 500 feet, when you are attacked, then the speed of the carpet will not allow you to get to the ground, you still would be over 200 feet up even after a full movement and Dash, and everyone who would have to clear out would face a potentially lethal drop.

However, the rules for space in combat under Creature Size (p. 191 PHB) say:

Each creature takes up a different amount of space. The Size Categories table shows how much space a creature of a particular size controls in combat. (...)

[A table showing the space is 5 feet x 5 feet for Medium or Small creatures]

A creature's space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. (...) A creature’s space also reflects the area it needs to fight effectively. For that reason, there’s a limit to the number of creatures that can surround another creature in combat.

This defintion does not state that the creature needs to be in the center of the space it controls. And there are no secret rules. If there is no rule that states the creature needs to be in the center, then it does not need to be in the center.

So for the smallest carpet, the following setup for two medium or small creatures could work:

enter image description here

Each square is 1x1 foot. The dark square in the picture is the carpet, sized 3x5 feet. The colored areas (yellow and red) are the spaces the two creatures control. Maybe they are fighting back to back.

The requirement that the creature needs five feet square area to "fight effectively" may need a bit of DM adjudication about if the limitiation to moving in only part of the controlled space would impose Disadvantage or not. We often play on dungeon maps where a character does not have a full 5x5 feet to occupy, but if it is more than half, would not apply the "squeezing" penalty. Here, each character has less than half the full square to maneuver so the DM could reasonable impose Disadvantage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ By saying that the creature doesn't have to be in the center of the space it controls, you're literally saying that a creature can willingly choose not to control anything to the left (and/or right, and/or in front, and/or behind) of it or order to extend their reach in an opposite direction. That is like a goalie in soccer standing directly next to one side of a goal and thinking they can now leap farther to still protect the center of the goal. Regardless of where they stand, they can only dive the same distance left and right. There is no being "off center" in the space you control. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Dec 1, 2022 at 22:44

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