What happens to the equipment of Phantom Steed when the spell ends?

The spell Phantom Steed lets you summon a horse-like creature. It says:

You decide the creature's appearance, but it is equipped with a saddle, bit, and bridle. Any of the equipment created by the spell vanishes in a puff of smoke if it is carried more than 10 feet away from the steed. [...] When the spell ends, the steed gradually fades, giving the rider 1 minute to dismount.

So the equipment is not part of the steed, otherwise it could not vanish when carried away from the steed, while the steed persists. There however is no mention of the equipment vanishing when the spell ends. Will it remain?

• Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 11:53

The text is unclear, leaving room for exploits.

As you've said, there's no clear explanation on what happens to the equipment when the steed vanishes. While the heavily implied solution would be that it also vanishes alongside the steed, the rule text as written doesn't mention it at all.

Let's analyse it a bit further. The one condition given for the equipment to vanish is the following, emphasis mine :

Any of the equipment created by the spell vanishes in a puff of smoke if it is carried more than 10 feet away from the steed.

As a side note, if we twist the text even further, the equipment could technically be more than 10 feet away from the steed while the steed is still active, as long as it isn't carried. For example, placing it down on the ground, then taking the steed somewhere else wouldn't make it vanish. Picking it up at any point while the steed is away would instantly make it vanish though.

Back to our main question. As written, the equipment won't vanish as long as it isn't being carried away from the steed. So then, what about when the steed vanishes? The condition for the equipment vanishing is a distance condition. However, the steed simply stops existing. The summon isn't an entity or creature from another plane, so they don't even return to some other plane when the spell ends, they simply disappear.

As there is no definition of "distance with something that doesn't exist", the text can be interpreted in many ways :

• Distance is infinite : carrying the equipment will make it vanish.
• We use the last position of the steed : you can move the equipment in a 10-feet circle around this position.
• The distance is undefined : you can carry the equipment anywhere without it vanishing.

Of course, this isn't intended.

It's up to the DM to decide of what interpretation they want to go with. The most natural, and very likely intended, effect is that the equipment vanishes alongside the steed, but if a DM wants to rule otherwise using the above, they're free to do so.

• +1. I thought about the carrying bit too. You could also throw or drag it away. But I figured if you sold it and then someone carries it further away, it would vanish, closing that loophole. Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 9:19
• @GroodytheHobgoblin worst case scenario, you can use it to scam people with vanishing saddles. But might as well use another illusion spell at this point. Then again, with the "undefined distance" interpretation, you can do this permanent saddle creation trick. I wouldn't allow it as a DM personally, but who knows. Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 10:33

It is implied it vanishes with it

As the spell says:

Any of the equipment created by the spell vanishes in a puff of smoke if it is carried more than 10 feet away from the steed.

it is equipped with a saddle, bit, and bridle

So, by definition, the saddle, bit and bridle are equipment, since they are equipped. When the steed vanishes, the equipment should also vanish with it. The spell doesn't state the gear is left behind or anything, and since the steed is gone, so should be those items since that is what happens if they're carried more than 10 feet away.

It is likely to fade together with the steed.

When the spell ends, the horselike creature fades out and it does actually seem that the equipment remains there. Moreover, the steed does not seem to be summoned from another plane of existence (e.g., the Feywild); it is just a spell effect, so you can not reason ( i.e., adopt a particular ruling) about planes distance.

Per the quoted rules, the equipment vanishes if carried away$$\^\dagger\$$ more than 10 feet from the steed: this implies that the equipment is strongly tied to the creature, even if it is not part of it, as already observed in the original question. The question is: if we assume that the equipment remains once the creature fades out, what is the distance between the creature not existing anymore and the equipment? I see three possible interpretations:

1. The creature is now at a point at infinity: the distance is infinite, hence more than 10 feet, hence the equipment disappears.
2. The "coordinates" of the creature are the ones where it faded out: as soon as the equipment is moved more than 10 feet away from that point, it vanishes.

A third interpretation, instead, relies on the magical tie between the horselike creature and the equipment: when the spell ends, everything created by it disappears. This is more coherent with the spell's school: Illusion spells create effects that affect creatures$$\^\ddagger\$$, but they all have a limited duration.

$$\^\dagger\$$ Carry away here means to remove: see for example the definition in the Collins dictionary.

$$\^\ddagger\$$ See Illusory Dragon (XGtE, page 157), Creation (PHB, page 229), Mirage Arcane (PHB, page 260), among others.

• The tricky thing is that the equipment only vansihes if it is "carried more than 10 feet away", not if it "is more than 10 feet away". I did not want to go there in the question, but as written, what if the equipment is thrown or dragged away? I figured that would not be a loophole per se, as then when you sell it, and someone carries it another few feet further away, it vanishes, but then I stumbled over the issue that the steed may have ended, and the spell did not say what happens to it then. I of course agree with the title and conclusion, but does the text really support it? Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 9:16
• @GroodytheHobgoblin The verb is "carry away", meaning that it is moved away, not necessarily carried on a person. See here for example: collinsdictionary.com/it/dizionario/inglese/carry-away Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 10:56

The vast majority of people will assume that the magically-created saddle disappears with the magically-created horse.

This is also 99.9% likely to be what the creator(s) of the spell intended.

Even if you assume otherwise and take an overly-anal reading of the text, it disappears the first time anyone 'carries' it.

If the horse is gone the gear is more than 10' from the horse. As per this line

Any of the equipment created by the spell vanishes in a puff of smoke if it is carried more than 10 feet away from the steed.

If anyone carries the gear, aka picks it up, moves it, places it on the back of another horse (then the horse is carrying it), it disappears in a puff of smoke.

So it can sit there on the ground but if you or anyone else picks it up and moves it it turns into smoke. Not a particularly useful saddle bridle and bit.