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Example scenario: A Forest Gnome Druid with the Urchin background equips their pet mouse with Magic Stones and asks it to throw them at enemies.

The description of the Magic Stone spell says (EEPC, p. 20):

You touch one to three pebbles and imbue them with magic. You or someone else can make a ranged spell attack with one of the pebbles by throwing it or hurling it with a sling. [...] If someone else attacks with the pebble, that attacker adds your spellcasting ability modifier, not the attacker’s, to the attack roll. [...]

The Urchin background starts out with a pet mouse (PHB, p. 141), which would presumably use the statblock of a rat (PHB, p. 309; MM, p. 335).

Forest Gnomes have the Speak with Small Beasts trait, which says (PHB, p. 37):

Through sounds and gestures, you can communicate simple ideas with Small or smaller beasts. Forest gnomes love animals and often keep squirrels, badgers, rabbits, moles, woodpeckers, and other creatures as beloved pets.

The Druid spell Beast Bond gives some information about friendly beasts (EEPC, p. 15):

You establish a telepathic link with one beast you touch that is friendly to you or charmed by you. The spell fails if the beast’s Intelligence is 4 or higher. Until the spell ends, the link is active while you and the beast are within line of sight of each other. Through the link, the beast can understand your telepathic messages to it, and it can telepathically communicate simple emotions and concepts back to you. While the link is active, the beast gains advantage on attack rolls against any creature within 5 feet of you that you can see.

Putting it all together, Beast Bond implies that its target will potentially fight for you. It doesn't grant the target any additional comprehension, so the request to attack a foe is presumably simple enough for low Int beasts to understand. Beast Bond also doesn't increase the target's willingness to fight for you, suggesting that charmed or friendly beasts are already open to the request.

Are there any rules preventing a level 1 Druid from arming their pet mouse with Magic Stones to get an additional 1d6+Wis damage per turn? If so, what is the minimum threshold for an ally that can fill this role in combat?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking about pets/friendly animals, or are you asking specifically about animals under Beast Bond? I think those are two separate questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related on Are there rules for owning and training animals? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ The former. Beast Bond is merely referenced for context. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 8, 2023 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the question is about training at all. To me it seems like it's asking what creatures are able to throw a pebble enchanted by magic stone, as long as the player is able to make them willing to do so through magic or other means. \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I think it might be easiest to consider this question as far more specific than What are the rules for owning and training animals? and while they may share some part of the answer, this doesn't really care about the taming step and the target is by no means expected to cover any specifics that may come up from magic stone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 21:11

2 Answers 2

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Yes, although I would restrict it to pets that get an attack

Your question rests on the premise that a pet mouse would use the stat block for a rat. I don't agree with that underlying assumption, but will address that later. So to begin with, let's find common ground and assume that your druid has a pet rat.

Rats are size Tiny creatures of the Beast creature type and with an Intelligence of 2. They meet all qualifications for Beast Bond and Speak with Small Beasts, so no problems there. Your gnome druid makes some magic stones and hands one off to his little friend Templeton. What happens then?

You touch one to three pebbles and imbue them with magic. You or someone else can make a ranged spell attack with one of the pebbles by throwing it or hurling it with a sling. If thrown, it has a range of 60 feet. If someone else attacks with the pebble, that attacker adds your spellcasting ability modifier, not the attacker’s, to the attack roll...Hit or miss, the spell then ends on the stone.

The interesting part of this description is that the stones can be used by you "or someone else". Does your little rat friend count as someone else? This is very odd construction, not at all like other spells and abilities, which would instead say "You or a creature..."1. Indeed, the mechanics of the spell are otherwise very much like that of Freezing Sphere in that the projectile you make can be thrown or slung, or handed off to another creature to throw or sling. So it is odd that magic stone refers to this other being as "someone else" rather than "a creature".

While the game does not have an explicit definition of what is a creature, at least creatures are better defined than what qualifies as "someone". However, we do find references to "someone" in places like the Hiding sidebar ("When you hide, there’s a chance someone will notice you even if they aren't searching"), the Opportunity Attack rules ("...when someone or something moves you without using your movement..."), and the rules on Reactions ("on your turn or on someone else's"). Thus, I think we are on safe ground to say that 'someone' is roughly equivalent to 'another creature' and conclude that your rat qualifies as 'someone' who can receive the magic stones.

Can the rat throw them? Here we get to what Trish, in their answer, called: "Apply common sense first: Most animals lack the physical capabilities and the intelligence to throw stones." Does it break verisimilitude to have a natural rat tossing stones? Certainly a mouse or rat can deliberately pick up and drop a small stone that might fit in their hand and can easily be trained to do so, even without magic or the special communication abilities of gnomes. I find it harder to believe that one would deliberately toss said stone at something, and they might not even have the anatomy to make a proper throwing motion - but I don't actually think that is necessary.

The magic stone spell makes it clear that the target of the magic is the stones themselves. It takes normal pebbles and 'imbues them with magic' (until the spell ends 'on the stone'), such that someone may toss them, and if they do, they have your spell bonus to hit, not the thrower's. They also have no penalty for long range2. That to me justifies that if the rat is merely capable of grabbing and releasing the stone while contemplating a target, the magic on the stone itself will permit it to fly toward and strike the target. Personally, I would draw the line at slinging a stone, however. Even if you make Templeton a proportionally-sized sling, I just don't see him standing on two legs, whipping the sling about with one paw, and letting go with some but not all digits of the paw, which for me is what would be required to activate the magic of the stones. Your DM will have to decide to what extent the rat needs to interact with the pebble to activate the magic, and whether that interaction is realistic for the rat. But DM-permitting by all means equip your rat pet with magic stones and give them advantage on their tosses with beast bond.

When the rat receives the magic stone, it is permitted to make a ranged spell attack, even though such an attack is not noted in their stat block, where their only attack is one bite. It is clear that, again, it is the magic of the spell that is permitting this. Handing off a stone to your human fighter companion would similarly give them a ranged spell attack, even though they do not have the Spellcasting feature. To use the stone, though, I believe the rat needs to be capable of making an attack, that is, of taking the attack action. A rat normally spends its attack action on its bite (a melee natural weapon attack), but the spell is permitting it to instead spend its action on the ranged spell attack.

I do not think, however, that the spell is capable of providing an attack to a creature that otherwise does not get one. A shrieker, for example, does not get the Attack action and I do not think the spell can go so far as to give your fungus friend an attack. There has to be a line somewhere, both of verisimilitude (can you arm a cockroach with a magic stone? A housefly?) and of balance (with three mice does your first level druid get three attacks per turn?). And here, as we approach that line, is where we need to distinguish between rats and mice.

It's true that rats and mice are similar, and that we are enjoined to use the stat blocks of similar creatures when one does not exist for our target:

Monster Manual (317):

Other Animals. A book of this size can't contain statistics for every animal inhabiting your D&D campaign world. However, you can use the stat block of one animal to represent another easily enough. For example, you can use the panther statistics to represent a jaguar, the giant goat statistics to represent a buffalo, and the hawk statistics to represent a falcon.

However, in this case, a mouse is too different from a rat for me to comfortably use the stat block of the rat. A European field mouse, for example, weighs around 23g, while a Norway rat is some seven to more than twenty-times heavier3. A rat has just 1hp, can do 1 point of damage, and has a CR of 0. There is no way we can meaningfully express in a stat block something significantly smaller and more innocuous than a rat. Things that are too small or harmless to have their own stat block are not typically treated as creatures. As NautArch rightfully points out, this design principle may not be explicitly stated. However, the intent becomes clear when we look at a number of related game features.

Some animals are represented only as swarms
There are rats (CR0), and there are swarms of rats (CR1/4). However, there are many swarms for which individual creatures are not given stat blocks. There are (MM338) swarms of insects, beetles (and scarabs, and hoard scarabs), centipedes, spiders, and wasps. However, of these, only spiders are treated as creatures, and we do not have a stat block for an individual insect, beetle (or scarab or hoard scarab), centipede, or wasp. We do not have a stat block for an solitary rot grub or a lone maggot, despite the fact that they can be treated as monsters when they swarm.

Can it be kept on your person?
Where do you keep this pet mouse? If it is a cute but harmless narrative feature, and it can hide in your pocket during combat, it is not big enough to get its own attacks. A creature, by definition, cannot share its space with you, as NautArch points out. Even a tiny creature 'controls' a 2.5 x 2.5' space in combat, and cannot willingly end its turn in your space, nor you in its. Narratively, you might be able to carry a rat on your person when things are calm, but during combat it is going to get in your way, and vice versa. If you can keep the mouse in your pocket when blades are flashing and spells are being slung, by definition it is not a creature.

Normal Plants are Treated as Objects
In its discussion of monster / creature types, the Monster Manual (7, 8) says:

Plants in this context are vegetable creatures, not ordinary flora. Most of them are ambulatory, and some are carnivorous.

'Ordinary flora', by definition, do not have a creature type - and thus might not be considered creatures. Are they alive? Of course. But the game rules do not treat them as creatures, because the PC's will not be interacting with them in combat. As the MM says, a monster "is defined as any creature that can be interacted with and potentially fought and killed." Things such as normal plants, and mice, are not normally interacted with in this way. They can be, but usually are not. Thomas Markov expresses this principle as that tiny harmless entities "should be generally ignored until someone intentionally engages with them, at which point they are treated similarly to creatures."

Many spells affect a limited number of creatures
Typically your pet mouse would not count against the creature limit for entering a rope trick, being protected by a tiny hut, or coming with you on a teleport - although your DM may consider such an instance a case in which it would count as a creature. However, even the most gotcha-DMs are unlikely to say that your spell fails because of the fleas on the mouse, the lice in your hair, or the meal worms in your rations. Are all these things living creatures? Yes, in the biological sense, but in this case, they are not treated as independent creatures by the rules.

Background traits seldom have consistent mechanical effects
As Darth Pseudonym says, Urchin traits like food scraps are "roleplaying element[s] with no real mechanical benefit." The Urchin's pet mouse trait is similarly mostly for flavor, or perhaps an occasional situational bonus in the hands of a clever player, but not something you can rely on to provide an advantage in every encounter.

A rat, on the other hand, is large enough to have an attack, damage, AC, and hp - it has a stat block of its own and can serve as a familiar, designed to be used mechanically in many situations. But unless your mouse is large enough to get its own stat block, unless it is is big enough to be a threat and already have an attack in its own right, this DM would not allow it to gain an attack with the magic stone spell.


1Dampen elements: "When you or a creature within 30 feet of you...". Portent: "...by you or a creature that you can see...". Feather Fall: "...you or a creature within 60 feet of you...". Greater Invisibility: "You or a creature you touch...". Ottiluke's Freezing Sphere: "...you or a creature you give the globe to...". Phantom Steed: "...you or a creature you choose..."
2Note that an improvised weapon normally has a short range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet; at further than 20 feet a thrown object thus is at disadvantage to hit while the magic stone is not because it is a spell attack, not a weapon attack.
3Of cockatrice, the MM says (p.42), "These omnivores have a diet that consists of berries, nuts, flowers, and small animals such as insects, mice, and frogs- things they can swallow whole." The size small cockatrice would not be swallowing whole something as a large as a rat.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the reply! Someone from your first link quoted the definition of "monster" (MM, p. 4) "A monster is defined as any creature that can be interacted with and potentially fought and killed." This seems to contradict the first part of your answer. CR 0 might be a reasonable threshold to qualify as a monster, but creatures aren't restricted that way. As for the mouse/rat distinction, the MM says "A book of this size can’t contain statistics for every animal inhabiting your D&D campaign world. However, you can use the stat block of one animal to represent another easily enough." \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 8, 2023 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct. Mice are not rats(but I don't agree with the fact that the rat stats can't be used for mice). I searched the web for differences between mice and rats and have found an answer: "Compared to mice, rats are much larger, have coarser fur, and have proportionately larger heads and feet." \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 8, 2023 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I think I quoted the rule, and then said use it only when the creatures are comparable as in the linked question about sheep and goats, and then explained why rats and mice were not comparable. At least that was my intent. Suggestions for how this might be more explicit? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 22:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would see sheep is equally equivalent to goats as mice are to rats. I’m having a hard time seeing why not other than just cause \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 22:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt your footnote refers to cockatrices swallowing frogs whole. Frogs are CR 0 tiny beasts listed in the Monster Manual, same size category as rats. Is there any reference to size being a limiting factor for creatures to be considered "monsters" anywhere in the rules? It seems like the definition of "monster" as a mechanical subset of "creatures" is defined more by the party's willingness to interact with and potentially fight (with or against) the creature. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2023 at 0:21
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Yes, but it's probably not terribly efficient.

Can you give Magic Stones to a pet rat to throw? Sure, they're magic, and spells do what they say they do. The spell says other people can throw the pebbles if you give them to them, and if you're talking to it through your racial ability, that's enough to count for me.

That said, while your pet rat-based Magic Stone shoulder turret works, but it's not terribly efficient. First, you need to spend your object interaction for the turn to draw the pebbles from your pouch or gather them from the environment, then spend your Bonus Action casting the Magic Rock spell on them, then use another object interaction to give them to your pet rat.

Since you only get one free object interaction per turn, you either need to expend your Action on the Use an Object Action (since the spell is a Bonus Action rather than an Action, so you can't combine the Use an Object Action with it), or you need to spread the process out over two turns and leave one of your hands occupied holding them.

Also, since the Magic Stone spell only enchants three pebbles at a time, you need to repeat this process every three rounds.

Also, if anyone wants to shut it down, all it'll take is a single attack or area-of-effect spell. Your rat's got an AC of 10 and one HP. It's extremely vulnerable when it's sitting on your shoulder firing magical rocks at your enemy.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Totally agreed about the pet rat being vulnerable to AoE - even two hp of damage will be an insta-kill rather than making death saves. But I don't think the action economy is as bad as you think. Rather than have the rat on my shoulder, it is behind me on the ground (where it has RAW half cover and arguably full cover). On my turn, I free object interaction draw forth three stones from my pouch, bonus action cast magic stone on them, drop them at my feet because most people rule you can drop items for free, and can still use my action to cast another cantrip... \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 3:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...(or retain one of the stones and throw it myself). On my rat's turn it moves out from cover, snatches up a stone as a free object interaction, and throws the stone as its action, then retreats back behind me. Then I have two more turns where I can cast non-cantrip spells before I need to repeat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 3:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ That ties you to a single spot on the battlefield, which isn't that much better, unless you want to abandon your pet rat out in the open or recast Magic Stones every turn. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 8:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ You've assumed it works from the start, but you haven't proven that point - and that is the actual question being asked. This reads more like a comment. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 12:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Mounted combat is a thing that exists, and a Small gnome is a size category larger than a Tiny rat. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 1:06

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