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Specifically, what I was thinking is, can you use Mage Hand to tickle an enemy caster to try to make them lose concentration, or would that be considered attacking them? Could that be called attacking, since it wouldn't be trying to deal damage, it would just be trying to distract them from the spell that they’re concentrating on? Is this (or something similar) covered in any supplements or online things that I haven’t read, or is this just DM discretion?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The main question here is probably: "do you want your opponents to use this technique on you?" \$\endgroup\$
    – biziclop
    Jul 21, 2023 at 13:07

2 Answers 2

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Mage Hand cannot break concentration

Firstly, because if mage hand could do so without dealing damage, it would need to specifically say so, and secondly there are only three general ways to break concentration (PHB, p. 203):

  • Casting another spell that requires concentration. You lose concentration on a spell if you cast another spell that requires concentration. You can’t concen­ trate on two spells at once.
  • Taking damage. Whenever you take damage while you are concentrating on a spell, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain your concentra­ tion. The DC equals 10 or half the damage you take, whichever number is higher. If you take damage from multiple sources, such as an arrow and a dragon’s breath, you make a separate saving throw for each source of damage.
  • Being incapacitated or killed. You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or if you die.

The GM might also decide that certain environmental phenomena, such as a wave crashing over you while you’re on a storm--tossed ship, require you to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on a spell.

Mage hand does neither of those three, so it cannot break concentration.

The only way to allow this would indeed be DM fiat, with the DM first allowing to not count it as an attack, which is already highly questionable because there are other attacks that do not deal damage, like a net, and this like the net has a clearly harmful intent; and second ruling that being tickled is a distracting enough circumstance, comparable to something like being on board of a ship in a storm (p. 204, PHB). I’d advise against such a ruling.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In this case, while the rules don't support the use of Mage Hand to break concentration, a DM might still decide to allow it under specific circumstances or as a one-time exception. They might treat it as a special distraction that warrants a concentration check, even though it doesn't meet the usual criteria. Of course, this would be entirely at the DM's discretion, and it's certainly not something that would be appropriate in every game or with every group of players. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2023 at 0:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SergZ. I'm a fan of one-time exceptions for the sake of a cool stunt. Generally, though, allowing it is not in tune with the game rules. I don't think it would be unbalanced, as you also could use a cantrip like fire bolt to try and break concentration. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2023 at 8:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ You conveniently left out this part of the PHB: "The GM might also decide that certain environmental phenomena, such as a wave crashing over you while you’re on a storm--tossed ship, require you to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on a spell.". Being tickled certainly sounds like an environmental phenomena... \$\endgroup\$
    – Olorin
    Jul 21, 2023 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olorin: I did not leave this out I idscuss it in the last paragraph, with page quote. I can include it in the quote though, agree that is an improvement. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2023 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll merely say that in my games, I usually allow that the "environmental" save can arise from any number of distracting effects, even ones that aren't nearly as overwhelming as taking a wave to the face. In my estimation, choosing to do something fun to distract a spellcaster instead of just attacking is just fine -- it's generally going to cost an action, and it has the minimum save DC, so it's usually strictly worse than an attack -- but critically you aren't harming the caster (which may be important if it's not happening in an outright fight). I'll still usually tie it to a skill check. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2023 at 18:52
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It's up to the DM

According to the PHB (p. 203):

The following factors can break concentration:

  • Casting another spell that requires concentration. You lose concentration on a spell if you cast another spell that requires concentration. You can’t concentrate on two spells at once.
  • Taking damage. Whenever you take damage while you are concentrating on a spell, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain your concentration. The DC equals 10 or half the damage you take, whichever number is higher. If you take damage from multiple sources, such as an arrow and a dragon’s breath, you make a separate saving throw for each source of damage.
  • Being incapacitated or killed. You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or if you die.

The GM might also decide that certain environmental phenomena, such as a wave crashing over you while you’re on a storm--tossed ship, require you to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on a spell.

While Mage hand does not qualify as any of the first three conditions, being heavily tickled certainly sounds like an environmental phenomena that would require a CON save to maintain concentration.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't sound unbalanced to allow a player to use an Action to force a DC 10 Concentration Saving Throw. You could also say that after the first attempt, the enemy is on-guard against invisible tickling hands, and the trick is a once-per-encounter effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Toddleson
    Jul 24, 2023 at 20:46

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