My house-ruled oracle is considering taking as a spell known the complicated chain of perdition. The important part of the spell for this question is that the effect is a floating chain, and the caster can take a move action to "move the chain effect up to 30 feet," yet that appears to be the only way the chain can move.1 Nonetheless, the spell says the chain effect can use against a foe the combat maneuver drag, which says

If your attack is successful, both you and your target are moved 5 feet back, with your opponent occupying your original space and you in the space behind that in a straight line. For every 5 by which your attack exceeds your opponent's CMD, you can drag the target back an additional 5 feet. You must be able to move with the target to perform this maneuver. If you do not have enough movement, the drag goes to the maximum amount of movement available to you and ends.

Emphases mine. Is this a case of more specific trumping specific? (That is, success on the combat maneuver drag allows the chain to move anyway within the limits of the successful drag combat maneuver although the chain effect can't normally move.) Must the chain to drag a foe somehow be granted a movement speed? Is this just wrong and the chain effect can't really ever drag anything? Or is there something else about this spell I should know?

"Why off a cliff?": The combat maneuver reposition—which the chain effect can also perform and which doesn't carry any questionable baggage—forbids putting a "foe into a space that is intrinsically dangerous," while the combat maneuver drag doesn't have such a restriction. From a design standpoint, I think this is because when dragging a foe the attacker must first traverse the same spaces as the foe, which for most attackers would be unwise if one of those spaces is, for example, off a cliff. However, a magical nigh-invulnerable flying force chain often won't really care what spaces it goes through while dragging a dude.

1 Whether the caster's move action causes the chain effect to teleport to its new location or float conventionally (as conventionally as a magical floating chain of force can, anyway) to its new location isn't mentioned in the spell description. This makes me sad. But at least it can move at all; the spell's author says the chain effect's movement was added by the spell's editor.


1 Answer 1


RAW it seems that the chain is not able to drag anyone, because it can't perform the "moving" action by itself.

As the wording suggests that it should be able to perform a drag action, I suggest to houserule it by ruling that since the chain is acting during your turn you can use the "move the chain" action while it is performing a manoeuvre to simulate a move speed. That would mean that the chain is limited to a 30ft drag maximum (which is better than nothing), and the oracle has to spend a move action for that.

An other interpretation could be that since the chain has a 10ft reach, it could be able to drag someone from two squares to an adjacent one. Yes, this is not mentioned in the drag ruletext, but it seems to be a fair houserule. This would make you able to drag someone off a cliff but only if he is on an adjacent square, but wouldn't require the oracle to spend a move action if the chain was already at the proper place.

More than a more-specific-trumping-specific case it seems to be a poorly-designed-rules case (imo more on the manoeuvre side than on the spell side, "you must be able to move with the target" being very vague). At least it is pretty clear on what the spell should be able to do (performing manoeuvre) so it seems fair to tweak rules as written to make this possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Moving the chain is a move action for the caster, not a standard. So, by your houserule, the Oracle would be able to spend her move action and the chains standard action to drag, while still using her standard for something else. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Aug 4, 2016 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage I really like the idea of the caster taking a move action to allow the chain effect to move then opting to leave some of that 30 ft. of movement unused so that the chain effect can drag. That does imply the chain effect physically travels between locations rather than teleports, but the idea's elegance seems worth the sacrifice. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 4, 2016 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage: sorry, I misread it. It's been corrected. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 4, 2016 at 21:41

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