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How do ranged weapons work with the time stop spell?

In 5e, time stop ends when I directly affect another creature - in other words, if I cast a spell that affects another creature or try to hit somebody with a melee weapon. How does this interact with ranged attacks?

  • If I shoot an arrow or use a sling, will my missile keep going? Or will it stop when it leaves my bow/sling?
  • If I throw a bunch of knives, will they keep going and hit an enemy, breaking my time stop? Or will they stop moving once they leave my hand, and resume motion only once time has begun to move normally?

On a related note, if I were to use the creation spell while time stop was active to drop a 5-foot cube of steel on top of an enemy's head, that would wait until normal time to actually fall on them, right? It wouldn't fall in stopped time and break it early, would it?

(I'm not asking for any particular reason; I just thought it might be nice to have this information.)

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The only things frozen in time are "creatures"

The relevant part of the description of the time stop spell says (emphasis mine):

You briefly stop the flow of time for everyone but yourself. No time passes for other creatures, while you take 1d4 + 1 turns in a row, during which you can use actions and move as normal.

Spells, arrows, weapons, objects, and the environment itself are not frozen in time; all of these will be affected by gravity and the passage of time as normal. Specifically, a summoned steel cube will immediately fall and crush anyone underneath it, ending time stop.

Now, if you were to summon a creature over an enemy's head, time would stop for it, and your plan would possibly work as intended.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah. I retract my answer then. I thought objects were also affected \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Sep 19 '16 at 16:58
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The text of the time stop spell specifically states:

This spell ends if one of the actions you use during this period, or any effects that you create during this period, affects a creature other than you or an object being worn or carried by someone other than you.

You and your actions are not time-stopped. Shooting a ranged weapon or creating an anvil over the head of an opponent would qualify as affecting a creature other than you, and therefore cause the spell to end.

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Ranged attacks would cause time stop to end immediately. The steel cube? Maybe not so much.

In the official published adventure Princes of the Apocalypse, the adventurers can meet an NPC who can cast time stop:

the lich Renwick Caradoon, in room M16 of the Sacred Stone Monastery.

If you attempt to attack him, he casts time stop and then casts cloudkill before leaving the room. Even though cloudkill is a harmful spell and will obviously harm the player characters, this strategy is completely within RAW as indicated by the book.

Why does this work? Because cloudkill didn't directly affect the PCs yet, and won't do so until time starts. While an attack does directly affect someone, summoning a new object won't, even if it's threatening.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer seems to to be different from Orvir's mostly based on a difference in opinion on what a summoned object will do. Do you have any evidence that a summoned object will be time-stopped when it appears? \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathon Sep 19 '16 at 16:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JonathonWisnoski the summoned object in question has rules that explicitly state it only effects the players on their turn. Slight difference there from a steel cube, which could reasonably be expected to fall. Or to put it another way: the poison cloud isn't going to do anything to you until you start breathing it. Even skin contact isn't going to do much until your circulation starts up again, at which point you'll start absorbing it through your skin again. \$\endgroup\$ – RonLugge Sep 20 '16 at 16:11

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