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The background Urchin provides the player with "a pet mouse". Is there any reasonable way to make this mouse survive combat? I would think that the first area of effect spell (say fireball) would kill this poor mouse instantly, even if it was stuffed away in a pocket. I see no point of giving the character a mouse if it either must be set free at the beginning of the campaign or die in five minutes in a flaming ball of fire? So dear internet, is there any reasonable way to keep the mouse alive?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do fireball spells typically get cast within the first five minutes of a campaign? \$\endgroup\$ – David Conrad Sep 22 '16 at 9:09
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Yes.

This is one of those classic "already-been-solved" problems:

Mice in the wild face existential threats every day. They've already figured out their best strategy: find very safe places to hide, and scurry among them when necessary.

I don't see why this would be any different in a D&D-verse. The urchin's mouse--during fabled background times--will have figured out the good places to ride along. Wedged between a waterskin and spare jerkin in the pack? Between layers of a tied bedroll? We may find those locations claustrophobic, but that's comfort to a mouse.

Even if combat kills your poor urchin, I'm sure the mouse could be fine. Unless caught out in the open. And that's the life of a mouse.


There was much made in comments of whether the mouse could possibly survive the hypothetical fireball in OP. Please see Would a very small creature inside a sealed container carried by a character take damage from AOE spells? for the correct explanation of how it could.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 22 '16 at 19:58
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As a frequent DM of 5e AL games I would actually rule No, fire ball would not hurt the mouse. While strictly speaking the pet mouse would be a creature, it is there purely for flavor and can not actually help in combat or the like. In this manner I would treat the mouse like a trinket. So I would not kill it off unless the player wanted it to die to give him/her more of a background.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since the OP did not specify RAW, and was looking for a "reasonable way to keep the mouse alive", I think this is the most appropriate answer. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Sep 21 '16 at 22:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree and would like to add a snippet from the spell description for additional support: "It ignites flammable objects in the area that aren't worn or carried." The mouse can be carried in a container or worn within clothing. \$\endgroup\$ – eyecosahedron Sep 28 '16 at 1:31
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Yes if you let him in your pocket. Besides that, a pet mouse can be really helpful... For example rats are particularly gifted at running through mazes. Their maze-running ability comes from their evolutionary history: rats are small burrowing rodents that have spent millenia digging and finding their way around underground tunnels. It's no wonder they have a knack with mazes.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! I think this answer could be improved by citing rules on why being in your pocket would protect the little guy from a wizard's magical fireball. The part about the maze could make an interesting addition if you could bring it back to the core question on how it would help the mouse survive combat. Rules support for this as well would be even better. Happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Oct 18 '17 at 3:59

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