1
\$\begingroup\$

The Mage Hand cantrip is described as follows:

Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Target one non-magical, unattended object weighing up to 5 lbs.

DESCRIPTION

You point your finger at an object and can lift it and move it at will from a distance. As a move action, you can propel the object as far as 15 feet in any direction, though the spell ends if the distance between you and the object ever exceeds the spell's range.

It says you can move an object "as far as 15 feet in any direction", but it doesn't specify how quickly you can cause something to move. I note that the spell does't stipulate the movement takes place over any particular duration, even the duration of the spell. And that makes me wonder.

Q: What do you call a tiny pebble weighing a fraction of a pound, accelerated to sufficiently high velocity over the course of less than 15 feet?

A: A bullet.

What's stopping players from using this spell (an unlimited-use cantrip!) to turn their local environment into an ammo box and wreaking havoc on any encounters they may come across?

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless I'm missing something here, the same reasoning of 'as a move action, move a pebble 15 ft => pebble is fast as a bullet' will result in 'as a move action, my dwarf moves 20 ft => dwarf is fast as a cannonball'... Allowing this will create all sorts of absurd results - wouldn't it? \$\endgroup\$ – G0BLiN Oct 14 '16 at 22:33
13
\$\begingroup\$

2.5 feet per second per move action.

Mage Hand says:

As a move action, you can propel the object as far as 15 feet in any direction

Which means that the object can move as long as you have enough Move Actions to move it. Regardless of how fast you think that move action is, it cannot be longer than the 6 seconds that is the duration of a Combat Round.

So, the more move actions you use, the "faster" the object moves:

  1. You have a Move Action every round.
  2. You can downgrade a Standard Action to a Move Action.
  3. You can use a Hero Point to obtain either a Standard Action or a Move Action.
  4. You can use use the Pathfinder's Chonicler's Inspire Action to obtain another Move Action.
  5. And any other ability that could grant your extra Move (or Standard) Actions.

With 2 move actions, the object moves 30 feet, or 5 feet per second (about 1.524 m/s).

With 3 move actions, the object moves 45 feet, or 7.5 feet per second (about 2.286 m/s).

With 4 move actions, the object moves 60 feet, or 10 feet per second (about 3.048 m/s).

And so on, increasing the speed by roughly 2.5 feet per second (or 0.762 m/s) per Move Action used to move the object.

P.S: No, it's not fast enough to hurt someone. That's what Telekinesis and Telekinetic Projectile are for. If the spell could cause damage, it would say so in its description.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that what you are calculating here is the minimum velocity - not the maximum (which seems to be what the OP is asking about) - The answer allocates all of the 6 seconds to that single character's turn, but consider what happens if others are taking actions before him in the same round (e.g. opening a door to allow the pebble to pass - an action which obviously must be completed before the pebble moves). Trying to assign actual duration to actions in the abstract timing used for combat can lead to really weird results (see 'Peasant Railgun' for an extreme example...) \$\endgroup\$ – G0BLiN Oct 14 '16 at 22:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well done on the P.S. part, though, this cantrip isn't supposed to cause damage. \$\endgroup\$ – G0BLiN Oct 14 '16 at 22:47
3
\$\begingroup\$

I read the 15 feet "as far as" as the constraint. The MAXIMUM distance the object will move, is 15 feet. To travel the maximum distance, would require you moving the object the entire 6 seconds of the round. Otherwise, you would be able to move it more than 15 feet. The maximum speed therefore is 15ft/6s or, 2.5 ft per second.

In fact, you can move it faster, if you take a double move. So now, the maximum distance this object will move within one round (6 seconds) is 30 feet. which means, the caster wills the object to go faster, but a a cost of doing anything with her own action.

It does not follow that the spell would be able to move something at some bullet speed, for 15 feet, but no more, stop the movement, and then be able to pick up the next round, again moving an object 15 feet in a fraction of a second. Reasonableness is the winner here.

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

The pebble would be going at approximately 1.7 mph if you judge it going 15 ft in 6 seconds or 2.5 ft per second (due to the spell being cast as a standard action, and standard actions lasting 6 seconds.)

Which at that rate would do nothing more than brush against them lightly.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That "if" is the basis of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 4 '16 at 20:22
-3
\$\begingroup\$

First, a quick nitpick: according to the PFSRD, mage hand's duration is however long the caster concentrates.

That aside, the spell text says that "As a move action, you can propel the object" (emphasis mine). This would seem to mean that despite the distance, it is the caster's own strength that is providing the force. So, if the character is capable of throwing a pebble at supersonic speeds, then I think that they could do so with mage hand. However, with that much strength, wouldn't the character be better suited as a melee fighter?

The other factor to consider is an ingame one: firearms exist. If it was possible for every wizard to fire bullets at will, then why would firearms exist? Mage hand is, as you mentioned, free and has unlimited uses. If you used prestidigitation to create the bullets, you would have unlimited ammunition. Since both bullets and guns cost money, what reason is there to use them?

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.