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I find the use of telekinesis on objects confusing, and I'm trying to DM for a PC that recently found a ring of telekinesis and often confuses it for a ring of levitation (that's literally what he keeps calling it by mistake)

You can try to move an object that weighs up to 1,000 pounds. If the object isn’t being worn or carried, you automatically move it up to 30 feet in any direction, but not beyond the range of this spell. If the object is worn or carried by a creature, you must make an ability check with your spellcasting ability contested by that creature’s Strength check. If you succeed, you pull the object away from that creature and can move it up to 30 feet in any direction but not beyond the range of this spell. You can exert fine control on objects with your telekinetic grip, such as manipulating a simple tool, opening a door or a container, stowing or retrieving an item from an open container, or pouring the contents from a vial.

I read a lot about moving objects but I don't see anything about holding them in place. The closest I can see would be the fine control, specifically pouring a liquid because to me that says you're floating the vial and slowly turning it... but can fine control be exerted on objects closer to the 1,000 pound limit?

Could the party load themselves into a wooden cart or similar object and be lifted into the air to reach a window, and then be held there long enough to safely disembark?

If yes, can the caster be counted among the passengers, or must he remain on the ground?

I could easily houserule this to fit my needs but I would like to hear how others would deal with situations like this.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Stragin. Welcome to RPG.SE. Are you looking for a way to separate Levitation from Telekinesis, or perhaps seeing if Telekinesis can hold something in place, or are you asking if the caster can lift a wagon that holds the entire party? \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 May 3 '17 at 5:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry for the confusion I realize it may appear to be multiple questions, in my mind all three of those are tied to the same question "Can telekinesis hold things in place". The wagon example was the best I could come up with and was mainly focused on holding it in place while the party hopped off while it was elevated, and the levitation confusion comes from the player thinking he can hold things in mid air (what he calls levitating) with a ring that casts telekinesis. I'm here to find out if he can or not. \$\endgroup\$ – Shameless May 3 '17 at 5:55
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Yes, based on the "fine control" statement

If we look at the examples that are given for "fine control," they could potentially involve holding things in place. For example, pouring out the contents of a vial would require holding the vial still (or still enough), and manipulating a simple tool could potentially require pushing the tool against a surface, holding it still. Additionally, there are no stated limits on that fine control, so there aren't any. After all, this is magic, not muscle power; our only limits are the ones explicitly delineated in the spell and the fundamental system restrictions.

Additionally, requiring that an object be in motion doesn't make sense. If you're trying to remove an item from a creature's grip, what happens if the two opposing forces cancel out and the item doesn't move?

Replicating Levitation is fine

You want to differentiate between levitation and telekinesis, but levitation is really just a subset of telekinesis. Note that telekinesis is a 5th level spell, but levitation is only 2nd level. Thus, it seems balanced to allow your player to replicate the effects of a lower level spell using a higher level spell.

There are many high level spells that could be used to duplicate lower level spells. Wish is the archetypical example, but the various resurrection spells and the "mass" spells also fall into this category.

Your player might be confused about the ring, and he might not use it to its full potential. Still, it makes more sense to make sure that he knows the full extent of telekinesis, rather than banning his preferred usage of that power.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell doesn't explicitly ban lifting ones self via the spell. Does that mean TK-ing the wagon with yourself in it should be okay too? \$\endgroup\$ – CaM May 3 '17 at 15:22
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Yes, Telekinesis can hold objects in place

The first paragraph of Telekinesis, as applied to objects, reads:

Object. You can try to move an object that weighs up to 1,000 pounds. If the object isn't being worn or carried, you automatically move it up to 30 feet in any direction, but not beyond the range of this spell. (emphasis mine)

This means you can move it upwards. Then it says nothing more about that, specifically if an object under the effects of Telekinesis is held in place or falls, if it is raised up instead of moved on the ground.

This implies that the object that is raised does not fall, and is held in place instead.


Note the same statement is made for creatures.

Creature. You can try to move a Huge or smaller creature. Make an ability check with your spellcasting ability contested by the creature’s Strength check. If you win the contest, you move the creature up to 30 feet in any direction, including upward but not beyond the range of this spell. Until the end of your next turn, the creature is restrained in your telekinetic grip. A creature lifted upward is suspended in mid-air.

If the spell was not meant to hold something in place, then this clause is enough to deal 30 ft worth of falling damage to a creature under its effects every round, because they would be lifted up and then fall.

But this is not what we typically envision when we think of someone lifting someone else up telekinetically.

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Like most rules interpretation you can have good and bad scenarios. Looking strictly at the rules you wouldn't be able to move a wagon or cart as it is a vehicle (DMH, emphasis mine):

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

but we as DMs often let roleplaying slide over the odd rule imbalance (then regret it in the next scene when someone finds a way to break the adventure with your previous ruling....).

Holding something stationary is still moving an object by 0 feet. Afterall you can move up to 30 feet. 0 is still up to 30. As for fine control - this is magic, you can have fine control on a boulder weighing 999 pounds the same as an empty flask because it is magic. The rules say you can so why not?

Holding an object in place may also be the case of stopping a flask of volatile liquid being jostled whilst on a bumpy cart - the flask is held in relative place (within 30 feet of its original location - more on this later) but "you" are moving about. Again this is ok providing the ranges are maintained as below:

There are two ranges for the TK spell. 60ft (line of sight from caster to object) and 30ft (movement from original place to destination). the first range is fine if you are sat on the object. The second may be more problematic and need more DM ruling. Afterall if your intention is to sit on a rug and move 30 from floor to window then you will be fine on both counts. If you were on a cart and moved an object along outside the cart then you could say that the object has now moved more than 30ft from where it started.

In short, I would allow the cart containing the caster to be moved up to 30ft although realise that this is against the definition of an object. (My group would find or create an object to put the cart on, then TK that if I ruled against so in the nature of speeding things up I would let it slide)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ the movement of the levitated object is not relative to your position. It's floating in the air, so it doesn't have any physical connection to the cart (as opposed to you, therefore you are moving with the cart). So, if the cart's movement is higher than 30, you cannot move an object along telekinetically. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Jan 16 '18 at 11:07

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