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I anticipate this is going to come up in the next session I am running. Our wizard has been going around the dungeon using Mage Hand to open doors. One of the doors he has not yet dealt with is actually a mimic. I'm interested in how this is supposed to play out given Rules As Written.

According to the mimic description, "The mimic adheres to anything that touches it. A Huge or smaller creature adhered to the mimic is also grappled by it (escape DC 13). Ability checks made to escape this grapple have disadvantage." (from D&D Beyond)

Can a Mage Hand be grappled? Would a mimic, given low INT (5) but decent WIS(13), know that it's just a spectral hand and wait for the "bigger fish" of the PC to come and try to pick the lock? Either way would be fun to play out, but again, I wonder how it ought to be played out.

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The end result is that the Mimic has no functional effect on a Mage Hand other than potential discovery of the mimic

A mage hand is not an object or a creature - it is a Spectral floating hand effect that can do a limited variety of actions. This doesn't mean it's not a thing, it's just not a 'thing' as defined by D&D 5e (as an object or a creature.)

Like Spiritual Weapon, Mage Hand isn't a physical creature/object and can't be used for advantage, etc. It can not attack, has no AC, no HP or any other statistics (it can not be attacked, either - unlike Bigby's Hand)

Utilizing the same intent, along with support like no statistics for the Mage Hand, leads to the conclusion that Mage Hand isn't something that can be attacked, grappled, or interacted WITH and would not be susceptible to a Mimic's Adhesive quality.

In order to be grappled, the mage hand would need to have statistics to make the Ability check - and Mage Hand does not have any.

Stuck?

If you allow for the Mage hand to be a "thing", then the Mimic would adhere to it, but it would not be grappled by it (since you can't grapple a mage hand.) The hand could still move, but would have a mimic attached to it.

The standard weight requirements for Mage Hand are still there, although this then becomes entangled in the issue of not having a stat block to break the "grapple" to become unstuck. If it can't break it because there is no ability score to break it, it's hard to allow it become grappled/stuck in the first place.

It just doesn't matter

However, even being stuck isn't an issue. There's no need to come up with an ability check or system for adhesion vs grapple to break free. If a Mage Hand is 'stuck', the best and most efficient way to free it is to cast a new one. Same cost (action), but with a guarantee to be free.

Nothing Happens

If you don't allow it to be a thing to get "stuck", then it would interact with the Mimic for no effect.

Potential Discovery

Ultimately, this question seems to be about would a Mage Hand interacting with a Mimic tip the players off about it's existence. If I was a player, I'd expect the Mage Hand to tip me off that the object wasn't an object. I could see a case (and provided one) for the other, but as a player it would be frustrating to be mislead in this manner.

BONUS ANSWER: Adhesive Effect

When in Object form, the Adhesive is secreted and is seems to be something that's "always on." The mimic has no control over it unless it is moving or changed form (MM, 220)

A mimic excretes an adhesive that helps it seize prey and weapons that touch it. The adhesive is absorbed when the mimic assumes its amorphous form and on parts the mimic uses to move itself.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '17 at 21:06
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RAW: "The mimic adheres to anything that touches it." Since the specific rule about the mimic beats any general rule, and since mage hand is a thing made of some physical substance as "You can use the hand to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door ...". Therefore, the mage hand is stuck.

In addition, per RAW, a mage hand can't be grappled as it is not a creature (see grapple rules under Combat in the PhB, also the rules for grappling under the mimic entry), so the mimic might try to "grab" it when touched. That it should be able to do with ease. Look at the rules under Setting => The Environment => Interacting with Objects and Objects for details on what to do there.

A character’s interaction with objects in an environment is often simple to resolve in the game. The player tells the GM that his or her character is doing something, such as moving a lever, and the GM describes what, if anything, happens.

For example, a character might decide to pull a lever, which might, in turn, raise a portcullis, cause a room to flood with water, or open a secret door in a nearby wall. If the lever is rusted in position, though, a character might need to force it. In such a situation, the GM might call for a Strength check to see whether the character can wrench the lever into place. The GM sets the DC for any such check based on the difficulty of the task.

Not RAW:

Now to make the story interesting you could give the mimic an Arcana check to see if it can identify the thing that is touching it is a spell, or a Nature check to see if it can tell if it is being touched by something it might want to eat.

I would probably give it disadvantage on the Arcana since I imagine the only senses the mimic is using at the time is touch and taste - (maybe smell too). A door with eyes would certainly spoil its camouflage.

On the Nature check, you would have to figure that random junk getting stuck to it is not that uncommon, and that it doesn't nom every thing that happens to stick to it. It probably has some way to tell what is good food and what isn't.

No matter which check you decide, if it fails, it would grab the hand, which, considering it is immobile, it should do with ease. This will likely reveal the mimic to the PCs. Whoopsie - roll for initiative.

If it succeeds, the mage hand is still stuck. The mage hand can only exert 10 lbs of force, which is not enough to overcome the mimic's adhesive. At that point, let the mage know he can't move his hand anymore, and put the decision making ball back into their court. More fun that way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 11 '17 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ The fact that a Mage Hand can manipulate objects does not necessarily make it physical. Telekinesis is about manipulating objects by thought only, so if the Mage Hand is but a handy glowing outshape that serves to focus telekinetic abilities, it is NOT physical. You need a rule describing whether the Mage Hand is physical or not, and baring that a rule describing whether someone else than the cast can influence the position of the Mage Hand through physical means. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. May 12 '17 at 10:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mage Hand is a Conjuring spell. Telekinesis is a transmutation. \$\endgroup\$ – JWT May 12 '17 at 14:58
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It would seem as though the door/doorknob were stuck

While Mage Hand specifically can open unlocked doors, it has a limit of "ten pounds" of force. That is in the ballpark of the force required to turn an ordinary, modern doorknob.

Assuming the doorknobs in your high-fantasy setting are comparably as difficult to turn as their modern counterparts, the hand is using about all its strength to open a normal door. If a door is at all stuck, the Mage Hand cannot force it.

A mimic will look like a door, but won’t have the mechanical parts of one — its doorknob won’t turn, no matter how how you try. With the hand’s limited strength, you can’t be sure whether the doorknob is just stuck, or a fake.

Mage Hand manipulates objects, but cannot otherwise inspect them

Mage hand allows you to manipulate objects (as listed in the spell description) but it provides no provision for allowing you to feel them. You cannot use the hand to discern whether an object is hot or cold — or some kind of fake — beyond what simply “manipulating” the object would allow.

Mage Hand is not a real, tangible hand, just a spell effect that exerts a small force, and has a visual manifestation.

What happens then?

An astute player might examine the "stuck" door. If the mimic is in the form of a (nearby) door in good condition, it could seem fishy that this door is stuck.

Using Mage Hand can then provide a hint that something is afoot, without giving the answer away "for free."

The mimic would not adhere to the spell effect

Mage Hand conjures a "spectral" hand. This is a spell effect that is neither creature nor object. It has no stats, AC, or hit points like magical effects that can be attacked or otherwise interacted with. It's not a "thing" for the mimic to adhere to.

One step further, I wouldn't expect a non-corporeal creature to become stuck to the mimic, either. Nor would fire, light, wind, etc. That is, we should use common-sense to define the "anything" that the mimic will adhere to. That is to say, the mimic adheres to tangible things — not “spectral” ones.

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I doubt there is a RAW answer, in part due to 5e's value of "rulings over rules". There is, in my opinion, plenty of evidence on both sides to justify a position.

However, if you don't care, and want the "dice to lay as they fall", I would ask, is the Mage Hand an object, or an continuous effect? To give an example of what I mean by this: a 'fireball' spell is an instant effect; conjuring a torch produces an object; a 'heat metal' spell is a continuous effect.

I can see a valid interpretation of the spell in either case: as an object, the spell summons a physical hand (and how does that hand work?), which would be stuck and reveal the mimic. As an effect, the spell generates a continuous hand-shaped force that can move 1 lb. This force cannot be adhered to, and so the mimic would not necessarily be revealed. Note that all the other conjuration spells (of which school Mage Hand is in) tend to deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, which lend towards the object interpretation. However, the most similar spell, imho, is Bigsby's Hand, which is an Evocation spell that deals force damage, supporting an effect interpretation.

So it depends on how you want to present the situation. Personally, with my players, I'd have the mimic attached to the hand, revealing itself. However, I'd have the wizard know that he cannot just cast the hand (this will summon the mimic on top of him as well), so until the mimic is dealt with, he can't use Mage Hand. This I feel is a trade-off; the party is no longer effected by the "trap" nature of the mimic, but now must deal with a foe (greatly weakened in my opinion, as I expect it to start off grappling a major damage dealer) or lose a valuable resource.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhilBoncer There's getting to be an excessive amount of discussion on this page, which is getting away from the purpose of comments. At this point I'm going to ask you to consider writing your own answer to contain your position, where it will be much more effective than in comments arguing with other answers, and will hopefully stem the tide of discussion. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '17 at 21:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ My point is that this question seems to have generated an inordinate amount of answers that depend on unsupported statements and faulty logic. A separate answer of my own would not address that issue. I gave a "like" to JWT's answer, which my own would not be very different from. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer May 11 '17 at 21:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PhilBoncer It would actually. The SE Way to deal with answers that you think are incorrect, and which the authors have shown disagreement over that interpretation, is to write one's own answer that one thinks is better. (This is how SE avoids the unproductive effects of the “there is someone wrong on the Internet!” phenomenon.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '17 at 21:15
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RAW from Mage Hand: "You can use your action to control the hand. You can use the hand to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container, stow or retrieve an item from an open container, or pour the contents out of a vial....The hand can't attack, activate magic items, or carry more than 10 pounds. "

IMHO A Mimic isn't a real container object, thus the mage hand can't open it (it behaves like a locked chest).

RAW from Mimic "The mimic adheres to anything that touches it." The hand isn't a thing but a magical force (no stats). The mimic will not attach.

as a side note this should also teach your players why the standard 10' pole isn't optional.

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