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I didn't see an answer to this question after a brief search, so I wanted to ask here.

I got in to an argument with my DM tonight. I assume, from the way unseen servant is worded, that I can have as many as I can cast. E.g. every 10 minutes I can summon another one (as a ritual) and just go to town with them.

The DM focused on the wording of the spell, where it says:

This spell creates AN invisible, mindless, shapeless force

and interpreted this as meaning I could only have 1. I assumed this meant that the spell could only create one at a time, but each casting could create another one.

So, who's right? Based on a lot of what I've read online, it is assumed that people can cast many of these to have fun with them. Does this come down to grammar? Is there some rule that makes this official one way or another?

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You can have as many as you can cast

Unseen Servant has no concentration requirement, and no stipulation you can only have one servant at most.

Compare that with Minor Illusion, which explicitly says you can only have one effect up:

The illusion also ends if you dismiss it as an action or cast this spell again.

Or Simulacrum, which removes the previous clone if it's cast again:

If you cast this spell again, any currently active duplicates you created with this spell are instantly destroyed.

Or Control Flames or Prestidigitation, which puts a limit on the number of effects it can have at a time:

If you cast this spell multiple times, you can have up to three of its non-instantaneous effects active at a time, and you can dismiss such an effect as an action.

Unseen Servant does not have a clause like this written in it. If the designers wanted you to have at most one servant at a time, they would explicitly say so, in the way they wrote those limits on the other above-mentioned spells.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The only caveat to this well reasoned answer is that a DM can rule that "one at a time" is all that is allowed. From a text based analysis, it's solid. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 12 '17 at 12:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast The DM can rule anything and be in the right though, so that caveat goes without saying. \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 May 12 '17 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate that point but this is an explicit case of a player arguing with the DM. I guess my point is "take this text analysis, present this reasoning to the DM" (it is good reasoning") and recommend a new ruling based on there being no explicit limitation. The way your header reads opens the door to more DM/player conflict ... perhaps. (Again, I find your reasoning rock solid). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 12 '17 at 12:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Good point. The DM's ruling is always the correct one, and the querent explicitly asks: "So, who's right?" \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 May 12 '17 at 12:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ The DM's ruling is always the rule that governs the table. It is not always the correct ruling. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. May 12 '17 at 15:09
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So, firstly, the 1-hour duration means that you can only have 6 at a time if casting the spell as a ritual, or 600 if casting it via spell slots. But that's not really what you mean, so let's move along.

It's worth pointing out that even if you can have multiple servants, you can only command one at a time.

Once on each of your turns as a bonus action, you can mentally command the servant to move up to 15 feet and interact with an object.

So if you had 60 servants and wanted them all to take a bucket of water from the spring and throw it into the well (hypothetically), you'd have to order one of them each turn, requiring 60 turns (6 minutes) to get them all moving.

There is a rule that possibly governs your ability to have multiple servants.

Combining Magical Effects

The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap. The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don’t combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect—such as the highest bonus—from those castings applies while their durations overlap.

For example, if two clerics cast bless on the same target, that character gains the spell’s benefit only once; he or she doesn’t get to roll two bonus dice.

The question then becomes, is this:

This spell creates an invisible, mindless, shapeless force that performs simple tasks at your command until the spell ends.

an effect of the spell, meaning that you can only have one? As @markovchain points out, it almost certainly wasn't intended to be. But your DM does have the right to decide that it is.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the command could be to perform a repetitive or continuous or long-term task, so the 'one command per bonus action' isn't necessarily as limiting as it might seem. (Of course, it all depends on the types of shenanigans one has in mind.) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 12 '17 at 2:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60, "up to 15 feet" seems quite limiting though, it would seem odd if you could command one to repeatedly move between two points 15 feet apart, but not command one to go 30 feet that-a-way, in one command. In other words, any repeated action is going to run to that 15 feet limit quite quickly. \$\endgroup\$ – ilkkachu May 12 '17 at 9:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ What's the maximum number of spell slots it's possible to have through any means? Probably warrants its own question, but the mention of "600 if casting it via spell slots" made me wonder. I suppose having a sufficient number of Spell Scrolls of Unseen Servant or the like would circumvent that problem? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 8 '18 at 5:52
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You can have many, but there is a limit: geometry (if not spell slots).

You're right that each instance of the spell creates an unseen servant. So multiple castings would create multiple servants. Note that the wording of unseen servant in no way rules out the option of multiple servants; compare with the wording of find familiar, for example.

However, even assuming you have nigh-infinite scrolls of unseen servant and so don't have to worry about slots (without being rate-limited to the 6 you could maintain through ritual casting), you're limited by how many can be within 60' of you: 312. (Note you're restricted to the ground-plane by the spell's text.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ If the servants could all stand on the same square, though... the servants are not creatures, they are a "shapeless force" \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 May 12 '17 at 2:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @markovchain fair point. I guess I was reading it in grid-mind, but that's not really necessary. If you want to have 600 of them milling about you probably could. (That's going to trigger someone's agoraphobia, though.) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 12 '17 at 3:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ 600 Unseen Servants is incredibly impractical, unless... Cantrip: Minor Illusion. Issue a bonus action: "carry a kitchen utensil and make it dance around me." After 10 minutes, you can recreate "Be our guest" :) \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 May 12 '17 at 3:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ At some point someone needs to begin a web page or web archive to collect all known Unseen Servant Shennanigans ever tried. Or attempt to. IMO, U.S. has created some of the great fun and silly things in D&D over time ... to include the use of an old "butter always under the elbow trick" at a formal dinner with the king ... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 12 '17 at 12:52

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