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Let's say I have two Grizzly Bears, one of which is equipped with Short Sword. If I attempt to equip the other Bear and opponent responds with a kill spell, does the Short Sword cease to be equipped to the first bear?

I looked through the rules for equip and don't see why it would, but it's conceivable (certainly if opponent lets me equip before using the kill spell it would fall off), so I would like to check.

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The Equipment remains attached to the previous creature.

701.3a To attach an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification to an object or player means to take it from where it currently is and put it onto that object or player. [...]

701.3b If an effect tries to attach an Aura, Equipment, or Fortification to an object or player it can’t be attached to, the Aura, Equipment, or Fortification doesn’t move. [...]

Unattaching the equipment from the previous creature is part of the equip ability's resolution, not part of it's cost. Since the target of the ability is illegal when it tries to resolve, it does not resolve and therefore the Sword remains attached to the previous wielder.

Note: 701.3b does not apply in this case because the effect doesn't happen in the first place, but it helps reinforcing the idea that Equipment stays where it is unless explicitly moved.

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702.6a Equip is an activated ability of Equipment cards. “Equip [cost]” means “[Cost]: Attach this permanent to target creature you control. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.”

The now-dead bear is no longer a valid target so the equip ability doesn't resolve, and the sword remains equipped on the original creature.

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  • The rule doesn't say the sword remains equipped on the original creature, however. How do we know it stays equipped? – Allure Aug 19 at 21:54
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    @Allure Why would it not? The effect doesn't resolve, so nothing is changed. Announcing that you are going to use an equip effect doesn't cause the equipment to unattach from its current creature, that only happens as the effect resolves. up until it does, it stays wherever it currently is – James Otter Aug 19 at 23:51
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    @JamesOtter Reminds me of this comic: boardgamegeek.com/thread/388425/rob-bank The rules don't say it becomes unattached, but they don't say it stays attached either. I guess the default assumption if the rules don't say anything is to assume nothing changes. – Allure Aug 20 at 0:00
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    @Allure Indeed. "Failing to resolve" in MtG means that nothing happens - all the costs you paid (mana, but potentially also things like tapping or sacrificing permanents etc.) remain paid - they are not refunded - but no effect happens. Moving the equipment is part of the effect, so since no effect happens, the equipment stays where it is. – xLeitix Aug 20 at 6:33
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    @Allure, note that, if I've got it right, when the sole target of a spell/ability becomes invalid, the whole thing fizzles. Even if the effect explicitly said to detach the equipment first, or that something else happened too, the result would still be "nothing happens". See e.g. Battlefield Promotion, where the life gain also doesn't apply if the target becomes invalid. – ilkkachu Aug 20 at 7:52

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