D&D 5E Heat Metal and whether constructs are both creatures and objects?

Voadam

Legend
So a player in tonight's game had heat metal as a spell and a couple questions came up about its use.

1 How big an item can you heat with it (they came upon a metal tower they wanted to destroy).

2 Are metal creatures like an Iron Cobra or a manufactured metal warforged PC (as one of my Players is playing) objects even though they are creatures?

3 If something like an Iron Cobra or the PC is red hot from the spell, does the creature also do damage on its physical attacks using the red hot metal? How much?

HEAT METAL
2nd-level transmutation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a piece of iron and a flame)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
Choose a manufactured metal object, such as a metal weapon or a suit of heavy or medium metal armor, that you can see within range. You cause the object to glow red-hot. Any creature in physical contact with the object takes 2d8 fire damage when you cast the spell. Until the spell ends, you can use a bonus action on each of your subsequent turns to cause this damage again.
If a creature is holding or wearing the object and takes the damage from it, the creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or drop the object if it can. If it doesn't drop the object, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks until the start of your next turn.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 2nd.

I had a little discussion about this when it came up then made some rulings as the DM (medium size objects or a five foot square area max, yes they can be subject to the spell, and they will inflict the full same damage on physical hot strikes) but said I would think on it a little more because these kinds of things affected both monsters and the PC in our group and robots were a big campaign theme (I am running a 5e conversion of the Pathfinder 1e Iron Gods adventure path).

Normally I think D&D has had a line of creatures are not objects so my first instinct is no but 5e seems fairly inexact on the subject and having a double edged sword of an Iron Cobra taking damage but inflicting more as well was fun and I am trying to be more of a "yes and" style of DM and went with it. But I have concerns for the robot PC and the NPC robots that I might not be seeing a lot of relevant implications yet.

A fourth question just came to mind as well. Can you heat metal the end of a polearm or spear and have it do extra damage while safely holding the non-metal haft?
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
O5e warforged are a creature not a construct. 5e did not include living condtruct in the creature types & couldn't bsckport it in with a footnote because critically the spells & abilities are not structured to support it if they did.

Back in 3.5 there were serious benefits to being a living construct but that is not the case in o5e
 


S'mon

Legend
I wouldn't normally have a hit from a hot creature do extra damage, but I think if it grappled a target then the continuous heat should do damage, d8 fire looks right (large, improvised), d4 for a small creature.
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
Even an animated sword shouldn't count as an object since they are inanimate item;

Objects: 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.
 

Voadam

Legend
Even an animated sword shouldn't count as an object since they are inanimate item;

Objects: 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.
Where is the quote from?
 

So a player in tonight's game had heat metal as a spell and a couple questions came up about its use.

1 How big an item can you heat with it (they came upon a metal tower they wanted to destroy).

2 Are metal creatures like an Iron Cobra or a manufactured metal warforged PC (as one of my Players is playing) objects even though they are creatures?

3 If something like an Iron Cobra or the PC is red hot from the spell, does the creature also do damage on its physical attacks using the red hot metal? How much?

A fourth question just came to mind as well. Can you heat metal the end of a polearm or spear and have it do extra damage while safely holding the non-metal haft?
1) A suit of armor. If someone wanted to upcast to affect a larger target instead or more damage I would consider it. I think for warp wood I have it that a 4th level spell would effectively destroy a wagon. A building would be far too massive.

2) Maybe, but the damage is based on hot metal frying the flesh of the creature holding it. I don't think that would apply to the iron cobra. I would consider half damage against a warforged. It would be an interesting vulnerability or source of conflict with a druid circle.

3) +1d4.

4) Sure, with similar damage. The wooden parts will burst into flame, and the weapon would be useless after three rounds. It would be garbage after the fight, certainly. This idea, however, might be the starting point for an enchanted druidic based spear whose head glows red-hot. You just need to find special wood or an enchantment that prevents the spear head from damaging the haft.

NB: Huh, only one target. It's not the squad killer that 1e heat metal was.
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
"Creatures" in D&D have the ability to resist magic that objects do not. Constructs have this feature as well. So they aren't objects; the animating force gives them this ability.

I'd be tempted to allow a saving throw each turn to shrug off the effect. Like a con save on cast and each turn. On success the hest metal fails.

The damage from heat metal occurs at initial casting, and when the bonus action occurs. This, to me, represents continuous damage, not from an instant of contact. As an example, heat metal on a sword doesn't grant it fire damage.

But a point of fire damage on an attack seems reasonable, and full damage if grappling is involved.
 

Edwidget

Villager
1. The spell really does not specify size. You can take that to mean any size, or you can use the examples to judge the intent. Most things "Tower" size are many objects put together. Up to you, but regardless the spell doesn't damage the thing it is cast on. Destroying objects is more a job for a spell like Shatter, which is surprisingly good if you look at how low object HP are in the DMG.

2. Creatures are not objects. Corpses are though, assuming they aren't undead. The key distinction is "inanimate."

3. Nope. Creatures are not a valid target. Even if they were, the spell just doesn't do that. If it did it would say so. The spell assumes the metal is in contact for a longer period of time than just a weapon attack. It does great ongoing damage because it costs your bonus action every round -and- requires the item to stay in contact with the victim. Getting even more damage for no additional cost just buffs an already great spell.

4. Nope. There are other spells for that. Look at Elemental Weapon, a 3rd level spell that adds 1d4 of an element of your choice. Heat Metal is already very good for a 2nd level spell. Adding (partly) the effect of a 3rd level spell doesn't seem necessary. I did cast it on an arrowhead and then broke it off in an enemy once. When it failed its save and was forced to "drop" the item, the DM ruled it did some damage to itself digging the arrowhead out.

Spells generally do exactly what they say on the tin, not more or less. Nothing stops you from changing the rules to suit your table though.
 


Quickleaf

Legend
RAW, creatures and objects are never the same.

However, at least with the players I run, there's a common sense intuition and expectation about how spells work.

Fireball states that the initial 8d6 explosion of fire damage is dealt to creatures, and that flammable objects are only set on fire. But we routinely allow physical magic spells that stipulate "creature" targets like this to target objects like a wagon, a ship, or a wooden gate.

There's a compelling narrative / internal logic / common sense intuition reason to diverge from RAW in that case.

And IME there's a similarly compelling reason to diverge from RAW when it comes to ruling that heat metal can, in fact, heat metal whether that's worn armor or an iron golem. Of course, YMMV.
 

Edwidget

Villager
RAW, creatures and objects are never the same.

However, at least with the players I run, there's a common sense intuition and expectation about how spells work.

Fireball states that the initial 8d6 explosion of fire damage is dealt to creatures, and that flammable objects are only set on fire. But we routinely allow physical magic spells that stipulate "creature" targets like this to target objects like a wagon, a ship, or a wooden gate.

There's a compelling narrative / internal logic / common sense intuition reason to diverge from RAW in that case.

And IME there's a similarly compelling reason to diverge from RAW when it comes to ruling that heat metal can, in fact, heat metal whether that's worn armor or an iron golem. Of course, YMMV.
Yep. It's all about what works for your table. When you play with the same people regularly, the game can morph into something unrecognizable to others. As long as the people who are actually involved are good with it, who else matters? If you hit a new table though, you should at least understand the RAW.
 

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