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5E How does [i]animate objects[/i] work?

Arial Black

Explorer
Specifically, if you animate, say, ten objects, do you roll separate initiative totals for each of the ten?

Do you roll once, and all ten act on that initiative?

Or do you not roll at all, and have all ten do what they do on your (the caster's) initiative count?
 

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Nebulous

Legend
Sigh. My powergamer wizard, who can't even cast this spell yet (he's planning 4 levels ahead), wants to keep 10 poisoned daggers on him in a bag, then dump them when needed and cast the spell and have them do 10d4 +40 +30d6 poison damage in a round. The price for a vial of serpent poison alone is 200 gold, so that right there would jack the cost to poison ten daggers to 2000gp. Naturally, he wants to find a way around that annoying cost hump.
 

Coroc

Hero
Sigh. My powergamer wizard, who can't even cast this spell yet (he's planning 4 levels ahead), wants to keep 10 poisoned daggers on him in a bag, then dump them when needed and cast the spell and have them do 10d4 +40 +30d6 poison damage in a round. The price for a vial of serpent poison alone is 200 gold, so that right there would jack the cost to poison ten daggers to 2000gp. Naturally, he wants to find a way around that annoying cost hump.

Make him do 10 dexterity checks whenever he empties his bag of toxic daggers on the floor prior to casting his spell, to see whether one of these (or more) accidently plunge itself into his foot during the process :p
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Sigh. My powergamer wizard, who can't even cast this spell yet (he's planning 4 levels ahead), wants to keep 10 poisoned daggers on him in a bag, then dump them when needed and cast the spell and have them do 10d4 +40 +30d6 poison damage in a round. The price for a vial of serpent poison alone is 200 gold, so that right there would jack the cost to poison ten daggers to 2000gp. Naturally, he wants to find a way around that annoying cost hump.

Powergamers talking about exploiting poisons always give me inspiration to start designing creative uses of poison against them too. In and out of character, obviously. And I like to let them know.
 
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Sigh. My powergamer wizard, who can't even cast this spell yet (he's planning 4 levels ahead), wants to keep 10 poisoned daggers on him in a bag, then dump them when needed and cast the spell and have them do 10d4 +40 +30d6 poison damage in a round. The price for a vial of serpent poison alone is 200 gold, so that right there would jack the cost to poison ten daggers to 2000gp. Naturally, he wants to find a way around that annoying cost hump.
I would DM that the poison drips off as soon as you animate the objects (and I would tell the player before (s)he invests money to buy the poison). The spell description is clear on the damage, and I wouldn't allow more damage. It's already one of the highest damage spells in the game. The player is welcome to find other reasons why it will not work if it improves the storyline, but I would make it a non-negotiable to exceed that damage.

Allowing 30d6 extra damage is potentially game-breaking and you cannot compensate that with a monster that also does 30d6 poison damage on the players (because it's an insta-killer which is no fun).

Sorry if we're hijacking the thread.

On topic of the OP:
I personally let the objects act on the initiative of the character. It's just easier.

Also, I rule that the PC can only send 1 command per round (since they only have 1 bonus action). Effectively this means that usually all objects attack the same enemy, which greatly speeds things up.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Do you roll once, and all ten act on that initiative?

Or do you not roll at all, and have all ten do what they do on your (the caster's) initiative count?

I don't think the spell dictates the DM to use a specific way to manage initiative. So all of the three main options are ok: act on caster's turn, use their own single initiative roll, use their own multiple initiative rolls.

Keep in mind that commanding the objects require a bonus action (I don't like how this spell is worded ambiguously... you can command the objects to use a specific action OR do something generic, I think the spell should have allowed only one or the other), so if the DM chooses to have the objects act on their own initiative, the effect of the command will occur later.

The choice between single or multiple roll is instead rather subjective. I tend to roll initiative for ALL identical monsters in an encounter for simplicity, so I would also roll for all the animated objects together. Individual initiative for every single creature slows the game a bit, but can make combat even more dynamic and tactical.
 

anthr

Villager
Compare Animate Object with Find Familiar.
Animate Object doesn't have the word initiative in it, so the objects has the same initiative count as the caster.

About the ten poisoned daggers: I would allow it.
1. The wizard spend 2000 gp for one attack.
2. The daggers could be fastened to a leather strip that the caster has wrapped up (less dngerous than in a bag).
3. For how long is the poison active? My guess is that the wizard must apply the poison right before the fight - so it can only be used for planned attacks.
4. Applying poison is dangerous and you could poison yourself, see assassin. Maybe mage hand will mitigate?
5. The wizard uses his bonus action to let ten flying poisoned daggers attacking the same target. That's ten attack rolls. How many will hit? (of course those who miss can attack next round)
6. For each hit the target makes a poison save. (how many saves will fail?)

My point: 10d4+40 + 30d6 requires a lot of successful attacks and a lot of failed saves.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Compare Animate Object with Find Familiar.
Animate Object doesn't have the word initiative in it, so the objects has the same initiative count as the caster.

About the ten poisoned daggers: I would allow it.
1. The wizard spend 2000 gp for one attack.
2. The daggers could be fastened to a leather strip that the caster has wrapped up (less dngerous than in a bag).
3. For how long is the poison active? My guess is that the wizard must apply the poison right before the fight - so it can only be used for planned attacks.
4. Applying poison is dangerous and you could poison yourself, see assassin. Maybe mage hand will mitigate?
5. The wizard uses his bonus action to let ten flying poisoned daggers attacking the same target. That's ten attack rolls. How many will hit? (of course those who miss can attack next round)
6. For each hit the target makes a poison save. (how many saves will fail?)

My point: 10d4+40 + 30d6 requires a lot of successful attacks and a lot of failed saves.
All very good points. The counter price-point makes it so not worth it, but a player like him would go above and beyond to find/steal/manipulate poison into his possession for a one-shot powerplan. If I told you about his attack and trap plans for the cantrip move earth you would probably cry. I about did :(
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
Is the plan to use the basic poison from the PHB? That kind of poison only lasts 1 minute once applied and is an action to apply. So by the time poison has been applied to the last dagger the poison on the first dagger has expired. You can of course get others to help you apply poison. But because of the time limit it requires knowing that a fight will occur within the next minute. It's not something you can always have ready in your back pocket.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Is the plan to use the basic poison from the PHB? That kind of poison only lasts 1 minute once applied and is an action to apply. So by the time poison has been applied to the last dagger the poison on the first dagger has expired. You can of course get others to help you apply poison. But because of the time limit it requires knowing that a fight will occur within the next minute. It's not something you can always have ready in your back pocket.
No, he was wanting to use the serpent's poison as listed in the DMG for 3d6 damage.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Nebulous if you don't like just tell the gamer no. A flat "no". But as a rotten evil dm, some of other posters have poisoned his cool idea. Or do on to him the same.

He's a wizard. He has a decent intelligence. He should be able to figure out that any dagger sharp enough to do damage is sharp enough to be a hazard to him if not sheathed. And poison would wipe off on the interior of the bag....

So, he can make it 5 poisoned daggers in sheaths - half the spell animates the sheaths, so they can come off the daggers.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
I'd allow it. Of course, since it takes an action to coat a single magical Dagger of Venom, I'd use that as the baseline for getting the poison onto the 10 blades. Hope he has a good front line to protect him while his craft project is going on in the back...

Also, to address the OP: the first two options that @jgsugden said - I wouldn't take valuable table time to give each object its own initiative
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
All very good points. The counter price-point makes it so not worth it, but a player like him would go above and beyond to find/steal/manipulate poison into his possession for a one-shot powerplan. If I told you about his attack and trap plans for the cantrip move earth you would probably cry. I about did :(
I had a similar player. Wanted to use the cantrip as "immobilize enemy" spell by trapping their feet in stone. I'm sure he would have come up with worse had I not shut it down.

I want to reward creativity, but there has to be a line.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I like to reward creativity too. In of itself I don't feel the poisoning of the daggers is terribly outlandish or something I would outright ban. I don't think it would EASY to set up, and would need some time, but I think he had the idea of an assassination thing where you know your target and have a trap waiting. (He's not an assassin, just an immoral psychotic)

But the move earth thing, he was reaching so hard to abuse that spell it was painful to listen to.
 
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Frozenstep

Explorer
Fill a bucket with poison, put a lid on. Uncap it with your item interaction when combat starts. Animate objects. Command them to give themselves a bath in the poison (probably takes all their actions for a turn), then attack x enemy.

Cry when literally everything is immune to poison because WOTC hates poison users
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
For the OP, I run animated objects similar to monsters (which may not be RAW). In most cases they go on the same initiative per type of monster. If there are too many or I think that it would give team monster too much of an advantage I'll split them up. Typically I do that when there are more than 5 monsters of any one type.
 

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