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D&D 5E What exactly is an "object" for purposes of the Reduce spell?

Players are strategizing for this weekend (assault on a fort) and asked if the Reduce spell would affect a wooden gate in a fort. Reduce shrinks "1 object." There is no mention of any other limitations, such as size of the object.

The DMG object rules say: "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." They also say: "...given enough time and the right tools, characters can destroy any destructible object." I include this part because the definition wants to make clear a "stone wall," for example, isn't considered an object although it is inanimate and can be discrete if free standing (individually separate).

In 2016, sage advice Crawford replied to reducing doors: "I would ask the wizard which part of the door they're trying to reduce. Most doors are made of multiple objects."

How would you handle a gamer request to shrink a fortress gate, whether it be made of wood or stone or steel? Would this mean the massive 40 ton block of stone that the dwarven fortress of Thorbardin uses in Dragonlance could be thwarted by a 2nd level spell because, technically, it's just one big door? Does the ability to "destroy" the object through mundane means distinguish this "big door" from a normal door (for purposes of spell targeting and game rules)?
 
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I'd call a door a single object, no matter how big. Based on the wording of other spells, it's meant to distinguish objects from creatures which are at least sentient and capable of Actions) and locations. A door isn't a place, although a guardhouse is.

I think Sage Advice tends to have a mentality about the rules that I find detrimental to actually fun play: they tend to read the rules rather literally, as though it were technical writing. But it's not, it's natural language. The most obvious meaning is usually the best, and when in doubt, err on the side of fun.

So the pc's could reduce a door if it fails its Con save (do objects get saves?) and the door isn't warded. (If it is, they'd make some sort of roll to overcome the ward. Usually a casting-ability check with proficiency.)

(For what it's worth, I tell players very explicitly that dang near everything that can be warded is warded in my settings, because everyone knows that magic exists. Not all wards are powerful, but they're out their. Warding.)
 
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Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Players are strategizing for this weekend (assault on a fort) and asked if the Reduce spell would affect a wooden gate in a fort. Reduce shrinks "1 object." There is no mention of any other limitations, such as size of the object.

The DMG object rules say: "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." They also say: "...given enough time and the right tools, characters can destroy any destructible object." I include this part because the definition wants to make clear a "stone wall," for example, isn't considered an object although it is inanimate and can be discrete if free standing (individually separate).

In 2016, sage advice through Crawford replied to reducing doors: "I would ask the wizard which part of the door they're trying to reduce. Most doors are made of multiple objects."

How would you handle a gamer request to shrink a fortress gate, whether it be made of wood or stone or steel? Would this mean the massive 40 ton block of stone that the dwarven fortress of Thorbardin uses in Dragonlance could be thwarted by a 2nd level spell because, technically, it's just one big door? Does the ability to "destroy" the object through mundane means distinguish this "big door" from a normal door (for purposes of spell targeting and game rules)?
Sounds unnecessarily pedantic of Crawford to ask that. It actually shouldn't even matter since most people would just say "The door part that actually obstructs where we're going." And not the door knob.

If the players cast a spell and the spell says it does something, it does it. There's probably many other ways to tear down the gate to the fortress since siege weapons exist and other such stuff. If they were going for something impenetrable, they should have had a good way to prevent 3rd level wizards from being able to tear down their doors with a single spell.
 




It depends on how many hinges there are whether that would matter. One might be enough to start a domino effect.

However to answer your question, yes. Do they only have one available?
 

Mort

Hero
Supporter
It depends on how many hinges there are whether that would matter. One might be enough to start a domino effect.

However to answer your question, yes. Do they only have one available?
One 2nd level spell to open a door may be worth it. 2+ and you're starting to get into too many resources for the task at hand (and can probably find a less expensive solution)!
 

jgsugden

Legend
Sage Advice generally represents the interpretation of the rules by the person responsible for them, but it is subject to imperfect memory. This is one of those situations where his memory contradicts the explicit rules. In those cases, the explicit rules win. The DMG states doors are objects, and the spell can target an object.

If a player asked me if they could reduce a door, I'd say that we have a situation similar to what is discussed in the enlarge area. There, when something is enlarged in such a way that there is insufficient room, it will only grow to the point where there is enough space. Here, trying to reduce the door would be troubled by the door being attached to the hinges. Reducing the door would effectively increase the size of the wall that it is attached to, and there is no room to do so because the hinges constrain the size change. As such, no change would take place. I might allow the caster to make an arcana check as if it were an athletics check to break the door with the spell.

That pretty much limits reduce and enlarge to free standing objects.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I think Sage Advice tends to have a mentality about the rules that I find detrimental to actually fun play: they tend to read the rules rather literally, as though it were technical writing. But it's not, it's natural language.
Yeah, and there's a reason for that. 5E and all the designers within keep telling all of us that the DM should make a ruling that makes sense for their table. It's literally the DM's job to interpret the rules and make the decision.

But yet all these people STILL keep bugging Jeremy (aka Sage Advice) about "what's right?". "What's RAW?" Because they won't take "What your DM decides" for an answer. So instead, Jeremy just gives the most straightforward, nitpicky, English language interpretation of the rules language he can and says "This is what the rules say." Even if HE HIMSELF does not actually play the game that way. It's simply his way of telling these people "Be careful what you wish for." Cause I believe he hopes that if the people who read the ruling go "That's STUPID!" that they will ignore Sage Advice and make their own ruling instead.

Which is what they should have been doing in the first place. :)
 

aco175

Legend
It is odd that when used on a person, all their parts, i.e. clothes, weapons, armor, etc... shrink as well. When used on an object like a door, the DM asks which part you are trying for.

I get the idea that it sucks when you shrink and are naked, similar to turning invisible and your clothing does not. It makes sense for game purposes. Saying an item is different than a person may be ok to get around this, but then you open interpretation to parts of objects and things saying a door is part of a castle or dungeon and not a separate object. Then the player wants to shrink the whole castle instead. Even a simple frying pan may have parts such as a wooden handle and not simply one piece of metal.

I would be leery about allowing too much, but would still want to reward cleverness. Say a door is made up of several parts and you just shrink the lock or hinges to force the door to open or fall off, maybe sounds fine. Could I shrink the rope holding up a drawbridge and hope that the rope now breaks from not being thick enough to bear the weight? Sounds ok on its face. There should be some limits on the use though.

The next question would then be castles and doors with anti-reduce enchantments if this trick is soo easy.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yeah, and there's a reason for that. 5E and all the designers within keep telling all of us that the DM should make a ruling that makes sense for their table. It's literally the DM's job to interpret the rules and make the decision.

But yet all these people STILL keep bugging Jeremy (aka Sage Advice) about "what's right?". "What's RAW?" Because they won't take "What your DM decides" for an answer. So instead, Jeremy just gives the most straightforward, nitpicky, English language interpretation of the rules language he can and says "This is what the rules say." Even if HE HIMSELF does not actually play the game that way. It's simply his way of telling these people "Be careful what you wish for." Cause I believe he hopes that if the people who read the ruling go "That's STUPID!" that they will ignore Sage Advice and make their own ruling instead.

Which is what they should have been doing in the first place. :)
I agree with you that he gives the most literal interpretation of the letter of the rules possible, but I don’t think he’s playing 4d chess, trying to give intentionally poor rulings so people won’t listen to him any more. Rather, I think that when people ask for an “official” ruling, they’re rejecting the DM’s authority in favor of the designers’ authority. But if the design intent was to defer to the DM’s authority, the only other authority left to turn to is the letter of the rules.

Of course, early Sage Advice took a different approach, giving detailed exploration of RAW, RAI, and RAF, so as to give the DM as much information as possible with which to make their own ruling. I wish Jeremy would have kept that approach up. I can only imagine it got to be too much work.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'd put some sort of size or mass or volume limiter on the spell, that increases with level, such that a 4th-level wizard can't hope to touch something like Thorbardin's 40-ton door but a 17th-level wizard casting the same spell could affect it.

As for the specific question: to me it'd depend on how the door is made. If it's one big piece of wood then I'd probably let it work. If it's made of a series of planks then the spell will get one plank only (which would likely render the door kinda useless anyway).
 

I'd be fine with it for multiple reasons.
  1. It fits within the concept framework of object. If a door is a single object (per the description) then a gate would be the same. They provide exactly the same function, meaning if the gate was just a large door it would be exactly the same. The only thing that's changed is the name of the object.
  2. The player could simply shrink the lock on the gate itself, opening it anyway.
 



I'd put some sort of size or mass or volume limiter on the spell...
Which hits my secondary concern about my ruling. If I permit this fortress gate, which is roughly a 15' wide and 10' tall series of tightly wrapped logs that can be moved side to side, to be interpreted as a "big door," am I creating precedent later for the Thorbardin gate?

EDIT: The 5E version may be a combo of the original 1st level enlarge person and 3rd level shrink item. That previously had a limit of: "touch, object up to 2 cubic feet per level." They envisioned then a limit.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Which hits my secondary concern about my ruling. If I permit this fortress gate, which is roughly a 15' wide and 10' tall series of tightly wrapped logs that can be moved side to side, to be interpreted as a "big door," am I creating precedent later for the Thorbardin gate?
If it's made of individual logs you're already off the hook: the spell only gets one log. If the logs are so well wrapped the caster can't get at any logs, then the wrapping gets shrunk instead.
 


I've kept puzzling through D&D 5E as Crawford's "look at the DMG p246" Sage Advice answer seemed less than satisfactory. So, keep with "if a door is an object that can be reduced, is a gate of any size also an object?" Both have essentially the same design and function, along with multiple parts.

I went looking for a wooden fortress door and this fits the dimensions of the fort in question:

1613865150957.png


In short, yeah, it's probably an object, much like the "door" of Daern's Instant Fortress. A building has to have walls; it doesn't have to have a door. So, that's why doors are considered "discrete."

But, I don't like the precedent I could create with a ruling that the size of the object doesn't matter. Otherwise, the largest statue in the world could be affected by a 3rd level novice wizard. So, I'm thinking we have to rely on "DM discretion" for this, especially since I came from an edition where reasonable limits were put on how much volume could be affected by "shrink item."

1613865870148.png
 

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