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Can I safely get through a "Blade Barrier" by crawling through with an overturned bathtub over me or does the blade barrier form inside it as well?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Not clear to me that line of effect rules apply so strictly after the spell comes into effect.

The d20srd says "An immobile, vertical curtain of whirling blades shaped of pure force springs into existence", which I interpret to mean the wall consists of a large number of blades each made of force. Nothing in the description indicates that the blades are unforming-and-reforming while the spell lasts. So the blades are each created when the spell is cast and persist until the spell's end. There is also nothing in the description that would indicate these blades can pass through solid matter.

So as long as the bathtub is reasonably tight to the floor as it passes through the blade barrier I would suggest the blades are unable to damage those under the bathtub.

The noise of blade-on-bathtub, however, would be considerable...

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Iron bathtub - Approx. 1/2" thick? Hardness 10, Hp 15. So It should provide protection until the blade barrier rips through it – KitsuneYMG Nov 2 '10 at 0:25
But could you force your way though, strength wise? not only are they dealing damage, but they are presumably solid, and held stationary. So you would need to push them out of the way, to move though them??? – Jonathon Wisnoski Oct 1 '15 at 3:59

The spell creates a wall of force blades, which would fill its area; there is no "line of effect" relevant to its ongoing damage effect. If you believe in "rules over realism" then it's just a wall of damage and such a dodge wouldn't work - both the character and the tub and anything along would take the damage separately. In a more simulationist world, however, you could reason that such a thing should help and using a clever trick like covering up with a bathtub should help protect you somewhat from the damage.

However, there's no reason a dodge like this would make you perfectly safe. I would rule "absolutely you can use it, but the bathtub takes the damage, and given its hardness and hit points, it may split and if it does you take the rest of the damage..." There are well defined damage-to-objects rules in D&D 3.5. I'm guessing the average tub (depending on what it's made of, I assume porcelain) would count as stone which is hardness 8, 15 hp (wood or iron would of course vary this). So it's only going to take 23 points before breaking, but that could totally help - if it's a 12d6 blade barrier (average 42 points of damage), then you could get off without damage if you make your Reflex save... Of course in cases like this it's totally up to the GM whether you save for you and the tub, or save versus the remaining damage once it's through the tub, or what.

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The little precedent we have to go on, i.e. fireball, still does full damage even if it has to destroy a barrier to get to you. So I'd be inclinded to say that you take the full blade barrier damage the round the tub is destroyed. (And I definitely wouldn't allow you to make a reflex save for the tub, unless you had a way of seeing through it.) – starwed Aug 27 '12 at 23:24

According to d20srd:

Total Cover

If you don’t have line of effect to your target he is considered to have total cover from you. You can’t make an attack against a target that has total cover.

Line of Effect

Line of Effect

A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier. It’s like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it’s not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.

You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you cast a spell on or to any space in which you wish to create an effect. You must have a clear line of effect to the point of origin of any spell you cast.

A burst, cone, cylinder, or emanation spell affects only an area, creatures, or objects to which it has line of effect from its origin (a spherical burst’s center point, a cone-shaped burst’s starting point, a cylinder’s circle, or an emanation’s point of origin).

Therefore, anything that completely blocks line of effect blocks the blade barrier from performing attacks. The question for the DM to answer is: "Does the bathtub count as a separate object for purposes of line of effect?" If it does, one consequence is that a tightly-woven canvas sheet also counts as blocking line of effect.

Blade Barrier, as a wall, may or may not have a point of origin. Because it has an effect line instead of an area line like fireball, the last line of the LoE ruling may not apply. It however, is also not a spread, so the spread wording (not requiring LoE from the origin) doesn't apply.

The real question for your DM is "Where is the point of origin?" If each square produces its own point of origin, then the bathtub does not count as total cover. If the first square of the wall counts as point of origin then the bathtub does count. There is no clear ruling from the rules on this and no easily-findable threads on

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I don't agree with the sheet. I'm not sure I agree about the bathtub. Consider: Blade Barrier can damage a fighter through his plate mail armor. Is a bathtub thicker than platemail? If so, why not build armor out of bathtubs? Etc. – Zan Lynx Oct 30 '10 at 5:42
Oh, it's argument ad absurdum. A sheet, as a separate object, provides total cover, therefore protects you from the spell. It's one of the consequences of that interpretation unless you use the "but the intervening object is damaged" houserule. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 30 '10 at 5:59
Why do you call that a houserule? I actually haven't played 3.5, but I'd be shocked to learn that there are no rules for applying melee damage to material objects to damage them. – Sparr Oct 30 '10 at 9:43
There absolutely are non-house rules for damaging objects, I cite 'em in my answer – mxyzplk Oct 30 '10 at 19:48
I think the intent of "solid" is to rule out a flexible, flimsy object like a canvas sheet. It'd have to be really thick, like a tapestry or a thick curtain. – Snowbody Jun 29 '11 at 19:37

Depending upon what the tub is made of, the blades could conceivably break or rip the tub to shreds before you had managed to crawl through their area of effect. At least that would be my take as a DM.

Wood or ceramic would be quickly or easily be broken or shredded, but you might be able to move fast enough to get through. Cast iron? Well, I would probably require one or more strength checks to move the 10' required to clear the blade barrier. Remember your crouched down on your hands and knees with very little mobility. So I would probably limit them to 5' movement on each successful strength check, meaning the tub would have to survive two rounds minimum against the damage the blade barrier causes. The hardness and hp for a cast iron tub would be Hardness 10, 30hp/inch of thickness.

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As a part time DM, I'd have to say that I probably wouldn't let the player get through it unscathed. Either the fragile tub would shatter and they'd take physical damage, or the ringing of their ears from the cast iron would cause them to take penalties to listen, balance, casting, etc for minutes, if not hours afterwards. But then again, trying to use a tub to sneak through is a creative solution by a PC. – BBlake Nov 1 '10 at 17:06
@SevenSidedDie: After doing some searching I found a bathtub that probably very closely matches a bathtub found in a medieval/fantasy style world: Premier Copper BTM72DB. This monstrosity weights 250 pounds and its copper (not iron!) walls are only 0.05 inches thick, which would make it next to useless against a Blade Barrier. – user660 Nov 1 '10 at 20:28

Magic trumps bathtub. If the character casted a spell like Turtle Shell (dont remember where it was from Druid?) then I would allow that to provide temporary hp to the character once destroyed magic winks out you start taking damage. If player did this in my group bathtub would also damage them, shards hitting PC and surrounding players...but thats me. Blade Barrier high level spell should not be able to be subverted by a bathtub.

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High level spells (like Mass Hold Monster) can and should be subverted by clever or even ordinary use of some lower level spells (like Protection From Evil), as well as through mundane methods and clever thinking. Meteor Swarm is also a high level spell and it can be subverted by conveniently placed rice paper. – the dark wanderer Nov 12 '14 at 11:20

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