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There is a lot of speculation around the interpretation of this spell. Lots of people are differentiating between a 'surface' and an 'object' as mutually exclusive e.g. A table is a surface because it is specifically mentioned as an example in the spell as a surface. In doing this casting the spell on the table negates the 'object' rule of movement whereby the object cannot be moved more than 10' from its origin. My interpretation is that a table is both an object and a surface therefore must comply to both set of rules. Similarly a wall is a surface but if you cast it on a brick wall then remove the brick the glyph is inscribed upon, you've changed the nature of the 'surface' to an 'object' therefore the spell's rules change.

Is there a way I can fairly easily determine which way the spell works, or have I missed something?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you the DM asking on how to make a ruling, or a player wanting to use the spell? \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Dec 1 '17 at 9:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ You've added the [rules-as-written] tag, but you deliberately ask for details that aren't specified in the rules. What's the point? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Dec 1 '17 at 10:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am both a DM and a player. The tag was supposed to be RAI not RAW. Although that tag doesn't seem to exist. I'll remove it. \$\endgroup\$ – Ross Constable Dec 1 '17 at 12:04
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Is there a way I can fairly easily determine which way the spell works

No, there isn't.

If you are a player, ask your DM. If you're the DM, make a ruling. There always will be situations that aren't described in the rules, just because 5e PH is a (relatively) small book and spell descriptions aren't very detailed. As a DM, use common sense and your own understanding how magic works in your world.

See the related question about RAW interpretation of spells: What is the source of the "spells do only what they say they do" rules interpretation principle?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok thanks, I was just checking that I hadn't missed some definition on surface and object that could have helped. \$\endgroup\$ – Ross Constable Dec 1 '17 at 12:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RossConstable a "surface" isn't actually a term in 5e. An "object" is - What is considered an object? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Dec 1 '17 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks enkryptor I have seen that thread before. It's just odd that WOTC would specifically differentiate between a surface and an object without applying a set of rules on how. Nevermind, as you have said it is up to DM ruling and as that's me I'll just work through it. \$\endgroup\$ – Ross Constable Dec 1 '17 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RossConstable I've always read "surface" as something immovable. See also rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/64943 \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Dec 1 '17 at 15:08
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If it can be moved, then it counts as an "object" for this purpose. The entire point is that Glyph of Warding is not portable -- it stops working if it is moved more than 10' from where it was cast, and the intent is that this is a clear limitation, not to be weaseled out of by redefining things.

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