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The fabricate spell can do a lot of interesting things, but I'm not sure as to what counts as raw materials. To build a brick building, would newly crafted unused bricks be a raw material or river bed clay?

If bricks can be used, could a wizard use a broken house as material to build a new building?

Could the wizard use an intact building for materials for his tower?

Finally, could a wizard turn someone's fortifications into a staircase leading right to them?

Assuming : space and area limits to the spell are being observed and the wizard has all nessary tool proficiencys to do this.

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5E D&D doesn't have a strict definition of the word "raw," but the examples given in the first paragraph of the spell description appear to set some clear parameters. The raw materials listed are all in a totally natural, unworked state. Although there's an example of fabricating "a wooden bridge from a clump of trees," there's nothing along the lines of fabricating a bridge from a pile of lumber.

If we want to be safe and take a conservative reading of the spell, then river bed clay is a great candidate for a raw material, but newly crafted bricks (and used bricks from a broken house) don't seem to be in the spirit of the spell as worded. Once that clay got baked into bricks, it's no longer "raw" in any conventional sense.

I could see a DM taking "raw" in a somewhat metaphorical sense and allowing the spell to affect what we would more rigorously term "unworked" material. This would stretch the terms of the spell quite a bit, but wouldn't seem to be grossly out of line with the flavor or power level of the spell.

But stretching the spell so far as to "turn someone's fortifications into a staircase leading right to them" can't really be defended. Those bricks have been baked, assembled, mortared together. There's nothing raw about them. If the spell had been intended for that type of transmutation, it would simply refer to "materials."

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    \$\begingroup\$ 5e does not need to define raw. It uses natural language, and the dictionary already does it perfectly. a (1) : being in or nearly in the natural state : not processed or purified and c : not being in polished, finished, or processed form A castle wall is in processed form. The materials used to build it are no longer raw. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Feb 6 '18 at 11:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree that newly crafted bricks wouldn't count. Bricks are very much "raw materials" for building a house. OTOH, "the bridge from trees" example is more persuasive they meant "river bed clay". \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Bonner Feb 6 '18 at 13:12
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I would say it depends upon what the castle wall is made from. Stone roughly thrown together or chistled down to be shaped I would say are raw, because the only change is their size, while if it was made of brick as some others pointed out, I would not consider them raw since the material has been added to and worked much harder. A final note the morter keeping all of the stones or bricks would most certainly not be raw material, so it would not be affected.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Fisonna, welcome to the site. I see from your Informed badge you've checked out our tour; thanks for doing that. When you reach 20 rep, you're also welcome to join us in Role-playing Games Chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 5 '18 at 20:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ The word you are looking for is "dry stacked"—a stone wall made of stones stacked with no binding agent. This would be little different from a pile of bricks, since dry stacked walls are often made of raw, flat stone. Castle construction would rarely if ever be dry stacked on any important fortification. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Feb 5 '18 at 21:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis the bases of Japanese castles are typically dry stacked. (aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/i/ishigaki.htm) \$\endgroup\$ – Nathaniel Feb 6 '18 at 8:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nathaniel Thanks! Learned something new. Are they mortared above the base or made of wood? In any case, I would think that as part of a larger construction of differing materials they would be disqualified as a raw material source, but I could see an argument for it. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Feb 6 '18 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis the castle structure above is mostly made of wood. The base functions kind of like a castle mound, but in appearance is more like a wall. (An image search for "Japanese castle" will give many examples to show what I mean.) \$\endgroup\$ – Nathaniel Feb 7 '18 at 0:06
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Just use stone shape It is one spell level lower, and does the job.

Fabricate won't affect worked stone. The spell is very clear in the wording, you need raw materials. A building is not raw material.

Replying to those that stated that raw is not defined in 5e:

5e does not need to define raw. It uses natural language, and the dictionary already does it perfectly. a (1) : being in or nearly in the natural state : not processed or purified and c : not being in polished, finished, or processed form A castle wall is in processed form. The materials used to build it are no longer raw. (by myself). comment source

Regarding the spell wording:

You convert raw materials into products of the same material. For example, you can fabricate a wooden bridge from a clump of trees, a rope from a patch of hemp, and clothes from flax or wool.

Choose raw materials that you can see within range. [...]

The stone shape spell can affect a section of a wall, if it is made of stone:

You touch a stone object of Medium size or smaller or a section of stone no more than 5 feet in any dimension and form it into any shape that suits your purpose. [...]

the downside is twofold:

  • Stone Shape is a touch spell

  • Stone shape only affects 1/8th of the area of fabricate (a 5ft square section of stone, versus eight 5ft cubes)

But it can be done with a 4th level slot.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In 5th edition, shape stone is a 4th level spell, but you bring up an interesting idea. Turn the wall into "raw" stone, that fabricate could use. \$\endgroup\$ – Overthinks Feb 6 '18 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @overthinks you can carve 125 cubic foot of stone out of the wall with one casting of stone shape. IF the stone removed can be considered raw is another question. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Feb 6 '18 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might not work as well as you'd like. Stone shape affects a section of stone. If you're dealing with mortared stone blocks (for example), that's one block. Arguably, it's no more than one block even if unmortared. If you cant' make the stairs that you need with just that block, and the wall is more than one block thick, you're still not done. For that matter, how helpful is that 5 foot tall stair? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Feb 6 '18 at 17:40
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It's interesting to note that previous versions of the Fabricate spell did not specify raw material: "By means of this spell, the wizard is able to convert material of one sort into a product that is of the same material." Though the examples given were the same, it could be argued then that worked materials were usable to power the spell.

In 5e, the Fabricate spell actually specifies the term raw material: "You convert raw materials into products of the same material." So what is a raw material?

According to Wikipedia: "A raw material, also known as a feedstock or most correctly unprocessed material, is a basic material that is used to produce goods, finished products, energy, or intermediate materials which are feedstock for future finished products. Here, the specification is unprocessed; however, lumber (wood that has been processed into beams and planks) is considered a raw material in the Wikipedia article.

This corresponds to BusinessDictionary's definition of raw material: "Basic substance in its natural, modified, or semi-processed state, used as an input to a production process for subsequent modification or transformation into a finished good." Here, semi-processed is one of the accepted states.

It seems like bricks and planks could be argued to be raw materials so long as they had not been fashioned into a finished product, like a wall. You might also be able to argue that a pile of loose bricks retrieved from a ruined house would also be acceptable as raw material since they are no longer part of a finished product.

The nature of the fortification in your question would be important to determine whether this spell would work. Is it a natural cliff face? Yup, Fabricate away. Packed earthen ramparts? Maybe, up to DM intepretation (it's a finished product, but the earth is still raw and unprocessed). Castle wall? No, not in 5e.

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Since the spell actually uses the word "fabricate" to describe the process, the word itself has two relevant definitions.

  1. to make by art or skill and labor; construct
  2. to make by assembling parts or sections.

Definition 2 would strongly suggest that it is only substitutes the assembly portion of the process, so bricks (not clay) would be required. In definition 1, however, "labor" could be stretched to encompass the shaping and firing of clay which would put this firmly in GM-fiat territory. I would personally go with definition 2 but as with most things it is most important to make the ruling clear and not change it without careful consideration and notice.

Regardless, bricks are definitely a viable option for the spell and given this, one could theoretically make a new structure from a preexisting one, provided there were enough intact pieces that could be assembled in an appropriate manner. Remember fabrication is assembly, not disassembly, so you probably couldn't turn a 10ft x 10ft wall segment into a 100ft by 1ft border marker. Not unless you were willing to break it apart first. Although the spell does appear to allow for the reworking of raw materials into other shapes so again, GM-fiat. Likewise, a critical raw material for a permanent brick structure is mortar (or the raw materials thereof). However, if permanency and stability are not required mud (especially clay-mud) can make a suitable stabilizer.

By extension, an intact building could be used as raw materials. However, if you rule that the spell cannot disassemble constructed materials the building will need to be less than the area of effect for this to be useful in any way.

Likewise, the final question depends on the GM ruling. But that said, while clever, there are infinitely many ways to construct a means of scaling the fortifications without potentially destabilizing the structure.

Which brings us back around to the reason I would not allow the spell to disassemble pre-constructed materials. The ability to use this spell on structures would functionally negate the value of stone fortifications since any spellcaster who can cast Fabricate (a 4th level spell) would be able to selectively remove bricks from the fortification, causing it to collapse, at a greater distance than most medieval siege weaponry works at. I'm not against magic breaking the rules, but why bother to build stone fortifications in such a world?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The spell description (not fluff) literally says that you can fabricate a wooden bridge from a clump of trees, a rope from a patch of hemp, and clothes from flax or wool. It is obvious (to me) that using clay to build a small brick wall would be consistent with these other examples and would not be in GM-fiat territory at all. The use of bricks however, are probably borderline GM-fiat territory though. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Brown Feb 5 '18 at 18:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickBrown In general, I'd agree with you however all of these processes are accomplished solely through labor. The creation of (clay) bricks also requires the application of intense heat. As I also said, I would personally rule that it was an appropriate use because it falls in line with the general aesthetic of the spell, however there is nothing in the spell to suggest it is intended to encompass more complex processes. If I can skip critical steps in converting the fundamental structure of a material (ie: clay to ceramic) what about acids or other al/chemical reactions? \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain Feb 5 '18 at 23:42
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I've always viewed any game system as a foundational ruleset. In that regard, it is up to the gamemaster / dungeonmaster to decide upon the rules that apply in their campaign.

So, as the GM / DM, it's kind of your call to make as to what is an acceptable use the spell.

If you're a player, then talk to your campaign's GM / DM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Side note: I tend to enjoy campaigns where magic is a rare thing that requires either very focused study or is innate but costly in the non-financial sense. For example, my character can cast spell A, but doing so exacts some sort of relatively severe physical consequences on the character. The fun is in overcoming challenges. If everything is simply hack-and-slash, wait for the cooldown period, then it's just a boring slog. I can play countless computer-based "role playing" games for that. \$\endgroup\$ – caiblack Feb 6 '18 at 16:44

protected by Oblivious Sage Feb 6 '18 at 17:28

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