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The human body contains approximately 60% water on average. (According to this site). The spell "create/destroy water" states "You destroy up to 10 gallons of water in an open container within range." In addition, "When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you create or destroy 10 additional gallons of water". A gallon of water weighs roughly 8.35 pounds (according to this site).

Say there's a human who weighs 200 pounds. 60% of 200 is 120 - approximately 120 pounds of water are in this person. dividing 120 by 8.35 = around 14 - so those 120 pounds of water are, in other words, around 14 gallons. The destroy water spell can destroy up to 20 gallons.

According to these measurements, "destroy water" could theoretically completely dehydrate a 200 lb human.

The biggest argument against this in my eyes is that the water must be in an "open container". However, the human body is technically the container of the water. Thus, if a barbarian takes a big slash across the torso, resulting in a large open wound, the wounded human may, technically, count as an "open container".

Now, the 64 million dollar question - would "destroy water" dehydrate a human with an open wound, removing all water from their body and instantly killing them?

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Allowing you to target a person makes the phrase meaningless

What is a "container"? Merriam-Webster says,

a : a receptacle (such as a box or jar) for holding goods

Is a human a receptacle for holding water? The wording of the definition suggests that there is some intent--that the object is intended to hold water, in this case. Do people keep humans around to hold water? That seems unlikely.

However, let's say that humans are valid "open containers". Then, what is not an open container? Sure, the human's blood is "open," in some sense, but the vast majority of it is still inside the body. If we say that the wound makes that "open," then basically any gap is "open". Therefore, literally everything that has any water in it is an "open container". Heck, why use the level 4 spell Blight to kill plants, when plants are "open containers"?

Finally, consider game balance. Should a 1st level spell be an instant kill on any humanoid that's taken damage? Probably not. You can often do crazy things with magic in D&D, but it is ultimately a game, and not a physics simulator.

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Although there's already an excellent semantic answer to this question, there's also a RAW answer. From the "Targets" section for spellcasting on p263:

A typical spell requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the spell’s magic. A spell's description tells you whether the spell targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect (described below).

In other words, there are three distinct possible targets for (a mode of) a spell: a creature, an object, or a point in space. Create or Destroy Water specifies modes that target objects and modes that target points in space, but no modes that target creatures.

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The definition of a container is "an object that can be used to hold or transport something" and the definition of an object is "a material thing that can be seen and touched" So by definition a human is a container

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information. Alternatively you can ask here in the comments (use @ to ping someone). Do you have a source for your definitions? Unless the source is relevant within the context of D&D 5e this isn't really an answer to the question. You can edit your post to add more information, otherwise it may be removed. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jul 16 at 3:58

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