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Touch spells typically either specify the target that you touch (i.e. Magic Weapon) or involve a spell attack where the rules of targeting are governed by the chapter on spellcasting:

Some spells can target only a creature (including you) that you touch.

Forbiddance doesn't specify what you touch or whether you must. How do I cast this spell? What do I target?

Range touch [...] You create a ward against magical travel that protects up to 40,000 square feet of floor space to a height of 30 feet above the floor. For the Duration, creatures can't teleport into the area or use portals...

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Based on the description you have provided:

You create a ward against magical travel that protects up to 40,000 square feet of floor space to a height of 30 feet above the floor.

I would say that, since the spell's dimensions are derived from the floor, then the floor would be what you touch when casting it. It would be up to the DM on whether you had to trace the outlines of the spell or simply had to concentrate on the area of the floor that would become the center of the effect.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Other spells allow for determining area of effect size without having to physically trace it so I think there is compelling reason to think that you are correct and that only touching the floor is really necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 16 '18 at 18:59
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You have to touch at least the outlines of the area it will affect

Under Casting Spells in the PHB it says :

Range

The target of a spell must be within the spell's range.

The range of this spell is Touch and therefore you must have touched the area to be affected. This is why they give it a ten minute casting time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Forbiddance does not prevent someone from entering an area, only Planar Travel into that area, such as teleportation, portals, Plane Shift spell, or Summoning. \$\endgroup\$ – SeraphsWrath Feb 16 '18 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeraphsWrath you are correct I thought he was asking about Guards and Wards which has an almost identical casting process. \$\endgroup\$ – Voromir Kadien Feb 16 '18 at 18:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you provide some sort of justification for why you think that touching everything is the answer? Generally, answers must be supported by some sort of evidence. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 16 '18 at 18:42
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According to JC the area is effectively a 200 x 200 x 30 cuboid because the shape doesn't change like guards and wards does, which follows the rules for "point of origins of spells" on page 204 of the PHB.

The point of origin of a square or cuboid is any one point on the face of the cuboid (or edge of a square). You don't need to touch all 20,000 feet or draw an outline or anything anymore than you need to do so for thunderwave, the spell is only strictly cast at the last moment.

If you think you cast this spell from the other side of a dungeon door in an attempt to destroy all extra planars and evil creatures inside, you must remember that it is also true to say that unless a spell states otherwise, an area of effect DOES NOT extend past full cover from the point of origin of said effect when it is cast so you can't make the interior of a building Forbiddence from the outside and bar the doors for a "burn down the house strats"

Trouble is, this makes making the entire interior of a large building or dungeon to have the spell permanently very expensive as it takes 1000gp PER ROOM instead of for the whole area. But then again the components are only consumed after day 30 and you might be generous to say that they can put two identical forbiddances next to each other and make them both permanent as long as it's all within the 200x200 cuboid.

It's a tough spell with a lot of implications and small changes or specific rulings can destroy dungeons or make it way too expensive.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you provide some sources for your claims? Specifically about the spell not expanding past full cover. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Aristotle Dec 31 '20 at 6:03

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