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I have a small hand mirror broken into two. The mirror glass itself was already broken into pieces, but the important part is the ornamented back of the hand mirror, which depicts an encrypted map.

The "tear" is no more than 1 foot, but gathering all the chips from the back of the mirror is impossible. (Imagine you are piecing a broken vase back together. You would end up with a gap that should be filled with small, fine pieces.)

Assuming that those fine chips (from the back of mirror) are lost (no time to retrieve), can Mending repair the back of the mirror to its former state, with the perfect state of the encrypted map?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoelHarmon oh, the important fact is not the missing pieces, but rather that the detailed ornament is important and can Mending recreate the damaged ornament despite the pieces are missing \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Apr 6 '18 at 3:38
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Mending can fix even ornate items with small amounts of missing material

Mending can fix items with missing material; one of the example uses is to repair a leaking waterskin, and the typical reasons for a waterskin to be leaking due to a tear or break all typically involve small amounts of missing material. Waterskins are traditionally fashioned from the treated bladder of a sheep or cow (you inflate them, seal them, and then let them dry-- or invert them, inflate them, seal them less well, and then let them dry-- for the most basic sorts). Bladders are mostly smooth muscle, with some blood vessels and stuff as well. When you cut a hole in organic tissue like a partially dried, partially wet bladder it's extremely hard to make a clean incision. You're gonna be missing some material afterward; it's not like cutting paper with a sharp pair of scissors. So, since you can fix that without having to track down the missing bits of dried bladder dust and wet bladder slime, you can presumably fix torn pieces of parchment or a leather jerkin ripped in twain by an ogre (both of which have smaller amounts of very-probably-lost material). You can probably also fix a break in porcelain or wood, like that of your mirror frame, provided that you are lucky and the damage mostly is or is considered to be a single break; you can't fix, e.g., the shattered glass nor a dropped vase that broke into pieces.

Mending can definitely fix even breaks in extremely ornate objects; it's cleared to fix even magic items (though it doesn't restore their magic, if lost).

You might not have the map afterwards, though

While we know mending can repair objects that are missing material, because it would have to be able to to be able to fix some of the given examples, we don't know how, exactly, that's accomplished. Perhaps the missing material is magically restored to the object, with the magic actually undoing the break. Perhaps the spell creates minute amounts of new material. Maybe something else happens, entirely. Since your goal is dependent on a part of the spell's function that's left entirely undescribed, you need to check with your GM to see how that will work in your game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't follow your logic that mending creates small missing pieces based on that it can mend objects with small missing pieces. You can fix tears just fine without replacing small missing pieces, for example a dress can be sewn without replacing missing dress threads. One could imagine mending to make the material liquid, let it flow together and turn it solid again. The tear is gone, but no material was created. Otherwise you get players starting to break diamonds, getting diamond dust and mending it back together for infinite diamond dust. \$\endgroup\$
    – nwp
    Apr 6 '18 at 9:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nwp I didn't say it creates material. Maybe it just puts the old materIal back. Or maybe it does something weird, like your suggestion. I think suggestions other than replacing or undoing the material loss are weird because they mean that the properties of the mended item are different from before it broke (so you could use mending to craft things you otherwise have no way of creating, for example) but ultimately it's not defined in the rules. What's clear is if you cut a diamond in half and then mend it you're supposed to end up with a functioning diamond, regardless of dust physics. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6 '18 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ There has to be at least a small (and I mean microscopic) level of replacing missing bits as it is a fundamental concept of forensics that when you interact with something, there are traces of you on it, and it on you. If you cut a piece of cloth then some of that cloth will be stuck to the blade; therefore removing it. So for mend to work, it needs to replace those missing molecules as well as sealing things together. That part is the hand-waving, belief-suspension, "It's magic" bit. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Apr 6 '18 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ IMHO: you'd get the thing repaired with A map on the back, but not necessarily YOUR map \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Mar 25 at 14:09
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Yes.. but really no

Per the spell description:

This spell repairs a single break or tear in an object you touch, such as a broken chain link, two halves of a broken key, a torn cloak, or a leaking wineskin.

Your description is a little at odds. You first describe the mirror as "broken into two" but then say "but gathering all the chips from the back of the mirror is impossible". So is the mirror in two or is it shattered?

I'm going to assume shattered. Because if it was really just two pieces, you could hold them together and see the map; no mending required.

The spell is very clear in that it can put two pieces back together, but never mentions replacing missing pieces. So you can build the puzzle one piece at a time (and with shattered glass, that could be 100+ castings). But you cannot replace what it not there to mend. Optionally, you could argue that if you put everything together it would be one casting like multiple threads being fixed at once.

So yes, the mirror COULD be fixed, if you had all the pieces, and could fit them back together the way they originally aligned. But, in your situation, no.

On top of that, as a DM I would rule you don't know what the finished product should look like so you would never build the map back to it's original design. A dress with a tear is easy to figure out. Two halves of a key you can logic out how they should touch. But you're looking at putting back together a shmuzzle; Fits together trillions of WRONG ways, but only one RIGHT way. And someone threw away the picture of the finished picture.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The map is on the mirror frame, not the mirror. The mirror frame is broken in two, but not cleanly, and the ornamentation (which is the map) is, apparently, either tiny detailing in or entirely dependant on the 'not cleanly' part. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7 '18 at 9:02
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By RAW, no. Spells do what the description says that they do.

This spell repairs a single break or tear in an object you touch, such as a broken chain link, two halves of a broken key, a torn cloak, or a leaking wineskin. As long as the break or tear is no larger than 1 foot in any dimension, you mend it, leaving no trace of the former damage.

Mending can not recover missing pieces. (If it could, you'd expect to see that feature in the spell description). It can only fix a “break” or a “tear.” So if there are missing pieces, no matter how fine, no matter if their being missing is collateral damage resultant from the “tear,” Mending will not recover them. You kind of answered your own question with the vase example. Mending will fix your mirror, but there will still be gaps. All that said, it’s up to your DM as to how she wants to rule on this. Sounds to me like the pieces are unrecoverable for a reason. I doubt she would let you trivialize the mystery with Mending. But good luck! :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer will be improved if you support it vis a vis how mending works mechanically. (Not sure where the down vote came from, but without support answers tend to attract down votes). For example, your third sentence: is that supported by the rules/mechanics, or is that your ruling/assessment? Consider the edit I just made as an example of how to support your point. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6 '18 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ That was a great edit. Very much improved, and thanks for the tip. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lumenbeing
    Nov 26 '19 at 5:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer is self contradictory: It says right in the description that the repair "leaves no trace of the former damage" and that it mends breaks or tears up to 1 foot across. In contrast, nowhere does it state that all pieces must be present. You definitely do not need all the pieces present for a perfect Mending. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25 at 7:10
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Yes, because the damage is less than 1 foot across and caused by a single break or tear.

Before I go into more detail on your specific case, I want to observe that many people seem to read "a single break or tear" and think it means 'only one crack in one component' or 'one slash through one layer' (or even one fiber!), but that is an impractically narrow interpretation and leaves very little gameplay utility for this spell.

Saying "one break" is not the same as saying "one piece".

Mending "a single break or tear" "no longer than 1 foot in any dimension" could reasonably mean replacing a 10 inch hole ripped out of priceless painting, or an adobe wall, or a thatch roof, or the hull of a wooden boat. Those are not necessarily examples of only "one piece", but they are only "one break".

There is no explicit requirement that all pieces must be present.

In fact the description states that holes up to 1 foot are mended with "no trace of the former damage".

A cloak with a six inch patch of cloth bitten out of it can certainly be mended by this spell, by both RAW & RAI; therefore it seems unreasonable to rule that a map would be irreparable due to a missing piece.

Furthermore, a single break on a mirror may have more legs than a spider, and still be one break. A chip in a windshield isn't two or three breaks just because it is multifaceted. I'm not saying that Mending will repair a shattered vase all at once, but I am pointing out that "a single break" is not necessarily so finite as some seem to rule it.

To repair a small shattered mirror, multiple pieces would have to be allowed, but again, if those pieces are from one break, I do not see a problem with this. (Your GM May Vary.)

That said, I believe the original intent was to fully repair a small destroyed item, not to partially repair large ones, since objects have AC & HP, yet HP is not mentioned in this spell.

However...

For the small, detailed item in question (the wooden backing of a mirror), there seems no doubt that it would be repaired in full,

due to the damage being a single break less than 1 foot across. Level of detail and missing material are simply not specified as limiting factors.

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