We're in between campaigns right now and I asked a player (my wife) what she was up to after the arduous adventuring of the last few months. We were in the kitchen together and she was making an omelette.
She says: Making an omelette.
Me: I mean Sapphire.
W: She's making omelette's too. Except she's using her new Disintegrate spell to crack the egg.
M: I think that might more than crack an egg. That would reduce half her kitchen to dust.
W: No, she just shot a mini disintegration ray at the dragon egg. And the shell disappeared in a puff.
M: You have a dragon egg?
W: Not any more. But it was tasty!
So apparently Sapphire just took a spell with the potential destructive force of 100hp (Disintegrate) and used it to crack a dragon egg. Or as my wife put it, "Disintegrated the shell off the dragon egg. Cracking eggs is too messy for Sapphire."
After further conversation I think this usage will definitely come up in our next campaign. Sapphire is really enjoying the Disintegrate spell, and in her downtime has apparently used it to:
- Burn the britches off an unsuspecting and cantankerous nobleman
- Scour some grimy iron pans
- Remove the hair from her own legs
- Remove the hair from previously mentioned nobleman's head
- Vandalize the castle wall on numerous occasions
Sapphire is a Level 11 forest gnome sorcerer, and she's a bit mischievous.
This is with disintegrate, a spell that specifically states (PHB 233):
This spell automatically disintegrates a Large or smaller nonmagical object or a creation of magical force.
I know melee attacks can be pulled to knock out an adversary rather than kill them (PHB 197, Knocking a Creature Out) , but what about spells?
Sorcerers do have the Careful Spell metamagic option available at Levels 3, 10 or 17 which is the closest feature I could find to what I'm looking for (PHB 102):
When you cast a spell that forces other creatures to make a saving throw, you can protect some of those creatures from the spell’s full force. To do so, you spend 1 sorcery point and choose a number of those creatures up to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one creature). A chosen creature automatically succeeds on its saving throw against the spell.
However this does not fully address the ways in which Sapphire has used the Disintegrate spell - for example, on parts of an object/person in close proximity to the rest of that object/person. Like the dragon egg shell (but not the egg itself), and the nobleman's hair (but not his head or body).
Is there a RAW mechanism for reducing and controlling the damage of the Disintegrate spell?
And if not, would allowing casters to reduce the damage of their spells be balanced?