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The catapult spell description (EEPC, p. 15; XGtE, p. 150) states:

Choose one object weighing 1 to 5 pounds

A 0.5-pound container alone isn't eligible to be catapulted because it's too light.

If that container was holding 3 pounds of objects within it (putting the total at 3.5 pounds), would I be able to launch it with catapult?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this really your question, or is it about bigbys hand holding something? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 19 '18 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch This looks like the logical followup to the other question - one that you suggested they ask. As worded, there's no direct reference to the old question, and is a valid question on it's own. Additionally, it might solve the problem that the bigby's hand question was trying to solve in a less roundabout way. \$\endgroup\$ – Tal Oct 19 '18 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tal My suggestion wasn't exactly this (it wasn't about weight, it was about how to treat collection of objects.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 19 '18 at 16:45
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Yes you can

The main question is if an container counts its content weight towards its own weight.

There is no explicit rule that says that a container is considered to count as it's weight plus its content but I would consider it logical. Especially that the exception to this have it specifically noted see Bag of holding.

Considering this I would say that the container with content can be used for this spell as long its not being worn or carried.

The second question is how the container and content are affected by the spell.

The Catapult spell has a very clear description of how the object moves:

The object flies in a straight line up to 90 feet in a direction you choose before falling to the ground. It stops early if it hits a solid surface.

This to me means that the object isn't just flung from it's point of origin using a ballistic trajectory. In other words the magic spell interacts with the object for the duration of its movement. This would mean the spell grabs the object and moves it along the line.

This I would say means the containers content stay in the container and impact on the target always counts as one impact.

The third question then is if i use this spell to hit a vampire with a bottle of holy water or something else with Alchemist's fire. Does is do extra damage?

My answer is no. Mostly because the spell doesn't say it does. Nor would you have it do extra damage if you used the spell to launch a sword.

As a DM I might allow you to change the damage type of the spell so the Alchemist fire would change the damage type to Fire, holy water might make it Radiant, a sword could make it Slashing and Catapulting an oil lamp would make it Fire damage. But this would be a house rule for my group.

The whole answer to question 3 is very much up for ruling by your own DM. There is no rule on how this works so your DM can rule it in any way he likes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying that Catapult can utilize multiple objects? If so, can you support that? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 19 '18 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ no and yes. i am saying you can use a bag containing items. \$\endgroup\$ – Dinomaster Oct 19 '18 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you've got the start of a good answer, but I think including more on how to consider adjudicating a collection of objects would work would make it a great answer. I fully understand not wanting to go down that rabbit hole, but it would be helpful to discuss how/how not doing this might increase the effectiveness of the spell beyond original intent. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 19 '18 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm also not sure I fully understand the Bag of Holding example and it's direct relevance. But I do agree that a bag of stuff that weights a total of 3.5lbs is 3.5 lbs and valid. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 19 '18 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ The bottle breaking is almost explicit. Catapult does 3d8 damage to both the object and anything it hits, if it hits anything. If it doesn't, it falls to the ground. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Oct 19 '18 at 17:01
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Yes...ish

The object you are targeting is the container.

If the container is sufficiently sealed to where the contents will not fly out, then the effective weight of the container is the combined weight of the container and the items.

If the container is not sealed and the items flew out when it was hurled, then the weight of the container would no longer be > 1 lb.

Keep in mind:

Weight = Mass x Acceleration_Due_To_Gravity

This indicates that weight is synonymous with downward force

An Example

Place 3 lbs in a 0.5 lb container. Now place the container on the scale. The scale will read "3.5 lbs" Picking up the container and moving it will require the same strength as picking up all individual items at the same time. So the effective weight of the container is 3.5 lbs.

For easy math, assume a car weighs 2,000 lbs. Now strap 4 adults inside with seatbelts and close all doors. If you put the car on a scale it would now read somewhere around 2,800 lbs. Launching the car suddenly would not cause the people to fly out, so it would still fly through the air with a weight of 2,800 lbs.

Now consider a surf board weighing 5 lbs. Place an adult male on it, and the surf boards effective weight is 205 lbs. Now hurl the surf board forward suddenly, and that person will fall off making the in-flight weight of the surf board 5 lbs.

A Consideration

If you hurled the container and the objects flew out mid-flight, what would happen? The wording of the spell indicates that the object is being magically propelled, so this indicates that once the object (i.e. the container) no longer weighs > 1 lb, it would fall to the ground, dead in its tracks.

I think the answer here is that yes, you can in fact hurl the container full of stuff but the instant enough weight flies out to drop below the 1 lb threshold, the container would fall to the ground. If it were sufficiently sealed, it could be argued that the contents could still potentially shift inside, causing the weight to drop below the threshold. If there is no way for the contents to shift, then it is pretty clear cut that the effective weight of the container is the weight of container + contents.

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