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The 3rd-level spell Meld into Stone has a duration of 8 hours.

But what happens at the end of the 8 hours if the target does not (or can not) leave willingly?

Here are some relevant details:

  • The spell is listed of having a Range of "Touch" but is not clear if you touch a subject on whom to cast the spell or the caster touches the stone to enter. Since the description always uses the pronoun of "you", not "The target", I will assume it is the caster.
  • The spell doesn't require concentration. So in theory it is designed for a caster to use it for a long rest inside of a pillar for safety.

Per the spell description:

You can use your movement to leave the stone where you entered it, which ends the spell. You otherwise can't move.

[...] a change in its shape (to the extent that you no longer fit within it) expels you [...] The stone's complete destruction (or transmutation into a different substance) expels you...

As stated, a character could take a long rest and over sleep. Or a character is suffering from a previous entanglement and is rendered unconscious (not dead, not 0 hp, just unconscious), restrained ,or paralyzed.

There doesn't seem to be an ejection when the spell ends clause, nor a "you become part of the stone" statement.

If you cast meld into stone and are in the stone at the end of the spell duration, do you just stay trapped forever?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnP we do not allow people to place answers in comments. Please put them in answers instead. Use comments only for questions/clarifications on how the post can be improved. See here for our policy. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 24 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still unclear as to how the scenario is created. If you are unconscious, restrained, or paralyzed, you can't cast or successfully use meld into stone. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 24 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch, as I eluded to in the question, if someone was suffering from a previous encounter that "time released" a condition. You walk in okay, but during the 8 hours you suffer a condition that prevents the caster from walking out during the 8 hour period. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Jan 24 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch What if the caster was just curious and deliberately attempted to stay beyond the duration. It says you must use your movement to leave. What if they just never do so? \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jan 25 at 2:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a side note, the "touch" range refers to the stone you enter, not the caster or another target. \$\endgroup\$ – SpaceCoon Jan 25 at 10:56
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RAW isn't clear, but you should be expelled.

Many spells that have ongoing effects include the text "when the spell ends...", meld into stone doesn't have this so we can't be sure what happens if the duration expires before the caster leaves the stone. However we can analysis the possibilities and make an informed ruling.

This ruling would also apply in the circumstances where another caster uses dispel magic on meld in stone. So may actually be more common than expected.

The spell text states:

... You can use your movemement to leave the stone where you entered it, which ends the spell. You otherwise can't move.

Minor physical damage to the stone doesn't harm you, but its partial destruction or a change in its shape (to the extent that you not) expels you and deals 6d6 bludgeoning damage to you. The stone's complete destruction (or Transmutation into a different substance) expels you and deals 50 bludgeoning damage to you. If expelled, you fall prone in an unoccupied space closest to where you first entered.

With no explicit rule for what happens if the duration ends, we can assume the caster is attempting to remain within the stone beyond the duration. These are the options we are given:

  1. Forced to use your movement to leave. No damage.
  2. Expelled by force, fall prone but take no damage.
  3. Expelled by force, take either 6d6 or 50 bludgeoning damage and fall prone.
  4. Remain within the stone until expelled by force. Die slowly by starvation.
  5. Become trapped within the now non-magical stone. Die quickly by suffocation/crushing.

We can rule out option 3, the damage has a clear requirement that destruction (or partial) destruction of the stone is required to trigger it. The duration ending does not meet this condition so this can't be applied.

We can also rule out options 4 and 5. If you could use it to push a creature into stone and leave them there the spell would say so. Though I wouldn't be surprised if a DM chose to houserule it this way.

Options 1 and 2 are fundamentally the same, it is only a matter of whether you fall prone or not. As there is no official rule this falls under DM fiat. Personally I would rule you fall prone if you were trying to remain in the stone beyond the end of the spell as you were not prepare to be expelled.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why can we rule out option #3? Just because the spell should be beneficial doesn't mean it can't have harmful repercussions. Berserker Barbarians Frenzy can cause exhaustion, Contact Other Plane can cause psychic damage, and Demiplane can trap the caster in a box forever. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Jan 25 at 5:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with your assessment, but by saying, "You don't want to discourage it by dealing damage at the end of the duration.", you weaken your argument. There are many things in DnD that require an amount of Risk/Reward play. Contact Other Plane is meant to be a benefit also, but is discouraged by a Moderate DC challenge or else suffer damage (also 6d6). And this is every time the spell is cast. Whereas with Meld Into Stone, I'm only interested in what happens if the caster exceeds the time limit. Obviously nothing bad happens if they leave prior to the spells end. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Jan 25 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott fair enough. I've removed that part then but the answer is still correct. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jan 26 at 8:53
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The caster unmerges with the stone

The rule for spell duration states:

A spell’s duration is the length of time the spell persists. A duration can be expressed in rounds, minutes, hours, or even years.

Once the duration lapses, the effect of the spell ends. In the case of Meld into Stone, the effect is that the caster's form merges with a touched stone. When the spell effect ends the caster is expelled.

Spells don't tend to state that their effect ends with the duration elapses unless there is the possibility that the effect does persist after the duration lapses. As an example, see Temple of the Gods which creates a physical temple for 24 hours. But, if you cast the spell enough times (on the same area) the temple lasts even after the 24 hours expires.

For Meld into Stone, the alternative would be for the caster to remain in the stone forever (unless something else forces them out). That would not be an 8 hour duration, but an infinite duration with only 8 hours of control.

When spells last forever like this, they say "Lasts until dispelled." Hallow, is an example of this.

If, after the spell ends or the caster chooses to end it early, and the caster can't leave the stone (because some other magic is preventing the effect of Meld into Stone from ending, say) then that second spell/effect is now governing whether the caster stays in the stone or not, not Meld into Stone.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara - Or the alternative is you die, or the alternative is you are expelled but take damage... it's not the only "feasible" possibility. \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Jan 24 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited the answer with more concrete support. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jan 24 at 21:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually your examples have no direct connection to the Meld Into Stone spell. You cannot cast Meld Into Stone multiple times to make it permanent. Closer examples would be: Astral Projection, Etherealness, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion, and even Rope Trick. But all of those specifically have details on what happens when the spell ends--people get expelled. But there is no such information in Meld Into Stone. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Jan 24 at 22:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Rykara's interpretation is the only reasonable one to make. If some other effect occurs, such as dying or taking damage, details on that would need to be provided. How much damage do they take? What becomes of their corpse? If they can simply remain in the stone after the spell has expired, why even have a duration? The only remaining option that doesn't require details that the spell does not provide, is that the stone and the creature are returned (more or less) to the condition they were in prior to the spell's casting - non-melded. \$\endgroup\$ – cpcodes Jan 24 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara my point was that this question asks about meld into stone. You spend precisely 1 line talking about the spell. The rest is a tangential discussion about duration. While nothing you say it wrong, it doesn't provide a clear supported answer to the OP question. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jan 25 at 1:29
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Unclear, best guess is the spell ending "transmutes the stone into a different substance"

The spell is a Transmutation. When you cast it, the stone is Transmuted into something else - the.stone.plus.me. So what happens when it ends? The Transmutation magic goes away.

Since the duration is neither permanent nor instantaneous, the target cannot stay merged. This means that the stone, via action of Transmutation magic, stops being the.stone.plus.me and goes back to just being the stone.

While none of the options exactly fit, it seems to me to most fit the "Transmuted into a different substance" clause. Said different substance, is its original substance, from before you Transmuted it. And the most reasonable characterization of that is "it happens as the result of a Transmutation".

In which case, you're expelled and take 50 bludgeoning.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That is in the description of the spell, which was already quoted in the question and I specifically referenced? \$\endgroup\$ – Dayton Williams Jan 27 at 0:46

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