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The spell Fabricate says:

You convert raw material into products of the same material. For example, you can fabricate a wooden bridge from a clump of trees...

It also says:

Creatures or magic items can't be created or transmuted by this spell.

I've seen it suggested that trees are creatures, yet one of the spell description's examples is fabricating a bridge out of a clump of trees. This suggests to me that trees are not actually creatures in D&D (and indeed I haven't seen anything referring to a tree or any other non-autonomous plant as being a creature in any of the manuals I've read).

So, if plants are not considered as creatures, then would it be feasible to use fabricate to make, for example, a living bridge or a living house, assuming that it stays rooted and remains able to get whatever resources it normally would need?

Note that answers need not limit themselves specifically to trees if other plantlife would work.

Edit: I am a DM looking to see if this ruling would be reasonable, not a player trying to abuse it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could the downvoters explain the vote? I cannot improve the question without feedback. \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic Feb 7 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did not downvote. But if I had downvoted, it would be for asking us a question that you should have asked your DM. I think you know that this question isn't covered by the official rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Feb 8 at 17:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's an antipattern we worry about sometimes, where a very munchkin player says: "hey can I do X?" and somebody answers "well okay sure I guess" and then the munchkin player turns to his DM and says: "you have to let me do X, the people on this Q&A site said it's legal!" We don't want people to use the site in this way. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Feb 8 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is that I am the DM, and I am looking to see if it would be reasonable to allow this lol. But, I do understand that concern, and I do not want to use this site in that way! \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic Feb 8 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Advice: edit your question to say "I am the DM". : ) \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Feb 8 at 19:33
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Like many rules issues in 5e, there's no actual answer to this in the rules: we're not told whether trees count as creatures, and we're not told whether they can survive being rearranged by a fabricate spell. You're welcome to rule that this is possible if you want -- it doesn't seem to open up any avenues for abuse, and having living bridges or living houses seems like a fun bit of roleplaying.


But there's a deeper issue here: it sounds like you're asking about the capabilities of your NPCs.

Your NPCs are not actually bound by the rules in the Player's Handbook. You can give them whatever abilities you want. You could decide that an NPC has a custom spell, or that they have an unusual class feature, or that they took a custom feat.

One example of this in action is the 5e monster "Knight", which is CR3. It has 8d8+16 hit points, has the multiattack feature, has a proficiency bonus +2, and has a special ability called "Leadership". This is not something you could build using the PHB rules.

You can give your NPCs whatever capabilities you think would be fun and interesting. (You might prefer to use custom spells for this, though, rather than adding additional functionality to spells the player characters might have access to.)

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Most likely, no

Specifically speaking about trees, only a small percent of a tree is made of living cells, in between the bark and the core. The rest of the tree is dead wood cells and these are the strongest cells. Transforming the tree in such a way that it remains alive while becoming a bridge is likely not possible. Even if the tree remained 'alive' shortly after becoming a bridge, the structure required to carry water and absorb sunlight to continue growth and stay living.

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    \$\begingroup\$ With D&D, I believe that trees are objects unless they are awakened to become creatures. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 7 at 21:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I feel like they aren't considered objects since trees are animated with Awaken, while normal objects are animated with Animate Object. \$\endgroup\$ – Miles Bedinger Feb 7 at 22:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are all sorts of silly problems you run into if you try to apply a science-based notion of alive to D&D rules. For example, Prestidigitation can only flavor "nonliving" matter, which means it may not be possible to flavor some potatoes and fruits, since these can still grow if planted in the ground. \$\endgroup\$ – Aaron Rotenberg Feb 7 at 22:48
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No.

Using magic to shape living trees is accomplished using the Awaken spell or Speak with Plants spell. Lumber is a non-living material, like meat, wool, or flax, and can be manipulated with fabricate.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, Awaken does not shape plants, but turns them into sentient creatures instead, and Speak with Plants only shapes them temporarily, and not to the extent that I am hoping. I might just be out of luck... \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic Feb 7 at 22:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's nothing about Speak with Plants that says the result is temporary. \$\endgroup\$ – Miles Bedinger Feb 7 at 22:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Awaken allows you to command plants to extend and grow their limbs and roots. Asking them to grow their "arms" into a bridge and then dispelling the effects makes a perfectly functional bridge. \$\endgroup\$ – Miles Bedinger Feb 7 at 22:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ It appears to be a permanent affect though, with a duration of "Instantaneous" and no clause for when or if the spell will end. \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic Feb 7 at 22:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Awaken? Yeah. You'd need to dispel the awakening once they made the bridge or convince the awakened tree to remain in place. \$\endgroup\$ – Miles Bedinger Feb 7 at 22:57
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This tweet from Jeremy Crawford tells us only the monster types defined in the Monster Manual count as creatures. The definition there of the “plant” type specifies that it doesn’t include “ordinary flora”, so a regular tree wouldn’t count as a creature.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the clarification! \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic Feb 8 at 15:19

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