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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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    \$\begingroup\$ On pages 6 & 7 of the 5e MM there is a list of Types. The Type description for Plants is: “Plants in this context are vegetable creatures, not ordinary flora. Most of them are ambulatory, and some are carnivorous. The quintessential plants are the shambling mound and the treant. Fungal creatures such as the gas spore and the myconid also fall into this category.” This tells us that trees, being ordinary flora, are not Plants, by the MM’s definition, despite being plants (lower case). If something does not fall into a Type, it is not a creature. \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris May 18 at 11:40
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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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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
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since people have turned living trees into bridges in the real world I don't see why the spell can't. nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/india/… \$\endgroup\$ – John May 18 at 13:49
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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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How this worked in 3rd edition (this is as yet undefined in 5th) was that a creature was defined as anything with a Wis and a Cha score (it was also clear that if you have a Wis score, you necessarily have a Cha score, and vice versa), which is to say any capacity for awareness, and all creatures gain Hit Dice. Living things were defined by having a Con score, completely independently of this.

So, a tree is a living thing (though its Con score is so unimportant that it will never be published and is basically assumed to be 10) but not a creature because it lacks a Cha or Wis score and an HD unless and until it has been Awakened. A Construct is non-living due to lacking a Con score but is a creature because it has Cha and Wis scores.

5e seems to have done away with nonabilities, and just defines things as objects or creatures, near as can be figured, completely arbitrarily and with no underlying logic. But, a creature in 5e should always have at least one Hit Die, and if it doesn't then it should always be an object.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In the 5E Monster Manual there is a list of Types. A creature will fall under one of these Types. For plants, the Type description is as follows: “Plants in this context are vegetable creatures, not ordinary flora. Most of them are ambulatory, and some are carnivorous. The quintessential plants are the shambling mound and the treant. Fungal creatures such as the gas spore and the myconid also fall into this category.” A normal tree is “ordinary flora” so, by the MM’s definition, is not a Plant, despite being a plant (lower case). continued \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris May 18 at 11:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ If something doesn’t fall under a Type, it is not considered to be a creature. Also, in 5e, objects also have hit die and AC (not sure if this is true for older editions), meaning having hit die and AC is not exclusive to creatures. See pages 246 & 247 of the 5e DMG. \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris May 18 at 11:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LiamMorris: Objects can have hit points (and AC), to my knowledge, but not hit dice. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 18 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast As far as i am aware, hit dice (short for hit point dice) are simply the way your hit points are determined, as per page 12 of the PHB. Whilst an object can not spend hit dice to recover hit points, there are dice which determine an object’s hit points, the type of dice used are determined by its size. The number of dice used depend on if an object is Fragile or Resilient. Its AC is determined by the material the object is made out of, as per pages 246 and 247 of the DMG. \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris May 18 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LiamMorris: Ah, true: dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules/running-the-game#HitPoints \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 18 at 22:33

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