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As an example of the uses of Prestidigitation, the 3.5e PHB lists "Common tricks with prestidigitations include producing tinklings of ethereal music". However, the rules text for Prestidigitation, as duplicated in the SRD, does not appear to make any references to sound or the means to create it. So, by RAW, how can Prestidigitation create sound?

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Prestidigitation can perform any minor effect except as explicitly limited by its constraints.

The effect of prestidigitation is as follows:

Once cast, a prestidigitation spell enables you to perform simple magical effects for 1 hour. The effects are minor and have severe limitations.

Everything after this in the first paragraph of the spell description is a limitation, not an exhaustive list of what the spell can do. You can do anything with this spell, as long as it's a minor effect and doesn't exceed one of the listed limitations.

The second paragraph, which only appears in the Player's Handbook, describes only examples and shows the intent of the rules. Most of the examples given are not explicitly listed in the first paragraph, but are possible uses of prestidigitation because they are minor magical effects and do not exceed any of the first-paragraph limitations.

The second paragraph does not appear in the SRD because the SRD includes only rules text, and omits examples. Examples are not rules, but are text used to explain or clarify the rules. This supports the interpretation that prestidigitation can create ethereal music because it's a minor effect. The entire second paragraph is a series of examples for the purpose of rules clarification or flavor text, and this is the sole reason that paragraph is omitted from the SRD.

Put another way, the question arises from the assumption that paragraph 1 provides an exhaustive list of effects the spell is capable of, which is impossible to reconcile with the examples given in paragraph 2. If we assume that the examples are correct, the only valid interpretation of paragraph 1 is that it is not exhaustive, but defines limitations on an otherwise unbounded and largely freeform spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Everything after this in the SRD spell description is a limitation, not an exhaustive list of what the spell can do - how did you reach this conclusion? \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Jun 27 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini It says "severe limitations" and goes immediately into a list of limitations. At no point does it say that this it can only do one of those effects, otherwise it would be unable to create ethereal music as described in the example. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jun 27 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree, but only on semantics. For example, "A prestidigitation can slowly lift 1 pound of material" is not a limitation on the spell, it's an example of what the spell can do. If they intended this to be a limitation, it would've been worded as something like "it can only exert up to a pound of force, and only slowly". Furthermore, if they intended to list limitations and not change topic, why not use a colon rather than a full stop? \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Jun 27 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini A colon normally precedes a list, not a series of sentences: consider polymorph (PHB p.263) for a spell using a colon. Look at bestow curse (PHB p.203) for a spell which requires you to choose from a list of possible effects using bullet points. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jun 27 at 17:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini Tome & Blood includes an expanded list of things that Prestidigitation can do within the confines of its limitations. Prestidigitation can do anything as long as it doesn't duplicate the effects of another spell, and that's why it's long been known by 3.x players as the king of cantrips and 'least wish'. Even in the 3.5 PHB, the examples of what it's used for include "producing tinklings of ethereal music, brightening faded flowers, creating glowing balls that float over your hand, generating puffs of wind to flicker candles ... and making little whirlwinds to sweep dust under rugs." \$\endgroup\$ – Almadel Jun 28 at 9:35
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The examples are part of the spell's description

While the SRD you've linked does copy the majority of the spell description, the description as it appears in the PHB also includes the very section you reference:

Characters typically use prestidigitation spells to impress common folk, amuse children, and brighten dreary lives. Common tricks with prestidigitations include producing tinklings of ethereal music, brightening faded flowers, creating glowing balls that float over your hand, generating puffs of wind to flicker candles, spicing up aromas and flavors of bland food, and making little whirlwinds to sweep dust under rugs.

-- PHB v3.5, p 264

While the technical explanation of the spell's capabilities does indeed fail to mention making noise, the examples do include that ability. If an example included in the rules text for the spell suggests the spell is capable of doing something, that's the "RAW" explanation. The examples are part of the rules text for the spell and do not contain illegal uses of the spell unless explicitly stating them as such.

The SRD is meant to be the parts of the rules text that other companies can use for their own purposes, and often doesn't go into additional details.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ so it seems clear that the intent is that the spell is capable of doing so. - I agree, but the question is about RAW. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Jun 27 at 16:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini It's the rule in the book. I'll clarify my language \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Jun 27 at 16:19
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As stated in the SRD that you linked:

Prestidigitations are minor tricks that novice spellcasters use for practice. Once cast, a prestidigitation spell enables you to perform simple magical effects for 1 hour.

The cantrip allows you to perform any simple magical effect that you can think of, provided that it is not specifically prevented by the limitations listed.

"tinklings of ethereal music" are a simple magical effect.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I repeat the comments that I gave to Quadratic Wizard's answer. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Jun 27 at 16:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ And I repeat what I said in my answer: the RAW description of the spell clearly states that the effect of the spell is to "perform simple magical effects." Are you asserting that sounds cannot be a simple magical effect? \$\endgroup\$ – krb Jun 27 at 20:18

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