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There are a number of spells that conjure different sorts of vines/thorns (Entangle, Thorn Whip, Spike Growth, etc). Can these be destroyed by blades or fire? Does it make any difference whether the fire is magical or nonmagical?

The "Objects" section of the Dungeon Master's Guide (p. 246-247) gives some loose guidance for determining AC, hit points, vulnerabilities, and resistances for arbitrary objects. The "Magic Item Resilience" section (p. 141) specifies that magic items have resistance to all damage (though I think it would be incorrect to call conjured vines "magic items"). But I can't seem to find anything specifically spelling this out.

So this brings me to a couple of questions:

  1. Can magical vines be destroyed at all?

  2. If they can be destroyed, what are the mechanics?

  3. Do they have AC? Do they have HP?

  4. Do the creations of other spells work the same way (leaving aside those where the spell specifies the durability of the creation)?

    I'm looking for a RAW answer here, preferably citing which manual the answer comes from.

I'm suspicious that the answer to my questions is, "unless the spell says otherwise, the only way to get rid of the vines is for the spell to end via a lapse in concentration, end of spell duration, or Dispel Magic". If this is the case, what happens if the characters try to burn or cut the vines?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 4 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I take it “ask your DM” is out of the scope of this question? \$\endgroup\$ – 40355 says Reinstate Monica Jul 4 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @sevenbrokenbricks I am the DM. This will be my first campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – bytesized Jul 5 at 7:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Err... First campaign as the DM, that is. \$\endgroup\$ – bytesized Jul 5 at 7:54
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You can't destroy them, unless the rules say you can

D&D spells work as stated in their description. If the rules say you can do something, you can do it. If they don't say you can do it, it becomes up for DM ruling.

As stated in an unofficial tweet by Jeremy Crawford:

Beware of claims that a rule does something mentioned nowhere in that rule or elsewhere in the core books. There aren't secret rules.

Some spells that conjure vines do tell you how you can get free, such as Entangle:

A creature restrained by the plants can use its action to make a Strength check against your spell save DC. On a success, it frees itself.

That is the only way listed to get free, so it is the only way to break free; you can't, by the rules as written, decide to try and cut or burn your way free instead. How you and your DM justify why this isn't possible, or if you want to houserule it being possible, is entirely up to you.

Perhaps the plants will just instantly regrow, or perhaps they're made of magical unobtainium that is impervious to all damage. The rules don't care, they just care about what works for game balance.

Balance concerns:

Sure, this might mess with your internal sense of logic, because vines should be destroyable/burnable, but ruling that will make the spells a lot weaker than they already are. Why bother trying to use an action to break free against the opponent's saving throw if you can just cut your way out in the same action? It will essentially mean that the spell no longer scales in any way with the casters saving throw, because you've provided a new, easy way to get out.

But vines are flammable!

People are mentioning that vines should be flammable, but if they were, the spell would have told you so, such as the Web spell:

The webs are flammable. Any 5-foot cube of webs exposed to fire burns away in 1 round, dealing 2d4 fire damage to any creature that starts its turn in the fire.

Per Jeremy Crawford:

If the grease spell created a flammable substance, the spell would say so. It doesn't say so. #DnD

If the vines were flammable or destructible, they would say so by the same reasoning. Spells that summon objects that are destructible will generally say so:

For example: Bigby's Hand:

The hand is an object that has AC 20 and hit points equal to your hit point maximum. If it drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends. It has a Strength of 26 (+8) and a Dexterity of 10 (+0). The hand doesn’t fill its space.

Besides, not all vines are flammable. In the jungle, one of the best ways of getting fresh drinking water is by cutting open vines, that are full of delicious water. You won't likely be setting those on fire any time soon.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 4 at 10:19
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The vines created by Entangle are flammable because regular vines are flammable

There are no secret rules.

D&D is written using natural language. Unless the game defines a particular term differently we are expected to use the natural language meaning of the word.

It uses natural language so we can use our own experience and understanding of the words in our world as a baseline, with the game providing exceptions to this understanding (like the existence of magic and monsters).

The Player's Handbook starts off the spellcasting section with this statement:

A spell is a discrete magical effect, a single shaping of the magical energies [...] into a specific, limited expression.

In other words, spells produce a limited magical effect. That limited magical effect is specific, and is described precisely by the spell description.

The Entangle spell creates:

Grasping weeds and vines sprout from the ground in a 20-foot square starting from a point within range.

The game (and the spell) do not make any further definition of weeds and vines, and thus we must use the natural language definition of weeds and vines.

Both weeds and vines can be cut, and thus slashing damage at a minimum should be able to damage the vines and thus be used to free oneself.

Similarly, being compromised of plant matter, weeds and vines are both flammable (see real word forest fires), and thus a well placed fireball should set them on fire (but that would also likely damage the creatures in the Entangle spell the fireball was attempting to free).

But grease isn't flammable...

Under the natural language meaning of grease, the substances which make up grease in our word are not universally flammable. As a result the grease created by the grease spell is not flammable by default.

There is, however leeway, for a DM, to rule that grease created by the Grease spell in their world is flammable, and still be following RAW.

Isn't this just another "secret rule"?

No.

Let us consider the inverse situation:

The vines are not flammable and are impervious to all damage because the spell doesn't say they can be damaged.

This interpretation relies on the secret rule that things aren't flammable or capable of being damaged unless they say they are.

Let's take this interpretation to the extreme. Let's say I have a spell that creates dry sticks, Create Dry Sticks. This full text of the spell is:

A cubic foot of dry sticks are created at your feet.

As the spell does not say that the sticks are flammable, they aren't flammable. Indeed, it doesn't say they can be damaged in any way.

As a result, we can't use these sticks to make a fire with. Indeed...we have created indestructible sticks! Bundle them together and we now have an indestructible weapon (made of dry sticks), or perfectly resistant armour (made of dry sticks).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, Create Food and Water might provide another example. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jul 4 at 10:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regular vines are hard to set fire to unless they are dry and/or already pulled from the ground and dried. If they are alive and growing, setting fire to them is possible, but they suck as kindling. (Survival school (IRL) taught me a lot of stuff, and that's one of them). Maybe if we had magical fire we'd have been able to set fire to growing vines: I guess we'll never know. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 4 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question of whether the vines are flammable isn't really the best place to start, because there isn't a simple answer to that even for natural vines. A more straightforward case would be if you tried to try to cut them with a machete or something. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 4 at 21:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @illustro You have only answered half of my question. If the vines are destructible, how do I handle players attacking them? Should I assign AC, HP, etc to the vines as indicated in the "Objects" section of the Dungeon Master's Guide? \$\endgroup\$ – bytesized Jul 5 at 7:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @bytesized apologies I missed that latter prt of your question. I'll add in some detail on that this afternoon. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Jul 5 at 7:48

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