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I am looking for a means, by RAW or RAI, to generate heat that can be used to provide lift for a balloon, or to power mechanisms that could generate lift, while not consuming fuel. While this most likely points to a spell or a magic item, I don't know which ones will allow me to make a hot air balloon (or something close to it).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Journer, you should edit any relevant clarifications (such as relevant level and class) into your question itself. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 5 '19 at 19:32
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Possibly the magic item Candle of the deep, a "common" magic item from Xanathar's Guide. This says it "gives off light and heat like a normal candle" — and it is unclear if it is consumed like a normal candle. Given that its major property (it burns underwater) is pretty boring in a world with the Light cantrip and the Continual Flame spell (the result of which is effectively a permanent torch which "cannot be smothered or quenched" so also presumably works underwater), it seems pretty reasonable that this magic item is not consumed. However, this would definitely be up to your DM — it's also reasonable to say "nah, it's just like a regular candle but works underwater".

Of course, even if they're not consumed, you'd need quite a few to provide lift for a balloon, but it is "common" ... so, getting a lot of them may be in the realm of possibility.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That might just work, thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Journer Jul 5 '19 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't say anything about fuel consumption, so the reasonable assumption is that it works like a regular candle in that regard (i.e. the wax is consumed over time as it burns). Keep in mind that even cantrips like Light are only available to magic users, while this common magic item can be purchased by anyone. It's unlikely to be of use to the average adventuring party, but there's definitely a market for it despite the redundancy with common spells. In any case, if you want it to work without consuming its fuel, you should definitely check with your DM first. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jul 5 '19 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanThompson I agree that that's the reasonable assumption, and that's generally how I interpret things. However, in this case, consider the Continual Flame spell which produces a permanent magic item that is not consumed for a one-time cost of 50gp, so in a high-magic world it's very reasonable to assume that continual-flame-imbued objects are also quite common. It seems like a version of the same which produces less light but also some heat could also be common — and since we're looking for RAW here, this is an existing item which might fit the bill.But, yes, this is definitely a DM call. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jul 5 '19 at 15:55
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Create Bonfire might work

Create Bonfire creates a self-sustaining magic fire that lasts for 1 minute. However, as it is a cantrip, you can repeatedly re-cast it to keep the fire going longer. It can deal fire damage and ignite flammable materials in its area, so it definitely produces heat. However, it continues to burn even if no flammable materials are placed in its area. The spell has no material components. As long as you don't intentionally place any flammable materials (or flammable creatures) in the bonfire's space, this spell seems to satisfy all your requirements.

Create Bonfire might not work for a moving vehicle

Since you have added your reason for needing this spell, Create Bonfire may not be what you want. The bonfire created by the spell is stationary, but "stationary" is not clearly defined, leading to a number of questions about how certain spells work on moving vehicles, such as this one and this one. You should ask your DM how they will apply the rules in this case (or if you are the DM, you'll need to make a ruling).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is close to what I am seeking, though I am unsure if it also heats the air. \$\endgroup\$ – Journer Jul 5 '19 at 0:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Journer The spell creates a bonfire. Other than being sustained by magic and therefore not requiring fuel, it should function just like a normal bonfire. (Although see here for some arguments to the contrary.) Ultimately this will be up to the DM. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jul 5 '19 at 1:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given OP's clarification about their purpose, this may not do what they want, assuming the balloon is not meant to stay grounded. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 5 '19 at 1:08
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Conjure Elemental might work. Given a 10-foot bonfire as raw material, it is able to summon a CR5 Fire Elemental for an hour, during which time it might be able to heat the air in your hot air balloon.

Additionally, the Eberron campaign setting uses bound elementals as the sources of motive power for their airships, so this sort of thing has precedent in official DND settings.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ravnica also uses elementals for industrial heat, though I don't know if this is confirmed in the D&D book for the setting. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 5 '19 at 16:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't "conjure elemental" and "create bonfire" both require concentration? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 5 '19 at 17:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Yes, and Conjure Elemental does bad things if you lose concentration while in a small basket hundreds of feet in the air. It also has a one-hour duration, so you'll need another 10-foot cube(!) of fire if you want to keep the engine hot. (It would be nice if it could use the existing elemental as the cube of fire, and just renew control over it, similar to Animate Dead. That's probably something our wizard would have to develop.) \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jul 5 '19 at 17:14

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