This came up in a discussion with a fellow 5e DM:

A player casts Animate Object on 10 daggers. This makes 10 animated daggers with 20 HP and 18 AC according to the 5e PHB. Now according to the spell "When the animated object drops to 0 hit points, it reverts to its original object form, and any remaining damage carries over to its original object form." This is all fine and good.

The 5e MM says something similar regarding animated objects: "An animated object reduced to 0 hit points becomes inanimate and is too damaged to be of much use or value to anyone." Everything seems to agree.

Now, the DMG lists tables destructible objects. Daggers we presumed to be Tiny objects which according to the DMG would have 2 HP if fragile, and 5 HP if resilient. Under Object Armor Class it lists Iron/Steel with a 19 AC.

Here's where the argument comes in:

According to the PHB, Animate Object changes the form of the object to a construct creature with 20 HP and 18 AC for Tiny objects. When it reaches 0 HP it reverts back to its original form (We're assuming an object with 5 HP and 19 AC), with any excess damage carrying over to that original form.

So what happens when the daggers reach 0 HP taking into account the PHB, DMG, and MM?

Argument 1: When the animated dagger reaches 0 HP, it reverts back to a regular dagger with 5 HP (a la Wild Shape Druid feature), suggesting that it needs to take at least 25 damage to become unusable. The animated creature construct form is separate from the inanimate original form, therefore damage applied to the object in animated form is separate from damage applied to the object as a whole.

Argument 2: When the animated dagger reaches 0 HP, it becomes inanimate and is too damaged to be used, suggesting that it only needs 20 damage to become unusable (a la Shapechanger NPC feature). The animated creature construct form and the inanimate original form are still the same entity, therefore damage applied to the object in one form applies to the object as a whole rather than just to its animated nature.

So when or how do the daggers become so damaged that they're unusable?

I've seen this answered for 3.5e and Pathfinder, but not for 5e and after hours of trying, unsuccessfully, to find a 5e answer, any insight in this would be appreciated :)

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    \$\begingroup\$ So, just to make sure I understand, you're wondering whether the damage sustained while the dagger is animated affects the actual normal/mundane dagger as well? I'm... Wow, I can't believe I've never thought about this \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jan 11 at 6:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's exactly what I'm wondering. The context that brought the discussion here was how likely the need of the caster to carry multiple sets of 10 daggers for this purpose, we never got to that point due to the impasse. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Cammarota Jan 11 at 7:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Great first questions! \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 12 at 1:00

Animated objects and objects that are animated via the animate objects spell are two different things

The animated objects in the MM refers to the "creatures" listed in that section. The animate objects spell are temporary creatures that only last as long as the spell does. They don't get automatically destroyed when they reach 0 HP. You've already pointed out the proof of this in the spell description:

When the animated object drops to 0 hit points, it reverts to its original object form, and any remaining damage carries over to its original object form.

That sentence would be superfluous if the object was automatically destroyed after it reached 0 HP.

Furthermore, the "Animated Objects" entry in the MM (p. 19) says:

Animated objects are crafted with potent magic to follow the commands of their creators.

The objects you can use for the animate objects spell have to be non-magical:

Choose up to ten nonmagical objects within range that are not being worn or carried.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So the "crafted" portion of the MM entry implies that Animated Objects themselves are sort of like magical items? That is to say that since neither the MM stat block, nor the PHB spell entry list their damage as magical, suggesting that the object in the MM is literally crafted with the animate object spell effect as opposed to an object simply affected by magic? Also how is damage treated then on the object affected by magic? Is there essentially a field of temporary hit points in a way that must be punched through before the object can actually be damaged? \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Cammarota Jan 11 at 7:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelCammarota AFAIK, magical constructs only do magical damage if their stat block says they do. Golems, for example, generally all state that their weapons do magical damage. I don't know if the animated objects in the MM are supposed to have been created using the animate objects spell or just general magical crafting. The spell itself provides the HP for the temporary construct. Basically beating on it wears away at the magic holding it together. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Jan 11 at 7:48

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