Can a lock be cooled enough to make it easier to break? Because in real life cooling metal can make it brittle, and as a player with no lockpicking skills, i need an alternative way to break locks. If so, would the spell have to be high level, or would a ray of frost suffice?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related, and only stopped from being a duplicate by the differing editions: “Ray of Frost” Spell + Water = Lock Broken? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Comment about real world physics: Cooling metal can certainly make it brittle, but the temperature at which this happens depends on the material. Even saying "iron" or "steel" doesn't help too much because it depends on the exact composition. There are steels which become brittle quite easily, and some which require considerably more cooling to make a difference. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 0:00

2 Answers 2


Depends who you ask, but generally no.

There's no RAW mechanic for low temperatures making things easier to break in general, and very few spells include such (and ray of frost isn't one of them). The closest you're going to get is cone of cold turning creatures it kills into ice statues.

The best you're looking at is to pitch the idea to your DM, who might allow it under creative use of a spell, but they're also within their rights to deny it and they have the final word on it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ On top of that, ray of frost can only target creatures, not inanimate objects. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 21:36


In D&D you can basically do whatever. You describe what your character is doing, and possibly what they hope to achieve, and your DM makes a ruling either based on the rules, or their opinion. There isn't any rules for freezing locks, but there isn't any rules for most things, that's just the way the game works.

As you said, in real life cooling metal makes it brittle, so it's reasonable to think that freezing a lock would make it easier to destroy. Ultimately you need to ask your DM, but it sounds fine to me.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless when it doesn't. A lock from ice gets more sturdy, one made from Zink only gets brittle at about 108 K. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 11:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish Sure, for some exotic metals that may not be true. But is a medieval society going to be making locks out of zinc? Probably not. Steel becomes brittle around 0°C to -50°C. There is steel that becomes brittle even at room temperature. The steel used in medieval times wouldn't be the high quality stuff we get today. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 23:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Zinc isn't an exotic metal. Zinc alloys that were 90% zinc plus some lead and antimony have been known since around 500 BC for ornaments. Zinc as a pure metal was worked a lot as a mock-silver in the middle ages. Also, the average Steel's embrittlement temperature is -76°C. That's why it takes liquid nitrogen to bust bicycle locks but a can of compressed air is not enough. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 7:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish I could not find any evidence of zinc locks in the middle ages. Like I said there is a huge range of different steels, medieval steel was not the same quality as the steel we have today. Comparing a modern lock to a medieval lock is way off mark. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 22:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that D&D includes metals that don't exist in the real world. Would a mithral lock get brittle when super cooled? What about one made of adamantine? Anyway, in D&D you can try to do anything. It's up to the DM to decide whether to allow you to try it or if it works. Also, keep in mind character knowledge vs. player knowledge. You might know that super cooling metal might make it brittle but would your character? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 21:35

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