How is the food and water from Create Food and Water presented?

The spell create food and water says:

You create 45 pounds of food and 30 gallons of water on the ground or in containers within range, enough to sustain up to fifteen humanoids or five steeds for 24 hours. The food is bland but nourishing, and spoils if uneaten after 24 hours. The water is clean and doesn't go bad.

When you cast this spell, how is the food and water presented? What I mean is, surely it doesn't just dump food and water all over the floor (the water at least wouldn't be of any use to anyone then), so does it come with plates and barrels (30 gallons is a lot of water, surely it would need large containers)? Do you have to put out plates and barrels first and then when you cast it the food and water fills the plates/barrels? How exactly does this work, or is that simply up to the DM to decide?

• "barrels (30 gallons is a lot of water" Tangential to your question but you're really underestimating the capacity of barrels. A run-of-the-mill wooden barrel, like the kind you'd age whiskey in, holds 50+ gallons of liquid. Jul 17, 2020 at 9:55

BYOC

The spell “create[s] ... food and ... water ... on the ground or in containers” - it doesn’t create containers. If you provide the containers it will fill them, if not, you lick it off the ground.

• Rules-as-written shouldn't be confused with when-in-doubt-be-stingy. The spell creates food in containers. Don't pretend that can't be taken both ways. Jul 17, 2020 at 12:13
• @NathanS I’m pretty sure the ground also has to be within range. Jul 17, 2020 at 23:20
• @NathanS I think the phrase is there because unlike most spells you don’t target a point - you can create the food and water at several places “within range”. Jul 17, 2020 at 23:29
• Ah, I see, yes that makes sense. Nevermind then. Jul 18, 2020 at 0:03
• +1 for nigh-on nihilistic yet logical simplicity :) Apr 15, 2021 at 21:22

The spell doesn't say

So that means it's up to the players and the DM to figure out how they want to run it.

You could take a comedic approach, or you could just say that the spell makes temporary containers and the same food appears every time, or you could say that it requires containers or it will dump the contents on the floor otherwise.

Given that this isn't meant to be a combat thing, the rules are relatively silent on the matter (as they are with many things not directly combat related) so you'll have to fill in the blanks.

• ...for comedic effect as a DM I might even class the PCs' mouths as containers! ;) Apr 15, 2021 at 21:24
• @Senmurv but there needs to be line of sight/effect. So, those mouths need to be open ;) May 11, 2021 at 19:36
• @erik "Given that this isn't meant to be a combat thing..." you and I have very different thoughts on this spell... May 11, 2021 at 19:37

Given that the spell description states that it may create the food and water within containers, it is implied that the caster has some control over where exactly it is created, so that they can choose to put it in containers (and, if enough containers are nearby, which containers) rather than on the ground.

The spell description does not say that it creates containers (only food and water), so any containers must already exist, unless the GM allows some of the food to be of a type and shape such that it would be useful as a container itself.

It is the GM's decision

The spell is unclear on what exactly is presented except that it is water (which can be used for usual purposes) and food which helps if someone's hungry but is not very appealing otherwise. The expression "on the ground or in containers" indicates that there are options on where the food / water gets created but it does not indicate that any containers are provided (vide supra)

Therefore, the GM has to decide what it is like. Then again, when a presentation is chosen within the constraints of the description, usually nothing game-breaking will happen, so letting the caster decide is another possibility.

Food does not absolutely need a container

It seems reasonable to rule that the food takes a form which does not need a container if none is there. E.g., ingots of goo containing nutrients fits the description given. So do survival energy bars (without packaging, contrary to real life).

Neither does water, since it's magic

Since it is magic, you can totally rule that the water takes the form of blocks or ingots that can be carried around like the ingots of goo, until someone decides to drink it or pour it somewhere.

The spell says nothing about creating containers

Since the spell description says nothing about providing containers and since they are not absolutely needed, it seems reasonable to rule there are none. Then again, providing decaying containers ("bio-degradable") seems reasonable as well. Another possibility is to provide containers which can be eaten. In that case, the container would be part of the food. This is the principle of an ice cream waffle, for example.

• As a GM, I would offer Hardtack without a wrapper for the food... bland but nourishing. Jul 16, 2020 at 10:44
• What's so unclear about "on the ground or in containers within range"? Jul 16, 2020 at 12:43
• "you can totally rule that the water takes the form of blocks or ingots that can be carried around" -- the DM can rule whatever they want, granted, but...huh? Your claim violates the fundamental principle that things only do what the rules explicitly say they do, as well as common sense. The spell creates water. Regular, pure water. Not Jello (which while bland, would not qualify as "nourishing", so you can't treat the water as "food" for the purposes of your "ingots" of water). Regular, pure water does not hold its shape unless it's frozen. Jul 16, 2020 at 18:05
• "creating water out of thin air is also against common sense" -- except that the rules explicitly state that can happen. Again: the overriding principle is that things only do what the rules say they do. It's one thing to accept impossible outcomes which the rules explicitly call out as being possible. It's another to invent your own impossible outcomes in spite of the rules. And the follow-up to the overriding principle is that lacking an explicit rule to the contrary, "ordinary" governs. I.e. the game allows for impossible things, but only those impossible things it explicitly allows. Jul 16, 2020 at 18:43
• The water isn't entirely ordinary, since it "doesn't go bad". But it's too much of a stretch to me to call "blocks or ingots" "water", at least without some qualifying adjective or something. There's much more variety in what can be called "food", so the edible container seems reasonable - especially if the DM also rules a caster has some limited amount of control over the food's appearance, shape, hardness, etc. Jul 16, 2020 at 18:45