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In Eberron: Rising From The Last War, the nation of Aundair is described as a place where arcane magic is commonly used to perform everyday tasks, almost Harry-Potter-esque in some ways. In the Gazetteer, on page 103, it says:

Magic permeates many aspects of Aundairian life -- more so than other nations. A cleansing stone graces every village, and you might encounter animated farming equipment in the fields.

This made me curious whether there's anything in the rules that would allow for this sort of animation. An animate objects spell could animate a plough or other equipment, certainly, but at 5th level and with only 1 minute of duration, it seems a poor choice for actually getting daily work done. A tiny servant spell has the duration, but doesn't seem like it could affect something as large as a plough or scythe. The only other spell I can think of is unseen servant, and I'm not sure the servant could even do a task like ploughing a field.

Now of course this could be handled by DM fiat without reference to any specific spell; we could posit that there's a specific unseen farmhand ritual, that the automatic plough itself is a magic item, or simply handwave away any questions with "it's just some special magic they have here, don't worry about it", but I'm curious if there's an option I've missed or if I've unfairly dismissed one of the spells I know of.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Clarify for me, are you looking for ways to animate farm equipment or just ways to efficiently plough a field with magic? The title doesn’t seem to match the body question. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Oct 4 '20 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll try to make the title more specific. I was trying to be clear that I want something that lasts long enough to do the job, because animate objects can animate farm equipment but only for a minute. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 4 '20 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking how we might do it or how it is done ( aka a lore question)? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 4 '20 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ As I said, I'm asking how it could be done within the rules. How it IS done isn't specified and is likely to be the aforementioned handwave. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 4 '20 at 18:37
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In D&D 3.5e—for which Eberron was initially developed—there existed a spell called permanency, which could be cast on another spell effect to make that effect permanent. It only worked with a select few effects, but animate objects was one of them, so you could make a permanently-animated object by combining animate objects and permanency.

Permanency was left out of D&D 5e, as it was “a headache to balance,” but Mike Mearls also claimed it was only “tabled for now,” suggesting that it “should” exist, the designers just haven’t figured out fair rules for it yet. Of course, that tweet was quite a while ago now, but nonetheless I think it’s fair to say that it isn’t “canon” that permanency no longer exists. So permanency on animate objects remains a likely possible answer to your question.

That said, 5th-level spells, as both animate objects and permanency are, are a big deal in Eberron; there are not a lot of 9th-level characters in Khorvaire, at least among the humanoid, mortal races. Such people are most likely not heavily involved in the routine production of farm equipment on such a personal level. A more realistic answer is that artificers in Eberron are often tasked with making constructs of one sort or another—for which 5e has no rules in general, but in 3.5e it was possible from 5th-level on—and this is the sort of the farm equipment that Rising from the Last War refers to.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So any spell cast with permanence from that earlier time continues through this age? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 4 '20 at 21:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch No. That is exactly what I’m saying isn’t the case when I say “I think it’s fair to say that it isn’t ‘canon’ that permanency no longer exists.” There aren’t rules for it. There aren’t rules for creating constructs either. But both are still a part of the world. The inability to do either would be a major crisis on Eberron, so it would not go unmentioned. Since it is unmentioned, it didn’t happen, and the people of Eberron remain capable of creating constructs and making spells permanent; we just don’t have the rules for how they do that. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 5 '20 at 0:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's what I was thinking. Could have been a very cool issue to have to address! \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 5 '20 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Permanency used to be a lot higher spell level than 5 in editions before 3 ... FWIW. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 5 '20 at 0:48
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You may find the spell Unseen Servant useful in this endeavor.

Unseen Servant 1st-level conjuration (ritual)

Casting Time: 1 action Range: 60 feet Duration: 1 hour

This spell creates an invisible, mindless, shapeless force that performs simple tasks at your command ... It has AC 10, 1 hit point, and a Strength of 2, and ... The servant can perform simple tasks that a human servant could do, such as fetching things, cleaning, mending, folding clothes, lighting fires, serving food, and pouring wine. Once you give the command, the servant performs the task to the best of its ability until it completes the task, then waits for your next command. If you command the servant to perform a task that would move it more than 60 feet away from you, the spell ends.

Couple this with the rules for push, drag, and lift:

Push, Drag, or Lift. You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your strength score).

That would mean that a single Unseen Servant has a push, drag, and lift capacity of 60 pounds. While large, heavy ploughs are typically thought of when imagining medieval farming, there are such things as lighter ploughs or even the simple use of a hoe. Reference this wiki on ploughs.

While this would require a "farmer" to be present while the Unseen Servant works, and it would potentially take a great deal of time, it is definitely a feasible method of utilizing farming equipment without actually having to do so yourself. The spell is a 1st level spell, as well as a ritual, so you have lots of uses of it. Have a group of "farmers" all cast this spell while they sit around chatting under awnings spread strategically 60ft apart, and you've got a field that will essentially plow itself.

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