The Shape Water cantrip never mentions the force it can produce. The only limit I can see is the line:

[...] doesn’t have enough force to cause damage.

Otherwise there is no limit to the force. Hence, I would assume that it can exert an amount of force not more than to cause damage to the object it will be interacting with.

So, by RAW as I see it, one can move water up to 5ft per casting with unlimited force as long as it isn't causing damage. Technically this cantrip may move a massive boulder at the incredible speed of 0.254km/h (5ft/6s) with no regard to the boulder's weight, as long as the boulder doesn't take damage.

I understand that this is a pretty specific thing, but it would seem that this spell can be pretty useful in certain cases if it indeed works this way. Am I assuming the rules correctly?


1 Answer 1



Spells do what they say they do. Take Gust for example:

You create a small blast of air capable of moving one object that is neither held nor carried and that weighs no more than 5 pounds. The object is pushed up to 10 feet away from you. It isn’t pushed with enough force to cause damage.

Shape Water lacks the language granting it the ability to push objects of any weight, so it lacks any force.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Do note, however, that while you may not be able to cause any damage or exert any force with the water during the spell effect, a 5x5x5 cube of water is just under a thousand gallons and if you push that up a hill or up into the air or something and then drop it it would be very difficult to argue that it still exerts no force after the spell ends... Just be aware that the gods may smite you for making the DM do math. \$\endgroup\$
    – Perkins
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 18:24
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Perkins the cantrip doesn't let you just float water around. It flows up to 5' from where it was, so even if a DM allows it to fly (which is not explicit in the spell description), at best you can just bring that cube up to sitting on the surface of the body of water, where it'll just cause a splash and some brief chop - roughly equivalent to driving a car into a lake. \$\endgroup\$
    – starchild
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't the quoted, "doesn’t have enough force to cause damage," imply that the spell in fact can exert some force? Also, the very fact that the water moves implies that there is force. \$\endgroup\$
    – tox123
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @tox123 D&D isn't a physics simulator though. The question asked if a cantrip could move a huge bolder as long as it didn't cause damage. The question is about moving objects, so the water lacks the force to move an object of any weight, since it lacks that language. In other words, with regards to moving objects, this water lacks any force. Now we can say that it has enough force to resist gravity, but that's purely academic and not useful during gameplay. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @starchild The spell description says you can move it up to 5' from where it was. No limits on direction. Just get a way to cast it over and over really fast if necessary before it can fall back and you should be able to hover it around. I don't feel like doing the math on the worst-case number of casters you'd need to go straight up in the air, but it's not prohibited by the description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Perkins
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 17:42

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