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I am not sure why the spell was not included in 5e. It's mostly used for flavor and cool factor.

Glassteel

Artificer, Wizard, Bard (Forge Cleric?)

  • Transmutation
  • Level: 3
  • Casting time: 1 minute
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: Glass to be transmuted
  • Duration: 24 hours
  • Saving Throw: none

This spell gives a glass or crystal object the strength and durability of steel. The Glassteel also becomes roughly the same weight as an item made of regular steel, within a few ounces. The spell can transmute up to 5lb of glass or crystal.

At Higher Levels. Every 2 spell slots above 3rd lv, you can increase the amount of material transformed by 5lbs. 10lbs using a 5th lv slot, 15lbs using a 7th, and 20lbs using a 9th lv slot. Using a 7th level slot or higher to cast the spell makes the duration permanent until dispelled.

Is this spell balanced compared to existing official material (not including UA)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What rules for material durability are you using for reference? Also, what does this spell do if the weight of the material is not specified? \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Apr 7 at 1:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Most things have a weight associated with them, like anything else if it's not listed it's DMs call. That seems self evident to me so I did not include it. \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Lacrumb Apr 7 at 1:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Clearly this is evidence they're bringing back Dark Sun, and they don't want a spell that undoes the biggest downsides of Dark Sun's metal-poor environment. :-) It's easy to ban any spell that creates metal, but if they overlooked a spell like this, oops, no one needs metal anymore. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowRanger Apr 7 at 23:16
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This spell has (almost) no mechanical benefit to balance

The only time that casting this spell would have any mechanical benefit would be when you needed an item made of steel and for some reason only had access to a glass version of that item. Given that such a glass item is at least as difficult and expensive to create or acquire as the steel version and is certainly much rarer in practice, casting this spell will likely never have any mechanical benefit. We typically evaluate "balance" by weighing the cost (in this case, a spell slot, and possibly a spell selection) against the benefit gained. But if the benefit is purely the subjective cool factor of having a glass weapon or tool that's functionally identical to an ordinary metal version, how can you balance the cost of a spell slot against that? It's certainly fine to have "flavor" spells, but without any significant mechanical benefit, there is nothing to balance, unless you have some other criterion you want to use to define balance.

A few existing spells and abilities are similar to this

For what it's worth, there are a couple of spells or other abilities with somewhat similar effects, which you might be able to use or adapt for your purposes. First, there is the druid cantrip Shillelagh, which buffs a single weapon at a time. One approach you could take is to have this spell be a cantrip that works similarly, being limited to a single glass item at a time.

Second, the wizard school of Transmutation includes the Major Transformation feature, which can (with some favorable DM rulings about relative mass and value of glass and steel objects) transmute a glass object to steel permanently. You could allow the ability to instead give the object the physical properties of steel while retaining the appearance of the original glass. While not RAW, this would be a purely flavor change to the ability as written.

There is also the warlock Pact of the Blade:

You can use your action to create a pact weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it (see the Weapons section for weapon options).

The reference to the weapons section of the PHB makes it clear that choosing the "form" of the weapon means that you choose which kind of weapon you want to manifest. But most DMs will also allow the weapon's appearance to be customized, or base it on the nature of the warlock's patron, rather than have it simply manifest as a perfectly ordinary-looking weapon of the chosen type. So a glass-looking weapon that functions the same as a steel one is certainly within the realm of possibility here, given the right DM, and the right patron.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure about "no mechanical" benefit. You could make something like improved bulletproof glass with this spell which could be used to provide total cover under the right circumstances. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Apr 7 at 3:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AllanMills I'm not saying it's completely impossible for the spell to have a mechanical benefit, just that the kind of situations where it would are so vanishingly rare that any benefit in practice is going to be negligible, even over the course of an entire campaign, unless the DM bends over backwards to present contrived situations to make it useful. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Apr 7 at 3:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure why you include Shillelagh, as it has huge mechanical benefits. One, it changes the stat for attack and damage bonuses. Second, it changes club from 1d4 damage to 1d8. So a Druid goes from 1d4 with no Strength modifier to dealing 1d8 damage plus a healthy bonus for having a high Wisdom and not having to spend ASI on Strength. I know many Monk and Cleric builds that take a 1 level dip into Druid just for that cantrip. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Apr 7 at 3:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re last paragraph, see sidebar 'Your Pact Boon' in PHB p 108. Customising the appearance of your weapon is official, not merely something "most DMs ... allow" (of course, the DM still has to allow it, but that almost goes without saying). \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast Apr 7 at 4:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Even making bulletproof glass seems mostly pointless. You can't cast spells or shoot arrows through it and there's almost no indirect-fire options for when you can see but not target. Also, at the same level you have access to Clairvoyance which is superior in every way for "want to see without being shot at". \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Apr 7 at 4:35
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This is very weak for a 3rd level spell.

For a spell that's in the same tier as Fireball, Haste, and Blink, this is distinctly underwhelming. The only thing you're functionally doing is making an item be as good as a mundane steel implement; the benefit of having transparent steel seems unlikely to be particularly valuable, to me. As you said, it's mostly for the cool factor.

I would probably suggest making the duration Permanent, and giving this spell the Ritual tag, both of which contribute to making the spell "do it once and have a cool item" rather than something you need to maintain all the time. I'd probably add a small expensive material component that's consumed in the process to avoid making a permanent ritual version of the spell too disruptive to your game world (on the "why doesn't everyone have magic glassteel windows, then?" level). I'd suggest something like 10 gp-worth of diamond dust, if you wanted to go that direction.

Glassteel in prior editions

In the 3rd Edition "Races of Faerun" book, Glassteel effectively combined many of the properties that Mithral and Adamantine had in that edition -- like mithral, glassteel armor actually counted as a lower proficiency level, and like adamantine, it gave armor or weapons a nonmagical enhancement bonus. That made it a very valuable material, worth many thousands of GP per item.

Going back further, in 2nd Edition's Red Steel setting, the spell minor glassteel was very similar to what I suggested: while it was a whopping 5th level spell, it affects 5 lbs of glass a time, costs a 10-gp gemstone, and is permanent until dispelled. The resulting glassteel material is described as being as strong as steel but weighing half as much (so you can make a glassteel equivalent of up to a 10-lb steel item with a single casting). When used for a weapon, it counts as magical for the purpose of creatures who can only be hit by magic weapons, but doesn't have any other bonuses.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In 3.5ed it's a 7th lv spell \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Lacrumb Apr 7 at 15:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SamLacrumb that doesn't mean 3.5 was correct with setting the spell to that level. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Apr 7 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ When I was looking into this, I compared against Fabricate, which also doesn't have a ritual tag. But that may be because you can create functional items with it. But the first time i read this, i thought Ritual. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 7 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SamLacrumb are you talking about the Spelljammer conversion from 2e? That appears to have been done purely as a conversion, not based on any balance issue. 3.5 treated glassteel as a special material for making items (like mithral or adamantine), and it was covered in Champions Of Virtue (p.65). There is had a set cost and some distinct advantages (lighter, druids could wear it, etc.) \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Apr 7 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I updated my answer to include the fact that in 3/3.5e, at least from what I can tell, Glassteel combined the properties of Mithral and Adamantine, which is far and away better than just "it acts like steel". High level spellcasting is appropriate for basically instantly creating super-materials, but that's not relevant to whether or not this specific homebrew is balanced. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Apr 8 at 13:45
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I think it is reasonably balanced. In AD&D 1e it was a 5th or 6th level spell, for no particular reason.

There are certainly uses for it -- unbreakable windows and glassware and such. I would probably have it scale +5lb per spellslot upcast, not just every two levels. I would probably set it up like Wall of Stone -- 1 action to cast, Duration 10 min (concentration), becomes "permanent until dispelled" if you maintain concentration for the entire duration.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please see "How to properly review a homebrew" for what kind of information we expect when answering a homebrew review question. Why would you have it scale +5lb per spell slot? Why would you set it up like Wall of Stone? \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Apr 7 at 23:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ <shrug> Because I don't think it will break anything, and I like the way Wall of Stone works for this. I didn't say his write-up was bad or lacking, or that it needed these changes; those were just suggestions based on what I'd do. \$\endgroup\$ – PhilB Apr 8 at 0:46

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