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Shape Water Says:

You instantaneously move or otherwise change the flow of the water as you direct, up to 5 feet in any direction. This movement doesn’t have enough force to cause damage.

Vampire - Monster Says:

Vampire Weaknesses... ... Harmed by Running Water. The vampire takes 20 acid damage if it ends its turn in running water.

Does the specific weakness of Vampires, overrule the section in shape of water where it says "not enough force to cause damage"
Can shape water be used to harm a vampire, assuming there is water around to shape? (in a barrel or something.)

Note: Official WotC rules only please, no UA.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Very related on What is considered running water for the vampire's weakness? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 12:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it holy water? If you get a cleric to bless it for you first, you might have something there. Sort of the D&D equivalent of that scene in From Dusk Till Dawn with the super-soakers... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 19:47

3 Answers 3

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Only if you use it to create running water

The movement of the water itself is instantaneous, so is unlikely to count as running, and more specifically the vampire has to end its turn in the running water, which this spell can't do.

However if you put the water up a height so it slowly dribbled and formed a thin stream that the vampire for some reason stood in, then a generous DM might rule it as running water.

Essentially if you creatively make running water then the running water can hurt the vampire, but the spell itself cannot.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you support that a finite amount of water falling is the same as running water? I mean, of course a DM can rule it as that, but what would help them in making that ruling beyond opinion? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 12:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ That isn't exactly a supported answer, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 12:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I think that's a bit nitpicking. DM rulings are kind of the point of D&D. If the DM rules in the way I say they might then the answer is perfectly valid. If running water is created by the spell then it will act as running water, that's unambiguous, and including a suggestion of how that may happen shouldn't exactly be seen as a negative. The rest of the answer is rule based. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 12:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ DM ruling answers should be supported by game play seen or experienced. Just saying "yeah, sure, why not" isn't really helpful. Of course a DM can make any ruling, but an answer that suggests a ruling should go into the details of how that ruling went. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 12:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Strange I have to cite my options for DM rulings but another answer claims a DM is entirely unable to make a certain ruling and gets no grief. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 19:44
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"Running water" doesn't simply mean water that is moving at the moment.

"Running water" as a term specifically refers to rivers and streams, not just water that happens to be in motion. A thrown water bottle is not 'running water', nor is a small continuous leak from a water pipe.

Today we more commonly use the term 'running water' to mean indoor plumbing, but whether a vampire can safely pass through an active sprinkler system or be harmed by a firehose is beyond the scope of the discussion here. In the context of a quasi-medieval world, 'running water' means something like a creek.

So in most cases, shape water probably can't produce anything that would be harmful to a vampire -- potentially, if you were close to a river, you could redirect some of the flow of water slightly beyond the banks to engulf a vampire (per the "change the flow of the water as you direct" clause), but it would be up to the DM to determine whether that counts or if you're just pulling a single lump of water out of the river, in which case that ball of water would not have a flow and would mean nothing more to the vampire than dumping out a bucket over its head. In either case, water out of a barrel would definitely not count as running water, even if you got it to move in the short term.

Historically, most of the vampiric weaknesses are things seen as sources of purity and cleansing -- sunlight, running water, salt, garlic, fire, and holy water were all associated with purifying the unclean or just being inherently pure. Running water in specific was often associated with the holy rite of baptism, in addition to being where you go to clean everything from your clothes to your body. (If garlic and salt seem strange on that list, remember that before refrigeration, salt was a preservative, and strong spices were often used to cover the taste of meat that was starting to go rancid. This was several centuries prior to germ theory, so covering up the taste and smell was seen as basically the same thing as actually purifying the food.)

D&D doesn't directly operate on historical intent, but it seems to me that knowing why this specific collection of relatively random things are meaningful to a vampire should give us insight into what does and doesn't count.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this supported by any actual rules? A DM can definitely not rule something as running water? That's quite a claim. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 19:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Obviously a DM can rule however they want to; that's so core to the game that it hardly bears mentioning. Since the game does not define "running water", we have to default to the standard english use of the phrase, which has a specific meaning as I have described here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ (At least, the standard english use of the phrase before household plumbing became commonplace.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 21:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym: I agree with you most of this. Re: Vampire weakness; the original vampires (i.e. from Eastern European lore, not Stoker) were disease bearers (and/or disease explanations). Thus, vampire weaknesses tend to be things that ward off diseases and maladies(garlic is anti-microbial, sunlight can improve immune response, silver is anti-biotic, salt can stop food from spoiling which can cause food poisoning if eaten) or stop their spread (e.g. burning bodies to prevent the spread of plague). In this pattern, running water fits because it is safer to drink from than stagnant water. \$\endgroup\$
    – sharur
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 0:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Scattering seeds? well that explains this guy moreso than just a bad pun en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Count_(character) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jasen
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 6:22
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No, the vampire cannot end its turn in water that is being moved by shape water.

Shape water dictates that it moves water instantaneously. This indicates that a vampire could not end its turn in water that is moving via shape water, since the water moves instantaneously. Water that moves instantaneously also cannot be said to be “running” in any meaningful sense.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The header here sounds like it's saying something different from your actual answer. Your text is saying that shape water doesn't cause the water to be running, but the header sounds like the vampire finds shaped water impossible to remain in. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym Moving. The vampire cannot end its turn in water that is moving by means of shape water, since shape water transports the water instantaneously from one point to another. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, because the header says a vampire is restricted from entering water, not that shape water fails to create a hazard. It reads as "if you use shape water, you create a zone that a vampire cannot end its turn in". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I know what the rules are; I'm trying to improve an answer by alerting the poster to a misleading headline. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 16:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kat That doesn't fix anything. The problem is that starting with "the vampire can't" makes it sound like we're discussing a restriction on the vampire's actions, where the focus should be on "the water isn't moving". It needs to say something like "no, because the water is not moving at the end of the vampire's turn". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 18:14

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