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I am a new DM, just having run a game around 10 to 15 times. I have an experienced player, and he plays as wizard.

He is casting animated object so that he can attack my mage or weakling. He moves 20 feet, and he cast animated object on 10 coins. And the coins can then move a further 30 feet. He said it can, and yes I already checked it. My mage enemy didn't have counter spell, dispel magic or fireball (AoE).

That why I am asking are animate objects a bit overpowered?

Since they can summon 10 of them (coins), and they have a speed of 30 feet, attack bonus, HP, and attack opportunity?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I gave your question a pass over to what I'm pretty sure you were trying to say. Please double check that I didn't mess up any of your meaning. This question might be on the touch opinion/discussion-y and end up closed, but I'm personally opting to see what answers it draws first and/or leaving it to other voters on that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jul 17 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related/of use: What is the expected DPR of an animate object spell cast on daggers? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jul 17 at 17:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Though actually, we have plenty of questions which ask about the power of one game features compared to its siblings and I don't see how this should be different. I see that many of the close votes are for needing more details, so I'll gently enquire what details are being sought about this to make it answerable? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jul 17 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mine was for clarity, but I cast it prior to your revision and have now retracted it. I'm working on an answer now. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 17 at 19:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SamLacrumb Fortunately there is no bonus to the count for choosing tiny over small, so it's still capped to 10. You can get more by upcasting, but that's a different story. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jul 17 at 20:19
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It's not overpowered, this is just its niche.

First, keep spell level in mind. Animate Objects is a 5th-level spell. Comparing it directly to counterspell, dispel magic, or fireball, all 3rd-level spells, is already a lopsided comparison (and the specific spells make it worse, but I'll cover that later).

Spells are also extremely situational. Even looking purely at those designed for combat, which one does best depends on many factors - number of foes, positioning, expected duration of combat, freedom to concentrate, etc.

In this instance, the objects have only one target, and can direct their full 10d4+40 damage at them. Assuming they all hit, that's average 65 damage. It seems like a lot, but consider these:

  • That's to only one target. Area of effect spells like Cloudkill or Insect Plague (also 5th-level) get better with more targets in a way that Animate Objects doesn't (to deal damage to multiple targets, the objects must split their efforts, dealing less damage than if they ganged up on one). Cloudkill, for example, may only deal 5d8 (average 22 damage), but to each target in a 20 ft radius: each additional target takes all of the damage. Even at only three targets, it's already dealing slightly more damage than Animate Objects.
  • It can be interrupted. Animate Objects and Cloudkill may deal their damage every round, but if you lose concentration, if targets move out of the way, or if the objects get 'killed', that may only be once. Cone of Cold, also a 5th-level spell, deals its damage only once, but deals much more: 8d8, average 36, again per target. Even with as few as two targets (and its 60-ft area is huge), it outdamages Animate Objects for a round. With four, it takes Animate Objects two rounds to overtake. If your foes have few enough HP, dealing damage up-front can be more important than dealing a lot of it.

Finally, the spells you bring up that your mage doesn't have are very common for spellcasters to have - so much that this mage not having them isn't really a fair comparison, and does more to highlight the weaknesses of Animate Objects than the strengths.

Put in a different situation, Animate Objects won't be as powerful as it is here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps also of note, Animate Objects has 2 failure states. It's a Concentration Spell, so if the caster gets smacked too hard the objects go inert. And it creates creatures that can be killed. If you're doing the 'usual' swarm of tiny objects, each only has 20 hp. Start AoEing and you'll wipe the spell out pretty quickly. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 17 at 20:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Would it be worth doing a comparison against other summoning spells (of the same level)? Eg. conjure elemental, infernal calling, summon celestial, or maybe even upcast conjure animals? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jul 17 at 20:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Notably those other spells like cloudkill don't have much out of combat use while I have seen use from Animate objects out of combat . But that is very hard to quantify. \$\endgroup\$
    – findusl
    Jul 17 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Of note; you don't HAVE to have all the objects attack the same creature. You can command "any or all" with a single command per turn. So you could command 5 in the first turn to attack creature A, then the other 5 attack creature B next turn. When creature A is finished off, command the first 5 to get creature C. And so on \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Jul 17 at 21:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also note that AO makes attack rolls that can miss, while the other spells (CoC, cloudkill) make the targets save for half. So the expected damage is higher, relative to the maximum. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Jul 17 at 23:36

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