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The level 5 spell Transmute Rock of Wizards and Druid can be used to Transmute Rock to Mud:

You choose an area of stone or mud that you can see that fits within a 40-foot cube and is within range, and choose one of the following effects.

Transmute Rock to Mud. Nonmagical rock of any sort in the area becomes an equal volume of thick, flowing mud that remains for the spell’s duration.

The ground in the spell’s area becomes muddy enough that creatures can sink into it. Each foot that a creature moves through the mud costs 4 feet of movement, and any creature on the ground when you cast the spell must make a Strength saving throw. A creature must also make the saving throw when it moves into the area for the first time on a turn or ends its turn there. On a failed save, a creature sinks into the mud and is restrained, though it can use an action to end the restrained condition on itself by pulling itself free of the mud.

If you cast the spell on a ceiling, the mud falls. Any creature under the mud when it falls must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 4d8 bludgeoning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

If the ceiling is less than 40 feet high, can Transmute Rock be cast on both floor and ceiling at the same time, to get both effects from a single casting?

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You can only transmute one contiguous area of rock

The targeting for this spell is a bit tricky. You don't select any 40-foot cube and then affect all rock or mud within this area. Instead, you select a specific area of rock or mud within range, and the spell transmutes only that area. Hence, you cannot affect both the rock ceiling and the rock floor in the same casting of the spell, unless there is a wall or pillar of rock connecting them into a contiguous area of rock. If nothing connects the floor and ceiling within your desired 40-foot cube, then they would be considered two different areas of rock, and you can only target one of them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could the ceiling and the floor be considered two areas, even if they are connected? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GuillaumeF Are you asking if you can choose to target only one of them instead of both if they are connected? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @candied_orange You're not targeting the entire floor and ceiling. You are targeting an area of rock that fits within a 40-foot cube. A rock pillar or wall outside that 40-foot cube doesn't count, because it doesn't connect the areas of the floor and ceiling that you're trying to target. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ The spell does not use the word contiguous at all. It just says area. Collins defines area as: "An area is a particular part of a town, a country, a region, or the world." The US is a non-contiguous country. Or don't you consider Alaska and Hawaii states? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ "I mean both. That's the waiting area. Now stop bothering me. I've got patients to tend to." \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 21:30
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The key wording in the spell is:

You choose an area of stone [...]

So since you can only choose one area of stone it therefore has to be continuous otherwise it would be two or more areas. So if the floor and the ceiling are connected in the chosen 40-foot cube, e.g. a wall or pillar connects them, you could then target them both. If there is no connection it wouldn't count as one area so you would have to choose floor or ceiling.

If the wording of the spell was different e.g.

You choose a 40-foot cube, every rock in the cube turns to mud.

then it would always turn all rock in the cube to mud, but worded as it is here that is not the case.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Consider the axis-aligned cuboids: A spanning from (0, 0, 0) to (1, 1, 2), B spanning from (0,0,0) to (1,1,1), and C spanning from (0,0,1) to (1,1,2). Note that the region enclosed by A is equal to the union of the regions enclosed by B and C. B and C are definitely valid areas of effect. Is A not a valid area of effect, since it's equal to the union of two areas of effect? \$\endgroup\$
    – Iguanodon
    Sep 16 at 19:16
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It can affect ceiling and floor

Based on the precedence of other spells from the school of transmutation, the theme is that you control all the matter in the cube, regardless of separation of the matter within the cube

Control Flames : "You choose nonmagical flame that you can see within range and that fits within a 5-foot cube. You affect it in one of the following ways

  • ...
  • You instantaneously extinguish the flames within the cube
  • ...

Notice the word "flame(s)" is plural, you extinguish all flames regardless if there is one flame or multiple non-touching flames in the cube.

Control Water: "Until this spell ends, you control any freestanding water inside an area you choose that is a cube up to 100 feet on a side. You can choose from any of the following effects..."

  • "You cause the water level of all standing water in the area to rise by as much as 20 feet
  • Part Water. You cause the water in the area to move apart and create a trench

As you can see the magic seems to not depend on the continuity of the water

Control Winds

  • "You take control of the air in a 100-foot-cube..."
  • "...ranged weapon attacks that enter or leave the cube or pass through it have disadvantage on their attack rolls."

The effects exist in the entire cube, not the continuity. If there were to somehow be a total gap of air sections or bubbles, and both sections were in the cube, then both sections of air are subject to the cube's affects.

disclaimer, I think you can interpret it either way and as a DM should decide, but here's the case for it affecting both ceiling and floor

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPGSE Nick, I see you are familiar with other stacks. Happy Gaming. :) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 20:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Control water and control winds both use a different wording, which explicitly says to to select a cube and control all of the relevant element within that cube. They don't say to "choose an area of air/water", like transmute rock says to " choose an area of stone or mud". Control flames is similar to the wording of transmute rock, but as you point out, it uses the singular and plural of "flame" inconsistently, so the interpretation is ambiguous (but it's a non-issue in practice because a 5 foot cube is already the smallest level of granularity consistently addressed by the rules). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 22:09
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You choose an area of stone or mud that you can see that fits within a 40-foot cube and is within range, and choose one of the following effects.

Transmute Rock to Mud. Nonmagical rock of any sort in the area becomes an equal volume of thick, flowing mud that remains for the spell’s duration.

Here's the list of limitations on this spell:

  • stone (or mud) that
  • you can see that
  • fits within a 40-foot cube and
  • is within range
  • Nonmagical rock of any sort in the area

Here are the options of the spell that you choose:

  • an area

An area doesn't have to be contiguous:

Area:

  1. VARIABLE NOUN
    The area of a surface such as a piece of land is the amount of flat space or ground that it covers, measured in square units.
    The islands cover a total area of 400 square miles.

And even if it did that doesn't imply that the rock must be contiguous. Why? Because what's being transmuted is the rock "in the area" that the player chose.

So a player can choose all the surface area within the cube and will transmute all rock in that area.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The definition of area that you quote describes a numerical two-dimensional measure. The area referred to in the spell is not two-dimensional, and it is not a numerical quantity. Regardless, I don't see how the definition you've quoted demonstrates a non-contiguous area. The example sentence uses the phrase "total area" to indicate that this number is the sum of the land areas of each of the individual islands. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that the area of effect here needn't be contiguous, but that definition of area isn't the relevant one. In D&D terms, a spell's "area of effect" really refers to a 3D solid manifold (often colloquially called a "volume" since such regions of space have nonzero volume). \$\endgroup\$
    – Iguanodon
    Sep 16 at 14:45

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