So, the mold earth cantrip lets you pull up a 5-foot cube from under an enemy.

Could you, after pulling up soil under an enemy and dropping them down 5 feet, just put the dirt back? Would it cause a grapple or something?


3 Answers 3


Possibly, if the enemy can't get out of the hole

As an action for mold earth, you can excavate a 5ft cube and put the earth up to 5ft away. Moving it away for long enough for someone to fall in (slowly so they don't take damage) would be your action as you can only move the earth once.

If the creature doesn't bother leaving the hole then maybe you could fill it back up, but there are a few issues:

First the spell doesn't actually let you just move earth, just excavate it. I can't imagine many a DM having an issue with you doing so, but it doesn't appear to be RAW.

Secondly there are no rules for what happens afterwards, so the DM would have to rule. Is the earth loose enough that it doesn't really matter? Do physics come I to play and crush the burried creature? I would rule that this has the same effect as the 3rd part of the spell and just makes it difficult terrain for escape. I might give advantage to hit in melee for someone who has the high ground but that would be situational, and I do it often enough anyway.


You can't bury someone

The Mold Earth cantrip does say exactly what it does:

If you target an area of loose earth, you can instantaneously excavate it, move it along the ground, and deposit it up to 5 feet away. This movement doesn’t have enough force to cause damage.

This means, that the earth is following the ground outline, which in turn means it also will flow under the body, as the body is not part of the ground. As a result, it should push the body back up, not entomb it, if you try to fill in the hole wholesale

What about entrapping?

The spell isn't designed for this, but what if I try to not fill in the hole but fill in the area that is not filled by the future victim?

That shouldn't work because of several reasons:

  • The creature is assumed to occupy the 5-ft square by moving in it during normal combat.
    • with some exceptions, you can't occupy a field with an enemy combatant.
  • The spell is not an attack and can't do damage, so it can't under the rules do a grapple.
  • You used your action to do the spell, so you have no action to do a grapple.

Is GM-ruling a way out?

Personally, I would allow the action under two conditions:

  • Either the victim of the spell is already grappled or immobilized in some way or another and the casting of the spell just takes over the grapple
  • or the victim is willing and holds still.

In either case, I would deem the creature now having the head sticking out of the dirt immobilized until a different creature digs them out of the ground.


Since you can excavate a hole and move the earth up to five feet away, you should be able to move the earth back into the hole later -- "excavating" the mound of loose earth you just created and depositing it back where it started should be easily possible.

Can you bury somebody? Well, that's more of a DM call. Since the earth moves along the surface and slow enough not to cause damage, my sense is that you probably can't under normal circumstances. Creatures are not immobile when it's not their turn, so they should be able to move their feet around enough to stay on top of the inflowing material, rising back up to the level of the ground over the course of the action.

I would probably rule that you can only bury a target using move earth if they're unconscious, paralyzed, or in some way anchored in the hole. Since it's just loose earth, it could restrain a target, with a Strength check (as an action) to escape, but I'm not sure what DC I'd set. The more pressing matter, if the target was not standing up, might be the whole breathing issue...


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