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The party has found the Vault of Dragons from the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist module. They've managed to play two of the BBEGs against each other and have neutralized the 'enemy' factor of the module, have also managed to fly under the radar of Waterdeep's authorities, and they want to keep all of that sweet, sweet gold for themselves.

However, the access to the Vault in their version of WD:DH is down a 150' ladder, under a hidden trap door in the back of an abandoned building. They now own the building, but are wondering how to move all the gold out. For plot reasons, they can't nickle and dime it out slowly (because I am evil and didn't want to give half a million gold to a 5th level party, but also wanted to reward their superb creativity by letting them keep it all!) ...as soon as any of the gold leaves the Vault, a magical alarm will alert the authorities who will then form a large troop and come to recover the gold. This gives them barely an hour to move the whole thing, or risk losing it all.

They've been debating this for a while, have gone on several more adventures, have gained a few more levels, and are now ready to tackle the challenge of how to get 10,000 pounds of gold up and out of a two foot square hole that's 150 feet deep.

Their current plan is to use the wizard's Fabricate spell to create a ten foot diameter shaft with stairs along the sides that spiral down to the Vault doors. They've already calculated the volume of stone to be removed (70 castings!), how the raw stone will be turned into bricks, loaded into a wagon and dumped outside the city, and how to keep all of this low key enough that no one will suspect what they're really up to.

The crux of the plan is the fast removal of the gold from the Vault. They plan to have the wizard use Floating Disk to move 500 pounds per trip up the stairs, the rogue use their Bag of Holding to move 500 pounds per trip, and the goliath can carry 600 pounds per trip. That means 6 trips of about 5 minutes per trip, leaving the party about half an hour to escape Waterdeep with their wagon load of gold.

Is there a better/faster way to do this? How might a character transport hundreds of thousands of gold inconspicuously?, while similar, is more concerned with general moving of massive amounts of gold, and none of the answers to that question would work for this case.

The party has access to all spells of 5th level and below. They do not have another Bag of Holding nor do they have a Portable Hole, and the purchase of a powerful magic item isn't going to be allowed. Single use items like scrolls or potions would be considered as the party may be able to afford them. They do have several thousand gold of their own, and would be willing to hire someone in case a certain class/ability would work.

How can a party move 10,000 pounds of gold?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Tangential, but has the party considered just trying to disable whatever magic is going to trigger the alarm? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 5 at 17:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I haven't put any mechanics into the alarm that would allow it to be disabled. Honestly, it was just a means so that I didn't give half a million gold to a 5th lvl party. They could have loaded up their backpacks and taken off at any time, losing the bulk of the hoard, but they want the whole thing...so they've been patiently waiting and plotting. It's been super fun! \$\endgroup\$
    – aaron9eee
    Feb 5 at 18:11
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "with their wagon load of gold" ... I know how to make a wagon handle 4,200 lbs. of gold. I don't know how to make a wagon handle 10,000 lbs. of gold. If this is coinage, this is only about 1 ft. (30.5 cm) deep in each of three wagons. If this is "magnificent statuary", it's going to stand out a bit when placed in a wagon (and may exceed your 600 pounds single load limit). \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6 at 21:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just so you're forewarned, this sounds like the kind of party that will eventually build an orbital cannon. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7 at 19:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how cool I think the solution to a problem is, putting that same problem in front of a competent audience so often produces true excellence...as seen in many of these answers! Even the least voted among them showcase creativity and thought. I don't "need" a better solution, but it sure is cool to see so many of them!! \$\endgroup\$
    – aaron9eee
    Feb 9 at 3:42

11 Answers 11

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Assuming casting Dispel Magic on the Alarm is infeasible (perhaps the makers of the Vault were so meticulous that they cast Alarm on each individual piece of gold), this seems like an ideal use case for Leomund's Secret Chest

Since you've said the players have several thousands of their own gold outside the contents of the Vault, they could spend 5,050 gp to have the material components for Leomund's Secret Chest commissioned (see spell description below; I presume there's no time pressure until the Alarm is triggered). The wizard may need to research and learn Leomund's Secret Chest, as well (I don't have my books handy at the moment and so can't price out the research needed to learn the spell through experimentation, but it's a minimum of 8 hours and 200 gp to copy it into the spellbook--halved if your wizard is of the conjuration school).

Leomund's Secret Chest
4th level Conjuration
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (an exquisite chest, 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet, constructed from rare materials worth at least 5,000 gp, and a Tiny replica made from the same materials worth at least 50 gp)
Duration: Instantaneous

You hide a chest, and all its contents, on the Ethereal Plane. You must touch the chest and the miniature replica that serves as a material component for the spell. The chest can contain up to 12 cubic feet of nonliving material (3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet).

While the chest remains on the Ethereal Plane, you can use an action and touch the replica to recall the chest. It appears in an unoccupied space on the ground within 5 feet of you. You can send the chest back to the Ethereal Plane by using an action and touching both the chest and the replica.

After 60 days, there is a cumulative 5 percent chance per day that the spell’s effect ends. This effect ends if you cast this spell again, if the smaller replica chest is destroyed, or if you choose to end the spell as an action. If the spell ends and the larger chest is on the Ethereal Plane, it is irretrievably lost.

Preparing the Chest for use in the heist

Using these, they can hide the larger chest on the Ethereal Plane with a single casting of Leomund's Secret Chest, linking the full-size and replica chests. This could even be done a day in advance to recover the spell slot. The next day, from inside the Vault and "while the [larger] chest remains on the Etereal Plane, [the wizard] can use an action and touch the replica to recall the [larger] chest. [The larger chest] appears in an unoccupied space on the ground within 5 feet of [the wizard]."

Loading up the loot

From inside the vault, they can load up the coins into the larger chest, which can contain up to 12 cubic feet of nonliving material acccording to the spell description. I used an online calculator to calculate the volume of 10,000 lbs of gold (although admittedly, that's assuming a single, solid mass), and it comes out to 8.29 cubic feet. Assuming the coins are thin cylindrical solids, if the coins are placed in rows or stacks (think like rolls of coins, but without the paper roll), you're looking at a packing factor of about 78.5% for a square (as seen from the end of the row/top of the stack) arrangement, so at most the 12 cubic foot interior of the chest could hold an equivalent of 9.42 cubic feet of gold coins (specific to this particular arrangement of coins, and notably more than the 8.29 cubic feet that much mass of gold would occupy). During this time, the gold is still inside the Vault, and so the Alarm will not trigger. This part is time-consuming, but under no functional time pressure, and all party members can help arrange the coins for tight storage. What's more, if it takes days of labor (which the party seems willing to put in, what with 70 castings of Fabricate involved in their original plan), the party can leave the chest inside the Vault and it'd be so absurdly difficult for someone to get the chest up and out of the existing 2 foot square hole that anyone else who manages to get inside is likely to leave it alone. I've never worked with this many coins, but I still suspect it'll take fewer days than the 70 castings of Fabricate would require.

The great escape

Once the gold is loaded into the larger chest, it can be closed (which isn't technically required, but it's worth doing just in case someone or something comes across it on the Ethereal Plane) and they can "send the chest back to the Ethereal Plane by using an action and touching both the [larger] chest and the replica." At this point, the gold leaves the Vault and the Alarm triggers, but all the party needs to do is go back up the hole (or even Dimension Door out if they're feeling fancy and don't want to be seen leaving the building in which the Vault entrance is hidden) with the Tiny replica and go about their business as though nothing has happened. As long as they recall the chest to the Material Plane within 60 days (by using an action with the Tiny chest), there's no chance of it being irretrievably lost on the Ethereal Plane. What's more, after this entire heist is done and they unload the gold wherever, they can sell off the chest and replica to recoup some of that initial 5,050 gp cost for the materials if they're so inclined.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is genius!! The party has legit been obsessing over this for months and they hadn't thought of this. \$\endgroup\$
    – aaron9eee
    Feb 5 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is awesome! Minor quibble, the way the spell is worded, I believe only the caster can retrieve the chest from the Ethereal, but that's minor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 5 at 18:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack Good point, and upon second glance, I can't be certain that anyone could do the same, so I'll yank the bit about the markup. \$\endgroup\$
    – Remilia
    Feb 5 at 18:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why would they need to recoup a mere 5050gp when they now have half a million? That's a drop in the bucket, a mere 1%. They might as well keep it as a souvenir of their adventure. Who knows, they might use it in another caper in the future? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael
    Feb 6 at 2:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ They don't need to spend money to get the material components. They can Fabricate the large and tiny chest directly out of the gold inside the vault, then cast the spell inside the vault. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8 at 18:08
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Two Oxen and a Cart.

That is what you need to carry the loot. (They can carry a total of 10800 lbs.) These guys need to be placed a short distance from the exit of the vault, AND you need to figure out the best way for a small object's weight to be distributed over the cart.

Fabricate the gold into a single cube. It will be a tiny bit bigger than 2ft cube. (Gold is incredibly dense — a 2ft cube of pure gold is 9712 lbs.) Now... for the best part: cast Animate Objects and have the gold float itself out of there. (A 2ft cube would be either a small or medium object.) Land it on the cart, and get out of there.

What you really want: 8th level spell, Demiplane. This makes your very own vault you can then load all the gold into and access whenever you wish to depart with some of the gold. As it's on another plane of existence, there's very little evidence to catch you with.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Animate Objects to have the gold block carry itself out of the vault is genius. I think that's the cheapest approach so far! \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Feb 5 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't claim its the best solution, but when you get questioned by the authorities you can say "The gold just up and floated away!" while in a zone of truth. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daveman
    Feb 5 at 23:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might also not set the alarm off using the technicality that the object: gold isn't leaving, because it is a creature: gold at the time \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 6 at 11:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think Fabricate works like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 6 at 19:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmiralPatate Bulk gold is a trade good in the PHB, 1 lb worth 50gp, Trade goods "retain their full value in the market and can be used as currency." according to PHB \$\endgroup\$
    – Daveman
    Feb 7 at 14:06
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Phone a Friend

Or, rather, summon an elemental spirit of air, using the 4th level spell Summon Elemental, from TCoE.

The elemental spirit of air has a strength of 18 and a flying speed of 40.

With a strength of 18, the spirit can carry 15 * 18 = 270 lbs. Let's round down to 250 to make the math easy.

At 250 lbs a trip, the spirit can move 10,000 lbs in 10,000 / 250 = 40 trips.

With a flying speed of 40 the spirit can fly up the 150 ft hole and back down in 300 / 40, = 7.5 ~= 8 rounds. Let's be generous and say it takes a full 10 rounds, or 1 minute to make a round trip.

It can move all 10,000 lbs in 40 minutes.

Shenanigans

For shenanigans, cast multiple times, possibly with planar binding. Use haste or enlarge so they can move faster or carry more.

For more shenanigans, consider using Conjure Elemental to get an earth elemental. They're 20 strong, and with earth glide, if you can get them access to unworked earth on the inside, they have no reason to care about walls, stairs, guards or whatever.

Good luck!

(And considering the cost of planar binding, castles, suborning small governments and such like these days, half a mil split up amongst the party ain't soooo much....)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Excellent! That'll make for fewer over all trips and faster time! TY. \$\endgroup\$
    – aaron9eee
    Feb 5 at 18:38
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Keep the plan but Reduce your work load

Depending on how you're willing to rule the Enlarge/Reduce spell*, casting reduce on the gold will reduce it's weight by 8.

Reduce is a concentration spell, so you would need to separate these amounts out:

  1. Have the Wizard cast Reduce on a crate with 4,800 pounds of gold inside (a little less if you want to include the weight of the crate). Making it 600 pounds.
  2. Have the Goliath carry that crate up and put it in a wagon. (5 minutes)
  3. Whilst this is happening, have the Rogue take 500 pounds of gold into his bag of holding and head up too.
  4. When the Goliath is on their way down, the Wizard drops Reduce on the crate upstairs (it'll get bigger in the wagon, so account for that).
  5. Cast Reduce on another crate of 4,800 pounds - making it 600
  6. Goliath now picks up the second crate up. (Add another 5 minutes)

Party are out in 10 minutes, giving them 50 minutes to escape before the authorities arrive.

This plan does have 100 pounds leeway in carry weight - can use that for those crates if you want to rule it that way. If you have any other party members they can also pull their weight (though someone watching that cart full of gold is a good idea too!)

*Depends whether you're willing to let them do something like putting the gold in a chest and reducing the whole thing, rather than just having the chest shrink and not the gold inside.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The gang appear to have unlimited prep time and coinage in D&D appears to be pure metal (a 1lb bar of gold is worth 50gp, 50gp in coins is 1lb), so even if you might rule that reduce won't work on a chest of gold coins as one object, a plausible approach would be to use fabricate again to turn the gold coins into a couple of solid blocks of gold (no real craftsmanship required, should be a trivial use of the spell). Then you can reduce, extract, and fabricate them back into 1lb trade bars for later spending. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Feb 5 at 20:42
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Fabricate, Reduce, Potion of Growth, Dimension Door

Fabricate allows you to turn raw materials into object, and easily so if they require no specific craftsmanship. It's well established that gold coins in D&D are apparently made of pure gold since 50gp of coins weighs the same as a 1lb trade bar of gold worth 50gp, so gold coins should count as the necessary raw materials for making objects out of gold; your wizard uses fabricate to turn 9,500lbs of gold coins into one relatively large gold brick (no particular degree of craftsmanship required). The remaining 500lbs of gold can go into the party's bag of holding, carried by the rogue.

Enlarge/Reduce allows you to shrink the size of an object by half in all dimensions, reducing its weight by a factor of 8. Your wizard uses enlarge/reduce to shrink the gold brick to an eighth of its size. It now weighs 1,187.5lbs.

A potion of growth is an uncommon magical item that grants the benefits of being enlarged, as per the spell, for 1d4 hours. Your goliath drinks it. They are now Large, and thanks to the exact wording of their Powerful Build racial trait, this stacks so they count as being Huge for the purposes of carrying capacity; they can now carry 1200lbs of stuff (assuming Strength 20). They then pick up the reduced gold brick with 12.5lbs of carrying capacity to spare (probably enough for one enlarged loincloth).

Your wizard drinks another potion of growth. They are now Large. When they cast dimension door, they can travel up to 500 feet to any location in any direction they like, and they can take along one willing ally of their size or smaller who is carrying items up to their carrying capacity. Large Wizard and Large Goliath dimension door out of the Vault to a nearby building that isn't directly above them, just so as to be harder to find by the authorities (they're only 150' underground, so should be able to get at least a couple hundred feet away). The Vault does block incoming teleportation magic, but luckily its description doesn't say anything about preventing people from leaving, so it shouldn't interfere with this process.

You're several hundred feet away from the vault with most of the gold the instant the alarms go off, and the rest is being carried by a Dashing rogue who can easily get well clear of there before any authorities show up; a couple more castings of dimension door before the reduce wears off and Large Goliath has to put the brick down will get you even further away from the scene of the crime.

This requires no more than two uncommon potions (by the DMG's guidance, at most 1,000gp total if they're bought at the top end of the suggested price range), a 2nd level spell slot, two 4th level spell slots and access to the spells fabricate, enlarge/reduce, and dimension door (we need to use potions for the enlarge effect to work around the wizard's inability to concentrate on more than one spell at a time, but if the party has other casters who can provide the effect you wouldn't even need to buy the potions). You also don't need to faff about tediously excavating a staircase to the vault, since the rogue can easily climb out of the existing tunnel carrying their bag of holding and the rest of the gold will be teleporting out of there.

I was drafting this answer before the obviously superior Leomund's secret chest answer was suggested, but eventually decided I would still post it as it's less than half as expensive as the initial outlay required for the secret chest, and because it's very amusing to me that it's actually possible for the goliath to carry most of that gold in a single trip with the right prep.

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Warning: Floating Disc has a clause that states: "it can't cross an elevation change of 10 feet or more. For example, the disk can't move across a 10-foot-deep pit, nor could it leave such a pit if it was created at the bottom.", so this plan would only work if there were stairs in the shaft, not a ladder. Which means a fabricate ladder would still be needed to make this work, and defeats most of the value of this answer -- being able to do it without access to 4th level spells. It still would work to speed up the original plan with the fabricate ladder quite a bit, but feel free to downvote it into negative space. (When we used this tactic in Dungeon of the Mad Mage, we only transported the beer to the base of the well/shaft that leads up to the Yawning Portal, so we did not have that issue.)

I think the Leo's Secret Chest is the best way to do it, and it seems that the party will be able to obtain that spell. If the party were still were 5th level, as would be the case normally at the end of this adventure, and would not have access to 4th level spells, here is how they could do it:

Preparation

The first step would be to pile the gold into sack that still can be lifted, so it can be handled faster. As kindly calculated already, the total volume is under 12 cubic feet. The normal sack can handle "one cubic foot or 30 pounds of material", my take is that in the case of coins this would take at most 12 sacks. If you apply the lower limit of the two with strict RAW, maybe the party would need to order more sturdy sacks made of leather that can withhold more weight. Or they would need to limit the weight to 30 pounds or 1,500 coins per sack, and hire some helpers (see below).

If you have a goliath than can carry 600 lb., he should easily be able to lift bags of just 500 lb. of coins, and could move 10 of them in one minute (10 rounds), and the two other party member very likely could achive the same together.

Transportation

Then the wizard could cast up to six Floating Disks as Rituals (the last one would just have a remaining lifetime of 10 minutes) in the vault. There is no clause that makes a disk expire when you cast another one. Sometime in between there he could cast another four with his first level and one second spell slots in half a minute, and the rest of the party has plenty time to load them while he is casting the remaining rituals. He then would use one level three slot for Fly to effectively double his speed (move 60 feet instead of 30 feet - I am assuming the 5 minutes are for normal not double move which would be hard to sustain that long).

At 25,000 gp per disc (or a bit less to avoid the disc popping from accidentally adding a coin too many) he could transport about 250,000 gp per trip, with all the discs trailing him. If one trip up takes him 5 minutes at normal speed, at double speed it should take him only 2.5 minutes. That would leave about 2.5 minutes buffer in addtition to making one trip up, one back down to reload and another back up.

Loading / Unloading

If you station the goliath at the top of the stairs, the time for unloading 10 discs into carts or something like that would be one minute, and back down in the vault the time to reload the remaining 10 sacks would be again one minute. If you can not have sacks that heavy, you would need extra helpers for extra actions to load and unload the discs.

Get Away

This whole action would take about 10 minutes. With the rest of the team going up the second time around at normal speed, after about 14 minutes everyone should be at the top, and the everything should be loaded. This would leave another fifteen minutes to leave the city, or move the gold to another secure hiding place.

Not as elegant as the Leo's chest, but needs only a level one and a level three spell and can be done at fifth level. We did something very similar to haul out the dwarven beer from level 2 in Dungeon of the Mad Mage in one quick action before the goblin market goblins would have a chance to snatch the rest. Tenser's Floating Disc is an amazingly helpful spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Multiple disks combined with fly is pretty awesome. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 5 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack, thanks for Fixing it to Tenser's. I should have caught that, with the whole backstory about Ernie Gygax using it all the time to get loot out with PC #1. (He also had a story with freezing foes with Cone of Cold, then putting the frozen corpses into Bag of Holding to thew out and harvest the undamaged Magic Items) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Floating Disk can't go up ladders though, so I don't think this plan would work. Unless I've misunderstood your explanation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Taxi4Dave
    Feb 6 at 2:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Taxi4Dave: you are right. I missed that the reason they could do it with one disk wast that they place the fabricate stairs into the shaft first. Hm, what to do now? Just delete the comment? I will put in a warning, so it can be donwvoted. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6 at 7:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might want to double-check your math on the number of sacks required. The amount is 10,000 pounds of gold, not 10,000 gp. That comes out to 334 sacks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Remilia
    Feb 7 at 19:41
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Mostly Mundane Solution

To begin, a Strength 20 Goliath carries 600lb or drags 1200lbs at base. After casting Enlarge/Reduce on the Goliath, we can get our drag limit to 2400lbs.

By putting 500lb of gold into the bag of holding, and then placing the bag on top of the pile, it makes your total load 9,515lbs.

A pully system with an 4:1 ratio will allow your Goliath to drag 9,600lbs up the shaft 1ft for every 4ft of movement spent. Once the load is set up, your Goliath can grab the pull rope, amd dash away from the shaft at 60ft per Round, leaving your goliath 600ft away 1 minute (10 rounds) later with your load at the top of the shaft. Your Goliath can tie off the rope and then help the rest of the party spend 59 minutes shifting the loot into a wagon and hiding it.

According to this question on rope carry limits, the answer is so variable it is basically up to the DM, but in a worst case scenario we'll need to use Rope of Climbing to lift this much, as it can hold 3,000lbs (which is enough with our 4:1 ratio). However, we do need at least 600ft of it (plus another 60ft to cover affixing the payload to the lower block and some general slack in the system), at 500gp per 60ft, for a grand total of 5,500gp. Let's hope you can convince your DM to let you use something cheaper.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ how about chain and a winch? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Feb 6 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately chain is only burst DC 20, so if it follows the same rule as in the linked Question, it won't be strong enough. Also, it will weight 120lbs for 600ft of it, which puts us over our limit of 9,600lbs. I think. I'm not too clear on how the weight of the pulley system affects things. A winch also has no clear rising speed, unlike a rope you can pull whilst dashing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kyyshak
    Feb 6 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ The rope from the gold to the pulley needs to hold 10,000#. You can only get away with 3,000# rope after the pulley. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7 at 5:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ True, but the lower block of the pulley system will be right on top of the payload. It does add some extra cost (which I'll do now) but it's not insurmountable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kyyshak
    Feb 7 at 18:25
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Why bother lifting? The plan screams for a minecart tunnel!

They have Fabricate. They can turn walls into bricks. So why should they not start a brickyard outside town and tunnel down a low slope to the Vault from there, selling the excavated bricks as building materials? With the proceeds they buy rails and minecarts, laying those down to the room in front of the Vault and right into it.

Once they have a rail right into the vault, they fill the gold into lorries. The spell alerts the authorities only once the gold leaves the vault, so they have all the time they want for this.

Now, they have lorries full of 4 535.924 kg of gold. So, how do we move those minecarts?

Let's look at Animate Object. If we animate the hauls, each of them being a small item, then each would be able to transport what a Strength 6 creature can... which is hauling 90 pounds. That would require 112 lorries - or 12 castings. Each one would be possibly tiny and loaded with the equivalent of about 3 standard gold bars. If we assume that the things are dragging the gold, then we'd only need 56 lorries (and 9 castings), each dragging 6 gold bars up the slope to where they are loaded to the escape vehicle. If we use medium-sized Hauls carrying their load, we'd need 67 carts (14 castings), or when dragging 34 carts (7 castings)... To make sure that the items do run continuously, we'd need to turn the spell permanent, but that also means, we could enchant the lorries before the transport begins, making the number of castings pretty much arbitrary.

With a little trickery, we might even get away with 0 castings of Animate object, if the adventurers, pardon me, Brickyard entrepreneurs, just move the brick cart down the tunnel and then add all their horses in front of that. Each draft-horse has a strength of 18, so can carry 270 pounds or drag 1350 pounds. The wagon weighs 1000 pounds... so we need to drag 11000 pounds, which means our gold-brick-wagon will need 9 Horses, but that is enough to also carry the entrepreneurs at full speed of 30 feet/round Thankfully, those exist.

Now, how long is the ramp? Let's see... 150 feet down at a nice 1 foot vertical per 100 feet horizontal travel makes for a slope that ends 15000 feet from where it begins on the surface and which is pretty much just the same 15000 feet long. If the carts can move at 30 feet per round, they'll take 500 rounds to get to the Brickyard, where the tunnel ends, or about 50 minutes. Yes, there are only 10 more minutes till the guards arrive at the house over the vault... but those guards also will be 3000 squares away from the minecart tunnel exit and the adventurers in the horizontal and also a 150 feet ladder above the place the minecart tunnel started - buying them more than enough distance and extra time to get away.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Or they dig a channel, then melt the gold in-situ such that it flows like very expensive water, down into somewhere else. EDIT: or cast into huge spheres, roll out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kingsley
    Feb 7 at 3:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ ...or fabricate the minecarts from the gold, but there is no weight for minecarts given.... \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Feb 7 at 10:50
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Perhaps in combination with other spells, the best spell is Teleportation Circle as the moment the alarm sounds to escape you can be thousands of miles away.

Teleportation circle does not explicitly state that objects on the Teleportation Circle will be transported either they must be carried (with the help of the Reduce spell as Lio Elbammalf answered) or magically removed from the vault separately as Remilia answered with Leomund's Secret Chest.

Their answers are good but the problem with both is they are still present for quite a long time when the alarm has gone off.

Dimension Door will not get you far enough away to have escaped, you will very close to the entrance point encumbered with a very heavy load and no way of knowing how strong the response will be.

EDIT: there is zero incompatibility with other methods, as you have all the time in the world to load the Secret Chest with gold without the alarm going off as it hasn't left the vault. Then, when teleportation Circle spell's casting is complete, an action can be spent to send the chest full of gold to the Ethereal plane then spend their movement to step on the active Teleportation Circle.

The location of Sigil Sequences are up to the DM, they are not necessarily controlled by anyone.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Once the caster casts teleportation circle, the party has until the end of the next turn to make it through - that is, six seconds. As you say, this would need to be used in conjunction with other plans / spells because they would have to carry everything in one trip. Also, they will be landing at a known sigil on the other side - and the owner of that sigil might want to know what they are bringing with them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 6 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ "As you cast the spell, you...link your location to a permanent teleportation circle of your choice whose sigil sequence you know...Many major temples, guilds, and other important places have permanent teleportation circles inscribed somewhere within their confines...When you first gain the ability to cast this spell, you learn the sigil sequences for two destinations on the Material Plane, determined by the DM. You can learn additional sigil sequences during your adventures." There could be an abandoned sigil somewhere you happen to know if the DM approves - but that doesn't seem the norm. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 6 at 19:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't say Sigil Sequences are ONLY found in such places, just that "many" such places have Sigil Sequences. The DM's options are not limited. \$\endgroup\$
    – TREB
    Feb 7 at 0:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ "You can create a permanent teleportation circle by casting this spell in the same location every day for one year. You need not use the circle to teleport when you cast the spell in this way." -- since they're not in a hurry, the caster could spend a year preparing, doing this daily casting thousands of miles away and effectively creating their own destination. Then on heist day, they just create a Teleportation Circle with their permanent circle as the destination and boom, they're off to a safe location with all their treasure. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doktor J
    Feb 9 at 17:28
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The fastest/easiest way to get a bunch of gold up a 150 foot shaft won't be to carry it. Hire a blacksmith or two to melt down your gold (while working inside the vault, you'll be wealthy enough to buy their silence), draw it into wire, and braid the wires into a slightly-stronger cable. Carry one end of the wire to the surface, then just pull the string to continuously lift gold out of the hole. A 150 foot column of gold with a cross-sectional area of 1/8" x 1/8" would only weigh about 20 pounds, so you don't need much lifting strength. Add a setup similar to a horse-powered mill and the gears will pull up your cable even faster. As the gold cable is pulled up, wind it onto wooden spools. Once a spool starts getting heavy, cut the cable, start a new spool, and roll the previous one away. The key is using a continuous lifting process where all your energy pulls straight up, not discrete trips up and down the stairs where the "down" part isn't productive and the "up" part only uses a small portion of your energy to lift gold (depending on how steep the stairs are). The best part is, this particular plan can be tested and rehearsed as much as you want using regular rope. Normal rope won't set off the alarm, so perfect your process and equipment to ensure success when the time comes.

The extreme version of this would be to siphon the gold up out of the vault while it's still molten. You can build ceramic pipes that can withstand the temperature of molten gold, but creating enough of a vaccuum to get the siphon started would be difficult. A creative individual with access to powerful air elementals may be able to do it.

If I was the one planning the job, though, I'd run the whole thing like an old heist movie. There are two parts to the plan. Part 1 is to buy the property next door, and dig a matching shaft in the basement. Excavate a new sub-basement that shares a common wall with the vault that contains all the gold. Once that's ready, use Passwall to create a door linking the two rooms, quickly move all the gold into the other room, then dispel the spell. You don't have to move the gold very far and don't have to lift it, so you should expend minimal energy/time with this method. Your stash is still dangerously close to the location where the authorities will soon converge, so you need to make sure nobody investigates too deeply. That leads to ...

Part 2 of the plan involves leaving a decent chunk of the treasure behind in the original vault, say 15-20%. A member of your party disguises themselves and goes into town to hire a thief ("Patsy") to help them steal some gold. You and Patsy arrive after the vault is cleared and the Passwall spell has been dispelled. The two of you start carrying gold out a bag full at a time, but don't get very far before the authorities arrive in response to the alarm. The authorities catch Patsy red-handed, arrest him, and confiscate the remaining gold in the vault. You, however, have Melded Into Stone and are nowhere to be found. The authorities don't believe Patsy's story about a mysterious disappearing accomplice and even if they did, Patsy only saw you in disguise. Most importantly, the authorities found a crime scene and criminal that plausibly fit the alarm that they were responding to. The case is closed, and they have no reason to investigate too thoroughly. Wait a week for things to cool down and then move your stash out at your leisure. If you're feeling nice, anonymously pay Patsy's bail.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just don't try to pay the bail in gold that still has the marks/stamps of the gold that was in the vault 😂 Fabricate it into coins from an allied kingdom (or if you're nefarious, coins from a rival kingdom, maybe start a war?) with which you pay the bail! \$\endgroup\$
    – Doktor J
    Feb 9 at 17:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 For the idea of framing Patsy. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Jun 21 at 18:55
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Animate Objects and Fabricate

You have the gold fly out under your command.

Since you have fabricate, use it to shape all the gold into a solid gold figure of a grandfather clock, or a big McDonald's logo, or anything which catches your imagination and doesn't have legs. It is possible that coins don't count as "raw" materials for fabricate, but that isn't critical here; what's needed is that the coins become a single object. It's been established above that this much gold is approximately 8.29 cubic feet, which is about 235,000 cubic centimetres. A human body is approximately 62,000 cubic centimetres, so this item is a bit less than the volume of four humans. That probably makes it a Large object, but the DM might rule that makes it Huge; no problem.

(There doesn't seem to be 5e guidance as to boundaries on size categories; a Large creature controls (without necessarily occupying) four squares on a 5'×5' map, vs a human's 1; a Huge creature controls 9 squares (PHB, pg 191). The DM might legitimately say "hey! this thing is only the size of 3.75 humans but it weighs five tons!" at which point you should attempt to distract them somehow and point out that size categories aren't really about weight; a really heavy pixie is hardly Gargantuan.)

Now, cast animate objects, a fifth-level spell which the party should have access to. You can animate ten objects, and a Huge object counts as eight of them. The spell doesn't define what a single "object" is, so there's a DM call involved with what you need to do to make the coins into one "object" for the purposes of the spell, if fabricate is disallowed. An object doesn't need to be one single material (I think every DM would allow a bed or a broom to be animated, and they are multiple materials together as an "object"), so melting all the coins together into one long stick, or gluing them all to a piece of wood, may be sufficient. Since the solid gold grandfather clock (or glued wood combination, etc) "lacks legs or other appendages it can use for locomotion", the spell description says "it instead has a flying speed of 30 feet and can hover". This means that, as long as your fabricated tunnel is wide enough to fit the gold body through, it can move 30ft. every six seconds under its own power, commanded by the wizard's bonus actions. That's more than enough movement to get it out of the place; three hundred feet of flying speed before the spell duration of one minute runs out. If you can make multiple castings of animate objects then you can probably walk it right out of the city before the guard arrive. Since you have two spare animated objects, give yourself a flying sedan chair and a drinks cabinet too.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think Fabricate works like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 6 at 19:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair. The Fabricate isn't the critical part here: what's needed is to make the coins into one object without legs. I'll update a little. \$\endgroup\$
    – sil
    Feb 6 at 20:03
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @sil If you follow the link kirt has given the majority of answers suggest fabricate could we work that way - though there isn't a set consensus. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7 at 10:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @LioElbammalf Indeed. It would now be more accurate to say I didn't think Fabricate works like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 7 at 16:04

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