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Can someone cast Light (the cantrip from PHB page 255) on something like honey?

It would be really cool if one could throw a sticky piece of honey or tree sap.

Is this possible or can we only cast Light on solid objects, or anything we have can say we have one, or any number, of?

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Not by the rules, but you might convince your GM

The light spell says:

You touch one object that is no larger than 10 feet in any dimension.

Honey isn't an object

If you can convince your GM that a piece of honey is an object, then you can cast light on it. (And does honey come in "pieces"?)

The dictionary

The dictionary describes "object" as:

something material that may be perceived by the senses

So, you might think a "piece of honey" is a thing, so you can cast light on it.

The Dungeon Master's Guide

However, the DMG says this:

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

So it really seems like calling honey an object is stretching the rules past the breaking point.

You could target a jar of honey and certainly light the jar. Could you light the honey inside, but not the jar? Then the honey inside becomes "the piece" of honey, and it doesn't change the discussion.

Allowing it anyway

Still, a maximally cooperative GM might allow it, in general, or in a specific case, because it seems cool and interesting and not overpowered.

On the other hand, the GM needs to manage expectations and rules. Some players might take that single case and say, "Well, if it works for a piece of honey then it works for a piece of water, I light up the ocean!" That's a big effect for a very small spell and will quickly lead to a game that's not playable. It's the GM's job to make sure that allowing a small thing doesn't somehow break bigger things.

Only one honey object at a time

But certainly if the GM allows it you can only light one object at a time. So if you're picturing dividing your piece of honey into more than one piece, and having two lit pieces, then that's more than one object, and it's not going to work.

If you're picturing smearing some honey onto something, that same maximally cooperative GM might allow it to remain lit. Even so, once it spreads and drips, it's up to the GM how it moves and which piece remains lit, which really highlights why it's challenging to treat an amorphous blob as an object.

Maybe you can throw it

Throwing a piece of honey might work, although it sounds a little dubious. The honey I'm familiar with isn't really throwable, although, I suppose if it's a lump of crystalized honey, or even a piece of honeycomb, then it's closer to an "object".

But does it stick?

I think you're going to have problems with the sticking part. If I imagine someone throwing a piece of crystalized honey at me, even if it would stick for a second, I think it would very easily fall off. Even a very cooperative GM might well rule that it just doesn't stay.

An alternative

If you're trying to figure out a way to attack a creature with light, and make it stick, you might take a look at something like the faerie fire spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The definition of object you cite seems inconsistent with how the rules define an object. The DMG states: “For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.” This answer would be much stronger if you made the argument from the definition the rules give, rather than an arbitrarily selected one from a dictionary. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2022 at 4:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ "he honey I'm familiar with isn't really throwable." When honey starts to crystallise, it is solid enough to throw it and sticky enough to stick to a surface. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2022 at 10:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ice would be an object under those rules, but water wouldn't. This creates an interesting problem - why the magic stops working the ice melts? And, if so, why there isn't magic that affect fluids? That's an interesting gap in the rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Mar 30, 2022 at 11:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov But a book consists of pages -- many pages if the book is large. And I'm sure IKEA will claim tables and chairs are composed from a collection of different objects as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Abigail
    Mar 30, 2022 at 11:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ The water case would not work on the ocean even if the DM allows liquids, as the ocean would be more than 10 feet in any dimension. Bathtub, maybe :) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2022 at 15:50
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A contiguous volume of a liquid is an object, so you can cast Light on honey.

As per the DMG:

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

The honey in a bottle, or a pool of it on the ground etc. is a discrete inanimate object, and it is even more materially homogeneous than something like a sword or book, which are composed of components. The fact that it is fluid is not material to the designation -- discreteness refers to the fact that there is an unambiguous distinction between the honey itself and the rest of the world. As with solid objects, you cannot target portions of the object: just like you can't make 5' of a 10' pole light up, you can't target a portion of the honey, similarly you can't target only the honey that's been dissolved in a cup of tea. If the honey drips or is otherwise divided, the effect is the same as when the pole is broken or cut into pieces. etc.

Probably the most common and by-the-book case involving a fluid object is when thrown/splashed oil is ignited by a spell like fire bolt or flaming sphere.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What is the AC and what are the hp of this object? \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2022 at 10:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin Typical amounts would have 1hp maybe 2hp, but large amounts, a gallon say, could have a few more, c.f. The table here roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Objects#content More importantly, it’d be immune to slashing, piercing, bludgeoning and psychic damage. Probably the main way to harm it is with fire damage. For AC I’d go with 10 or 11 basically the same as other mundane stuff (rope, cloth), though higher for missile attacks against a small amount. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave
    May 11, 2022 at 10:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ that is why I am asking: there are no liquids on the table you refer to. There is nothing even remotly in any of the object examples suggesting they intend a liquid to be considered an object. Liquids do not have any "structural integrity" that those hit points represent according to the DMG on the section you link to. \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2022 at 11:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree though, that you could use damage immunities and being affected by fire to justify that hp would not be affected by attacks, similiar to the resistance of rope to bludgeoning, or the immunity of objects to psychic damage. \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2022 at 11:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin I can see ruling “all objects are solid” could be a reasonable and consistent way of running things. One by-the-book case of a fluid falling under the label object is igniting poured/splashed oil using a spell like fire bolt or burning sphere that can ignite flammable objects. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave
    May 11, 2022 at 13:37
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Can someone cast Light on something like honey? Yes. You declare that as the action and let the GM figure it out.

But it is a touch spell. When was the last time you touched honey and walked away entirely discretely clean?

I would rule this as the entire blob of honey lights up when you touch it, but as soon as you pull your hand away, only the tiny bit stuck to your fingertips is still illuminated and the rest of it goes dark.

I think that provides a cool cinematic image, an interesting limitation of the spell and a fun story for the players to tell. I would apply this mechanic to all liquids and see if the players come up with any creative ways to exploit it. If they did, I would consider that a win.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's fun, then your players might be on the lookout for liquids that don't wet surfaces like skin. (For example, mercury, as described on chemistry.SE: Why is water wet and fire hot?). Whether your D&D world fully follows modern understandings of chemistry and physics, there are some liquids that don't wet surfaces. (Honey is pretty much the opposite, though, wetting and/or sticking to almost anything except modern non-stick surfaces such as Teflon.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 2:37
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A liquid is not an object

Light states:

You touch one object that is no larger than 10 feet in any dimension.

So the question comes down to: would a liquid count as an object? The rules define an object on page 193 of the DMG:

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

A liquid, even a highly viscuous, supersaturated one such as liquid honey seems to be a bad match for this rules description. None of the objects in the description here or in the object size table are even remotely is similar to a liquid.

Is hard to even imagine how to add a liquid to this list. What would you add, "a water", or "a honey"? At best you could add a jar of honey or a honeycomb, at which point the object-ness comes from the jar or comb, not from the liquid, or a lump of honey (if the honey is crystallized).

Objects have AC and hp

The DMG provides rules on p. 246 for assigning AC to objects, because objects can be attacked. However, there is no liquid listed among the AC materials. Also, the DMG says on p. 247

Hit Points. An object's hit points measure how much damage it can take before losing its structural integrity.

It is unclear what the structural integrity of a pool of water would be. So the lack of probable AC or hp would also indicate that a liquid cannot be an object.

Maybe one could argue that the "structural integrity" of a liquid is just not being evaporated, or splashed apart.

The other issue with a liquid as an object with hp is that by attacking it you should be able to reduce those hp. You can hit a pool of liquid with a sword as much as you want without leaving any permanent damage. One maybe could explain this as immunity to most damage types, including bludgeoning, slashing and piercing, with only fire damage able to evaporate it.

Object = one discrete item

An object is a discrete item, in singular. So you only can cast it on one item. It would not work on something you have "any number of". If you had one crystallized piece of honey, it would work. Discrete is defined in the dictionary as "clearly separate or different in shape or form".

A liquid is not a single, discrete item on both counts (and either one would be sufficient to disqualify a liquid as an object):

  • First liquids are not one thing, but countless tiny things attracted to each other. You can see this by how easily they separate into spray, droplets, spills, and reunite without leaving any trace that something changed. If you touch part of a volume of liquid, you do not touch a single item. One could maybe argue this is using a modern physics interpretation, and D&D is not a physics (or chemistry) simulation, and that a puddle could be considered one thing.

  • Second, liquids have no defined shape or form other than that imposed by their container. If you spill them they lose their shape entirely, so they are not discrete in having by themselves a clearly separate form. They do however have a boundary, if at rest, and could be considered discrete in this regard.

Consequences

What are the consequences of not treating a liquid as an object? One would be that you cannot ingnite a puddle of oil with a flaming sphere or fire bolt, an outcome that is highly counterintuitive. But what about cone of cold? It affects only creatures, so it would not freeze a puddle of water either, if you follow the rules strictly, which is just as unintuitive.

Ask your DM

In the end, the fact that other answers argue vehemently for liquids being objects means there is some room for interpretation of the written rules text. So this will be up to your DM to rule on.

I agree with Jacks's answer, if your DM agrees to it, it would not seem unbalancing, and might be quite fun to allow casting light on a lump of semi-crystallized honey that you could smear onto someone. Or even on the water in a crystal decanter, as long as it retains its shape and is not spilled.

You also could cover an object like a small coin with a sticky substance, cast light on it and throw that, which would not require DM agreement, and would be functionally equivalent.

(PS There is a related discussion on what counts as an object in general.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Liquids have no defined shape or form other than that imposed by their container, and can be sprayed into thousands of small droplets. But can I cast light on a clay pot? If dropped, it may shatter in hundreds, if not thousands of fragments, many of them tiny. What about casting it on a pencil, which I then use to write with? \$\endgroup\$
    – Abigail
    Mar 30, 2022 at 11:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes you could. I think as I say these borderline cases need DM adjudication, they are not explored in the rules. I’d likely rule the pencil continues to shine, the writing not, and the light on the pot will end lif shattered, but your DM may deem differently \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2022 at 11:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ As an aside, a chest which has a separate lid and tumblers in the locking mechanism would, like a vehicle, potentially also not count as an object under these rules. That seems a bit counterintuitive, but is not the question here. One of the answers in the linked post at the end of my answer explores this aspect in more detail. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2022 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH, Yes correct. I think I already have a sentence that says a lump of crystallized honey would work. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2022 at 18:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ "this rules description, which appears to be about items held together by covalent, crystal or metal chemical bonds." I would avoid rules interpretations which rely on a modern scientific understanding of chemistry \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Mar 30, 2022 at 23:12
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A liquid is an object, so you can cast Light on honey.

... targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect...

Chapter 10, pg. 204 of the PHB

In this quotation the PHB gives three mutually exclusive categories of things that can have spells cast on them. Liquids are clearly not creatures or points of origin (even though they can be), so therefore a liquid must be an object, because it can have spells cast on it. Therefore should since honey is a liquid, this would work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "A liquid is an object" I think this is the point of contention for the question, and you haven't convinced me that honey, or any other liquid, is itself an object. The DMG defines object for us: "For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects." This answer would be much stronger if you connected the dots between honey and the rules' definition of object. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2022 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ By your logic, magical effects also would need to be objects, and they are not. \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2022 at 10:16

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