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I am playing a ranger and planning to take magic initiate for a few bonuses. I am wondering whether I could create temporary arrows during one turn and use them the next turn, in case I'm out of arrows, and if it works, what would they do?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: What are the creative limits of Prestidigitation \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you talked with your DM about ammunition tracking? This may not be a problem you need to solve for :) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 31, 2022 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like the title doesn't match the question actually being asked. There's lots of answers digging into the meaning of 'trinket', but none of them are answering the question 'Can Prestidigitation create usable ammunition', which has very different narrative and mechanical implications. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 1, 2022 at 14:31

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Probably not.

Prestidigitation isn't explicit about what a "trinket" is, which means we have to fall back to the general English language. I would interpret a trinket as something small with artistic or sentimental value but no particular mechanical properties, so if I were the DM I probably wouldn't let it replicate the properties of any specific item.

And then there's the big one - the trinket must fit in your hand. Arrows are clearly longer than your handspan (they need to be in order to work), so by my interpretation you definitely couldn't create an arrow. (Perhaps some DMs would consider this clause met if you could wrap your hand around it; that doesn't seem like the natural reading to me but it's defensible.)

But ask anyway.

D&D is ultimately a storytelling game about having fun, and DMs have to adjudicate lots of little things that aren't strictly covered by the rules. If allowing this makes the game more fun and interesting for your table, and doesn't unbalance things, then there's no real reason to shut it down.

(For my part, I lean towards allowing creative mechanics like this if they're a one-off or strictly worse than the normal case, but look to disallow them if they become standard MO that gets used regularly. In this case, since you have to give up your action on round X to create the arrow fired on round X+1 - and thus attack half as often as usual - I don't think there would be any issues.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Given that in most of the games I'm in, nobody even bother to track ammunition (unless it's special) then even though it's not RAW there's a good chance the GM would allow it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Turksarama
    Apr 2, 2022 at 10:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ The phrasing is You create a nonmagical trinket or an illusory image that can fit in your hand and that lasts until the end of your next turn. I think a natural reading that has the size limit only applying to the illusion, not the trinket. Being a trinket already has implications for size, and as other answers point out, Sage Advice suggests the trinket table for examples, and all are something you could hold in one hand, but some would stick out. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2022 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes I definitely read it as You create a [trinket or image] that can fit... English is ambiguous about delimiting compound clauses though, so it could be either. (And even under your reading, the duration clause still might or might not apply to the trinket.) Yet another case of ambiguity for DMs to have to adjudicate on. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2022 at 22:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair point about duration. I'd chalk that up to imperfect wording choice by the authors, trying to keep it compact. I still think the most sensible reading (and one compatible with Sage Advice about trinkets) is [trinket or (image that fits in your hand)] with 1 round duration. The "and that" can collect the two previous clauses, trinket or small image. (It's also normal phrasing for your reading, so it doesn't rule out that reading.) The other way to square it with Sage Advice is to read "fit in your hand" as including easily-grippable things like a knife. Possibly not an arrow, though \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2022 at 0:33
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Maybe?

For the reasons cited in Adrzej Doyle's and Thomas Markov's answers, chances are, you aren't going to get your DM to agree to it.

However

One of the items in the Trinkets Table is "an ancient arrow of Elven design", which is a fairly good argument that an arrow could maybe be a trinket. Some old arrow is a far cry from actual battle-ready ammo, though, so it's not unreasonable for a DM to say no, an arrow's not a trinket, it's a weapon.

You should discuss with your DM. It might be the sort of thing that works in an exceptional circumstance, but that won't work if you try to use it all the time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Having an arrow on the trinket list is pretty strong support that you could create an arrow, nice catch. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ These "ancient arrow" is most probably a rusty arrowhead, the wood of the shaft having rot away years ago. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rekesoft
    Apr 1, 2022 at 9:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rekesoft Or an extraordinary piece of master craftwork. What the rules say is "an ancient arrow of Elven design". \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Apr 1, 2022 at 10:32
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Absolutely

As per sage advice,

What kinds of things count as “nonmagical trinkets” for prestidigitation?

Prestidigitation can create a little bauble, the nature of which is up to the spellcaster and the DM. See the Trinkets table in the Player’s Handbook for examples.

The trinkets table includes:

A knife that belonged to a relative

So we know a trinket can be sharp.

An ornate scabbard that fits no blade you have found so far.

So we know a trinket can be quite sizable.

An ancient arrow of elven design

So we know a trinket can be an arrow.

There’s every reason to interpret RAW to allow this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The common property of all those objects is being completely useless. As a DM, I would allow it on the condition that the arrow always fails to hit anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rekesoft
    Apr 1, 2022 at 9:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rekesoft if you think knives are useless in a fantasy setting, I don’t know what to tell you. The trinket list also contains a variety of clothes and musical instruments, many of which are perfectly functiona. No reason an arrow wouldn’t. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daniel B
    Apr 1, 2022 at 10:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say that, RAI, the trinkets list presents a series of objects such as you could find in an abandoned storeroom, commonly known in english as "garbage". The spell is called "prestidigitation" and is clearly intended to impress people with apparent displays of power which are actually useless. Even its lifetime is explicitely capped to prevent any kind of use as tools or weapons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rekesoft
    Apr 1, 2022 at 11:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rekesoft Nowhere is it indicated that the Trinkets list is ‘garbage’. It includes gold coins, multiple intricate and functioning mechanical automatons, various bits of jewelry, and more. And prestidigitation is certainly not intended to be useless, just minor. Starting a fire, cleaning clothes, heating and flavoring food… these are all small, but powerful and useful effects. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daniel B
    Apr 1, 2022 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ trinkets cannot cvount as anything already listed as something else (ammunition, weapons or such are already listed as not being trinkets) the sage advice rules indicated to take the table as EXAMPLES not the verbatim list. all weapons and ammo need to be removed they are not trinkets. Downvoted for missing the clarity ofth sage advice RAW writing (exmeple is only that, example not all things in the table are to be taken as such) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7, 2022 at 20:18
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It's not a good use of an action even if you can.

Prestidigitation has a casting time of 1 action. Casting it takes your first turn. The next turn you get to shoot 1 arrow. Two turns and all you did was shoot one arrow.

If you want a cantrip to use when out of arrows, any of the offensive cantrips will likely provide better bang-for-buck even taking into account potentially lower stat bonuses. This gets stronger at higher levels where you can fire multiple times a turn. Even then, most often closing to melee range or other situationally appropriate actions are going to be a more effective use of your action.

That said, outside of your idea of using it when you run out of ammo, it could have useful applications such as have a vanishing arrow for assassination (hattip: comment by aherocalledFrog) which could make it worth it in some niche situations. Your creativity is the limit.

RAW it's probably not allowed but it's the DM's call

The term trinket, to me, doesn't imply a natural language inclusion of an arrow (which would be ammunition) but the list of trinkets does include an arrow and a knife so it seems fair to allow it. But then it also specifies "fits in your hand" and I'd say an arrow doesn't. This kind of interpretation is down to the DM in your game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the best answer so far because it gets into some of the mechanical implications, and specifically mentions using an arrow for an attack makes it ammunition. I think it could be improved by the possible shenanigans that would normally be beyond the scope of a cantrip like this if allowed; I'm specifically thinking of a lethal but vanishing arrow for assassinations, but I'm sure there's more. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 1, 2022 at 14:36
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Ask your DM, but probably not.

The Sage Advice Compendium gives us some guidance here:

What kinds of things count as “nonmagical trinkets” for prestidigitation?

Prestidigitation can create a little bauble, the nature of which is up to the spellcaster and the DM. See the Trinkets table in the Player’s Handbook for examples.

To me, it does not seem that an properly crafted arrow capable of wounding fits with the trinkets on the Trinket table, but the official ruling from the SAC leaves it in the hands of the DM.

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