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The spell Freezing Sphere allows you to create a small globe about the size of a sling stone, cool to the touch that appears in your hand, and after one minute explodes into 10d6 or more cold damage in a 60-foot radius.

The spell Teleport allows you to teleport a single object that you can see within range, to a destination you select.

Can a wizard teleport a freezing sphere globe shortly before explosion to bomb from the safety of their study or tower any place of their choice?

Assume they also have Scrying to investigate their targets, or other ways to obtain an object from the target location to ensure teleport success.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like a good plotline for an adventure... the good king hires the party to find & shut down whoever has been nuking the castle with freeze-bombs. Then halfway thru the quest, they start getting nuked (or at least near-missed) themselves. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ralph J
    Jun 6 at 16:21

5 Answers 5

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Depends whether your DM considers the small globe created by Freezing Sphere to be an object, and, more generally, how open they are to their campaign embracing mutually assured destruction.

Some spells/abilities specifically call out created things as objects, others don't - referred to as 'item' or specific description of whatever it is 'the XYZ'. The rules can get a bit weird if nothing that isn't specifically called out as an object isn't counted as one, and many people are going to think that doesn't make sense (there is also no rule stating this - see below). Most DMs will rule that you can for example pick up the small globe with Mage Hand or try to launch it through an arrow slit with Catapult.

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 is basically what determines if something is an object, although objects are alluded to in a lot of other vaguely defining senses. Under this, a small globe that you (or anyone else) can pick up and throw almost certainly counts. For extra bonus points, a crystal globe (an object) is a material component of the spell and nearly anyone would assume that the spell is referring to that globe (or a very similar one) in its description.

However, this situation is ripe for the most common source of the banhammer in 5e games - 'interpreting the rules'. Across forums and from some games I've sat in on (I would not play a game like this) it seems to be very common advice or practice to interpret the often loosely-worded 5e rules to deter optimization considered beyond the pale. Given a vague rule buried in the DMG and an easy loophole, any DM who wishes to ban this practice can do so without creating a houserule (considered very bad for some reason, especially in groups without anyone who has ever played DnD until recently) by deciding the globe is a 'spell effect' and not 'an inanimate object such as a small globe'.

There are a lot of ways an 11th level Wizard can break 5e DnD and destroy his, her or its foes from complete and utter safety if given time. Freezing Sphere is not even one of the more efficient methods, unless your foes are groups of low hp enemies conveniently clustered for maximum effect (the local college who poo poo'd your research paper, for example). It is a relatively straightforward method that doesn't rely on moving parts, allies, dice rolls or mind control though so it has that going for it.

Regardless, if like many DMs the DM at whichever table this is doesn't want to consider such things as Magically Assured Destruction or secret cross-national archmagi pacts against long-distance magical weaponry, they likely won't want the player characters to be doing this. The NPCs won't because the DM doesn't want them to, and the PCs won't because the DM will say 'no' (or find some convoluted, theoretically-RAW way to say no).

So, can Freezing Spheres be teleported? Yeah, probably. Even if some guy on twitter says otherwise, you can just glue it to a squirrel and teleport that at just the right moment. Or whatever, there are workarounds.

But whether you can teleport a Freezing Sphere in your game depends on the DM and the social contract at your table. Because that kind of game - about brinksmanship, inter-university politics and interplanar early warning systems - is not necessarily the kind of game that everyone sat down and agreed to play.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Excellent answer, except I didn't assume the material component becomes or is part of the magical orb. Spells don't really say whether components with insignificant cost are "expended", and often material components are just representations with aspects similar to the spell. "Streaks from your fingertips" suggests against including the physical orb, I think. \$\endgroup\$
    – aschepler
    Jun 4 at 12:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer. Especially the point that it is easy RAW to get around the "object definiton" objection anyways, by making it carried by a small animal. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4 at 12:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin "CASTING!" "READY!" The wizard casting freezing sphere, the barbarian holding the squirrel, the rogue with the pot of glue, a series of wooden boxes labeled '1-9', the Sorcerer with an hourglass counting down and a readied action to cast Teleport. "FIRST ORB, CAST!" "GLUED!" "Sixty seconds!" "Counting down for teleport!" "CASTING! SECOND ORB, CAST!" "GLUED!" "COUNTING!" "GET READY!" "Don't miss the timing!" "6,5,4,3,2, CAST" Squirrel disappears, "6, 5, 4, 3, 2, CAST!" Second squirrel disappears. Castle far away: ice blooms amidst squirrels and screams. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jun 5 at 5:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin that's why you make a simulacrum to do it, and make them do the initial teleporting, and YOU are the one who brings them back. Trust no-one, not even yourself. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jun 5 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin what if the squirrel is actually a dead squirrel? That would be an object cause it’d be a corpse. Simple solution! \$\endgroup\$ Jun 5 at 15:03
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Up to DM interpretation

If teleporting objects as an attack is on the table, the DM will need to rule, and a standing house rule may be useful.

Regarding freezing sphere

Teleport requires "a single object that you can see within range".

As other answers have pointed out, freezing sphere describes the sphere as a "small globe about the size of a sling stone", but does not name it an object, so the DM has to decide.

Arguments for "it's an object"

  • The spell describes the sphere as a "thing". You can touch it, throw it, hurl it with a sling, and it shatters on impact. Sounds like an object. The rules are pretty open-ended on what's an object. Lots of things in the game are clearly objects without being described as such; for instance, arrows and sling bullets are described as "items", the word object is never used. Clearly they're objects.

Arguments for "it's not an object"

It's a spell, duh. A spell is:

A spell is a discrete magical effect, a single shaping of the magical energies that suffuse the multiverse into a specific, limited expression.

It doesn't matter whether it's an object or not

Because the enterprising PC will just look for something else to teleport.

At the risk of reading between the lines, I don't think the asker is trying to exploit freezing sphere, I think they are trying to exploit teleport. If the frozen sphere is not an object, the next step is to teleport something else that is an object, that will cause damage.

Okay, if I can't teleport freezing sphere's sphere, what about explosives? Flaming oil?

Then the next point of contention is that teleport says "a single object". What does that mean? The rules also say an object can be made up of other objects. So the enterprising PC will be trying to see how much flaming oil or whatever they can fit into a single "object".

What matters is your game

A way of playing D&D is to imagine how the rules work separate from any game, to treat the rules as a deterministic machine. If I pull this lever here, this happens; if I push this button, that happens.

Some players spend time out of session imagining how things work, so they can do clever things in the session. Some players spend a great deal of time playing this way, others barely think about the game between sessions.

This hypothetical musing is useful up to a point, but in the end, it only matters (other than being a fun pastime by itself) in how it affects a particular game.

The rules are not a deterministic machine

Because once the rules don't say, the DM needs to adjudicate; the rules just aren't a completely deterministic machine. They are explicitly not.

From the Introduction to the DMG:

The rules don’t account for every possible situation that might arise during a typical D&D session.

The introduction to the Sage Advice Compendium says:

The game’s rules are meant to help organize, and even inspire, the action of a D&D campaign. The rules are a tool, and we want our tools to be as effective as possible. No matter how good those tools might be, they need a group of players to bring them to life and a DM to guide their use.

And also:

The DM is key. Many unexpected things can happen in a D&D campaign, and no set of rules could reasonably account for every contingency. If the rules tried to do so, the game would become unplayable. An alternative would be for the rules to severely limit what characters can do, which would be counter to the open-endedness of D&D.

Making the call

The DM and the players together make the rules come alive. It's the DM's call to decide what works when the rules don't say (or to override the rules), but the players shape those decisions, too.

Many games will never need to address the question of teleporting freezing sphere's sphere. They won't get to high-enough level play, or if they do, it just won't ever come up.

Discussing out of session

It can be useful to discuss these things out of session, so that valuable session time is not used up by rules lawyering.

Snap decisions

Sometimes the there's no time. The PC just tries it and the DM has to make a decision. Sometimes theoretical rulings are of limited use. In the introduction in the DMG, the paragraph that begins:

The rules don’t account for every possible situation that might arise during a typical D&D session.

goes on to describe an adjudication. The key takeaway is not how to adjudicate throwing a brazier at a monster, there are many ways to successfully adjudicate that particular or any particular situation. The key takeaway is that it's okay to make on-the-spot adjudications taking into account all the circumstances of the game at that time.

It's good that there's room in the rules so that desperate last ditch attempt when everything is on the line, maybe it works...this time.

The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions

Sometimes, the out-of-session discussion is just talk. Sometimes, the players just need to try something, and see how it plays out.

What is fun?

Attacking by teleporting objects is potentially broken, because if you can just kill monsters by teleporting in freezing spheres or explosives or whatever, then why ever actually attack?

And worse, if it works for the PCs, shouldn't it work for the monsters, too?

House rules

My recommendation is that the DM makes a house rule for this particular game to address these circumstances.

Possibilities:

  • Perhaps much like teleport's destination uncertainty, there is an uncertainty in teleporting volatile objects. Sure, you can teleport the frozen sphere, but there's a chance that teleport will set it off before the teleport.

  • Perhaps it requires an arcana check. Fail the arcana check and the teleport is wasted.

  • Make teleport not be pinpoint precise at longer ranges (courtesy user2754).

  • Anti-teleport wards of some kind be long duration and accessible for thinking enemies (courtesy user2754).

What really matters is house rules that work for your table.

An example

We were faced with a situation involving teleport where we made a house rule.

The PCs wanted to teleport in on a bunch of mind flayers and so get the drop on them.

The DM had a couple of concerns. They were concerned that it wouldn't be much fun if every big encounter involved either the PCs teleporting in, getting surprise, and devastating the monsters before they ever got a shot in. They also pointed out that if it works for the PCs it should work for the monsters. The PCs had experienced being attacked by high level monsters where most of the PCs were surprised the first round, and had expressed that as a regular style of play it wouldn't be much fun.

So we (the DM and the players together) came up with a house rule that teleporting by itself does not give you surprise.

This particular house rule may or may not make much sense to you. It doesn't matter. The point is, we made a rule that made it work for us.

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    \$\begingroup\$ -1, hacky solution. If you don't want teleganking, make teleport not be pinpoint precise at longer ranges, or anti-teleport wards of some kind be long duration and accessible for thinking enemies, or any number of other things. 'Volatile objects interrupt teleports' is really really really really lazy worldbuilding, and solutions to this exact problem abound on the internet - enterprising players have been teleganking for a very long time (although, probably in 3e the most). \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jun 4 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi @Jack I like how you keep spreading the good word of “rulings, not rules” in nearly every answer. Makes me think of Cato’s “Ceterum Censeo”. To not have you guessing between the lines, my wizard has freezing sphere and freshly leveled into teleport. We have to deal with a fortress full of hobgoblins. In musing what to do, this was one of the ideas that came up. We’re unlikely to do it, because we rather want to surgically eliminate their leadership and take over command and this approach would achieve the opposite. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack i've removed the downvote, as there's now a list of suggestions (you definitely don't need to credit me). Overall though, the answer feels like it halfway says 'pick an option that fits the game' which I agree with, and halfway says 'ban exploits' which I don't. Not sure if that that was the intended meaning, but that's what I get from reading it. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jun 5 at 5:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ruling that teleport alone doesn't give surprise seems to lack narrative justification. Or isn't helpful, because most creatures most of the time aren't on guard ready for a fight, especially when they're at home. Perhaps the arrival side of a teleport has some visible magic before the creatures fully appear and can act, like a Star Trek transporter beaming someone down? They phase in, so creatures that see it and are at least somewhat ready for trouble have time to react. (Keeping the game fun trumps a lack of narrative justification, but you'd like both when possible.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 6 at 0:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ We actually specifically decided to not worry about the narrative justification too much. We decided it took a fraction of a second or something. While in a theoretical sense maybe that seems lame, but the exact details weren't as important to us as whatever we were on about at the moment and we've had plenty of things to deal with since. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Jun 6 at 1:00
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No, you can not.

As quoted, the Teleport spell allows to teleport a single object instead of creatures:

[...], or a single object that you can see within range, to a destination you select. If you target an object, it must be able to fit entirely inside a 10-foot cube, and it can't be held or carried by an unwilling creature.

Although the globe created by the Freezing Sphere spell satisfies the dimension requirement and it is carried by a willing creature (the caster themself), it is not an object, hence it is not a valid target for the Teleport. Indeed, when a spell creates an object (in game terms) the description specifies that: see for example Arcane Hand (emphasis mine):

The hand is an object that has AC 20 and hit points equal to your hit point maximum.


As a DM probably I would allow this, mainly for the following reasons:

  • This is a creative, although very powerful, idea of combining spells.
  • There is a legal workaround according to the rules: just put the small globe inside an object (such as a small jewerly chest) and teleport this object. You can do this since the spell description states that

You can also set the globe down without shattering it

  • The caster is using 2 high level slots; moreover, until level 20 there is just one 7th level slot available.

Anyway, I would put some caveats:

  • An INT(Arcana) check for successfully combining this two spell, beside using the table in the Teleport spell. The DC should be quite high, since a caster with 7th level slots usually have at least +10 in INT(Arcana) checks.
  • If the check is successful but not higher than DC+5 (e.g. the DC is 22 and the caster rolls 24), the caster suffer from at least one exhaustion level. This is inspired by consequences of Saving Throws that fail by 5 or more, like the one triggered by a Drow's Hand Crossbow Attack.
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 I think you identified the key question: is the globe an object, or not? Normally, I think magical effects are not objects, and if you decide it is not the answer is correct. I also think it is not. I'm just not sure about it, in this case. It feels quite object-y. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4 at 8:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the frosted ruins of a town, where a GM allowed casters to teleport spheres of frost, and as a result archmages demanding different political goals started to frostbomb the population into submitting to one or the other camp. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jun 4 at 8:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish: this certainly would lead to exploitable tactics. As Eddymage says, it is costly to do this, but on the other hand, outside of dedicated efforts to track you down with divinations (which you can counteract as a wizard, e.g. with Arcane Sanctum), entirely risk free. You could start dismantling opposing fortified holds at no risk. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4 at 8:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Trish This also depends on how rare characters who can cast 7th level spells are. \$\endgroup\$
    – aschepler
    Jun 4 at 12:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hobbamok The web from the Web spell is a magical effect, not an object. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Jun 7 at 9:02
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The rules demand an object

Teleport does demand an object or creature that can be teleported. It does not say it can teleport magical effects, so it can't.

The Frost Sphere spell does not explicitly say that the sphere is an object. If the spell doesn't say so, it is not so, so it is by default not an object but a magical effect.

So as a result, the two can not be combined.

I would never allow this

World consistency Argument

If you are GM, you have to not only think about the rule of cool, but you have to also think of the consistency of the world. Your players are most certainly not the first to think of this combination of spells, so it would be established in the world's canon if you can do this. So, unless the GM already established that this does work, it simply does not work because no great or really depraved mind has made the thing before and it was possible before.

The counterargument that "this is something novel" only can fly if the magic that makes either spell possible has only been invented very recently, such as if Teleport was invented pretty much last year, and even then, the players would most likely not be the first to try it.

WOMD-Exploits are no good play Argument

Now, here comes why I would never allow this or similar flashy exploits that combine spells for similar effects: This exploit would be pretty much retaliation-free frostbombing of any place.

What's fair for Players is Fair for the GM!

Let's presume that the GM allows this combination. This means the GM is also allowed to frostbomb any place at any time using their evil archmages. Which in turns means, that those absolutely will frostbomb the world to get them to do what they want.

Being Instabombed is no fun

This in turn would not make for a very good campaign. The moment a group that wants to unseat an evil frostbombing mage comes into range of the scrying and teleportation spells, and they are not under constant spells that prevent teleport, a frostbomb will go off right next to them when they are vulnerable enough to get killed by it - or just to interrupt their long rest. It did open a can of Pandora: if you are powerful enough to do this, why don't you use it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I hate to break it to you, but there are quite a few ways to remotely attack people as an evil archmage. Especially if you have 2 or more mid-to-high-level wizards, scenarios with readying actions etc can lead to some quite heinous combinations. The argument that this combination alone enables that scenario is specious, as many spells (without even looking at monsters) already enable this state of affairs. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jun 4 at 10:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Trish then you should probably note in your answer that you are heavily rebalancing 5e D&D or operating your table under the tacit assumption of 'anything like this or too flashy will be banned' which your players understand. That's not an automatic assumption or rule, and while it is quite common in a specific culture of gaming, it's far less common outside it (sometimes to the point of being specifically disliked). \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jun 5 at 5:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I totally do not agree that allowing this leads to WOMD, due to the number of spell slots and all the countermeasures that one can put in place and all the ruling that a DM can make. Your arguments does not feel so strong to me, but that's fine, what I like in cases like this one is that DnD (5ed) leaves a lot of room to each table in adapting, interpreting and applying rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Jun 5 at 8:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, for any sufficiently large state this ceases to be a problem. They have their high level clerics cast Forbiddance on all major population centers, excluding selected squares that allow for convenience teleportation. The moment one state starts doing this, every other state will as well, thus making the use of the technique moot. We even have evidence of a single high level mage (Halastar) doing this on his own private domain (Undermountain) on his own. Using this for terror or war, like this, defeats itself almost immediately (and indeed is counter productive). \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Jun 5 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Trish so you just ban the Teleportation spell in general? I mean a barrel of hot flaming oil is by any means just an object and I'd say it does a ton of damage as well \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Jun 7 at 8:46
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Unequivocally Yes

The spell creates a small globe that you can hold in your hand. If that is not an object, albeit a magical object, then I don't know what is. Teleport can be applied to an object. Ice bombs away!

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