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Fabricate is vague about what "raw materials" are, and I've concocted multiple scenarios that seem way overpowered for a 4th-level spell. The seemingly overpowered uses are as follows:

  1. As the spell has no clause about the created object being on a strong surface, you can drop hunks of stone (or anvils) on creatures and buildings, dealing up to 12d6 bludgeoning damage to creatures and/or objects underneath them, requiring only the element of surprise (and sufficient materials).
  2. A passwall that can be used to bore a 20 ft. deep hole through wood walls or 5 ft. deep through stone or other materials that a) can stack and b) is permanent until filled back in.

Are these uses overpowered compared to other spells of this level, given the 10 minute casting time?

Fabricate

4th-level transmutation
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

You convert raw materials into products of the same material. For example, you can fabricate a wooden bridge from a clump of trees, a rope from a patch of hemp, and clothes from flax or wool.

Choose raw materials that you can see within range. You can fabricate a Large or smaller object (contained within a 10-foot cube, or eight connected 5-foot cubes), given a sufficient quantity of raw material. If you are working with metal, stone, or another mineral substance, however, the fabricated object can be no larger than Medium (contained within a single 5-foot cube). The quality of objects made by the spell is commensurate with the quality of the raw materials.

Creatures or magic items can’t be created or transmuted by this spell. You also can’t use it to create items that ordinarily require a high degree of craftsmanship, such as jewelry, weapons, glass, or armor, unless you have proficiency with the type of artisan’s tools used to craft such objects.

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    \$\begingroup\$ An “element of surprise” might also be hard to come by with a casting time of 10 minutes. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 20 at 17:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the terrain fits, you could form the heavy object just off a cliff. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Jun 20 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain how these two potential uses work? Fabricate says nothing about you getting to choose where the object gets created, only that you chose a raw material to use. Lets say there's a rock on the ground, and you use Fabricate to turn rock (raw material) into stone block (product). The DM will simply state that the stone block appears in the spot that the rock was initially. Similarly, turning a hunk of stone from a wall into a stone block won't actually move the stone, so won't be that helpful for tunneling. \$\endgroup\$
    – Scott
    Jun 21 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Scott, I think you can argue that the object can be created anywhere within range. Otherwise the example with creating a bridge from a lump of trees would not make a lot of sense. You do not want to create a bridge in the forest, you want it over the river. (Granted, the spell does not say "a bridge over a river", so the DM can rule you get a bridge that is no use to you). \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 5:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin: Though since it's 4th level, it's eligible for the Chronurgy wizard's Arcane Abeyance (level 10 feature), so you could spend the 10 minutes casting at some safe location, store it in a mote, travel to the target for up to an hour, then single action Fabricate at that point (you don't even have to do it; someone else can release the mote, using their own crafting abilities if necessary). Arcane Abeyance opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities for level 4 and below spells that were originally limited by their casting time. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 13:51

3 Answers 3

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This is by no means overpowered

Thomas' answer covers the ambiguities of what counts as raw material in depth: this is not further defined and hence up to your DM.

I'd like to focus on the body of your question: if you decide that rock and wooden walls are raw materials and that you can create the object anywhere in the spell's range1, will these uses create abusable power for a fourth level spell?

  1. If you want to fabricate a heavy block of stone, it is only going to be a 5 foot cube, and will affect a single target. One time 12d6 bludgeoning is not broken for fourth level. Blight deals 8d8 of a much better damage type (necrotic), 85% as much, and sucks. A plain fireball at third level deals 8d6 fire to four2 targets for a sum total of 32d6 damage, outclassing this easily. What's more, a casting time of 10 minutes makes this utterly useless in combat, and hard even to pull off in secret, as spellcasting is perceptible. So this surely is not overpowered.

  2. The second exploit on wooden walls is rather useless: I have never seen a wooden wall 20 foot deep. Not even the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief had walls thicker than 5 feet. The stone version is more useful, but does exactly the amount of tunnel Stone Shape can do, only it takes ten minutes to do so rather than one action. Again this certainly is not overpowered. (It also is a question how statically stable such tunnels will be without support beams ... up to the DM.)

What is speaking for Fabricate is the flexibility. You can build stuff. You might be able to make a tunnel with it. In an extremely rare fringe case, you might dump a piece of rock on someone. That's cool. It's not broken, power-wise.


1 The spell does not specify where the object is created, and a DM could rule that the conversion takes place as close as possible to the raw materials. I think the example of creating a bridge from a lump of trees suggests you can create the object anywhere within Range, as you would want the bridge over a river, not in the woods. But the spell does not say "a bridge over a river".

2 Using the rule on p. 249 DMG to convert areas of effect to affected targets (which I think is conservative).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I will accept this tomorrow if nothing better appears. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Jun 20 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does dropping objects on people even do damage? I thought fall damage was on the falling creature/object only. \$\endgroup\$
    – Toddleson
    Jun 21 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Toddleson Sure does, e.g. look at p 122 DMG, Collapsing Roof sample trap, deals 4d10 bludgeoning. Not sure how the OP came up with his 12d6 but seems not to be unreasonable, considering a roof would not be quite as massive \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I saw a rule somewhere on this website for falling objects: Both the object and anything it hits take 1d6 bludgeoning damage per 10 feet fallen, up to a maximum of 20d6 (presumably with a Dex. save for creatures). \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Jun 21 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer would be helped by at least a mention of the difference between an object and a structure as (poorly) defined in the DMG. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Jun 22 at 16:24
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No

A) Fabricate requires the materials and 10 minutes to cast. That means you need a large rock and 10 minutes. However, if all you need is a large rock in under 10 minutes you can probably have your fighter get one in about that time. Sure, this won’t work in desert, but Fabricate won’t work in the desert either, since you will have sand, not stone. All in all you will have just wasted a 4th level slot for something a strong party member can do for free. That doesn’t even cover the fact that you need to find a place to throw it off of and the strength to do so.

B) Passwall works without causing structural instability. If you are doing this in an underground dungeon that may be important to you.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A) The idea is that you create the hunk of stone in midair. B) Maybe you want "structural instability. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Jun 21 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @User23415: Or you can Fabricate a support pillar. Of course in solid stone you'd only be able to make an object within a 5x5x5 cube, taking an equal volume of raw materials (but possibly of a different shape, so over many castings you could make a tunnel high enough for Medium creatures to stand up in, with 5ft high pillars to squeeze around occasionally.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 13:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm pretty sure that sand is a good enough raw material for a block of (sand)stone. Patching stuff together is pretty much the base functionality of this spell \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Jun 21 at 13:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hobbamok: That would depend how you interpret "The quality of objects made by the spell is commensurate with the quality of the raw materials." Whether loose sand is a viable raw material for making sandstone is highly non-obvious, since normally artisans don't make sandstone, they find sandstone where nature has already done that. Sand (quartz) could also arguably be raw material for making granite or large crystalline quarts blocks (like a grain of sand but much larger). \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @User23415 if the rock is in mid air then it has to drop at the 10 minute mark. If you know an enemy will stay in the same square for 10 minutes as you cast a spell and all you can do is two fireballs worth of damage then your character is poorly built. Also, if you have 10 minutes to create strural instability, you can probably use mining tools and create your hole in a bit more time. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 15:38
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It's up to the DM.

We have visited this question a few times on this stack before, in the form of "can I use fabricate on [material] to make [object]?":

On these first two questions in particular, you will find no shortage of disagreement about what "raw materials" means, and you will find that the most well received answers on each of those first two questions come to somewhat different conclusions.

The solution here is to ask your DM, ideally, prior to the time you try to use the spell. You are much more likely to reach a favorable resolution if you talk to your DM out of game prior to using the spell than if you gamble on the DM's ruling in the heat of combat or some other high stakes, fast paced situation. Whether or not your particular ideas are overpowered is exactly the sort of thing the DM will need to consider, and discussing it with them out of game will allow the two of you to workout a compromise if the DM thinks your ideas are a little too strong.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the casting time, it probably won't work in "the heat of combat" \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Jun 20 at 17:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @User23415 True, call it the "heat of [whatever tension filled situation you find yourself in]". The idea is that if you spring the plan on the DM without discussing it first, you're left having to go with whatever they decide in the moment. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 20 at 17:31

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