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Can I launch a Dust of Dryness pellet to Smash it at range?

The text for Dust of Dryness reads (DMG 166):

This small packet contains 1d6 + 4 pinches of dust. You can use an action to sprinkle a pinch of it over water. The dust turns a cube of water 15 feet on a side into one marble-sized pellet, which floats or rests near where the dust was sprinkled. The pellet's weight is negligible.

Someone can use an action to smash the pellet against a hard surface, causing the pellet to shatter and release the water the dust absorbed. Doing so ends that pellet's magic.

[...]

If I had a weapon that could launch the pellet, say a sling or slingshot, could I use my action to launch it at a distant object or wall, and "smash" it at range?

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Yes*, as long as it's the whole action.

"Smash" would permit slinging or throwing.

Dust of Dryness doesn't specify what kind of smashing is necessary (e.g., using a hammer) and smashing isn't otherwise specified in the rules, so it uses the standard English definition of the term. The definition from Merrian-Webster is

  1. : to break or crush by violence
  2. a : to drive or throw violently especially with a shattering or battering effect
    b : to hit violently : batter
    c (1) : to hit (something, such as a tennis ball) with a hard overhand stroke
      (2) : to drive (a ball) with a forceful stroke
  3. : to destroy utterly : wreck

Using a sling (or throwing it by hand) would fall well within the second definition and isn't particularly contradicted by the first or third.

*: ...but it may not have the same range.

The pellet's weight is negligible.

Sling bullets weigh 1.5lbs for 20 (I'm not sure why it doesn't specify it's for 20), or 1.2oz each, which is typical for a sling bullet. If they had a negligible weight that would impact how well they fly, since they'd be heavily affected by drag. "Negligible" is vague but would fall well below the density of a sling bullet, since, as MJ713 noted, the pellet floats. That's a potential point of contention worth clarifying with the DM. Personally, I'd allow it until/unless some sort of abuse vector arose.

It would need to be the full action.

Activating an item distinguishes items that require an action to activate from other magic items:

Activating some magic items requires a user to do something special, such as holding the item and uttering a command word. The description of each item category or individual item details how an item is activated. Certain items use the following rules for their activation.

If an item requires an action to activate, that action isn't a function of the Use an Object action, so a feature such as the rogue's Fast Hands can't be used to activate the item.

While it's primarily focused on the (non-)interaction with Fast Hands, it has the relevant aspect that it clarifies that it's taking up a full, normal action. This means that it can't be done as a single attack as part of an attack action, etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ RE: the weight of the pellet: Besides the "negligible" description, we also know that it's light enough to float in water ("...one marble-sized pellet, which floats or rests near where the dust was sprinkled"). So it almost certainly weighs less than a sling bullet, unless it's significantly larger. \$\endgroup\$
    – MJ713
    Commented Apr 11 at 4:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to attach the pellet to something heavier. \$\endgroup\$
    – order
    Commented Apr 11 at 4:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MJ713 Good point, thanks; I'll add that in. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shivers
    Commented Apr 11 at 4:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM good thing that's what this answer states then : that this action isn't a function of the "Use an Object" action. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Apr 11 at 7:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack For "negligible" I assumed it was in context of the original 100 ton 15x15x15 foot cube. If the marble weighed as much as a normal marble, or a sling bullet, that would be negligible. I think the bit about "floating" is more significant, making it definitely lighter than something you'd easily throw. But a player could get around that by wrapping it with clay or something. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 11 at 22:58

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