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This is my first D&D campaign and I'm one of the players. Our truly fabulous DM has created a majestic homebrew of a campaign and world. We're at one point in the story where we found an old battlefield of the god of one of our clerics. Wooden arrows thicker than a normal sized humanoid can wrap their arms around are buried in the desert sand. The shafts above ground that we can see are 30-40ft high in the sky. When our party did our utmost best to use a mix of create water and shape water and elbow grease digging, and also a druid-turned-badger digging, we found that the tip of this arrow is 30-40ft buried below sand as well.

The whole reason I looped my party into trying to dig this thing out in the first place was because I thought it'd be cool if our blacksmith could use the pointy part of the weapon used by a god to fashion a weapon of some sort too. Especially because we'll probably be fighting against the god that this arrow-god fought against way back when at some point, potentially.

All we've managed to excavate is a 15ft circle down around the arrow, and a narrower hole dug 40ft into the sand by our druid-badger. The question now is how we get any part of the metal out. Is there a spell that can carve out god-level metal so we can take some out? Is there a spell/way for us to lift this entire arrow out, when it probably weighs about as much as a tree at least?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello there! Thank you for your contribution to the RPG Stack Exchange. Since you are a new user we recommend taking a tour of the site and looking at the Help Center. I have a couple suggestions to improve your question. Adding a tag about the specific edition of DnD that you are playing will greatly improve the usability of answers (different editions have a wide variety of spells). Additionally, letting us know the level range of your characters will allow us to give specific answers to solve the situation you present. Thank you for your question! \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13 at 4:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Telling us what level your party is would also be helpful, if you do not want a general answer about spells like wish, but about ways you have access to. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13 at 6:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since nobody's said it yet, I advise you to tell us what classes the people in your campaign have taken, so we know what spells are available to you. Also, do you actually know that it's god level metal, as opposed to something as mundane as steel? \$\endgroup\$
    – Daemons
    Apr 23 at 0:03

4 Answers 4

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Dig a really big hole!

Dry sand requires a sloping angle of 34°. In a desert, you would need tons of water to keep the sand wet for the 15-30° angle. So you need to dig out a cone that in the center is 35 feet deep, and has a slope of 34°. The shaft is bigger than "what one man can put the arms around", so the circumference would be about... a little over 2 meters. That's a radius of roughly \$\frac 1 \pi \text m = 0.318\ \text m\$, or something around one foot in radius, so 2 feet in diameter is the minimum. Let me sketch that up for you, measurements in feet:

Sketch of the required hole

You need to dig a hole stretching about 52 feet from the shaft. In turn this means you'd need to move about 104400 cubic feet of sand, which is the volume of the cone stump without the shaft. A cubic foot of sand weighs "just" about 100 pounds on the dry side, so we are talking about sand that weighs more than 5220 US tons.

Mold The Earth!

Well, you are lucky, Mold Earth to the Rescue? Each casting can move a 5 foot cube 5 foot over. So let's see how often you need to cast it... You need 9 casts alone to unearth a 10 foot deep hole around the shaft, and each extra cast will not do a lot more depth as you need to move exponentionaly more sand each casting... So you'd be spending months casting just Mold Earth and not finish. Using a shovel and buckets would be much faster!

Smaller hole!

We can reduce the size of hole you need to make by using Fabricate. Sand is the raw material for Glass or sandstone. So a single cast of Fabricate can create an object from raw material that fits into a 5-foot cube. As such, Our excavation can be much smaller, as we stabilize the walls with a glass or sandstone "sleeve":

Volume to be excavated with sleeved walls Each "step" is 5 feet wide and long, and 3.37 feet deep. It represents one cast of Mold earth to unearth, and One cast of Fabricate to stabilize as we form the sleeve per 5-foot cube.

Let's see how many: 10 casts create the top trench by creating a 2 inch glass sheet on either side, 9 for the 2nd layer, 8 for the 3rd and so on. So 55 casts of Fabricate - a 4th level spell.

Then there's the mold earth spells... 10 get the first layer out. BUT, the 2nd layer requires some more logistics: we need one cast to get the last step's sand on the first step of our trench, then another to get it out. So 2 to get the first step free, but each cube behind that needs to be moved further to the start: One more for the 1st cube not on the stair, 2 for the 2nd, and so on. So let's map out how many casts we need for each cube of earth...

cummulated casts of mold earth per cube of the Step

Summing it all up gets us a neat 340 casts of Mold Earth, interspaced into the Fabricate casts. So... we're still talking about 2 months in fabricate, but 85 days in Mold Earth spells if nobody starts shoveling. With enthusiastic shovellers and 8th level it's just about one month to get to the tip of the godly arrow. Do you have that time?!

Reduce-self-lift

Nobody suggested to cast reduce and try to lug it, but we are standing in sand. Sand which only can keep up a 34° angle on its own. Casting Reduce turns our 2-foot-diameter shaft into a 1-foot-diameter one. Just making sure that the arrow can't fall, for example by stinging it up with long ropes that lead over the top of the other arrows and keep the center of the arrow at earth level.

As the sand pours into the hole (or is actively poured in with shovels and casts of mold earth) the hole below is filled to about half it's depth.

The Reduce ends, the arrow tip now pushes into the ground and as it expands pushes itself up. Now it's only a quarter of its length in the ground. Re-seat the ropes to earth level, repeat and this time the arrow should come straight out of the hole, allowing you to just push it over like a cut tree.

As a 2nd-level spell, this only requires a single day of work for any 3rd-level caster with access to the spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I love the fact that you linked actuall scientific paper :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Maxxer
    Apr 14 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just had an Polyphemus/Odysseus/Nemo/Nobody moment reading the last section of this answer, where you said "Nobody suggested to cast reduce". Definitely threw my brain for a loop there. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14 at 1:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can't wait for the ability to bounty this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – order
    Apr 14 at 4:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I entirely love this answer, it reminds me of the one you made for barrel stacking. Just one consideration maybe: if these arrows are the result of some past divine battle of epic proportions, and stick there from having been shot, they would not stick in the sand vertically as depicted, but at some angle. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14 at 10:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another possibility besides Mold Earth is the 6th level spell Move Earth, which is helpfully nonspecific as to what happens to any removed material, so presumably it's just magic'd away. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 15 at 22:43
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Answering for

Try Reduce

This spell is availabale through all editions of D&D. The 5e version says:

You cause a creature or an object you can see within range to grow larger or smaller for the duration. Choose either a creature or an object that is neither worn nor carried. [...] The target's size is halved in all dimensions, and its weight is reduced to one-eighth of normal.

Arrows are objects. Objects do not get a saving throw, and the spell is only 2nd level, so it should be available early on. It will turn that 80 foot arrow into a much smaller, lighter 40-foot long one.

A cubic foot of wood weighs about 50 pounds, depending on the type, and the circumference a medium sized humanoid could wrap their arms around is about their arm span, so the circumference of the arrow is a bit more than 6 feet, which means the radius is a bit more than 1 foot, and the volume per foot of shaft is a bit more than pi x 12 x 1 cubic feet per foot of length, or a bit more than 3 cubic feet. Let's take 4 cubic feet to be safe, and you get 200 pounds per foot. That will make the 80-foot arrow weigh at most 16,000 pounds.

The reduced arrow will weigh 1/8 of that, or 2,000 pounds. A medium character in 5e can drag 30 times their strength in pounds, and and larger creatures can drag double that. An average party of four with Strength scores of 10, with some riding horses, donkey or similar pack animals would have enough strenght to pull it out using a rope. Because ropes have a limited amount of weight they can bear before tearing apart, it would probably be good to double or quadruple the rope.

The arrow being much smaller should also make the arrow loose enough to pull out, at least for a short moment before the earth caves in on it (if it does).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course, this begs the question, would god metal be affected by a measly second level spell? And if it can, would it really be worth it? \$\endgroup\$
    – No Name
    Apr 13 at 21:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NoName I think its not the question here, but for a DM, picking up on the players' contribution and running with it to make the arrowhead part of the story sounds much more engaging to me, than being a spoilsport and just saying no. The first leads to collaborative storytelling, the second is just telling the players their ideas don't matter. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13 at 22:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, yes, true. I guess I'm just paranoid. \$\endgroup\$
    – No Name
    Apr 13 at 22:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting weight is reduced by 7/8ths instead of by half... \$\endgroup\$
    – Daemons
    Apr 23 at 0:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daemonic it is because it is halved for each of the 3 dimensions height, width, breadth, so 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/8 \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24 at 19:21
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Answer for D&D 5e

D&D as any other tabletop RPGs rewards immersive play. From what you saying I assume your GM created a believable world. Other answers gave you more mechanical / party solutions which are fine (Personally, I love the answer provided by @Trish) so I thought I'd give you a more world resource-using answer.

If there is some city near your party you can try to persuade its ruler to organize expedition to dig it (some combination of quest completion, bard's persuasion and suggestion or similar spell should suffice). Let's say to help make this city locally powerful or whatever its king will fall for :). That way you can dig it out with help of city inhabitants.

That's only one example, but your party can try to use world to your advantage. Be creative.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The question doesn’t mention which edition of D&D it’s referring to, so it’s important to denote that in your answer. I assume you’re answering for 5e? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Yes, but I think it's easy abstractable and applicable for other editions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Maxxer
    Apr 14 at 12:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like that your core suggestion is to us role play as an approach. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21 at 23:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I prefer your approach to the (albeit fun) mechanistic approach in the other answers. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 22 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Thanks. This approach requires, however, the key assumption that gm creates immersive and believable world. Amy Liu is very fortunate to play with such a gm, I think \$\endgroup\$
    – Maxxer
    Apr 22 at 15:38
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Remove the shaft first

The shaft is just wood, and you only want the metal. So you should start by removing the shaft.

One option might be to set it on fire. Wood burns, after all!

You've mentioned that your druid can turn into a badger; perhaps they can turn into a beaver as well, and gnaw through the shaft?

A third option would be just to take an axe to it, down at the bottom of the hole.

Once you've done that, you're left with just the arrowhead. It should then be possible to tie some ropes to it and pull it out through the existing hole that your druid dug.

(If you can't lift the arrowhead then this whole exercise is impossible -- there'd be no way to get it home! So we'll assume that you can lift it, once the wood is removed.)

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