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From the core rule book, the spell "create water" includes the following:

Water can be created in an area as small as will actually contain the liquid, or in an area three times as large—possibly creating a downpour or filling many small receptacles.

This sounds like there might be an upper limit to the volume of the container in which you can create your water, but that seems like a strange arbitrary restriction. Is there actually an upper limit to the size of the container in which you can cast create water? If not, why are the words "or in an area three times as large" included?

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It doesn't actually put a limit on the container, just the size of the effect.

  • The lower limit just says that the area1 of effect must be at least as great as the volume of the liquid you're creating. This prevents you from creating compressed water (which is a phenomenal power source—or weapon—in the hands of an engineer).

  • The upper limit just says you can only spread the appearing water out by so much. This prevents you from using it to, I don't know, fake a sudden rainshower or something. I'm sure creative players could achieve shenanigans if there was no limit on the dispersal volume of created water.

Neither limits the container, only the cubic volume of the effect. Naturally these limits dictate a few details about any containers that you do use in conjunction with this spell, but such limits are an indirect consequence of the limits on area of effect, which exist for their own reasons that aren't about containers.

  1. "Volume of effect"? "Region of effect"? The game-term of "area", not the geometrical term! Just so long as I don't get called out for conflating area and volume.
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There is indeed a limit to how big the area can be. Since the spell creates 2/gallons per level (which is a fixed amount) upping the area will allow gaps in the water created. The example given is "create a downpour", which would basically be a field of raindrops instead of a single blob or "multiple containers", for example to fill 5 nearby jugs of 1 gallon each.

Limiting the area like this prevents you from bringing down the water scattered over the entire spell's range (which could grow to be quite large and makes it hard to determine just how much water will fall) or forcing you to obtain a huge container to gather all of the 30 gallons of water in.

(But honestly, the restriction seems a bit silly to me and I see no good reason to include it)

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From the description-

Water can be created in an area as small as will actually contain the liquid, or in an area three times as large—possibly creating a downpour or filling many small receptacles.

So, if you take a 30g container (such as a fish tank) you can completely fill an area 36" x 12" x 16". 3x that is 48" x 18" x 24" (90g). If you squeeze the water down to 1" in depth, your square area is 142" x 142" (Approx, that is slightly less than 90g). So you can extrapolate to figure out any 90 gallon volume that you would like.

If you go down to 1/4 inch depth (Such as wanting to water an area), then you can "cover" an area just slightly less than 24' x 24'. It won't create a rainstorm of fame and legend, but if you wanted to douse an area fire of some sort, you could calculate the area and amount of water that would be necessary.

(All calculations courtesy of the aquarium volume calculator, which is very handy for calculating any cubic volume)

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