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In the core rule book, this is stated about conjuration spells:

A creature or object brought into being or transported to your location by a conjuration spell cannot appear inside another creature or object, nor can it appear floating in an empty space. It must arrive in an open location on a surface capable of supporting it.

But then the spell "Create Water" says this:

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, the normal rules for conjuration spells is that the conjured object must be conjured on a surface. But, the create water spell seems to suggest it can instead be conjured floating in the air.

When the description of create water says "possibly creating a downpour" I interpret this as an example of the spell's use, rather than additional features of the spell. Is this not the case? If this is the case, why is the spell allowed to break the normal conjuration rules that require conjured objects to be conjured on a surface?

When the description says "filling many small receptacles" to me that means creating water inside these many small receptacles. (Again, I interpret this as an example of the spell's use, and not extra rules, if this is wrong, then I guess thats my answer) But, conjurations are not allowed to conjure objects inside other objects. Why can create water do this?

This question is related to What is a reasonable result of Create Water directed above a targets head? but I want to specifically know if conjure water is allowed to break the normal conjuration rules, and if so, why it is allowed and what the limits are.

I guess one of the main things I am trying to understand is why the spell "create water" can break the "must create on a surface" rule of conjurations to create a downpour, but cannot break the same rule to create the effect of dumping a bucket of water, as is the answer in the linked question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As to why the spell may be or is allowed to break the standard rules for a conjuration spell, what kind of answer meets your expectations (e.g. experience having DMed the spell, careful reading, designer commentary)? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 10 '15 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Information related to a better understanding of the game's rules than I have would be my preference. But designer commentary would work as well. I guess house rules would work if there isn't anything else. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Feb 10 '15 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ To clarify. I'm not asking why the designers choose to make it this way. I'm asking why (based on my interpretation that the last part of the description is an example of use) according to the rules the spell is allowed to break the normal conjuration restrictions. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Feb 10 '15 at 16:47
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Of course it can.

The entire Pathfinder (and D&D 3e+) rules set is exception-based. There are general rules, and then more specific implementations break those rules. This is a case of that. Conjurations "generally work" like so, but this specific spell works differently. There's no justification needed, and no "limits" other than those game balance and good taste would recommend.

Why do staves use the wielder's DC? Why do intelligent items save differently than unintelligent ones? Exception based design is the only meaningful answer.

Now, the create water spell itself is reasonably clear in its own limits - though there's some GM discretion, and that's the topic of the other question you linked so I'm not repeating that here. But you can make other spells that are exceptions in other ways. Say, the Drench cantrip that works more like the "bucket of water" you are asking about. Or "summon tumor" that could summon a tumor inside yourself and break the "no conjuration inside a creature" rule.

A given spell has its limits when it's created (subject to subsequent exceptions, like metamagic feats). But you can create other spells with different limits.

Create Water itself says

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 means you have two distinct choices when casting it - in the smallest area needed to contain it, or spread over a 3x wide area (it does not allow for other options in between). The effects of doing the latter can include, for example, a downpour or filling many small receptacles. The first part of the sentence is rule, the second part is examples of resulting effects of the second choice. There is definitely room for GM interpretation as to what other examples of these two casting options are feasible.

But you didn't ask what, you asked "why?" Because. Because a game designer looked at that and said "that seems like a reasonably non-abusable description for a zero level spell. I don't want someone to die of thirst if they have this spell even if they don't own a 2g/level bucket. So sure, they can put it in a bunch of containers and/or have it spill out... And heck use it to wet down/irrigate an area. Sure, fine."

Where you get in trouble is trying to repurpose this to do damage or create status effects - because in general that's what other spells usually of higher level do. Hence Drench as a separate cantrip.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So what are the limits then? If you can conjure water to create a downpour, why not conjure water to create a bucket of water like effect? Both break the same rule: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/56516/21172 Also, am I incorrect in reading the last part of the description as a few suggestions as to the spell's use? Or is it actually part of the rules for how the spell works? \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Feb 10 '15 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Feb 10 '15 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is flatly wrong: rules text trumps examples. The quoted Conjuration school rule is rules text, the quoted text claiming to override it is a usage example, not rules text. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Feb 10 '15 at 23:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Text of a spell is rules text. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Feb 11 '15 at 0:07
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By strict RAW, no, it cannot. Rules text trumps examples. The text forbidding Creating Water into mid-air is rules text. The text which describes being able to do so is a usage example. Pathfinder has inherited a fair share of 3.x's notorious tendency to almost never have an example that follows all the rules. This is most visible in example characters. (There are many forum threads which attempt to determine whether any first-party 3.5 example character exists in which a rules error cannot be found. Few if any of these threads ever find one.) However, such errors are not at all limited to such characters: the very example you found was itself inherited word-for-word from the 3.5 PHB.

That said, allowing it in mid-air and most other such cases is an entirely reasonable house rule. The main thing to be careful of, is absolutely do not remove the limitation on doing it inside a creature without very thoroughly thinking through the implications and deciding how to keep its effects on your game in check, as that particular limitation, with this particular spell, is critical to keep a ubiquitous at-will ability available from first level from becoming a nearly unstoppable no-save-just-die.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Spell text isn't example text, it's rules text. The rule about rules trumping examples is for separate "let's show you how the rules work in the following example" that don't match the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 10 '15 at 23:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ That is the biggest point I am stuck on. To me it sounds like those are just examples that are possible ways to apply the existing rules. But, because it was in the spell description I was unsure. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Feb 10 '15 at 23:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Matt They are part of the spell's description of what it can do. Ergo, they're rules. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 11 '15 at 0:13

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