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One of the players was playing a Druid and they cast stone shape. Their goal was to have the stone trap an enemy by making a box around them. I jumped to the spell description to see exactly what it did, and due to the possible over-powered application of the spell being used this way I said that no, it wouldn't happen as you are basically molding the stone with your hands. You cant just slap your hands together, touch the stone floor and have it form around them.

Was the player using the spell in a way that was intended for the spell?

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They were using it as intended. The spell's duration is "instantaneous" and does not require handling the stone to form the shape, just touching it to deliver the spell. It can create barriers and boxes.

However, it does not have any provisions for targeting a creature directly with its constructions, and so it does not restrict you in how to resolve such events. Therefore, just as any event in which the success of failure of the effort is uncertain, you're within your role as GM to decide how to resolve the situation:

  • If the caster made a heavy slab protrude from a cave wall attached only by a fragile piece, so that it would break and fall on their foes, you would probably use the falling object rules to determine the chance to evade and the damage.

  • So too, you'd be justified in giving the creature around which the Druid wants to create a stone box a chance to get out of the way, or not, according to your sense of of the situation.

Creative uses of spells are a great part of play, but don't begin and end with the spell description. Any knock-on effects of a spell's use have to be resolved on a case-by-case basis, as with any creative maneuver.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It was considered giving the creature a low reflex save as you see the box growing around you \$\endgroup\$ – Fering May 31 '15 at 7:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind, Wall of Stone, a much stronger spell, gives players a well defined reflex save to escape, so a stone shape save should be <= that. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Jun 4 '15 at 22:55
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As @SevenSidedDie has pointed out, making stone boxes is definitely within the rules of the game and the spell.

However, I'd like to point out that this might not always be a very feasible tactic by running the numbers. Stone shape is limited to 10+CL cu. ft. of material.

Stone box

To fully envelop a medium-sized creature in a stone box using stone shape, you would have to cover the surface of a 5 × 5 × 10 foot box. Excluding the floor, that's an area of 225 sq. ft. At CL 10, that would mean that the thickness of the stone cage is roughly 1 inch. A object made from stone has hardness 8 and 15 hp/inch, according to Damaging Objects. A single 23 damage hit will free the trapped character, which is not out of the ordinary for a 10th level melee characters. In fact, it's average for a character with Str 20, Power Attack and a +2 Greatsword (7+(5*1.5)+9+2=23), and that is without considering damage buffs or adamantine weaponry.

If you can use an existing wall, the thickness increases to around 1.4 inch. If you allow fractional inches for an object's hitpoints, that would increase them to 21, which is still quite easy to break out of.

Stone cage

Alternatively, you could make a cage, with 1 foot holes in it. In this case, at CL 10, you can get (cylindrical) bars with a thickness of 2.85 inch, yielding 42 hp. Such a cage will be harder to break, but apart from preventing movement, it gives cover at best, making it a rather poor choice unless you can get out of range. And once again, note that characters that do have a short effective range can typically break the wall with a full attack or two.

Do note that the cage wall should still be treated like single object with regards to breaking it. The reason being that the rules for breaking objects are abstract and can lead to strange issues if they are not treated as such. For example, by RAW, 20 layers of 1/20'' rock sheet with air in between require 20 attacks (including most area effects since they block line of effect to the next one), while a single 1'' layer can be broken with a single strike.

Comparison with hold person

Overall, making a box or a cage around a creature will stop it for approximately a round or two at best, making it similar to hold person, which is a 2nd level spell for most characters. Not only this, but contrary to hold person, a stone shape box will prevent you from attacking the held person and a cage will not prevent them from hitting you.

Therefore, I conclude that this use of stone shape is situational at best, though it does add to the spells versatility. It does have some applications, such as interrupting spells with 1 round casting time (no valid targets any more), or getting the raging mass of muscles to stop hitting you with a stick for a bit because his wizard friend can't break the box himself.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It was not going to trap a PC, so there were several others, and they were several levels lower then the PC's. Did not have power attack, str bonus was +2, weapon was 1d6, and I had forgotten about two handing a weapon for extra damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering May 31 '15 at 15:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering There's no problem with that spell taking out a low-level enemy instantly and permanently. Keep in mind that casting a 3rd level spell means expending a powerful and limited resource. \$\endgroup\$ – MrLemon May 31 '15 at 16:35

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