Question on Damaging Animated Objects in 5e

This came up in a discussion with a fellow 5e DM:

A player casts Animate Object on 10 daggers. This makes 10 animated daggers with 20 HP and 18 AC according to the 5e PHB. Now according to the spell “When the animated object drops to 0 hit points, it reverts to its original object form, and any remaining damage carries over to its original object form.” This is all fine and good.

The 5e MM says something similar regarding animated objects: “An animated object reduced to 0 hit points becomes inanimate and is too damaged to be of much use or value to anyone.” Everything seems to agree.

Now, the DMG lists tables destructible objects. Daggers we presumed to be Tiny objects which according to the DMG would have 2 HP if fragile, and 5 HP if resilient. Under Object Armor Class it lists Iron/Steel with a 19 AC.

Here’s where the argument comes in:

According to the PHB, Animate Object changes the form of the object to a construct creature with 20 HP and 18 AC for Tiny objects. When it reaches 0 HP it reverts back to its original form (We’re assuming an object with 5 HP and 19 AC), with any excess damage carrying over to that original form.

So what happens when the daggers reach 0 HP taking into account the PHB, DMG, and MM?

Argument 1: When the animated dagger reaches 0 HP, it reverts back to a regular dagger with 5 HP (a la Wild Shape Druid feature), suggesting that it needs to take at least 25 damage to become unusable. The animated creature construct form is separate from the inanimate original form, therefore damage applied to the object in animated form is separate from damage applied to the object as a whole.

Argument 2: When the animated dagger reaches 0 HP, it becomes inanimate and is too damaged to be used, suggesting that it only needs 20 damage to become unusable (a la Shapechanger NPC feature). The animated creature construct form and the inanimate original form are still the same entity, therefore damage applied to the object in one form applies to the object as a whole rather than just to its animated nature.

So when or how do the daggers become so damaged that they’re unusable?

I’ve seen this answered for 3.5e and Pathfinder, but not for 5e and after hours of trying, unsuccessfully, to find a 5e answer, any insight in this would be appreciated 🙂

Can a necromancer animate dead a creature with sentience that agreed before death to be animated?

If a necromancer was to make a deal with like 4 people before a fight that the necromancer could animate them if they die during the fight, and then those same 4 people were to die, would those 4 people be reanimated more friendly than most skeletons/zombies or would they just have the regular aggression?

If my necromancer dies, do my animated dead stay under my control?

From what I understand the undead created via animated dead are under my PC’s control indefinitely. So if I had commanded them to kill enemies of mine (insect things that were fighting our group so I commanded them to attack the bugs) would they follow that command after I die, or become uncontrolled and attack my party members too?

I had assumed that they became uncontrolled, and they attacked the party (which teleported away), but after looking while they were figuring out what to do next, I had re-read animated dead to figure out if that was correct.

The other thing that I was curious is do they stay under my control when brought back to life too?

If they do go uncontrolled after death, that would mean any necromancer PC would be a group wipe if they die.

I’ve been looking for an answer to this on the internet and the D&D books.

When running animated water as a creature, how can I get stats quickly?

A subquestion of How does animated water work?

When a player conjures a creature formed of animated water, for example a Small horse, I find it works best to model that animated water as a CR0 creature with the Elemental type. How can I get appropriate stats for such a creature quickly? That is, when a player forms a 5′ cube of water into a horse, I know from experience that it should be Medium or Small in size, and when they turn that cube into a duck, a rooster, and an eagle instead I know that they should be Tiny, Tiny, and Small respectively. I still need to give each creature an amount of hp, speed, and potentially traits and actions. Is there a way to do this quickly while ensuring my players can predict what the stats of a creature they make will be yet also the effect isn’t going to make creatures of a power level greater than CR0 should justify? What can I do to speed up this process without unbalancing it?

How does animated water work?

The spell Shape Water lets a caster animate some water. While the effect is limited to ‘simple shapes’, lasts an hour, and acts according to your direction, nearly nothing else about the effect is specified.

Anna the Wizard casts Shape Water animating the water in a 5′ hole excavated via Mold Earth. She forms the water into the crude shape of a miniature horse, and attempts to put a miniature saddle on it. What happens? Her weasel familiar attempts to mount the water-horse. What happens? She casts Find Familiar and changes her weasel familiar into a fish, which attempts to swim in the ‘horse’. What happens? The ‘horse’ gallops away. How fast can it go? Does the fish go with it?

Anna casts Shape Water a second time on a second hole, this time animating the water into a 20′ radius hollow sphere a quarter-inch thick (the volume works out). What happens? Anna climbs to the top of a 20′ tall A-frame ladder and mentally directs the sphere to roll over her so that she is at the center. What happens? Her buddy Bartholemew wants to throw an overripe tomato at her from outside of the sphere (Don’t worry, Anna prepared featherfall today). Does she have cover? If so how much? If it is total cover, does that stop Bob from trying to throw the tomato?

Anna then tells the sphere to go knock on the door of Cardamon the Cultist, who lives next door to her in a town 2.5 miles away, and then to find and roll over the unprotected flames she expects Cardamon’s kids will have left somewhere in their back yard, and then to track down a copy of the Book of Exalted Deeds and bring it back to her. How much of this can the sphere do?

Anna dismisses her familiar and then the galloping water-horse before casting Shape Water yet another time, on a third hole, this time forming the water into a comically large mallet. She has the mallet spin up into the air and then fall down on practice dummy. Does the practice dummy take any damage? Is it moved? Is it wet? Later, she has the mallet fly around bonking some enemies on the head. What happens?

In general, this spell (and to a lesser extent Control Flames) is often extremely problematic in games I run or play in, essentially requiring the GM to come up with mountains of rulings as to how the nearly endless uses of animated water constructs work, and what they can and can’t do. The spell clearly lets you make stuff with the water and have it do stuff, but it feels like there must be a whole bunch of rules somewhere I’m missing or something.

What can animated objects do in a fight?

Things affected by Animate Objects can be issued commands. When ordered to attack in combat, they will make a single melee attack. Grapple, Hold, Help, etc are not mentioned in the spell description.


  1. Can creatures made using this spell perform any other in-combat actions?
  2. If so, can the caster tell them (once) to keep repeating these actions?
  3. What are the limits to commands given during fight?


  • Can silk ropes grapple and drag away enemies?
  • Can ball bearings buzz around in enemies faces to distract them, as a help action?
  • Can a carpet be told to keep a caster (standing on it) away from the fray ?
  • Can a box flee and hide?
  • Can dolls in branches hold an action until an enemy is below them?
  • Can an object pour a potion in a character’s mouth?

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Can you safely wear animated armor?

Assume a team of my players defeated an Animated Armor, which broke apart. One of the players states that if it is armor, than he can take it and use it. DM decided that the armor is damaged and useless.

But what would happen if someone decided to wear animated armor when it is completed, for example in the anti-magic field, where armor cannot move?

Should I use grappling rules? Or take inspiration from the Rug of Smothering? The second one is not fitting well, because armor cannot smother anyone. Maybe assume that rest of the group has to defeat the armor and their friend will drop as a loot? 😛

Would wearing animated armor be safe? (Animated Armor or Helmed Horror, I assume they work the same). Looking at the pictures from the 3rd and 5th edition Monster Manuals, they have got some kind of magic-field inside of them, wouldn’t it harm the wearer?

Helmed Horror from MM 5 ed Helmed Horror from MM 3 ed

I know there is a similar question here: Animated Armor Trap (points 3 and 4 helped me a lot), but I do not want to make an intelligent armor which traps user, but just get any information on if it would be safe to wear such armor. For example a warrior, which collapses, but his armor is still fighting. Or a bad black knight which terrorizes the area seems to be a kid which found some animated armor.