Can Erupting Earth be cast somewhere that isn’t on “ground”?

The spell Erupting Earth says:

Choose a point you can see on the ground within range.

Does the use of the word "ground" limit this spell to floors that would be considered an "exposed surface of the earth"? Other possibilities include:

  1. An indoor room on an upper level or over a basement
  2. An outdoor deck or patio
  3. A raised platform like a stage or pulpit
  4. A roof
  5. A balcony

Related: Does the spell Erupting Earth disrupt the surface it’s cast on?

Does the spell erupting earth disrupt the surface it’s cast on?

The spell Erupting Earth says:

A fountain of churned earth and stone erupts in a 20-foot cube centered on that point.

Does this mean about 20 cubic feet of material from the ground is churned up and disrupted? Or is the fountain comprised of newly created or summoned material?

RAW the spell only deals damage to creatures and makes the terrain difficult. My player is wanting to use the spell to damage stone and dislodge a deposit of ore, arguing the ‘erupting‘ wording means it should deal damage to the terrain as well.

If it churns up material from the ground I can see this working, however, if the material is created by the spell, then that would explain why it doesn’t explicitly damage objects/terrain.

What is the correct or intended interpretation?

What is the interaction between mold earth and create bonfire?

If I cast create bonfire in a 5 foot unoccupied space. Then next round cast mold earth to excavate that same area creating a 5 foot pit underneath the fire; Does the bonfire fall or stay at ground level?

This came up in game. The bonfire is magically created and does not need to burn fuel. So it could float. But does it? Is there a precident?

Can ‘mold earth’ create climbable steps in a stone surface?

The cantrip Mold earth allows

"shapes, colors, or both to appear on the dirt or stone, spelling out words, creating images, or shaping patterns"

Could those shapes be a series of ledges and/or indentations to make a ladder for climbing out of a pit or up a stone wall? The degree to which those letters/patterns have depth isn’t specified.

The steps would disappear after 1 hr., and only two ‘areas’ of such steps could exist, but within those limits ascent could be via a series of castings of this spell:

  1. Cast and climb as high as possible on that first section.
  2. Cast again above the first area and climb as high a possible on it.
  3. Repeat.

Presumably, one would ascend at at rate of 5′ per round this way: the excavation use of mold earth specifies a 5′ cube. There is no specification of the area that can be affected by a shaping use of this spell, but 5′ x 5′ seems reasonable and consistent with that 5′ cube.

The higher level spell stone shape allows more sophisticated, and durable manipulation of stone: as a weapon or coffer, and possibly with 2 hinges and a latch. Would using mold earth to create steps steal the thunder from stone shape? I would argue that the 1 hr. duration and limits on 2 ‘areas’ (however big those might be), and the implied limit that mold earth can only work–literally–superficially (as the "shaping patterns" suggests), could be sufficient to keep this use of the cantrip from being overpowered.

However, another objection might be that the spell as written specifies creating shapes, patterns, colors, and letters suggests manipulations of the stone that are visually detectable–I could see those at more in line with creating a sign is viewable, or readable like braille, but not climbable. That is a harder argument to rebut.

Can mold earth dig more than 2 holes?

My DM and I have differences of opinion on the mold earth cantrip.

He says that after you dig 2 holes and try to dig the 3rd hole the first hole will go back to his initial state.

I say that since it’s written:

You choose a portion of dirt or stone that you can see within range and that fits within a 5-foot cube. You manipulate it in one of the following ways:

If you target an area of loose earth, you can instantaneously excavate it, move it along the ground, and deposit it up to 5 feet away. This movement doesn’t have enough force to cause damage.

You cause shapes, colors, or both to appear on the dirt or stone, spelling out words, creating images, or shaping patterns. The changes last for 1 hour.

If the dirt or stone you target is on the ground, you cause it to become difficult terrain. Alternatively, you can cause the ground to become normal terrain if it is already difficult terrain. This change lasts for 1 hour.

If you cast this spell multiple times, you can have no more than two of its non-instantaneous effects active at a time, and you can dismiss such an effect as an action.

So since excavating it is instantaneous, you can dig as many holes as you want and the will never revert to the initial state, is this true or is my DM right ?

(DnD 5e) Cheap Earth Elemental tactics

I’m DMing a campaign themed around monsters based on the elements, so making use of the Elementals naturally came to mind.

Taking a look at the Earth Elemental, it strikes me that there is some very strong potential for making use of incredibly cheap tactics depending on the terrain.

Essentially, the way I see things is that if the Earth Elemental is burrowed, weapon attacks have no way to attack it, and because of the Earth Glide move, it makes sense that the PCs would lose track of the Earth Elemental meaning that when it does attack, it’ll always be able to surprise the PCs and attack at advantage.

Beyond that, because Burrowing does not constitute an action in itself, there’s nothing stopping the Earth Elemental from popping out of burrowing, getting two slams in (one with advantage), before burrowing (admittedly, risking a possible opportunity attack), and thereby depriving the PCs of the chance to attack it.

I’m just wondering if there’s something I missed in the rules to make this tactic unviable, as I see it as a potentially game breaking encounter for a group, especially one with limited spell-casting options.

Does the spell Earth Tremor require loose stone?

The condition for the second effect of Earth Tremor reads (emphasis mine):

If the ground in that area is loose earth or stone

Loose earth is adequately explained in this question referencing the Mold Earth cantrip.

My question is: does “loose” apply to both earth and stone, or does Earth Tremor’s second effect work on non-loose stone, such as a solid stone floor?