Fake blood (skill checks)
You can make a LOT of it quickly and in any splatter pattern you want, but it won’t be as viscous so keep it on the floor. Note without help this wouldn’t work against things with scent.
Impromptu ‘summon’ (complex shapes, hardness of shapes, animation speed, ability to attack, support needed, animating ice)
Depends on a lot of rulings, so bet on simple and slow. A small water elemental is easy and doesn’t have to move far to be a threat, but a ‘slush ooze’ could be frightening too. Depending on the rulings, you could include another object in the form (rope, a weapon) for actual damage. If you can’t attack with them, this is really just a one-round diversion or battlefield control.
If you get everything your way, this is best used as a either a medium/large sized animated object or a flying summon that contains something harmful and trips or splats against enemies. Twinked - make a flying 5’ anvil and have fun for a game.
Find illusions and trigger traps (animation speed, hardness of objects)
If you get a lot of water, just make a bumpy cylinder or ball and bounce it around. Any weight trap will be set off, but note that unless the shape is ‘hard’ it won’t trigger any tripwires. Illusions might be easier to see because they won’t affect the blob, though a DM may consider it a ‘disbelief attempt’ instead of an automatic dispel.
Break objects (expanding ice)
Two tricks that work well together:
- Expanding Ice – move water into a small hole and freeze. Ice expands and breaks just about anything (this is how potholes are created IRL). Easiest on locks or doors but once you have a hole to work with you can take out large blocks of granite. If your ice doesn’t expand, pound wood into the crack and soak it in water instead.
- Erosion – Toss some sand into the water and animate it into a swirling column (drill bit) and wait. All materials eventually erode with this method from dirt to iron bars. Takes a while, though.
Stationary barrier (hardness of shapes, speed of animations, shape and freeze together, how ice melts)
‘How’ is less interesting than ‘where’ for this one. Basically create a transparent shape in a spot and leave it there. Situations where this is handy:
- Baricade against enemies, either for an entire passage or make a choke point. Either make it rough for opaque or very smooth to be an ‘invisible’ barrier
- Firewall – especially if made into ice.
- Air/gas barrier – A 1mm wall is utterly transparent and stops any/all gases but not projectiles or enemies running through it. Defensively protects against spells like cloudkill, but could be an invisible ‘trap’ to let someone pop the bubble holding methane or the like.
- Seal a door shut or open. Doesn’t take much water to freeze it in place
- Seal crawlspaces used by enemies or vermin (especially kobolds)
- Make a lock much harder to bypass (ice over or an opaque hard shape)
- With a little water, you can make any square frozen difficult terrain. Choose black ice, razor ice, or ‘thick slushie’ as desired
- Make a ‘turtle shell’ of ice to block falling objects.
- Support the ceiling with a quick pillar
- Hold hazardous objects high in the air as an impromptu trap and release.
Mobile barrier (helping, hardness of shapes, speed of animations, animating ice, control over animation)
As with the stationary barrier, but some additional effects are available
- Scan an area - Make a moving film of semi-opaque water moving down a passage. Going over objects creates ripples, granting advantage to spotting things. For extra points, embed a lit torch or glowing rock to ‘scan’ the next 100 feet easily. Best in cramped spaces or 5’ passages.
- Moving barricade or terrain – Make that ice barricade move with the combat so you don’t have to leave it. Same thing with that difficult terrain you made.
- Storm the room – Don’t just freeze that door off the hinges and stop. Force it into the room like a battering ram for an instant barrier and one heck of an intimidation check at the same time.
- Smoke Screen – make it opaque or muddy and block line of sight. As useful as a fog cloud, but without the large area of effect.
Clean water (affecting bound water)
Since the spell only moves water, removing particulates is easy. Note this doesn’t remove dissolved materials unless your DM is really nice. On the other side, you are dehydrating whatever it is that you separate out – like travel rations, nullifying certain poisons, or killing patches minor aquatic creatures.
This can also be useful to check for dangerous things in the water. By moving it around, you can ‘check’ a pool of water for slimes or other hazards or to see that really is just water and not holy water or acid instead.
Cool, useless stuff (various rulings)
These come up over time:
- Instant iced tea
- Cool your home in summer with a pillar of ice in the parlor
- The most impressive (temporary) aquarium ever
- Tease a target by freezing their food or drinks
- The mathematically perfect ice rink
- Make a river flow in geometric patterns or some other artistic way. Multiple castings could result in a performance.
- ... Let's just leave it at 'Bathroom Hijinks' (ew, but it would be funny)
The Full Body Suit (encasing yourself in ice, complex shapes, hardness of shapes, animating shapes, affecting vapor, skill checks, gaps in casting, ability to thaw ice)
Cover yourself with water with or without a helmet to make a suit. By rules you can’t give yourself temp HP or a better AC, but this could have many other uses:
- Protection from hazardous materials – Probably helps with casual contact or vapors, but ‘hard’ or ice suits could protect against some objects or mosquitos. You probably want to clean the water before drinking, though.
- Air bubble - a helmet containing air gives you an extra breath of air for long swims.
- Temperature control – Water buffers against temperature changes. Use with another cantrip to ensure the temperature is exactly what you want all day. Protection from heat/cold, or personal sauna at will.
- Disguise – Many variations, but color it and leave holes for the eyes/ears/mouth. Mimic nearly any Marvel character you want. A variation is just to add bulk and/or body parts as part of a disguise (arms, hump back, ear points, etc.) A vapor, slush, or frost version could cover you head to toe, look impressive, and not hinder you at all (cold resistance may be necessary).
- Carry water around – If your DM rules that animated shapes are slow, he can’t complain about covering your armor with a few gallons to move it around quickly.
- Panic Button – freeze that suit in place for protection on all sides. Just remember to leave space for your hands and air and hopefully you have resistance to cold (read: cold sorcerer). For extra cheese, you can slide it around instead of walking but expect that to be ruled out quickly.
- Swimming/climbing – Move the suit as though it was an animated object that carries your body with it. Even if limited to 5’ per round, it lasts a full hour so you could go far without getting tired.
- Variant – mirror suit. Make the suit have multiple flat sections and color it silver to get a mirror effect. Then take on that basilisk.
The Omni-Lens (hardness of shapes, ability to hover)
Really hard ice functions much like glass, but you gain customized precision. Just the right lens at the right time can overcome problems with expensive magnifying glasses or telescope lenses in the field. Mirrors would require silvering as well (2 effects at once), but are even easier since you can create a few dozen per casting and move them into place.
Burrow Through Water
Only works for yourself and maybe one other, but vacate one 5’ square and the one in front of it. Move forward and repeat. It’s slow and doesn’t give you any air to breathe (no protection when drowning) but could be a stealthy option against moats.
Note small pools would displace enough water to notice and clear water doesn’t block line of sight. That said, it is a way to get past moats and many aquatic hazards (Quippers).
Measure a hole or other space
Fill in a space and then pull out what fit and measure it. This can often tell you if that hole in the wall is just a hole or part of a tunnel network by the inhabitants (ex. Kobolds).
Move Objects (hardness of shapes, animation speed, affecting bound materials)
Buoyant objects and/or debris in the water should move around with it unless otherwise desired. Arguably, it could move other objects with it as well. Use it for caltrops, furniture, delicate high explosives, or just to clean up an area.
Cleaning things up is more useful in adventuring than you might think. Make your camping area free of mold patches and minor vermin, remove dust from a distance, or get rid of fresh blood stains. Note the water just carries it somewhere else, so have a place to go with whatever it is.
Items and tools (hardness of shapes, shape and freeze)
This is a buffet of options. Your limitations are no movable parts, size (to a degree), they can’t be made of anything harder than black ice, and character skill/knowledge. A big plus is the ability to make multiple shapes in one casting and repair/reshape them on demand, and in an arctic environment you can assume ice would stay in that shape indefinitely.
- Artisan’s tools that aren’t exposed to temperature or severe abuse (chisels, picks, but not anvils or brewing gear)
- Ammunition – probably sling stones are easiest, but arrows are possible with some skill. Weapons are also possible, but very prone to breaking. If gunpowder is available, you can quickly make dozens of grenades.
- Spyglass or mirror – overlap with ‘optics’ above
- Ladder – Better than it looks. Attach two stacked 5’ ladders to the wall and climb. Then move the first section above the new one and climb. Repeat until done.
- Jewelry – Multiple facets would be hard and it would be magically cold, but fun
- Specialized equipment not on the list perfect for what you need – climbing gear, periscopes, swim fins, etc. You can use items you are not proficient in, just less effectively
- Molds for making other items. Especially since the ice can resist some heat.
- patch another object you already have. A boat comes to mind as an obvious example.
Make a mold (hardness of objects, thawing ice, ability checks)
Kind of the reverse of above, where you make a perfect mold and keep the ice around long enough for the material to harden. Best with common materials, but you could cast a lead copy of a key you studied, knockoff sculptures, or just use it to make standard items (arrowheads). The advantage is the item is normal and usable by others more than your spell duration.
Since this is magic ice, you could cast bronze or lead weapons on the road easily or just use this as 'mystical flavoring' when forging special items like an Icebrand.
The Aqua Mage Lock (hardness of objects)
Make a custom lock which requires someone to press a pin in the middle of the door behind a series of right angles that picks can’t get to. This would make it impossible to pick by without first knowing your way through the ‘maze’ inside the door and having either the cantrip or a custom telescoping pick set.
An alternative is to have a lock that requires a lot of force to move the bar out of the way. The mage must fill in the space correctly and then freeze to apply pressure. Make it spring loaded and the door automatically relocks in an hour or when you thaw the ice. This would need to be a strong door to withstand doing it wrong. In both cases, include a basic lock that doesn’t do anything with a few traps nearby and you have excellent security.
There are other ways around doors like this like just destroying the door, but it is a simple ‘secure door’ trick that can fool players easily.
Water Column and Ice Block trick
This one takes moving water, but encase the end of a rope a big block of ice. Then redirect the moving water to be angled away and up from you and let it naturally spill out the other side to create an ‘spout’ of water. Send the ice over going uphill and it will try to slide down the other side with rushing water pushing it faster – exactly like holding something just short of going over a waterfall. Use that force to pull or drag something.
Why not just freeze the object and move the ice with magic? Here, we can calculate the energy and force involved and to get hard numbers for the DM instead of ‘I’m sure I can drag 70,000 pounds with MAGIC’. Some DMs appreciate this sort of thing and let you do more as a result.
Pykrete (shaping ice, affecting bound objects, temperature control)
The physics is that you can bind a lot of small particles with ice to make something stronger than ice. In this case, we are talking about sawdust but you could also use cloth fiber or paper shreds. This stuff is hard as wood with the weakness that the ice tends to melt too fast for anything permanent. With magic, you can get past that weakness. Some ideas:
- Boats, furniture, or other structures – Pykrete was being developed as an option for cheap boats in WW2, so why can’t you? Creating the pieces separately and then putting them together allows you to make boats larger than 5’x10’.
- Melee Weapons – Melee weapons are more feasible this way, but probably maces and not rapiers
- Shields – If you have a DM who likes to destroy equipment, you are losing the shield a lot. With one cantrip you can create multiple shields that are somewhat fire resistant
- Extra-hard objects – This is a catch-all for barriers, masterwork objects, or other things above. If you make them from Pykrete they can’t be transparent but have twice the hardness to deal with