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Druids and Spells that Destroy Nature


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


So Ultimate Wilderness has a 9th level Druid Spell "Sea of Dust" that causes a 2-mile radius to undergo permanent desertification on a massive scale. Anything other than an completely aquatic environment eventually becomes a "bog of dust" that remains that way until the spell is dispelled, in which case it is subject to the same natural forces that made it what it was before the druid intervened.

Now certainly "controlling nature to this degree" is something a high level druid should be able to do, but is actually doing something like this ever actually in keeping with a class that's supposed to "Revere Nature"?

I mean, sure you could drop it on a city and wipe that city out, but you could do likewise do the same with an earthquake, a tsunami, a terrible storm, wild fires, an army of animated trees, etc. or anything else that wouldn't prevent something from growing there after the buildings all fell down and the people leave.

Is "Casting this spell" the sort of thing that could invoke the "ex-druids" clause if you just up and ruin some 12.5 miles of unspoiled wilderness? Sure, you can dispel it after a while and some new trees can grow, but if you cast it on a copse of truly ancient trees you may have lost something that can never be regained. Could a Neutral Good Druid ever justify casting this spell? It seems like "barren, lifeless, and unnatural terrain" is the sort of thing that should be anathema to druids, and yet they get it as spell.

So if I'm Druid who just became level 17 and learned that they can cast this spell, why in the good name of mother nature would I ever consider casting it?


Kudzu.


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You're a desert druid who really likes sand.


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How is growing a forest more druidic than growing a desert?

If this is against a druid's nature, shouldn't plant growth also be?


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Sure cute fuzzy bunnies, majestic forests, and towering mountains are nature. But so are wolves tearing apart rabbits, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions.

Destruction is as natural as life. Nature is more than forests and bunnies.


I feel like volcanoes and forest fires lead to incredibly fertile soil which leads to new growth, and wolves eating rabbits leads to thriving wolves (and less competition for food for the other rabbits.) Natural destruction seems to be part of a cycle where the destruction of a thing leads to an opportunity for something else to fill that void.

From my reading of the spell it doesn't even create a natural desert, in which all kinds of desert creatures can live, it just creates the eponymous waist-deep "sea of dust." You're continually, magically sucking the water out of everything within range which seems to be pretty unnatural to me.

Which, to me at least, doesn't seem like the sort of destruction druids should be taking part in.


Jeraa wrote:
Destruction is as natural as life. Nature is more than forests and bunnies.

This. Nothing says the circle of life like cataclysm. All you're doing is changing 12.5 miles of unspoiled wilderness into 12.5 miles of unspoiled wilderness: you're just changing the type.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
From my reading of the spell it doesn't even create a natural desert, in which all kinds of desert creatures can live, it just creates the eponymous waist-deep "sea of dust." You're continually, magically sucking the water out of everything within range which seems to be pretty unnatural to me.

"The affected region remains desertlike in condition until the magic is dispelled, at which point the region recovers and returns to its original terrain over the course of time". So it seem like it stays a desert and non plant/aquatic creatures can live there. And remember that the druid doesn't have let it run it's full course. For instance, they can take a flooded area and wait until all the water recedes from the spell then dispel it. If done in the first 24hrs, it doesn't even harm plants.

IMO this seem the perfect 'evil' druid spell to force those dirty civilized humanoids from wrecking nature by destroying their farmland and such. Once they leave, you dispel it and things return to normal...


I guess the problem I have with the spell is that it doesn't really make it seem like the terrain it creates is a natural thing (as in "a thing that could come to be through entirely natural phenomena".) Like if Druids had a 9th level spell called "Pave Paradise" that created a 12.5 square mile circle of asphalt with mysterious painted lines on it, that wouldn't seem right, would it?

But I mean, should a Druid be able/allowed to melt the polar icecaps and/or boil the oceans to put an end to coastal cities?


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I guess the problem I have with the spell is that it doesn't really make it seem like the terrain it creates is a natural thing (as in "a thing that could come to be through entirely natural phenomena".) Like if Druids had a 9th level spell called "Pave Paradise" that created a 12.5 square mile circle of asphalt with mysterious painted lines on it, that wouldn't seem right, would it?

What's now desert used to be part of an ocean. Just because you don't normally see the change happen in your lifetime doesn't mean that those kinds of changes don't happen. Nature won't turn it into asphalt, but it might glass it with a volcanic eruption or something.


Like most things, its the attitude the druid has when casting it that determines a lot of whether they are revering nature or not - whether they cry and implore nature to sacrifice itself now to win later over what problem is destroying the land already, or just decide that they dont give a single s&%& about the land except to destroy it in order to get personal revenge on, say, the landlord... my opinion anyway.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
But I mean, should a Druid be able/allowed to melt the polar icecaps and/or boil the oceans to put an end to coastal cities?

I hope so. It's kinda the druid's wheelhouse.


Druids don't serve nature as a whole. They serve a specific limited aspect of nature. I for one am glad that aspect is starting to be more than temperate forests, even if a Druid revering all of nature is still not possible.

Scarab Sages

I agree, spreading desert is one thing, but "dust" , whenever we think of dust problems it's always a result of human activity, usually related to widespread farming and razing of trees, resulting in the land turning from "soil" to "dust" which is not a sandy desert, just dirt with little ability to support life. worse than a rocky desert.

Deserts can spread as well without human activity, but the spell seems weird. maybe if it was worded differently but having more or less the same effect.. I guess because the word dust conjures up images of the midwestern US 80-odd years ago or what is happening near Beijing now.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think it fair to say that the spell does leave desolation beyond that of any normal dessert. Even desert plants are not excepted from the damage and the dust seems to be more like something one would find on our real world mars than any environment on earth.

Whether doing such a thing would be reverence for nature or not would of course depend on why it was done. If, for example, one was to target the Tanglebriar I could definitely see how the utter destruction of nature would be preferable to its corruption.

Any spell that alters the natural world, which many druid spells are, can be in some ways, and certainly some times, not 'revering nature' since you are, pretty much by definition, artificially altering it. Similarly, anything powerful, and this spell certainly is that, can be used for good or for evil. It is how it is used, and why, not how powerful and destructive it is that makes the difference.


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A druid casting sea of dust isn't ceasing to revere nature--she is a living embodiment of nature's will. The druid gestures, and nature forsakes the area in question, withdrawing her gifts and leaving the ground barren and uninhabitable. It is no different from inflicting nature's exile on someone or defoliating an area with negative energy. You aren't beholden to protect all natural life--you are beholden to nature itself.


It's tough to serve something that doesn't have goals, desires, or preferences. Druids are always going to be a bit incoherent because the natural / unnatural distinction is pretty incoherent gibberish.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
blahpers wrote:
A druid casting sea of dust isn't ceasing to revere nature--she is a living embodiment of nature's will.

I think the other stuff you wrote is an interesting way of looking at this spell, and a good one, but this sentence seems problematic to me.

It would imply that anything the druid wants to do is automatically 'reverence for nature' but since their are consequences for failing to revere nature it certainly seems that it is possible for a druid to do that. There has to be more that it's ok because I'm a druid and therefore anything I want to do is automatically full of druidy goodness.


blahpers wrote:
A druid casting sea of dust isn't ceasing to revere nature--she is a living embodiment of nature's will. The druid gestures, and nature forsakes the area in question, withdrawing her gifts and leaving the ground barren and uninhabitable. It is no different from inflicting nature's exile on someone or defoliating an area with negative energy. You aren't beholden to protect all natural life--you are beholden to nature itself.

I like this description best.


In the middle of the desert, a flask of everflowing water is placed. Around it springs up a city, fields and eventually it leads to a civilization that begins to control the surrounding region. Everything is out of balance, and the druid must act; what can he do?

Thankfully, he has this new spell to redress the balance and restore natures precedence.


You could make a nice firebreak that way. Dust don't burn.


Goth Guru wrote:
You could make a nice firebreak that way. Dust don't burn.

It's also an interesting spell to cast in a snowbound region like Irrisen. It would be a quick and easy way to excavate areas buried under feet of snow.


I didn't know Desert druids were evil and had been ex-communicated. How interesting.


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No rule saying a druid can't be evil...

The best way to protect nature is to exterminate all the humans, so druid morality is pretty orange-and-blue in the first place.

Shadow Lodge

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Matthew Downie wrote:

No rule saying a druid can't be evil...

The best way to protect nature is to exterminate all the humans, so druid morality is pretty orange-and-blue in the first place.

"The druid robot alliance to kill all humans was an odd partnership, but an effective one... "


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DROBOTS ASSEMBLE! Then, you know, disassemble.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:

No rule saying a druid can't be evil...

The best way to protect nature is to exterminate all the humans, so druid morality is pretty orange-and-blue in the first place.

"The druid robot alliance to kill all humans was an odd partnership, but an effective one... "

Bender: *snore* "Kill all humans...Kill all humans...Must kill all hu..."

Fry: "Bender, wake up!"
Bender: "I was having the most wonderful dream! I think you were in it."


This nothing but another tool for the druids to serve the so called Greater Balance, which might confess I never knew it existed until a certain lady told to my 'charname' once.


William Werminster wrote:
This nothing but another tool for the druids to serve the so called Greater Balance, which might confess I never knew it existed until a certain lady told to my 'charname' once.

...What?


Since Druids have only ways to disrupt and remove metal and nothing to restore it, and it's a giant ball of metal that keeps the sun from shredding our cells, there is only one explanation. Druids aren't just trying to end Human life, but all life on the planet. The only nature they strive for is an empty void. All will become dust, and I fail to see how a spell to accelerate that is out of the question.

This is genuinely why I can't take the class seriously.


Does Golarion even have a metal core? Isn't the sun a portal to the Plane of Fire or something? I can never remember where Pathfinder astrophysics diverges.


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blahpers wrote:
Does Golarion even have a metal core? Isn't the sun a portal to the Plane of Fire or something? I can never remember where Pathfinder astrophysics diverges.

Golarion has a Rovagug core.


blahpers wrote:
Does Golarion even have a metal core? Isn't the sun a portal to the Plane of Fire or something? I can never remember where Pathfinder astrophysics diverges.

Compasses still work, and I don't think they're gyroscopic, right? So it definitely has a magnetic field.


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So Rovagug... is magnetic? This is valuable information...

Grand Lodge

I think it's been clarified that Rovagug isn't actually in the core but rather the portal to his prison or something similar.


Matthew Downie wrote:

No rule saying a druid can't be evil...

The best way to protect nature is to exterminate all the humans, so druid morality is pretty orange-and-blue in the first place.

Well technically, Humanoids are part of nature, just an absurdly unbalancing aspect of it. So druids don't want to wipe out all Humanoids, just their cities and edifices and mines and farmlands. If they take up a small footprint and don't destroy nature for selfish means (farmland razing or forests, paving of forests for houses, damming of rivers for fishing, stripping of mountains for ore extraction, etc). Then theoretically Druids are fine with humanoids, otherwise there wouldn't be humanoid druids in the first place.

And since druids encompass an aspect of nature; fire, water, desert, plains, forests, caves, etc... they only care about their aspect in the long run. As a GM I am perfectly fine with a Druid casting this spell to wipe out a menace or drive out a foe of their aspect if it means nature, in the long run, can reassert itself. As was mentioned a blight, outsider plants, unnatural growths are worse than nothing. A Druid should be more than willing to burn a region to save the whole. A cave druid would tear out roots to preserve a passage. A water druid would plant trees as a barrier to stop a desert blowing wind into a reef.
It is no different than slaying a diseased elk to save the herd.


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Jurassic Pratt wrote:
I think it's been clarified that Rovagug isn't actually in the core but rather the portal to his prison or something similar.

Oh...

*hastily disassembles enormous electromagnet I built for totally unrelated reasons*


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Berti Blackfoot wrote:
I agree, spreading desert is one thing, but "dust" , whenever we think of dust problems it's always a result of human activity...

Not quite, Dust is always out there in the air. Several natural phenomena generate dust, the dust storms of Texas to CA are one, but the Sahara has righteous storms that reach up miles and the Gobi desert is notorious for the mud turning to huge clouds in the dry season. An acquaintance was there for Historical research and got trapped in the records center for three days. Gorgeous sun rises and sun sets.


Oh crud. This spell and control weather can give you a tactical dust storm.

Also, if you want a dam, better hire the awakened beavers. Druids make for a strong union.

Scarab Sages

One other way to look at this is that nature is a gift. It's the framework of give and take that allows life, allows humanity to exist. This spell could be from a Druid's perspective the ultimate punishment on the people of an area who have sinned against nature, defaced it and desecrated it and stolen from it. It is withdrawing the gift of nature from an area.


Sometimes a jerk litch starts planting glass plants all around their tower. Invasive species are not entirely natural.


Druids are merely upholding the true law of nature.
Biggest jerk wins.

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