Soften Earth and Stone Question


Rules Questions


The PRD wrote:

Soften Earth and Stone

School transmutation [earth]; Level druid 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, DF
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area 10-ft. square/level; see text
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

When this spell is cast, all natural, undressed earth or stone in the spell's area is softened. Wet earth becomes thick mud, dry earth becomes loose sand or dirt, and stone becomes soft clay that is easily molded or chopped. You affect a 10-foot square area to a depth of 1 to 4 feet, depending on the toughness or resilience of the ground at that spot. Magical, enchanted, dressed, or worked stone cannot be affected. Earth or stone creatures are not affected.

A creature in mud must succeed on a Reflex save or be caught for 1d2 rounds and unable to move, attack, or cast spells. A creature that succeeds on its save can move through the mud at half speed, and it can't run or charge. Loose dirt is not as troublesome as mud, but all creatures in the area can move at only half their normal speed and can't run or charge over the surface. Stone softened into clay does not hinder movement, but it does allow characters to cut, shape, or excavate areas they may not have been able to affect before.

While this spell does not affect dressed or worked stone, cavern ceilings or vertical surfaces such as cliff faces can be affected. Usually, this causes a moderate collapse or landslide as the loosened material peels away from the face of the wall or roof and falls (treat as a cave-in with no bury zone, see Environment).

A moderate amount of structural damage can be dealt to a manufactured structure by softening the ground beneath it, causing it to settle. However, most well-built structures will only be damaged by this spell, not destroyed.

Scenario: I cast soften earth and stone on an area containing one or more creatures. Those creatures fail their Reflex saves and become caught in it for 1d2 rounds (lets say we roll one round). One round goes by (meaning I have cast the spell, everyone else has had a turn, and it is my turn again). The creatures are now unstuck... but they are also still in the mud... and as the spell description says: "A creature in mud must succeed on a Reflex save or be caught for 1d2 rounds".

So do they save again on my turn, when the 1d2 rounds of 'stuck' wears off? If not, are they just free to move through the mud (at half speed) for as long as they like? What if they leave the mud and re-enter it?

The first option makes the most sense, but seems very powerful. The second option seems more balanced, but doesn't make as much sense.

What do you fine folks think? (I am interested in the RAW and RAI, here.)

Scarab Sages

Well, only wet earth becomes mud, so that limits the usefulness significantly already.

The first section of the entry describes what happens to the ground. Turns to mud, loose dirt, ect.

The rest of the entry is dedicated to describing the effects of terrain on movement, and other uses for the spell.

Heck, I'd say the after the first one, the reflex save doesn't happen on your turn. It happens on the characters turn. Their initiative comes up, they roll a reflex save to try to keep their balance and move out of the mud.

Once the ground is mud... well... it's mud. Until it dries out enough to stop being mud, the save must be rolled. Note that we're talking here about four feet of mud. Chest deep. Small creatures might even be totally covered by it. And it's thick mud. The kind that can suck the shoes off your feet :p

So it seems fine to me. Reflex save of, what, 15 or 16 depending on the caster?

I'd say it's a DM call to determine how long it takes to dry out. If the wet ground was made using create water, I'd say it dries up pretty fast. If it's used in a marsh, it might take substantially longer to dry out.


I have a follow-up question for this spell regarding the second option for it regarding what the spell description means when it says to treat the spell as a cave-in with no bury-zone.

"While this spell does not affect dressed or worked stone, cavern ceilings or vertical surfaces such as cliff faces can be affected. Usually, this causes a moderate collapse or landslide as the loosened material peels away from the face of the wall or roof and falls (treat as a cave-in with no bury zone, see Environment)."

Now, under environment, it says the following about how cave-ins affect characters:

"Characters in the bury zone of a cave-in take 8d6 points of damage, or half that amount if they make a DC 15 Reflex save. They are subsequently buried. Characters in the slide zone take 3d6 points of damage, or no damage at all if they make a DC 15 Reflex save. Characters in the slide zone who fail their saves are buried."

So does that mean we apply only the damage of the bury zone, which is 8d6, or half on a reflex save? And they are not buried? Or, since there is no bury zone, we apply the rules of the slide zone, where they take 3d6 and are buried if they fail save, or are not affected at all if they succeed the save?

Because the spell description says no bury zone, I interpret the spell as using the slide zone of a cave in. Can any experienced GM's out there help me figure this one out?


<@><@> ,

does anyone every just use this spell to clear the Field of rock and stone, for plowing the field.

As a child, i had to do that. I would have killed for this spell, after 3 hours of picking up rocks.


I'd use save vs. mud when the spell is cast, then treat the area as regular mud afterwards.

For cave-ins, use the slide zone rules.


Suppose the following...

A 5'5" human is standing on wet ground when the spell is cast on him, and he fails.

For 1-2 rounds, he is stuck in up to 4' of mud.

Now the spell ends.

Does the mud morph back into dirt, so that he winds up buried past his waist in dirt?

Or does the mud STAY mud until it naturally dries out?


the duration on Soften Earth & Stone is instantaneous, thus it is a permanent change. The 1-2 r of delay is for anyone that gets caught in the terrain hazard(now or later). It dries out thus is not >forever< and defaults to 'ask your GM'.

commentary:
As a terrain hazard, it's not so great.

the the implied usage of Trans Rock->Mud is to cast it, let creatures get caught in it and NOT get out, then cast Trans Mud->Rock. It's also fun to have an earth elemental(or mud elemental) play with them in the mud.

The cave-ins are excellent versus creatures with SR.

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