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In our last session, after a nasty battle at sea (A dragon pride pirate ship magically enhanced by 5 dragons), we were stranded on a large ship with broken masts and our ship listing heavily to one side. We repaired the hull, and managed to fix the listing with control water, and fashioned a makeshift sail and riggings, but we still needed to get back to port as quickly as possible, and we were about 2 days out with the current wind conditions. So our Druid decided to cast control weather to create a light breeze to hasten our return to port. The DM then said that the spell allowed him to roll to see what type of weather actually appeared. His D% rolled a 6 and he informed us that a cat 4 hurricane would reach us in about 3 hours. The druid was then periodically prompted to make concentration checks to control the spell (I told him that it was pointless since it did not appear that he was doing a great job controlling it at the moment anyways.) Once he failed the check, due mostly to penalties from the worsening wind and rain, the storm swelled to a cat 5 (of course).

In the end things actually faired pretty well. We managed to fly back to land ahead of the storm. We then proceeded to use Wall of stone (we burned up all of our castings between 4 casters) to make a sea wall to protect the nearby town from the storm surge, and then we were able to find another ship that had washed up on shore in ok condition. So all seems to have ended well, no casualties and minimal lost items and such, and we are now back on our journey.

However, I am confused on the application of this spell. Isn't the spell called "Control Weather?" It seems to be quite a silly spell if you can ask for a gentle breeze and end up with a cat 5 hurricane. Everyone else in the group, including the Druid that cast the spell insists that the DM played it RAW. But as I understand it, the plain text of the spell says "You control the general tendencies of the weather, such as the direction and intensity of the wind." So from that I would assume that he could create a light breeze in a certain direction, just not direct it right into the sails. As I said, I understand Rule 0, I want to know if I am missing something RAW.

  1. Does the DM decide the weather when this spell is cast, or does the caster?
  2. Is there any danger of the spell "getting away from you" (i.e. turning a light breeze into a hurricane)?
  3. How should I present this to the DM?

As a dedicated caster (lvl17 Cleric/radiant servant utility caster) it is getting difficult to rely on spells when their effects are not consistent with the rules. And as a new player, I am getting sick of not being able to rely on the descriptions of the spells in the book.

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2 Answers 2

No, It Doesn't Work That Way

Control Weather doesn't work that way. here's what it says (emphasis mine):

You change the weather in the local area. It takes 10 minutes to cast the spell and an additional 10 minutes for the effects to manifest. You can call forth weather appropriate to the climate and season of the area you are in.

You control the general tendencies of the weather, such as the direction and intensity of the wind. You cannot control specific applications of the weather—where lightning strikes, for example, or the exact path of a tornado. When you select a certain weather condition to occur, the weather assumes that condition 10 minutes later (changing gradually, not abruptly). The weather continues as you left it for the duration, or until you use a standard action to designate a new kind of weather (which fully manifests itself 10 minutes later). Contradictory conditions are not possible simultaneously.

Control weather can do away with atmospheric phenomena (naturally occurring or otherwise) as well as create them.

A druid casting this spell doubles the duration and affects a circle with a 3-mile radius.

There's no randomness in the general type of weather. You can't try to create a light breeze and wind up with a hurricane the way that spell is written. I don't know what RAW people are reading to come up with that, because the spell is pretty explicit and not that complicated. That was your DM changing how it works.

It's not possible for it to "get away from you" without some kind of DM effect. It is possible for someone else to control the weather to get a different effect in the same area. It's also possible to argue that changing the weather in one area could change it more drastically elsewhere down the road (see the butterfly effect), but that is not what happened here.

If your DM is just going to change how spells work for no reason, you should bring it up directly and ask why he's doing that. Saying "that's what the RAW spell does" is flat out wrong. If there is a campaign story effect that is causing spells to go awry? That's different.

(It's also worth noting that Control Weather says it lets you create or get rid of atmospheric phenomena. Thus, you could use it to get rid of that hurricane.)

Confronting the DM

Your question makes it sound like other spells have also been changed, in addition to this one. If that's the case and you are having issues with it, you should bring it up with the DM. There might be a reason, such as a story effect.

He might also just not understand how the spells actually work. This case is not RAW at all. It sounds like he used the DMG's random weather table and fudged the result. That's the only time you'd roll for weather, by RAW.

What you shouldn't do is say nothing and quietly be annoyed by it, since that will get progressively more annoying until a really bad case of this happens at the table and someone blows up. Best to get the situation cleared up now so everyone's expectations are the same.

The simplest way in this case would be to point out that by RAW he didn't apply the spell correctly and ask what's going on with the spells that makes them change effect. Be friendly. He may be able to clear the whole thing up.

It may also be a good idea to discuss in advance spells that are being modified under whatever he's doing, so everybody is on the same page and there are no (or at least, fewer) unpleasant surprises about what your spells do.

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Thank you for your advice, my initial reaction was to ignore it since everyone else seemed to agree, and things did work out ok in the end. But as you said, I am starting to get frustrated that spells never quite seem to work right, and there are a lot that he just flat out bans. So maybe it would be best to just talk to him about it. –  Joshua Utterback Aug 11 at 18:15
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This answer is so close to how I'd phrase mine that it seems redundant to add it now, so I'm gently offering a small addition: It may be a good idea to discuss in advance spells which may become useful (you boarded a ship last session? discuss Control Weather. You're up against a Summoner? make sure everyone is on the same page about how stealing control of an elemental works etc.). This way you can clear it up with the DM, with enough time for everyone to read and debate the rules, and without it becoming a clash between a DM's rushed judgment call and a player's possibly biased decision. –  G0BLiN Aug 11 at 20:00

The DM Did Not Follow the Rules As Written

The DM totally took license with this spell. If you look at it (say, here), you'll notice the stuff that happened and the stuff this spell describes are not the same.

You can make some flimsy arguments about the chaos of weather, but it has been my experience that most people don't actually understand this. Causing weather to be a light breeze in one area (when it likely to be just that) and then causing a hurricane in the same area is not how the physical concept of "chaos" generally works.

Other Things to Consider

  • Perhaps the Hurricane was coming anyways. Of course, control weather should have reduced it to a light breeze if the hurricane was to come within its duration.
  • The spell does have a duration of 4d12 hours. It may have been possible (but apparently not what happened) that you got a minimum of hours of light breeze, and that the hurricane was coming all along. (Once again, though, the spell is not played according to RAW, as 3 hours is less than 4 hours, the absolute minimum of time the spell can be in effect.)
  • Sometimes DMs just mess up. Maybe she/he read the spell too quickly, or had too many other things on her/his mind.
  • Does it matter to the overall plot? Your method of arrival may not have mattered to the plot, so long as you arrived or got that new ship. We at RPG Stack Exchange may be a fan of RAW, but the social contract of your group may bend to allow things like this as long as it serves the plot.
  • Why do you dislike this? If you're not cool with the social contract of your group (which this sounds be the case), politely bring it up to your DM. If your DM only take license with spells to advance the plot in a way that doesn't actually harm the PCs, do you think it is okay?
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In response to the idea of the spell wearing off, it is a good idea, but the spell was cast by a druid. This makes the minimum duration 8 hours (8d12). He rolled like 56 hours or something like that. The spell did not wear off. –  Joshua Utterback Aug 11 at 19:19
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"Other Things..." Additionally, this sounds like an exciting adventure! (Not that being exciting is a good enough reason to change up expectations or say, "This is RAW" when it's not.) –  GamerJosh Aug 11 at 20:49
    
To answer your final question, my main concern is consistency. Our DM likes to give us puzzles, but the pieces are always changing. I need to be able to know what tools are at my disposal, and consistently rely on them to do what they are supposed to do. I am a caster, I am not strong, I do not have an abundance of skills, the tools at my disposal are my spells. So at the moment it is very difficult for me to be very effective when I do not ever know how my spells will function. I am asking here on this forum to make sure its not just that my interpretation is bad. –  Joshua Utterback Aug 11 at 20:54
    
@gamerjosh yes, it is exciting! I enjoy it very much. –  Joshua Utterback Aug 11 at 20:55
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@JoshuaUtterback You might want to explain that "spells are my tools for solving puzzles, but I need to know what these tools do to be able to approach puzzles in a not-totally-random manner" thing to your GM. He might be under the impression that your character has some ability to tackle problems outside of your spells, and that's not very well supported by the game you're playing. –  GMJoe Aug 12 at 5:10

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