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The dust devil spell creates an elemental force resembling a dust devil that picks up stuff as it moves:

As a bonus action, you can move the dust devil up to 30 feet in any direction. If the dust devil moves over sand, dust, loose dirt, or small gravel, it sucks up the material and forms a 10-foot-radius cloud of debris around itself that lasts until the start of your next turn. The cloud heavily obscures its area.

I had the idea to pick up some sawdust from a lumberyard, soak it in alcohol, let the dust devil pick it up, then set it alight to create a flaming burning dust devil.

Would this be possible to do with the dust devil spell?

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Unfortunately, the dust devil spell specifies that:

If the dust devil moves over sand, dust, loose dirt, or small gravel, it sucks up the material and forms a 10-foot radius cloud of debris around itself that lasts until the start of your next turn.

So the materials it can pick up are sand, dust, loose dirt, or small gravel - burning sawdust isn't an option.

If you want to do something similar, flaming sphere basically achieves it, albeit with a smaller radius, but it also lasts longer than 1 round.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would "sawdust" be considered a subset of "dust"? \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Vincent Jan 8 '18 at 0:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MattVincent It'd be up to the DM, when you get right down to it, but personally I see that list as being very much ground-related, so while I'd probably allow mud, I wouldn't go for sawdust. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jan 8 '18 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a note the flaming sawdust would do a minimal amount of damage. An entire flask of oil poured on you and set alight does 5 damage per round to a target for 2 rounds (PHB p.152). I would suggest someone in a cloud of it make a Dex save vs DC10 and take something like 2 points of fire damage on a fail, half that on a success, whether or not you allowed the spell to make said cloud. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Jan 8 '18 at 10:35
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"Sand, dust, loose dirt, or small gravel" are examples of the sort of thing the Dust Devil will pick up if it moves over them. Any suitably loose and small materials would be swept up that way. So dry sawdust would certainly be eligible. For this to work as you like, the DM would have to rule on whether you can soak the sawdust in enough alcohol to make it flame well, without making the sawdust too wet to make a cloud of. My inclination would be probably not.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with you in principle and maybe that is RAI, and I would run it that way myself (i.e. in my game the spell would pick up sawdust or any other loose and small material), RAW it is not the case, they aren't given as examples, they are given as a specific list. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Jan 8 '18 at 10:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's a non-sensical interpretation of the plain language. So there's some magical limitation that prohibits the wind from moving any fine-grained materials except those particular ones? Flour would just sit there? Or a pile of oats or grain? If it moved over an anthill, it would pick up all the dirt, but leave the ants sitting there behind? \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Jan 8 '18 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's magic so yes it could. You have to be very careful about using real world physics to interpret what is a fantasy magical effect, it leads to many spells and effects just not working if you do. As I say it's not how I would run it, but RAW it is how it works. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Jan 9 '18 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ That just doesn't really make any sense at all to me. I'm a fan of using real world physics and chemistry and biology as much as possible, to make sense of the system, and to build a world that makes sense and is predictable. I'm even perfectly willing to change rules to match, if the rules dictate outcomes that make no sense. We all did a lot of that in AD&D 1e, back in the day, because Gary Gygax was not conversant in any science, and a lot of that first system made no sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Jan 9 '18 at 19:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the spell said "materials such as [x]" you'd be correct that the listed materials are merely examples, but since it simply lists those 4 items as being picked up, @Protonflux is correct that by RAW it'd only pick those 4 items up. Magic doesn't always have to make sense, and DMs are obviously free to rule differently. I'd suggest clarifying that your answer is a more logical interpretation of the spell even if it's not RAW. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 16 '18 at 20:48

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