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Xanathar's Guide to Everything introduced the Circle of the Shepherd subclass option for druids. This circle gets the Mighty Summoner ability at level 6 and the Guardian Spirit ability at level 10. Both grant an improvement to a druid's beast and fey summons. Both are worded so that they clearly apply to the beasts and fey created by the spells conjure animals and conjure woodland beings. It's not as clear whether they apply to the giant insects created by the giant insect spell.

Mighty Summoner:

... Any beast or fey summoned or created by a spell that you cast gains the following benefits:...

Guardian Spirit:

...When a beast or fey that you summoned or created with a spell ends its turn in your Spirit Totem aura... (XGTE p. 24)

That's three requirements:

  1. the pets must be beasts or fey;
  2. the pets must be created or summoned;
  3. the mechanism of creation or summoning must be a spell cast by the shepherd druid.

I believe my question hinges on the second requirement. Giant Insect is a spell (requirement 3 is met). It causes there to exist giant arthropods, all of which are beasts according to the Monster Manual (requirement 1 is met). The description of the giant insect spell doesn't explicitly use the verbs "create" or "summon", though (requirement 2 is unclear):

You transform up to ten centipedes, three spiders, five wasps, or one scorpion within range into giant versions of their natural forms for the duration. A centipede becomes a giant centipede, a spider becomes a giant spider, a wasp becomes a giant wasp, and a scorpion becomes a giant scorpion.

Each creature obeys your verbal commands, and in combat, they act on your turn each round. The DM has the statistics for these creatures and resolves their actions and movement. (PHB p. 245)

My question is whether the giant scorpion, giant spiders, etc. created by giant insect get the benefits of the Mighty Summoner and Guardian Spirit abilities. I suspect a correct answer will also answer the question: Does giant insect create?

My thoughts

If you have a definitive answer, let's hear it. My thought is that an argument can be made either way:

A. No, giant insect does not create beasts.

  • It takes existing beasts and transforms them. See? No creation involved!
  • It's a transmutation spell, not a conjuration or teleportation spell. It changes without creating or summoning.

B. Yes, giant insect creates beasts.

  • In normal English, changing an object's nature is rightly called "creation". If I turn materials into a shed, a sculpture, or a painting, no one will correct me if I say that I created a shed, sculpture, or painting.
  • An oyster adds nacre to a grain of sand, creating a pearl. giant insect adds arthropod-material to an arthropod, creating a giant arthropod.
  • No matter what we call the magic ("transmutation", for example), giant insect temporarily causes a tremendous amount of mass to be present where there was none before. That mass was either brought into existence or brought in from somewhere else; the overwhelming majority of the giant arthropod was either created or summoned, and the preexisting material is so spread through the creature as to be indiscernible from the new material.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ that link at the top does not actually lead to any information on the circle of the shepherd. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Dec 17 '18 at 21:58
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No, you aren't creating

As you've stated, the requirements for the Druid abilities require you to summon or conjure a beast or fey - something that Giant Insect is not doing (as you've quoted). Using plain english does not override the language used in the spell description.

Jeremy Crawford also supports this interpretation to show Rules as Intended:

Twitter Question Would Giant Insect Count? Yes I know the wording says trasnform.

Crawford No

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, the school of magic should matter. They have sort of done them as an after thought and some spells are written without such consideration (Goodberry as an example) but Transmutation doesn't create something from nothing. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jun 14 '18 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate that. Especially when you've got a spell named Create Homonculus but it's a Transmutation spell that transforms. Thanks wizards. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 14 '18 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ And some Polymorph magics granting knowledge which is the domain of Divination... Yeah, I had to step in and lock that stuff down in my games even reverted Goodberry back to a true Transmutation. For the Create Homonculus I believe it is taking the raw materials and constructing something and granting it a semblance of life though, so intentwise it works but the naming conventions suck on occasion. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jun 14 '18 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ The druid abilities do use "conjure" in their descriptions, but in listing requirements, they use the verbs "summon" and "create". As for Create Homunculus, I had assumed the only thing preventing it from benefiting from Mighty Summons was the fact that it created a construct, not a beast or fey. The word "Create" is right there in the name. \$\endgroup\$ – Greg Faust Jun 14 '18 at 14:56
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I would say no.

  • as you already pointed out: no creation, just transformation
  • the "yes" arguments you present seem to me like trying too hard to bend the meaning (even though your language point is intriguing). But creation is "where there wasn't a shed before, now there is", while this is "where was a bug, is a bug, just bigger".
  • "lore-wise", the feature is called "Mighty Summoner". That says to me that mightier allies answer to the druid's calling (or something along those lines). That seems to me as a different kind of situation from this, where you pick a random centipede off the ground and inflate it.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Not disagreeing with the overall point, but the parallel to "where there wasn't a shed before..." is "where there wasn't an entity on the initiative queue before..." In other words, what sets Giant Insect and Conjure Animals apart from Enlarge Reduce or Polymorph is the fact that Giant Insect and Conjure animals have a sentence saying how to add the previously-not-a-combatant entity to the initiative queue. \$\endgroup\$ – Greg Faust Jun 14 '18 at 15:01

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