D&D refers to numerous things or acts as supernatural or unnatural. What is the difference between them? For example, druids detest unnatural things which in my understanding is undead and aberrations. What makes undead and aberrations unnatural instead of supernatural?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give some examples? Also, the dungeons-and-dragons tag is used for the entire history of the game from the 70s to today; do you perhaps just the most recent edition (5th, which would use the dnd-5e tag)? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 1:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with KRyan that we need to know at least some examples of what you're talking about. I'm also hitching on the "unnatural... in my understanding is undead and aberrations." Can you pin down where this is from? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 1:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ After what the others said, you've now tagged it with both 5e and Pathfinder, which are two very different editions... \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 3:31

1 Answer 1


In a lot of cases, the words “supernatural” and “unnatural” are just being used as English words, not as specific game terms. They don’t have strict definitions. “Supernatural” is just a catch-all term for everything magical and inexplicable (with the implication being that the “natural” are things we can explain, e.g. with science, and “supernatural” being things that go beyond what the natural sciences can explain), while “unnatural” are just that, things that aren’t “natural” (which in this case is more like the things that happen of their own accord, without some will artificially forcing them that way—unless nature itself has a will in this setting, which she often does in D&D, then in that case she doesn’t count).

What, exactly, it means for a druid to dislike the “unnatural” depends on the druid’s culture and the way “nature” does or does not work in their world. Most of the time, yes, that’s objecting to aberrations (alien invaders and things-which-should-not-be, for the most part) and undead (twisting and corruption of the dead), but that’s not universal. After all, plenty of D&D settings have undead that form naturally, no evil necromancy involved. Plenty of aberrations are native and natural to their worlds, they’re just weird. It’s not a given that these are going to be “unnatural.”

Note, however, that in Pathfinder (and D&D 3.5e that it’s based on), “supernatural” was a specific game term, which could be applied to certain abilities (“supernatural abilities”), and followed certain rules—namely, such abilities were suppressed by antimagic field, but not otherwise vulnerable to dispelling, counterspelling, or disruption. This is in contrast with extraordinary—non-magical—abilities, spell-like abilities, and actual spells. Pathfinder has avoided it, but D&D 3.5e also had a ton of other types of abilities, like incarnum soulmelds and psionic powers.

Anyway, in those systems, abilities could be marked by “Su” or otherwise called supernatural to indicate that they use these rules. Otherwise they would be marked “Ex” or “Sp” or whatever. Abilities were never “implicitly” supernatural—an ability would only be supernatural if something, somewhere, said it was (though there were times where they would say a whole class of abilities were supernatural, and then not indicate that in the individual descriptions). If the word “supernatural” was used outside of an ability description (say, describing a place, or a creature, or whatever), then it wasn’t being used as a game term but just as an English word.


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