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One of my players took Dust Devil as a spell, but in practice, it did not perform as expected.

  • STR save: good, it is a rare save

  • 1d8 bludgeoning damage + 1d8 per spell-slot above 2nd: below average, strictly worse than Cloud of Daggers, at some point better than Flaming Sphere

  • 1m duration, concentration: standard for a long-term spell

  • pushes enemies away: difficult to judge. On one hand, it can become useful and push enemies away. On the other, enemies can be pushed in an undesirable direction

  • 5ft cube, affects all enemies within 5ft of it (so effectively affecting a 15ft square area): the same as Flaming Sphere

  • affects enemies at end of turn: very bad, enemies can easily avoid it, unless they are trapped/cannot move/cannot attack at range. Compare with Cloud of Daggers, for example, which damages at start of turn without a save

  • can be moved as bonus action, but has no effect on being moved: unlike Flaming Sphere, which can be slammed into an enemy

  • creates a vision-obscuring 10ft radius cloud of debris in specific terrain: good, but very situational

After we played around with it, Dust Devil just seemed lacklustre. Compared with Cloud of Daggers or Flaming Sphere, which have some way to guarantee damage, Dust Devil felt useless in a particular fight where it caused no damage.

What are good ways of using Dust Devil? Should it just be prepared for narrow dungeons with choke-point? Places with specific terrain for its vision-blocking effect? Or is there some specific team composition that makes it worthwhile to concentrate on?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "5ft cube, affects 5ft around it (so effectively a 15ft cube): the same as Flaming Sphere" Could you explain this? A 5-foot cube has a 5-foot length side so it perfectly fills exactly one square? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Dec 1 '19 at 22:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 And that cube affects all enemies within 5ft, thus affecting a 15ft area. I'll reword for clarity \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Dec 1 '19 at 22:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Strength may be a rare save, but it doesn't matter, because it's a strong stat for most monsters. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Dec 1 '19 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ After we played around with it, Dust Devil just seemed lacklustre I think you answered your own question. See also spells like True Strike. 😎 \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 29 at 15:59
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As a battlefield control spell, it's excellent

As a damage-dealing spell, it's OK.

The point of this spell is to make a 15-foot square (9 squares if on a grid) dangerous to occupy: forcing creatures to choose whether to avoid that area or take damage and possibly get pushed out of that area anyway.

It's better than Cloud of Daggers because it affects a larger area, can actually throw creatures out of the area, and is mobile; it's worse in that it does less direct damage and any damage can be avoided entirely.

It's better than Flaming Sphere because it can throw creatures out of the affected area, and uses Strength save instead of Dexterity; it's worse in that it does less damage at its base level and can't be used offensively.

If you want to blow a hole through a wall of enemies to get to the McGuffin super quick, give me Dust Devil every time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Allowing enemies to avoid the spell can be useful, because the way they avoid it is by moving. This is good for encouraging enemies to move away from your ally who is wounded, or discouraging them from standing in the spot that has line of sight to you (so they target you with their crossbows and spells), etc. Even better, it presents them with the option of taking an oppportunity attack from you, or using their action to disengage. A free attack against them, or one less attack from them: either is a benefit. \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Dec 2 '19 at 9:51
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Its An Arcane Spiritual Weapon

I see it as a "Copy" of Spiritual Weapon, except it uses a saving throw rather then an attack roll. The difference is that Dust Devil grants guaranteed damage on save or fail, and can shove enemies around with the failed save, leaving some enemies possibly going prone if shoved into a wall or another enemy.

The only downside is that unlike Spiritual Weapon it cannot perform Opportunity Attacks with War Caster, nor benefit from Sentinel. All in all, its a great spell for Battle Casters / Eldritch Knights (Eldritch Knights can learn this spell at 8th level) that do not have a use for their Bonus Action - now that you do you can sneak in some extra damage and shove foes around as you please.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In what way is Dust Devil like Spiritual Weapon? At least to me, it's not obvious that they are alike at all and you only mention differences. \$\endgroup\$ – indigochild Apr 22 at 20:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its a 1D8 damaging spell, that is triggered on a bonus action, moved as a bonus action and deals Bludgeoning damage. The main difference is that its a saving throw spell rather then attack roll spell, meaning damage is guaranteed as a bonus action. also its versatile in the clasess that do learn the spell, like Wizards,Sorcerers, Bards, Druids and Eldritch knight. my point is that its like a offshoot of Spiritual Weapon for classes that don't have direct access to Spiritual Weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – Bionizard54 Apr 23 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that Spiritual Weapon does force damage, not bludgeoning damage; that's also a pretty big different between the two spells... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 29 at 15:40
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Just took this spell thinking it was a lot like Spiritual Weapon... BIG mistake. It's really the worst spell in practice.

You can't use it to protect yourself or allies since ANY creature within 5' is affected. If you put it near an enemy they can just move away from it... even avoiding opportunity attacks because they can just move away from it but stay close to you.
You can't use it offensively since enemies can just move away from it before it has an effect. The only thing it's good for is making a spot on the map to avoid (stopping in) for your enemies AND your team.

I can only see this being useful in very rare situations where the terrain (inside or outside) is very restrictive. For this it costs a second level spell slot AND requires concentration. Pfft. What a waste.. AVOID.

Sadly, if it just worked like flaming sphere so you could ram it into enemies it would be functional and that functionality is perfectly plausible. But RAW it's (almost) worthless.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You appear to be challenging the frame of the question, in that your table experience is that it is 'worthless' and a bad choice for a second level spell slot. Is that your intention? If so, I think you could improve your answer by suggesting one or two other 2d level spells that achieve the question askers objectives. Welcome to RPGSE. The tour, help center, How to Ask and How to Answer articles provide guidance on how to best use this site. Happy Gaming. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 29 at 15:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer would benefit from some illustration of the position where dust devil is categorically bad and some analysis as to why that is the case. E.g. even simple positioning figures like this or this are useful for me to see what's being talked about. \$\endgroup\$ – GcL Jul 29 at 16:25

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