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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
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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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