While I think that the surface of the sea ought to work as 'ground' in naval battles, where using whirlwind could clear the decks of the opposing ship's crew and render it disabled, the spell says this:

A whirlwind howls down to a point that you can see on the ground within range. The whirlwind is a 10-foot-radius, 30-foot-high cylinder centered on that point. Until the spell ends, you can use your action to move the whirlwind up to 30 feet in any direction along the ground. The whirlwind sucks up any Medium or smaller objects that aren’t secured to anything and that aren’t worn or carried by anyone. {snip damage and restrained bit}

It would also be helpful clarifying if the deck of the opposing ship constitutes "the ground" for this spell. I think that it should, but does it?

A discussion with my DM last night showed that he agrees with the accepted answer, and I hope that all other DM's will do likewise.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate: What is “the ground”? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 25, 2021 at 2:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ certainly related @ThomasMarkov, but that's in the context of a different spell and a different situation. DaleM's reference to tapioca pudding, however, does give one hope. 😁 \$\endgroup\$ Jul 25, 2021 at 2:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that you will have the same problem if you want to smash the enemy ship to smithereens with Meteor Swarm, which makes "Blazing orbs of fire plummet to the ground at four different points you can see within range". I'm sure there are many other spells with the same ambiguity. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 25, 2021 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


Yes. Unless a spell specifically uses the "ground" as an effect then I can't see why the word "ground" can't be a placeholder for any horizontal surface. For example you could cast whirlwind to clear a table of its tableware, the table surface becomes the "ground" and the point of focus for the caster.

Any spell which uses the substance of the ground for an effect would need a more literal approach.

You might want to say that the water is treated as a contiguous body and is therefore not sucked up into the whirlwind . Anything not anchored and just floating on the surface is fair game as long as it is no larger than medium.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could really use some references. For now it's just an opinion. One I happen to agree with, but unsupported opinion none the less. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Jul 25, 2021 at 22:23

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