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Can you turn the "rotation" option offered by the Control Winds spell on its side, so that instead of creating a vortex around a vertical axis, it creates a vortex around a horizontal axis instead? There seems to be nothing in the spell's text that says that the rotation option must use a vertical rotation axis, and horizontal vortices are well-known in nature IRL (and would be well known to any druid in D&D as well who's spent significant time wild-shaped into birds, especially flocking birds).

Relevant spell text:

Area: 40 ft./level radius cylinder 40 ft.high

...

You alter wind force in the area surrounding you. You can make the wind blow in a certain direction or manner, increase its strength, or decrease its strength.

The new wind direction and strength persist until the spell ends or until you choose to alter your handiwork, which requires concentration. You may create an “eye” of calm air up to 80 feet in diameter at the center of the area if you so desire, and you may choose to limit the area to any cylindrical area less than your full limit (for example, a 20-foot-diameter tornado centered 100 feet away).

Wind Direction: You may choose one of four basic wind patterns to function over the spell’s area.

...

  • A rotation causes the winds to circle the center in clockwise or counter-clockwise fashion.
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By the rules-as-written, no, you cannot turn it on its side. Cylinder shape spells are intended for their "height" to be straight up from the ground to the sky. This intent can clearly be seen in spells like Flamestrike that have larger areas of effect if turned on their side.

That's the rules as written. Remember, the game is really designed for a two dimensional battle mat, which is why three dimensional effects and positioning, like distances while flying, are so vague in the rules. However, if you truly do have complete control over the direction of the wind, it would make logical sense to be able to orient it however you please. In the case of Control Winds, rotating it this way reduces it's effective area in most encounters, so you're not gaming the system for an advantage. Talk to your DM; taking the intent of the spell into account, your interpretation is reasonable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ straight down from the sky to the ground, actually. Kind of weird. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 15 '15 at 7:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a divine spell after all. Most divine area spells are less flexible than arcane spells (at least in SRD), I'd guess it's by design. \$\endgroup\$ – burlap Aug 15 '15 at 9:13
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When casting a cylinder-shaped spell, you select the spell’s point of origin. This point is the center of a horizontal circle, and the spell shoots down from the circle, filling a cylinder. A cylinder-shaped spell ignores any obstructions within its area.

So NO, unfortunately. You can, however, do this on planes where gravity is subjective, by altering what direction is vertical for you.


Example of Subjective Directional Gravity:

Inhabitants of the Elemental Plane of Air determine their own “down” direction. Objects not under the motive force of others do not move.

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