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D&D 5E Animism in D&D

4E introduced the concept of primal spirits, including a number of Great Elder Spirits (including a mountain spirit called Stone Root). Basically they were the stated source of the Primal classes' powers, but they rarely manifested except as part of those powers because they were busy being part of the world most of the time.

5E introduced the chwinga, which are nature spirits who are elemental in nature (which is interesting considering the fact that one of the proposed origins for the 4E primal spirits was that they were elementals used to build the world who accepted and embraced being part of it while other elementals wanted to be free of it). Otherwise 5E usually uses fey spirits, but if I were to portray nature spirits I'd let them manifest in many forms. A mountain spirit might manifest as a galeb duhr, a stone giant, a mountain goat, disembodied voice, etc.

Explorer's Guide to Wildemount also introduced Lesser Idols, entities that are natives of the world and not as powerful as the gods but capable of granting power to both clerics and warlocks. Such nature spirits could be treated the same way.

Wildemount also establishes that during a time when a powerful leviathan called Uk'otoa forbid worship of the goddess of nature, Melora, the people under his rule turned to nature spirits instead, which Uk'otoa allowed. Melora was apparently also okay with this arrangement as she and her followers ardently opposed Uk'otoa's father Zehir but made no moves against Uk'otoa.
 
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Marandahir

Crown-Forester
I like the idea of not differentiating between fey, undead, elemental, and primal spirits, even equating celestials and fiends with these spirits from certain points of view.

D&D has really "codified" a lot of these distinguished classes of beings, but for many cultures around the world, such strict delineations are not used, or the delineations for why one class of beings are different or at odds with another class of beings rarely fall on such boundaries.

Even D&D has had a hard time deciding, for example, what the heck a Will-o-Wisp is. Fey? Undead? Aberration!?

The reality is that in many cultures, Elf = Ghost = Faerie = Goblin = Dwarf = Ancestor Spirit = Demon = Angel…

In some of my games, there's the Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane, which is a misty dream world with elements of the Feywild and Shadowfell and Inner and Outer planes…
 

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