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The awaken spell: playing God?

I've been thinking a lot today about the Awaken spell, specifically for an adventure I'm working on involving a herd of intelligent wild horses who were awakened by druids centuries before. It got me thinking about some of the implications of a spell like Awaken, which I thought I'd throw out to you all.

1. Can awakened animals breed with regular animals (of their species, of course) or only with other awakened animals? After all, it's not an "animal" anymore. The spell slaps a template (magical beast) on the animal. One could argue that what the spell is actually doing is a rather radical neurological mutation. So is Skippy the Talking Dog a good ol' canis familiaris or some new species, like canis sapiens?

2. If you allow that an awakened animal can breed with a factory-issue animal, what are their children? If you follow the X-Men school of genetic theory, some might be intelligent and some not. Or maybe they mix the traits of both parents, and they're just kinda slow.

3. If they can only breed with other awakened members of their species, is a druid fundamentally obligated to awaken one of each sex? After all, it wouldn't be very druidic to create some genetic freak (against its will, even) that can't propagate its line.

4. Does it strike anyone as odd that Awaken is a druid spell at all? It seems to me that tinkering with an animal's "operating system" is one of the grossest violations of the natural order I can think of, and I'm not a druid who's paid to think about these things. I mean, a lizard or a dog or a bear is as smart as it NEEDS to be. It's one thing to create glowing mice, but to fundamentally alter a mouse's brain would be to alter it's entire reason for being. I don't mean to make this sound like an anti-biotech rant, I'm just pointing out that Awaken seems counter to the Druid's philosophy as I understand it. Maybe it would be better suited as a Sor/Wiz spell?

I don't expect there's a right or wrong answer to any of these, just wanted to discuss it.
 
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CalrinAlshaw said:
Do YOU want to mate with the beautiful drooling person?

Calrin Alshaw
Ask my girlfriend that :heh:.

That's a good point. Even if they COULD mate, why would an intelligent dog want to make the beast with two backs with some dumb old non-talking dog?

That adds a further dimension to question #3 I mentioned before.
 
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Kaleon Moonshae

When TrueNight falls
I don't know. I don't see it as radically altering the animal so much as teaching it a new language. The way I see animals is that they are of low inteligence *compared* to the way humans think of it. What awaken does is basically teach that animal (I tend to think it works better on already bright version sof animals/plants) how to communicate with humanoids better. It gives them a glimpse into how we look at the world and how we *work* so to speak. It is more like a permanent animal speech spell to me that has the side effect of allowing the animal to learn classes and such that requires a stable ability to communicate. I see this as the *ultimate* act of balance. It brings two seperate creatures to a mutual understanding of each other's worlds.

Now to your questions:

1) To me, as already stated, nothing actually changes in the animal. The only reason they become magical beasts is because they have a type of permanent magic applied to them. With this in mind they can breed with normal animals just like a human with a permanent polymorph of wings would be able to.

2) I would say their children are *fundamentally the same as a normal animal since it is not changing genetics but just adding a magical effect. Whether or not that new animal could *talk* is a real question. I would say no, because of the problem with vocal chords which is one of the magical changes to the parent. Could it *learn* the language? To read? To possibly even advance in character classes if it had a teacher who could speka both languages (like their parent)? I would say.. possibly to this. I would also give them a roll to determine Int, just like their parent got when it awakened. This is to show that the parents bridges that communication gap as the child grows up.

3) already answered by not seeing them having to breed with others like them.

4) answered in the first paragraph
 

Chimera

First Post
I had a thread on this in D&D Rules about a month or so ago.

1. Yes.
2. As others have said, Intelligence should be inherited and variable according to the genetic roll of the dice. Some will be intelligent, some won't, some will be in between.
3. n/a.

Do YOU want to mate with the beautiful drooling person?

In this world, you have to ask?

Besides. Horses are pretty smart as it is.

TW, as per my original thread... "We used to be a nation of great horsemen. Then those da**ed druids awakened our horses. Within a generation of men, we could not ride them. Within another generation, it was they who ruled the plains..."
 

Lord Pendragon

First Post
I don't think genetics has anything to do with it. An awakened animal becomes a magical beast, because there is now something magical in its nature. That magical part of its nature is its intelligence. It isn't mutated into a non-magical animal with a larger, more complex brain.

That said, it can mate with ordinary members of its species, and the offspring are not intelligent, unless also awakened by a druid.

This does present a very interesting situation, though, since the awakened animal becomes alone in the world, as its former race can no longer comprehend the nature of its world, while those who can aren't the same species, and thus cannot share the same outlook.

I played up this angle with a familiar of mine, which finds itself in a similar situation as its growing intelligence moves it farther and farther away from any kind of comraderie with other members of its race.
 

Sejs

First Post
Tarrasque Wrangler said:
I've been thinking a lot today about the Awaken spell, specifically for an adventure I'm working on involving a herd of intelligent wild horses who were awakened by druids centuries before. It got me thinking about some of the implications of a spell like Awaken, which I thought I'd throw out to you all.

1. Can awakened animals breed with regular animals (of their species, of course) or only with other awakened animals? After all, it's not an "animal" anymore. The spell slaps a template (magical beast) on the animal. One could argue that what the spell is actually doing is a rather radical neurological mutation. So is Skippy the Talking Dog a good ol' canis familiaris or some new species, like canis sapiens?
I'd say they can still breed with the base animal they were awakened from. I mean heck, orcs and humans can breed and produce viable offspring after all. Whether they would want to mate with a less intelligent animal would be an issue for the individual creature to deal with. Either breeding is an intellectual choice, like it is for humans, and the idea of mating with a non-sentient partner would be difficult, or breeding is an instinctual impetus like it is for most animals and they don't sweat the details. They just know that when the time is right, you do what you're supposed to do, and follow your internal urgings.

Tarrasque Wrangler said:
2. If you allow that an awakened animal can breed with a factory-issue animal, what are their children? If you follow the X-Men school of genetic theory, some might be intelligent and some not. Or maybe they mix the traits of both parents, and they're just kinda slow.
I'd say that A) the offspring is a magical beast, following the Elf Blood/Orc Blood line of reasoning (the more 'advanced' parental type is dominant... even if one type isn't actually more advanced than the other, heh.), and that B) the offspring would have a mean intelligence between that of the awakened and non-awakened parents, rather than some being fully sentient and others fully non-sentient. So basically if you wanted to create a fully sentient, self-sufficient breed, you'd either need to awaken all members of a breeding stock, or you'd have to awaken the studs and then go with good ol' fashioned eugenics.

Tarrasque Wrangler said:
3. If they can only breed with other awakened members of their species, is a druid fundamentally obligated to awaken one of each sex? After all, it wouldn't be very druidic to create some genetic freak (against its will, even) that can't propagate its line.
Not particularly obligated, per se. It would be the nice thing to do, sure, but druids arn't required to be nice people. Nor are they required to work within "the natural order of things" - druids, in essence, have lisence to screw with nature however they see fit, because nature likes them. Awaken, Reincarnate, Control Weather, and many many other spells on the druid's list would horribly screw up an area's local ecosystem, but they're allowed to do them where, when, and how they see fit because, hey... nature likes them. Any obligation to use a soft touch with the world would be from an internal urging, rather than an externally imposed requirement.

Tarrasque Wrangler said:
4. Does it strike anyone as odd that Awaken is a druid spell at all? It seems to me that tinkering with an animal's "operating system" is one of the grossest violations of the natural order I can think of, and I'm not a druid who's paid to think about these things. I mean, a lizard or a dog or a bear is as smart as it NEEDS to be. It's one thing to create glowing mice, but to fundamentally alter a mouse's brain would be to alter it's entire reason for being. I don't mean to make this sound like an anti-biotech rant, I'm just pointing out that Awaken seems counter to the Druid's philosophy as I understand it. Maybe it would be better suited as a Sor/Wiz spell?
See above. If a druids were required to work to the constant betterment, and in the best interest of, the natural order they'd never cast spells. Healing spells work against the natural order, because when a creature gets injured, they're supposed to die. Reincarnate works against the natural order, because when a creature dies, it's not supposed to come back in any way, shape, or form. Any of the great bevy of
fire spells the druid has access to work against the natural order because there's not supposed to be fire there, otherwise. Plant Growth works against the natural order, because plants are supposed to grow at a rate that's prescribed for their type and growing conditions. Everything a druid does screws with the natural order in some way or another. Magical Alteration and the Natural Order are like oil and water, it's just that a druids Magical Alternations spring from, and function within a framework of the natural order. On its own, nature would get by just fine without any magical alteration whatsoever - it just doesn't need it to keep going.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
As for 1) and 2) - I don't have a flat answer. It would depend very much on qwhat world I was running, and how I wanted things to proceed. I am a little skeptical that the intent was to allow a single casting of a 5th level spell to create whole new intelligent species.

Yes, that's a single casting. Some trees have both male and female flowers. If the spell effects carry on to children, why aren't forests filled with awakened trees?

As for (4), the answer si simple - the druid is not devoted to the status quo, keeping all things static and the same for all time. I'd think they are more devoted to health and prosperity of the wileds than to keeping them static. Change happens. Who among mortals would better than a druid to know what changes to the natural order would be good ones?
 

Richards

Legend
This discussion reminds me of the Dean Koontz novel Watchers, with Einstein, the genetically-enhanced golden retriever. If I remember correctly, Einstein had a litter of puppies with his mate, a "normal" golden retriever (when asked, he replied to his human "owner," "Hey, intelligence isn't everything, you know!"), and they showed every sign of being as intelligent as their father.

Not that you should base your D&D campiagn on a Dean Koontz novel or anything; it just brought back memories of the book, is all. Personally, I think I'm in the "offspring will be normal animals" camp, requiring an additional casting of the awaken animal spell to bring to human-level intelligence.

Johnathan
 

Sejs

First Post
Besides. Horses are pretty smart as it is.

TW, as per my original thread... "We used to be a nation of great horsemen. Then those da**ed druids awakened our horses. Within a generation of men, we could not ride them. Within another generation, it was they who ruled the plains..."

An aside -

1) Smart-ish. Horses are around Int 2/dog-smart. Monkey/Dolphin/Octopus-smart, they ain't.

2) The last line irks me, just from a plausability standpoint. They wouldn't rule the plains. They'd get shot. Then they'd die. Lack of manipulators and all that - they're faster and stronger, but they can't use tools. Intelligent horses would either learn to co-exist, or they'd be wiped out. If the world were a kindergarden run by well meaning educational PhDs, humanity's report card would read "Ever so bright, but does not play well with others"
 

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