Fireball

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Craig C
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Fireball

Post by Craig C »

In last nights game the wizard dropped a fireball with a 40 diameter. We use figures so the wizard was able to position it exactly so that the bad guys were affected by the fireball but that the front line of the party was not. This to me seemed very similar to the problems we had with precision fireballs in 3E and made me realise how much I missed the old 33,000 cubic feet (33 10x10ft squares) fireballs of 2E and 1E where the size of the room influenced the dimensions of the fireball and dropping them in a dungeon was very much a last resort!

So I am thinking of re-introducing the a fireball as it used to be in that it will always fill its volume. Anyone else play them this way?

Craig

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gideon_thorne
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Re: Fireball

Post by gideon_thorne »

Well.. since the C&C fireball fills a 40' diameter sphere Id say the answer is already there.

I remember a physics teacher who used to DM games during summer school that would calculate the volume of area effected when the blast was too big for the space.

Suffice it to say, placing a fire ball at the end of a long corridor gives one an appreciation of what a musket ball must have felt like.

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Post by Saarlander »

Although i used them again myself as a DnD 2e player recently (yah,i know... hey, just blame the DM, people !), i too always wondered how a spell caster could tell in a glimpse where exactly to throw his exactly x-meter radius spell at to exactly fry these or those one and spare his allies, even when everybody is actually engaged in battle...

Even with ten second rounds rather than 1 minute ones, (and heck ! even more in those), i wouldn't think a close quarter fight is static enough to take such precise measurments AND cast a spell just right on the fly.

And engaging in area volume calculation, although actually the most precise solution in a way, won't win my heart over either (after the second frying of over-powered enemies, the DM i mentionned was on the edge of doing just that... and he is NO physics teacher. Definitely).

Since i will sooner or later meet the problem at my table (and it will be sooner i guess, if i use the same rules for grenades in my Spycraft-SIEGE game; the players are due either to a global hotspot or a warzone in no time, nyark nyark !), i would put a brake to the "Payload Sniper" thing this way:
A caster (or grenade throwing Agent) can broadly try to aim his devastating area spells in the intention of not harming his allies. If he does so, but some of his targets and his allies are actually pretty close (like, er, engaged in combat with them, that sort of thing), the allies take NO damage from a succesful save, and HALF of it if they botch it...
Simple, still allowing for some heroic maneuvers, but now the caster will have to think twice before simply obliterating the enemies his party are already facing in battle.

And concerning the enclosed quarters problem.
It's the KC's call to tell if a room or a corridor is, or is not, too narrow for the area effect of a spell. Period. And the caster might even not be completely sure about this, since i wouldn't think he has the Marvelous Eye + of Volumetric Geometry to know every dimension of the place either.

And if the spell effect wouldn't hold in there, then well done, NO save. For anybody. Just fry up and hush.
Although deadly for enemies taken in the caster Hot Gates (quite litteraly), but hey, that too is part of the Wizard thing, it cuts short to any of the strange stuff i've seen once or twice, the party's Rogue just going on fighting in a corridor while the Wizard went of with his fireballs, just because the Rogue's saves did the trick... (allright, it was 3e, so i know i had it coming...)

At least, i guess that's what i gonna work with... anyone tried something like that already, just in case i missed an important point ?
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Post by Beyondthebreach »

If you don't want to mess around with calculating cubic feet, you can simply rule that a spellcaster is not automatically 100% precise. This only makes sense - even very intelligent spellcasters can not instantaneously determine the exact spot that would affect all the bad guys and just barely miss the good guys . . . Just because the players have the benefit of miniatures and exact distances, doesn't mean their characters do.

It is easy enough to say an experienced spellcaster might always be as much as 5' off. Maybe have them make an intelligence check to see if they hit the target - or maybe a wisdom check (especially if Wis is not a prime! )
If they are off, then the fireball might explode 5' off target in a random direction.

Maybe even forego the intelligence check and rule that there is always a chance that a fireball is up to 5' off - something like 20% on exact target and 20% each for 5' North, West, East or South.

You can even be nastier and say that "inexperienced" fireball users might be as much as 10' off - it takes about a dozen or so until they get their targeting accurate.

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Post by Harry Joy »

That's the way we've handled it, regarding accuracy. With a spell such as Fireball, in the thick of battle the best a mage can do it rough guess it and fling that mutha. If he/she wants to set it down in a particular foot square, they'd better have the time to get out quill and paper and do some geometry. Several rounds. Simply not possible in the heat of things. As for the general destination area, sure - the mage can call it. But for area of affect, it's the DM's call, and he often randomizes it with dice.

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Post by Tropico »

Good point! we haven't progressed to the point of throwing fireballs around but I'm thinking we will soon (caster's up to level 3 and a half I think).

I don't think the accuracy thing is gonna fly, though. It's a very subjective thing that can easily fall under "he's a wizard - super intelligent - not to mention having all day long of every day of his life to study and practice stuff like correct spell placement".

I think what I'll do is something along the lines of "anybody standing on any square adjacent to a creature who takes damage from any area-effect spell must make the appropriate save or take half the effects of the spell as well.

Knowing my players that should go over well and should be enough to make them seriously reconsider / strategize. And that's what it's all about

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Post by Harry Joy »

If you have a player who insists on his wizard's remarkable ability to place spells, to call his shots so to speak, I'd require him to make certain spells a ranged attack, and ask for a roll. And it would be fun for all if you implemented a critical fumble table, too.

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Post by Fizz »

Seems to me that if a caster were going to be that accurate, he'd have to make an attack roll or something.

Ever play with a laser pointer? Try pointing it at a specific target, and then turn it on. It's surprising how much off one can be.

That is to say- where you think you're pointing is not actually where you're pointing.

So i'd rule if a wizard wanted a specific placement like that, then he's got to earn it.

-Fizz

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Post by Omote »

I have problems with the accuracy of things like that too, so this is how I work the problem.

If the Wizard nominates a target, that he can see, and that is a humanoid, parapet, tree stump, SOMETHING that the wizard can pick out then no roll is required.

If the wizard nominated a traget that is a point in space, such as a grid-line on battlemat where no "target" is present, then I call for a attack roll of AC 5 (I consider point in space to have a 0 DEX, and therefore a -5 to AC). This is a "mentalattack roll" so the Wizard's INT mod is added to the roll. For every 50 feet of distance (not counting the first 50) there is a cumulative -1 modifiers to the "mental attack roll." So a fireball at 450 feet away would require a mental attack rool with a -8 modifier. If the wizard misses the mark, then every 50' away the attack can be off target by 1 grid intersection (5'). So if the same wizard were to shoot a fireball 450' away and miss the mental attack roll, then the shot would miss in a "scattered direction" 8 squares away from the intended target.

I have at times used a random method to determine how far the missed roll is. Like the example above, the missed fireball shot at 450' could be 1d8 squares away.

-O
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Post by Witterquick »

Even with miniatures, isn't C&C more abstract, and by that the miniatures just represent the general location, given that in combat people are constantly shifting and swirling around?
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Post by Omote »

Yeah, C&C is more abstract in that regard for sure, but the battlegrid has become a valuable tool for avoiding in-game arguments that I think one should be used when neccessary. If that is the case, some rules are usually needed.

However, as said above you can avoid all of that stuff and say, "well, that's a wizard for you" and the wizard can hit the mark every time as needed.

-O
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Tropico
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Post by Tropico »

Fizz wrote:
Ever play with a laser pointer? Try pointing it at a specific target, and then turn it on. It's surprising how much off one can be.

That's just the thing. Try that. Then spend a year, maybe two practicing with the pointer for a couple hours every single day. Then try it again. You'd be surprised just how much one improves with daily practice. And presumably a wizard has pretty much nothing to do but practice his spells. Not for a year; for his entire life. My point is, you can argue either side of it equally well.

But my main skepticism with it is that it's a slippery slope. You might as well say, hey,you know your rogue is good at climbing yeah, but he doesn't have superhuman sight does he, he can't possibly see every single tiny nook and cranny in a wall (and I know this because when I look at a wall, I can only concentrate on a section at a time, not the whole wall), so even if he succeeds his climb check in the middle of a battle, he could still fall.

Yeah, a fighter is strong and good at attacking, but he can't possibly just bend iron with a blow (I know this because I tried it and I can't) so even if he makes his to-hit roll, if his target is wearing metal armor then he could still not do any damage at all.

You can logically argue that these examples make sense, you can logically argue that they don't. You can come up with 100 different other examples. And it can just go on and on like that forever. It's just fuzzy 'realism' logic that I personally don't enjoy.

Now, requiring an attack roll is an idea that I like. Many spells require attack rolls. No reason why it shouldn't. In fact, plenty of reasons why it should, as evidenced by this thread. That's a good solution also, I think, because it plays into something that's already established and that players can grasp and accept immediately as part of the game.

Of course, goes without saying that if all your players are on board with whatever plan you like, and appreciate and expect something like that, then excellent. My philosophy is that I play towards my players' ideas of what a fun game is, and away from the logical structure of what I think a realistic world should be.

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Post by Witterquick »

Enh, I just think it is someone getting more out of his spells than he should. Use magic missle if he wants to shoot into combat, fireball is the preliminary bombardment spell. It's like a PC in my campaign who used silent image to duplicate mass invisibility. It's "clever" but really it is just trying to get something for nothing.
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Post by Tropico »

You know, I'm reading over the actual spell now... 450' range (that's 90 squares on a grid), instant cast, automatic aim-and-hit, 1d6 damage per level no limit, and automatically at least half of that... that sounds pretty frickin powerful to me!

Guy can pretty much cripple an entire group of 20 or so equal-level monsters in one round Perhaps the spell itself needs some tweaking?

An attack roll or a limit on the d6's does sound ideal... am I wrong here? I'm just not getting where the 'balance' is with this spell. Is it supposed to be offset by the fact that you can easily kill yourself with it? I don't know if I like that idea.. I'm gonna have to think a bit on this one

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Post by Fizz »

Tropico wrote:
That's just the thing. Try that. Then spend a year, maybe two practicing with the pointer for a couple hours every single day. Then try it again. You'd be surprised just how much one improves with daily practice. And presumably a wizard has pretty much nothing to do but practice his spells. Not for a year; for his entire life. My point is, you can argue either side of it equally well.

Oh, i agree. I just wanted to make the point (get it?) that pointing isn't always exact. I'd have no issue in adding the wizard's level to the check (or attack roll) to represent the practice that you just described.

-Fizz

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Post by vegabond »

Fireball's unbalanced entry was one of the first things I noticed when I was trying to decide if C&C was the system I wanted to use.

I think it needs some balancing factors of some kind. For now I was just not going to allow my PC's to get it. Well they are only 1st level, but when they are powerful enough. Heck I might not even introduce it into the game. We'll see how things play out.

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Post by Harry Joy »

Well, Fireball is a wee bit on the strong side, but our CK doesn't mind. The only casualties so far from Fireball in our game have been PCs. And, it should be noted, the caster was a PC as well.

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Post by Omote »

I love the idea that Fireball is a powerful spell. It makes Wizards a serious threat, and an excellent means to role play.

Another aspect of the fireball spell is that it is not limited by a damage cap. I always like the idea of spells getting better the more advanced and better the wizard was.

In the vancian magic system, perhaps Fireball is a bit overpowered, but not so much as to merit an overhual of the spell. I think a good CK can overcome if need be with the system as is.

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Post by Tropico »

Eh, I'm gonna run it as-is, with the adjacency rule I put in my first post.

All of our games are in dungeons or pseudo-dungeons anyway and space is always cramped; and I'm leaning a lot more towards combats with a few very tough monsters instead of many weak ones for entirely separate reasons anyways.

I guess I kinda like the idea of a 'nuke' spell that needs to be treated carefully after all.

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Post by serleran »

A shame that the only improvement to the spell is damage. I don't think the range or area ever increase - that can be very bad, if played against the party. Its also useless against creatures immune to fire. On the whole, I would say its not that insanely powerful. By the time its dealing 20d6, the caster has other, better, options for taking out large groups of low-HD beings, but it is a great "reserve" spell should it be needed, and when the caster first gets it, its like his favored offensive weapon.

Also, remember, to target anything, you have to see it. There are so many easy options to weaken or nullify these spells, that to say one is broken is weird. Perhaps darkness is broken. Or silence because they are just naughty against spellcasters.

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Post by Treebore »

If things are crazy enough I have the Wizard make an INT check to place it correctly. Otherwise I don't worry about the complexities. I just assume the wizard is as practiced and precise with his spells as the fighter is with his sword.
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Post by Fizz »

Treebore wrote:
I just assume the wizard is as practiced and precise with his spells as the fighter is with his sword.

That's exactly my philosophy. So if the fighter would have to make an attack roll to hit that single spot on the floor, then the wizard does too.

Like most things in the Siege engine, if it seems like a simple enough task, then don't worry about rolling for it. Only bring in the rolls if there is any doubt of success.

-Fizz

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Post by jfall »

The way we used to manage it in 3.X (I know, I know... verboten.), was that if the targets were within a 5' step of allies, and you "definitely" wanted to ensure that they were in the area of effect, then the allies got the save for 1/2 or none rule applied.

Now if all the above applied and the spell caster wanted to "try" and get the engaged (w/in 5' step) targets w/in the area of effect, then we'd allow the monsters to have a save for 1/2 or none and the allies didn't have to save at all.

I do like the roll to hit idea though. Especially since there's a physical manifestation of the fireball between the caster's finger and the point of impact. Makes sense to me.... it's more like a thrown rock...that explodes w/ hell's fury.
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Craig C
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Post by Craig C »

Thanks for the ideas guys, I will put some of the suggestions to our group next week and see what we come up with. I personally like the if within 5ft of the target save for 1/2 or no damagebut will put a few options out there for discussion.

Craig

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Post by simontmn »

I nerf FB a bit - 240' range (as per Classic) and 20' diameter not 40', since the C&C caster gets more FBs than the Classic or 1e caster.

If you fireball the enemy front row you have a 50% chance of catching each of your own front line fighters in the blast, due to movement.

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