Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How hot is my Fireball?

On my last session summary report, in the comments, there is some discussion about fireballs vs. undead, melting temperatures, and so on.

Basically, I mentioned that one reason the PCs haven't disposed of the 33 draugr is concern about the best method to kill them also being a good way to reduce the value of the loot. Flame-broil the whole bunch and you're flame-broiling their gold jewelry, their armor, their weapons, their shields, etc. It's not a question of temperature, but of damage. Let me explain.

How hot is a Fireball spell?

I'm not sure. It's not defined. It doesn't really need to be defined, either. It's hot enough to inflict 1-6 burning damage for 1 energy, in one second, reduced normally by DR.

Ordinary flame inflicts 1d-3 or 1d-1, depending on how long you stay in the same hex with it. Being partly on fire and having all of your clothing on fire merely match those, respectively.

We know what that will set fire to, because GURPS Basic Set conveniently lists the damage needed under Making Things Burn (p. B433).

We know how much damage it takes to punch big holes in objects (p. B558) and how many DR and HP most objects have (various sources, such as LTC2, Basic Set, etc.)

We know how much damage armor can stop before the things behind it take damage.

So even DR that would normally be fully protective from ordinary flame (say, DR 5, enough to ignore maximum damage from standing in a hex of flame for 1 full second) might allow damage through from a Fireball spell. Even fully sealed armor from heavily fire-resistant materials (steel, for example) won't necessarily stop a Fireball from inflicting burning damage on the person beyond.

All of that is looking at a 1d Fireball. They can go all the way up to 18d in a Dungeon Fantasy campaign. An 18d fireball on the low end will set even Resistant objects on fire and will, on average damage (63 HP) set flesh or green wood on fire.

Even a 3d Fireball is inflicting the same damage as contact with molten metal for one second.

Will that melt gold? Is it hot enough?

Maybe. Probably, even. But it doesn't matter. It's damaging enough that most gold objects aren't going to have the DR and HP to stay as intact objects from the hit. That spell can easily do enough damage to melt a hole in a 1/8" steel wall or punch a hole in a 3" thick brick wall.

And that's what matters. Damage, not temperature.

Because mainly, really, this isn't science. It's gaming. None one at my table is going to want to stop the game to determine how hot 28 points of fire damage from a Fireball is vs. 40 points or 60 points or whatever, and the smoke/ignition/melting temperatures of everything. It's enough to say, yeah, it's unlikely a gold necklace will be intact after 30 fire damage in one second, even if it could sit all day in a fire doing 1d-1 per second . . . so it won't be. It melts, it's warped, it's time to start thinking "value of weight of gold" and not "value as a well-crafted piece of jewelry." That feels right, it feels consistent with Fireballing down barriers, golems, and punching through armor, and it's easy enough at the table.

Defeat a bunch of undead with massive amounts of fire, expect melted stuff. It's just how it's going to work at my table.

24 comments:

  1. I wonder what the fumes would do to the health of the PCs in and enclosed space. Broiling a material undead might give off some noxious fumes I would think.

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  2. "Defeat a bunch of undead with massive amounts of fire, expect melted stuff. It's just how it's going to work at my table."

    So why hasn't someone been looking into anti-Undead spells? Your Wizzards are falling down on the job.

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  3. Huh.

    There isn't a "deal damage/control generic Undead" spell. Makes Wraiths even more potent...

    So, we're back to Fire Cloud and Fast Fire then (which should nicely kill Draug in it's area without unduly harming their jewelry or the metal bits of their armor).

    Alternately spill a lot of flammable oil, light it, and cast Fast Fire (again, burning Draug, but not enough fire damage to destroy metal goods).

    If the PCs are really insistent on not risking the jewelry and armor... hmmm. I have other ideas but I'll leave that for your Players. Though honestly the size of the room and the placement of the sarcophagi might render some of my ideas moot.

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    1. Note... my other ideas are neither easy nor simple nor make for particularly exciting gameplay.

      Well... except Create Steam, it's simple, expensive (FP), and could be very exciting...

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    2. The issue really is, to do enough damage to get past their DR and put them down where they'll eventually fall apart (which is well into the multiple of negative HP) takes a lot of energy. Filling the place with oil means the draugr pretty much have to let them do that, and don't seem inclined to allow it. And solutions like Fire Cloud have a low damage-to-cost ratio and still need to overcome DR. Non-fire mass damage spells can work, but will need a lot of energy (33 draugr!) and don't take advantage of their special vulnerability.

      It's an issue they haven't been able to think of a way around, either.

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    4. "The issue really is, to do enough damage to get past their DR and put them down where they'll eventually fall apart (which is well into the multiple of negative HP) takes a lot of energy."

      Well... yes. Using AoE spells is going to be expensive FP or $$$ (if dosh can even be spent to surmount this one problem).

      However... the AoE fire solution (as well as non-fire AoE solutions) does significantly reduce their DR, from 6 to 3 (remember standing in a full hex fire is a Large Area Attack).


      "Filling the place with oil means the draugr pretty much have to let them do that, and don't seem inclined to allow it."

      Kind of... yeah. I mean sneaking up and rolling several barrels in set to "explode" could work... but it would be tricky and hazardous. But done right with luck... could devastate the Draug (and probably the loot).


      "And solutions like Fire Cloud have a low damage-to-cost ratio and still need to overcome DR."

      High FP cost... oh yeah. I "like" Fire Cloud because you can better fine tune the damage output and it lasts 10 seconds. So even just set at 5 damage and filling the entire room means the Draugr take 20 damage over that time, but ///should/// leave most metal goods intact (leather straps, books, maps, spell scrolls, and priceless paintings of course are gone!).

      But set at 5 damage, Fast Fired and let run... that's 140 damage... but really even their steel weapons and armor should be heat damaged (10 dps versus DR 11 steel armor... eh).

      But it would conclusively solve the Draugr problem.


      "Non-fire mass damage spells can work, but will need a lot of energy (33 draugr!) and don't take advantage of their special vulnerability."

      Create Steam costs the same regardless of the number of Druagr... but it's bloody expensive to blanket the entire room (I presume it's a decent sized crypt).


      "It's an issue they haven't been able to think of a way around, either."

      I've got solutions... some very creative and risky, some slow and careful... but only a few that would leave most of the loot undamaged... and most them are expensive propositions* (which leaves the risk of netting a negative income on the endeavor).

      * One is ridiculously cheap with the three right spells (possibly needing 2 Wizards or one with very high skills) and a DM who isn't going to just say "Nope, won't work" or "Nope, too boring".



      Actually the more I consider this issue, the less I like Draug as a monster in large groups. They are a pretty boring creature that should best simply be avoided. The risk to reward ratio is too terrible.

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    5. The PCs are welcome to avoid them, and have been avoiding them. It's not the boring, it's the danger. The fight can be exciting, IMO, but if the fight depends on plinking away with spells over a long period of time to destroy them, it will be boring. And it may or may not work.

      But if they're defeated, yes, they have a lot of loot.

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    6. By boring I mean either the Players manage to bottleneck the Draugr so they can fight one (or two) at a time and then grind through over 5,000 HP worth of Draugr, or they do something very clever and careful and deal with them with minimum risk.

      Neither of which are "exciting". Okay, the first way will have moments of excitement, specially if Vryce gets dropped.

      Otherwise there really is no way to tackle this mob.

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    7. You might be right about that. I don't bother with game balance. I just statted up what Sterick's 33 bodyguards should be like as draugr and put them in the dungeon where they fit. We'll see.

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    8. "I don't bother with game balance."

      Which is fine as it's how you and your Players like it.

      My comments are mostly in seeing that should I ever go to use this monster, the issues inherent in it.

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  4. Fire cloud is area effect.

    Therefore average of highest and lowest DR.

    Draug dont Armour their face.

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    1. Or is the averaging only with explosive?

      In which case continuous 3D fireballs

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    2. B433 states that even running through a fire is treated as Large Area Injury... which is likely why the Draugr retreated from the Create Fire, even though DR 6 makes them nigh invulnerable to 1d-1 br.

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    3. Sun bolts to the face.

      I am fairly certain I remember unsealed DR being average of highest and lowest. That makes even 1d6 explosions viable aimed a few hexes away a Margery*D6 level fireball is a nice sweet spot.

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    4. "Sun bolts to the face."

      Slow, unsure, and very boring. Also... might not "work" as the Draugr might not be limited to remaining in the room (presuming Aiming and sniping from outside their crypt)... it might just be they feared becoming trapped outside of their crypt room. In which case the group gets swarmed further back with the Wizard trying to be an Archer without the benes of Heroic Archer.


      "I am fairly certain I remember unsealed DR being average of highest and lowest."

      It's average of Torso and Lowest, but yes. Which is why I suspect they ran from the 1d-1 Create Fire, even though their mail (DR 6) likely made everything (but their face: DR 0) 'nigh invulnerable'. They end up with DR 3 in the face (pun!) of a hex worth of fire.

      Note, Create Steam does the same thing, without burning the loot into molten slag (it's just prohibitively expensive - though with a potential 5 minute duration... if the Wizard could pull it off, it's totes worth it, even if he has to immediately have a lie down).

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    5. You can see why this has been an issue for the PCs. Costly spells, specific needs for those spells to work (such as sufficiently low average DR, length of time in the area effect, need to learn, etc.), lack of solid information on what they have to contend with regarding the abilities and limitations of the draugr, etc. It's not simple, and they are a dangerous but potentially lucrative set of foes.

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  5. That sounds way more complicated than fun. Using spells to avoid risk is boring, but fighting 33 tough monsters, even with a few fireballs, will be very risky. DF is about simplicity, but you're going to calculate damage on each of their items every time someone casts Fireball?

    Flaming weapon might be useful.

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    1. Don't get bitchy because you might blow up your loot when you blow up the guys wearing that loot. Damage to gear is pretty trivial. If you don't like things burning, don't set them on fire.

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  6. I hope Vryce roles good 'find hirelings' and assembles the Grand Army of Stericksburg like for the ork castle attack

    Is Vryce the best hireling finder?

    33 draugr squaring off with say 7 PCs, Raggi, Ike, the Meeposians, and a slew of other friends would be epic


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  7. I GM'd both adventures in Pyramid Welcome to Dungeon Fantasy.

    I think both my players and myself have new respect for Draug's ability to take damage. Even vs fire its a slog.


    Eventually it came down to targetted attacks vs its hand to cripple its weapon arm after it already dropped a weapon and fell over on multiple critical fails.

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    1. They are specifically designed to be hard to kill. They aren't invulnerable, but their main threat, IME, is "eventually this guy will hit you for a lot of damage before you finish killing him." Compare that with, say, the glass cannons that are slorn or eyes of death or doomchildren - all of which go down quickly if you hit them, but it's hard to keep them from hurting you first.

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