Fireball and HP as an abstraction

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Daucuscarota
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Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Sun May 13, 2018 6:24 pm

A thief is trying to recover an ancient artifact from a wizard tower. He arrives in an empty room and stands in the middle. There is a single door in front of him. The door opens. The wizard comes through and casts something. A little glowing pea flies from his finger and hits the thief's chest. The pea blosoms into a terrible ball of fire, consuming everything inside. The wizard, overconfident, turns his back on the flower of flames. That was his last mistake. A knife stabs hims in the back, killing him almost instanlty. The thief is now free to flee with his treasure.

Fireball. 1d6 damage per caster level, so a 3rd level caster can cause up to 18 hp damage and your poor 2nd level thief with 6 hp is dead and roast.

How come the thief didn't die? In the scene described above, the wizard seems to have rolled 3, 2, 1, or 2, 2, 1, or even 1, 1, 1, causing very little damage, so he survived. Even his clothes are more or less undamaged. The thief succeded in Move Silently (maybe with a bonus for the noise of the fire) and performed a strong Sneak Attack, killing the magician.

But why didn't he die? How come someone can survive that terrible explosion? Remember, it's an exploding ball of fire.

Modern interpretations tends to explain HP as an abstraction for skill, dextery, luck. HP, in this interpretation, doesn't represent getting hit but how well a character is doing (he's tired, confused, distressed, nervous, erratic, sad, afraid). Thei thief didn't die because he was not hit by the ball of fire. Was he protected by only positive thinking? Did Jesus descend and was Him who got hit to save the good thief? How do you explain it, in character?

But he was hit. He should have died. But he didn't. Perhaps a solution* would be to describe the effect of the magic only after the mechanical effect has taken place. If the fireball didn't kill the thief, perhaps it means that the spell was more or less miscast; it didn't explode, it only caused a short flame that hurt the thief's surface skin, a 1st degree burn; some damage, a few scars, loss of hair, some mundane items destroyed.

*A solution is needed only if this is a problem. If this is not a problem, go on, tell us what happens next. Does the thief manage to leave and sell the artifact?
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Sun May 13, 2018 7:03 pm

Almost exactly that scenario happened to me lol. I think I was 3rd level but can't remember for sure. But we had defeated a big wizard and from either its corpse or something else near it (can't remember details) a glowing bead floated up. The description from the DM didn't make it sound like a fast moving glowing pea. Sounded like a slow rising artifact coming up from the dead wizard. And we had cool magic weapons pop up in weird ways before. So I grabbed it with my hand. and then it went off. Everyone but me died I believe lol.

But as to your question. When I was a kid in a marine corp town we went to see Santa at a local store. Santa was parachuting in. One of his elves' chute didn't open and the "elf" fell to the ground with no chute. He lived. Stranger things have happened.

I do agree that a DM should have a reason for it just like when you get a critical hit or some crazy lucky shot brings down an enemy fleeing through a forest on horseback. Maybe a weird air current set up an eddie in the firestorm at the position of the thief. Just don't say. you survived the fireball. the wizard is leaving.
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Mon May 14, 2018 12:08 am

Slight math problem I noticed. To cast a fireball the magic user would have to be 5th level so that fireball would do 5d6 not 3d6.

The magic user would have to roll straight ones, if the thief failed his save, for the target to survive. Now with that aspect mentioned, the thief could survive if the fireball dice totaled up 11 or less on damage if they made their save.
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Daucuscarota
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Mon May 14, 2018 12:34 am

Metroknight wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 12:08 am
Slight math problem I noticed. To cast a fireball the magic user would have to be 5th level so that fireball would do 5d6 not 3d6.
My mistake. Though I play a combination of Basic Fantasy and LotFP, using the new LotFP magic system, in which all spells are of level 1.
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Dimirag
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Mon May 14, 2018 2:31 pm

Daucuscarota wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:24 pm
A little glowing pea flies from his finger and hits the thief's chest. The pea blosoms into a terrible ball of fire, consuming everything inside.
I think here lies part of the "problem" the dice should not accommodate for the situation, but the situation should accommodate to the dice, i,e, in the case of the above, maybe the pea hit a wall instead of the thief's chest. Now, if the situation looks like there is no way to avoid the blast (no place to cover/hide/shield) it would be ok (to me) to give penalties to the saving throw, or modified the damage rolled.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Mon May 14, 2018 2:44 pm

Dimirag wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 2:31 pm
Daucuscarota wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:24 pm
A little glowing pea flies from his finger and hits the thief's chest. The pea blosoms into a terrible ball of fire, consuming everything inside.
I think here lies part of the "problem" the dice should not accommodate for the situation, but the situation should accommodate to the dice, i,e, in the case of the above, maybe the pea hit a wall instead of the thief's chest. Now, if the situation looks like there is no way to avoid the blast (no place to cover/hide/shield) it would be ok (to me) to give penalties to the saving throw, or modified the damage rolled.
why modify it? The spell as written already assumes there is nothing to impede the spell going off correctly and nothing is blocking it from hitting the thief. So why should the thief take an additional penalty simply because the conditions are what the dice assume. Maybe the wizard had a sore throat and screwed up the casting, or she was surprised by the necklace of kobold ears the thief was wearing and stuttered over a word, or he was just overconfident and started turning away in victory halfway into the spell and it went awry.
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Dimirag
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Mon May 14, 2018 4:44 pm

Because if a GM wants to explain how a character can avoid part of the damage he can by using the surrounding as cover, and because if a GM deems that the situation is inescapable, he can rule a penalty or other modification.

I never said that the conditions are given by the dice, but that the outcome should consider them.

You can describe the spell effect as being affected by the caster, or being affected by the victim or a little of both...
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Mon May 14, 2018 5:10 pm

Dimirag wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 4:44 pm
Because if a GM wants to explain how a character can avoid part of the damage he can by using the surrounding as cover, and because if a GM deems that the situation is inescapable, he can rule a penalty or other modification.

I never said that the conditions are given by the dice, but that the outcome should consider them.

You can describe the spell effect as being affected by the caster, or being affected by the victim or a little of both...
I am not disagreeing about how the results are described. I am disagreeing that you should force the victim to take a penalty to his role simply because he has no place to dodge to. Heck, imo its actually the opposite that should happen, if he has a place to dodge to then he should be given a bonus to his save roll.

Also, what deems the situation is inescapable? The victim could be tied to a post in a 10x10 room and still the possibility exists that the wizard will flub his spell.
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Dimirag
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Mon May 14, 2018 7:54 pm

It depends on which side of the coin are you viewing, as I said above, you can take the roll from the point the side of the caster or from the victim's; see the ST as a way of getting behind cover, or seeing cover as a help on the ST... and from that rule according to the situation.

I'm not saying anyone should force anybody to anything, I'm saying that I'm ok with that ruling.

I see it one way and you the other and are free to disagree and rule it the way you think its best.
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Re: Fireball and HP as an abstraction

Post Mon May 14, 2018 9:26 pm

The rules are abstract for a reason, gentlemen. It is correct, in my opinion at least, that you roll the dice before describing the results. "A tiny glowing ball the size of a pea rushes from the wizard's pointing finger toward you..." roll roll roll... "... and a dim, scanty red flame erupts from it, singeing your chest hairs and making your beard smoke a little."
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