water, air interface

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emeketos
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Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:40 pm

water, air interface

Postby emeketos » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:06 pm

discussion came up in my current game about spell effects with water.

Can you target a mook swimming underwater w/ fireball or lightning. both have some odd effects if you pull reality into it. ie if the fireball explodes underwater its going to get real messy considering the uncompresseablity of water and how human bodys do compress in very painful ways.
could you target swimming t'skrangs with a lightning spell while they swim. would it hit any of them, all of them or none of them. part of me is saying its magic don't try to rationalize it works

ChrisDDickey
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Re: water, air interface

Postby ChrisDDickey » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:03 am

Your main problem with lighting bolt will be targeting. You have to see the target. You can't just target "4 feet below those ripples". So the GM is going to have to adjudicate how much cover a particular body of water gives. Even crystal clear tropical waters at noon are going to give at least partial cover, and as the angle increases even that will not let you see very far. Muddy water, night, depth, and distance can all provide total cover. And if you can't see a target, you can't cast lightning bolt at it. You would want to get them when they come up for air, a high initiative and a reserved action might be helpful.

Fireball on the other hand has an area of effect, so you can cast it above the water. As I understand it, it will still effect unseen and even unsuspected targets under the water (except see below). Casting it below the surface of the water could only be done within the limits of visibility. Once again, you must be able to see or feel the space you are targeting.

I am going to ignore the comments about the uncompresseablity of water and the relative compresseablity of human bodies. I don't like to mix science in with my magic nor reality with my fantasy. Also, while the fireball spell mentions both an explosion and flame, it does not say how much of the damage is explosion, and how much is flame. Lets just say it does the same amount of damage to targets both above and below the water, no matter whether the explosion was above or below the water, and that all the damage has the keyword "fire".

Similarly, I reject any discussion of what happens if you target a lightning bolt at water above a swimmer. Lightning bolt needs to be targeted at a target, and the spell makes no mention of grounding, damage to others near the target, etc. Discussions of what happens when a real life natural lightning bolt impacts near a person in my opinion have no part of a discussion of what happens when a magical lightning bolt impacts something. It all works according to the spell description, not according to physics.

There is also the question of keywords.
Page 270 - Spell keywords Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Wood: These keywords indicate the spell uses a particular element. This can interact with different resistances or vulnerabilities, or may interact with other effects.

I think the key words here is that the keyword specifies resistances or vulnerabilities.

Lightning bolt has the keywords Air–Electric Since it specifically says air, It is reasonable to question if the spell can travel through any medium other than air.

Fireball has the keyword Fire. I frequently say that I don't like mixing science with my magic and fantasy. But even the ancients recognized that water canceled fire. I don't see it listed anywhere that being immersed in water grants a very large resistance to most effects with the keyword fire, but It seems totally reasonable even when that immunity is not specifically listed in the spell. This seems a natural extension of the examples of resistances and vulnerabilities that are given. I think that hollywood has clearly shown us (sarcasm) that anybody even one foot underwater is totally immune to a fireball of any size. Who am I to argue with hollywood?

So in short:
I would say that lightning bolt might work at a target underwater, if conditions were clear enough to allow you to target it. However a GM might reasonably rule that the spell only works if there is an air route between the caster and the target.

Fireball will (in theory) effect creatures underwater. However any creature sufficiently deep in a pool of water will have such a high effective armor against fire effects that in practice no damage will be suffered.

However I would be interested in hearing other points of view.

The Undying
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Re: water, air interface

Postby The Undying » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:34 am

Short answer: it's magic, don't over complicate it.

Long answer: Are you prepared to increase defense or lower attack steps when people swing weapons in windy conditions? Are you prepared to increase defense or lower attack step when attacking upward (opponent has high ground)? Are you prepared to increase defense or low attack step when ranged combatants attempts to shoot into these types of situations (e.g., through water)? If your answer is no to any of this, then there's really no reason to needlessly gimp magic - it's magic, let it be magic.

This is just a slippery slope. The MOST I could personally see would be opposing elements - e.g., trying to launch a fireball into water might provide some type of defense bonus - but even that opens the door too much (e.g., does that mean Air Armor is technically less effective against stone/metal weapons?).

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etherial
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Re: water, air interface

Postby etherial » Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:24 am

Doesn't

ChrisDDickey wrote:There is also the question of keywords.
Page 270 - Spell keywords Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Wood: These keywords indicate the spell uses a particular element. This can interact with different resistances or vulnerabilities, or may interact with other effects.

I think the key words here is that the keyword specifies resistances or vulnerabilities.

Lightning bolt has the keywords Air–Electric Since it specifically says air, It is reasonable to question if the spell can travel through any medium other than air.

Fireball has the keyword Fire.


lead to

Since it specifically says Fire, It is reasonable to question if the spell can travel through any medium other than Fire.

I reject the premise that an elemental spell can only travel through its element. So you can totally cast Air spells into water or while completely immersed in water. I agree that the water's natural resistance to Air could very well muck with the lightning, though.

The Undying
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Re: water, air interface

Postby The Undying » Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:14 am

The keywords are meant to interact with other things based on that keyword. For example, "Resist Element - Fire" provides additional armor against spells (and other effects) that use the keyword Fire. Similarly, if you had something that said "When successfully cast, Fire spells achieve an extra affect," then it only triggers based on spells with the keyword Fire.

As I'd mentioned earlier, if you're going to start nerfing things "because it makes sense," you really need to start applying that logic EVERYWHERE, which is an insanely long and twisty road.

Slimcreeper
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Re: water, air interface

Postby Slimcreeper » Wed Oct 19, 2016 8:17 am

I heartily reject the idea that I need to apply logic everywhere! <grin>

The goal is to maintain suspension of disbelief and to make a great scene, and that balance is going to be different at every table. To me, I think the water would offer cover as well armor against a fireball, but against the lightening cover but not armor. I would probably have the lightning do burst damage against nearby people in the water. Not because it is realistic, but because I want characters to dive into the water to get away from the fireball wielding mage. If in the narrative the wind is intense - fighting on the pitching deck of an airboat above the Throal Mountains, on a missed melee attack the character might have to make a knockdown test, or something like that.

Baravakar
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Re: water, air interface

Postby Baravakar » Wed Oct 19, 2016 8:21 am

emeketos wrote:Can you target a mook swimming underwater w/ fireball or lightning?
Both have some odd effects if you pull reality into it. ie if the fireball explodes underwater its going to get real messy considering the uncompresseablity of water and how human bodys do compress in very painful ways.


Yes you can cast a fireball / lightning bolt at a target underwater.
Player's Guide pg. 254
    Spells aren’t like rocks thrown blindly in the dark, hoping for a hit; spells travel in an astral arc between the caster and the target... Material objects between the caster and the target will not prevent a spell from reaching the target unless they block the magician’s line of sight. Targets receive a bonus to their Mystic Defense for Cover (p.386), to reflect the increased difficulty of targeting them successfully.... If the Spellcasting test succeeds any physical manifestation that accompanies the spell avoids physical obstacles to strike the spell’s target.
Player's Guide pg. 387
    Partial: The cover obscures part of a character’s body, but the attacker can still see enough of his target to attack. Partial cover gives a +2 bonus to Physical and Mystic Defense.
The water would provide cover but the spell will manifest from astral space at the target's location. It would be up to the GM to decide if the presence of the water would enhance the spell's effect. Personally, I would just follow the spells text.

emeketos wrote:Could you target swimming t'skrangs with a lightning spell while they swim?
would it hit any of them, all of them or none of them. part of me is saying its magic don't try to rationalize it works

The water adds cover increasing the difficulty of successfully casting lightning bolt. The result of the effect test for this spell determines the number of extra targets. If the primary target is hit with the added difficulty of the water, not as many other targets would be generated. If the spell was cast on land at the same targets, potentially more of them can be hit.

Player's Guide pg. 278
    Lightning Bolt: Success Levels: Additional Target (+1)
    The initial Spellcasting test is used against any additional targets that may result. Additional success levels on secondary targets will not cause additional bolts.

emeketos
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Re: water, air interface

Postby emeketos » Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:55 pm

So basicly the spells act like shadowrun spells they take a shortcut through astral space and appear at the target. You just need to deal with the partial cover provided by the water.

Fireball underwater well I am glad reality doesn't work here. if it did It would triple the radius and the damage. First you have the explosion trying to compress the incompressible water in an expanding shock wave at the same time the fireball boils the water around the explosion to create an even bigger shock wave as the boiled water tries to expand outward. You don't want to be anywhere near that trust me.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: water, air interface

Postby ChrisDDickey » Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:26 am

I heartily agree with slimcreeper's statement that the goal is to maintain a willing suspension of disbelief and to make a great scene. That should always be the goal.

I would also add that part of making a great fantasy scene is bringing the fantasy to the forefront. The very, very last thing I want is to have somebody start estimating the number of kCal released by a fireball, then calculating how much water that might turn to steam with a nice graph of the force of the resulting shock-waves assuming various pressure depths. It's magic. Forget all that.

So while I do, for purposes of the game, want to forget all that science has told us in the last thousand years or so. I want the characters to act as if they believe in magic, and dragons, and various superstitions. I want to emphasis the beliefs that residents of the world might have. Beliefs that are not true in our world, but that may or may not have been true in their world, but were believed anyway. And to do that one has to acknowledge the things that they did know. That they were right about. And one of those is that water protects against fire.

Water protecting against fire is not only an ancient belief that turned out to be true, it is also a major component of the game. These people believed in elemental opposition.

And just because certain spells have a keyword, such as fire or water does not mean that a GM is not totally free to assign those same keywords to other things in his campaign, even such mundane items as a campfire or a lake. And just because "campfire" is not listed on the weapon table, does not mean he can't assign it a damage value. And just because "lake" is not listed on the armor table does not mean he can't legitimately assign it an armor value against fire effects.

The Undying wrote:Are you prepared to increase defense or lower attack steps when people swing weapons in windy conditions?

Heck yes I would penalize any activity undertaken outdoors during a hurricane or a blizzard.
Of course I would not penalize activities in a fresh breeze anymore than I would award an armor bonus against fire to a target that was somewhat damp. Lets compare things that are on the same scale, not tigers to house-cats. "windy" - no penalty. "Storm" - penalty. "Hurricane" - big penalty. "Damp" - no fire armor. "several feet of water" - lots of protection from fire.

The rule-book does not list every eventuality and contingency. Players and GMs can and should improvise characters responses to situations. One of the ways in which I think the ED system is weak is on situational modifiers. It is easier and quicker for a player to say "I stealthy stride past the two guards and into the front gate" than to actually try to find an unguarded route where a person could realistically sneak in. On the other hand, it's magic. Why rely on skill and tactics when you can rely on magic? Still, I like to reward somebody who does take the time to find the more perfect solution, even if the system does not. So by the same token I do like it when a player finds an extra good solution to a problem, particularly if the solution fits within a fantasy worldview.

If somebody went out during a storm or a hurricane, I would grant him almost total immunity to most normal ranged weapons. The spell winds of deflection grants a much smaller deflection bonus than a hurricane. A hurricane is better at deflecting ranged attacks than the spell whose sole purpose is to do that exact thing. Of course the same hurricane might fling a tree branch at you at the same time it is deflecting your enemies arrows, but the point is that a natural force can have an effect that duplicates or even exceeds a magic spell.

Yes, you can pay a lot of money to get true water woven into your clothing to give you armor against fire attacks, or you can have a spellcaster cast an elemental resistance spell. But jumping in a lake is a perfectly good emergency field expedient, even if there is nothing in the rulebook about a lake having the water keyword, nor of large quantities of water granting an armor bonus against fire attacks. But it all seems well within a GMs purview.

Anybody who is determined to follow the rules exactly as they are written, without allowing for thematically appropriate, logical counteraction and/or consequence, is going to get into some very silly situations.
Neither of the spells "Stone Rain" or "Death Rain" specify that you can protect yourself from the spells by simply going into a building with a stout roof while the caster is casting the spell. However both spells specify the effects "falls from the sky". The death rain spell says that there must be cloud-cover, but it does not say that the target needs to be directly under the cloud cover. As Baravakar has pointed out,
page 254 wrote:If the Spellcasting test succeeds any physical manifestation that accompanies the spell avoids physical obstacles to strike the spell’s target.
It could be argued that stone rain could be cast indoors or even underground, and that the first sized rocks will simply fall from the sky, magically avoid all obstacles, and strike the target. Even indoors, even underground.

I think that is ridiculous, however the point is open to debate. Some might say (as I do) that the spells description specifying that the effect falls from the sky implies that a roof will protect you. Others might argue that a strict reading of the rules is that it would not.

Me, I don't think that it is too much of a slippery slope, nor too deep into the weeds of science to state that huge amounts of water provides protection against fire, nor that a roof provides protection against rain falling from the sky. Even if the rain is magical and capable of a limited amount of gymnastics in avoiding obstacles, a roof, 4 stout walls and a door should do the trick. But like I said, others might reasonably disagree.

The Undying
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Re: water, air interface

Postby The Undying » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:47 am

I'm fond of two phrases when it comes to ED. One is "it's magic; let it be magic." The other is "ED is not a simulator" (in the sense that 'simulator' games try to be realistic).

If you're looking for a game with a bunch of simulation modifiers, ED (from the system perspective) is not for you. There are no flammability ratings, nor heat transfer rules, nor partial coverage of armor. If you are hit by a 'Elemental Spear - Fire', you are hit by a spear made of fire and receive your base armor, plus any catch-all fire modifiers, plus any Fire-specific modifiers. You do not get +2 armor because you are wet, -1 because you are wearing a robe made of cloth, -50% armor because you are hit in the forearm and leather armor only has half-length bracers, +2 damage because this is the second time you were hit and the residual heat from the last hit causes overall greater burns, and so on, and so on. At the end of the day, you do do, play the game [system] you enjoy, but realize that the further afield you go, the further you are from playing the game ED was designed to be.

As for letting magic be magic, magic does not abide by physics or modern-day logic. Magic is magic. The Fireball spell manifests a massive explosion of fire at a spot visible to the magician within range of the spell. Not on a thing that is flamable - midair is perfectly fine. Not conditional on having a clear path equal to the diameter of the sphere - viewing through a keyhole is just fine (assuming you meet the other casting requirements). Not in a place where there is sufficient oxygen to power the flame. And so on, and so on.

Finally, on some of you points:

- Weaving a kernel of a True Element into something does not [necessary] grant the item (nor container or covered things) improved protection from the opposing element. Nothing in the rules says or implies this. Weaving of True Elements imparts beneficial aspects of that element to the item with specific enchanting purposes in mind, which is the basis for nearly all the 'magic' goods. For example, one cannot wrap a Bedroll of Comfort around oneself and suddenly get improved armor versus wood (Bedroll of Comfort containing a kernel of True Air ... assuming I'm remembering my oppositions correctly). Similarly, the item is not [necessarily] more vulnerable to an element opposing the woven True Element. If that were the case, Bedrolls of Comfort would rapidly decay as they are spread out upon the open earth.

- Stone Rain targets an area, not an individual. As a result, it's perfectly logical that someone could take shelter from it. It also requires a cloud, so I do not believe it can be cast anywhere but with clear access to open sky (i.e., not manifesting under a roof).


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