water, air interface

Discussion on playing Earthdawn. Experiences, stories, and questions related to being a player.
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2015 6:44 am

Re: water, air interface

Postby ChrisDDickey » Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:31 am

Undying - I agree with every point that you raise, but I don't agree with the conclusions you reach.

I know that weaving a kernel of a True Element into something does not necessarily grant the item improved protection from the opposing element. But I know that many of the so-called "common magical items" are made that way. I seemed to vaguely recall that there was a fireproof cloak available, but I don't recall any details about it nor see it in the main book. Maybe it was in one of the supplements or maybe I am just mixing it up with something else. In any case, even if it is not in the book, I would imagine that a fireproof cloak could be made using methods similar to making a warm cloak, just with different elements. Weaving a few true elements into a cloak is of course not sufficient in and of itself, you need to have a plan, know what you are doing, etc.

However my point was that what a few kernels of a true element cleverly applied can do. It is possible that several tons of the base element hastily applied might also do. Not perfectly, not elegantly, not permanently, nor portably. But as a temporary field expedient, maybe. Just because there is a spell called "snuff", does not mean you can't ALSO put out a fire by pouring water on it. Even if snuff is listed in the rulebook and pouring water is not. For that matter, there is an elemental warm cloak in the book, but it neglects to list the simple and mundane fur coat. Sometimes mundane things can do the same job as magical things. There can be mundane ways to duplicate the resist elements spell.

There are magical items that protect against fire, even fire based spells, and some of these are listed in the book. There could be mundane items that protect against fire, I can't recall any of those being listed in the book. huge quantities of water protect against fire, even if exact listings for them do not appear in the book.

You totally and completely missed all my points with Stone Rain. My comments were not at all about somebody taking shelter from a spell after it was cast (there is no need to take shelter after it is cast, you can just move out of it's AoE). My comments were that somebody who intelligently thinks, "hey, I wonder if that spellcaster is casting the spell that causes it to rain stones again. I better step under this roof here" will be protected from the spell BEFORE IT IS EVEN CAST (assuming he moves while the caster is still pulling threads). Because (in my opinion) if it is cast on him the stones will just bounce off the roof of the building he just moved into. So once again, the caster can see him, but he has a roof over his head to protect him from falling stones.

Also, Stone Rain does not require a cloud (death rain requires cloud cover, stone rain does not). The only time the sky is mentioned in the spell description is the short summary at the beginning - "Earth. This spell showers fist-sized stones from the sky... If successful, affected targets are struck by falling stones." So a truly literal reading of the rules could allow one (incorrectly in my view) to rule that a person hundreds of feet underground in a locked room could cast "Stone Rain", and rocks would rain from the sky, somehow find their way into the locked room hundreds of feet underground and strike the target. I therefor feel that the literal reading of the rules is the wrong way to do it.

I think that a major consideration in how people answer this question is how much of the spell they look at. Do they look at the entire spell with all of it's fluffy text? Or do they only look at the words "2 yard radius" and " If successful, affected targets are struck by falling stones"? If you think that those two phrases are the only important ones and the rest is just fluff to be ignored, then you see a spell that moves through astral space towards a target and manifests as rocks directly above his head.

However if you look at all the text of the spell, you might think of a spell that moves through astral space to a target, then moves up several hundred feet and (after adjusting for windage), manifests a bunch of rocks that will fall out of the sky onto the guys head. But only if there is a way for a rock falling from the sky to hit the guy. The spell as written seems to be capable of bank shots, ricochets and careens, to hit people with partial overhead cover. However I don't see anything to make me think that the falling rocks should somehow phase through a roof (or several hundred feet of earth) in order to strike their target. I think the spell, as written has a built in limitation. It only effects people who are in a place where they can be struck by stones falling out of the sky.

Now I can see somebody might say "from the sky" is just fluff text, and should be ignored. And I can see some people might say that the stones should phase through the roof, because "hey, it's magic". I can see how some might think it is a huge can of worms (1000 variations of what ifs). I see a spell that has limitations. It does not affect people with 100% overhead cover. It is just written with that limitation.

Lets go back to fireball. The book describes how the caster summons a flame, which travels to the point of impact and that it is the size of a beach ball when it explodes doing damage to all within a 4 yard radius. Now lets say you have two possible targets that happen to be on opposite sides of a stone wall that is more than 5 yards high and 10 yards long. The two targets are 1 yard away from the wall, so the caster (on top of the wall) can see them both, but he can only send his beachball to one side of the wall or the other, however he can explode the beachball within 3 yards of both targets. however to reach one of the targets, the blast would have to travel through a wall 1 yard thick and 5 yards high. One school of thought is that "it's magic - the blast effects both sides of the wall". However I would say that the magic is creating a blast at the beachball. That is the magic. outside of the beachball, it is just a blast, and a one yard think stone wall will stop that blast. No effect on the other side of the wall.

So once again, I agree with almost all of your statements, except your conclusions.
Magic does not abide by physics or modern-day logic (agreed). Magic is magic (agreed). The Fireball spell manifests a massive explosion of fire at a spot visible to the magician within range of the spell (agreed). Not on a thing that is flammable - midair is perfectly fine (agreed). 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 so certain about - The magician conjures a small flame and places one of his hands to the side of the fire, waving it in a circular motion over the top of the flame ... If successful, a small globe of fire erupts from his hand, which quickly expands to the size of a beach ball, before exploding in an intense gout of flame at the point of impact - So it seems you need an opening big enough for both an eyeball and a handful of flame - Because the spell description actually does matter, and you need to meet all the conditions described in the spell description. And since this spell specifically says the flame is conjured in the casters hand and travels to the target, I would say a crystal wall or other thing that prevents the flame from reaching it's target point might block the spell. Because the spell descriptions matter and the specific overrides the general.).

And for the big conclusion, I can see how somebody could feel that the magic is contained in the entire 4 yard radius, and that the magic always sees to it that the entire radius is filled up, no matter what might be blocking it. However I can also see that maybe the magic is just contained in the area the size of a beachball, and everything else in the 4 yard radius is just a fairly mundane blast effect - easily blocked by a stone wall or a lake.

So again I have to say that I don't think that it is too much of a slippery slope, nor too deep into the weeds of science and logic to state that huge amounts of water provides protection against fire, nor that a roof provides protection against rain.

Anybody who rules that fireball effects will pass through stone walls DESERVES to have all the spellcasters in their campaign fireballing every door and wall just to soften up whatever might happen to be behind. THAT sounds like a slippery slope and a can of worms!
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:40 pm

Re: water, air interface

Postby emeketos » Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:16 am

Stone rain underground has another name its called a "cave in", TBH more thematic outside its just materializing stones from the sky. The Sky doesn't have to be straight above the target nothing in the spell description says that. Cover is cover partial cover means the person is peeking out of a doorway or window. full cover they are behind a wall or under a roof.

Death rain can use any type of cloud not just overcast or hurricane's and typhoons.

Death rain could sorta work underground But it would take a while to become useful. Considering you need to cast cloud summon which takes depending on how many times cloud summon is cast. 3 castings could get the clouds in 6+ rounds (minimum) assuming willforce is used.+2 more rounds to cast the spell so that means for 8+ rounds your doing nothing but casting.

you cloud summon (fog) from say an underground river/lake. Then as soon as the fog covers the area you could use it to death rain. but without cloud summon I don't think you could do it unless you also had access to a water elemental or 2.

as for targeting things under water (in darkness) wouldn't it be a
-2 for partial dark
-4 spellcasting for full darkness?

here is a interesting combo for the stone wall.
a nethermancer grants an elemental a "viewpoint spell" (page 330 bottom PG) allowing the elementalist to see whats on the other side. The elementalist could cast fireball or any spell through the viewpoint (which is one way)

As for barriers such as the stone wall, usually the rule of thumb is this. would any part of the spell''s AOE go higher or around without hitting the wall in such a way where the spell is only partially blocked. I don't remember if earthdawn covered this or not. Stone rain would hit both sides fireball I am not sure since the mage can't SEE or have LOS to the target on the other side. what if you target the wall instead of the people? you still have to use the person/creature with the highest mystic defense.

I always get my mage experience carried over from shadowrun which was always was this an indirect or direct spell but earthdawn doesn't have that mechanic that I am aware of.

I think spells like stone rain is most useful as a barrier. Cast the spell in a choke point where no one is standing. That gives the spell casting a target number of 6 and the choke point a very dangerous and slowing experience. its going to cost you 8 yards of movement to cross a likely step 18 mine field.

Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:43 am

Re: water, air interface

Postby Dougansf » Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:21 pm

The Undying wrote:I'm fond of two phrases when it comes to ED. One is "it's magic; let it be magic."

I have a similar catchphrase: "Keep your physics off my magic." :D

User avatar
Tattered Rags
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:44 pm

Re: water, air interface

Postby Tattered Rags » Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:57 pm

Now I'm wondering who really is the target of AoE spells. The targets, or the area.

Also, casting Stone Rain into an empty spot should have a difficulty of 2, not 6. Inanimate objects have an MD of 2, according to the spellcasting sequence rules.

Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:43 am

Re: water, air interface

Postby Dougansf » Thu Oct 20, 2016 4:21 pm

Tattered Rags wrote:Now I'm wondering who really is the target of AoE spells. The targets, or the area.

Also, casting Stone Rain into an empty spot should have a difficulty of 2, not 6. Inanimate objects have an MD of 2, according to the spellcasting sequence rules.

From a quick look around, it's given to you in the spell description. Most commonly:

"...makes a Spellcasting test against the highest Mystic Defense among all targets in the area."

Sometimes the word "targets" is replaced with "characters." So there may not be a single rule to cover all Area spells.

Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:40 pm

Re: water, air interface

Postby emeketos » Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:50 pm

Tattered Rags wrote:Now I'm wondering who really is the target of AoE spells. The targets, or the area.

Also, casting Stone Rain into an empty spot should have a difficulty of 2, not 6. Inanimate objects have an MD of 2, according to the spellcasting sequence rules.

Most spells that target inanimate objects like snuff, heat food, waterproof, purify water/earth, shield willow, ice surface, earth staff, air mattress etc. etc
spellcasting (6) for its target number or highest mystic defense if the area is corrupted by a horror then you use its TMD. So its pretty safe to say targeting the ground will always have a minimum difficulty of 6. There should always be a chance to fumble the spell any spell really.

Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2015 6:44 am

Re: water, air interface

Postby ChrisDDickey » Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:22 pm

emeketos wrote:Stone rain underground has another name its called a "cave in"

Cave In, is a different spell than Stone Rain. That spell could be designed but it is not the same spell.

emeketos wrote:The Sky doesn't have to be straight above the target nothing in the spell description says that.
It is true that nowhere in any of the spell descriptions does it say that. I am saying that in my interpretation of the spells, it is very strongly implied. Thus in spells where effects are specifically stated as falling from the sky, the target must be directly under the sky with no intervening roofs. I don't think that this requires science or physics. I think that if the acid or stones were meant to appear one foot above the targets head, the spell description would say that instead of that the effect falls from the sky. The magic happens up in the sky, not 1 foot above the targets head.

Note that the lightning bolt spell merely requires the caster to point at the sky. I interpret that to mean he merely has to point in an upward direction, he does not have to see it. However if he is tied up, or has two broken arms, such that he can't point up, he can't cast the spell.

In my last post I used two different meanings of the word "cover". The standard game definition of cover is viability from spellcaster to target. The other meaning of the word cover I used is protection from rocks falling from the sky. These are two separate concepts for which I seem to have confused you by using the same word. Sorry.

Darkness penalties are for sight based activities that can still sort of sometimes be done in the dark. For example swinging a sword you might still happen to hit. Getting something out of your pouch might require a test with a darkness penalty. If you can't see or touch a target, you can't cast a spell at it. You might give a -2 partial darkness penalty to spellcasting, but full darkness penalty is that targeting is not allowed unless you can localize your target some other way.

Most of your arguments only work if you ignore parts of the spell descriptions you are quoting. For example "Sky".
wikipedia wrote:The sky is everything that lies above the surface of the Earth, including the atmosphere and outer space.
None of the definitions I have read can be stretched to cover underground areas, no matter how large.
Cloud Summon wrote: If successful, the water billows into a wispy fragment of cloud, rising rapidly into the sky where it acts as a beacon drawing other clouds to it.
So yes, I suppose this spell could in theory be cast underground, so long as the caster can see the sky (which is the target of this spell). If somehow successfully cast underground, it will cause the sky above the ground to acquire clouds. It will not form clouds underground, only in the sky.
Death Rain wrote: This spell causes acid rain to fall from the sky. It requires cloud cover...
I would most certainly interpret this to mean that the clouds have to directly and unimpeded above the target (ie: no roof).
Stone Rain wrote: This spell showers fist-sized stones from the sky
As I have stated previously, the rocks are created in the sky and then fall. I interpret this to mean the sky is where the magic is happening. Underneath the sky is just falling rocks. Thus the target must be under the sky without a solid roof over his head. I think that fits both the text and spirit of the spell.

Once again, I don't think that I am being ether unreasonable nor unduly scientific here. I am just saying you can't pick and choose which part of a spell description you want to pay attention to and which you are going to ignore. You have to use it all. If a death rain must fall from a cloud in the sky, then the cloud must be in the sky, the target must be under the cloud and without a solid roof. Otherwise the author of the spell should have chosen other text.

The Undying
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:10 am

Re: water, air interface

Postby The Undying » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:13 pm


You do you, man. The only other thing I can point out that may help is the irony that you're defining individual words in some of the rules text and hammering minutia in various lines while at the same time blowing the universe wide open on other things. You're likely going to confuse or exasperate your players/GM (depending on which you are) if you veer like that.

Posts: 744
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:26 am

Re: water, air interface

Postby Telarus_KSC » Fri Oct 21, 2016 9:24 pm

The key with any in-game metaphysical question is to be consistent over the course of your campaign (and try to stay consistent with the metaphysics presented in the book), so that your player's don't get frustrated and can develop strategy, and don't get lost in the rabbit hole of trying to apply mechanics to all the details. Make a simple ruling and move on, discuss it after the session to refine it.

Also, from some of the in-game fiction, Stone Rain can totally be used "indoors/underground", and Cloud Summon was used in Kaers during the Scourge to let the Trolls practice high-circle stuff that requires "cloud cover" in the high mountain cave systems.

I would allow water to provide partial cover to Mystic Defense. Full cover if there is zero visibility.

The distortion makes it a bit harder to be sure of where your target is in 3d space in relation to yourself draw the astral arc. The spell-pattern manifesting in reality handles the rest (i.e. only enough mana is converted to a heat/blast-pulse to cover the area of affect of Fireball with the Damage rolled).

Return to “For Players”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest