Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Area of Effect Elemental Manipulation Spell?
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
Baatorian
Something came up while I was GMing a few days ago which hasn't come up before. Now, with Elemental Manipulation spells, the way I see it is that, since the element appears and does something, no matter what, it's just a matter of hitting the target(s) with the element.

Now, what happens with overly large elemental manipulation spells? I mean like.. someone with magic rating 9 casting a force 9 fireball for example. Now, with a bunch of quick flicks through the book, I'm unable to find the radius rules for area of effect spells, I've been using the 2nd edition ones anyway, or my twisted version of them, which are..

Magic Rating x Force = Diameter in Meters

So, okay, using that formula, whether right or wrong, a force 9 fireball cast by a grade 3 initiate turns out to cover an 81 meter spread, in a big sphere. Now, I've been thinking about this for a few days and have only been able to come to a few reasonable conclusions. My point is as follows..

If it's 81 meters diameter, and it's real fire, lightning, smoke whatever. Isn't it basically impossible to miss your target(s)? I mean, even if you don't have direct line of sight, infact you have no line of sight at all, but position the spell well, you should be frying everyone in the radius, because not taking into account them actually resisting the spell with body and armour. It's GOING to hit them, there's just no chance of it missing.


<----------25M----------><------------56M------------------->
-----o-----------------X----------------o
------o--o----o----------------------------o
____________""""""""""""_____o__________
........................|"""""""""""|...............................|
........................|"""""""""""|...............................|
........................|"""""""""""|...............................|
........................|"""""""""""|...............................|
........................|"""""""""""|_______________.|
........................|
.___________|

--------------------------M
<----------25M----------><------------56M------------------->

M = MageMan
X = Point of Detonation
o = Random Doomed Guy

Now, barring the fact that the mage guy is going to cream himself as well, if you look at the little map you'll see that the random punks are going to be completely engulfed in MageMan's white hot fireball o' doom.

So, what's the score here? It's like a grenade or some such, it's GOING to hit them, so what is the target number going to be like? I mean, by the rules, we're adding blindfire and whatnot, but that makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

But the problem comes along that you need to roll something. I feel that it's unfair to force MageMan to roll to hit at TN12, it's like dropping a mini-nuke on the area, it's going to hit, the only problem is that the aim maybe off slightly and it might detonate at a different point of impact. Although I don't even agree that the casters aim will be off, I don't see any reason at all why it wouldn't go where the mage wanted to go, I think the mage may put it slightly in the wrong place, but it'll strike where he wants it to strike.

So, these are the things I've thought of..

1) Ignore it all and just continue as normal, using judgement for rolling.
2) Set the base TN for AoE elemental manipulation spells at TN4.
3) Keep the TN4 and perhaps add half impact armour to the TN.
4) Use a grenade like scatter for AoE elemental manipulation spells
5) Keep the existing system. (not happening)
6) Attempt to read the Shadowrun books until I fall unconscious in the slim hopes I'll blindly stumble upon the answer I'm looking for.

Now, with the grenade system, I'd be looking at perhaps... Force/2 D6 meters in scatter, with every success reduces the scatter by Magic Rating in meters, and then every two successes over that staging damage. Naturally using the scatter tables as well. Although I'm not overly fond of this, but it kinda seems the best to me.

But I dunno, I may well be missing something. So, can I get some input on this? What do other people do, what's their point of view? It's kinda important yah know.

Cheers anyway,



- Baatorian

EDIT - The reason I don't want to just use my judgement on this, like I do with everything else, is occasionally I have less exprienced GMs running small games every now and then and I'd like a set rule for them to use really. Heh, not that I don't trust their judgement =)
Moon-Hawk
Check your core book pg 182.
"Because an elemental spell creates a physical medium, it affects targets in the area of effect in the same way as a physical explosion or grenade. Make the Sorcery Test and compare the result to the target numbers of all the targets in the area. Targets with complete visual cover can still be affected. Targets hidden behind a wall within the radius of a Fireball spell will still get cooked, even if the caster cannot see them."
So the only question is, what is the target number? I look up Fireball, it says 4. With an elemental manipulation spell like this, you're not targeting anyone or anything in particular. If anything, you're targeting a point in space for the fireball to originate. TN 4 represents the difficulty of creating the effect, the better you do the hotter the flame (higher damage), and it's up to any and all targets in the AoE to stage it down from there.

Burninating the countryside.
Burninating all the peasants.
Burninating all the people,
and their thatched roof cottages!!!
Thatched roof cottages!!!
ShadowGhost
SR3 - page 181:"The base radius for all area spells is the casters Magic Attribute in meters. Area spells affect all valid targets within the radius of effect, friend and foe alike."

Page 183: "Elemental Manipulation Spells (1): They have a base target number of 4, regardless of range, as long as the caster can see the target. Cover, visibility, injury and sustaining modifiers apply."

So your diameter for the spell at force 9 is 18 meters, not 81.

When the mage rolls the dice for targeting the spell, you need to compare successes for each of the valid targets. The guy standing in the open, in bright light, is TN 4; the guy crouched behind a wall and peering over might be 6 (+2 for cover); the guy crouched partially behind another wall that is obscured by smoke would have a TN of 4, + 2 (cover) + 4 (light smoke) or 10. The guy hidden completely by another wall has a TN of 12 - base 4 + 8 for blind fire.

And even though the guy standing at ground zero of the fireball should theoretically be cooked, he can still dodge, base TN 4. while there's no other canon rule for dodging fireballs, explosives, grenades etc, I up the TN for dodging in these situations.

I find how how far they are from ground zero, and subtract that from the radius of the blast. Divide the result by 3 and round up. That result is added to their TN for dodging.

In your case, the force 9 fireball, if he's 3m from ground zero, and the radius is 9m, 9-3 = 6, 6/3 = 2. The 2 is added to their TN to dodge.

I also allocate 1 or 2 extra dice for damage resistance only, if they have solid cover between themselves and the blast (similar to shotgun choke rules).
Rev
I think the force x magic is for detection spells only.
Shockwave_IIc
QUOTE (ShadowGhost)
I find how how far they are from ground zero, and subtract that from the radius of the blast. Divide the result by 3 and round up. That result is added to their TN for dodging.

Would it not be better to divide by their run multiplier? just an idea.
Baatorian
QUOTE
When the mage rolls the dice for targeting the spell, you need to compare successes for each of the valid targets. The guy standing in the open, in bright light, is TN 4; the guy crouched behind a wall and peering over might be 6 (+2 for cover); the guy crouched partially behind another wall that is obscured by smoke would have a TN of 4, + 2 (cover) + 4 (light smoke) or 10. The guy hidden completely by another wall has a TN of 12 - base 4 + 8 for blind fire.


No, you're not getting it. I understand the system. I just don't agree with it.

Yes, the guys with a wall for cover should get some form of bonus, but the rest, in my opinion, shouldn't get anything at all. This isn't a combat spell that works from what you can see, this is a raw element, it cares nothing for smoke, rain, mist or pitch blackness. It spreads, engulfs and destroys.

I suppose, from the aspects that effect the casting of an elemental manipulation spell, the only one I'm really pointing my finger at is the visibility issue all the others make sense to me and would have been used anyway.

Although my point was more on the lines of... if you're in the area of effect when the spell is detonated, don't you get hit regardless? What if the mage rolls all 3's? So, he fires a fireball, for example, into a small room and manages to miss everyone inside? Impossible! He WILL hit everyone in the room, he will, because the flames from the fireball will cover every square inch of it, apart from perhaps underneath the sofa, but even then it'd be likely, in my opinion, that you'd be toasted there as well.

There's no dodging something like that and if you check my original example you'll see what I mean. Everyone is behind buildlings and out of sight of the caster, but they have no cover at all from the detonation point of the spell. So by cannon it should be TN12 right? But that makes no sense, it doesn't matter if he can see them or not.

Yeah, okay, the ranges are messed up with what I use, so shorten them and check the example again.

AoE Elemental Manipulation spells are like grenades, in my mind at least. If you're in the area of effect, you're in it, simple as that. Sure you can roll for the original casting to make sure the spell hits where you want it to hit, but after that?

Although unlike grenades, the mage can pretty much put it where he wants to put it and at any range as well, kinda uber deadly grenades.

So I get back to my original question, what is it you roll for? Just point and fire, rolling everything at TN4, naturally giving people WITH cover a modifier (which I should have mentioned before, but with my example I didn't think it was needed)? Develope a grenade like system for AoE elemental manipulation spells? Or what?

Thanks for any input, and I'll poke my nose at the newer AoE calculations, although I think I prefer the old one, oh so very dangerous. Oh, and I'm not really looking for the cannon answers, because the cannon answers don't seem to work here, at least in my mind, but I do have the feeling I'm just missing something very obvious.




- Baatorian
ShadowGhost
A lot of what you say makes sense: yeah, realistically, anything within the sphere of a fireball should theoretically be toasted or automatically hit. But it also totally screws game balance.

Otherwise one mage nukes the entire party with one fireball spell - you don't get to dodge, and you only get 1/2 impact to roll the initial damage off. If that doesn't kill yo, all your ammo and grenades exploding from secondary effects will, "Treat exploding ammo and grenades as a weapon hit, with armor doing nothing to reduce damage" SR3 pg. 197.

That's why the cover and visibility modifiers are there. Maybe you can't see them, but they can see the fireball coming - this is where dodging comes in, to get out of the blast radius, and since they can see it coming far better than you see a bullet coming, they have better chances to get out of the way, which reflects the higher TN to hit them.

It's may not be realism, but it affords game balance.
Jason Farlander
If the caster rolls all 3's he fails to create the fireball in the first place.

Dodging might involve ducking behind cover, dropping flat to the ground, diving out of the way - in the case where there is no cover to duck behind and theres no way you could move out of the radius of effect in a single action, the GM has every right to rule that you can not *completely* dodge the effect. However, you can still position yourself to not take the full force of the blast, so a dodge roll should always be allowed to stage down damage, if not to completely avoid the effect.

I think it would be perfectly reasonable to determine the TN's for individual targets as if the caster were at ground zero for the fireball detonation. That is, in fact, what I do in my games.
Baatorian
Elemental Manipulation Example WARNING! 371 KB

Alright, there is a little example I draw up, although when I say little, it turned out to be 371 KB due to myself being too lazy to downsize the picture, so there's warning for anyone with a slow connection.

Alright, now, ShadowGhost, I understand what you're saying about balance. Although if you consider the extremely high drain for elemental manipulation spells, don't you already have your game balance thrown in there? Currently I see perhaps 20 odd manabolts/manaballs cast per mini-campaign, with perhaps a few powerbolts, although mostly just to open doors. I've seen ONE elemental manipulation spell cast, that's it, not just for the campaign I'm running, but ever, just one.

I've been having a little think about the question I asked and I think I should have asked this question instead.

What are you rolling your sorcery skill + magic pool dice to do? Are you rolling to make the spell work? Are you rolling to get the spell on target? OR are you rolling to see if you hit your opponents?

Now, with area of effect spells, you should know, if you play with maps as we do, that the spell WILL hit your targets, right? It's not a combat spell after all. If you're rolling to make the spell work, then that does make some limited sense, basically the more successes you get, the more powerful you manage to make it and the worse for your foes, which means you don't always manage to summon whatever element it would be in the area you wanted.

OR... are you trying to get it on target? Meaning, should you be using a grenade like system for elemental manipulation spells that have an area of effect? This question is really bugging me and I really don't want to go with the cannon version, using visibility modifiers, because it makes absolutely no sense.

If I know those 4 guys are in that room, why is it harder to summon the flames to fry them? OR why is it harder to make the flames reach the corners of the room to fry them? OR why is it harder to place my spell exactly where I want it, to fry them? I mean, a +8 TN is pretty damn harder, right?

If it was quasi-combat spell related, I could understand that... perhaps you need to kinda direct the energies. But the point of elemental manipulation spells is that they work contray to all other spells, which is their selling point, in my opinion.

Thanks for all the input so far though, I have a feeling that I'll eventually work out a nice system for this in time.




- Baatorian
BitBasher
The easier way I tend to explain it is that there is a blast that radiates out from the center point of the fireball, like a grenade. The dodge roll and cover represents them being able to get somehting between themselves and the center of the blase mitigating the damage. This takes care of a whole lot of the mechanics.
Baatorian
QUOTE
If the caster rolls all 3's he fails to create the fireball in the first place. 


See, now that is interesting. So are you are assuming that the mage is rolling to CREATE the effect of the spell, rather than hit or effect the targets of it. If that is the case, then why should visibility or cover modifiers apply to hit sorcery test to create the effect?

Then yes, in that circumstance, sustained spells and injuries would still apply, but everything else goes straight out of the window.

Perhaps, if this was the case, the mage rolls whatever he can, at TN4 + sustaining spells + injury modifiers and then everyone in the area of effect just attempts to resist the spell in there own way. Of course giving anyone with cover from the DETONATION point of the spell, a bonus to resist, in the form of a lower TN (more impact armour) or perhaps bonus dice, although I'd favour the first.

QUOTE
Dodging might involve ducking behind cover, dropping flat to the ground, diving out of the way - in the case where there is no cover to duck behind and theres no way you could move out of the radius of effect in a single action


Okay, well, lets assume the spell is being cast by a grade 4 initiate and I'll switch to cannon rules for this example. The spell is then 10 meters in radius. Now consider that a combat turn is 3 seconds, when someone pulls a trigger, the bullet flys, when a spell goes off, it goes off.

If it's not your turn and you weren't already moving, you're in it, there's no dodging really, is there? Also take into account that if you can't suddenly leap 10 meters in a few seconds, how can you possibly "dodge" out of the spell?

Yes, you can duck to the ground, but this is a sphere, it STOPS at the ground, meaning it completely covers the ground, walls, curtains and everything else, how can you possibly dodge or avoid that? Sure, you can make it a little less worse for yourself, but isn't that the result of the damage resistance test?

QUOTE
I think it would be perfectly reasonable to determine the TN's for individual targets as if the caster were at ground zero for the fireball detonation.  That is, in fact, what I do in my games.


Hmm.. aye, ShadowGhost mentioned this too... do you both assume that a elemental manipulation spell is REALLY like a grenade, as in, the futher away from the point of impact, the less the power of the spell? I haven't been assuming that and I don't even like that. 4M away from the detonation point, -4 power of the spell? I think elemental manipulation spells can be kinda weak as they are, the benefit is firing around corners and such, kinda like an endless supply of grenades.




- Baatorian

Note : Can someone lemme know how to add the usernames into the quotes please, it's getting annoying, thanks.
Baatorian
QUOTE
The dodge roll and cover represents them being able to get somehting between themselves and the center of the blase mitigating the damage. This takes care of a whole lot of the mechanics.


See, that makes sense. So, can I assume that you would just have the mage roll at TN4 modified by wounds and any sustained spells and then adjust the power of the blast/dodge TN for people with cover?

That can work.




- Baatorian
Jason Farlander
the form {QUOTE=dumpshocker x} text {/QUOTE}, replacing all {} with [], creates the following output:

QUOTE (dumpshocker x)
text


Flattening against the ground would not allow you to avoid being hit, rather, it would allow you to avoid being completely enveloped in flames, this potentially mitigating some of the damage. I would not allow someone to completely dodge the effect of an area effect elemental manip unless they could find cover or dodge out of the way.

I do not consider the initiative system to represent purely turn-based actions, as that gets somewhat silly. I assume a certain level of motion and fluidity to the whole thing, which include being able to dive to the ground in response to something that occurs before your turn.

As for how I think about elemental manips vs grenade blasts... my take on the matter (strictly non-canon, but also not contradicting canon) is that a fireball doesnt create real fire. It creates magical energy that behaves as the caster believes fire should behave - it looks like fire and burns things. Thats how I rule that all elemental manip spells work, which is why they can do things that the *real* substances they emulate cant do - real acid can not melt an assault rifle to sludge in one second, but acid stream can because dissolving metal is one of the things the caster believes to be a property of acid. In this case, the fireball does not lose power over distance like other explosions because it isnt constrained by the same laws as real explosives follow.
Baatorian
QUOTE (Jason Farlander)
I do not consider the initiative system to represent purely turn-based actions, as that gets somewhat silly.  I assume a certain level of motion and fluidity to the whole thing, which include being able to dive to the ground in response to something that occurs before your turn.


Naturally, but you still have to assume that people are in places and cannot act (as in take a free turn), when other people are resolving their actions, unless of course someone has a held action.

I make everyone declare their movement for the entire combat phase, before anything else is done. So when I talk about unmoving targets, I mean someone who has declared he's not moving, that of course still assumes he moves a bit and doesn't stay rigid.

QUOTE (Jason Farlander)
Thats how I rule that all elemental manip spells work, which is why they can do things that the *real* substances they emulate cant do


Yup, although, you still have to assume at some point they do become "real" enough, I mean, the effects of the spells are permenant after all and if someone is set ablaze, they're still ablaze, running around taking a horrible 6M until they do something about it.

Thanks for the quote code.

Still, the point remains. TN4 with just sustained spells and wounds effecting the outcome of the spell, with lower TNs to resist for people with cover?




- Baatorian
Jason Farlander
Heres the way I do it. The mage rolls to cast the spell against TN 4 + wound penalties + sustaining modifiers + cover/visibility modifiers applying to the point where the effect will be centered (visibility modifiers only apply if cover modifiers do). If he gets a single success, at the TN before cover/visibility mods are applied, the spell is successfully cast. If he fails to overcome the cover-modified TN to cast the spell at the desired point, the spell goes off prematurely when it encounters the object providing cover. Write down the results of the sorcery test.

Now, assume that the caster is located at the center of the blast (whether it takes place at the desired point or not), and determine the TN to hit each target within the radius of the spell based on cover. Visibility modifiers do not apply. Use the results of the sorcery test to determine the effectiveness of the spell against each target individually.

ShadowGhost
It's up to you how to play it, but even with the high drain, elemental manips are scary spells.

Under your system, I can target the ground 1/2m in front of characters, and my TNs are 3 (ground is a stationary target, ranged combat modifiers apply). With a force 2 Enhance Aim spell with two successes in a sustaining focus my TN is now 2. Casting a 6L Fireball gives me a drain of 4S.

With 6 sorcery, 6 spell pool, 6 will power, and 1 force 6 expendable foci, I can have up to 18 dice for casting the spell, and 6 (willpower) left over for drain. Keeping an extra 4 dice from spell pool for drain, I still have 14 dice for casting at a target number of 2. statistically, I will have 9 successes. Use Karma to re-roll failures, and it's about 13 successes. It's now 6D + 4 net successes. Damn few characters have enough combat pool to dodge 13 successes.

Assuming they have 4 impact armor, they need to roll 5 fours just to stage down the damage to deadly, and another 8 fours to stage to nothing.

Then the secondary effects hit. They're out of combat pool from dodging, essentially have no armor to resist ammo exploding etc.

I've had a character who threw one force 5M Acid Wave, followed by a force 5M ball lightning (if you take injury from electrical attack, cyberware is automatically damaged) and then a 5M fireball. I did have a Serious stun by the last one, but there was nothing left of the opposition.

I also learned the spells with a Fetish (reduces drain level by 1), and was a Sky Father Shaman (+2D for all Manipulation spells).

Elemental Manips are not subtle spells. Everyone knows when one goes off, which is another reason why they're not used often. But they can do massive damage over a wide area.

That's why I use visibility mods to TNs - it's ranged combat, and gives the other side a fighting chance to resist.
RedmondLarry
Our team interprets the rules written in the book to be the author's attempt to describe individual target elemental manipulation spells. For example, the stationary target modifier and concealment modifiers are perfectly fine for a Lightning Bolt going at a single target. The physical medium for such a spell leaves the caster and travels in a straight line to the target, blasting through intervening glass, plastic, cardboard and astral barriers with appropriate reductions in Force.

Our team thinks the authors words are pretty poor for describing the way to handle an area-affect elemental manipulation spell. If I throw a grenade at a stationary wastebasket in the middle of an enemy team (instead of at one of them), should that lower my target number and thus stage up more damage on all the team members? Of course not. Neither should it change the target number for an elemental manipulation spell.

Here is my interpretation of how area-affect elemental manipulation spells should be handled: IMO the area affect should not start at my fingertips. The spell is delivered to my selected location much like a baseball of elemental material, not like an 18-meter diameter umbrella. Any intervening glass, plastic or other barriers are blasted through with a small hole while the elemental material suffers a reduction in force getting there. (Anyone ever see the video of when Randy Johnson accidentally hit a bird with a baseball? Think of that.) IMO any visibility modifiers for me seeing my selected location do apply.

IMO the elemental material bursts out from the selected location as if it were a grenade for most of the elemental spells, but for Hail I have it rain down on the targets and for Toxic Wave the acid rolls out as a wave. I just like these affects. Protective cover between the targets and the selected location does increase the TN for that target (or getting under a desk, for the Hail spell). Concealment, such as a cardboard box, does nothing unless it has a barrier rating, in which case it lowers the Force of the attack. Intervening smoke, fog, or darkness between my selected location and the target is ignored.

I allow targets to dodge area-affect elemental spells as describe in the official FAQ for grenades. Since Dodging is allowed, I have to come up with a reason that it makes sense. What Iíve come up with is that the target somehow twists or turns to get into an spot within the spell of lesser effect (I donít think of the magical affect as being uniform), or turns so the blast strikes where he is less sensitive to damage.

IMO, Shielding raises the TN. This is one of the most wonderful benefits of Shielding 2, as a character in the open is hurt by one-third as many successes, on average.

To reiterate what others have said: The area of affect is the magicianís Magic Attribute in Radius. It can be raised or lowered by withholding dice the normal way. The caster has a tougher drain code for this than a comparable-damage Combat Spell, and the target gets half-benefit from Impact Armor, may Dodge, and may use Combat Pool for their damage resistance roll. Targets have to stage down to nothing to be unaffected. The material created by the Elemental Manipulation spell only lasts as long as the spell (typically Instant), but the affects are long-lasting (melted armor, burning clothes, etc.).

I allow Shielding Dice to add to the resistance roll, but not Spell Defense.
Dashifen
I've always imagined the elemental manipulations as moving through physical space from the caster towards a target. Hence the visibility/cover modifiers. Those represent the difficulty in sending the spell from the caster to the target.
Jason Farlander
As a note, I also use a baseball-sized ball of [insert element] streaking out from the caster to the detonation point effect similar to the one described by OurTeam, which is why cover modifiers apply to the original targeting spot. I do not allow the pre-detonation element ball to break through barriers, though (once it hits something the ball a s'plode). Furthermore, I have no problems whatsoever in allowing the use of spell defense dice against elemental spells.
Cain
QUOTE
See, now that is interesting. So are you are assuming that the mage is rolling to CREATE the effect of the spell, rather than hit or effect the targets of it.

Both, actually. He needs to have at least one success for the spell to have any effect at all (although he'll still need to resist drain). He needs more successes to accurately control and guide it to its target.

I also use the FAQ suggestions (at least +2 dodge TN) for dodging an area-of-effect elemental manipulation. It's harder, but not impossible, to dodge the effects of the spell. Part of dodging is also twisting and moving so you take the brunt on your armor/less vulnerable parts of your body.

I've seen some particularily nasty EM combinations being used, not the least of which was a low-force Fireball to trigger the sprinkler systems, followed by a HUGE ball lightning. You can also accomplish things that you can't without any other spell. Area-of-effect elemental manips work excellently as frag-you, kill-them-or-die-trying, last-ditch spells. But they're definitely not for quiet runs.
Baatorian
Hmm.. well, thanks to everyone who contributed, I'm still not entirely sure what I'm going to do in regards to AoE elemental manipulation spells, although I will be ignoring visibility modifiers to a degree.

I think I'm pretty happy with the realism behind one way of using them, which deals mostly with cover to lower resistance target numbers and perhaps some form of scatter, to demonstrate the unreliability I could imagine in hurling very powerful blasts of an unstable element.

Anyhow, cheers,




- Baatorian
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012