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evirus
2011-04-05, 08:41 AM
I seem to be caught in a catch 22.

When I include interesting terrain (elevation, difficult, impassable,etc) but do not include traps/hazards my combats become very compelling and really chalenge my players to come up with strategies on the fly. This often leads to straight forward fights taking a long time/tole on the characters.

Since the combats are harder, but I'm not using traps/hazrads there seems to be no guideline on how to increase xp for the encounter. help.

Also, should there be a limit to how much terrain I use?

tcrudisi
2011-04-05, 09:15 AM
I seem to be caught in a catch 22.

When I include interesting terrain (elevation, difficult, impassable,etc) but do not include traps/hazards my combats become very compelling and really chalenge my players to come up with strategies on the fly. This often leads to straight forward fights taking a long time/tole on the characters.

Since the combats are harder, but I'm not using traps/hazrads there seems to be no guideline on how to increase xp for the encounter. help.

Also, should there be a limit to how much terrain I use?

No, don't limit it. Obviously, you don't want to go overboard every fight, but terrain is a great way to spice up a combat. Here's the thing: the players can use it against the monsters just as easily as the monsters can use it against the players.

You have archers on a cliff? Watch them suckers get pulled right off and take a bunch of damage while landing prone. My point is that terrain shouldn't make every combat harder. Some should be made easier by it (if your players utilize it properly). As such, I wouldn't give an increase or decrease in xp for the encounter.

valadil
2011-04-05, 09:56 AM
Since the combats are harder, but I'm not using traps/hazrads there seems to be no guideline on how to increase xp for the encounter. help.

That's why terrain is awesome. You get to murderize PCs easier, but don't have to give them XP for their efforts.

The only limit I use on terrain is that it can't be so much that we have trouble keeping track of it. Everyone at the table should be able to look at the board and know what's going on. If they have to ask why that one tower has a triangle on it and the other has two x's, you've added too much notation.

It is possible to completely screw your PCs with terrain. If you do this though, it will likely be very obvious they're screwed. Fearless adventurers won't run into a situation if they can't see how to get to the archers on the other side of the cliff. That's usually the tipping point where they'll either come up with something clever, come up with something they think is clever, or sit still and wait for the fight to come to them.

So with that in mind, I suppose too much terrain is terrain that not only screws them but traps them. Putting the players at the bottom of a no teleport/no flight pit and spraying them with your +2 Firehose of Magma is probably overboard. Give them a way out so they can take their time in coming up with a way to beat the unbeatable terrain.

evirus
2011-04-05, 10:18 AM
That's why terrain is awesome. You get to murderize PCs easier, but don't have to give them XP for their efforts.


Isn't harder combats the reason traps/hazard grant greater XP? Is my case too situational to merit something more?

Sipex
2011-04-05, 10:21 AM
4e assumes interesting terrain when it factors in the XP for each monster. It also assumes that the monsters will be played to take full advantage of that terrain. In reality, your PCs are just earning the full XP allotment when monsters are played to their full extent, otherwise they're just getting some bonus XP for an easier encounter.

valadil
2011-04-05, 10:28 AM
Isn't harder combats the reason traps/hazard grant greater XP? Is my case too situational to merit something more?

Nah, it's just harder for WotC to tell you how much more XP the terrain is worth if there's a wall in the middle of it.

If you really want to give out more XP, come up with a tough fight bonus after a fight proves to be harder than intended. Maybe an extra 10% above budget. But if you do that you should also penalize them for easy fights. I'd rather just ignore the math and let the hard and easy fights average themselves out.

ericgrau
2011-04-05, 11:22 AM
Tough terrain should be the default, or at least it was in 3.5e. Everything in the monster manual and its kobold grandma laid ambushes in its description text. Heck I'd give less xp from any foe dumb enough to fight out in the open. Even indoors there should be furniture and structural cover. If you do this with all your fights then there's no point to adjusting xp since it's all the same anyway.

If foes have a huge advantage like arrow slits or 100 foot tall cliffs then ok it's time to treat them like a higher level enemy for xp and encounter level. Try to make a rough comparison to other higher level foes until you find a match. Round down to be safe, especially if the terrain can be overcome with powers or etc.

Mando Knight
2011-04-05, 12:05 PM
The only limits you should set on your terrain are that if it's all hazardous (you fight IN a lava pool! Wade across the molten DEATH!) it's just as boring as completely open terrain and ten times as annoying, and if you have too many different kinds of terrain (this is a weird Feydark fungal farm! That's mud, that's one kind of mushroom that does this, that mushroom does that, there's a pit there, a spider's web there...), it just gets tedious without being any more fun.

valadil
2011-04-05, 12:58 PM
Tough terrain should be the default, or at least it was in 3.5e. Everything in the monster manual and its kobold grandma laid ambushes in its description text.

On that note, I really wish the DMG gave more examples of interesting terrain and how to make it work to your advantage. I just kinda throw terrain out there and hope that it works the way I expect, but I have very little control of if it will.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-06, 11:39 AM
On that note, I really wish the DMG gave more examples of interesting terrain and how to make it work to your advantage. I just kinda throw terrain out there and hope that it works the way I expect, but I have very little control of if it will.
Eh, you'll work it out over time.

Mostly, terrain can be evaluated using the same part of the brain that makes tactical decisions.
- Choke points enhance Defenders and melee Strikers

- Difficult & Blocking Terrain is nice to keep Melee away from Ranged but it is nasty for Strikers & Ranged to fight in (no shifting! :smalleek:)

- Hazards make forced movement better

- Open spaces weaken Defenders and enhance Strikers & Skirmishers

- Concealment/Cover aids and hinders Ranged and is helpful for Lurkers
Just to name a few. One way to tilt the "difficulty" of terrain one way or the other is to pick terrain with powers in mind. Giving monsters forced movement powers in battlefields with Hazards and Elevated Terrain will make life harder for your PCs; PCs with Forced Movement powers have an easier time on the same battlefields.

Mark Hall
2011-04-06, 11:47 AM
Somewhat off the wall question... how much do your players get to pick the terrain they fight on?

In most D&D fights, you've got something of a "set-piece"... the encounter takes place in a given room, which has terrain that favors the bad guys in some way ("Coincidentally, the teleporting bad guys fight in a room with a lot of plum-flower stumps set amid boiling lava! Jump checks for everybody!"). However, a big part of strategy and tactics is picking your battlefield... which the enemies frequently do, but the aggressor-PCs don't get to.

I'd put a few options in where they get to pick their battlefields, and see what they favor. Places where it's feasible to fall back to the unencumbered terrain, or fight on terrain that equally encumbers them both. It'll help build tactical awareness of terrain, and give you an idea of what they want.

valadil
2011-04-06, 11:47 AM
Eh, you'll work it out over time.


I thought so too, but my game's been going since January of last year and I still find terrain generation tedious and imprecise. Maybe I need another playthrough of FF:T for inspiration...


Somewhat off the wall question... how much do your players get to pick the terrain they fight on?


Depends. The more interesting my terrain, the more set in stone it is.

I have allowed the players to set their own terrain. They were following someone home and rolled well on their stealth to not be seen and on their streetwise to pick a good spot. Instead of telling them what a good spot was, I handed over the markers and let them work out their own alleyway ambush. A few other times I've drawn the setting, but let them add features - rocks, trees, grab grass, etc - but that didn't work out quite so well.

When I build 3d terrain, that's not always an option. It's just not practical to improvise terrain in this way. I don't have enough Construx or Legos to make generic set pieces like houses, towers, and bridges. Maybe when I have a house I'll dedicate a room of the basement to those and let the players place them as needed. Until then, 3d terrain ends up predetermined. (Although I would consider taking a timeout to build terrain in a longer game. A 3 hour weeknight game is not the time or place for terrain construction fun hour though.)

What I do instead is let the PCs undermine the enemy's tactics. I build most of my encounters with the assumption that the bad guys got there first and had time to set up. This makes for hard fights if the players approach as expected. But if the players scout successfully they'll be able to attack from another angle or attack at a time when the bad guys are out of formation. (Incidentally, this makes combats easier to write. If I know that the PCs can come from anywhere, I'm not longer obliged to find excuses to shoehorn them into the front of the fight. I like when giving out more options means less planning time.) IMO this is a much more tangible reward than giving out a generic bonus for good scouting. As I mentioned before though, my ability to set up the terrain so that this matters is unreliable. When my tactics are sound, this method is great. When my tactics fail, the PCs attack a big cluster of enemies and it doesn't matter if they scouted or not.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-06, 12:23 PM
I thought so too, but my game's been going since January of last year and I still find terrain generation tedious and imprecise. Maybe I need another playthrough of FF:T for inspiration...
Huh. What's the hang-up for you?

Personally, I don't go in for too much "fancy" terrain like Altars of Power and the like. Things that are easy to understand do plenty to spice up Encounters - playing with Cover, Concealment, Difficult Terrain, Elevation and Pits is more than enough for Heroic Tier.

For Paragon you need to work with fancier terrain, to be sure, but on that end I prefer the "extra attack" form of hazardous terrain: rivers of liquid fire, for example.
The first time a creature enters the River of Fire it immediately takes 10 Fire damage and takes 5 ongoing Fire damage (Save Ends). If a creature starts its turn within the River of Fire, it immediately takes 10 Fire damage and takes 5 ongoing Fire damage (Save Ends).
If the monsters are resistant to Fire, this makes the Encounter harder; if they're not, it's a neutral hazard. Fairly easy to understand, and quick to adjudicate during the Encounter.

valadil
2011-04-06, 12:45 PM
Huh. What's the hang-up for you?

I actually asked this question elsewhere. Let's see how giantitp fares against RPG dot stackexchange (http://rpg.stackexchange.com/q/7040/819). They have a head start, but I like you guys better.

I feel like I'm limited to a few cheesy tricks. I can pull the PCs into a choke point with enemies around the corner. And I can put my archers (meaning any ranged combatant) on a hard to reach shelf. Sometimes I even put my archers on separate shelves, so that reaching one means leaving the other alone for longer or dedicating another PC to taking care of it. Oh and sometimes I'll give the reinforcements a hiding space near the beginning of the combat so that when the melees rush in, these guys can jump out and gank the casters.

But beyond that I don't have a lot of ideas of what to do with terrain. I don't really know how a T junction is going to work differently than a 4 way intersection.

I think I'm led astray by the textual examples I keep reading about. I want pictures! "An open space" doesn't tell me as much as ...


###############################
####...................#################
##...A.......A........C...........######...#####
##.....................................##......... ...##
###...................................#.L......... ....##
######.............B....B......................... ###
############........###..............#####
#############.......##..L.....#########
#############...######..#########
#############..################
#############..################

(Angband notation with [A]rtillery, [C]ontroller, [L]urker, and [B]rute. # is occupied (probably a wall) and a . is a floor space.)


I'm also prone to oversimplifying things into melee and archer combatants. Archers shoot from afar. Melees keep the archers afar. I treat AoE mages no differently than snipers. Maybe introducing another class of enemy would give me more options? I expected monster roles to do this for me, but I clump soldiers and brutes, lurkers and skirmishers, and artillery and controllers together. And even then, lurkishers end up as weaker soldiers and brutes who sometimes take a couple turns to show up.

I don't like relying on terrain features either. They feel gimmicky.

I *think* one option for better tactics would be to have more goals than "cut the other side until they stop moving." But I can't always work that into every fight. And even when I can set up other win conditions, it's not always realistic to communicate those to the players. Enemies that surrender once their leader is dead don't usually advertise that fact.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-06, 01:39 PM
I actually asked this question elsewhere. Let's see how giantitp fares against RPG dot stackexchange (http://rpg.stackexchange.com/q/7040/819). They have a head start, but I like you guys better.
OK, let me take a stab at it.

First of all, don't design terrain solely for the benefit of your monsters.
Terrain doesn't always mean fortifications - sometimes its just a hill or a cliff-wall that happens to be in the area. Even just dropping a ruins in the middle of a battle-map can shape how the Encounter goes and make it more interesting than fighting in a featureless 10 x 10 room. This should help shake the idea of terrain being a "cheap gimmick."

Next, let's see if I can't help with the concept of "space."
There are 3 types of space to consider when designing a battlemap:
(1) Movement Space - can creatures physically move about in this space? If you have Large monsters, where do they need to Squeeze and where can they walk? If you have fliers/climbers, where can they fly and/or climb?

(2) Defender Space - Defenders constantly create Burst 1 zones of denial. How many 3-square or less spaces do you have? Each one is a potential choke-point, and every larger space provides creatures an opportunity to avoid Defender control.

(3) Visual Space - where can you draw lines of sight? Are there spaces which are visually cut off from the main battlefield? Those areas are places where people can hide from ranged volleys and where Lurkers can retreat to establish hiding. If you have limited Visual Space, then Ranged units are weakened; if you have lots of Visual Space, then that is where Ranged units will want to be.
The balance of these three spaces shapes your battlefield more than anything else. If Movement Space is limited, expect a static combat with lots of clumped units; if Movement Space is sufficient but Defender Space is tight (i.e. most passages are 3 squares or less wide) then you will have choke points and lots of flanking - the side with better Defenders has a substantial advantage. Visual Space is the one type of space that people usually forget, but in Ranged-heavy combats it is the most important. "Kill zones" form where Visual Space is at its greatest but Ranged units are crippled if none of them can get enough Visual Space to focus-fire on targets.

By examining Spaces you can combine them to get a general idea as to how a combat will run. If a certain area has limited Movement Space but large amounts of Visual Space (say, by being a bridge over a ravine) then that space will be an area where Ranged with dominate and a few Brutes can ruin your PCs day. Likewise, "blank areas" which have lots of Movement and Visual space but few Defender Spaces are going to be boring - the combat will be a blob roughly centered in that blank area.

Now, some specific advice:
(1) Don't use more than one "interactive" terrain feature at a time, but do try to include 1 per combat.
Interactive terrain features - pits, lakes of fire, expanding gas clouds - are the most interesting terrain to use in an Encounter because they are active participants rather than passive features. These sorts of things can become gimmicky if used too often, but can really spice things up when you're running low EL Encounters. A lake that periodically lashes out with watery tentacles is a lot more fun than merely fighting around a lake.

Don't bother trying to "design" encounters around these things - that makes it feel gimmicky. For most, it's just enough to place some in an Encounter and let the PCs play with it. Importantly, they need to be things the PCs want - or must - interact with. The tentacle lake is boring if the PCs can just avoid it; it is fun if the PCs have the ability to use Forced Movement get the BBEG within reach or if the whole fight takes place on a bridge crossing the lake.

(2) Create Bypasses with Terrain
Particularly in dungeons it is easy to fall into the trap of "big box" combats (featureless 10 x 10 rooms) or "hall battles" (low Movement/Visual Space, high Defender Space) - they're dungeons, so this should happen a lot. To make life more exciting, create bypasses around the obvious clumping areas. For example, have a long bridge (good Defender Space) over a chasm with lots of Visual Space and then place some caves along the side which open onto natural bridges that also cross the chasm. If the Main Bridge is well defended, the attacker can try to bypass by sneaking through the visually-isolated caves and sprinting across the natural bridges. These bypasses can free up congestion and give the Players (and you, the DM) more options as to how the combat is going to go.
I'm sorry that I didn't include visuals, but I lack the patience to do them. However, a lot of my more concrete advice requires knowledge of the PCs. you should design Encounters with the capabilities of the PCs in mind; not to penalize them, but to see what sort of features will "matter" most to the individual PCs. A party with a Push-happy Sorcerer is going to be more excited about pits than one without :smallbiggrin:

valadil
2011-04-06, 02:11 PM
I'm sorry that I didn't include visuals, but I lack the patience to do them.

No problem. I didn't really expect them in a forum post. I was mostly just upset that there weren't good visuals in the DMG. If they gave 10 pages to terrain examples, with some arrows and discussion I think GMs would be much better prepared to do good terrain.

The material on spaces helps. I think it also showed why I'm having some difficulty with my party. The defender isn't sticky. He's a swordmage. Enemies take some damage for attacking out of mark, but he's also got abilities to deal damage when he gets hit. His defenses are more than two higher than most of the party's, so if an enemy just wants to hit something they're better off attacking another PC with a -2 than the defender without. This means I'm pretty much ignoring his defenderish aspects because they're a moot point. (Also it's entirely possible that this is a playstyle choice by the PC rather than a build issue.)

Since the party is low on sticky defenders I think I'm going to try using more of them myself. I've found that the average soldier isn't so defenderish as a PC, but I figure that if I'm actively looking for not your average soldier, I'll find something a bit closer to a fighter.

Just_Ice
2011-04-06, 02:38 PM
Usually having multiple terrain and traps together in a fight with enemies with some sort of cover is really irritating, not only because it's difficult, but because it takes forever.

You don't have to be too explicit with what the terrain is for; if you have an interesting room, you're probably going to see interesting things (unless your party members are boring).

For instance, I had a climactic fight on a gigantic chandelier, whose angle could be changed and everyone would slide around and it was pretty well planned. This was comparable to a coincidental climactic finale in a puzzle room, especially since it had a pool of acid, disappearing bridges rotating blades, tight platforms, and a corridor with walls of liquid hot magma (think The Incredibles). The latter was less built around a combat, but since none of the effects were over-lapping with each other, only one effected relevant players at the same time.

In other words, being slow or on fire is generally okay, but not both.

Sipex
2011-04-06, 03:06 PM
Wow, oracle, that was an amazing post.

I learned a lot from it.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-06, 03:10 PM
The material on spaces helps. I think it also showed why I'm having some difficulty with my party. The defender isn't sticky. He's a swordmage. Enemies take some damage for attacking out of mark, but he's also got abilities to deal damage when he gets hit. His defenses are more than two higher than most of the party's, so if an enemy just wants to hit something they're better off attacking another PC with a -2 than the defender without. This means I'm pretty much ignoring his defenderish aspects because they're a moot point. (Also it's entirely possible that this is a playstyle choice by the PC rather than a build issue.)

Since the party is low on sticky defenders I think I'm going to try using more of them myself. I've found that the average soldier isn't so defenderish as a PC, but I figure that if I'm actively looking for not your average soldier, I'll find something a bit closer to a fighter.
Well, Swordmages are oddball Defenders at best. If he's doing damage when his Mark is violated, then he's Defending correctly so no worries there. If you want someone to be rude to the Swordmage, throw in Lurkers who attack NADs instead of AC :smallamused:

Monster-wise, all you need to do to make a good Defender out of a Soldier is give him something similar to the Fighter's Combat Challenge - pretty easy to do even without the Monster Builder. Additionally, giving Soldiers basic attacks that Slow or Knock Prone or OAs that Daze is another way to make them more Defender-y.

Out of curiosity, are there any specific issues within your game which need addressing? Something like "static combats" or "blobs o' melee" are fixed with the advice I've given already - but perhaps you have some other special concern?

valadil
2011-04-06, 03:36 PM
Out of curiosity, are there any specific issues within your game which need addressing? Something like "static combats" or "blobs o' melee" are fixed with the advice I've given already - but perhaps you have some other special concern?

Not off the top of my head. This is the only group I've GMed 4e for, so this is the first time I've considered that they may not be the average party. It makes sense that they're a little odd due to their make up though. I already mentioned the defender who isn't very sticky. We also have a rogue/bard hybrid. He plays like a striker for two turns then a leader for one or two turns. The avenger is straight up mobile striker. The wizard is a sorcerer in disguise who puts the actual strikers to shame. And the kobold warden behaves like a good leader, but has a subpar race for his class. That there's no full controller or defender would in fact affect how terrain plays out.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-06, 03:53 PM
Not off the top of my head. This is the only group I've GMed 4e for, so this is the first time I've considered that they may not be the average party. It makes sense that they're a little odd due to their make up though. I already mentioned the defender who isn't very sticky. We also have a rogue/bard hybrid. He plays like a striker for two turns then a leader for one or two turns. The avenger is straight up mobile striker. The wizard is a sorcerer in disguise who puts the actual strikers to shame. And the kobold warden behaves like a good leader, but has a subpar race for his class. That there's no full controller or defender would in fact affect how terrain plays out.
...Wardens are Defenders. What the devil is he going? :smallconfused:

valadil
2011-04-06, 05:30 PM
...Wardens are Defenders. What the devil is he going? :smallconfused:

Brainfart. I meant Shaman.

Gillric
2011-04-07, 06:22 AM
I think the issue right up front is that your strikers aren't pulling their weight from a damage per round point of view if the wizard (unless he is spectacular) is out damaging them.

RebelRogue
2011-04-07, 06:41 AM
Wow, oracle, that was an amazing post.

I learned a lot from it.
+1. Good stuff. Terrain is of those things I've been meaning to do more stuff with as a 4e DM, so it's nice to see your usual, thorough analysis of the subject :smallcool:

Garwain
2011-04-07, 07:40 AM
Maybe you could consider dynamic terrain? The field changes as the turns pass and forces to react to it. It makes the terrain more of an involved factor.

For example:
A sinking boat, as the bow get's covered with water, after each round you get more difficult terrain.
A wobbling bridge that forces movement
A river of lava that is covering more and more area
A ruin that is crumbling, taking away more and more cover from those hiding inside
the lake with tentacle from above seems to fit here very well

valadil
2011-04-07, 09:22 AM
I think the issue right up front is that your strikers aren't pulling their weight from a damage per round point of view if the wizard (unless he is spectacular) is out damaging them.

The rogue pulls his weight for 2 turns then remembers he's only a hybrid. The avenger is non-optimal. The wizard is the most optimized character in the party. I haven't played enough 4e to know if he qualifies as spectacular or not, but the rest of the group just pretends he's a sorcerer.


Maybe you could consider dynamic terrain? The field changes as the turns pass and forces to react to it. It makes the terrain more of an involved factor.


I'm very fond of dynamic terrain, but only when it makes sense. Boat passing under a bridge? Awesome! Rotating platforms above a pit of lava with no explanation beyond "a wizard did it?" Meh. The more I use dynamic terrain the more I'm tempted to use it again in the next fight and then I just turn the game into a platform jumper.

So basically I'll absolutely use dynamic terrain when the situation demands it, but I'm not longer allowed to invent justifications for dynamic terrain.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-04-07, 02:21 PM
Maybe you could consider dynamic terrain? The field changes as the turns pass and forces to react to it. It makes the terrain more of an involved factor.
Actually a friend of mine just showed me how effective dynamic terrain can be. He set up a collapsing staircase situation: a flat hallway would slowly turn into a staircase leading into a room below. Not that exciting, no? But then, when the "bottom" of the staircase reached a room, the "top" would begin descending until it became a new "bottom." And so on.

We didn't know where it was going, so we kept changing end-to-end while monsters kept spawning out of the walls along the hallway. It was a surprisingly active battle that was by far the most engaging one he had done to that date.

Once you get the basics of Terrain usage down, I'd highly recommend thinking about battlefields in which elements force PC movement about crowded battlefields.

One that I'd like to try:
Asystem of tunnels which periodically have gouts of flame shooting down different ones - and they're swarming with fire-immune creatures. The PCs would get a "this tunnel is getting warm" warning and then the fire would go off in 1d3 rounds.
Dynamic terrain works so well for Paragon campaign, but I'd endeavor to use it more in the next Heroic campaign I run.

salt3d
2011-04-13, 06:58 AM
you fight IN a lava pool! Wade across the molten DEATH!

I don't have anything meaningful to add to this thread except the fact that since lava is molten rock, it has the density of rock, and as such you can't fall into it, only on to it. Unless you happen to be made of something more dense than rock. :smalleek:

Fuzzie Fuzz
2011-04-13, 05:37 PM
I don't have anything meaningful to add to this thread except the fact that since lava is molten rock, it has the density of rock, and as such you can't fall into it, only on to it. Unless you happen to be made of something more dense than rock. :smalleek:

That. That isn't how density works. It may be that lava is denser than humans, but it isn't as dense as your average solid rock. Heating things generally causes them to expand, thus lowering the density.

Actually, it looks like the density of lava at 1250 degrees Celcius is approximately 93 - 95% of that of its solid counterpart at room temperature. (Source (http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/1999-11/943417499.Es.r.html))

JysusCryst
2011-04-13, 06:46 PM
Actually, it looks like the density of lava at 1250 degrees Celcius is approximately 93 - 95% of that of its solid counterpart at room temperature. (Source (http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/1999-11/943417499.Es.r.html))

So, does that mean a humanoid would fall INTO or ON TO lava? Does a humanoid slowly sink down or does it splash and is then completely covered? Have all the movies I've been watching been wrong?! When the bad guy falls in, splashes and sinks quickly? Would it be fall, hit with a little splash, but stay on top and catch fire, then slowly sink?

Fuzzie Fuzz
2011-04-13, 07:41 PM
Probably die from the toxic fumes first, then burn to a crisp, and then fall on top of the lava and pretty quickly incinerate. So yes, all the movies you've been watching are very wrong. For many lava-related reasons. A fight set above a pit of lava would be lethal before you even fell in the lava, because heat has a tendency to radiate off of hot things through the air, and also because lava will give off gasses that are highly toxic. But if you somehow survived those, and fell onto lava, you would land on top of the lava and then stay there and burn rather quickly.

Also note that human bodies, being ~80% water, are very bad at catching on fire unless already very burnt.

JysusCryst
2011-04-13, 08:18 PM
I was being sarcastic about the movies. I know better than that. :smallbiggrin:

However, I didn't know that people's (dead) bodies would just sit on top of lava. I did think that they would sink.

But this gives me an idea for D&D. A battle, not wading through lava, but a battle on top of flowing lava. And it's a fantasy world, so I can do it! I just need some epic tier boots!:smalltongue:

Fuzzie Fuzz
2011-04-13, 09:53 PM
And an epic-tier gas-mask!

Also note that if the lava was flowing, there would be potential for the body to be covered up, assuming it didn't incinerate first. It wouldn't sink in still lava, however. It would really just burn, and probably combust completely.

JysusCryst
2011-04-13, 11:56 PM
Again, to much realism for my fantasy lava-top fight.

Just epic boots. And an enchantment/cloak that lets me/us resist fire.

Oh, and cause it's flowing lava, at beginning of reach turn, that character makes an acrobatics check or spends a minor action to keep balance. If you fall, you take...umm...let's see. 3d10+half your level fire damage (that ignores resistance). Sound good?

Eric Tolle
2011-04-14, 10:47 AM
I don't have anything meaningful to add to this thread except the fact that since lava is molten rock, it has the density of rock, and as such you can't fall into it, only on to it. Unless you happen to be made of something more dense than rock. :smalleek:

Heroes and villains are denser than lava though. Must be all those iron rations they eat.

Anyway, I'm fond of three-dimensional warfare. ledges, trees with platforms, canyons with waterfalls, caves that have entrances coming in at different heights, etc.. Or sections of a cave that are tilted at a crazy angle, or where the head height is only 4' or so. Go too far, and I'll start yielding to the temptation to make 3-D battlemats....

Actually, if you want an example of "too much terrain", you can't do better than real life. (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/01/largest-cave/peter-photography)