View Full Version : Left out in the cold (a question on energy resistances)

2008-02-22, 12:57 AM
This is a question about the energy resistance rules for D&D 3.5 ed.

A group of my buddies and I were discussing the effect of energy types on game play and the combat/encounter system in general when I asked if it would be acceptable for my mage, who is themed around northern climes and ice and snow (but who isn't using the Frostburn supplement) to substitute cold damage in for other damage types.
For example, rather than learning fireball, he learns iceball, thus turning the type and damage to cold and never learns fireball.

The somewhat divided concensus (which is important since we collectively DM in the campaign world) was that my mage should take Energy Substitution, rather than create new spells or learn ones with cold damage subbed in, as there are more fire resistant foes than cold resistant ones in the various MMs and just subbing in or researching new spells when my mage levels is too overpowering.
I find this not to be worth the wasted feats given that creating a new spell (costs, time etc) are just as important as a feat to a straight up mage. That and on a roleplaying level, Energy Substitution just feels like an uncreative and cookie cutter solution.

On top of this I don't know that there are more fire resistant creatures in the MMs et al. Is there an index of the energy resists out there that I can't find in the books or online?
Is cold a more powerful energy than fire if used as a substitute? Enough to bar icy ray rather than scorching ray etc etc?
Anyhoo, I could use the help.

Mark Hall
2008-02-22, 01:12 AM
Canon says you should take Energy Substitution: Cold. However, I'd probably make most of your starting spells simply cold spells to start with, if that's what you want.

BUT consider that cold spells are probably not the most effective weapons in the northlands. White dragons, winter wolves... everything with the [Cold] subtype ignores cold damage ANYWAY, so he's probably not going to have learned those.

2008-02-22, 06:58 AM
You could ask the DM to develop an "iceball" spell. I don't see why not. The idea is that to cast a fireball you'll either need energy substitution to change your iceball, or learn fireball as a different spell.

And as Hall said, not a very good spell choice at all, seeing where you are coming from.

Tempest Fennac
2008-02-22, 07:37 AM
Some spells like that are mentioned on the Wizad Domains list on http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm (including a Delayed Frostball, and a Cone of Fire).

2008-02-22, 07:39 AM
just make them all do cold damage, there is little or no balance issues.
there are more fire-types to be extra vulnerable though, they're right in that.

i have a fire priestess who wants lots of direct damage spells that do fire or at least burning damage. so acid and lightning are ok.
i just changed the type.

2008-02-22, 08:14 AM
I believe this is specifically mentioned in some sourcebook somewhere (DMG?) as an acceptable change, making things frost-themed... other suggestions included changing Grease to Black Ice... same effect, but different fluff. Or changing Magic Missile to Ice Bolts, which actually weakens it since force is more useful than cold.

If your DM is uncomfortable with this change anyway, see if you can persuade him to let you make the more fluff-oriented changes, like with the aforementioned Grease spell. Your Color Spray could be a spray of blinding/stunning ice shards, your Glitterdust could cause snow blindness... be creative.

Keld Denar
2008-02-22, 11:37 AM
Just reflavor your spells. There is already precident with this, as Scintilating Sphere (SC) is the EXACT same spell as fireball, except with the electricity discripter instead of fire. Since its been done before, why can't it be done again?

As always, ask your DM.

2008-02-22, 03:14 PM
Mechanically, it would put you at a disadvantage to cast all your spells from one type of energy. Consider the Elemental Savant, who receives bonuses by abiding to this rule (not a bad idea for a build btw). The versatility is worth far more than any concept of the foes having more of this or that. And I might add, an inteligent foe can prepare for it. There should be no problem with switching all your spells to ice versions, as long as you can't also cast them as their regular versions.

2008-02-22, 04:44 PM
There are more fire subtype creatures than cold subtype, but on the other hand, most undead are resistant or immune to cold (but not fire), and cold does even less damage than other energy types to objects. Personally, I would consider cold damage to be slightly less useful, overall, than fire damage. So I don't think there would be a balance issue in letting you have cold versions of spells for free (again, so long as they replace the existing spells, not supplement them).

2008-02-23, 01:42 AM
Thanks all, good points all around. I think I'll do a bit more research into the monsters that are immune to what energy types, undead and the cold immunity specifically (thanks Chronos!)
I'm still surprised that there isn't an index out there in any of the official books. I'll have to roam around the interweb some more just to make sure.
But anyhoo, thanks again!