The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    It's paranoid to assume that we have a problem with the party or that we have to change our whole styles.
    I didn't say you had a problem with the party. I said you had a balance problem:

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    while a balance problem, it's also annoying for me, because my character is a monk whose major goal was to make himself resistant to magic, and i devoted a lot of my build to it - under the premise that the campaign would stay at a power level where it's still possible to do so. and it's not nice that your whole build can be invalidated by a single spell.
    I then pointed out that the best way to deal with it is by having a conversation out of game, not by nerfing one type of spell. As TvTyrant mentioned, nerfing orbs is likely to either have no effect due to all the metamagic he's piling on, or convince him to switch to some other rider and continue to invalidate your monk.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    I will again second Ray Deflection.

    There is nothing wrong with smart enemies preparing specific countermeasures against the PC's. Especially if the party is famous and it's a tactic they use repeatedly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    But that's one of the things about interpreting RAW—when you pick a reading that goes against RAI, it often has a ripple effect that results in dysfunctions in other places.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Hey, can we stop blaming incantatrix here? A 1/day feature that could be replaced in part by a feat that any wizard could take is the only part of that class that's playing a role here. You can't use the metamagic effect feature, the feature that makes incantatrix such a powerhouse, on instantaneous spells. Seriously, if he had sudden maximize and -no- incantatrix levels, he could still do the orb thing. Archmage's energy substitution is a bigger part of the problem here than anything incantatrix is doing.

    If he was persisting a bunch of buffs on the least restrictive reading of persistent spell then incantatrix would be the culprit but it's just not here. Not unless he's jumped straight back to incantatrix after just a level or two of archmage for improved metamagic. Even then, it just makes this stunt cheaper. It'd still be possible without incantatrix.

    Now I do have one question though: how is max disintegrate not a problem will twinned max orbs are? The damage value is the same. Most foes won't have SR anymore than they'll have a high touch ac. The save? That's just another roll against a set target number; it's ac in reverse and the modified orb spell has to roll twice too.

    I think your real problem is that wizard accidentally picked a spell that made it impossible to remain willfully blind to a problem you've actually had for a while now. Nerfing the orbs is just putting your blinders back on. If you want to fix the real problem instead of just putting a bandaid on it, then either he needs to voluntarily give up some of that power by losing the rods or your table needs a houserule against metamagic stacking altogether. The orbs are -not- the problem. The fact he can drop 4 of 'em on a target in 6 seconds for maximum damage is. There are a hundred more rays he could do the same thing with.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Yes, I think the problem here is metamagic reducers, and especially when they are allowed to stack. I'm fairly permissive, within reason (like, DMM is permitted, though very closesly watched and nightstaicks and similar items are VERY much not), but metamagic reducer are one thing I consider not within reason, just because it is so easily abusable.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebloc View Post
    I am confused why changing the orbs to be Evocation and SR Yes is a good fix. Doesn't that just make them significantly worse than regular old fireball or lightning bolt?
    • Fireball hits an area, it’s true, while Orb of Fire hits a single target. (Mostly, but not always, advantage: Fireball.)
    • Fireball also has much longer range than Orb of Fire. (For the scales often used for tactical map combats, especially in dungeons, this often doesn’t matter much, but it is worth noting.)

    However, even as an Evocation SR: Yes spell,
    • Orb of Fire caps at 15d6 rather than Fireball’s 10d6
    • Orb of Fire is a ranged touch attack and offers no Reflex save against damage, unlike Fireball.
    • Orb of Fire forces a secondary Fort save or dazed for a round.
    • Orb of Fire natively comes in different energy flavors, so you can simply use a different flavor by knowing another spell without having to metamagic or similar; this includes lower-damage but rarely-resisted sonic and even force damage.

    Also there’s the little philosophical side matter of the Orb spells arguably not making any sense as direct-damage magic that can hammer magic “immune” foes even within antimagic zones.

    This is not to say that making them Evocation is a perfect fix or would solve the OP’s issues without any other consideration, but....

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    hey, thanks. this is perhaps the first useful thing I found in this thread. spells alternate to orbs that would let the wizard consistently damage great dragons while not being an insta-win on anyone else who's not crazy prepared are perfectly good.
    You're welcome So are you gonna just have them use the area spells, or go ahead and suggest your size-based orb change as well (or fort-half orbs)?
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    Also there’s the little philosophical side matter of the Orb spells arguably not making any sense as direct-damage magic that can hammer magic “immune” foes even within antimagic zones.
    Well, that's easy to explain - an orb spell is basically just an sci-fi energy gun (or, like, a flamethrower in the specific case of Orb of Fire). The "gun" is made of magic, not metal and technology, but the thing it fires isn't.

    I mean heck, if you think about it, it ought be easier to create energy than matter through conjuration; and at the first level you get the Orbs and Minor Creation, you can create enough quarterstaffs to equip the whole party (plus) for seven hours which are also no save, no SR when you beat monsters to death with them, creating a blast of fire for less than six seconds at the same level doesn't sound unreasonable, really.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    To the OP: how about to go back to the Tome and Blood edition of those spells?
    Back then, they were Evocation with "SR: Yes", but missed attack roll resulted with 10' splashes (deals 2 damage per die, but no "special effect"), and it was possible to shoot more than one orb at once (with total damage divided among the all orbs).
    "Speciall effects" (Fortitude save):
    Acid Orb: nauseated
    Cold Orb: blinded
    Electric Orb: target in metallic armor is entangled (or unable to move, if surrounded by metal)
    Fire Orb: dazed
    Force Orb*: - (Fortitude save for half-damage)

    *Force Orb is not in the Tome and Blood, but in Unapproachable East
    Last edited by ShurikVch; 2019-11-02 at 11:01 AM.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Now I do have one question though: how is max disintegrate not a problem will twinned max orbs are? The damage value is the same. Most foes won't have SR anymore than they'll have a high touch ac. The save? That's just another roll against a set target number; it's ac in reverse and the modified orb spell has to roll twice too.
    The save is pretty significant though, an extra chance at "failure", and generally quite a decent chance at that. Even if both rolls are a 50/50, disintegrate has a 25% chance overall, vs a 50% for the orb.

    Don't get me wrong, I agree with your premise, that the spell isn't really the issue, but disintegrate is a pretty rough pick for the example. I would have gone with a spell that is purely a save, like chain lightning or fireball.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Playing a wizard the way GitP says wizards should be played requires the equivalent time and effort investment of a university minor. Do you really want to go down this rabbit hole, or are you comfortable with just throwing a souped-up Orb of Fire at the thing?
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crake View Post
    The save is pretty significant though, an extra chance at "failure", and generally quite a decent chance at that. Even if both rolls are a 50/50, disintegrate has a 25% chance overall, vs a 50% for the orb.

    Don't get me wrong, I agree with your premise, that the spell isn't really the issue, but disintegrate is a pretty rough pick for the example. I would have gone with a spell that is purely a save, like chain lightning or fireball.
    I think he meant because it's twinned

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    The whole point of spell resistance as a mechanic is to give creatures a defense against being nuked by casters. The availability of the orb spells, which both ignore spell resistance and offer no saving throw against their damage, not only undermines the mechanic completely but also makes otherwise decent spells look like terrible decisions by comparison simply by being subjected to a layer of defense.
    Direct damage spells that ignore spell resistance, outside of the orb spells, are few and far between. None of them are especially powerful and all of them that I'm aware of are acid, which is not a form of energy being manipulated by magic (despite being considered an energy type) but rather a physical object that can be summoned and used as a weapon. As a point c comparison, there are a number of cantrips which all do essentially the same thing with different damage types - electric jolt, acid splash, and ray of frost all deal 1d3 damage with a close-range touch attack - but only the acid variety is conjuration and ignores SR.
    Thematically, there's nothing about the orb spells that indicates that they have a reason be conjuration. An orb of energy is launched from your hands at your target. It doesn't say that you are, for example, conjuring the physical essence of one of the elemental planes. There's nothing indicating that the energy is being conjured rather than being brought into existence by magic.
    One might argue that orb of acid, at least, might at least be appropriate as a conjuration, but even then the scaling of the damage is consistent with evocation spells. Damaging conjugations tend to have static damage, with higher caster levels increasing the duration of lingering effects. The orb spells are the opposite of that, with a lingering effect lasting a set amount of time and damage scaling fully with caster level.
    So not only does the fact that the orbs are conjuration undermine the whole point of spell resistance, but I can see no reason within the spells' effects of descriptions - thematically, functionally, or otherwise - for them to be conjuration spells to begin with except to undermine spell resistance.

    tl;dr Orbs are dumb and I see no problem with changing them to evocation and SR: Yes.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaern View Post
    The whole point of spell resistance as a mechanic is to give creatures a defense against being nuked by casters. The availability of the orb spells, which both ignore spell resistance and offer no saving throw against their damage, not only undermines the mechanic completely but also makes otherwise decent spells look like terrible decisions by comparison simply by being subjected to a layer of defense.
    The whole point of spell resistance is to create a category of monsters that have a preternatural resistance to magical effects. In this context "magical effects" are a collection of abilities that seem to grant supernatural power over natural forces. This is why spell resistance is typically found on "unnatural" creatures which are inherently attuned with the otherwise supernatural force.

    There is no overriding mechanical balancing act at work here. It's entirely a story decision.

    The flaw in your argument here is that it's not the fact that evocation blasting spells look terrible in comparison to conjuration blasting spells-- they are just tactically worse options than non-blasting spells of the same level. Evocation blasting is inherently terrible because of the many effects present in the system that are working against it. Spell resistance can negate the effect entirely. Reflex saves cut the damage done in half, and the Evasion ability again negates the damage entirely. It is very common to encounter at least one of these at all levels of play.

    Blasting has always been considered to be a substandard role for spellcasters. And these spells were often considered bad choices even before we had orb spells to compare them to.

    It's really not fair to compare a Twinned-Empowered Orb of Acid followed by a Quickened Orb of Acid to a vanilla Fireball and call the former broken. What you should be doing is comparing it to an Energy Substituted Explosive Cold Lord of Uttercold Fireball (a double-threat half cold/half negative energy damage with an additional 1d6 damage per 10 feet a creature is moved on a failed save plus knocking it prone) or an Energy Substituted Electric Born of Three Thunders Ice Storm (a triple threat spell with a 20 ft. radius that damages and halves movement rate with no save, stuns for 1 round on a failed Fortitude save and then knocks prone of a failed Reflex save, all with zero metamagic spell level adjustment).


    Direct damage spells that ignore spell resistance, outside of the orb spells, are few and far between. None of them are especially powerful and all of them that I'm aware of are acid, which is not a form of energy being manipulated by magic (despite being considered an energy type) but rather a physical object that can be summoned and used as a weapon.
    You are exactly describing the function of the orb line of spells.

    As part of the [Creation] subschool of magic, the spellcaster uses magical power to manipulate matter in order to assemble an object in the location the caster designates. As the duration is instantaneous the magic holds the creation together long enough to produce the desired effect and then the object dissipates.

    This is a distinctly different process from evocation magic, which manipulates energy in order to spontaneously create a magical effect from quite literally nothing.

    So far as they don't "feel" like conjuration spells to you because of damage reasons? Well, the only real "blasting" conjuration spell in core, Melf's Acid Arrow, does deal damage that scales with your caster level in the form of additional damage over time per three caster levels. It does so in a manner functionally identical to the evocation spell Flaming Sphere at the same level. In that same vein, Scorching Ray (also the same level) and Magic Missile are some more evocations that also do static damage. They simply produce additional projectiles at higher caster levels. Your damage component accusation strikes me as a largely subjective opinion than anything grounded in fact. The orb spells are conjurations. Most of them have fluff descriptions to that effect. You are, rather arbitrarily, declaring that fluff insufficient for no logical reason other than you you don't like that the spells are written as conjurations.


    Your arguments seem entirely premised on the notion that you don't think it should be a function of spellcasters to deal large amounts of difficult-to-avoid damage. You also seem unaware that the orb spells are functionally identical in every respect to the Scorching Ray spell, except that they do not allow for Spell Resistance.

    In this particular instance-- which includes a high level wizard with the Mastery of Elements high arcana and a pile of metamagic rods-- the Scorching Ray spell would produce relatively similar results for a much smaller metamagic adjustment than the orb spells. And he could do it with relatively the same effectiveness by merely casting Assay Spell Resistance as his swift action in the first round.

    So in conclusion; the spells aren't the main source of the problem. It's the character.

    And the solution to overwhelmingly powerful magic (beyond banning that magic from play) is always going to be other magic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    But that's one of the things about interpreting RAW—when you pick a reading that goes against RAI, it often has a ripple effect that results in dysfunctions in other places.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    PF removed the orb spells and I think I agree with the decision. However, there are a lot of good alternatives.

    Summons. Summon offers no SR, and the summons can act as damage buffers against most things preventing access to the party back line. They also have the highest damage potential in the game with a bear from summon 5 getting into the hundreds assuming its attacks can hit. Summon base char + specialized buff bard is serious win.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    PF removed the orb spells and I think I agree with the decision.
    I mean, they didn't really remove them, since they weren't part of the SRD to be removed in the first place, they just never added them. But then, the spells pathfinder added beyond core were mostly rather mediocre or incredibly situational, and the one spell that was quite functionally close to an orb spell (snowball) was nerfed by having it be moved to evocation, and giving it SR.
    Last edited by Crake; 2019-11-02 at 05:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Playing a wizard the way GitP says wizards should be played requires the equivalent time and effort investment of a university minor. Do you really want to go down this rabbit hole, or are you comfortable with just throwing a souped-up Orb of Fire at the thing?
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaern View Post
    Direct damage spells that ignore spell resistance, outside of the orb spells, are few and far between. None of them are especially powerful and all of them that I'm aware of are acid
    Really?
    • Arc of Lightning
    • Blast of Flame
    • Blast of Sand
    • Bombardment
    • Cometfall
    • Deadfall
    • Fire and Brimstone
    • Lava Splash
    • Storm of Needles
    • Tunnel Swallow
    All of them are instant direct damage spells
    None of them are Acid
    And none of them allow SR
    Also, most of them caps at 15 dice - just as Orbs (couple of 10s "compensated" with couple of 20s)

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    The flaw in your argument here is that it's not the fact that evocation blasting spells look terrible in comparison to conjuration blasting spells-- they are just tactically worse options than non-blasting spells of the same level.
    The thread's creator has a problem with a wizard using blasting spells to wipe out encounters unreasonably quickly. Whether or not non-blasting spells are a tactically better option is not relevant to the discussion. The fact that the orb spells are breaking his game by ignoring spell resistance is, so discussing what makes conjuration blasting spells more powerful than evocation blasting spells is not a flaw in an argument - it is the argument of the thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    Blasting has always been considered to be a substandard role for spellcasters. And these spells were often considered bad choices even before we had orb spells to compare them to.
    And in this case, the fact that the OP is having such issues with a blaster wizard playing whose use of these spells puts him at a level of play so far above the rest of his group should say something about how powerful the spells are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    It's really not fair to compare a Twinned-Empowered Orb of Acid followed by a Quickened Orb of Acid to a vanilla Fireball and call the former broken. What you should be doing is comparing it to an Energy Substituted Explosive Cold Lord of Uttercold Fireball (a double-threat half cold/half negative energy damage with an additional 1d6 damage per 10 feet a creature is moved on a failed save plus knocking it prone) or an Energy Substituted Electric Born of Three Thunders Ice Storm (a triple threat spell with a 20 ft. radius that damages and halves movement rate with no save, stuns for 1 round on a failed Fortitude save and then knocks prone of a failed Reflex save, all with zero metamagic spell level adjustment).
    You're putting words in my mouth here. I'm not comparing a twinned-empowered orb of acid and a quickened orb of acid to a vanilla fireball. I didn't make reference to any metamagic feats or spells in particular. The number of damage types a spell utilizes isn't the issue. The additional effects that are riding along with the spell aren't the issue. Unreasonably high damage output on its own isn't even the issue. The issue is that they attack the weakest defense that most creatures are likely to have and offer no forms of mitigation, with unreasonably high damage output being the result of that issue.
    If I was to make a direct comparison between one of the orb spells and an evocation spell, it would be between Orb of Cold and Polar Ray: Both deal 1d6 cold damage per level on a successful close-range touch attack, with the only major differences being that Orb of Cold also has a chance to blind the target, ignores spell resistance, has no focus component, and is 4 spell levels lower. Even if you were to take spell level out of the equation and compare them side-by-side in a vacuum, Orb of Cold is still just a strictly better version of the same spell.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    As part of the [Creation] subschool of magic, the spellcaster uses magical power to manipulate matter in order to assemble an object in the location the caster designates. As the duration is instantaneous the magic holds the creation together long enough to produce the desired effect and then the object dissipates.

    This is a distinctly different process from evocation magic, which manipulates energy in order to spontaneously create a magical effect from quite literally nothing.
    Conjuration (creation) is defined as manipulating matter to create an object or creature.
    Evocation is defined as manipulating energy or tapping into an unseen source of power.
    One might argue that orb of acid would reasonably remain a conjuration spell because acid is a physical thing that deals a special kind of damage.
    Fire, cold, sonic, force, and electricity, however, are all energy. If you're comparing their effects to the description of the schools of magic, these fall squarely into Evocation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    So far as they don't "feel" like conjuration spells to you because of damage reasons? Well, the only real "blasting" conjuration spell in core, Melf's Acid Arrow, does deal damage that scales with your caster level in the form of additional damage over time per three caster levels. It does so in a manner functionally identical to the evocation spell Flaming Sphere at the same level.
    Acid Arrow doesn't scale by damage, but by duration, like I said. And I wasn't just referring to blasting spells. Summon Monster and similar spells don't become more powerful based on caster level - they only increase in duration. Acid Fog doesn't become stronger based on caster level - it only increases in duration.
    Its scaling is not functionally identical to Flaming Sphere. Acid Arrow's duration increases 1 round per 3 levels, to a maximum of 7 rounds at 18th level. Flaming Sphere has a duration of 1 round/level with no cap. Flaming Sphere also creates a mobile source of damage that can attack a different target each round or create an obstruction on the battlefield, in contrast to Acid Arrow which is strictly a single-target attack. If you're looking at just the functional aspects of the spell description, Flaming Sphere is a strictly better spell with higher raw damage output, more versatility and a bit of potential utility. But despite having a weaker effect, Acid Arrow may still be a more appealing choice to a number of power-gaming theorycrafters just because it ignores spell resistance and functions in the AMFs that they aren't likely to see for another 4 spell levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    In that same vein, Scorching Ray (also the same level) and Magic Missile are some more evocations that also do static damage. They simply produce additional projectiles at higher caster levels. Your damage component accusation strikes me as a largely subjective opinion than anything grounded in fact.
    Producing more projectiles is effectively an increase in damage based on caster level. I don't see how you can argue that an increase in duration at the same damage per round equates to direct damage scaling with caster level, but an increase in projectiles which deal increased instantaneous effect somehow does not equate to direct damage scaling with caster level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    Your arguments seem entirely premised on the notion that you don't think it should be a function of spellcasters to deal large amounts of difficult-to-avoid damage. You also seem unaware that the orb spells are functionally identical in every respect to the Scorching Ray spell, except that they do not allow for Spell Resistance.

    In this particular instance-- which includes a high level wizard with the Mastery of Elements high arcana and a pile of metamagic rods-- the Scorching Ray spell would produce relatively similar results for a much smaller metamagic adjustment than the orb spells. And he could do it with relatively the same effectiveness by merely casting Assay Spell Resistance as his swift action in the first round.
    I don't think that spellcasters shouldn't be able to deal large amounts of damage. I do believe, though, that the DM should have options to avoid that damage if it becomes problematic. As far as Assay Spell Resistance goes, it's still not the same as simply ignoring spell resistance. Creatures with spell immunity are treated as having infinite spell resistance, so while your Scorching Ray with ASR still wouldn't do anything to a golem an unmodified orb spell will still hit it. Scorching Ray is still an evocation that gets blocked by an AMF, while Orbs are instantaneous conjuration spells and would simply pass through.
    Besides, casting Assay Spell Resistance to pierce the SR of, say, a dragon with Scorching Ray would be fine in my book. You're at least forced to take an action and expend resources (even if it's just a swift action and a single spell slot) to overcome the additional challenge, which you may still have a chance to fail (even if it does become a rather slim chance). The orb spells are a complete copout against any sort of defense that the wizard is likely to encounter.

    Quote Originally Posted by ShurikVch View Post
    Really?
    • Arc of Lightning
    • Blast of Flame
    • Blast of Sand
    • Bombardment
    • Cometfall
    • Deadfall
    • Fire and Brimstone
    • Lava Splash
    • Storm of Needles
    • Tunnel Swallow
    All of them are instant direct damage spells
    None of them are Acid
    And none of them allow SR
    Also, most of them caps at 15 dice - just as Orbs (couple of 10s "compensated" with couple of 20s)
    To be fair, I wasn't aware of any of these before you mentioned them. And all of them that I can actually find at least offer a saving throw against the damage, so they aren't completely unavoidable.
    Last edited by Vaern; 2019-11-02 at 06:23 PM.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    Well, that's easy to explain - an orb spell is basically just an sci-fi energy gun (or, like, a flamethrower in the specific case of Orb of Fire). The "gun" is made of magic, not metal and technology, but the thing it fires isn't.

    I mean heck, if you think about it, it ought be easier to create energy than matter through conjuration; and at the first level you get the Orbs and Minor Creation, you can create enough quarterstaffs to equip the whole party (plus) for seven hours which are also no save, no SR when you beat monsters to death with them, creating a blast of fire for less than six seconds at the same level doesn't sound unreasonable, really.
    A flamethrower throws burning fuel, and in a stream generally designed to spread across a significant area; Orb of Fire throws pure fire and in a compact projectile that persists and holds together long enough to reach an individual target with, apparently, no need for magic after the instant of its formation and launch. (Also flamethrowers have the downside of being a really vulnerable target, what with pressurized tanks plus tanks of sticky hideously flammable gel-fuel.)

    But a ball of pure fire? Pure cold? Pure sound? Pure force? Sounds... magical... and in particular, like “Evocation spells manipulate energy or tap an unseen source of power to produce a desired end. In effect, they create something out of nothing.”

    Orbs could be refluffed to create material which is hot/cold/vibrating/whatever (and presumably should be if Conjuration(Creation) means “A creation spell manipulates matter to create an object or creature in the place the spellcaster designates”), but... why? Orbs already match Evocation in fluff and crunch, why take them over to Conjuration (Creation)? Do we just hate Evocation? Or SR?

    (And making quarterstaffs isn’t at all comparable, which should go without saying — it requires multiple wielders with significant BAB and Strength or other bonus damage, over multiple rounds to enter melee range, overcome full AC—not touch AC—as well as potential damage resistance, versus one-shot dial-the-right-energy-type touch-AC metamagic-able bursts of nigh-irresistible damage outside of % miss chances or direct-counter spells, both of which work against quarterstaves, too.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaern View Post
    The whole point of spell resistance as a mechanic is to give creatures a defense against being nuked by casters.

    tl;dr Orbs are dumb and I see no problem with changing them to evocation and SR: Yes.
    Much the point I was trying/hoping to make - and while, yes, Orbs are not unique as Conjuration (Creation) instant-damage-nuke spells, I would be happy dropping the same hammer on all such spells, making them Evocation SR Yes spells. It’s not like Conjuration wouldn’t still be a very strong, possibly still the strongest, school. (Don’t even get me started on Abrupt-freaking-Jaunt.) (And yes, a fair number of battlefield control spells have SR No, and if they have a direct effect against foes, I’m not so sold on the idea that they should ignore SR, either.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    The whole point of spell resistance is to create a category of monsters that have a preternatural resistance to magical effects. In this context "magical effects" are a collection of abilities that seem to grant supernatural power over natural forces. This is why spell resistance is typically found on "unnatural" creatures which are inherently attuned with the otherwise supernatural force.

    There is no overriding mechanical balancing act at work here. It's entirely a story decision.
    I’d argue that while the category-of-monsters argument has merit, the mechanical argument does as well — it’s a defense against casters that doesn’t directly affect noncasters, which seems like a mechanic you might kinda want in a system that long has acknowledged “quadratic wizards, linear fighters” — heck, Spell Resistance was arguably meaner in 2e, when casters were arguably squishier (at least for longer).


    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post

    You are exactly describing the function of the orb line of spells.

    As part of the [Creation] subschool of magic, the spellcaster uses magical power to manipulate matter in order to assemble an object in the location the caster designates. As the duration is instantaneous the magic holds the creation together long enough to produce the desired effect and then the object dissipates.

    This is a distinctly different process from evocation magic, which manipulates energy in order to spontaneously create a magical effect from quite literally nothing.
    At which point I realize that what I was typing about Evocation vs Conjuration above was totally swordsaged... and yet we come to totally different conclusions?

    Why do Orbs need to be Conjuration (Creation)? They seemingly create “pure energy” out of nothing, not assemble material which is really hot or really cold or really... sonic... or forceful.... er, that is, they seem to do exactly what Evocation says it does.

    Mechanically, why do Orbs need to be SR: No? Was direct damage so “suboptimal” that the game was all “oh no, there might be a reason for noncasters to actually exist—to do single-target DPS—while casters do everything else better, so let’s take that away from noncasters too?”

    Is SR so fearsome a defense against God-wizards and CoDzilla that we actually need “haha, what SR?” spells and feats even outside Orbs and other alleged Conjuration (Creation) spells? Should creatures with significant SR have their CR lowered if that CR treats their SR as being a significant defense rather than a mild annoyance?
    Last edited by tiercel; 2019-11-03 at 04:39 AM.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Warning: Incoming Wall of Text (complete with rants/analysis that will likely displease RAW and char-op enthusiasts).

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    The whole point of spell resistance is to create a category of monsters that have a preternatural resistance to magical effects. In this context "magical effects" are a collection of abilities that seem to grant supernatural power over natural forces. This is why spell resistance is typically found on "unnatural" creatures which are inherently attuned with the otherwise supernatural force.
    There is no overriding mechanical balancing act at work here. It's entirely a story decision.
    False dichotomy: these are not mutually exclusive. Just because SR is "used" to make monsters seem unnatural or magically tuned, does not mean it is not also as significant part of their defense. Furthermore, assuming not just any game mechanic, but a major one from the core monster manual, is nothing but "story," suggests you haven't seriously considered the effects of the mechanic. As has been noted, the fact that the SR chance multiplies with save chance means that against normal spells which allow saves, monsters with SR are a lot more than "story."

    Core-only casters have a significantly harder time hurting SR monsters, and the fact that splatbooks (read: pressure from forumites) decided SR shouldn't matter, doesn't change the foundation. Shockingly enough, weapon combat is a lot more important in a game where spells don't always work, and yet people complain about martials being useless when they allow all these splats that guarantee spells will always work. In the usual orobouros of circular logic, SR-no spells are often used to justify making it easy to beat SR for all the remaining spells (Assay Resistance isn't broken, the Orbs already do it at the same level!), despite the fact that the orbs don't mind control or insta kill generally being used to justify why its okay to allow SR-no blasting (it's just damage, it can't be broken, who cares!).
    he Evasion ability again negates the damage entirely. It is very common to encounter at least one of these at all levels of play.
    Spell resistance, sure, but Evasion is an extremely rare monster ability. And also a significantly rare class ability. So if you encounter it frequently, that's not a rules trend, that's a DM choice.
    It's really not fair to compare a Twinned-Empowered Orb of Acid followed by a Quickened Orb of Acid to a vanilla Fireball and call the former broken. What you should be doing is comparing it to an Energy Substituted Explosive Cold Lord of Uttercold Fireball (a double-threat half cold/half negative energy damage with an additional 1d6 damage per 10 feet a creature is moved on a failed save plus knocking it prone) or an Energy Substituted Electric Born of Three Thunders Ice Storm (a triple threat spell with a 20 ft. radius that damages and halves movement rate with no save, stuns for 1 round on a failed Fortitude save and then knocks prone of a failed Reflex save, all with zero metamagic spell level adjustment).
    I mean, it doesn't really matter how one uber meta-spell compares to the other, the important part is if they fit the rest of the game (the table, DM+players, etc).
    You are exactly describing the function of the orb line of spells.
    Is it a function, or a function ascribed to an arbitrary change? I would actually agree that they were changed to SR-no specifically to give the Warmage a set of options for SR foes (and were changed to Conjuration to justify it). But one must remember-
    The orb spells are conjurations. Most of them have fluff descriptions to that effect. You are, rather arbitrarily, declaring that fluff insufficient for no logical reason other than you you don't like that the spells are written as conjurations.
    That the orb spells are not conjurations. Not the orignal orbs printed on Tome and Blood, which were evocation, and vastly different. The "reprints" in Miniatures Handbook alongside the Warmage became simplified single shot SR-no spells, for what seems most likely a simple reason: it's Mini's Handbook, a book meant for use with the DnD Miniatures line, where you'd control large groups instead of a single PC. This means spells and casters need to be simplified, and lo, the Warmage. The Warmage only has a fixed set of fighty spells, so those need to include something useful against high SR creatures, and lo, the orbs are now SR-no and a bunch of other SR no spells are printed in the same book (Blast of Flame and Arc of Lightning, then Vitriolic Sphere appears in Complete Arcane as well).
    So far as they don't "feel" like conjuration spells to you because of damage reasons? Well, the only real "blasting" conjuration spell in core, Melf's Acid Arrow, does deal damage that scales with your caster level in the form of additional damage over time per three caster levels. It does so in a manner functionally identical to the evocation spell Flaming Sphere at the same level. In that same vein, Scorching Ray (also the same level) and Magic Missile are some more evocations that also do static damage.
    Now, the fact that there aren't any real blasting spells in core already admits that the original feel of conjuration was not in fact blasting, and not even the 3.5 update changed that. Serious instantaneous conjuration blasting is from splatbooks, and originates mainly from one particular splatbook (Mini's Handbook, as mentioned). Acid Arrow and Flaming Sphere are not in the same category as d6/level instantaneous area/target spells.

    the Scorching Ray spell would produce relatively similar results for a much smaller metamagic adjustment than the orb spells. And he could do it with relatively the same effectiveness by merely casting Assay Spell Resistance as his swift action in the first round.
    Special mention for any argument taking Scorching Ray as a justification with its effective d6/level single target no-save at 2nd? Yeah not such a great idea. Because the entire rest of the edition that existed before that, didn't have that. In 3.0 there was no d6/level single no-save until 6th level spells, with the freezing ray option of Freezing Sphere. Otherwise you got either d6/2 levels, or it had a save, or both. Flame Arrow at 3rd, a conjuration which allowed SR because it wasn't until Mini's that every conjuration was suddenly excused from SR, did have a 4d6/4 levels ranged touch attack option, but it also allowed the save. The version of Hailstones found in Savage Species also has this save. The original orbs had the touch (and SR), and the save.

    It's not until 3.5 that d6/level no-save is a thing anywhere in the first half of the game, and it's funny too. Scorching Ray is suspiciously similar to the Flame Arrow blasts, while Flame Arrow lost that option. You'd think it's because someone decided splitting them should result in a level drop, but Flame Arrow stayed at 3rd and still got nerfed, while Scorching Ray lost the save. And then Freezing Sphere lost its no-save damage (replaced with a small area instead), and Polar Ray suddenly appears, at 8th freaking level. In short, whoever made these changes either did not pay attention to or deliberately ignored the trends of the entire original spell canon.

    You'll also find, if you check the credits on the various books, that almost none of the splat books with these (many) spells that stomp all over the clearly visible original bounds, share authors with the original books. You can play with all published material as written, but any amount of investigation reminds one that the dozens of books were written by dozens of authors, all with different ideas of what was appropriate, even when they were "updating" someone else's work.

    One may also check the DMG and bring up the table on maximum dice for arcane/divine spells based on level as justification, but note that this section says nothing about how fast those dice are accrued, or whether they allow a save. The clear standard on PHB spells (and even most splats before the many cooks started "revising") of 1st-2nd level is one die per two levels, the only exception being Burning Hands, which uses d4s, and caps at 5d4. Acid Arrow requires multiple rounds, and Flaming Sphere requires multiple rounds+actions+failed saves+SR (gasp, a conjuration with SR!), and the clear standard on no-save spells is no more than one die per two levels until 6th level. That section does however say that if a spell is so good everyone wants it all the time, it's probably too powerful, and hey look what spell every single "blaster" caster has, often even when they don't have an orb. Because as you note, Scorching Ray is nearly as much damage for two levels lower- because not only does it blatantly break the die progression, and saving throw convention, but it also breaks the die cap, with not 10 but 12d6, and actually gets them a level early.

    Just how this spell got approved, and how it became the new standard justifying an entire class of similarly borked spells, should be a mystery. . .
    Quote Originally Posted by ShurikVch View Post
    Really?
    • Arc of Lightning
    • Blast of Flame
    • Blast of Sand
    • Bombardment
    • Cometfall
    • Deadfall
    • Fire and Brimstone
    • Lava Splash
    • Storm of Needles
    • Tunnel Swallow
    All of them are instant direct damage spells
    None of them are Acid
    And none of them allow SR
    Also, most of them caps at 15 dice - just as Orbs (couple of 10s "compensated" with couple of 20s)
    I mean, those spells are also all at varying levels. Of those, Blast of Flame and Sand are both 4th level but with small areas and 10 dice, compared to the "standard" 15 dice for a 4th level spell, an actual tradeoff (though there are actually few 4th level blasting spells, and only Druidic Flame Strike in core has 15 dice, breaking the DMG's 10 die cap for both divine and arcane at 4th)-(Acid Breath also having a tiny cone area at 3rd with 10 dice). Arc of Lightning has 15d6, which is standard for 5th level, but also has an extremely finicky area and can't be used against single targets without targeting an ally to make it work. Tunnel Swallow is a super specific spell that squishes people using the terrain, and is also so painfully obviously a transmutation that it's a farce- and it's also a 6th level spell, so again 15d6 is low-standard damage.

    Lava Splash is a Clr/Drd only spell that once again deals d4s, not d6's (and 15d4 ~37.5, compared to 10d6 ~35, so yeah). Cometfall is also Clr/Drd only, at 6th level, with 15d6. And Deadfall is Druid 8. For whatever reason, "attack with the environment/conjuring environment" is often made divine-only.

    Storm of Needles and Fire and Brimstone are both from Complete Mage, the book with Abjurant Champion and a whole host of other stuff that screams "we're bending to internet pressure." Printed long after the normalization of SR-no blasting, and indeed after Spell Compendium stripped all the limits out of a bunch of other spells. You can see radical differences in power level from item to item in the book. Storm of Needles deals d4s again and is a Wu Jen only Metal spell, and Fire and Brimstone is a single target save for half spell, at 5th level, something I don't think I've ever seen anyone recommend casting- and this is what you want to justify the uber orbs?

    So it turns out all those SR-no conjuration blasting spells that "justify" the orbs (despite many of them being printed long after), are higher level, divine (when divine casters barely care about school), or both. And those that aren't, are actually weaker than the orbs.



    Make no mistake, if you're looking for someone to back up a nerf to the sacred Orbs of Cheese, I'm the guy you're looking for. A huge, seriously, ridiculously massive amount of "DPS" expectation comes from exactly one spell: Scorching Ray. That, and the Orbs (whose changes may have been conceived around the same time, otherwise they're a direct descendant), influence a dozen other spells down the line, forming the entire foundation of the "mailman" and standards for lol easy damage (for telling the Fighter that sword+str is bad). You'd have a heck of a lot harder time putting out piles of meta damage without those those spells, and they all come back to One. Single. Point. In 3.0 PHB you don't get that effect until 6th level, with SR, and you can't cheese your way out of SR. Seriously, think of how nerfed those damage expectations are when they're pushed back from 2nd level spells to 6th level spells, when "Scorching Ray" is a 3rd level spell that requires touch, and SR, and allows a save for half, when "Orb of X" is a 6th level spell that still allows SR and no rider effects.

    Seriously think about it. How the entire first half of the game, levels 1-10, had a very clear and intentional cap of one die per two levels on the no-save effects (still allowing single target die/level, just with saves), and the glorious 3.5 update added spell that said "actually that's just for 1st level spells now, let's pull that damage rate from ECL 11 to ECL 3." A spell which blatantly broke every guideline in the DMG for new spells, and yet is used as the basis and justification for an entire archetype, which it itself used as a justification for worse on the grounds of it being "just damage." Take a look at the ridiculously wide margin between CR 3-10 creatures in say, MM1, and the same in MM3- when MM1 is barely altered from its 3.0 state, and MM3 is full of optimized monsters with new abilities to ignore their fundamental weaknesses (and yes, probably SR just for "story" reasons).

    Some people play such that Scorching Ray et al are indeed appropriate, or even underpowered, but this does not change the fact that this one spell uprooted and trampled over the base mechanics of the entire edition. The power trio of Glitterdust, Web, and Stinking Cloud are worse, sure, even more grossly overpowered and were so even in 3.0, justifying the whole viewpoint that damage is weak, but no change there. Instead additions only, break damage too, and then add some underpowered status effect spells later.

    Metamagic reduction stacking is for pretty much one thing: damage. And that damage, the damage that really goes past the limit and causes unavoidable problems, is based on a handful of "revised" spells that were already broken. Pretty much every metamagic feat is just fine if used normally, even in combination with other feats, and even if you can reduce some of that cost, and non-damage spells don't even need multiple metamagic feats. Metamagic reduction stacking is broken, but it's broken because of Scorching Ray and the "orbs."

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel
    Mechanically, why do Orbs need to be SR: No? Was direct damage so “suboptimal” that the game was all “oh no, there might be a reason for noncasters to actually exist—to do single-target DPS—while casters do everything else better, so let’s take that away from noncasters too?”

    Is SR so fearsome a defense against God-wizards and CoDzilla that we actually need “haha, what SR?” spells and feats even outside Orbs and other alleged Conjuration (Creation) spells? Should creatures with significant SR have their CR lowered if that CR treats their SR as being a significant defense rather than a mild annoyance?
    As above but repeated: because Warmages/Mini's Handbook needed more SR-no effects, so they butchered the original Orbs (one of my favorite things in my old Tome and Blood). SR is actually a very effective defense (in combination with the saving throw) against of touted god-solutions like Dominate Monster, as long as Assay Resistance doesn't exist. Just Dominate the Tarrasque they say, but even at 20th you've got maybe a 66% chance, and at 17th it's a lot worse, gonna take multiple top-level spells to beat this boss/level appropriate foe (which is not in fact permanently neutralized yet).
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaern View Post
    To be fair, I wasn't aware of any of these before you mentioned them. And all of them that I can actually find at least offer a saving throw against the damage, so they aren't completely unavoidable.
    Orbs, on the other hand, required to hit with a ranged touch attack
    While touch attacks are easier than common attacks, Sorcerer and Wizard are classes with the second worst BAB in the game, and likely have little to no of Dex bonus (because of being extremely SAD)


    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    Why do Orbs need to be Conjuration (Creation)? They seemingly create “pure energy” out of nothing, not assemble material which is really hot or really cold or really... sonic... or forceful.... er, that is, they seem to do exactly what Evocation says it does.
    They're creating planar stuff: Elemental Plane of Fire is well known, Elemental Plane of Cold exists in some cosmologies, Acid may be on the border of Elemental Planes of Earth and Water (or The Slime Pits of Juiblex), Electricity - Demiplane of Electromagnetism, and while no Plane of Sonic was mentioned, Sonic Elementals are still exist...


    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    That the orb spells are not conjurations. Not the orignal orbs printed on Tome and Blood, which were evocation, and vastly different. The "reprints" in Miniatures Handbook alongside the Warmage became simplified single shot SR-no spells, for what seems most likely a simple reason: it's Mini's Handbook, a book meant for use with the DnD Miniatures line, where you'd control large groups instead of a single PC. This means spells and casters need to be simplified, and lo, the Warmage. The Warmage only has a fixed set of fighty spells, so those need to include something useful against high SR creatures, and lo, the orbs are now SR-no and a bunch of other SR no spells are printed in the same book (Blast of Flame and Arc of Lightning, then Vitriolic Sphere appears in Complete Arcane as well).
    Actually, Miniatures Handbook redesigned only Lesser Orbs - "regular" Orbs stayed Evocation
    And spells in Complete Arcane/Spell Compendium are, technically, different: while Tome and Blood/Miniatures Handbook have spell names in "... Orb (, Lesser)" format, CArc/SC have them in "Orb of ... (, Lesser)"
    (Besides that, Acid Orb is, probably, stronger than Orb of Acid, since it inflicts nauseated condition)
    Also, Vitriolic Sphere was nerfed in Spell Compendium to 6d6 damage

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    I mean, those spells are also all at varying levels. Of those, Blast of Flame and Sand are both 4th level but with small areas and 10 dice, compared to the "standard" 15 dice for a 4th level spell, an actual tradeoff (though there are actually few 4th level blasting spells, and only Druidic Flame Strike in core has 15 dice, breaking the DMG's 10 die cap for both divine and arcane at 4th)-(Acid Breath also having a tiny cone area at 3rd with 10 dice). Arc of Lightning has 15d6, which is standard for 5th level, but also has an extremely finicky area and can't be used against single targets without targeting an ally to make it work. Tunnel Swallow is a super specific spell that squishes people using the terrain, and is also so painfully obviously a transmutation that it's a farce- and it's also a 6th level spell, so again 15d6 is low-standard damage.

    Lava Splash is a Clr/Drd only spell that once again deals d4s, not d6's (and 15d4 ~37.5, compared to 10d6 ~35, so yeah). Cometfall is also Clr/Drd only, at 6th level, with 15d6. And Deadfall is Druid 8. For whatever reason, "attack with the environment/conjuring environment" is often made divine-only.

    Storm of Needles and Fire and Brimstone are both from Complete Mage, the book with Abjurant Champion and a whole host of other stuff that screams "we're bending to internet pressure." Printed long after the normalization of SR-no blasting, and indeed after Spell Compendium stripped all the limits out of a bunch of other spells. You can see radical differences in power level from item to item in the book. Storm of Needles deals d4s again and is a Wu Jen only Metal spell, and Fire and Brimstone is a single target save for half spell, at 5th level, something I don't think I've ever seen anyone recommend casting- and this is what you want to justify the uber orbs?

    So it turns out all those SR-no conjuration blasting spells that "justify" the orbs (despite many of them being printed long after), are higher level, divine (when divine casters barely care about school), or both. And those that aren't, are actually weaker than the orbs.
    I don't see why those spells being a higher level is an argument there: by the time Orbs reach their caps, you will be able to cast spells of any level (at the very least, below 9th)
    "Divine" argument is even weirder - we all know how much ways to add new spells to their repertoire Wizards have (and Sorcerers aren't completely helpless there too!)
    And "Blast of Flame and Sand" being 10 dice - so what? Orb of Force have 10 dice cap too!

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    But a ball of pure fire? Pure cold? Pure sound? Pure force? Sounds... magical... and in particular, like “Evocation spells manipulate energy or tap an unseen source of power to produce a desired end. In effect, they create something out of nothing.”
    Sci-fi gun, like I said, if you want to disagard the flamethrower anaolgy.. See also phasers, blasters, PPGs, heat rays, freeze rays, lasers, sonic cannons... Sufficiently Advanced Technology might be indetinguishable from magic, but that doesn't mean it IS magic.



    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel
    (And making quarterstaffs isn’t at all comparable, which should go without saying — it requires multiple wielders with significant BAB and Strength or other bonus damage, over multiple rounds to enter melee range, overcome full AC—not touch AC—as well as potential damage resistance, versus one-shot dial-the-right-energy-type touch-AC metamagic-able bursts of nigh-irresistible damage outside of % miss chances or direct-counter spells, both of which work against quarterstaves, too.)
    Effectiveness was entirely irrelevant to my point - the point being you can make a load of quarterstaffs with magic at the same level as the Orb spells and things you hit with them don't get SR.



    Worth mentioning, Splinterbolt - particulary relevant to the Scorching Ray debate, given its the same level; no SR, no save - sure, it gets affected by DR (because it doesn't deal energy damage - conversely, though it's also not affected by energy resistance like the Orcs are), but it is also a high crit weapon. (And by the time you've pulled at the metamagic on it, DR is likely to only marginally reduce the damage. It's also doing more damage than the Orbs at the first level you get them (2 x 4D6 verses 7D6).

    I mean, Splinterbolt might actually be cheesier in one respect - Splinterbolt will cheerfully hit dragons, for example, because they only have DR/Magic, which Spinterbolt penetrates (despite being no save, no SR...)

    Okay, it's not going to help you kill golems (otherwise known as "go away Wizard player, you're not allowed to participate in this combat, sit and twiddle your thumbs" if Orbs and the like don't exist), but it's also only level 2 and is only going to be outstripped permenantly by the Orb spells at level 12.

    Yes, it's a druid spell, so you can't use any of the metamagic reducers available to arcane spellusers (as easily, anyway, I'm sure you could actually do it whith a moderate application of playground char-op-fu if you really wanted...), but as mentioned those are the problem, not the Orb spells themselves.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    (...) Worth mentioning, Splinterbolt - particulary relevant to the Scorching Ray debate, given its the same level; no SR, no save - sure, it gets affected by DR (because it doesn't deal energy damage - conversely, though it's also not affected by energy resistance like the Orcs are), but it is also a high crit weapon.
    (...)
    New spell: Orc of Fire.
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShurikVch View Post
    Actually, Miniatures Handbook redesigned only Lesser Orbs - "regular" Orbs stayed Evocation
    Stayed in the sense that weren't mentioned in Mini's, but good catch, I had indeed assumed the CA versions had already appeared there when they hadn't yet. In which case the changes to the Lesser orbs could even be passed off as relatively minor, before CA decided to change the major orbs.
    And spells in Complete Arcane/Spell Compendium are, technically, different: while Tome and Blood/Miniatures Handbook have spell names in "... Orb (, Lesser)" format, CArc/SC have them in "Orb of ... (, Lesser)"
    (Besides that, Acid Orb is, probably, stronger than Orb of Acid, since it inflicts nauseated condition)
    First time I've ever heard someone draw the distinction.
    Also, Vitriolic Sphere was nerfed in Spell Compendium to 6d6 damage
    I am aware of the change- note that I don't actually have a problem with the AoE SR-no spells: I think they do their job perfectly well, aside from helping set a poor trend in motion. And SpC's Vitriolic Sphere is notable for actually dealing 18d6 on a failed save at 5th level, not so much a nerf as it is a shift to focus on the bonus failed save damage. The lack of a level based scaling tends to make people check out and miss that part.
    I don't see why those spells being a higher level is an argument there: by the time Orbs reach their caps, you will be able to cast spells of any level (at the very least, below 9th)
    "Divine" argument is even weirder - we all know how much ways to add new spells to their repertoire Wizards have (and Sorcerers aren't completely helpless there too!)
    And "Blast of Flame and Sand" being 10 dice - so what? Orb of Force have 10 dice cap too!
    Because the whole nature of "caps" is what makes spells more powerful than psionics. Lower level spells with higher die caps give you free power on every spell. A 4th level spell that goes to 15 dice is more powerful than one that goes to 10 dice, and is even more powerful than a 5th level spell that goes to 15 dice*, because you can cast it in all those 4th level slots. The existence of a 10 die 4th level spell does not justify a 15 die 4th level spell. You're trying to use the existence of higher level spells that equal the orbs in damage, to justify them. That doesn't work. No amount of spells above X level will justify the existence of a spell at X level. The fact that several of them are weaker, or not even Sor/Wiz spells (and don't you try to tell me with a straight face that the existence of off-list spells justifies putting whatever you want on a different list), is just extra at that point.

    The only spell that justifies the CA orbs' existence is. . . Scorching Ray.

    *It should be noted that the difference in the 4th level spell dice is coming down exactly along the DMG's 15 single/10 area split for arcane spells, it's just that at 4th level there also happen to be zero phb arcane attack spells, and barely any in splats (and because everyone looks at the uber orbs first, the 10 die found in 4th level AoEs looks weak, made worse by them mostly being limited area SR-no spells, and also Schrodenger's many/single foe). The true price the SR-no AoEs are paying is in their smaller and more restricted areas. Acid Breath in particular is near-unusable, Blast of Flame/Sand have a 30' cone which is smaller than you'd think, Vitriolic Sphere is a 10' burst, and Arc of Lightning again has the two target with line in-between thing. Compared to Fireball, Ice Storm**, Lightning Bolt, and Cone of Cold they might as well be melee attacks. The uber orbs have short range, same as many other single target spells- single target spells that allow SR. So why aren't these single target SR-no spells using Touch range, especially when they're flouting the previously established limits on no-save spells, and adding rider effects?

    **I had forgotten Ice Storm in my summary of no-save spells below 6th- on most spells the trend is most easily read as 1 die/2 levels, but more accurately it's a cap of 5 dice, as Ice Storm lets you jump ahead a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    Sci-fi gun, like I said, if you want to disagard the flamethrower anaolgy.. See also phasers, blasters, PPGs, heat rays, freeze rays, lasers, sonic cannons... Sufficiently Advanced Technology might be indetinguishable from magic, but that doesn't mean it IS magic.
    You can say that, but you know what those would all be classified as? Energy weapons, e-n-e-r-g-y (well maybe not a "PPG," never heard of it). You've got light waves and sound waves, which are energy, not matter. And "rays," which in DnD are nearly, possibly entirely, all evocations. No amount of twisting will change how obvious it that the spells were written to bypass SR first, and justify the fluff change to what were originally evocations later. When your "sufficiently advanced technology" is in fact literally magic, trying to argue it's not magic just doesn't work for anyone who doesn't have the same end-goal.

    Worth mentioning, Splinterbolt - particulary relevant to the Scorching Ray debate,
    Uh, Splinterbolt requires a normal ranged attack, not a touch. Kinda relevant for comparing to other spells. Though being such an obvious variant on Scorching Ray makes it about the least relevant it could be. It actually has the proper fluff for an SR-no conjuration instantaneous damage spell, but that's about it. The normal attack requirement is actually a penalty though, and the sort of thing an SR-no spell should be considering.
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by NNescio View Post
    New spell: Orc of Fire.
    FRAGDAMMIT! Would you believe I spotted that went "oh, whoops," and changed it and must have hit "c" AGAIN...!

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by tiercel View Post
    Much the point I was trying/hoping to make - and while, yes, Orbs are not unique as Conjuration (Creation) instant-damage-nuke spells, I would be happy dropping the same hammer on all such spells, making them Evocation SR Yes spells. It’s not like Conjuration wouldn’t still be a very strong, possibly still the strongest, school. (Don’t even get me started on Abrupt-freaking-Jaunt.) (And yes, a fair number of battlefield control spells have SR No, and if they have a direct effect against foes, I’m not so sold on the idea that they should ignore SR, either.)
    Would you also move to Evocation SR Yes Wall of Gears, which does SR No to those who try to walk through it?
    Or, for that matter, Wall of Iron, which does SR No damage when fall on somebody?

    If you so tired of omnipotent invulnerable spellcasters, then try to run a Midnight game.
    It have the weakest casters in the all 3.X
    (Seriously, they're weaker than in E6 - despite being occasionally able to cast 8th-level spells)


    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Lava Splash is a Clr/Drd only spell that once again deals d4s, not d6's (and 15d4 ~37.5, compared to 10d6 ~35, so yeah).
    Correction: it does 15d6 at 15 CL

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    First time I've ever heard someone draw the distinction.
    I mean - in the name, every letter and comma does matter: XYZ spell isn't the same as XZY, YXZ, or ZYX.
    Sure, Orbs from Complete Arcane were stated to be replacement of Orbs from Tome and Blood in the Feats, Prestige Classes, and Spells, but some people don't use online sources on sheer principle, some other (which do) are completely unaware of this page, and some more (who're using online stuff and aware of this page) think it's full of %&$# and pretend it don't exist

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    I am aware of the change- note that I don't actually have a problem with the AoE SR-no spells: I think they do their job perfectly well, aside from helping set a poor trend in motion. And SpC's Vitriolic Sphere is notable for actually dealing 18d6 on a failed save at 5th level, not so much a nerf as it is a shift to focus on the bonus failed save damage. The lack of a level based scaling tends to make people check out and miss that part.
    Where you getting 18d6?
    It's flat 6d6 - regardless of level

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Lower level spells with higher die caps give you free power on every spell. A 4th level spell that goes to 15 dice is more powerful than one that goes to 10 dice, and is even more powerful than a 5th level spell that goes to 15 dice*, because you can cast it in all those 4th level slots. The existence of a 10 die 4th level spell does not justify a 15 die 4th level spell. You're trying to use the existence of higher level spells that equal the orbs in damage, to justify them. That doesn't work. No amount of spells above X level will justify the existence of a spell at X level. The fact that several of them are weaker, or not even Sor/Wiz spells (and don't you try to tell me with a straight face that the existence of off-list spells justifies putting whatever you want on a different list), is just extra at that point.

    The only spell that justifies the CA orbs' existence is. . . Scorching Ray.
    But there are just so much time in combat
    Who care if you cast spell of X level, or X+N?
    15 minute adventuring day ensure you will never run out of spells since about level 5 (unless either you're playing extremely recklessly, or you DM wants your PC dead)
    Thus, from the moment you can cast X+1-level spells, you will never come back to X-level spells (in combat)
    And CL will ensure your low-level spells don't do more damage than their higher-level analogues (at least, without metamagic)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    And "rays," which in DnD are nearly, possibly entirely, all evocations.
    Not entirely: despite Evocation, indeed, have the biggest set of "rays", other schools have them too, so their combined number outweighs Evocation.
    For example, Necromancy have many ray spells, Abjuration and Enchantment got some too, and even Conjuration and Divination got one.
    Apparently, the only school which truly lacks in rays is Illusion.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShurikVch View Post
    Where you getting 18d6?
    It's flat 6d6 - regardless of level
    It deals 6d6, save for half. But if you fail the save you take the full 6d6, then 6d6 again for 2 more rounds. 6d6 x 3 = 18d6 on a failed save.

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    The simple solution, as often to any 'high' magic problem, is to simply add more magic. When you have a high level spellcaster going up agianst mundane foes, then sure they will dominate. A 16th level wizard can take out a mundane foe like a hill giant with ease. But such a wizard should be fighting things more like a greater storm elemental or a Chaoswyrd.

    The easy way is to use feinds and elementals, though they have the metgame problem that the player will just switch damage types. So the better way is templates. Templates can make a weak, easy to blast monster live a couple more rounds. And best of all, the player can't metagame and know the template.

    For example:

    Radiant: No radiant creature can be dazed, dazzled or stunned. Or Half-Golem for the magic immunity. Ones like half dragon are the real gem. While sure the player can do the metagame and switch damage types when they encounter a half red dragon creature....well, it gets lots more fun with all the draon types beyond Core.

    Also, any humanoid foe over 10th level or so can afford at least a couple magic items of protection.

    Really this is not too much work for a DM. And if it is, well, you could just make every monster in the game world a half golem.


    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    So in conclusion; the spells aren't the main source of the problem. It's the character.
    The spells are the big problem. The flaw is the game re writing it's own rules.

    Rule-When you shoot fire or lightning or such at a monster it IS magic fire or lightning and can be resisted with spell resistance.

    Re writing the rule--Oh some magic is, um normal mundane stuff..that looks and works exactly like magic but, um, it's all mundane so so spell resistance.

    And the creation magic bypassing SR has an obvious question....well, ok, so Why is not ALL magic Conjuration Creation magic? Why not re create every single spell as a ''created mundane effect'' so they all by pass spell resistance?

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShurikVch View Post
    Correction: it does 15d6 at 15 CL
    Lava Splash deals d4s with a cap of 15, at 4th level. Blast of Flame and Blast of Sand, and every other 4th level instantaneous AoE that's not Druidic Flame Strike, deals d6s with a cap of 10. The comparison is between 15d4 and 10d6, and 15d4 is only 2.5 more average damage (with a lower Maximize value). Lava Splash does not prove anything. The rules quote you want to justify the uber orbs is the one from the DMG, which moves to the next phase I've already addressed.
    Where you getting 18d6?
    It's flat 6d6 - regardless of level
    The text of the spell, where a failed save causes 6d6 damage on two additional turns.
    But there are just so much time in combat
    Who care if you cast spell of X level, or X+N?
    15 minute adventuring day ensure you will never run out of spells since about level 5 (unless either you're playing extremely recklessly, or you DM wants your PC dead)
    Thus, from the moment you can cast X+1-level spells, you will never come back to X-level spells (in combat)
    And CL will ensure your low-level spells don't do more damage than their higher-level analogues (at least, without metamagic)
    No, it really doesn't. The gap in spells per day between the expected default (non-specialists with a starting 15) and char-op ("focused specialists" with a starting 20), is huge. The fact that spells do not always work and you do not always have perfect information means that the "one" spell which supposedly ends the fight, can very much end up not ending the fight. The fact that all those lower level spells are lower level spells means that they have less impact on the fight*. Any test of actual substance will immediately reveal these things to be true. This argument is essentially "I have 'enough' high level spells that all my low level spells should be just as powerful." No, if you have "enough" high level spells that the game is trivial, it means you shouldn't be keeping those low level spells. But by the game's normal baseline, you don't.

    It is not until after 10th level, more like 13th, that claims "spellcasters never run out of spells" start to be true, when you have piles of 3rd, 4th, and 5th, rather than just a couple 3rds. And if the adventure they're in actually requires them to Teleport, Plane Shift, or use other "zomg wizard (actually Cleric)" spells without a rest? Those add up incredibly fast.

    *At least when they're damage spells- as I noted, the save-or-lose power trio are indeed pretty borked, and one could use this to justify the idea that 2nd+ level evocations should all be drastically more powerful to match them and thus Scorching Ray. Except they didn't do that, they just added Scorching Ray and actually removed/nerfed the other single target damage in the PHB (Flame Arrow blast and Freezing Sphere ray, from 3.0). So claiming Scorching Ray was a self-aware fix rings mighty hollow to me, the same way "Two-handed Power Attack returns were a fix for low melee damage" does, because changing one tiny thing and expecting all characters to use it goes directly against the goal of allowing varied characters, and against the the definition of an overpowered spell.
    Not entirely: despite Evocation, indeed, have the biggest set of "rays", other schools have them too, so their combined number outweighs Evocation.
    For example, Necromancy have many ray spells, Abjuration and Enchantment got some too, and even Conjuration and Divination got one.
    Apparently, the only school which truly lacks in rays is Illusion.
    Fair enough, though you haven't listed them I recall upon prompting. Nevermind that the conjuration ray, if it's the one I'm thinking, still has no business being a "conjuration"- so how many of those deal damage? Not that the contended point is whether you can have non-evocation rays, that was my looking for extra "rules" examples. The point is that a spell that produces an energy weapon effect is pretty obviously magical energy. I should know better than to underestimate the dozen cooks who cant read the recipe.

    I don't see much point in actually arguing this one mind you, I just wanted to point out how a list of energy weapons was being used to justify classifying energy spells as matter.
    Last edited by Fizban; 2019-11-03 at 07:36 PM.
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Well or the dragon just needs to change tactics most dragons are sorc so wings of cover are a options negating is attack plus minons if he has any around him. .

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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by mouser13 View Post
    Well or the dragon just needs to change tactics most dragons are sorc so wings of cover are a options negating is attack plus minons if he has any around him. .
    Scintillating scales. Suddenly its AC and its touch AC are the same.

    It was mentioned up thread and it's probably the best option short of ray deflection just saying "nope" to the orbs and anything else that demands a ranged touch.
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    Default Re: A suitable nerf for orb spells?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Core-only casters have a significantly harder time hurting SR monsters, and the fact that splatbooks (read: pressure from forumites) decided SR shouldn't matter, doesn't change the foundation. Shockingly enough, weapon combat is a lot more important in a game where spells don't always work, and yet people complain about martials being useless when they allow all these splats that guarantee spells will always work. In the usual orobouros of circular logic, SR-no spells are often used to justify making it easy to beat SR for all the remaining spells (Assay Resistance isn't broken, the Orbs already do it at the same level!), despite the fact that the orbs don't mind control or insta kill generally being used to justify why its okay to allow SR-no blasting (it's just damage, it can't be broken, who cares!).
    Hence my comment about “shouldn’t every monster with significant SR have its CR lowered?” In a game with Assay Resistance and the like, and Orbs and the like, SR is more of a speed bump than a defense, and thus the foe is less challenging than its CR would purport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    Sci-fi gun, like I said, if you want to disagard the flamethrower anaolgy.. See also phasers, blasters, PPGs, heat rays, freeze rays, lasers, sonic cannons... Sufficiently Advanced Technology might be indetinguishable from magic, but that doesn't mean it IS magic.

    Effectiveness was entirely irrelevant to my point - the point being you can make a load of quarterstaffs with magic at the same level as the Orb spells and things you hit with them don't get SR.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    You can say that, but you know what those would all be classified as? Energy weapons, e-n-e-r-g-y (well maybe not a "PPG," never heard of it). You've got light waves and sound waves, which are energy, not matter. And "rays," which in DnD are nearly, possibly entirely, all evocations. No amount of twisting will change how obvious it that the spells were written to bypass SR first, and justify the fluff change to what were originally evocations later. When your "sufficiently advanced technology" is in fact literally magic, trying to argue it's not magic just doesn't work for anyone who doesn't have the same end-goal.
    Agree w/Fizban here: I see a difference in kind between “magic results in sticks of actual nonmagical wood” and “magic results in orbs of pure yet somehow nonmagical ;) energy”. Heck, Minor Creation quarterstaves still have a duration and thus wink out in an antimagic area, but Orbs are so “nonmagical” they can pummel a creature right through antimagic.


    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    Okay, it's not going to help you kill golems (otherwise known as "go away Wizard player, you're not allowed to participate in this combat, sit and twiddle your thumbs" if Orbs and the like don't exist)
    Wait, what? I hear that Wizards have these things called “buff spells”, much less spells that don’t need to have to target the golem directly to have an effect (e.g. illusions to fool a mindless creature, physical barriers to block or stop it), much less any Wizard worth her ranks in Knowledge (Arcana) will know what spells DO actually affect, e.g., a Jelly Doughnut Golem.

    Wizards don’t need to have “LOL, nope, I just ignore your so-called ‘magic immunity’ and pummel you to death with magic” spells to contribute to golem fights, and honestly I’m OK with there being fights where Wizards genuinely aren’t necessarily 100%+ Better Than You In Every Way

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