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Reflex save? Them's some good reflexes alright!


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#1 ShadeOfRed

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 09:08 PM

Just something to talk about perhaps.

Is it just me, or are reflex saves, at times, ridiculous?

I mean, okay fireball, little ball of fire flies at you, you hit the deck, take half damage. Makes sense, you have time to react and let your reflexes throw you to the deck.

But...Lightning Bolt?

A guy points at you and a bolt of lightning lashes at you. A bolt of lightning. Travelling at the speed of the electron. And you dive out of the way. I don't think so.

I could see a guy going 'Oh noes! I've seen that before he's doing the electric boogaloo!' and take immediate evasive action as the wizard tries to point at him allowing him to dive aside...but...doesn't that make it more of a touch attack than an auto hit with reflex save?

I don't know...just something I was thinking of and wondered what you all thought. Go wild.
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#2 Snappyapple

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 09:44 PM

Maybe you feel a tingle on the end of the hair on your skin as he casts it, maybe the lightning crackles at the mage's fingertips before it's let loose, and maybe it really is a somewhat nonsensical abstracted gameplay mechanic that makes as much sense as simultaneous actions on different initiatives. :?
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#3 Ieqo

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 09:51 PM

Well, if you want to try to apply logic... The lightening bolt, despite popular misconception, is not a precision, single-target strike. The caster is aiming at an area (specifically a line two squares wide and twenty four squares long), so yeah, you should have a chance to get out of the full-damage zone with it, just as with a fireball or burning hands.

Now, metagamingly speaking, it makes perfect sense on this front as well. We all know the wizards have to make a choice when loading their spell slots: do we want to do a little bit of damage to a lot of targets (ie the spell that allows a save), or do a lot of damage to just one (the ranged touch attack that doesn't)? A lightning bolt fired down a straight corridor is going to catch every damn last target in that hallway so saying, "Oh yeah, no save", makes the wizard pretty unbalanced.
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#4 eformo

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 07:09 AM

Agreed with Ieqo - game balance probably ought to come even before flavor, so doing it this way is the right way.

Beyond that, you need to describe the spell as fits the game mechanics that were just worked out. There is the alternative that you could ratchet down the damage on Lightning bolt, but then it would be nerfed in a different way. Something that makes it an auto-hit like magic missile, but leaves the effects against large numbers of opponents, even with two extra levels of the spell.... I'm thinking you could use the damage progression of magic missile without being TOO broken. A good damage progression might then be 1d6/two levels (rather than per 1 level) and topping out at 5d6. That's right, I'm suggesting half damage for the lightning bolt. I think that the numbers of opponents who fail saves is somewhat balanced out by the number who would get half-damage even if they botched the save and those who would get zero damage if they did save. If you think that's too weak, you could let the new spell top out at 6d6 damage without a save. But I tend to think that's a little strong.
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#5 Ieqo

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 08:35 AM

Or alternatively just leave it the way it is and just add some equivalents of scorching ray that use different energy types (or consider allowing the Energy Substitution feats from The Complete Mage). The system works the way it is vis-a-vis the lightening bolt spell; it could do some serious damage, but chances are the bad guys will make their save. More sniper-type damage applications are why your wizard learned scorching ray. :)
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#6 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 11:09 AM

Who said a lightning bolt travels at that speed? Your applying 'Real World' physics to magic.

That's my take on it. Everything else could still apply too.
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#7 Ieqo

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 11:50 AM

Who said a lightning bolt travels at that speed? Your applying 'Real World' physics to magic.


Well, at the very least, it moves at a speed of 120.
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#8 ScottS

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 12:22 PM

Also, you're misreading the flavor text on the spell. It's not supposed to be "an electrical discharge", but rather "a hurled beanbag accompanied by high-pitched yelling" (see this as an example).
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#9 ShadeOfRed

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 01:18 PM

Perhaps it could be a touch attack spell for the first in line, with increased difficulty for each one behind the first, a miss doing half damage. So it still shoots down the corridor, but as the energy is disappated into enemies it does full damage less often.

And even if it goes slower than a real lightning strike, then...shouldn't that allow you a reflex save vs arrows, slings, spears, javelins, and ballista?

Every other spell I can think of it makes sense. Flaming hands, shoots a sheet of flame in front, reflex save to move a bit out of the sheet of flame. Fireball...hit the deck.

But yes it's magic. Maybe a wizards lightning bolt does move a tiny bit slower. At at least 120 ft a round. But what of Call Lightning. That is a bolt of natural lightning. Still reflex out of that one too.
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#10 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 01:24 PM

Well, since only evasion gives no damage on a save, and in other cases is half, isn't a reflex save more like minimizing the impact rather than avoiding it altogether? And evasion is an extraordinary ability.

Extraordinary abilities are nonmagical, though they may break the laws of physics. They are not something that just anyone can do or even learn to do without extensive training.


So it's like learning to take a fall, hit, whatever. And it doesn't necessarily have to be physical. A Paladin will get a boost to saves based on their class feature, a halfling on luck, etc. So it isn't always cut and dry. The DM or player could describe it how they see fit.
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#11 Mordion

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 02:40 PM

Every other spell I can think of it makes sense. Flaming hands, shoots a sheet of flame in front, reflex save to move a bit out of the sheet of flame. Fireball...hit the deck.


I'm not quite clear on why Reflex saves make more sense to you for these other spells. Burning Hands is a cone, not a sheet, and Fireball is a sphere. Laying on the ground isn't going to get you out of the area of effect, besides which, characters can't be diving to the floor as you aren't prone after a successful Reflex save.

I'd agree that Reflex saves are sometimes somewhat unrealistic, but I don't think it's a matter of 'fixing' the electricity based spells, and then everything will make sense.
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#12 Mordion

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 02:53 PM

And even if it goes slower than a real lightning strike, then...shouldn't that allow you a reflex save vs arrows, slings, spears, javelins, and ballista?.


A line (of lightning or whatever) is going to fill the entire space, 5x5xhowever long, so it wouldn't be like normal ranged projectiles, or even ballista bolts.

You could think of the whole area as a solid mass of electricity, or maybe it's one thin bit of lightning that is darting crazily up and down and side to side within the squares it occupies, or several thin streaks of lightning. That would give you a little bit of reasoning on Reflex saves, since the darting would slow things down a bit and give you something that it's possible to dodge, and it would help explain why the damage is variable.
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#13 ShadeOfRed

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 02:56 PM

I'm not quite clear on why Reflex saves make more sense to you for these other spells. Burning Hands is a cone, not a sheet, and Fireball is a sphere. Laying on the ground isn't going to get you out of the area of effect, besides which, characters can't be diving to the floor as you aren't prone after a successful Reflex save.

I'd agree that Reflex saves are sometimes somewhat unrealistic, but I don't think it's a matter of 'fixing' the electricity based spells, and then everything will make sense.


Oh no, I agree. But I can see SOME way you might survive it better. You don't actually...MOVE...when you do a reflex save. Which makes me think maybe it should just be a Fetal Position Save. To lower damage taken.

Or something. It is the one save that...well I think they didn't want to put in a Save vs Other Magic And Situations That Aren't Saved By A Fortitude or Will Save. The extra cost on making Character Sheets alone would be insane.

Oddly it made more sense in 2nd edition when it was just...Save vs Magic.

Your right though a fireball would still catch you if you hit the deck, but, at least your front parts and presumably your head would be okay if you flung your arms over it. So only half damage, cause half of you is safe against the ground. Or something.

My issue is just...Even with Lightning Reflexes, they aren't faster than lightning. Or other things.

I apologize about the Burning Hands. I still tend to think of it as the 2nd Edition spell which if I recall IS a sheet of flame. In a two dimensional cone shape.

My brain is stuck in 2nd Edition, since that's what I grew up with and read most of.

EDIT: I just realized, I actually think it was Save Vs. Spells.
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#14 Mordion

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 03:05 PM

I apologize about the Burning Hands. I still tend to think of it as the 2nd Edition spell which if I recall IS a sheet of flame. In a two dimensional cone shape.


I tend to imagine it, and all the other cone spells for that matter, as sheets. A three dimensional cone coming out of your hand seems less...elegant. :D

What bothers me more than the fact that electricity is so fast, is that you can't really block it the way you could with fire or cold or acid, in the real world, how much does it matter if electricity enters through your hand as opposed to face or chest?
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#15 ShadeOfRed

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 03:05 PM

A line (of lightning or whatever) is going to fill the entire space, 5x5xhowever long, so it wouldn't be like normal ranged projectiles, or even ballista bolts.

You could think of the whole area as a solid mass of electricity, or maybe it's one thin bit of lightning that is darting crazily up and down and side to side within the squares it occupies, or several thin streaks of lightning. That would give you a little bit of reasoning on Reflex saves, since the darting would slow things down a bit and give you something that it's possible to dodge, and it would help explain why the damage is variable.


If it filled an entire hallway, in some fashion, a solid block of lightning, a wiggly, waggly, spastic arc of electricity, it still...well...isn't a single arrow following a straight path still easier to dodge than that?

Then you should get a BONUS to reflex save vs arrows.

It's a game balance thing I know. I just think they could have tried. A little. To make it make some sense. Or a better solution. Or something. I think they just churn out spells and slap arbitrary defenses on them.

I dislike the entire concept of a reflex save now. The more I've thought about it. The more I dislike it. It needs rules for what happens when you do a reflex save...hit the deck, dive behind the fighter, run really fast away, which would make you move or something.
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#16 Mordion

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 03:43 PM

If it fills the entire 5x5 square, then, since it's happening too quickly for you to actually move out of the square that you're in, it's going to hit you to some extent. A Reflex save for no damage against arrows would make some in-game sense, but having arrows work against AC is just as reasonable, and takes into account that some people have enough armor to not need to dodge.

If you're saying you should get your AC and a Reflex save, I'd disagree as your AC already contains your dexterity and thus the possibility of you dodging is already taken into consideration.
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#17 ShadeOfRed

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 04:09 PM

If it fills the entire 5x5 square, then, since it's happening too quickly for you to actually move out of the square that you're in, it's going to hit you to some extent. A Reflex save for no damage against arrows would make some in-game sense, but having arrows work against AC is just as reasonable, and takes into account that some people have enough armor to not need to dodge.

If you're saying you should get your AC and a Reflex save, I'd disagree as your AC already contains your dexterity and thus the possibility of you dodging is already taken into consideration.


Well yes it's going to hit you to some extent...but what exactly are your reflexes doing in this situation, or even any effect that fills a 5x5 area, Fireball, Cone of Cold, et al...

Clenching your buttocks to keep from emptying your bowels? You reflexively take less damage but nothing happens.
EDIT: By nothing...I mean, you don't even move to a different square.

Just change it to Magic Save That Isn't Covered By Fortitude Or Will. Or something.

Save vs Spell made more sense to me, since that was like, you resisting the power of the magic. And why dwarves got a bonus, cause they were magic resistant to a point.

I never thought I'd think 2nd Edition was better. But in this case I think so.
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#18 ShadeOfRed

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 04:15 PM

If you're saying you should get your AC and a Reflex save, I'd disagree as your AC already contains your dexterity and thus the possibility of you dodging is already taken into consideration.


Well maybe you should be given the choice. I mean yeah, your in Full Plate Armor with a Shield. AC is going to be your buddy. But a rogue in leather...might be able to reflexively dodge it.

I'm just saying, if Reflex will let you move, in an instant or the instant before a magic bolt or explosion of something hits you...

Shouldn't it let you reflexively move, in the instant of or the instant before an arrow is let loose...it's almost like the same as AC from Dex. Or something. Gaw...

And it improves with time. AC due to Dex...never does, unless you up your Dex, and then your reflex goes up as well anyway.

My head hurts. The more we post about this, the more it gets messed up in my head.

I started just talking about not being able to move the speed of lightning...well...faster than lightning and now I realize you can't move faster than the speed of an explosion and many other things.
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#19 ShadeOfRed

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 04:23 PM

A type of saving throw, related to a character's ability to withstand damage thanks to his agility or quick reactions.


This is Wizards definition of a Reflex save on their website.

To WITHSTAND damage thanks to his AGILITY or QUICK REACTIONS.


WHHHAAAAAAAAAATTTT? That doesn't make sense.

I'm very agile, so therefore that explosion doesn't hurt me as much as I stand here not moving! With withstand, it doesn't even try to imply you dodging a falling rock or hitting the deck during an explosion. It implies you are agile, thus falling rocks simply crack when they hit you on the head.

It sounds like some mutant form of Fortitude that should be about heartiness and constitution.
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#20 Mordion

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Posted 11 March 2010 - 04:30 PM

Mostly I think you're covering exposed skin, putting your arms over face and head, twisting away from the source, lifting a shield to cover you slightly.

Admittedly, none of that makes a great deal of sense, you don't get bonuses for having less exposed skin, but I think taking the fire on your arm, shoulder or back instead of a gout of flame right in the face is the general idea behind a Reflex save vs a Fireball.

My problem with save vs spell is that there already is a mechanic for that, Spell Resistance/Magic Resistance.

If it bugged me enough to change it, I might try using the save DC as an attack bonus, roll a normal attack against everyone in the area, half damage on a failed attack, no damage to anyone with evasion (which is an ability beyond normal physics).

Edit: I wish I could hang around and talk this through a little more, but I'm heading out for the evening. Good luck with it. :D
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