Talk:Flame Disciple

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Draft moved to the top. Other stuff at the bottom, some hidden in collapsible tables.-Slitherrr


Alright, this is what I've come up with. Saving throws are blanked, but I expect Will is strong, and Fort and Ref are weak. I'm willing to hear arguments to the contrary, naturally, but that's my initial inclination. d8 HD is clearly far too much, but considering the HP sacrificing mechanic and the severely reduced caster progression, d6 is very reasonable. I ditched the "becoming a half elemental" idea - sort of - instead migrating that ability to the familiar to give some kind of ability gain on the even (caster increase) levels. Increased the spell prereqs to bring in line with other specialist prestige classes. Persistent damage is something I try to avoid for sanity sake, but liked having a offensive defense ability and tried to compensate with a more potent single round of damage. Finally, added a mechanic that *might* be a tad to complicated (but I don't think so) in order to create a "fire storm" sort of mechanic that is still tied to spell slots rather than special abilities.

Input encouraged.

Speechbub.png Comment
With the Nova ability as it stands, there's a good argument for Fort to be the strong save. We could argue that a flame disciple isn't really as concerned about self-control as a normal sorc/wizzie.
--Slitherrr 15:20, 28 October 2010 (EDT)
That's kind of why I gave the Attribute Bonus to saves. I'm down with making fort one of the strong saves, but I'd probably want to drop the bonus, which really is just one more layer of complexity anyway. Hmm. Also, FWIW, the caster has an innate fire resist of 15 by the time she can nova, which would certainly apply to any damage. -gm
Right, with the resistance, the Nova doesn't do horrible damage. At the higher levels, though, a successful fort save becomes the difference between taking (on average) 22ish damage, or taking zero. I'm totally fine with no attribute bonuses to save, for the complexity reason, too.-Slitherrr
Also, note that I said "the" strong save, not "a" strong save. -Slitherrr
Ahh, of course. I like it. -gm

This article is a draft. Its content is likely to change, possibly drastically, in the near future.

Description: In Flux

More Numbers

Average Dmg(resisted dmg) as Caster Stat (x) vs Sacrificed Spell Level (y)
0 1 2 3 4 5
1 3.5 (1.75) 5.5 (2.75) 7.5 (3.75) 9.5 (4.75) 11.5 (5.75) 13.5 (6.75)
2 7.0 (3.5) 10.0 (5.0) 13.0 (6.5) 16.0 (8.0) 19.0 (9.5) 22.0 (11.0)
3 10.5 (5.25) 14.5 (7.25) 18.5 (9.25) 22.5(11.25) 26.5(13.25) 30.5(15.25)
4 14.0 (7.0) 19.0 (9.5) 24.0 (12.0) 29.0 (14.5) 34.0 (17.0) 39.0 (19.5)
5 17.5 (8.75) 23.5(11.75) 29.5(14.75) 35.5(17.75) 41.5(20.75) 47.5(23.75)


If we consider this a showcase ability for the FD, I think this may be a tad underpowered. Consider a sorc 8/FD 5 could cast a fireball (level 3 spell) and do 10d6+5 damage at a range of up to 400 ft + something crazy, or he could nova with a 15' radius with a level 4 spell and do (4d4+(cha bonus, let's say three, times four) damage (he can't even do a level 5 spell at this level, yet). The latter is clearly a lot less, for the sacrifice of a higher-level spell slot and the ability to damage at range AND the larger radius of the fireball (15' vs 20'), although with the benefit of no components (which implies the ability to nova while bound) and no casting time (vs a standard action).

I think we could solve these problems by scaling radius with FD level (or rather, with level of spell sacrificed). -Slitherrr

I agree, I think that radius of 5' per spell level sacrificed is a good one, too. Starting to make the ability kind of rules-heavy, but I guess that's just the nature of the beast. -gm
Scaling the radius by FD level is not a bad idea. I'm not sure it's that underpowered considering one of the trade offs (nova damage) is mitigated by resist (15, 20, or 25 depending on level) Pete could shrug off level 1 or 2 novas with failed saves, and even lvl 3 ones with a successful one. Also: I think you're misreading the damage? It's not Lvld4 + MOD, it's (d4+MOD)/Lvl. -gm
Yeah, I was factoring that in. The damage calculations in the table are (d4+mod)*lvl, even if I might have said it the wrong way up there. I'm just wondering if the ability to cast instantly with no components is worth the difference in levels. Consider that a level 3 nova is 22.5 damage (assuming +3 from cha) in a 15' radius on average. At the same minimum level (6 sorc + 3 FD = caster level 7, if he goes straight for FD), he's getting 7d6 + 3 from his fireball, averaging 27.5 in a 20' radius (with more variance than the nova). If we go to level 4 (as above), then we're at a minimum of sorc 8 FD 4, so a 10d6 + 4 = 39ish avg fireball vs. 29ish (again, +3, a +4 makes it 34) avg nova, with the fireball in a larger radius, at range, AND using a level lower spell slot, at the cost of being a standard action rather than a free (or swift, more likely, since I doubt you want this more than once per turn). That's the argument, without considering the self-damage aspect. My thought is that making the range scale would give it a usefulness that none of the other fire spells have, without having to crank the damage up to stupid levels. -Slitherrr
Ahh. FWIW, I'd suggest that by getting to Nova, the character would have at least gotten 2 points of their primary attribute from level gains and probably have a +4, but I doubt that's much of a difference. Additionally, I think that the damage output for this ability *should* be less than a spell cast of the same level sacrificed, though the question of "how much less" is in play.
1. Damage drop is balanced by versatility. The FD can scale damage depending on threat, or be more discriminate about what spell levels to lose.
2. Fireball is the grandfathered-in-overpowered spell for that level and isn't a great comparison. How does the first level nova compare to burning hands, or the second level one to Flaming Sphere? Pretty well, I'd argue. Possibly better. If there is some damage-scale-dropoff at the ceiling spell levels... so be it. The re-purposing of low level, borderline obsolete spells might be value enough.
3. The ability *should* do less damage, with less variance, because of the risks involved in using it.
4. As you indicate, it is a standard action. Unlike a cast spell, it does not require V, S, or M components or, most importantly for trying to drop a FB on yourself when swarmed, does not trigger attacks of opportunity.
5. Did I mention it doesn't trigger attacks of opportunity? Being snarky, sure, but to me, this is the core strength of the ability. Imagine Thoven surrounded by 5 kobolds. He can cast a FB on himself and wipe them out, but he has an AC of 11 and is going to have to shrug of five free attacks before he gets that chance, and then has to succeed on a concentration check based on the cumulative amount of damage suffered by those AoOs.
I agree that the non-AoO nature is a big gain. I'll run the numbers on Flaming Hands and Burning Sphere and see what I get, there. I'll run it on Fire Shield, too, but that will have a huge caveat that the damage is reactive, not AoE (plus a shielding affect against cold/fire damage, to make things more complicated). Basically, the question isn't whether it should do as much damage as a fireball (because it definitely shouldn't), but whether there is a vast enough difference in the damages to justify tweaking the nova a bit despite its advantages. -Slitherrr
Ok. For the same 5 FD/8 Sorc, but assuming +4 to caster attribute, Flaming Sphere (lvl 2 spell) is 120 damage average over a 10-round span at a range of up to 200' (2d6+5, move action, does not provoke AoO, and unresisted), vs 19 average per target from the same-level nova, but in one round, AoE, for a free action with no components, which compares favorably in the really short term, and it could conceivably do as much damage if enough enemies (6.4ish) can be crowded into that 15' radius circle (who don't resist). Burning Hands (level 1) does 7.5 avg (5d4 + 5) to 1/4 of the area of the nova, to which the nova compares very favorably (11.5 average damage to a larger area with a faster casting time). In other words, its low-level versions are very comparatively efficient, the gains of which then taper out. There aren't any other fire spells that do damage until FD5/Sorc 14 (the spell is Incendiary Cloud, though, which does a megafuckload of damage, basically an AoE version of Flaming Sphere that does twice as much damage and only allows save for half). This seems like an incentive for the FD to spam low-level spell slots for nova, and save his higher slots for empowered/maximized fireballs, which may or may not be fine, depending on how you want it to go. I'm still for making the range depend on level--given the numbers above, ranging it at, say, 5'/level sacrificed seems like it would keep the ability useful, but not as awesome for spamming, at lower levels, while slightly increasing its danger at the higher levels, making it more likely that the FD will find it worthwhile to sacrifice the slot and HP for such a cast. -Slitherrr
Well, I'd say most sorcs probably do not have a lot of metamagic feats because it takes a full round action to apply metamagic to sorc spells, and - as a casterphiliac - I find that the damage increasing feats are usually not worthwhile. An empowered fireball is like a, what, 5th level spell? Yeah, I'd rather cast cloudkill. Maximized fireball is a 6th level spell or something? I'm sure I could find something more useful with a 6th level spell slot than a 60 damage fireball that's only going to end up doing 30. -gm
For some reason, I read the metamagic feats as having one less addition than they actually had. That being said, we can compare empowered fireball vs. 5th-level nova-- 10sorc 5FD, probably a +4 in cha (possibly +5 if he really worked it) gives 5d4 + 20, averages to 32.5 damage. Empowered fireball is either (10d6 + 5) * 1.5 = 60 average, or 15d6 + 7 = 59 damage average *because I'm not sure when the empowerment works out), giving roughly double the average damage output without self-damage at range in a larger area for the same-level spell, at the cost of not being insta-cast with no components. At that level, a DC 20 defensive casting check is going to be made almost all the time (18 ranks in concentration, so a single con bonus point would be 100% success), so AoO is basically a non-issue. Nova would only win out as a last-ditch attack when bound/grappled/etc, which could conceivably be enough utility to make up for the deficit, but it's a hard question. That said, a 25' radius instead of a 20' radius adds 36 squares of potential targets, which could very easily make up in utility what fireball gains in damage. -Slitherrr
Still using a overpowered spell as benchmark, only now jacked up. I like conceptually the larger radius for more powerful spells, it fits with the idea of it being a powerful burst of raw elemental power. But, yeah, I tend to think things like Casting Spells With No AoO is a huge add in terms of power scaling with other abilities.
Oh, yeah, and if the caster dropped that empowered fireball on himself and the required reflex save (probably at -4) would probably kill him. So, not getting killed because the save plays to your strong save is also bonus. Plus the range. And, at the end of the day, it's better to have an ability get underpowered at the top end than be overpowered at the low end. I think? Maybe not. Some WoW person probably has reams of data about that, actually. -gm
I'm comparing it to what is there, and I think whether it is actually overpowered is debatable--after all, Cone of Cold (level 5) does up to 15d6 damage to a 60' cone. That's the exact same as the empowered fireball if you don't count the FD bonus (and only seven less if you do), to more than twice the area (1260 ft^2 for the fireball vs. 2830 ft^2 for the cone of cold), as a standard action rather than a full-round action, with its only disadvantage being that you don't have the ability to toss the area an ungodly distance away. Chain lightning (level 6) does up to 20d6 damage to one guy, then half that to selected AoE within a 30' radius (only up to 20 targets, but you can intentionally miss your allies, a big deal with numbers that high) at the same ridiculous range as Firebal. I think the argument that Fireball is overpowered is really a non-starter, given all the other spells that balance right along with it. The AoO bit has a bit more teeth, but like I described up there, the FD/Sorc at these levels is going to make his Concentration roll to cast defensively and thus avoid AoO (level 12 gives 15 ranks, + 4 from Combat Casting, is 100% success for level 5 spells, and that's without Con bonuses, and at a lower level than the FD/Sorc even needs to be able to cast level 5 spells) unless he's being grappled, and even then he's still got a pretty good chance. Nova DOES get a big advantage while pinned, and that is very big, and probably the biggest advantage this ability gets, period, and definitely worth sacrificing some damage to make up for it (escaping smoker tongues, anyone?).
For that last reason, I've stopped arguing for bumping up the damage for the last couple of exchanges--the numbers are there to underscore my current objective, which is solely on making radius depend on level sacrificed. My reasoning is that a static radius makes it too attractive to run around burning low-level spells every round, and never ever have a reason to burn a high-level spell, which seems like a waste of potential. It seems like, if every single other level 5 option is better except in extreme cases, and in those cases you can get 90% of the efficacy from a nova using a spell slot one or two levels lower, thus saving your Cloud Kill or Empowered Fireball for when you escape those bonds or get out of that grapple, why include it as an option? I don't know if 5'/FD level is optimal in the light of the numbers, because it really diminishes the lower-level damage capacity and only marginally increases the higher-level damage capacity, but since these things have to come in 5' increments, I don't really know any better progression, and it serves my point, which is to spread out the use of this ability among the full spectrum of its capability, rather than limiting its usefulness to a subset of itself. -Slitherrr
One thing that has just occurred to me, and that hasn't come up yet, is that the damage is heavily dependent on the caster attribute bonus, which can make things a little...crazy. The spread between +0 and +5 on the level 5 nova is 30 points, non-variable. A caster with a +5 from ability bonus, buffed with, say, Eagle's Splendor, gives an ability bonus of +7 and an average damage of 59.5 for a level 5 nova, a full 12 points higher, completely non-variable. It's something to think about. -Slitherrr
Of course, this could be self-balancing, with the self-damage aspect, so that might be a non-issue. -Slitherrr
I actually considered a couple of other damage systems for nova. 2d4/level and 2d6/level might be better and simpler options, especially when coupled with scaled AoE, which I really like both conceptually and mechanically. -gm

I updated the article to reflect something of a consensus on the way to do fire resist (FR 5x Disciple Level), although I'm still not sure the best way to handle cold damage. In Elementals, Immunity to fire yields +50% cold damage, so anything that big seems like it would be bad news. One suggestion from [[slitherrr] was +1 to each cold damage die rolled, which is significant at high levels without being absurd. That would make sense to take effect on the 5th level. If something was needed in the interim, +1 per 2 dice could be done at level 3 or something.

I moved caster level advancement from levels 1,3,5 to levels 2,4 to provide a bit of room to do more fun stuff.

I also removed Minor Elemental Swarm -- the idea is neat, but it seems impractical and like it would be rarely used for it to be a 5th level ability.

Some ideas so far for filling in other abilities (etc):

  • Metamagic feats don't cost anything for fire-based spells
  • Possibly the option between two different styles of new metamagic feat:
    • Fire spells all get a knockback/knockdown, or
    • Fire spells apply a damage over time effect
  • A caster-centered explosion (presumably to deal with being swarmed)
  • The ability to learn druid/cleric/etc fire spells at some sort of level penalty

I'm open to suggestions for others, it seems (at least to me) like there's a bit of room to push more cool stuff in without making the class over-powered.

-TooMuchPete 17:07, 23 June 2010 (EDT)