Line dimensions


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This is part rules question, part discussion as I didn't really know where to put it.

Last night one of my players was playing a flying sorcerer. He was hovering approximately 45 feet in the air directly in front of a line of enemies on a bridge. The line consisted of two medium cavaliers on large mounts, with several medium enemies on foot behind them, all of them on ground level.

I informed the player (as his GM) that if he angled the lightning bolt down from his current height, he'd hit two, maybe three of the enemies (including both cavaliers and their mounts) before the bolt shot into the ground.

He threw a fit, citing that he could draw a line from his square through all the enemies' squares on the battlemap, and thus could effect all of them ("with plenty of 'line' left to spare"). I tried to explain to him that he was not taking into account the 3rd dimension. He then rebutted, saying that I didn't understand anything about the line rules or how lightning worked ("Lightning comes from the ground and rises upwards!"). He actually believe that the bolt would start from his square, stretch outwards laterally 120 feet, and effect everything from the ground to the heavens. I told him that it didn't work that way, that it would make lightning bolt much more powerful than cylinder spells and, after he claimed that made the spell uslessly weak, that the real strength of lightning bolt was its precision placement. I also calmly, if flatly, stated that this was not mundane lightning, but magical lightning, as such it does not follow the rules of nature ("It comes from your sorcerer's fingertips, not the ground, and it does not disperse in water or travel through metal").

He grumbled something about being cheated by stupid technicalities (or some such thing--I didn't quite catch it) and he cast a different spell.

He later apologized for his rude outburst citing that he was simply tired and was feeling somewhat ineffectual during that particular encounter (there were a few enemies with SR during the battle and he was something of a blaster).

So I'm curious to know what others think of the situation. Should all fireballs, lines, and cones effect everything despite its elevation? Should play be so completely simplified? Where are the rules for using area effects in the 3rd dimension? I dodn't believe my player was right in the slightest, but I'm still left to wonder as the rule books simply don't seem to address this issue.


It could have been worse, you could have made it so he wasn't able to hit them because he's not on the same level as them and therefore couldn't draw a line from where he was to them.

In all seriousness, I would have handled the lightning the same as you. I like some explanation for how something could have possibly worked other than "the rules". Otherwise you really are being a munchkin. It's like saying a giant octopus is flat-footed because someone grabbed it's tentacle...


Fireballs are 3d affect. I have yet to see a ball that can is 2d, and I am sure fireballs are meant to look like the explosions seen in movies to a large extent. Cones are also 3d. Lines are a 2d effect. That fact that he was flying instead of on the ground should not allow the line to cover more area.

For fireballs you can look at this.

Quote:
A sphere-shaped spell expands from its point of origin to fill a spherical area. Spheres may be bursts, emanations, or spreads.

A sphere is by definition a 3d object

Cones:

Quote:
A cone-shaped spell shoots away from you in a quarter-circle in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and widens out as it goes.

A quarter circle that widens out represents a cone well, and is also 3d

Lines:

Quote:
A line-shaped spell shoots away from you in a line in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that blocks line of effect. A line-shaped spell affects all creatures in squares through which the line passes.

A line is be definition a 2d manifestation.

The line is not 120 long, 120 wide, and 120 high. It would then be a cube.


Sounds like your player wanted it to be a "plane" spell and not a "line" spell. I would have handled it similarly to you, RD.

Edit: Technically, I think a line is 1d, a plane is 2d, and beyond that you have 3d (spheres, cones, etc.).


You are correct a line is 1D since it only has length.


wraithstrike wrote:
You are correct a line is 1D since it only has length.

Though for practical purposes a line in game also has an effective 5-foot width.


True a line in mathematically is 1d, but for game purposes is 2d.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

We play it the same way in our games as you did Ravingdork. It's not all negative though, my sorcerer has a wand of lightning bolt and I use the fact that it's a line to snipe enemies who my allies are in melee with by flying up high enough so that the angle of attack only hits a single space.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Well, unfortunately PF is not using full 3D for battle movement.

So, you can use 'plane' lightning bolts, as well as 'cylindrical' fireballs... or you can try and use a three-dimensional approach (which might lead into fun when determining whether a creature above and off-center of the blast is still within the fireball... unless the GM just estimates these things).

You just should make sure all players on the table know and understand which variant you use.

Shadow Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

If there is no third dimension, does this mean enemies can attack him from an adjacent space on the battlemat regardless of his altitude?

Pick one, you can't have it both ways whenever it's convenient to you.

(RD made the right call)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
0gre wrote:
If there is no third dimension, does this mean enemies can attack him from an adjacent space on the battlemat regardless of his altitude?

*laughs* Actually, back in the days of DooM, they could, and did.

0gre wrote:
Pick one, you can't have it both ways whenever it's convenient to you.

Seconded.

0gre wrote:
(RD made the right call)

While I favor his solution, as well (hey, you're kicking in an unlocked door)... here is an innocent question:

What are the borders of a cone like spell in three dimensions?
Assuming both perpendicular sections through the central axis show 90 degree angles... can I incline the firing angle upwards, or do I have to aim horizontally?


I don't see why you could not aim up to hit a flying creature. You just have to view in your mind as aiming up instead of directly ahead which is how it normally is.

edit:changed "heading" to "aiming"

Shadow Lodge

Midnight_Angel wrote:

What are the borders of a cone like spell in three dimensions?

Assuming both perpendicular sections through the central axis show 90 degree angles... can I incline the firing angle upwards, or do I have to aim horizontally?

*shrug*

Usually my players and I just sort of come to a compromise solution and it's done. I'm known to take out string or just eyeball things to adjudicate lines rather that figure out what the exact right template is.

Sometimes the rules just don't cover every situation well.

Shadow Lodge

wraithstrike wrote:
I don't see why you could not aim up to hit a flying creature. You just have to view in your mind as heading up instead of directly ahead which is how it normally is.

I think you broke my mind.


I think my bad wording makes more sense now. :)

Shadow Lodge

Just be sure you aren't playing a canine-based race. Because dogs can't look up.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Midnight_Angel wrote:

Well, unfortunately PF is not using full 3D for battle movement.

So, you can use 'plane' lightning bolts, as well as 'cylindrical' fireballs... or you can try and use a three-dimensional approach (which might lead into fun when determining whether a creature above and off-center of the blast is still within the fireball... unless the GM just estimates these things).

You just should make sure all players on the table know and understand which variant you use.

Well, Pathfinder may not be using full 3d for battle movement, but it does note and care about elevation.

And since neither fireball nor lightning bolt have a listed height to their effects (unlike the various cylinders and whirlwinds and such), one would instead have to assume they are functionally flat.

So you wouldn't get column fireballs, you'd get disk fireballs :D

Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Core Rulebook, Magic chapter:
"The default shape for a burst effect is a sphere, but some burst spells are specifically described as cone-shaped. A burst's area defines how far from the point of origin the spell's effect extends."

Just because things are normally expressed on a flat grid doesn't mean they're actually flat. Any effect with a radius affects a sphere, not a circle. A cone is a 3d area.

A line is a line, not a plane.

Ravingdork called this one correctly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:


Ravingdork called this one correctly.

Don't I always? ;P

Shadow Lodge

I wonder if there is a market for three dimensional templates... I could see plastic hemispheres being pretty rockin.


Ravingdork, I'm sorry you had to suffer a player outburst like that. In all my time gaming, I have seen quite a few of those, and have been the temper-tantrum-thrower myself on a few occasions. You definitely made the right call, as SKR authoritatively said, and I think you started off rather generously by saying he could hit 2 or 3 of them coming down at a 45 degree angle. Hopefully your player will read this thread and see that you were not trying to "cheat" him, and kudos to you for not kicking him to the curb immediately.

I'm just waiting for the munchkins to jump into the thread and say things like "if paizo intended for the battlemat to be 3 dimensional, they should sell 3d grid battlemats."


0gre wrote:
I wonder if there is a market for three dimensional templates... I could see plastic hemispheres being pretty rockin.

We have a hard enough time using our 2D templates due to the miniatures being close together and one has a magnet in its base and it always sticks to the metal wireframe templates we use. 3D templates might be useful once in a rare while, but not enough that it warrant us buying them for our group. We just don't have that many truly 3D battles where there are numerous flying combatants I guess.

Shadow Lodge

I know... I just think it would be cool to have a big clear plexi grid grid-dome to break out every once in a while.

Liberty's Edge

Hampster ball.


You know what would be awesome? Some type of (programmable) holographic projection that you could dial to whatever effect you wanted (line, cone, sphere) and range and it would project it into 3 dimensions for you. Want to see a big red fireball? Dial it in, center it, and voila! No messing with templates. Somebody get to work on that, mmkay? *grin*

Sczarni

I would love for there to be a whole supplement dealing with the details of 3D combat. It does come up, mostly in high-level play when there's likely to be more aerial action, and also more trips to alternate planes (I would love to run a crazy subjective gravity dogfight sometime!).

I fantasize about someday running a whole campaign that's completely aquatic. But it would be all 3D combat, which is pretty daunting.


Dosgamer wrote:
You know what would be awesome? Some type of (programmable) holographic projection that you could dial to whatever effect you wanted (line, cone, sphere) and range and it would project it into 3 dimensions for you. Want to see a big red fireball? Dial it in, center it, and voila! No messing with templates. Somebody get to work on that, mmkay? *grin*

Man, you are behind the times. I thought that by now everyone would be LARPing in a Holodeck, like my group does. Get with it, man!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Dosgamer wrote:
You know what would be awesome? Some type of (programmable) holographic projection that you could dial to whatever effect you wanted (line, cone, sphere) and range and it would project it into 3 dimensions for you. Want to see a big red fireball? Dial it in, center it, and voila! No messing with templates. Somebody get to work on that, mmkay? *grin*

It's actually not THAT hard to do, if you have enough spare money.

All you need is one of those fancy 3D TV screens that you use as your battlemap, connected to a PC with a 3D maptool software. Of course, it might look a bit silly if the whole group has to wear 3D goggles for each combat, but... I'd certainly try it.

That said, I'd also like one of those multitouchscreen table displays... There's certainly a device somewhere that is capable of both. Or you need kinect or sth. to control the 3D screen.

/derail off

On topic: I would've ruled it the same way as RD.

For line spells, instead of a 3D template, you could as well use a laserpointer. :)


I want to see a youtube video of LARPing in a holodeck, please! *grin*

Kudos to figuring out a way to create a 3D battlemap, Cy. I have no idea how to make that happen, but it would be fun to watch. Thanks!

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / General Discussion / Line dimensions All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.