# Lightning Bolt lines

### Rules Questions

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So I'm 2 squares off? Hmm, how does that compare to the level of precision you get at the gaming table when time is important and players are waiting for you? Do you have a ruler for precision? Pull all the minis aside and draw a precise line? Some fancy templates?

Because ultimately the game table is the only place where these rules matter.

0gre wrote:

So I'm 2 squares off? Hmm, how does that compare to the level of precision you get at the gaming table when time is important and players are waiting for you? Do you have a ruler for precision? Pull all the minis aside and draw a precise line? Some fancy templates?

Because ultimately the game table is the only place where these rules matter.

I would use something called the 'slope' of the line. For example down 2 right 1 and do the progression from there. You wouldn't need to draw anything, move any minis or even have a diagram for it.

There's no need for a ruler, calculator or slide-rule.

As it is at least one of the diagrams in the book (the 2nd 15' cone) is wrong and more wrong examples only adds to the confusion especially where the descriptive text is a little misleading in places.

I'm sorry if you feel this has been an attack on you as it wasn't meant to be. I commented once that there were errors when you first put it up but let it go until you were referring people back to it. When you learn something wrong it's hard to adjust to the right way. As it was this seems to be a place where I never adjusted from 3e to 3.5 and beyond.

-James

Most people use what's called "eyeballing it". It doesn't take a ruler, or math, just 2 seconds and a little visual lining up. "Are those minis in a strait line? Yes? Then they are both hit." The more time you spend at the game table dealing with minutia of this sort the less immersive your game is which is ultimately the goal.

Honestly, I find that a solid grasp of volumetric integration is of considerable use in understanding and interpreting (and especially visualizing) the results of a spell with an "area of effect" that is more properly identified as a volume of effect, and I admit that as regards line spells, I've always conceptually ignored the mechanical definition that talks about squares and intersections in a 2D grid system that is entirely arbitrary and instead considered line spells to produce results in a cylindrical volume of radius 2.5' (unless another radius is indicated by the spell text) around a straight euclidean line, propagated to a length as designated by the spell.

Naturally, a PnP RPG that requires a solid grasp of CalcIII to run is not desirable, nor am I advocating such, and simple uniform rules are usually nice if only because they're usually easy to use. The problem with simple uniform rules is that, in general, they tend not to be robust.

For my own use, when I do use the AoE rules, I always prefer to allow my players describe the spell effects they want to create in non-mechanical terms (more along the lines of how their characters might), and then use that to interpret how the mechanics of the spell go off.

Often, I'll use a gridless map that is still drawn to scale and, based on their remarks, impose an arbitrary grid system that matches how they described the spell going off.

Ex: "I want the fireball to explode right over his head." This player has a clear notion of what he wants fireball to do, so rather than rejecting his desires (as out-of-order with the mechanical abstraction that puts his target in a 5' square and calls for the center of the spell effect to be located on a corner of a square), I simply re-calibrate my mechanical abstraction (by establishing a grid of 5' squares that has an intersection directly above the target's head).

For lightning bolt, if a caster wanted to fire between his buddies in adjacent squares at an ogre beyond them, I would absolutely allow it, using the exact same system (define a line that covers 2.5' of one buddy's original square, 2.5' of the other buddy's original square, but clearly effects at least one full 5' square occupied by the ogre - allies take no damage, ogre makes a reflex save for half).

(I admit that this process becomes substantially easier with any number of computer programs, which I do use.)

Please note, this methodology is entirely consistent with RAW for any Areas of Effect that are not defined in terms of the caster's square, as while there may be the implication that only one 5' grid exists, the RAW does not explicitly make this designation, and merely says that "The point of origin of a spell is always a grid intersection."

For Areas of Effect that are directly tied to the caster's square by definition, I interpret (admittedly not via RAW) the AoE definition as requiring a point of origin located on the edge of the caster's original square.

(EDIT) James Maissen, I did this next bit just for you, to demonstrate how that blocky "cone" might be obtained.(/EDIT)

By the way, this method can be used to demonstrate how the non-diagonal 15' cone is obtained, if you consider the text from the AoE rules that says "You can count diagonally across a square, but remember that every second diagonal counts as 2 squares of distance. If the far edge of a square is within the spell's area, anything within that square is within the spell's area. If the spell's area only touches the near edge of a square, however, anything within that square is unaffected by the spell."

1. Take the point of origin for the 15' cone as the midpoint of the north side of the caster's original square. (I know, this is against RAW, but it is in accordance to my interpretation of what the rule means. (EDIT) I suppose that if you want to, you can leave the caster in the rotated square, it will just move the cone slightly further north, but not enough to include any additional squares. (/EDIT))
2. Construct a new grid with lines running NE/SW and NW/SE with the point of origin located on an intersection.
3. Use the indisputably correct diagonal 15' cone template to shade or color the AoE.
4. Returning to the original grid (that has creature positioning associated with it), apply the "Far edge / near edge" rule, based on the point of origin of the spell in the south and moving further north.

(See image: Rotated Cones)

Another interpretation of the "Far edge / near edge" rule could be, as an earlier poster mentioned, that squares with 50% or more of their area included in the AoE are counted as squares that are within the spell's area, while squares with less than 50% of their area covered are not included in the spell's area.

Personally, I hate using the grid. I prefer measuring from center of mini (or if using the grid, center of square). If in doubt, a piece of string stretched from origin center to target center answers all. Just mark the relevant distances on the string for when distance is at question.

And before I get back arguments about this penalizing larger sized origin creatures, one could (especially if using the grid) offset the origin point to the nearest 5' space the origin creature occupies.

Honestly, I would like to see less designing to the grid with regard to the rules. I do not want the rules becoming more reliant on the grid.

Doskious Steele wrote:

(EDIT) James Maissen, I did this next bit just for you, to demonstrate how that blocky "cone" might be obtained.(/EDIT)

Yeah it has to be taking the point of origin as the center of the top edge line rather than a corner as required.

Basically you need to think of PF/3.5 cones as 1/6 of spheres (or 1/4 circles for the 3-D challenged).

-James

james maissen wrote:

Basically you need to think of PF/3.5 cones as 1/6 of spheres (or 1/4 circles for the 3-D challenged).

-James

Not to pick, but such a cone with a right angle at its point is far less than 1/6th of a sphere (though it would have the rounded side that would be a portion of a sphere). My rough back-of-the-napkin calculations show it to be closer to 1/10th of a sphere.

james maissen wrote:
Doskious Steele wrote:

(EDIT) James Maissen, I did this next bit just for you, to demonstrate how that blocky "cone" might be obtained.(/EDIT)

Yeah it has to be taking the point of origin as the center of the top edge line rather than a corner as required.

Basically you need to think of PF/3.5 cones as 1/6 of spheres (or 1/4 circles for the 3-D challenged).

-James

Well, again, if you suppose that another valid grid is a grid composed of NE/SW and NW/SE lines that happens to identify a 5' square as existing in the same place as the 5' square that the caster occupies on the N/S//E/W grid, then the representation of the squares in the latter grid that are affected by the spell effect is completely accurate if the spell's point of origin is taken as the northernmost corner of the caster's square on the NE/SW//NW/SE grid.

This interpretation does not violate RAW at all, since at no time does RAW insist that the determination of areas of effect be restricted to **the same grid** that accounts for creature position, and in fact provides rules for determining what squares are and are not affected by an AoE regardless of the shape of the AoE.

On further consideration, the case where one considers a secondary grid rotated about the center of the caster's space is significantly simpler in determining the affected areas for all AoE cases where the area is defined as starting from a grid intersection adjacent to the caster.

So the selection of a point of origin to arrive at the 15' cone AoE that you're having issues with is completely valid, since a 5' grid representation *can* be drawn to produce a grid intersection at the appropriate point to effect those specific squares in the original grid.

Throw off the shackles of squares, and you shall never want for a properly aimed lightning bolt ever again!

Tem wrote:
james maissen wrote:

Basically you need to think of PF/3.5 cones as 1/6 of spheres (or 1/4 circles for the 3-D challenged).

-James

Not to pick, but such a cone with a right angle at its point is far less than 1/6th of a sphere (though it would have the rounded side that would be a portion of a sphere). My rough back-of-the-napkin calculations show it to be closer to 1/10th of a sphere.

How many cubes do you figure are in that cone?

There are 72 cubes in a 15' radius D&D sphere, right?

So you are saying that there are fewer than 12 such cubes in a cone? You have 6 squares in the diagram.. once you pick a point of origin either in a lower corner or an upper corner you're going to have at least an upper half of the cone and a lower half.. thus you're going to get 12 cubes or 1/6 of the sphere.

-James

james maissen wrote:
Tem wrote:
james maissen wrote:

Basically you need to think of PF/3.5 cones as 1/6 of spheres (or 1/4 circles for the 3-D challenged).

-James

Not to pick, but such a cone with a right angle at its point is far less than 1/6th of a sphere (though it would have the rounded side that would be a portion of a sphere). My rough back-of-the-napkin calculations show it to be closer to 1/10th of a sphere.

How many cubes do you figure are in that cone?

There are 72 cubes in a 15' radius D&D sphere, right?

So you are saying that there are fewer than 12 such cubes in a cone? You have 6 squares in the diagram.. once you pick a point of origin either in a lower corner or an upper corner you're going to have at least an upper half of the cone and a lower half.. thus you're going to get 12 cubes or 1/6 of the sphere.

-James

I was just computing volume in the more traditional sense.

A 15' radius sphere has a volume of (4/3)pi(15^3)

A 15' cone with an angle of 90 degrees at it's point has a height and radius of 15/sqrt(2) and therefore has a volume of (1/3)pi(15/sqrt(2))^3

When you divide one by the other you get 8*sqrt(2) which is approximately 11.5 which would give you the number of 15' cones that would fit inside a 15' radius sphere.

It seems much less than that when you square things off and assume you're counting "cubes" rather than actual volume.

Tem wrote:

I was just computing volume in the more traditional sense.

There are two problems with this:

Well one problem with that is that D&D area effect "cones" are not cones at all. Your cone formula would have a flat base, while the D&D cone does not.

And a second problem is that D&D squares/cubes off things a D&D 15' radius sphere is only 9,000 cubic feet, while a real 15' radius sphere is over 14,000 cubic feet.

Work it out by cubes and you'll see what I mean.

-James

This whole thread is an example of why I hate that things have become so grid dependent.

Kthulhu wrote:
This whole thread is an example of why I hate that things have become so grid dependent.

+1

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
jreyst wrote:
0gre wrote:
Then don't do that. Make sure your lines actually pass through the spaces. I posted an illustration early in the thread showing how you can make any line effect you want legally with the RAW.
So instead of fixing the wording in a future revision so that no one has this question ever again you suggest everyone always angle their line effects by 1 degree?

No matter what's adjusted in a future edition, I'd practically guarantee that questions will still come up. It's the nature of grid movement it's an extremely artificial abstraction derived from wargaming and yes sometimes it's going to be counter-intuitive. It doesn't need any more clarification because the bloody diagrams that have been pointed out to explain it clear as day.

LazarX wrote:
jreyst wrote:
0gre wrote:
Then don't do that. Make sure your lines actually pass through the spaces. I posted an illustration early in the thread showing how you can make any line effect you want legally with the RAW.
So instead of fixing the wording in a future revision so that no one has this question ever again you suggest everyone always angle their line effects by 1 degree?
No matter what's adjusted in a future edition, I'd practically guarantee that questions will still come up. It's the nature of grid movement it's an extremely artificial abstraction derived from wargaming and yes sometimes it's going to be counter-intuitive. It doesn't need any more clarification because the bloody diagrams that have been pointed out to explain it clear as day.

Just denoting that the text accompanying them is bad. Let's get rid of that, all it does is confuse people.

Saves book space too. "Here's some diagrams for use with cones.

Also: Spreads can turn corners, other effects can't."

Honestly, I think it's the diagrams that are bad, replacing them with templates of equal shape and size that can be placed any where on the board with no need to be concerned with having them line up perfectly with the grid squares would be far cleaner and more representative of real world mechanics. For example, a RAW reading of the Line Are Effect (ignoring the diagrams)absolutely would be able to be drawn down the line between squares, and hit all creatures on both sides because a lightning bolt's line is 5' wide and begins at the corner the casters square, it is a perfectly reasonable assumption that 2.5' of the bolt passes through squares on either side of the dividing line.

Gol Zayvian wrote:
Honestly, I think it's the diagrams that are bad, replacing them with templates of equal shape and size that can be placed any where on the board with no need to be concerned with having them line up perfectly with the grid squares would be far cleaner and more representative of real world mechanics. For example, a RAW reading of the Line Are Effect (ignoring the diagrams)absolutely would be able to be drawn down the line between squares, and hit all creatures on both sides because a lightning bolt's line is 5' wide and begins at the corner the casters square, it is a perfectly reasonable assumption that 2.5' of the bolt passes through squares on either side of the dividing line.

Except no aspect of the game works that way, so it really isn't reasonable at all. What is reasonable is if a line passes perfectly along a grid line the caster chooses which side of that line the 5' wide effect affects. It really is that simple.

Why oh why do people have to make this more complicated than it needs to be?

dragonhunterq wrote:
Why oh why do people have to make this more complicated than it needs to be?

It's because nerds have so much pent up rage. ;)

Especially nerds who feel the need to have their characters be more amazing than everyone else's character and get shot down.

I've looked at the lines before, and they're the messiest of the areas of effect for some reason.

Simplest to me seems the following:
1) Pick a grid intersection bordering your square and call it A.
2) Pick a grid intersection with range of A, and call it B.
3) Draw a line between A and B.
4) Any square that the line travels through is affected. Squares it merely passes next to are not affected.

So to draw a straight lightning bolt "north", you'd draw a line from your northwestern corner to a square 60ft north of your northeastern corner.

Ascalaphus wrote:

I've looked at the lines before, and they're the messiest of the areas of effect for some reason.

Simplest to me seems the following:
1) Pick a grid intersection bordering your square and call it A.
2) Pick a grid intersection with range of A, and call it B.
3) Draw a line between A and B.
4) Any square that the line travels through is affected. Squares it merely passes next to are not affected.

So to draw a straight lightning bolt "north", you'd draw a line from your northwestern corner to a square 60ft north of your northeastern corner.

this would be true if the line were a one dimensional series of connected points going from A to B. The problem is that the Life effect, at least in the case of lightning bolt and many others has a defined width of 5' making it a 2 dimensional plane. Therefore, any square that your one dimensional line would pass next 2 would be overlapped by the 2 dimensional 5'wide plane and thus be subject to the spell effect.

The real question here is this: Should the Line Area of effect be allowed to violate the boundaries of normal grid lines, or must it always "Snap to Grid"?

My Personal opinion (and I am the first to point out that opinion =/= Rules), is that all area effects should not be required to "snap to Grid".

By the way, another question on the topic : can you include yourself in the Area created by the spell ?

Elicoor wrote:

By the way, another question on the topic : can you include yourself in the Area created by the spell ?

sure can, place it's starting point at the back corner of your square so that it's line of effect passes through it and you could definately shock yourself.

This discussion ended over 4 years ago

Stahp

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