Black Dragon Corrupt Water Ability vs Alchemist Bombs?


Rules Questions

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Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Xaratherus wrote:

If we assume that every liquid item on the character gets a saving throw, then I think the concern is lessened.

That, however, adds a potentially huge number of saving throws for a single character. A black dragon is a CR 16. Assume that the Alchemist (also level 16) is going to have a number of catalysts equal to the number of bombs he can throw plus 10%; we're probably looking at about 25 vials of catalyst. The Alchemist potentially has 23 extracts\infusions available, each of which has to be rolled and tracked individually since they represent spells he can cast. This is more likely ~30 with bonus extracts due to the level of the caster stat, and then at least one more for mutagen.

That's 56 saving throws to roll...

Yes, that is the problem. But it will be a problem even for the guy with 10 or 20 different potions (I have seen them) or vials of holy water, or several alchemical liquids.

At the level at which you meed a dragon most people will keep that stuff in a handy haversack to be capable to access it without causing a AoO. Items in a extraplanar container wouldn't be affected, so a lot of saves would be avoided.

I would check how many vial of catalyst has the alchemist and his save and have the right percentage survive, without rolling all the vials.
16 catalyst ready and you save with 16+? 4 survived, the other didn't.
For the extracts probably during combat the best way is to check them if the alchemist want to drink them. Free action when drawing a extract: as soon as you pick it up you realize that it was fouled and can change your action without losing it. On the other hand without examining the extract for even a brief moment you aren't sure if they have been fouled or not, so you don't know if that extract of cure light wound is good or not until you check it.

After the battle you can spend a few rounds checking all the extracts (i.e. the player roll the saves when it will not stop the flow of the action).


Most groups I've played with ignore situations like this, along with Fireball's collateral damage, because it causes too many dice rolls. Perhaps an official optional rule should be put in place: make one saving throw for all items affected. If you fail, one item is affected per point you fail the save by (minimum 1 if you would mathematically succeed on a roll of 1).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TimD wrote:

I think this is clearly in the area of a “for GM adjudication” issue.

As both a player and a GM, I’d be ok with it working – it is a very cool thematic effect for one of the archetypical BBEGs of the game world that I’m unlikely to see very often and will be a great story both in and out of game, should witnesses survive. Of almost any opponent you will encounter, a black dragon who has survived a century of other adventurers should definitely fight dirty. =0)

The save DC is somewhat laughable, given the fact that it’s an adult dragon (specified as 1st level spell, so 11+Cha Mod of the Dragon, so starting at DC 13 as an Adult [CR 11] maxing out at DC 16 vs. a Great Wyrm [CR 19]).
The only issue I see would be the possible adjudication issues:
1) As mentioned up thread, multiple saving throws for the catalysts bogging down game play &
2) Interpreting & adjudicating the range (Frightful Presence, minimum 180 ft as an Adult) vs. the area of effect (10 cu feet of water) given that Black Dragons usually prefer to hang out in the water and tactically often remain in the water for cover/ concealment / impede their attackers. Not sure they would have enough AoE left to affect an alchemist’s stuff unless they were flying or otherwise in some other situation.

On the other hand, I play a bit differently than many do and like to ambush PCs, which is apparently a no-no by some folks “modern” gaming philosophies where apparently the PCs are always supposed to be the only pro active ones in a combat situation. I also try to use dragons very sparingly, excepting where a specific plotline may put PCs at cross-purposes with numbers of them.

-TimD

The save is "(DC equal to the dragon's frightful presence)" so it is fairly hard, but it is a spell like ability, so anything that protect you from a 1st level spell should block it.

A extract of spell immunity will protect the alchemist perfectly.

The ability range "is equal to that of the dragon's frightful presence", not its area of effect. The area of effect is " 10 cubic feet" of "liquids".
And yes, the AoE is badly defined, if you go strictly RAW it work only on a area with still water and then affect everything in that area. That is a way better argument for the alchemist shouldn't be affected" party, as there is a basis to say that the alchemist would be affected only if he is in a area of still water.
It would be even thematically appropriate: "the dragon foul the water in which you are and some of that foulness has contaminated most of the liquids you are carrying."


Diego Rossi wrote:
The save is "(DC equal to the dragon's frightful presence)" so it is fairly hard, but it is a spell like ability, so anything that protect you from a 1st level spell should block it.

Thanks for pointing that out, I apparently completely misread that.

So, save is higher ... I still have no issues with it. It's a great thematic ability.

-TimD


Given the likelihood of being aware you will be risking fighting a dragon, it's the player's own fault for taking no steps to protect their gear. Are players unfairly "punished" if they don't pack Resist Energy when facing a dragon?

Now granted, dragons are smart, but they aren't clairvoyant. The black dragon shouldn't target the alchemist's supplies unless they have good reason to believe their bombs are not finite (who carries 50+ grenades?) or if they had met the PCs before.


Bizbag wrote:
Most groups I've played with ignore situations like this, along with Fireball's collateral damage, because it causes too many dice rolls. Perhaps an official optional rule should be put in place: make one saving throw for all items affected. If you fail, one item is affected per point you fail the save by (minimum 1 if you would mathematically succeed on a roll of 1).

I sort of like that idea, actually.

And I agree - generally speaking, we ignore those particular rules (or we unconsciously avoid situations where they'll come up in the first place).

Liberty's Edge

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Wow, so many complaints about an ability that might greatly reduce the effectiveness of one character class and how dreadfully unfair that would be?

I suppose then that all golems should be eliminated if facing spell casters, all flying creatures should fight on the ground, face to face, none should ever use invisibility, stealth or sneak attacks, SoD abilities are right out!, anti magic shell? Completely unfair!!! And never ever shall a player be poisoned, held, snared, or impaired in any way as to cut down on their optimization! Think of how unfair that all is! Those things might actually make it challenging to the party once in a while. Can't have that!

Seriously people? I really scratch my head in wonder at the general sense of entitlement I see posted on these forums some times. The game is supposed to be an adventure... not a hand holding, perfect set up loot pinatas where the players progress from A to B to C and so on always expecting to win and never facing a challenge. Sometimes bad things happen and the players have to get creative, or rely on something other than their standard step by step manual of treasure acquisition hindered by a number of attacks per round.

Constant unhindered success is like everyone getting a trophy for participation, everyone is "special" but then no one is special. It is dull, lifeless and ultimately unmemorable. Imagine Lord of the Rings is Gandalf just summoned a Ginat Eagle, Frodo flew over the volcano and dumped the Ring in. Wow, what a thrilling story that would have been...

Of course the ability should affect an alchemist's components, and the other players' potions as well. It happens.

And they do have weight... one liquid ounce of WATER (probably lighter than many mixtures) weighs slightly more than a standard ounce of weight. So I doubt anyone is carrying thousands of them outside of extradimensional space, which then renders this entire multi page whine fest moot. Ability hits, stuff is destroyed, pull new stuff from bag of holding. Done.

Oh, and they are items, they can be passed to others, they simply lose their enchantment when they are... unless the alchemist has certain discoveries. Talk about picking nits!

Sometimes bad things will happen to challenge a party or certain players... how they overcome an actual challenge is what makes the game heroic, not how they do the routine. We remember a great sports play... but we don't seem to much care about the player stretching on the sideline before the game.


Bizbag wrote:

There are plenty of particular monsters that nullify particular classes. Rogues aren't very useful against elementals, spellcasters aren't particularly effective agains golems, bards are much less useful against vermin and mindless creatures, anything with a will save attack can nullify fighters..

This is one monster, and a particularly powerful one, tha can nullify an alchemist for one day. It's not unprecedented, and it's no more unfair than any of those other examples.

I'm not seeing one here that nullifies any of those classes for a whole day. Or even a whole combat in most of those cases.

A Rogue can still fight the Elemental. And once the Elemental is dead, they are back to full effectiveness.

Spellcasters can use no SR spells on a Golem just fine. Most spellcasters have a good number of these, like the Pit spells, or Summon Monster, or even Snowball. And one the Golem is dead, they are back to full effectiveness.

Bards aren't less useful in that fight unless they're PARTY is all vermin and mindless creatures. The mere presence of one doesn't cause him to lose Bardic Performance and his buff spells.

Fighters suck at Will saves, yes. And yet, unless it was a save or die (which is usually Fort anyway) they're probably back to full effectiveness at the end of the fight.

This Alchemist will not.

Diego Rossi wrote:
Maybe you must read the ability description: it affect liquid items, not creatures. For the rules a creature isn't made of different pieces and items, it is a single whole. The ability will foul a vial of blood but not the blood pumping in a creature veins, as that part of the creature.

So you agree, then, that it wouldn't affect Bombs, Mutagens, or Extracts? Because those are Su abilities and pseudo-spellcasting, not items.


The problem is the average Alchemist at that level who is the target of the ability is subject to approximately 56 Will Saves. Holy crap.


Scavion wrote:
The problem is the average Alchemist at that level who is the target of the ability is subject to approximately 56 Will Saves. Holy crap.

Yup, I added that up earlier.

In my opinion, that in itself is enough that I would exempt the catalysts from the ability.


Diego Rossi wrote:

You can't make an and bring with you "indefinite number" as they weight an ounce. It is a low weight but it exist.

So, how many could an Alchemist reasonably make and carry with him? Exactly how many vials of catalyst could an Alchemist create from one kit? How long does it take to prepare a single catalyst? 100? Where must the vials be stored in order to be retrieved as part of the action to make and throw a bomb? Would a Haversack be acceptable? What about a Bag of Holding? What action is it to retrieve a catalyst when not making a bomb? Can catalysts be targeted by spells or sundered? How many hit points do they have? Hardness?

If your going to track minutiae, you need to track it all. If catalysts are items, they need all the rules that normal items do.

Quote:
Maybe you must read the ability description: it affect liquid items, not creatures. For the rules a creature isn't made of different pieces and items, it is a single whole. The ability will foul a vial of blood but not the blood pumping in a creature veins, as that part of the creature.

I did read it, maybe you should re-read it.

Quote:
Corrupt Water (Sp) Once per day an adult or older black dragon can stagnate 10 cubic feet of still water, making it foul and unable to support water-breathing life. The ability spoils liquids containing water.

Nothing about items here; this ability works on all still water and liquids containing water. In fact, if this ability only worked on items, it couldn't affect, say, a lake, as a lake is not an item.

Quote:
Liquid-based magic items (such as potions) and items in a creature's possession must succeed on a Will save (DC equal to the dragon's frightful presence) or become ruined.

Items are mentioned here, but this just tells us which items get a save. The water inside a creature, as you say, isn't an item so it doesn't even get a save.

If you were to put forth that while a creature might contain water, it is not a liquid containing water, and I would agree. An Alchemists kit is not a liquid either, though it may contain some.

Edit: Also this:

Rynjin wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
Maybe you must read the ability description: it affect liquid items, not creatures. For the rules a creature isn't made of different pieces and items, it is a single whole. The ability will foul a vial of blood but not the blood pumping in a creature veins, as that part of the creature.

So you agree, then, that it wouldn't affect Bombs, Mutagens, or Extracts? Because those are Su abilities and pseudo-spellcasting, not items.


Guys, the dragon's ability only affects still water. I would assume a creature's liquids are quite flowing. That is a ridiculous argument to make and you should read a little better on the ability at hand. If I'm shaking my wineskin, the ability has no effect.

Xaratherus, I was merely reiterating what you had stated because I thought it was an important point in the topic at hand =)

A big question to answer here is,

Is it okay to force a player to roll 56+ saves for his class features?

Does this increase the fun at your table for all players involved?

Answer that question without another question to all of you who feel the Alchemist should have to make all those rolls.


Scavion wrote:


A big question to answer here is,

Is it okay to force a player to roll 56+ saves for his class features?

Does this increase the fun at your table for all players involved?

Answer that question without another question to all of you who feel the Alchemist should have to make all those rolls.

This


Quantum Steve wrote:
Scavion wrote:


A big question to answer here is,

Is it okay to force a player to roll 56+ saves for his class features?

Does this increase the fun at your table for all players involved?

Answer that question without another question to all of you who feel the Alchemist should have to make all those rolls.

This

I agree, but I feel the solution is to come up with some sort of simplified house rule instead of just ignoring a key ability of the dragon. I suggested one above; you may invent another that works for you.


Bizbag wrote:
Quantum Steve wrote:
Scavion wrote:


A big question to answer here is,

Is it okay to force a player to roll 56+ saves for his class features?

Does this increase the fun at your table for all players involved?

Answer that question without another question to all of you who feel the Alchemist should have to make all those rolls.

This
I agree, but I feel the solution is to come up with some sort of simplified house rule instead of just ignoring a key ability of the dragon. I suggested one above; you may invent another that works for you.

Whats the priority of items the effect targets? Your houserule actually brings down the effectiveness of the ability in question. Does it hit my mundane alchemical goods first or go straight for my extracts? If I'm a mutagen heavy alchemist does it hit my mutagen first or perhaps the multitudes of potions I've crafted over my career?

As a player, chances are the only happy resolution I'd have is if it targeted my mundane items first with the logic that those items simply don't have magic backing them.

Though I'm most definitely all for the nerfing of a monster ability that hamstrings a class' features.


Bizbag wrote:
Quantum Steve wrote:
Scavion wrote:


A big question to answer here is,

Is it okay to force a player to roll 56+ saves for his class features?

Does this increase the fun at your table for all players involved?

Answer that question without another question to all of you who feel the Alchemist should have to make all those rolls.

This
I agree, but I feel the solution is to come up with some sort of simplified house rule instead of just ignoring a key ability of the dragon. I suggested one above; you may invent another that works for you.

You're not ignoring it, you're stipulating it only works against items, not class abilities.


I didn't say it was perfect or anything, it was just a first suggestion. Rather than make you roll 65 saves, roll fewer but have the degree of failure matter.


Fomsie wrote:
Wow, so many complaints about an ability that might greatly reduce the effectiveness of one character class and how dreadfully unfair that would be?

No, the thing is that the ability is vague and there is no clarity in how it will affect an alchemist - and in those cases, interpreting it in the worst possible way for the PC will be seen as antagonistic by PC's, for obvious reasons. Especially if combined with house rules that prevent countermeasures (one save for all items, limits to how many catalysts etc).

Quote:


I suppose then that all golems should be eliminated if facing spell casters

You do know that fighting a golem does not mean the wizard loses their spells for the day, right? And also that about half of the spells on a wizard's spell list aren't affected at all by the golem's spell immunity? The other examples were just quite silly.

IF the ability had said "this ability destroys all bomb catalysts an alchemist has unless it saves" there would have been much less discussion because the effect would be obvious. Right now it's vague, and the issue is power-tripping DM's who not only rules the ability in the most powerful way possible ("the RAW doesn't forbid this!!!!) but also tries to hinder rules-legal countertactics ("for realism!!!!").

If something is truly vague, it's generally best to interpret it in the weaker way - especially if the ability already is very strong.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Ilja wrote:
A DM that uses the "but its RAW!!" argument to strip a character of all power while simultaneously imposing house rules to limit the rules legal defense mechanisms

Don't take my reaction to absurd 10,000 of something as an assertion I agree that Corrupt Water would spoil the catalyst.

But anytime a player says they have 10,000 of anything, I reject that reality and substitute my own. This would happen if I'm GM or even if I'm another player. I just don't play in absurd games.


10000 was an exaggeration made to prove a point - basically, that claiming "but RAW doesn't prevent this!!!" as some people did, and interpreting things in the optimal way for the dragon (it gets to choose what gets targeted when there is more liquid than area, catalysts have to be water-based, etc), means that you should also accept the same argument when it comes from a player. I think it's very bad DMing to go straight-RAW whenever it benefits the monsters, but disallow rules legal stuff from players.

I DM, and I too would raise my eyebrow if a player did that - because doing that without telling me beforehand would be very... weird - but on the other hand, I wouldn't make a sudden ruling of catalysts being water based without informing the player far beforehand.

And while 1000 is an exaggeration, having a few hundred of them is very much possible; a single puch in a handy haversack can take 320 bottles. And if a player said "well, I might as well make a big batch to have ready in case of emergencies, so I fill a pouch" I'd obviously let her - there's no reason to say no to that and the ability clearly opens up for that option by stating that they keep potency for years.


Bomb catalyst vials are a mix of "various volatile chemicals", it's a big ? as to whether that would include water and ultimately a GM call. Water by itself is not volatile (but I know can be if mixed with other things). I would recommend ruling that catalyst vials are not affected, avoiding much of the above hubub (less saves) and extra benefit of not being as punitive on the alchemist. Rolling saves on just extracts and the mutagen seems more manageable.


Honestly, when it comes to character abilities where the difference is marginal and there isn't strong implication towards either interpretation, I think it's better to let the PC decide.

Players only get a single character to decide over. I'd like them to be able to decide as much as possible.


An interesting way to implement this, that would let alleviate having to stop the game for a bunch of saves, be very suspenseful and realistic, would be to hold off on having the save made until the alchemist goes to use the extract, mutagen (or bombs if your GMgoes that way or it's a blue dragon). Afterall I don't see why the alchemist would know what things were wrecked until having a chance to pause for a bit and examine everything, heck it's debatable it he/she would even know if they were hit with the effect in the first place.


well there's a lot of people freaking out over this so lets take a deep breath and chill...

Now, to answer the OP, according to RAW YES the dragons ability effects CATALYSTS. Some may not like that answer but it really only matters how you as a GM or your GM handles it.

Some of this has been addressed so i will reiterate some and bring up some other points. First as mentioned each vial does gets a saving throw per RAW. While that is a lot of rolls it's up to the player and GM whether he wants to play out each roll. You could agree on each or every 5, 10, or 20 vials etc. Or use a dice roller and insta role all at once and see how many are left.

Also it says right under the alchemist that he USUALLY prepares enough catalysts for each bomb. In this case i would say this is the norm UNLESS a players explicitly states otherwise.

I see a lot of freaking out about how this completely strips away all an alchemists class abilities but i think those who addressed such are WAY over reacting. The odds of all vials failing a save are very low. Even if the vials do fail all there saves the alchemist does not LOSE his bombs for the day, he only loses his catalyst- when he makes more catalyst he can use his remaining bombs for the day. Hopefully by the time the alchemist is high enough level to take on an ancient black dragon he's going to be wise/smart enough to keep some of his Catalyst and goodies in an extra-dimensional space such as a bag of holding or handy haversack, which will keep them safe from NUMEROUS other accidents. Worst case scenario (extremely low odds) the alchemist will lose all his catalysts and hence his bombs FOR AN ENCOUNTER and all his mutegens and magical potions for the day. Bad thing about a glass cannon is sometimes...they break like glass. I take that back, worst case scenario the dragon could slay him outright...

Best advice? everyone should learn from this and make a handy haversack or bag of holding a priority for an alchemist and problem solved! Hopefully Gm's are destroying a few vials during a players career so there made aware there not indestructible, you might not want to carry all your eggs in one basket.


RunebladeX wrote:
Now, to answer the OP, according to RAW YES the dragons ability effects CATALYSTS. Some may not like that answer but it really only matters how you as a GM or your GM handles it.

Actually, the RAW for the black dragon ability is vague. For the blue dragon you're right though.

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