Melt Stone(SU)


Rules Questions

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If a creature were standing on the stone floor of a red dragon's cave, and the dragon was old enough to have the Red Dragon Melt Stone ability, would the creature take damage from the breath weapon AND the lava, just the lava, or just the breath weapon on the first round?

My first thought is that it takes both unless it has some way to negate the damage of either. Others are telling me that only the damage of the lava floor would apply because "you can't double dip" and Melt Stone is "a standard action separate from the standard action of the breath".


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Here's how I read it, melt stone and breath weapon are different actions. One targets the ground, the other is an area of effect.

Although they are superficially the same action, as a matter of action economy they are not. The dragon has to choose to target ground or people (even if the people are standing on the ground). They still take the lava damage, but they don't take breath weapon damage the round the ground is melted.

Obviously in subsequent rounds if they are still in the lava and get breath weaponed the PCs, if not dead, will take both damages.


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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is the dragon breathing at the creature or at the floor ? Different targets and (possibly) a different way of using the breath weapon. Perhaps when creating a cone of fire the dragon uses a sweeping motion, but while melting stone needs to use a more concentrated technique.

As a supernatural ability with no other listed action cost, Melt Stone does indeed take a standard action to perform.


The others are nominally correct, though it has nothing to do with double-dipping (which is a terrible argument).

Supernatural abilities are defined as a standard action, unless otherwise noted (sorry, you'll have to scroll down). The melt stone ability doesn't clarify, thus it's most "standard"* rulings, it would be a standard action to activate.

The clarification that it's using its breath weapon means that it's subject to breath weapon rules, and any feats or other effects that modify the breath weapon would apply, unless incompatible.

But... why would a dragon do that? It's clearly less damaging, and covers a smaller area, right?

Well, yes, initially, but it's unclear if people get a reflex save (it's not described with a save anywhere), and it creates nasty terrain for two rounds (potentially causing more damage), and thus it creates great tactical situations (forcing people to flee or get wrekt). Also, it permits avalanche.

That said, I could see a GM ruling otherwise (that using the breath weapon melts stone on contact, allowing both effects)... but there are problems with that interpretation, too.

Namely, it's the range of the thing that makes no sense.

The breath weapon is a sixty foot cone from the dragon's space.

Melt stone applies to a 50 ft. radius at a range of 100 feet: that's 40 ft. further than the range of the breath weapon.

And that's where you start to realize the abilities are entirely different: they can't operate at the same time, because you can't resolve both simultaneously if you use the second to its intended manner.

Still, it's a GM's call. It'd be kind of harsh to rule against PCs to enforce a TPK (or even a partial party wipe).

Anyway, hope this helps!

* Okay, it wasn't intentional, but... it's funny, dang it! :D


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It's not a well-designed (or at least well-described) ability, as conceptually it's unlikely that the dragon will be able to hit the floor under its foes with its breath weapon without hitting at least one of said foes as well. Nevertheless, Melt Stone is a separate ability that doesn't directly harm creatures--only stone. Flavor it however you like.


blahpers wrote:
It's not a well-designed (or at least well-described) ability, as conceptually it's unlikely that the dragon will be able to hit the floor under its foes with its breath weapon without hitting at least one of said foes as well. Nevertheless, Melt Stone is a separate ability that doesn't directly harm creatures--only stone. Flavor it however you like.

But... what if the floor is made of wood?!?!

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tacticslion wrote:

The others are nominally correct, though it has nothing to do with double-dipping (which is a terrible argument).

Supernatural abilities are defined as a standard action, unless otherwise noted (sorry, you'll have to scroll down). The melt stone ability doesn't clarify, thus it's most "standard"* rulings, it would be a standard action to activate.

The clarification that it's using its breath weapon means that it's subject to breath weapon rules, and any feats or other effects that modify the breath weapon would apply, unless incompatible.

But... why would a dragon do that? It's clearly less damaging, and covers a smaller area, right?

Well, yes, initially, but it's unclear if people get a reflex save (it's not described with a save anywhere), and it creates nasty terrain for two rounds (potentially causing more damage), and thus it creates great tactical situations (forcing people to flee or get wrekt). Also, it permits avalanche.

That said, I could see a GM ruling otherwise (that using the breath weapon melts stone on contact, allowing both effects)... but there are problems with that interpretation, too.

Namely, it's the range of the thing that makes no sense.

The breath weapon is a sixty foot cone from the dragon's space.

Melt stone applies to a 50 ft. radius at a range of 100 feet: that's 40 ft. further than the range of the breath weapon.

And that's where you start to realize the abilities are entirely different: they can't operate at the same time, because you can't resolve both simultaneously if you use the second to its intended manner.

Still, it's a GM's call. It'd be kind of harsh to rule against PCs to enforce a TPK (or even a partial party wipe).

Anyway, hope this helps!

* Okay, it wasn't intentional, but... it's funny, dang it! :D

The distance thing really bothers me as well. Why can a the breath weapon be used to turn solid stone to a molten state far beyond where it could hit any other time. I was thinking, if I were to do it, giving bonuses to the PC against the DC for every x number of feet beyond 60'. Just doesn't make sense to me that I can engulf the ground you are standing one and not touch you while doing it.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I keep going round and round with this. You can't do X without doing Y. Y does Z, but Y is a different thing when doing X.


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OK, here is the full list of special abilities.
You need to look at all of them to make sense of this. OK, maybe not the Aura.

Ancient Red Dragon wrote:

Fire Aura (Su)

An ancient red dragon is surrounded by an aura of intense heat. All creatures within 10 feet take 2d6 points of fire damage at the beginning of the dragon’s turn.

Manipulate Flames (Su)
An ancient red dragon can control any fire spell within 100 feet as a standard action. This ability allows it to move any fire effect in the area, as if it were the caster. This ability also allows it to reposition a stationary fire effect, although the new placement must be one allowed by the spell. Finally, for 1 round following the use of this ability, the dragon can control any new fire spell cast within its area of control, as if it were the caster. It can make all decisions allowed to the caster, including canceling the spell if it so desires.

Melt Stone (Su)
An ancient red dragon can use its breath weapon to melt rock at a range of 100 feet, affecting a 50-foot-radius area. The area becomes lava to a depth of 1 foot. Any creature in contact with the lava takes 20d6 points of fire damage on the first round, 10d6 on the second, and none thereafter as the lava hardens and cools. If used on a wall or ceiling, treat this ability as an avalanche that deals fire damage.

It doesn't seem out of line to posit that the A.R.D. is manipulating the flames from its own breath weapon in a similar fashion that it can manipulate fire spells. The dragon is literally repositioning the fire-breath inside the ground. Thus, it can work as stated. Even the range makes sense.


There's no need to go round and round. There's rules and realism. You have to separate the two because you are playing a game. Melt stone, by the rules, is a different action, than breath weapon.

If you need a flavor change to make it more explicable pretend that dragons have to use hotter, more focused breath that drills directly in the ground to actually melt stone.

It's always easier, to the extent possible, to figure out the rules and then add flavor where necessary than get stuck on realism issues like this (where the game rules are trying to prevent using this action simultaneously with the breath weapon, otherwise it would simply be a feature of the breath weapon).


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Yes Mr. Pitt,
But it is so much funner when you can make sense of it.

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