Putting out an oil fire with water.


GM Discussion

Silver Crusade 3/5

So the party was in a room which, due to a trap, was covered in burning oil. One of the characters decided to use create water to put themselves out. I checked if they could make a knowledge check, and when they couldn't, I let them do this, and then have the fire explode because that's what happens when you try to put an oil fire out with water. I had it do 4d6 damage with a reflex save for half, as that's what the fire was doing to them every round. This did not put this character (it was Kyra actually) into existential Danger. She had plenty of Channel energies left, and was taking a little enough damage each round with a reflex save that she could have healed herself properly with a concentration check.

This was a high-level sanctioned module. Technically, we were playing in campaign mode, which was necessary because it allowed us to use higher-level versions of the pre generated characters. Most of the players at the table were using their society characters' sheets.

As we were technically playing in campaign mode, I'm pretty sure my word was law, but the player in question got so mad that they stormed away from the table. I just wanted to get other people's opinion about that situation? Was I wrong to have something damage him even though it wasn't technically in the rules? Have this not been a campaign mode table, would I have been allowed to do that?

There's nothing in the rules about how create water affects fire in any circumstance. I suppose the most RAW thing to do would be to have it not do anything. At the time I didn't know the relevant rules off the top of my head, which is probably something I should have looked up before running this. Still, after looking at some footage of water being thrown onto oil fires on YouTube, I feel like I could have Justified treating this like a high-level Fireball or something. Having it just affect him and do his little damage is it did seems merciful compared to what would happen in real life.

4/5

A lot of scenarios have situations involving putting out fires, and it seems like no two are the same.

Grand Lodge 3/5

in a module i'm running, in the first chapter- there's a grease fire the PC's have to deal with. it says in the module, that if a PC tries to use Water to extinguish the grease fire- it immediately spreads to all adjacent spaces. if a PC is in the same square, it's a reflex to avoid catching fire.

I would have ruled a Perception check to notices the sheen of the oil, and a survival check to understand how to extinguish a grease fire.

Daughters of Fury module, if you're curious.

2/5

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To answer this part of your question first: In sanctioned mode (or a scenario), you would not be allowed to do this unless the text of the effect specifically stated that's what happened (such as Daughters of Fury). You cannot extrapolate from one scenario/module/AP/single encounter to the next. It is in your power to have the water do nothing or provide a circumstance bonus to the save to put it out.

To the first part: Yes, in campaign mode you have the freedom to house rule whatever you like. However, not all players know how water and grease fires interact. To the player, it likely seemed as though you were punishing him/her for trying to be creative.

...also, how could they not make a knowledge check? It's a free action and can be done untrained. I would have made the DC 3 or 5.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I think I would have been more easy-going with warning the player in advance about why this is a bad idea. In a world where oil lamps are common, people would know about it.

That said, current Campaign Mode rules allow you to use D&D 1st ed, Call of Cthulhu or Macho Women With Guns rules if you felt like it. So yeah you're within rules bounds.

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

Yeah, campaign mode is sort of a free-for-all.

I concur with the thought that you should warn the players before you let their action escalate things based on knowledge that you have OOC.

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While every scenario treats fire differently, nearly every scenario featuring fire allows some sort of generic action to put the flame out, and Create Water and summoning Water Elementals are usually on the list of things that are Very Good ideas. Even if it's more accurate to have things explode, breaking the metagame can be frustrating for players. Sometimes players just need to get over it, but if you do that too many times they'll up and leave for good.

Another way of looking at it: what kind of action did you have in mind that would have allowed the party to surmount the challenge of the oil fire? What were the alternate options that were realistic for this party?

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Was your decision "strictly RAW?" Eh, guess not. But this kind of thing gets done by GMs on a fairly regular basis. Bits of flavor and even minor, out-of-combat damage when the PCs make a mistake. I throw things like this in all the time. But it can blow up (no pun intended) with the wrong group.

If you've been letting the players come up with creative solutions and running a fairly free-flowing game, most groups will roll with it. And tone is very important. It's important that a sensitive player not feel like it was a personal attack on his or her intelligence. I don't know what your particular situation was like but there's a huge difference between "Oh no! Water on a grease fire! Take 1d6 more points of damage as the flames surge higher." and "You just tried to put out a grease fire with water. That was a mistake. Water makes grease fires worse. Everyone knows that. You get taught that in elementary school. So it's going to blow up on you for doing that. Take...4d6 points of damage. But I'll give you a Reflex save for half."

The damage you dealt was probably a bit high, considering an alchemist's fire only does 1d6. If you do something like this, you want to make it a minor and organic part of the game. Something to make players say "oh, yeah, that didn't work out like we hoped." But it's not going to be a good fit for every group.

The Exchange 5/5

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It has been my experience that it will normally take more than one ruling for a player to get "... so mad that they stormed away from the table".

Often it will result from a conflict in play styles, sometimes the judge will not even realize that they are driving players away from their table. This happened to me at a CON recently. At the end of the game the judge was congratulating himself on a great game - not realizing that 3 of the players (that I know of) almost dropped the game in the middle, and vowed never to sit at his table again. (Noted his name on "the list" of judges to avoid in the future).

In fact, the reaction to the ruling outlined by the OP above (adding water to an oil fire results in 4d6 damage) that I expected from Pathfinder Gamers would have been something like this...

Player A: Eyes wide in reaction to his casting of create water, "Jo, how many flasks of Alchemist Fire do you got?"
Player B (Jo): "You going to make a crack about me being a Pyro again?"
Player C: "Relax Jo, I see where he's going with this - and I need to say I've got 10 flasks of oil for my lantern, and know how to make Molotov Cocktails"
Player A: "Wow - 4d6 fireballs with a zero level spell! - Rinse and Repeat!"
Player B, beginning to see the possibilities "Five dice, don't forget the D6 for the Alchemist Fire! - and it burns for two rounds so you can just cast the create water again next round! Cool! 10d6 in two rounds - how big was that AOE?"
Player A: "Oil costs what? A silver piece a flask? WOW! Get Jo to toss it - it's a touch attack and if she misses I don't cast the create water... but if she does it's instant Fireball - rinse and repeat. Every round..."

But instead of this ruling resulting in the weaponizing of a Zero level spell, it just resulted in one of the players getting "so mad that they stormed away from the table". SO... I question if this is the entire story (or if the OP even knows the entire story, as it is quite possible they never noticed how much they had been upsetting the player who stormed off with other rulings before this "final straw". Or how many of the other players would like to have left, but didn't want to cause a scene...).

And now, as a side note about Oil Fires.

In this game, poring a pint of self igniting oil (Alchemist Fire - which could be described as the historical terror weapon Greek Fire) on something does... 1d6 for two rounds. Yeah. So, poring flaming oil directly on something does 1d6. Splashing it on something does 1 HP for two rounds. (Unless you are an Alchemist). I personally feel that is a bit light in damage - but it has been ruled this way by the game designers (presumably for balance reason). I can remember in 1st Edition when flaming oil flasks did 2d6 the first round and 1d6 the next. (IMHO) Dropping a bunch of water on flaming oil should result in moving it around (causing it to "Splash" again), or possibly resulting in a bunch of steam (which can be dangerous in itself), or might even result in putting the fire out. After all, create water can be delivered in a fashion similar to rain... yeah, sprinkled over the entire area... And rain on an oil fire does NOT cause an explosion. But that's just IMHO... And oil fires from sinking ships in wartime (think of WWII documentaries or old war movies) would spread out and burn - not explode in fireballs. But this is all a Judges call... and this call caused a player to get "... so mad that they stormed away from the table". I do wonder if it was just this ruling, or if this was the "final straw". And it makes me sad that a gaming group will likely break up over this...

2/5

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I sat at a PFS table with a relatively inexperienced GM who kept doing on-the-fly decisions like this to one specific player over and over. Nothing was lethal or prestige threatening but it made the PC look like a dunce several times--when it was supposed to be one of the player's agile and cool swashbuckler types--and increased the challenge on the scenario. I could see him seething each time until he stormed off to go cool down. The GM was caught off guard because he failed to realize 1) what he was doing to the player's concept of the character and how it was affecting the player and 2) that it was all directed at that one player's character.

The Exchange 5/5

GM Blake wrote:
I sat at a PFS table with a relatively inexperienced GM who kept doing on-the-fly decisions like this to one specific player over and over. Nothing was lethal or prestige threatening but it made the PC look like a dunce several times--when it was supposed to be one of the player's agile and cool swashbuckler types--and increased the challenge on the scenario. I could see him seething each time until he stormed off to go cool down. The GM was caught off guard because he failed to realize 1) what he was doing to the player's concept of the character and how it was affecting the player and 2) that it was all directed at that one player's character.

yeah, been there, seen that, many times. I try REALLY HARD not to be that judge.

I've most recently seen it with a judge that (I think) mostly does Online games, judging a table at a CON (in the noise filled main room, with a 4 hour time slot). The differences in Judge skills were very noticeable (at least I hope it was an environment difference) - as the judge would repeatedly spin off to take 5 to 15 minutes interacting with one player (the one seated beside him), while the rest of us tried to maintain some sort of interest in the story (that we kept loosing the thread of - as we often could not hear what was being discussed one-on-one).

Dark Archive 3/5

nosig wrote:

And now, as a side note about Oil Fires.

In this game, poring a pint of self igniting oil (Alchemist Fire - which could be described as the historical terror weapon Greek Fire) on something does... 1d6 for two rounds. Yeah. So, poring flaming oil directly on something does 1d6. Splashing it on something does 1 HP for two rounds. (Unless you are an Alchemist). I personally feel that is a bit light in damage - but it has been ruled this way by the game designers (presumably for balance reason). I can remember in 1st Edition when flaming oil flasks did 2d6 the first round and 1d6 the next. (IMHO) Dropping a bunch of water on flaming oil should result in moving it around (causing it to "Splash" again), or possibly resulting in a bunch of steam (which can be dangerous in itself), or might even result in putting the fire out. After all, create water can be delivered in a fashion similar to rain... yeah, sprinkled over the entire area... And rain on an oil fire does NOT cause an explosion. But that's just IMHO... And oil fires from sinking ships in wartime (think of WWII documentaries or old war movies) would spread out and burn - not explode in fireballs.

I can say from experience that dropping a large quantity of water on an oil fire suddenly WILL create a fireball. This is how I learned not to pour water on an oil fire (aged 14).

The Exchange 5/5

theshoveller wrote:
nosig wrote:

And now, as a side note about Oil Fires.

In this game, poring a pint of self igniting oil (Alchemist Fire - which could be described as the historical terror weapon Greek Fire) on something does... 1d6 for two rounds. Yeah. So, poring flaming oil directly on something does 1d6. Splashing it on something does 1 HP for two rounds. (Unless you are an Alchemist). I personally feel that is a bit light in damage - but it has been ruled this way by the game designers (presumably for balance reason). I can remember in 1st Edition when flaming oil flasks did 2d6 the first round and 1d6 the next. (IMHO) Dropping a bunch of water on flaming oil should result in moving it around (causing it to "Splash" again), or possibly resulting in a bunch of steam (which can be dangerous in itself), or might even result in putting the fire out. After all, create water can be delivered in a fashion similar to rain... yeah, sprinkled over the entire area... And rain on an oil fire does NOT cause an explosion. But that's just IMHO... And oil fires from sinking ships in wartime (think of WWII documentaries or old war movies) would spread out and burn - not explode in fireballs.

I can say from experience that dropping a large quantity of water on an oil fire suddenly WILL create a fireball. This is how I learned not to pour water on an oil fire (aged 14).

Create Water

School conjuration (creation) [water]; Level cleric 0, druid 0, paladin 1

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S

Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Effect up to 2 gallons of water/level

Duration instantaneous

Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

This spell generates wholesome, drinkable water, just like clean rain water. Water can be created in an area as small as will actually contain the liquid, or in an area three times as large—possibly creating a downpour or filling many small receptacles. This water disappears after 1 day if not consumed.

Note: Conjuration spells can't create substances or objects within a creature. Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon. One cubic foot of water contains roughly 8 gallons and weighs about 60 pounds.

again, this is/was just IMHO...

so... we have an oil fire onto which we cast the spell create water... "...creating a downpour ..." like heavy rain. This results in an explosion? I don't think so. Especially an explosion that does 4 times as much burn damage as having flaming oil pored over the target. Can we put a fire out by "...creating a downpour ..." like heavy rain? Sort of like say a sprinkler system in a building? Maybe?

But... whatever. Again, my response to a ruling like this (and the response of many gamers that I know) would be "Kewl! a zero level fireball!" It would be unbalancing to the game as we know it. PCs would begin throwing flaming oil in every combat encounter so the Casters could "fireball" the enemies... esp. if there was an AOE involved. Need to take out a swarm? Toss a flask of Alchemist Fire - you don't even need to hit the swarm, just be sure to get it in the AOE. 4d6 x 1.5 is an average of 21 HP damage to the swarm. Heck, you wont even need to buy a flask of Alchemist Fire - just use a flask of lamp oil and only light it off if you hit the target with the oil.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Quote:
In a world where oil lamps are common, people would know about it

I would like to think so, but in a world where grease fires are relatively common, there is a frighteningly large rate of attempts to put it out using water. I think most people, given a chance to think clearly and calmly will recall the correct methods for extinguishing a grease fire, but in the heat of the moment (hehe) they panic and their fundamental urge to squash fire with water often gets the better of them.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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nosig wrote:
Often it will result from a conflict in play styles, sometimes the judge will not even realize that they are driving players away from their table. This happened to me at a CON recently. At the end of the game the judge was congratulating himself on a great game - not realizing that 3 of the players (that I know of) almost dropped the game in the middle, and vowed never to sit at his table again. (Noted his name on "the list" of judges to avoid in the future)

I hope you at least notified the GM of your concerns. I wish more players (and GMs) would confront each other when they dislike something and have a discourse about it. Sometimes it won't make a difference, but in my experience most players are reasonable people and willing to listen when someone has feedback. A short conversation can often resolve ongoing conflicts, ease tensions, restore friendships, help the stability of a local community and even help it grow. When players keep everything to themselves or just rant about someone at home or in an anonymous social site, it just hastens the demise of the community.

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