Do Shapeable (S) spells have to have a contiguous area?


Rules Questions


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

The spell in question was Fire Storm but this applies to all shapeable spells. The player wanted to place the cubes so that it affected bad guys on either side of the party. Putting one cube to the right and then another up on a ridge and few more to the left.

I said that "shapeable" meant you can only do one contiguous shape. The player argued she should be able to place her cubes anywhere and that the sides of the cubes did not have to touch each other. She said she can make whatever shapes she wanted within the range of the spell.

Who is right by RAW?

The Exchange

shapable is shape one area, not 2 or more. firesnake spells this out but older from core can be a pain at times. your the GM, so say what it is


+1 to what Jeff has said. I have to dig around more but I see nothing in the PF rules that unequivocally states it one way or the other. I no longer have many of my old AD&D books but fairly certain it stated that the area must be contiguous with no dimension less than a 10ft cube as I recall some discussions about it among my gaming friends at the time.

PS And while my word is certainly not official (yours as the GM is) that's they way I've been doing since my AD&D days. My only advice is whatever way its done be consistent (and what's good for the goose is good for the gander).


Magic wrote:

Area: Some spells affect an area. Sometimes a spell description specifies a specially defined area, but usually an area falls into one of the categories defined below.

Regardless of the shape of the area, you select the point where the spell originates, but otherwise you don't control which creatures or objects the spell affects. The point of origin of a spell is always a grid intersection. When determining whether a given creature is within the area of a spell, count out the distance from the point of origin in squares just as you do when moving a character or when determining the range for a ranged attack. The only difference is that instead of counting from the center of one square to the center of the next, you count from intersection to intersection.

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.

Quote:
(S) Shapeable: If an area or effect entry ends with "(S)," you can shape the spell. A shaped effect or area can have no dimension smaller than 10 feet. Many effects or areas are given as cubes to make it easy to model irregular shapes. Three-dimensional volumes are most often needed to define aerial or underwater effects and areas.

I agree with your player. Nothing in the rules states that the shape constituting the spell's area must be contiguous.


About the only thing I would add is it says "A shaped effect or area can ... " and not "The shaped effect(s) or area(s) can ... .

Make of that as you will. I don't think game balance etc., is going to be put out of whack either way.


That smuggles in the assertion that a singular shaped area must be contiguous--i.e., that you can't have one area with two or more disjoint portions. Whether that is what the design team was asserting, I do not know.


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Personally I've always assumed a contiguous area of effect(AoE) for shapeable spells. Spells that produce multiple effects, such as ball lightning, explicity state that.


Kayerloth wrote:

+1 to what Jeff has said. I have to dig around more but I see nothing in the PF rules that unequivocally states it one way or the other. I no longer have many of my old AD&D books but fairly certain it stated that the area must be contiguous with no dimension less than a 10ft cube as I recall some discussions about it among my gaming friends at the time.

PS And while my word is certainly not official (yours as the GM is) that's they way I've been doing since my AD&D days. My only advice is whatever way its done be consistent (and what's good for the goose is good for the gander).

No mention of contiguous areas in 1e, 2e or BECMI. The closest I could find to this was "sheets" rather than a singular noun. but this could just as easily be referring to the fact that it was similar to a Wall of Fire except three dimensional.

We've always played with it as contiguous, however.

Dark Archive

Raw, there's nothing stopping you from creating multiple non-contiguous area effects with shapeable spells. I personally am of the opinion that that is not RAI and will always houserule that shapeable spells must be contiguous in my games.
But RAW, yep, your player is correct until you houserule otherwise.


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RAW is what it is. Taking it literally will only lead to folly. You have to make sensible interpretations of the game as it is a work of art and not a science or mathematics text. The rules are not uniformly consistent.
The simple interpretation is that it is a single contiguous AoE.
Historically (since AD&D) shapeable spells such as Wall of Stone have been implemented as creating a single contiguous AoE, "a wall of stone" {singular}.

Interpreting shapeable spells to allow disjointed areas will increase their utility (not a bad thing, really) but it is not the usual interpretation. It's a nudge within GM discretion. Wall of Stone can then be use to create a stone trebuchet and multiple shot, or hundreds of stone earthbreakers or klars. Clever casters can already do this using a small connector between the pieces, much like an old airplane model panel with multiple pieces. Now the DC....


I agree that it's not called out explicitly in the rules. However, I've always been under the impression that fire storm allowed discontinuous areas.

I would like to point out that neither Ball Lightning nor Meteor Swarm have the shapable tag and so by the logic given by some in this thread both of these spells would absolutely be limited to continuous areas. Even though it's pretty obvious that Ball Lightning is supposed to act like a multi-flaming sphere and meteor swarm is supposed to act like a multi-fireball. Both, allowing targeting independent of each other's areas and locations. Even the spell Fire Snake doesn't have the shapable tag even though it feels like the very definition of being a shapable spell. I also feel like its the spell that gives players the idea that areas must be continuous. Even though Fire Snakes area is literally "see text", making it an explicit exception to the normal rules.

I would also like to point out the spell earthquake. It does have the shapable tag even though it's area of effect is given as simply an "80ft radius spread". I can only conclude that shapable allows the caster to negate squares within the specified area. I don't see any indication that shaping it differently would allow it to affect something more then 80 feet away from its center.

For this reason, I don't think the shapable tag has any bearing on if a spell's area is required to be continuous. Rather, it matters how the area is defined. As Azothath mentioned wall spells tend to specify a single wall covering a certain area. Within the defined area you can remove and/or rearrange squares so long as the resulting shape isn't less then 10 feet in any one dimension (as per the definition of shapable) unless the spell specifies otherwise (see wall of stone and thickness). If a spell defines that you get X AxA blocks then each AxA block can be placed however you wish within the given range of the spell. You could put them next to each other but you don't have to (as per Ball Lightning and Meteor Swarm). If a spell is shapable then you can adjust any combined area to be whatever shape you like so long as no one dimension is less than 10x10.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
CRB wrote:
Area: Some spells affect an area.

One area, not Several areas.

CRB wrote:

(S) Shapeable: If an area or effect entry ends with “(S),”

you can shape the spell. A shaped effect or area can have no dimension smaller than 10 feet.

Again, it speaks of one area, not multiples.

@LordKailas

Meteor Swarm wrote:
Area four 40-ft.-radius spreads, see text

A specific case that explicitly says "see text".

Ball lighting wrote:
Effect two or more 5-ft.-diameter spheres

No area at all, an effect.

So exactly what is your argument?


Diego Rossi wrote:
CRB wrote:
Area: Some spells affect an area.

One area, not Several areas.

CRB wrote:

(S) Shapeable: If an area or effect entry ends with “(S),”

you can shape the spell. A shaped effect or area can have no dimension smaller than 10 feet.

Again, it speaks of one area, not multiples.

@LordKailas

Meteor Swarm wrote:
Area four 40-ft.-radius spreads, see text

A specific case that explicitly says "see text".

Ball lighting wrote:
Effect two or more 5-ft.-diameter spheres

No area at all, an effect.

So exactly what is your argument?

Ball Lighting I will concede. I only mentioned it because it had been brought up earlier in the thread. It is not a shapeable spell nor does it even have an area entry.

Do the areas given by meteor swarm have to connect or can they be separate? The spell text only talks about what happens when they overlap (granting an extra effect when this happens). It doesn't say anything about them not having to be continuous. Meaning that if continuity is a normal requirement of areas it would still apply to this spell as well.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
LordKailas wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
CRB wrote:
Area: Some spells affect an area.

One area, not Several areas.

CRB wrote:

(S) Shapeable: If an area or effect entry ends with “(S),”

you can shape the spell. A shaped effect or area can have no dimension smaller than 10 feet.

Again, it speaks of one area, not multiples.

@LordKailas

Meteor Swarm wrote:
Area four 40-ft.-radius spreads, see text

A specific case that explicitly says "see text".

Ball lighting wrote:
Effect two or more 5-ft.-diameter spheres

No area at all, an effect.

So exactly what is your argument?

Ball Lighting I will concede. I only mentioned it because it had been brought up earlier in the thread. It is not a shapeable spell nor does it even have an area entry.

Do the areas given by meteor swarm have to connect or can they be separate? The spell text only talks about what happens when they overlap (granting an extra effect when this happens). It doesn't say anything about them not having to be continuous. Meaning that if continuity is a normal requirement of areas it would still apply to this spell as well.

Meteor Swarm wrote:

Meteor swarm is a very powerful and spectacular spell that is similar to fireball in many aspects. When you cast it, four 2-foot-diameter spheres spring from your outstretched hand and streak in straight lines to the spots you select. The meteor spheres leave a fiery trail of sparks.

...
Once a sphere reaches its destination, it explodes in a 40-foot-radius spread, dealing 6d6 points of fire damage to each creature in the area.

In practice, you fire four fireballs to four different spots. Again, what it do is fully described in the text of the spell. As written you can fire one North, one SoutEast, one West and one straight above or all four against the same spot (or whatever combination of directions and targets you want).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Earthquake is a good catch as an oddball spell, but:
- spread say: "A spread spell extends out like a burst but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the spell spreads out a given distance in all directions. Figure the area the spell effect fills by taking into account any turns the spell effect takes."

- and burst: "A burst spell affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures that you can’t see. It can’t affect creatures with total cover from its point of origin (in other words, its effects don’t extend around corners). 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."

So what we have? An area of effect where the spell spread up to 80' from a start point and you should pay the distance cost of every turn you are forced to make to get to the point affected. You can exclude some spots into the area of effect as the spell is shapeable, but you must pay the turns to move around them. It seems exactly the description of a single area of effect.


Diego Rossi wrote:
In practice, you fire four fireballs to four different spots. Again, what it do is fully described in the text of the spell. As written you can fire one North, one SoutEast, one West and one straight above or all four against the same spot (or whatever combination of directions and targets you want).

That isn't how the spell is written though. Instead of giving an Area it would define it the same way ball lightening does as 4 separate effects. Additionally, if you actually fired four fireballs at four points, overlapping areas would allow a save against each fireball independently and any fire resistance the creature has would apply against each fireball it got hit by. Instead, its defined as an area, that you are allowed to place such that it overlaps with its self (as per the spell text). When the overlap happens you get to stack the damage, but the enemy only gets 1 save and its fire resistance only applies once.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
LordKailas wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
In practice, you fire four fireballs to four different spots. Again, what it do is fully described in the text of the spell. As written you can fire one North, one SoutEast, one West and one straight above or all four against the same spot (or whatever combination of directions and targets you want).

That isn't how the spell is written though. Instead of giving an Area it would define it the same way ball lightening does as 4 separate effects. Additionally, if you actually fired four fireballs at four points, overlapping areas would allow a save against each fireball independently and any fire resistance the creature has would apply against each fireball it got hit by. Instead, its defined as an area, that you are allowed to place such that it overlaps with its self (as per the spell text). When the overlap happens you get to stack the damage, but the enemy only gets 1 save and its fire resistance only applies once.

Quote:
If a creature is within the area of more than one sphere, it must save separately against each. Despite stemming from separate spheres, all of the fire damage is added together after the saves have been made, and fire resistance is applied only once.

Four separate saves and a specific rule (again) that says "If a creature is within the area of more than one sphere, it must save separately against each. Despite stemming from separate spheres, all of the fire damage is added together after the saves have been made, and fire resistance is applied only once."

What do you want more?

You seem to have problems with the idea that specific rules override general rules.


Huh?

Neither Meteor Swarm nor Ball Lightning are Shapeable. First neither has any indication of such or the (S) tag on the Area line. Picking targets (Meteor Swarm) or the direction of the path a particular Ball (Ball Lightning) is going to take is not making the spell Shapeable. The size of the effect in both cases is fixed (40ft radius and 5ft radius respectively).

The "see text" in Meteor Swarm has nothing to due with the shape of the resulting Sphere but where it occurs. Because the spell is Ranged Touch with targets the text has to let you know what to do if you "Miss".

Earthquake is in fact a weird duck and if I thought a FAQ would actually get a response these days I would happily hit the button. I suspect it has to do with the equally odd effects and their various outcomes (and probably a bit of legacy lack of editing thrown in perhaps *shrug*). In any case it is very much a specific thing about the spell vs spells in general. It might be as simple as it would allow you to pick a specific structure in the middle of town to effect vs creating lots of undesired collateral damage, no idea though personally.


Diego Rossi wrote:

Four separate saves and a specific rule (again) that says "If a creature is within the area of more than one sphere, it must save separately against each. Despite stemming from separate spheres, all of the fire damage is added together after the saves have been made, and fire resistance is applied only once."

What do you want more?

You seem to have problems with the idea that speci

I have no issues with it. I'm of the assertion that areas don't need to connect. Because it specifics x number of AxA areas. Same as firestorm and that this is independent of the shapable tag

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
LordKailas wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:

Four separate saves and a specific rule (again) that says "If a creature is within the area of more than one sphere, it must save separately against each. Despite stemming from separate spheres, all of the fire damage is added together after the saves have been made, and fire resistance is applied only once."

What do you want more?

You seem to have problems with the idea that speci

I have no issues with it. I'm of the assertion that areas don't need to connect. Because it specifics x number of AxA areas. Same as firestorm and that this is independent of the shapable tag

You use unrelated examples that have specific rules to support something that hasn't the same or similar specific rules. It is like using oranges to explain the nutritional values of meat.

Fire storm wrote:
Area two 10-ft. cubes per level (S)

It never says that it can be divided into several smaller areas.

Without a specific rule saying otherwise, you default to the generic rule. And the generic rule says that you get an area. Not multiples.


Diego Rossi wrote:

You use unrelated examples that have specific rules to support something that hasn't the same or similar specific rules. It is like using oranges to explain the nutritional values of meat.

Fire storm wrote:
Area two 10-ft. cubes per level (S)

It never says that it can be divided into several smaller areas.

Without a specific rule saying otherwise, you default to the generic rule. And the generic rule says that you get an area. Not multiples.
Meteor Swarm wrote:
Area four 40-ft.-radius spreads, see text

both state you get x AxA areas of a particular shape. Since neither spell makes any statement regarding if these areas are required to be connected or not then i expect them to be treated the same.

i dont understand why you insist these spells would be different.

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