Scaling HP and Environmental Hazards

In the hopes of never seeing a character become so good at fighting that he can swim in lava, I'm throwing out this plea to have some sort of mechanic in place for dealing with these types of hazards. Whatever the mechanic is, it needs to be based on something other than hit points since those scale in a manner that makes things that should always be lethal eventually become minor annoyances. Lava, falling 100 feet onto a stone floor, acid, and so on are effects that need to do more than just hit point damage. 

And since, as opposed to having set surges, you gain hit dice as you level, tying effects like starvation and dehydration to hit dice makes little sense as well. And ability damage causes too much confusing book-keeping, so constitution drain probably shouldn't be the way to go. There needs to be some way of dealing with these dangers that equally threaten a 1st, 10th and 20th level character, so it can't be a resource that increases as you level. And it needs to be something that doesn't cause too much book-keeping.

The rules define something that drops you below 0 HP as an effect that strikes you directly, leaving a bleeding injury, trauma or knocking you unconscious. Things like lava and falling perfectly fit this description, and could just take you straight to zero, then deal damage to your negative HP. But your negative hit points go up with level as well; and while falling 50' should definitely knock you out if not kill you outright, falling 10' probably shouldn't.

I haven't really given too much thought to trying to figure out how to handle these situations for Next. This is more of just a hopeful plea that the designers won't overlook this aspect of the game in a way that causes a 5th level character to be able to laugh at death and physics just because he killed a bunch of orcs. One idea I have had, though, is that falling damage should factor in what type of surface the character lands on. Instead of 1dX per ten feet, it should be something like 1d4 per ten feet for landing on something soft like a pile of straw, 1d10 for stone, and 2d6 for spikes. Or maybe softer surfaces ignore the first ten or thirty feet of falling damage.

Anyway, just wanted to voice my concerns on the topic. 
Fighters should swim in lava if wizards can just fly over it. We honestly have no basis for how powerful the fighter is at high levels because frankly, we have just about 100 people to reach level 10, and maybe a handful to reach level 11.
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Gazra,
I agree completely.  Though I think by level 15 and up there should be options available that make even such lethal effects less daunting.  What I mean by that is that through Magic (Item, Protective Spell, Ability), Divine or Other Protection, an Ability gained by questing (not class based), or just plain Skill (outmaneuvering, planning ahead, etc.) such Lethal effects might be dealt with.  I don't want to see a Fighter or Rogue unable to survive while a Wizard or Cleric just casts a spell and walks on.  I'm not saying I want a high-level non-caster to have magical abilities (maybe super-human or supernatural) but I do want there to be an option available to them.

As to how to resolve such Lethal effects without tying them to Hit Points or Health Dice, perhaps there's a simple answer.  If effects such as Lava (Acid pools, Falling 50+ ft, Drowning, Burning alive, whatever) removed Constitution points instead of Hit Points or Health Dice, it increases their viable Lethality by that much more.  It also has serious long term effects on a Character (requiring High Magical or Divine Healing to restore) such as scarring and fragility.

I know you think Ability Draining in general is too complex, but I think this would work out different.  The effect removes a specific amount of CON per round, until the character dies or is removed from harm.  Or in the case of falling, depending on how high the drop.  Drowning I see as a more temporary effect, with the CON points being restored with rest once no longer drowning.  Healing while the character is still under the effect serves no purpose, because whatever you heal is just gone anyways.  Even 1pt/rnd is serious damage, as it should be.  Especially with Bounded Accuracy and hopefully a removal of the +X magical items.

Basically just don't even factor in what is affected by CON, until after the effect is over.  If the character dies, no need to worry about anything else.  If he lives, he's going to have to deal with the consequences anyways, so figuring out what he's lost will put that point home to him.  Then it can be a Story Arc for that character (or group) to find a way to Heal, or to learn to live with his new condition.  I like this, because it has serious consequences to the Character that affect the story.
Why not tie it to Hit Die? It will scale perfectly with the character.

Ex. Lava deals 1d6 per character Hit Die each round.

Falling does 1d4 per character HD for every 10ft fallen (starting at 20ft)

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

For falling damage:

10ft fall deal 1d6 or 10% of your max HP, whichever is higher,
20ft fall deal 2d6 or 20% of your max HP, whichever is higher,
30ft fall deal 3d6 or 30% of your max HP, whichever is higher,
...
...
...
100ft fall deals 10d6 or 100% of your max HP, whichever is higher, 

DC 15 athletic/acrobatic check reduces damage by 1 category,
DC 25 athletic/acrobatic check reduces damage by 2 categories, 
etc

and you can roll both and combine them:

IE, athletics roll 15 and acrobatics roll 35, reduces total fall damage by 4 categories and reduces 80ft fall from 8d6 or 80% max HP damage to 4d6 or 40% max HP damage.

 
I agree with the overall idea, but considering the mythical/cultural influences DDN seems to be trying to address, there should be some mitigation to this approach.  At a certain point, characters are effectively superheroic and I have no problem with them jumping 30 or 40 feet down into a group of enemies and shrugging it off.  We've seen that before in stories.  Maybe there's just a flat threshold for falling damage.  What about the traditional d6 per 10ft with a cap at 50?  At that point, you're dropped to 0 and take falling damage.

I like the idea of lethal hazards taking off CON instead of HP.  Maybe as a recovery, you (or the DM) has the option of trading off some of the damage with other stats.  That would represent being badly scarred (CHA), serious limb damage (STR or DEX), sensory issues (WIS), or any number of explanations that I can't come up with (INT).
I 4E we generally to use sourges for those, which are very handy as they don't scale with levels.
So it will depend on D&DN health system basically, but I agree with the principle that there should be a way to deal normalized damage to the characters in such cases.
 
Treat environmental hazards the way Next treats save-or-die effects. Lava does XdY hp damage every round at the beginning of the character's turn, and, at the end of the character's turn, anybody with less than Z hp must make a DC 20 Con save or die.  That way it is a threat to the high level folks who are theoretically superhuman in capacity while it still acts like lava against all the low-level mooks the heros might be tossing into the lava.
Actually, I like that last suggestion. My super god fighter who headbutts medusas (with his eyes closed, of course), bites beholders and breaks in armor by having the wizard throw fireballs at him would be able to take a quick lava dip without auto-dying, but if he does more than a quick jesus impression to get to the other side of the lava pit he'd still be risking death.

As for falling, I see no reason that same hero couldn't dive off a 50 foot ledge axe-first into a zombie horde without making it a suicide jump. He'd still have to be very, very high level to take that 100 foot drop, but at that point if you're giving gods noogies why wouldn't you be able to shake off a little granite dust from the crater you just caused?
Treat environmental hazards the way Next treats save-or-die effects. Lava does XdY hp damage every round at the beginning of the character's turn, and, at the end of the character's turn, anybody with less than Z hp must make a DC 20 Con save or die.  That way it is a threat to the high level folks who are theoretically superhuman in capacity while it still acts like lava against all the low-level mooks the heros might be tossing into the lava.



I think that's my problem: the idea that high level characters are super-human. High level Next characters with bounded accuracy only increase HP, damage, and learn more techniques/spells/prayers etc. That means they learn how to dodge, parry and block attacks better; how to roll with big hits to turn them into minor scrapes; how to strike with more accuracy and deal more damage with each strike; how to cast more powerful spells they have learned from ancient tomes found along the way; how to perform complicated combat maneuvers learned from grandmaster combatants; and so on. None of these things make a character super-human. Spells and magic seem super-human; but it's just a human tapping into a supernatural power source. That character can still be knifed in his sleep, pushed off a building, suffocated, or starved; each of which will cause him to die.

With skills no longer progressing to the +30 and +40 ranges, we no longer need to assume high level characters are supernatural. This is because bounded accuracy does away with all of the "I got a 56, so I jump 80 feet in the air," or, "That's a 45 endurance check, so I breathe the noxious gas of this plane as if it were oxygen," problems that first started making people see high-but-not-yet-epic level characters as super-powered. Now, only damage and hit points scale; and those are simply a measure of your ability to prevent, mitigate and deal combat damage as compared to creatures who are more or less skilled in combat than your character.

That's why I think effects which do actual damage and cannot be blocked, dodged, parried, rolled with, and so on should not be based on hit points. Hit points are an abstract measure of your ability to keep from being damaged; so we need an abstract mechanic to measure effects that just plain deal damage. Then magic items and spell enchantments and epic level abilities can make you super-human by letting those things just deal hit point damage to you instead.
The only way I can accept this is if magic of any kind has no means of trivializing such hazards (whether proactively or retroactively). Otherwise, no deal.

In the hopes of never seeing a character become so good at fighting that he can swim in lava, I'm throwing out this plea to have some sort of mechanic in place for dealing with these types of hazards. Whatever the mechanic is, it needs to be based on something other than hit points since those scale in a manner that makes things that should always be lethal eventually become minor annoyances. Lava, falling 100 feet onto a stone floor, acid, and so on are effects that need to do more than just hit point damage. 

And since, as opposed to having set surges, you gain hit dice as you level, tying effects like starvation and dehydration to hit dice makes little sense as well. And ability damage causes too much confusing book-keeping, so constitution drain probably shouldn't be the way to go. There needs to be some way of dealing with these dangers that equally threaten a 1st, 10th and 20th level character, so it can't be a resource that increases as you level. And it needs to be something that doesn't cause too much book-keeping.

The rules define something that drops you below 0 HP as an effect that strikes you directly, leaving a bleeding injury, trauma or knocking you unconscious. Things like lava and falling perfectly fit this description, and could just take you straight to zero, then deal damage to your negative HP. But your negative hit points go up with level as well; and while falling 50' should definitely knock you out if not kill you outright, falling 10' probably shouldn't.

I haven't really given too much thought to trying to figure out how to handle these situations for Next. This is more of just a hopeful plea that the designers won't overlook this aspect of the game in a way that causes a 5th level character to be able to laugh at death and physics just because he killed a bunch of orcs. One idea I have had, though, is that falling damage should factor in what type of surface the character lands on. Instead of 1dX per ten feet, it should be something like 1d4 per ten feet for landing on something soft like a pile of straw, 1d10 for stone, and 2d6 for spikes. Or maybe softer surfaces ignore the first ten or thirty feet of falling damage.

Anyway, just wanted to voice my concerns on the topic. 

There is a very, very simple fix to this: you, as the DM, can just say, "If you spend an entire round in the lava, you are dead."  Done.

Remember, the rules are guidelines.  It doesn't matter if the DMG says that you take X damage/round from being in lava.  That is just a suggestion. 
And ability damage causes too much confusing book-keeping, so constitution drain probably shouldn't be the way to go.

I don't think it requires a lot trouble to keep track of:
1) Don't actually change CON but just have a drain total.
2) Every point of drain removes one hit point (current and max).
3) Every two points of drain applies a -1 to all CON related rolls. 
4) When drain reaches or exceeds CON you are Dying.
5) When drain reaches or exceeds CON+Level you are dead.

Starvation would be gradual, like 1d4 drain a day. while swimming in lava would be brutal like 2d20.
There is a very, very simple fix to this: you, as the DM, can just say, "If you spend an entire round in the lava, you are dead." Done.



So it is ok for the sytem to be broken and have holes in it because the DM can override it? I'd rather not. And I thought we were past Oberoni's fallacy by now....

Wrecan’s idea has merit because it is simple, has no extra bookkeeping and takes advantage of a concept already in use in other places. However, I also understand Gazra’s concern about super-human capabilities.


The solution lies in setting a baseline of lethality in DDN and then providing options for ratcheting it up toning it down. Lethality covers a variety of topics related to damage, healing, and death. In the specific category of “exceptionally dangerous activities,” the baseline might be “falling into lava is so dangerous that you automatically die.” And then offering a module that ups the super-heroicness of the game (or reduces lethality, depending on your point of view) that looks like Wrecan’s suggestion.

The only way I can accept this is if magic of any kind has no means of trivializing such hazards (whether proactively or retroactively). Otherwise, no deal.



Why? That makes no sense. A wizard can cast fly, but he can't heal. A cleric can heal people and cure diseases, but he can't sneak up and backstab a foe without making a sound. A fighter can cut multiple foes in half with a giant two-hander in platemail and take a ton of damage, but he can't cast protection from fire. Arguments for some arbitrary fairness between the classes like this just seems combatative. It seems like the people pushing for this don't want anyone to be able to do anything cool unless they can do it too. If you work together, your group can do all of these things. If you need to fly, the wizard can cast fly on you. If the wizard is dying, the cleric can heal him. If every class could do all of the same stuff, you would only need one class.

 There is a very, very simple fix to this: you, as the DM, can just say, "If you spend an entire round in the lava, you are dead."  Done.

Remember, the rules are guidelines.  It doesn't matter if the DMG says that you take X damage/round from being in lava.  That is just a suggestion. 



That felt a bit condescending; though I'm sure it wasn't meant that way. I've been a DM/GM/Storyteller for over 20 years. I know the rules are guideline; I know I can houserule anything; I know it doesn't matter what the DMG says. I'm not talking about house-rules here. I'm talking about having good and simple core rules for such hazards--rules that when given five seconds of thought about their effects in the game world won't break down like a convoluted time-travel plot (I'm looking at you, Terminator movies). I believe environmental hazards are something that should be covered in the core rules of the game; and I would like for them to be not only good, but to strike somewhere close to an acceptable level of in-game realism as well.
The only way I can accept this is if magic of any kind has no means of trivializing such hazards (whether proactively or retroactively). Otherwise, no deal.



Why? That makes no sense. A wizard can cast fly, but he can't heal. A cleric can heal people and cure diseases, but he can't sneak up and backstab a foe without making a sound. A fighter can cut multiple foes in half with a giant two-hander in platemail and take a ton of damage, but he can't cast protection from fire. Arguments for some arbitrary fairness between the classes like this just seems combatative. It seems like the people pushing for this don't want anyone to be able to do anything cool unless they can do it too. If you work together, your group can do all of these things. If you need to fly, the wizard can cast fly on you. If the wizard is dying, the cleric can heal him. If every class could do all of the same stuff, you would only need one class.



"Arbitrary fairness" only makes sense for a functional game, which coincidentially enough, is exactly what some of us are expecting.  Nothing you've said here so far has conveyed this.

 There is a very, very simple fix to this: you, as the DM, can just say, "If you spend an entire round in the lava, you are dead."  Done.

Remember, the rules are guidelines.  It doesn't matter if the DMG says that you take X damage/round from being in lava.  That is just a suggestion. 



That felt a bit condescending; though I'm sure it wasn't meant that way. I've been a DM/GM/Storyteller for over 20 years. I know the rules are guideline; I know I can houserule anything; I know it doesn't matter what the DMG says. I'm not talking about house-rules here. I'm talking about having good and simple core rules for such hazards--rules that when given five seconds of thought about their effects in the game world won't break down like a convoluted time-travel plot (I'm looking at you, Terminator movies). I believe environmental hazards are something that should be covered in the core rules of the game; and I would like for them to be not only good, but to strike somewhere close to an acceptable level of in-game realism as well.

Yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to come off as condescending.  In reading your original post, it seemed to me that you felt that falling into lava should be fatal to anyone, at any level.  As a result, the easiest thing is to just make it fatal.

I have to agree with the above post.  Falling into lava might as well just be instant death without some kind of heat protection spell.  Hell, flying over lava ought to be instant death too, thanks to convection, which seems to not exist in most media.

As for falling, you could go for a percentage system.  Like, a fall of X height makes you lose Y% of your hit points.  If you want some randomness, which makes sense, you could roll a die and add it to some constant based on the distance of the fall.

You could something like roll a d6, multiply it by 10, and then add it to the number of feet fallen to determine the percentage of damage you take.  So, if you rolled a 2 and fell 50 feet, you'd lose 70% of your health.  That way, falls of 90+ feet are always fatal.

Or you could have a Dex save or something to withstand some damage and maybe don't include the die?

Or you could roll a d20 and treat each number as 5% and add it to the number of feet.

Or, I don't know--I'm honestly pretty much fine with super tough PCs surviving really long falls.  It's not realistic, but it's cinematic and gets by my verisimilitude tests, so that's good enough for me. 
The only way I can accept this is if magic of any kind has no means of trivializing such hazards (whether proactively or retroactively). Otherwise, no deal.



Why? That makes no sense. A wizard can cast fly, but he can't heal. A cleric can heal people and cure diseases, but he can't sneak up and backstab a foe without making a sound. A fighter can cut multiple foes in half with a giant two-hander in platemail and take a ton of damage, but he can't cast protection from fire. Arguments for some arbitrary fairness between the classes like this just seems combatative. It seems like the people pushing for this don't want anyone to be able to do anything cool unless they can do it too. If you work together, your group can do all of these things. If you need to fly, the wizard can cast fly on you. If the wizard is dying, the cleric can heal him. If every class could do all of the same stuff, you would only need one class.

The reason why is revealed by analyzing the 3e game paradigm. Here are some problems and solutions.

Problem: Dragon  
Solution: Rogue uses Sneak Attack. Wizard uses offensive magic. Fighter uses Sword.

Problem: Locked Door
Solution: Rogue uses Pick Lock. Wizard uses Knock. Fighter uses Strength.

Problem: Golem
Solution: Rogue uses ???. Wizard uses Summon Monster. Fighter uses Sword.

Problem: Stubborn guards
Solution: Rogue uses Bluff. Wizard uses Charm Person. Fighter uses ???

Problem: River of Lava
Solution: Rogue uses ???. Wizard uses Fly. Fighter uses ??? 

See the issue here? Now, admittedly, you can just say, "okay, Magic is just that much better than everything else." And that can make for good stories, and good characters. But in my experience, it tends not to make for good games.

Check out my blog--now REACTIVATED with DnDnext feedback!
Treat environmental hazards the way Next treats save-or-die effects. Lava does XdY hp damage every round at the beginning of the character's turn, and, at the end of the character's turn, anybody with less than Z hp must make a DC 20 Con save or die.  That way it is a threat to the high level folks who are theoretically superhuman in capacity while it still acts like lava against all the low-level mooks the heros might be tossing into the lava.



I think that's my problem: the idea that high level characters are super-human.


"Z" is a variable number established by the gaming group based on when they think martial D&D characters become superhuman.  That number can be ∞.
I disagree completely.

Humans have limits. At some level, you bypass those. At some point, you are beyond human comprehension. There`s no avoiding it.

Really, we all want to be able kill demon lords and the like at ultra-high levels. The catch is, if you can`t do impossible stuff, you can`t kill demon lords.

"I can kill things way beyond comprehension, without being beyond comprehension myself" is bad. That breaks my suspension of disbelief much more than superhuman capabilities.

So, if you want non-superhuman characters, stick to lower levels. Only players who really want power ever play beyond, say, level 15 anyway.


On the lava thing, just set the damage so high that, to survive one turn in average damage, you must be at least Fighter 18 in HP.
My character is called Ryotto Tyrannicide, wich comes from "tyrannicidal riot". He wields two magic swords: King Beheader (as in "Beheader of Kings", not "King the Beheader") and Chain Splitter. He's also a bit of a skirt-chaser. So yeah, I REALLY hope you have some Lawful Evil bad guys prepared for me. Government/trade/church conspiracies are optional, but highly recommended.
I dunno. Whether or not your PCs become superhuman or merely have access to superhuman abilities is too subjective, and really shouldn't be mandated by a single set of rules. Perhaps that could be a set of optional rules?

Set 1 has fixed damage for lava, falling distance and other things that would kill a normal human. High level players would be able to sustain more such damage without dying, as suits people who have surpassed merely human limitations. "I can kill gods with my fists, I've taken dragonfire to the face, I've won a staring contest with a medusa, why should a puddle of hot rocks instantly kill me?"

Set 2 has percentile damage for lava, falling distance and other things that would kill a normal human. High level players would only be able to survive through cleverness, planning and (more often) magical spells and items to protect them. "I can summon demons, call lightning, and wield magic weapons that cleave reality - but I'm still a human. Without my magic wards and rituals, I'm only mortal, and stupidity kills."

I suppose it's the Hulk vs. Iron Man.

Which set of rules is default for D&D is very much up for debate. The fact that both sets of rules should probably be presented (perhaps in a sidebar, as an alternative suggestion in the section that describes environmental hazards) is a much easier sell.
I dunno. Whether or not your PCs become superhuman or merely have access to superhuman abilities is too subjective, and really shouldn't be mandated by a single set of rules. Perhaps that could be a set of optional rules?

Set 1 has fixed damage for lava, falling distance and other things that would kill a normal human. High level players would be able to sustain more such damage without dying, as suits people who have surpassed merely human limitations. "I can kill gods with my fists, I've taken dragonfire to the face, I've won a staring contest with a medusa, why should a puddle of hot rocks instantly kill me?"

Set 2 has percentile damage for lava, falling distance and other things that would kill a normal human. High level players would only be able to survive through cleverness, planning and (more often) magical spells and items to protect them. "I can summon demons, call lightning, and wield magic weapons that cleave reality - but I'm still a human. Without my magic wards and rituals, I'm only mortal, and stupidity kills."

I suppose it's the Hulk vs. Iron Man.

Which set of rules is default for D&D is very much up for debate. The fact that both sets of rules should probably be presented (perhaps in a sidebar, as an alternative suggestion in the section that describes environmental hazards) is a much easier sell.



Makes sense. But really, if you can do enough damage with a non-magical sword to actully endanger a demon lord, you`ve been superhuman for a while and you didn`t know it. There`s no way you can fluff it as "my superior speed and skill with the sword does it".

To make any bit of sense, it`s either "I put my soul on the sword" or at least "I have so much understanding and affinity with the sword that I can cut things beyond comprehension", and you should also cut through stone walls at this point.

Maybe we should add a invulnerability to non-magic weapons for highly supernatural monsters on your set 2. It would at least make it consistent.

EDIT: why is it bolded? I didn`t bold it at all...
EDIT 2: used HTML to remove bolding.

My character is called Ryotto Tyrannicide, wich comes from "tyrannicidal riot". He wields two magic swords: King Beheader (as in "Beheader of Kings", not "King the Beheader") and Chain Splitter. He's also a bit of a skirt-chaser. So yeah, I REALLY hope you have some Lawful Evil bad guys prepared for me. Government/trade/church conspiracies are optional, but highly recommended.
Bounded accuracy helps that, though. A team of mundane soldiers could take down a dragon, they'd just have to take more shots and would get killed more frequently than if they were leveld PCs. A regular sword CAN hurt a demon lord, it's just that a regular person wouldn't be able to deal damage quickly enough or have enough HP to survive the counterattack.

Your superior speed and skill with a sword lets you dart in and strike while avoiding hits in return (a more abstract representation of HP - you're not taking all that damage by absorbing claws to the chest, it represents your normal human body being more adept at dodging them - half HP means you've taken a single claw swipe and are exhausted from all the dodging, not that you've taken thirty claw swipes).

If you sent fifty level 1 men with swords, they could take down a demon lord. They'd probably only have a handful of survivors, and the bodies of their comrades would litter the battlefield, but they'd do it. Or, a level 10 PC could take down a demon lord, using his superior skill and speed with the sword to attack quickly and dodge most of the counterattacks, absorbing more with his armor and shield, nearly dying but perservering through his years of battle experience and lightning reflexes.

I'm not sure if I explained it well, but that's how I think bounded accuracy helps with the non-magical, non-superman fighter problem.
Again, makes sense, but "A regular sword CAN hurt a demon lord" might not sound ok for everyone who wants set 2. You see, demons and dragons are different affairs.

Maybe we should add a hardness rule for materials. Not damage reduction, just "material X can`t damage material Y, period", so we can get magical or adamantine swords to cut through walls and the like instead of just crushing it with high-level fighter damage and a normal sword.
Then add an option to put hardness on the bodies of highly-supernatural monsters on a case-by-case basis at the DM`s discretion, with the hardness value based on the monster`s level.




And I really like bounded accuracy, but I also believe there should be an option to add half-level back into the equation (maybe even full level), for people who want to take Set 1 up to eleven, since then they can do ultra-long jumps and the like.
My character is called Ryotto Tyrannicide, wich comes from "tyrannicidal riot". He wields two magic swords: King Beheader (as in "Beheader of Kings", not "King the Beheader") and Chain Splitter. He's also a bit of a skirt-chaser. So yeah, I REALLY hope you have some Lawful Evil bad guys prepared for me. Government/trade/church conspiracies are optional, but highly recommended.
Why not tie it to Hit Die? It will scale perfectly with the character. Ex. Lava deals 1d6 per character Hit Die each round. Falling does 1d4 per character HD for every 10ft fallen (starting at 20ft)

Interesting idea.  So the die of the hazzard determines how dangerous it is.  Acid could be d6 and lava could be d10, for example.

Oddly fair, but not really how most of D&D works.

I would think swimming in lava would be difficult.  Like swimming in quicksand. 

Personally, I have less problem with a high level character swimming in lava than with a low level character swimming in lava.  If you want to play a fantasy game where 20th level fighter takes off his armor and dives into a pool of lava to swim across, that's your choice.  But I don't think anyone is gonna argue they want the 1st level fighter to be able to do that.

Simply raise the damage.  If swimming in lava does 1,000 HP of damage per round, then go right ahead and swim in it at any level you want.
It isn't how DnD has worked in the past but it fits very well with the new Bounded Accuracy concept IMO.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

"Arbitrary fairness" only makes sense for a functional game, which coincidentially enough, is exactly what some of us are expecting.  Nothing you've said here so far has conveyed this.


The arbitrary fairness I'm speaking of is the idea that if a wizard can do this, then a fighter should be able to do it as well. The whole point of a wizard is that he can cast magic spells. The whole point of magic is that it allows things to happen that can't normally happen. If a wizard can cast fly, he does so because his magical power allows him to break the laws of reality. A fighter or rogue shouldn't get to do that just because it's fair. If they find some winged boots, then they can fly as well because they now have a source of magic. I think what needs to happen is that all of the spells wizards have traditionally known that replicate exact tasks that other classes specialize in should be either toned down so they are not as good as having a fighter or rogue, or they should be removed from the game. Knock should only work on magically locked doors. Mage armor should still leave you at least two points of AC behind a fighter, and only last until you've been hit a few times. Etc.

 Yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to come off as condescending.  In reading your original post, it seemed to me that you felt that falling into lava should be fatal to anyone, at any level.  As a result, the easiest thing is to just make it fatal.


No problem. Like I said, I was pretty sure you didn't mean to be. It just felt like it because the internet. Reading your comment, I now realize using lava as an example probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had. Lava is just a pool of hot death.

 The reason why is revealed by analyzing the 3e game paradigm. Here are some problems and solutions.

Problem: Dragon  
Solution: Rogue uses Sneak Attack. Wizard uses offensive magic. Fighter uses Sword.

Problem: Locked Door
Solution: Rogue uses Pick Lock. Wizard uses Knock. Fighter uses Strength.

Problem: Golem
Solution: Rogue uses ???. Wizard uses Summon Monster. Fighter uses Sword.

Problem: Stubborn guards
Solution: Rogue uses Bluff. Wizard uses Charm Person. Fighter uses ???

Problem: River of Lava
Solution: Rogue uses ???. Wizard uses Fly. Fighter uses ??? 

See the issue here? Now, admittedly, you can just say, "okay, Magic is just that much better than everything else." And that can make for good stories, and good characters. But in my experience, it tends not to make for good games.


Dragon: Dragon has magic resistance, wizard isn't very effective, dragon attacks wizard, wizard almost dies, fighter saves wizard's bacon because sometimes sword beats magic.

Locked Door: Rogue picks lock when delicacy is needed, wizard uses knock when powerful magic was used to seal the door, fighter breaks the door off the hinges when the party wants to surprise some monsters behind the door and get a round of free attacks.

Golem: The wizard tries to cast a fire or cold spell on a flesh golem and finds his spell deals no damage; it only slows them. He tries every other spell and finds it has no effect. He cleverly casts rock to mud on a stone golem, finding it only slows them. He finds he cannot damage the golem at all with spells without first casting 'flesh to stone' before each damaging spell. He tries an electricity spell on an iron golem and once again finds it slows the monster. He tries fire and is amazed that it heals the golem. He tries any other spell and sees they are all ineffective. The rogue can't sneak attack, but he steadily deals damage as the wizard fumbles around in fail mode. The fighter beats the crap out of the golem and scolds the wizard for being useless.

Stubborn Guards: The fighter uses intimidate. 

River of Lava: The wizard casts fly on the fighter. The fighter, strong as an ox, carries the wizard over the river, goes back, picks up the rogue and carries him over. They are all grateful to have each other as companions. 

It's not that magic is better than everything else; it's that magic is different from everything else. Magic, by definition, is an instance of something happening that can't really happen. If every class has it, they are all magic-users, and there is suddenly nothing special about being a wizard. Now you're just the guy who has a crappy AC and low hit points.

I disagree completely.

Humans have limits. At some level, you bypass those. At some point, you are beyond human comprehension. There`s no avoiding it.

Really, we all want to be able kill demon lords and the like at ultra-high levels. The catch is, if you can`t do impossible stuff, you can`t kill demon lords. 

"I can kill things way beyond comprehension, without being beyond comprehension myself" is badThat breaks my suspension of disbelief much more than superhuman capabilities.


I'm not arguing against being able to do things like that. There has been a distinct separation between the "I'm the pinnacle of what a human can achieve," and "I am more than a mere human. I possess supernatural powers which I wield in the fight against the great demons that threaten this plane," since 2.5e. It's called 'epic level'. In 2e we had DM's Option: High Level Campaigns. In 3e we had the Epic Level Handbook. And in 4e, epic level was baked into the default level progression starting at level 21. I want characters to be able to fight Orcus and jump off two-hundred foot towers to elbow drop the pit fiend on the ground. I just want that to happen at epic levels, while reaching the normal level cap simply means you have become so good at what you do, you can no longer progress without becoming a supernatural being.

I dunno. Whether or not your PCs become superhuman or merely have access to superhuman abilities is too subjective, and really shouldn't be mandated by a single set of rules. Perhaps that could be a set of optional rules?


See my answer to wrecan directly above this.

{snip}
Problem: River of Lava
Solution: Rogue uses ???. Wizard uses Fly. Fighter uses ??? 

See the issue here? Now, admittedly, you can just say, "okay, Magic is just that much better than everything else." And that can make for good stories, and good characters. But in my experience, it tends not to make for good games.

{snip} 

River of Lava: The wizard casts fly on the fighter. The fighter, strong as an ox, carries the wizard over the river, goes back, picks up the rogue and carries him over. They are all grateful to have each other as companions.

I disagree with several of your previous assessments (realistically, I shouldn't have even listed "sword" as a solution to dragons, because they fly!), but this one is telling. How does the Fighter beat the river of Lava? He asks the wizard for help.

It's not that magic is better than everything else; it's that magic is different from everything else. Magic, by definition, is an instance of something happening that can't really happen. If every class has it, they are all magic-users, and there is suddenly nothing special about being a wizard. Now you're just the guy who has a crappy AC and low hit points.

It's not that Magic is better than anything else, it's that it's more flexible than anthing else. Name a problem, ANY problem. Can a fighter or rogue solve it? Maybe. Can Magic solve it? Yes, given the right spell.

The wizard spell list already have solutions to more problems than fighter or rogues are capable of handling, and that's with a spell list that is relatively nerfed from 2/3e. The point of the proposal in the OP, making lava absolutely deadly, is to make it even harder for rogues and fighters to deal with a wide class of problems. This means that the gap between universally competent wizards and extremely narrowly competent mundanes is made even wider, generally worsening gameplay.
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{snip}
Problem: River of Lava
Solution: Rogue uses ???. Wizard uses Fly. Fighter uses ??? 

See the issue here? Now, admittedly, you can just say, "okay, Magic is just that much better than everything else." And that can make for good stories, and good characters. But in my experience, it tends not to make for good games.

{snip} 

River of Lava: The wizard casts fly on the fighter. The fighter, strong as an ox, carries the wizard over the river, goes back, picks up the rogue and carries him over. They are all grateful to have each other as companions.

I disagree with several of your previous assessments (realistically, I shouldn't have even listed "sword" as a solution to dragons, because they fly!), but this one is telling. How does the Fighter beat the river of Lava? He asks the wizard for help.


Wow. You really want a game where everyone can solve every problem without ever needing help from anyone else in the party? That is telling. How does the fighter beat the river of lava? What an absurd question. How about this one: why should a person trained to kill people with a sword be able to "beat a river of lava"?

It's not that magic is better than everything else; it's that magic is different from everything else. Magic, by definition, is an instance of something happening that can't really happen. If every class has it, they are all magic-users, and there is suddenly nothing special about being a wizard. Now you're just the guy who has a crappy AC and low hit points.

It's not that Magic is better than anything else, it's that it's more flexible than anthing else. Name a problem, ANY problem. Can a fighter or rogue solve it? Maybe. Can Magic solve it? Yes, given the right spell.

The wizard spell list already have solutions to more problems than fighter or rogues are capable of handling, and that's with a spell list that is relatively nerfed from 2/3e. The point of the proposal in the OP, making lava absolutely deadly, is to make it even harder for rogues and fighters to deal with a wide class of problems. This means that the gap between universally competent wizards and extremely narrowly competent mundanes is made even wider, generally worsening gameplay.


You're making things out to be some way you've decided they are in your mind. Wizards can do a lot, but there is a lot they can't do. And their dependence on magic often ends up being a limitation for them. Before 4e there were tons of creatures that had magic resistance, who were just immune to magic, and so on. Evil wizards placed anti-magic zones in their lairs. All drow had innate magic resistance. And wizards would die without fighters guarding them. It didn't matter what your level was. You could cast meteor swarm and take out a bunch of foes, then be backstabbed dead by a rogue you didn't see. 

Here's what 2e fighter vs. mage was really like:

DM: What are you guys going to do?
Fighter: I'm going to attack him.
Mage: I'll cast Power Word: Kill.
DM: That won't work, he has more than 60 HP so he's not affected.
Mage: I cast Meteor Swarm.
DM: Okay, roll initiative. Mage, you get -9 because of Meteor Swarm's casting time.
Fighter: I win! I attack him three times. I did X damage.
Mage: But I only have X-20 hit points.
DM: Well, you're a dead mage. 

Maybe you should make a campaign in which the only way you can take the wizard class is as a free multi-class everyone gets. Everyone would have to be either a fighter/mage, rogue/mage, cleric/mage, ranger/mage, paladin/mage or what have you. Would that satisfy your need for balance? Or would you just rather play without magic? Because I don't see any other viable options except starting all of your games at epic level.
One houserule we had in one of our more “realistic“ groups for falling damage: 1d6 for the first 10 feet, an additional 2d6 for the next 10 feet (total 3d6), and so on.

This was deadlier, but more important it let the dwarven fighter be tougher than the elven wizard, but there is still a soft ceiling (or should i say hard floor?) to falling distance.
One houserule we had in one of our more “realistic“ groups for falling damage: 1d6 for the first 10 feet, an additional 2d6 for the next 10 feet (total 3d6), and so on.

This was deadlier, but more important it let the dwarven fighter be tougher than the elven wizard, but there is still a soft ceiling (or should i say hard floor?) to falling distance.
I disagree with several of your previous assessments (realistically, I shouldn't have even listed "sword" as a solution to dragons, because they fly!), but this one is telling. How does the Fighter beat the river of Lava? He asks the wizard for help.


Wow. You really want a game where everyone can solve every problem without ever needing help from anyone else in the party? That is telling. How does the fighter beat the river of lava? What an absurd question. How about this one: why should a person trained to kill people with a sword be able to "beat a river of lava"?

Why should a person trained to kill people with a sword be able to "beat a river of lava?" 
Why should a person trained to kill people with a sword be able to "get past guards without threat of violence?"
Why should a person trained to kill people with a sword be able to "bypass a trapped corridor."

Those sound like reasonable questions.

But fill in the blanks:

Why should a person trained in magic be able to ______________________?

What is it that wizards can't do?

There are only a few options here. 1) Fighters get superhuman powers, allowing them to use their swording skills in odd, unexpected ways. 2) Wizards get a clear, explicit limitation on their powers to curtail the range and power level at which they act. 3) The game is unbalanced, and playing a wizard is a better choice than being a fighter.

Now, if you want 3), that's a matter of pure preference that I can't really criticize. But in my experience, it's not very fun. And 2) just feels harsh. Hence, IMH, 1) is far and away the best option.

And incidentally, just to clarify: the fighter wading through lava should still take piles of damage every turn. In this specific case, the wizard is far better suited for solving this problem; it's fine, and in fact desireable, for different characters to have different relative strengths and weakness. But really, if the fighter takes 30d6 damage crossing lava just to replicate the effects of a 3rd level wizard spell, is the game that broken? Do we really need to houserule the game just to make sure that lava renders the fighter entirely impotent?

It's not that magic is better than everything else; it's that magic is different from everything else. Magic, by definition, is an instance of something happening that can't really happen. If every class has it, they are all magic-users, and there is suddenly nothing special about being a wizard. Now you're just the guy who has a crappy AC and low hit points.

It's not that Magic is better than anything else, it's that it's more flexible than anthing else. Name a problem, ANY problem. Can a fighter or rogue solve it? Maybe. Can Magic solve it? Yes, given the right spell.

The wizard spell list already have solutions to more problems than fighter or rogues are capable of handling, and that's with a spell list that is relatively nerfed from 2/3e. The point of the proposal in the OP, making lava absolutely deadly, is to make it even harder for rogues and fighters to deal with a wide class of problems. This means that the gap between universally competent wizards and extremely narrowly competent mundanes is made even wider, generally worsening gameplay.


You're making things out to be some way you've decided they are in your mind. Wizards can do a lot, but there is a lot they can't do. And their dependence on magic often ends up being a limitation for them. Before 4e there were tons of creatures that had magic resistance, who were just immune to magic, and so on. Evil wizards placed anti-magic zones in their lairs. All drow had innate magic resistance. And wizards would die without fighters guarding them. It didn't matter what your level was. You could cast meteor swarm and take out a bunch of foes, then be backstabbed dead by a rogue you didn't see.

So, to be clear: the answer to magic is 1) anti-magic, 2)magic resistance, and 3) low hit points.

The low hit points, by the way, is moot here. There are two reasons for this--first, because Wizards have traditionally been able to bypass this restriction with Stoneskin, Invisibility, etc., and second, because killing the wizard regularly as a check on his power tends to limit the duration of campaigns.

So, that leave the first two as limits on magic. And saying that "anti-magic" is a valid weakness that makes Magic balanced makes about as much sense as saying Superman is a balanced character because you can get him with Kryptonite.

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I'm not arguing against being able to do things like that. There has been a distinct separation between the "I'm the pinnacle of what a human can achieve," and "I am more than a mere human. I possess supernatural powers which I wield in the fight against the great demons that threaten this plane," since 2.5e. It's called 'epic level'.

In 2e we had DM's Option: High Level Campaigns. In 3e we had the Epic Level Handbook. And in 4e, epic level was baked into the default level progression starting at level 21. I want characters to be able to fight Orcus and jump off two-hundred foot towers to elbow drop the pit fiend on the ground. I just want that to happen at epic levels, while reaching the normal level cap simply means you have become so good at what you do, you can no longer progress without becoming a supernatural being.



I'm with Gazra on all of this, again.


There are only a few options here. 1) Fighters get superhuman powers, allowing them to use their swording skills in odd, unexpected ways. 2) Wizards get a clear, explicit limitation on their powers to curtail the range and power level at which they act. 3) The game is unbalanced, and playing a wizard is a better choice than being a fighter.

Now, if you want 3), that's a matter of pure preference that I can't really criticize. But in my experience, it's not very fun. And 2) just feels harsh. Hence, IMH, 1) is far and away the best option.

And incidentally, just to clarify: the fighter wading through lava should still take piles of damage every turn. In this specific case, the wizard is far better suited for solving this problem; it's fine, and in fact desireable, for different characters to have different relative strengths and weakness. But really, if the fighter takes 30d6 damage crossing lava just to replicate the effects of a 3rd level wizard spell, is the game that broken? Do we really need to houserule the game just to make sure that lava renders the fighter entirely impotent?



I don't think those are the only options available for fixing this issue.  They actually just look like the reasons why You believe fighters should have superhuman powers.  And lets be clear here, I too want fighters to have Superhuman powers, but not until they reach Epic levels.  And even at that point, I don't want to see any character blithley wading through a river of lava (to use your example) without having done something to counter its effects.  Just giving them tons of HP so they can survive is not going to cut it, and seems like the lazy way of handling things.

And yes, I do believe the game would be broken if a Fighter could do just that and survive.  Because frankly, I like harsh games where everything has a consequence.  So if that fighter decides to wade through a river of lava, and manages to survive, by god there's going to be severe and lasting consequences for his actions.  I'm talking Anakin Skywalker crispy-time consequences that change the very nature of that character.

And as far as it specifically rendering the Figher impotent, well that's your view and I disagree.  Because the same consequences are going to apply to a rogue who tries to (for example) shimmy across by rope (or epic jump, or use some other manner) to cross that river and fails, as well.  And if that wizard's Fly spell goes out before he crosses, same thing.  And if any character tries to cross and hasn't prepared to resist the heat from convection, their going to have some pretty nasty burns, even if they do manage to get across.  Just sayin'.
Treat environmental hazards the way Next treats save-or-die effects. Lava does XdY hp damage every round at the beginning of the character's turn, and, at the end of the character's turn, anybody with less than Z hp must make a DC 20 Con save or die.  That way it is a threat to the high level folks who are theoretically superhuman in capacity while it still acts like lava against all the low-level mooks the heros might be tossing into the lava.



+1
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext

There are only a few options here. 1) Fighters get superhuman powers, allowing them to use their swording skills in odd, unexpected ways. 2) Wizards get a clear, explicit limitation on their powers to curtail the range and power level at which they act. 3) The game is unbalanced, and playing a wizard is a better choice than being a fighter.

Now, if you want 3), that's a matter of pure preference that I can't really criticize. But in my experience, it's not very fun. And 2) just feels harsh. Hence, IMH, 1) is far and away the best option.

And incidentally, just to clarify: the fighter wading through lava should still take piles of damage every turn. In this specific case, the wizard is far better suited for solving this problem; it's fine, and in fact desireable, for different characters to have different relative strengths and weakness. But really, if the fighter takes 30d6 damage crossing lava just to replicate the effects of a 3rd level wizard spell, is the game that broken? Do we really need to houserule the game just to make sure that lava renders the fighter entirely impotent?



I don't think those are the only options available for fixing this issue.

Okay. What are the other options?
They actually just look like the reasons why You believe fighters should have superhuman powers.  And lets be clear here, I too want fighters to have Superhuman powers, but not until they reach Epic levels.

You want the fighter to start getting superhuman powers at Epic level. 

The Wizard starts getting superhuman powers at level 1.

Do you see why this might be a problem? 

And as far as it specifically rendering the Figher impotent, well that's your view and I disagree.

And if the Fighter has to cross 100 feet of Lava and DOESN'T have a magic item or a wizard buddy, what can he do?
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I dunno. Whether or not your PCs become superhuman or merely have access to superhuman abilities is too subjective, and really shouldn't be mandated by a single set of rules. Perhaps that could be a set of optional rules?

Set 1 has fixed damage for lava, falling distance and other things that would kill a normal human. High level players would be able to sustain more such damage without dying, as suits people who have surpassed merely human limitations. "I can kill gods with my fists, I've taken dragonfire to the face, I've won a staring contest with a medusa, why should a puddle of hot rocks instantly kill me?"

Set 2 has percentile damage for lava, falling distance and other things that would kill a normal human. High level players would only be able to survive through cleverness, planning and (more often) magical spells and items to protect them. "I can summon demons, call lightning, and wield magic weapons that cleave reality - but I'm still a human. Without my magic wards and rituals, I'm only mortal, and stupidity kills."

I suppose it's the Hulk vs. Iron Man.

Which set of rules is default for D&D is very much up for debate. The fact that both sets of rules should probably be presented (perhaps in a sidebar, as an alternative suggestion in the section that describes environmental hazards) is a much easier sell.


I feel like this conversation is getting off topic - fighter vs. wizard power balance as opposed to how lethal environmental hazards should be. I don't normally quote my own posts, but the only objection I've heard so far is "set 2 for heroic, set 1 for epic", which I think puts too much restriction on how other people play as opposed to simply offering an alternative set of rules.

Would anyone have any objections to having two alternative sets of rules for calculating environmental hazards to suit differing styles of play? Perhaps set 2 could be the default, as most editions treat the world as slightly more lethal than 4E, but superhuman players could easily choose set 1 instead.
Reyemile:
I see balance diferently than you: In 4E, magic classes could cast rituals, wich did all those things like letting you bypass lava. Yet, it was balanced.

What must stop, in my opinion, is the infinite toe-stepping: knock only remores magical protection from locks, but they`re still locked. The rogue has a harder time when locks are magical (higher DC) but can still do it, because he deals with locks so much he should have a way to deal with magical ones.

Same goes with find traps: it finds traps, but only disarms magical ones that the rogue can disarm anyway, although with a higher AC.

On tanking, just don`t let the wizard use enough buff stacking to tank better than the fighter (it happens!) and make sure his summons, while they can still be better at tanking than the wizard, are strictly worse at tanking than a fighter at the wizard`s level.


All that being said, I don`t think the hazard rules here presented hurt balance in a truly meaningful way, thought I think there should be other options.
My character is called Ryotto Tyrannicide, wich comes from "tyrannicidal riot". He wields two magic swords: King Beheader (as in "Beheader of Kings", not "King the Beheader") and Chain Splitter. He's also a bit of a skirt-chaser. So yeah, I REALLY hope you have some Lawful Evil bad guys prepared for me. Government/trade/church conspiracies are optional, but highly recommended.
I dunno. Whether or not your PCs become superhuman or merely have access to superhuman abilities is too subjective, and really shouldn't be mandated by a single set of rules. Perhaps that could be a set of optional rules?

Set 1 has fixed damage for lava, falling distance and other things that would kill a normal human. High level players would be able to sustain more such damage without dying, as suits people who have surpassed merely human limitations. "I can kill gods with my fists, I've taken dragonfire to the face, I've won a staring contest with a medusa, why should a puddle of hot rocks instantly kill me?"

Set 2 has percentile damage for lava, falling distance and other things that would kill a normal human. High level players would only be able to survive through cleverness, planning and (more often) magical spells and items to protect them. "I can summon demons, call lightning, and wield magic weapons that cleave reality - but I'm still a human. Without my magic wards and rituals, I'm only mortal, and stupidity kills."

I suppose it's the Hulk vs. Iron Man.

Which set of rules is default for D&D is very much up for debate. The fact that both sets of rules should probably be presented (perhaps in a sidebar, as an alternative suggestion in the section that describes environmental hazards) is a much easier sell.


I feel like this conversation is getting off topic - fighter vs. wizard power balance as opposed to how lethal environmental hazards should be. I don't normally quote my own posts, but the only objection I've heard so far is "set 2 for heroic, set 1 for epic", which I think puts too much restriction on how other people play as opposed to simply offering an alternative set of rules.

Would anyone have any objections to having two alternative sets of rules for calculating environmental hazards to suit differing styles of play? Perhaps set 2 could be the default, as most editions treat the world as slightly more lethal than 4E, but superhuman players could easily choose set 1 instead.




No objection for me. I just think both sets should be treated with care, Set 2 being more delicate: there should be something that keeps a Set 2 Fighter from breaking a stone wall with raw damage, since mere "sword skill" can`t make a mundane sword cut a stone wall. I think a hardness rule would do. Set 1 could just let it happen.

What I mean is, both sets of rules should stretch beyond mere enviromental hazards. "Breaking stuff" is one area they should reach.

EDIT: I mistook Set 1 for Set 2, now I corrected it.
My character is called Ryotto Tyrannicide, wich comes from "tyrannicidal riot". He wields two magic swords: King Beheader (as in "Beheader of Kings", not "King the Beheader") and Chain Splitter. He's also a bit of a skirt-chaser. So yeah, I REALLY hope you have some Lawful Evil bad guys prepared for me. Government/trade/church conspiracies are optional, but highly recommended.
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