Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Immolation

Welcome to the Tower of the Archmage’s April A to Z Challenge!

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “I” the number “9” and the support of readers like you.

Thank you.

There are few things that are more satisfying than watching your enemies burn! Whether the fire comes from a flask of oil, a fireball, or even a river of lava, the level of satisfaction only varies by how spectacular the immolation is, or by its sheer volume.

Burning taverns is also a time honored tradition of adventurers. So much so that by 7th level it's a rare party that hasn't burned at least half a town to the ground! Such actions will often be taken in the name of saving the town from total annihilation, but really, other steps could have been taken. No other acts would have been as cool though.

As a DM you can use this tendency to your advantage. To engage your players, give them opportunities to set things on fire. Have them find a cache of Greek Fire just before a big encounter, for example, or have a battle take place with an open and roaring fire pit or bonfire. Give them enemies that are susceptible to fires such as insect swarms, spiders in webs, and trolls to battle against.

Once you've stoked their natural tendency to burn things, do remember your responsibility as a DM to turn the tables on them. There is no reason the monsters can't push the adventurers into the same bonfire, or use a burning flask of oil against them. Having a burning zombie try to grapple a party member? Your players will know you're enjoying the game. Having a bunch of zombies coated in tar and set alight as they march on the party? That's the sign of true love from a DM.

Fun With Fire - New Rule
Whenever someone attacks with a flaming object, such as a torch, the attacker may choose to forgo the usual damage roll and instead roll 1d4 on the chart below.
  1. The object is extinguished - 1d2 damage
  2. The target jumps back - 1d2 damage
  3. The target is lightly burned 1d4
  4. Something the target carries or is wearing catches fire. 1d4 ongoing until extinguished.
  5. The target is on fire and panicked - as #4 plus must make a morale check
  6. Hotter than you thought - as #5, but the damage is 1d6
  7. Way hotter then you thought - as #6, but the damage is 2d4 and the morale check is at -2.

If attacking with a flame smaller than a torch, -1 to the roll.
If the target is wet, -2 to the roll
If attacking with a magical flame, +1 to the roll
If the target is already on fire, +1 to the roll
If the target is highly flammable (i.e. soaked in oil) +1 to the roll
If the flame is as big as the target (i.e. fire pit) +2 to the roll


  1. I like it :) Nice, simple, effective, and fun!

  2. Man, 'adventure' and 'dungeons' I can understand, but the odds of 'immolation' coming up twice were smaller. Mine will be along soon and yours will be hard to match. Good post. I'm having trouble with my mojo. I know what I want, and the clock's ticking down, but it's just not coming out right.

  3. @Simon~ Those really are the hallmarks of a good rules, aren't they?

    @Porky~ I know what you mean about your mojo. I've been struggling with J.