absolution (part one: immunities) | sermon
(Absolutes in d20)
Part One: Immunities
I should first give the nod to Sean K. Reynolds whose fantastic article on absolutes, here, was revelatory for me. I had been working on a method to remove a number of absolutes (anti-magic, critical hits and saving throws), but until I read his article it just never dawned upon me how much damage absolutes can do to gaming, in particular epic/immortal gaming. A quick glance towards Deities & Demigods (3rd Edition) reveals an almost unbelievable amount of immunities (ie. absolutes) as standard:
So lets say you are a DM who wants to run an immortal campaign using Deities & Demigods as a basis. Virtually every avenue of threat is closed off to you! Even for epic monsters almost every special ability is rendered obsolete in the face of so many immunities. This is going to choke the life from any such campaign, and the more immunities and absolutes (say from magic items or salient divine abilities) you add, the more you paint yourself into a corner as the number of poignant options dwindle.
Just to clarify what is meant by an 'absolute', its a power or ability which always trumps another regardless of how powerful the second ability is.
eg. A Fire Giant is immune to fire, regardless of how hot that fire is. So even a god of fire harnessing the power of the entire plane of elemental fire couldn't burn the giant, nor would the giant be scorched by dropping him into the sun.
Most absolutes are impractical and unbalanced. They also promote the unhealthy idea of 'one-upmanship'.
For something like energy immunity I suggest a tripartite solution:
So if something was previously immune to fire (for example) but has no special reason to be immune to fire, give it fire resistance 50. If it previously has the fire immunity and the fire sub-type, then give it fire resistance 100. If the being is composed from fire itself, give the creature fire resistance 150.
Going off on a tangent here, but it looks like every point of fire resistance covers an increase of 10 degrees Celsius (with the initial safe zone between about 1-30 degrees Celsius). So Fire Resistance 10 should protect you against a splash of boiling water.
The following table presents over twenty different types of heat and details their temperature; damage dealt (determined by taking the heat in Celsius, subtracting 30 and then dividing the remainder by 60 to find the d6 damage); and the amount of fire resistance needed to be totally unaffected by temperature of that magnitude.
Okay, a few things about the above table. Planck Temperature is the postulated temperature that occured a split second after the big bang, so consider that your unofficial upper limit.
A Fireball blast will wash over you in a fraction of a second (1/331st of a second, approximately 1/2000th of a round). So a fireball spell is probably 1/15th as hot as lightning (approx. 30,000 degrees Celsius), meaning it would be about 2000 degrees Celsius. The base damage dealt by a Fireball is 5d6, for every 1d6 damage increase assume the temperature increases by 400 degrees Celsius.
The viscous nature of Lava means it will deal half damage for 1d3 rounds after the initial exposure.
You are probably thinking "what is he on about, Lightning 500d6, is he mad!" However it should be noted that lightning only impacts for 1/5000th of a second (1/30,000th of a round). So the time you are actually exposed to lightning is very brief. If I hold my hand above the flame of a candle I'm going to get burnt, but if I pass my hand through the flame quickly enough I won't sustain any injury. So the above figure of 500d6/round represents someone bathed in lightning for a full round (6 seconds). A Lightning Bolt will deal a base 5d6 damage, for every 1d6 increase in the damage assume the temperature increases by 6000 degrees Celsius.
Cold (Optional Idea)
In the opposite end of the table we can see that cold is limited by the absolute zero temperature. A white dragon's breath weapon cannot be colder than absolute zero, if indeed it would be even close to that. If we just apply the above damage merely to hit points, it seems as if cold is pretty feeble. So instead I suggest making cold inflict a penalty to Strength and Dexterity instead. The secondary effects of cold: Hypothermia, Frostbite, Freezing and Crystalisation are also addressed below.
Converting Cold Spells
Spells which deal cold damage could be changed to instead give a penalty of 1 point of Strength and Dexterity for every three Caster Levels.
eg. Cone of Cold (Caster Level 12th) could instead inflict a penalty of -4 points of strength and dexterity, saving throw for half-effect.
Converting Cold Breath Weapons
The breath weapon of certain creatures (such as dragons) could deal 1 point of strength and dexterity damage for every 3 Hit Dice of the creature, saving throw for half-effect.
eg. A character with Dexterity 14 is breathed upon by a Great Wyrm White Dragon (36 HD). The character fails its save and suffers a penalties of -12 points to Strength and Dexterity Damage.
Converting Cold Weapons
Resisting the Cold
10 points of Cold Resistance should
convert to 3 points of Strength and Dexterity damage Resistance.
Therefore possessing Cold Resistance 24 (formerly Cold Resistance 80)
would gird you against absolute zero temperature meaning you could survive
the coldness of space. It should be noted that Cold Resistance does not
protect you from strength or dexterity damage or drain from other sources.
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