How We Goofed With Explosions

by mshrm

This should make Jed happy:  for once, I found a rules correction that doesn’t nerf the wizard.

This past session, I was still getting explosions wrong.

The first time around, months ago, I wanted to remove a die for every hex between the explosion’s center and each victim. This appears to be some sort of twisted memory from HERO System, where every hex removes a Damage Class. For the most common attacks, that’s one die per hex. At the time, we were working out the effects of one of Jed’s explosive spells — probably Concussion, as it was his original favorite. Jed’s player admitted, later, that he was confused when I started removing dice, but since the mistake was to his benefit, he chalked it up to house rules and didn’t say anything.

We’ll just take a moment here for a slow head shake. Aura of “more in sorrow than in anger”. 😉

After that first time, I looked up the real rule. Always the way of things. At the table, I want to keep things moving as much as possible, so I’ll often go with my shoddy memory, rather than taking the time to look things up. still way too much research at the table, but at least I try to pawn it off on the folks not taking their action. Doesn’t always work. I’m still not sure why folks were trying to find stats for darts in the middle of combat. It’s not like anybody’s going to pick some up at the store between the 1st and 3rd turns….

So I looked up the rules, months back, but then I misunderstood it.  The rule is, divide damage by 3 times the number of hexes… not divide by 3 for each hex, which was how I was running it.  In other words, I was doing full damage in the center hex, then 1/3 in the next hex, then 1/9 for the third, then 1/27 for the fourth…. when what I should have been doing was full, 1/3, 1/6, 1/9….

Not that it would have made all that much difference, in practice. The exploding devil-kids were rolling a lot of 12’s, or thereabouts, for their explosion damage, so I was applying 12, 4, 1, nothing.  It should have been 12, 4, 2, 1, nothing. Considering that explosion damage is applied against torso armor, and the party is pretty well-armored in that location, it wouldn’t have made all that much of a difference… but it might have inconvenienced some of the more lightly-armored members, and it surely would have affected the rest of the crowd of demons.

I also forgot that you’re supposed to roll the damage for each individual, in an ideal world. Makes the effects a bit more random, which looks good to me. It’s dispiriting to roll low for everybody’s damage. Gives the impression of a wet firecracker. Much better to have an element of luck to it. It’s not that the explosion was a dud, it’s that the one guy got lucky and “all the shrapnel went the other way”. Gives you another chance to splatter the guy right next to him.

Amusingly, I hear a lot of chatter about how 4th edition’s explosions are so much wimpier than 3rd edition, but going back and looking, it doesn’t seem so to me.  According to my copy of the 3rd edition Basic book, the progression was quarter damage per hex:  full, 1/4, 1/16 (!)…. (I guess I was channeling the 3rd edition math with the 4th edition constant?)