Lava Damage

This is an area to discuss topics related to gaming.
Minotaur Lord
Minotaur Lord
Posts: 2151
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:51 pm
Location: North of Boston

Re: Lava Damage

Post by zenako » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:06 am

Well in the real world, it is basically impossible to 'immerse" yourself into lava. The density difference is huge. It would be like having a balloon sinking into water. Now having contact with lava is another thing entirely. I could also see stepping into a small pool and the weight of the person on that foot for example actually forcing the foot below the surface. So limited immersion for a limb (likely a foot) is possible.

Depending on the edition of D&D you are playing, you do want to make the damage still something to consider, and at higher levels of a version like 3.5 for example, you can have players protected by Resist Energy Fire (for 30 points) and also by a Fire Protection Type Spell that "absorbs" the first N points (likely up to 100 or more of fire). That would mean a rather short exposure would be negated by magic, and after that you would have to exceed 30 points to even matter. Something like Water Walking could/should also work to keep players from sinking into the liquid rock.

So you have proximity exposure, contact exposure and immersion. Due to the differing natures of the risk I would employ some different scales. Note there is no relevant saving throw for proximity or contact exposure damage. There could be a reflex/fortitude to reduce from immersion if the immersion was unintentional and the character immediately was trying to extricate themselves from the situation. Intentional immersion results in an automatically failed save.

I would treat proximity exposure like being close to a wall of fire. Some damage within 20 feet (d4 or d6) and more within 10 feet (2d4 or 2d6). I would also make that occur when you first enter the area, and at the end of each turn you are there. (Separate rolls so someone who had a fire resistance effect going might not take any damage.) This gives a slight risk to entering the area, but if you also run out that same round (say to retrieve something) you only have one damage roll. Staying in the area gives a second hit of damage. This also makes it possible to run and jump a small lava river and likely only take one damage roll from the initial entry. (The size of the damage roll depends on how close you get that round and where you end up.)

Contact exposure would be when you touch the lava surface (or walk on it -see above). That would be like being in the wall of fire. A pretty significant amount, but possible to reduce. (2d4 or 2d6 plus 20 points) I consider lava to be CL 20 for this purpose!

Immersion would be very damaging. The basic 6d10 damage seems like a good place to start for accidental immersion of a single limb, but I would, given the discreet and powerful nature of this damage, expand the criteria for damage slightly. Not instant death, but the following:

1 extremity (arm or leg) intentionally immersed for part of one round = 6d10 no save (accidental with immediate removal a save is possible to both get out and reduce damage)
2 extremities (2 legs, 2 arms or an arm and a leg) = 6d10 + 5d10 for the second. The damage is combined into one total to be sure to make it harder to resist.
3 areas of the Body (2 arms, 2 legs, torso and head) so likely 2 legs and torso = 6d10+5d10+4d10. This is something I could see if someone fell or jumped into lava from some height and the force of their impact drove them into the lava for a bit.
4 areas of the Body = 6d10+5d10+4d10+3d10
5 areas of the Body = 6d10+5d10+4d10+3d10+2d10
6 areas of the Body = 6d10+5d10+4d10+3d10+2d10+1d10 =21d10 or 115 points per round on average. Someone with a high level Fire protection effect might skate that first round, then have to rely on damage reduction the second round to take 21d10-30 points, and will quickly become ash later.

This makes messing with actual lava pretty painful, but possible with the right use of spells. So for example, if you have a fire-based being (Immune to fire) that can grapple and pull a PC under the surface, all they might have to do is weight a round or two for the PC to get cooked. Examples might include a fire giant, elementals, salamanders, effreeti, etc.

I have been thinking about this with the upcoming KS. I would give the proximity damage separate to the contact or immersion damage. Couple of reasons, it helps drive home the risk. So as you get within 20 feet that round, you take a dx of damage, within 10 feet and you take another 2dx of damage. What do you do? Keep running and hopefully jump over the lava stream and out the other side completely and that would be all they would take. I would roll for both contact or immersion of a single limb if a barely failed jump roll resulted in a touch to the lava and take the higher total. IF the roll was failed by 5 or more, then 2 limbs is the minimum and a reflex save to "bounce" another five feet towards the edge which hopefully would get them to just being in proximity.

User avatar
Posts: 101
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:58 pm

Lava Damage

Post by blakoutsun » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:41 am

With the upcoming KS6.66 I have been considering lava damage from a DM perspective. My initial thought was that any player entering lava just dies. I think that isn't much fun though. There was a 5E D&D module that had lava deal 6D10 fire damage, and I am beginning to think that is a more fair amount. I read up on real world lava burns and people have survived contact (not immersion) in lava, so why wouldn't my players have a chance?

What are your thoughts on lava as an obstacle and how much damage do you suppose it should deal?

Post Reply

Return to “Gaming Talk”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Trollface and 5 guests