Did I make a bad DM decision?

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  1. #1
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    Did I make a bad DM decision?

    Last week I made a decision which indirectly led to the death of a character, and I'm not sure if I made the best decision (being a little jet-lagged).

    The psion was in a web spell. He wanted to use matter agitation to burn the webs away, but I ruled that it wouldn't be possible to directly agitate the webs, since the strands of silk weren't thick enough to catch fire.

    I was anticipating that he would use the power on his spearhead or his cloak to produce actual fire, but he didn't. A couple of rounds later he was killed be a couple of flaming arrow bolts which hit him within the web (and he failed both his saving throws).

    Should I have let matter agitation set fire to the web? Or did I make a reasonable decision here?

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  • #2
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    Umm... ouch.

    I have to say that I'd have ruled differently - Matter Agitation can burn/melt metals - I'd think that it could ignite a web. On the other hand - it also reads "nonmagical object" and a Web is, I believe, magical. My first thought was that it wasn't, as it reads [Creation] but since it dissapears when the duration ends or under a Dispel Magic...

    I think that you made the best decision you could come up with under tight circumstances... I mean, if there were other ways out - what did he do for the 'couple rounds' before he was hit with flaming arrows?

    Either way, it sucks to lose a PC - but keep in mind that as long as it wasn't malicious, you're still doing alright!
    - Terraism

  • #3
    For myself, I would have had the webs catch fire.

    From the psi HB...

    1st round: Readily flammable materials (paper, dry grass, tinder, torches) ignite.
    Far from being too small, the rules seem to clearly indicate that the smaller the object, the better. For example, the spear head? Wouldn't have gotten to the point it could ignite the webs untill round three. And assuming the webs from the spell behave similar to spider webs, they are "readily flammable".

  • #4
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    Sounds like a bad call to me.

    The description of the web spell makes a big deal about how flammable the webs produced are. They can obviously catch fire and in fact burn away quite quickly and easily--as easily as a hand brushing through cobwebs, the book says.

    Using matter agitation to burn the web seems like a really good idea to me. If you were looking for a way to disallow the use of this power, I guess you could rule that the webs were magical and thus (by the description of the power) unaffected by it, but the web description again emphasizes that even a torn can burn them away effortlessly. Your explanation that the webs are too thin to burn is completely unsupported, however.

    Lousy DM! Feel free to go and scourge yourself now.
    Last edited by Wolfspider; Saturday, 19th January, 2002 at 07:21 PM.

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  • #5
    Since the Web spell says it is very flammable, I would have allowed Matter Agiation to set flame to it. As Tsyr noted, Web thread is "readily flammable material".

  • #6
    Sorry, but I agree that the webs would have caught fire...and being a guy named Scorch (no longer Quickbeam) I should know, right?

    In all seriousness, you made a judgement call and it happened to be not quite accurate. IMHO, what matters most here is that you've obviously spent some time mentally wringing your hands over the situation. Being a DM with a good heart and a strong moral conscience is great -- heck, the rules evade all of us on occasion. If the player has already introduced a new character and seems OK with the eventual outcome of the encounter, leave weel enough alone and move on. If, on the other hand, the player is mightily cheesed about losing his/her PC, perhaps a bit of clever DM interevention is in order...

  • #7
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    Double ouch.

    Well....yeah. It was a bad call. But its not like you were trying to kill off the character or anything.

    It wouldn't have been a big deal, just a mistake. But a mistake that leads to a player character death is a double whammy. I would suggest some serious thought and see if its not easy to retcon his death. Could the character have reasonably survived and just have looked dead? How far did you get in the adventure after that scene? If you left of with the end of the combat, you could just say he didn't actually die and maybe work in a near death experience sub plot!! i always try to work in a plot/sub-plot when ever the possibility presents itself!! !

    If you can't reasonably retcon the scene without loosing plausibility, then i would apologize to the player and chalk it up to experience!!
    Wisdom cannot be bought.....only faked.

  • #8
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    Lama (Lvl 13)

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    I agree, looks like you made a mistake. No bigee. I screw up all the time. I would, however, neglect to enforce the level loss due to death in this case.

  • #9
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    Plane Sailing: You made the right ruling, but with the wrong reason. Terrasim is right that Matter Agitation shouldn't affect Web, because it is magical. The real problem here is the following: How did the player know he couldn't use Matter Agitation? Did you tell him before he used the power (like "I use Matter Agitation to burn away the Web" "It doesn't work"), did he ask and did you answer (without a Spellcraft check), or did he wonder and use Spell/Psicraft, which he succeed?
    If you told him before he used his power, without a spellcraft roll, you were wrong...
    If you told him before he used his power, with a spellcraft roll, you might've told him that his equipment could burn the Web (if you didn't tell, you were quite harsh, but that's just talking afterwards).
    If you just told him it didn't affect the Webs, after he had used his power, he should've been able to burn at least a small portion away where another (Agitated) object was touching the Web (and your ruling was wrong).
    It just depends on the way it happened.
    We are Gods, dark Gods, and it is our duty to thin the herd.

  • #10
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    not to pile on . . .

    but I think that one of the ways used to ignite the web could have worked, had the psion tried all of them. a web spell is a web, but it's a magical web. if it is strong enough to trap someone (hence a useful spell to have) then simply brushing at it isn't going to brush it away. similarly it must be strong enough to witstand casual brushing, and potentally, being set on fire.

    depends on how you use them in your world. if webs are flamable (from the web spell) then agitating the matter would have worked. if they aren't, then you were right.

    additionally, one thing to look at is how do psionics and magic deal with each other in your world. do they mesh completely? are they alien to each other?

    In my world they are quite forgien to each other, such that trying to burn away a magical web with a psionic power would be more difficult than trying to set that magical web on fire with magical fire.

    dunno if this helps, but my initial reaction was that it was a little mistake. (but usually one action doesn't doom a PC, someone could have tried to help him, or he could have made his saves) however, depending on the details of your world, it possibly was the right ruling.

    and as the DM, it's always right anyway.
    "Never anger an elf, we have very long memories."
    ~Amrynn Moonshadow

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