3.5 Adventures in Fire

Schmoe

Explorer
I'm expecting my group to take a trip to the Elemental Plane of Fire at some point, with a stop at the City of Brass. However, I'm struggling with figuring out how to make combat challenges interesting on the Elemental Plane of Fire.

In order for the PCs to survive, they're probably going to need items that provide Resistance. Well guess what? Most of the things that live on the plane of Fire are fire-based creatures that get a lot of their oomph from fire-based damage. Since I'm assuming all of the PCs will already have Resistance, if not immunity somehow, what's the point? Salamanders are relegated to second-rate bugbears. Efreet lose the danger that comes with Wall of Fire and Scorching Ray. Fire elementals are boring.

So what's the solution? This is the same type of problem that an Efreet or Salamander would have trying to fight any native of the plane, so I can't imagine they haven't figured out something that would be effective against fire resistant or immune opponents, but I just can't figure it out. Does anyone out there have any ideas? How do you keep a steady diet of fire-based opponents interested against a party that is likely to be mostly fire resistant?
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
Opponents on the plane of fire can be made of both fire AND rock. So they can also deal bludgeoning damage. There may also be magical fire, that basically deals magic damage AND fire damage. And you can introduce incorporeal opponents.

But just a random thought. If you're worried about interesting fights on the plane of fire... why take the adventure to the plane of fire to begin with?
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Well, fire elementals, salamanders, and other foot soldiers should be less powerful against their own kind on their own plane. They are much more disruptive on the prime material, because fire can be so much more damaging on the prime material than on their native plan.

Don't forget Fire Giants. Immune to fire, but they don't depend on fire for damage.

Add other damage types, along with fire. For example, in 5th edition, in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, the Hellfire Engine is created by Devils and it spews "acidic flame", which give both fire and acid damage, meaning it will still harm creatures immunite to fire damage. It also does lightening, bludgeoning, and thunder damage with its various attacks. So, yeah, a siege engine created for the Blood War is going to do more than fire damage.

A lot of demons and devils are immune to fire damage and deal types of damage other than fire damage.
 

Schmoe

Explorer
Opponents on the plane of fire can be made of both fire AND rock. So they can also deal bludgeoning damage. There may also be magical fire, that basically deals magic damage AND fire damage. And you can introduce incorporeal opponents.
Certainly, and I think most things on the Plane of Fire do some damage other than just fire damage.

But just a random thought. If you're worried about interesting fights on the plane of fire... why take the adventure to the plane of fire to begin with?
Because the City of Brass is really freaking cool, and just once as a DM I'd like to take my players there :)
 

Schmoe

Explorer
Well, fire elementals, salamanders, and other foot soldiers should be less powerful against their own kind on their own plane. They are much more disruptive on the prime material, because fire can be so much more damaging on the prime material than on their native plan.

Don't forget Fire Giants. Immune to fire, but they don't depend on fire for damage.

Add other damage types, along with fire. For example, in 5th edition, in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, the Hellfire Engine is created by Devils and it spews "acidic flame", which give both fire and acid damage, meaning it will still harm creatures immunite to fire damage. It also does lightening, bludgeoning, and thunder damage with its various attacks. So, yeah, a siege engine created for the Blood War is going to do more than fire damage.

A lot of demons and devils are immune to fire damage and deal types of damage other than fire damage.
This starts to get down to my concerns, that things are so much less dangerous against their own kind on their own plane. It really throws off the normal power structure when trying to create things like guard patrols, or city enforcers, or guardians, etc. In fact, I think it might make even more sense for locals to put a premium on things like cold damage, so maybe standard issue for an elite guard squad would include a Wand of Ice Storm. Troops intended to keep the peace among the inter-planar travelers would prioritize ways to Dispel Magic or even some specialized tools to suppress resistance for a time.

I suppose the best way to approach this would be to assume that the intelligent natives are quite aware of their limitations, and assume that they have had many centuries of experience in preparing counters.

One alternative that I had considered is that creatures of elemental fire have such a "pure" connection to Fire that while on their home plane, their fire damage automatically ignores any resistance other than native immunity. On the one hand I like that because it reinforces the deadliness of this alien realm and as a place that only the desperate would go, plus it's easy on me the DM. But on the other hand it feels too "hand wavy" and a bit like a cop out.

The suggestions of creatures who would be at home on the plane but have alternate damage sources are all good, and I'll definitely include some of them.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I don't think the cool thing about the City of Brass would be getting into fights with the natives, and honestly, I'm not really understanding what the real problem is here.
 

Schmoe

Explorer
I don't think the cool thing about the City of Brass would be getting into fights with the natives, and honestly, I'm not really understanding what the real problem is here.
While I agree that's not the primary motive for visiting the City of Brass, and it's not what's *cool* about the visit, suffice to say that there is a substantial chance for hostility with some natives to develop. This is a D&D adventure we're talking about, after all.

So what is this thread all about? It's me just trying to wrap my head around adventures on the Plane of Fire and hopefully get some advice from people who have experience with it. On the surface it seems like a lot of the danger and typical excitement of battling elemental creatures will be immediately negated by the standard environmental protections. Is that a problem? I don't know, is it? If others found it a problem, did they do anything about it?

I find it's helpful to get other perspectives before coming to my own conclusions.
 

Celebrim

Legend
While I agree that's not the primary motive for visiting the City of Brass, and it's not what's *cool* about the visit, suffice to say that there is a substantial chance for hostility with some natives to develop. This is a D&D adventure we're talking about, after all.

So what is this thread all about? It's me just trying to wrap my head around adventures on the Plane of Fire and hopefully get some advice from people who have experience with it. On the surface it seems like a lot of the danger and typical excitement of battling elemental creatures will be immediately negated by the standard environmental protections. Is that a problem? I don't know, is it? If others found it a problem, did they do anything about it?
So, my general answer is, "Yes, the effective challenge of many fire aligned beings goes down by 25-50% if you can effectively resist fire.", and if you are to venture on the plane of fire at all, it makes sense to me that you'd need some sort of resistance to fire damage.

But I don't see how this is a problem, because the resources of DMs are infinite and the resources of PCs are finite. For example, if the normal problems of facing an Efreet don't apply, well these aren't ordinary Efreets, but elite Efreet palace guards with two levels of fighter and efreeti sized +1 keen falchions. That closes the gap on damage production. Where closing it in that fashion doesn't make sense (and its going to make sense fairly often considering the blacksmithing skill of many of these beings and the fact you are among their upper nobility and royalty), then you can simply increase the numbers to make up the gap - more salamanders than usual, for example.

I find it's helpful to get other perspectives before coming to my own conclusions.
I've never spent any time adventuring on the Plane of Fire. It's the sort of thing I'd only do if the party had hit 15th level and the participants still wanted to continue with the same characters.

But theory crafting a bit, the main thing that makes adventuring on other planes interesting is that they obey their own laws. They are alien places where things don't work exactly like they do elsewhere. So if this really bothers you, make fire magic work differently on the plane of fire. Casters get big bonuses to their effective caster level (say +4 or +6) when casting fire spells, and further fire doesn't work on the plane like it works elsewhere. Sure it burns, but fire on the elemental plane of fire is a tangible substance that things are made out of. So it's perfectly reasonable that a Wall of Fire on the plane of fire doesn't just burn, but is semi-solid and has to be hacked or forced through. Fireballs don't just burn, but shove things that fail their saving throw away from the center of their blossom. In this fashion, fire becomes less about damaging things and more about battlefield control.

I'm sure many writers have written on the plane of fire and have interesting takes on how it works there. Mine them for ideas.

And further, the threat of different spell powers changes when you are in a hostile environment. Potentially the nastiest thing that can happen to you in a fight with a Noble Salamander is that 'dispel magic' power, turning off your resistance from fire. Shutting down a ring of fire resistance for 1d4 rounds when on a plane where you might be taking continual damage each round without it is significant. Intelligent types on the plane of fire will be well prepared for interlopers and will arrange to attack these weaknesses.
 
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Greenfield

Adventurer
Consider providing Rings of Fire Resistance - Minor. They soak 10 points of fire damage per attack/exposure. Plenty to handle the Plane itself, but not enough to really thwart attacks.

I mean, if the Resistance is a given/requirement, then be "generous" and give it out, but in levels that you can work with.

If they insist on using more portent versions (i.e. spells) then just remember your old favorite, Dispel Magic.
 

Richards

Adventurer
There are two spells in the 3.5 Manual of the Planes called attune form and avoid planar effects that attune the body to the normal "background effects" of the plane being entered. So a PC under the effects of one of those spell on the Elemental Plane of Fire would not be harmed by the flames inherent to the plane, but would still be affected by the burn effect of a fire elemental's slam or a fireball spell. That may be a way to get your PCs onto the plane you want while still allowing the inhabitants' fire-based attacks still be effective.

Johnathan
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Bottom line, they know where they're going, and they know that everything there uses fire. They're going to be prepared for it.

Since everything there uses fire, and is pretty much immune to it, plan on the "bad guys" to have access to Cold based attacks. They'd have those because that's what's most effective to denizens of that plane, which is what they have to face 99.9% of the time.

And, of course, swords and stuff still work there. :)
 

Schmoe

Explorer
Wow, there are a ton of great ideas here. Thanks to everyone for the inspiration.
[MENTION=508]Richards[/MENTION] I had completely forgotten about that spell. I want make it relatively easy to acquire some sort of permanent resistance, and affinity would work nicely. Of course, I still expect the PCs to double up on fire protection, so I think I'm going to approach it as follows.

  • Establish that guards and patrols in the City of Brass are chosen from creatures that are both inherently immune to fire and also don't lose too much when faced with fire-immune opponents. So creatures like fire giants and golems will feature heavily wherever I think there will be guardians tasked with protecting against elemental natives.
  • Patrols in areas of the city that cater heavily to foreigners will be prepared to combat non-natives' defenses. That means that they may have things like anti-magic grenades and wands of dispel magic.
  • Magic items that deal cold damage will be at a premium and will be applied judiciously.
  • General inhabitants won't necessarily be prepared with any of the above and will just have to deal with it.

That's all I've got for now, but it's a great starting point.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Small note: Dispel Magic's effectiveness is level dependent, topping out at ten. A typical 3rd level Wand (the level if Dispel Magic) would have a 5th level caster. If they're dealing with people higher level than that (a near certainty), such a wand would be of little use.

You could up the caster level, but that gets really pricey real fast. Consider a Staff. Also expensive, but it casts at fifth level, or the user's caster level, whichever is better.

Also remember that the City of Brass itself is open to outsiders specifically because it's an area where the constant flames of the Plane aren't there to cause continuous damage. You could let the players know this so as to play down the need for long lasting protection. They'd only need it if/when they left the City.
 
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