Discussion: Storm Pillar and Hindering Terrain

The answer is that both squares are hindering terrain.

The Blind creature gets it because it is actually hindering terrain, even if he does not know it.

The unblind creature gets it because it is actually hindering terrain. Lightning firing into those squares is no different than the DMG example of fire in a square.
The criteria the DMG lists for Hindering Terrain is that it prevents/punishes movement or it damages those who enter. A fake acid pit in an otherwise normal square is not Hindering Terrain, since there's no movement penalty and there's no acid damage. I agree that a blind character gets saves against Hindering Terrain.

Cite a quotation that a square that causes damage when entered is not unsafe. Cite a quotation that a square must do constant damage in order to be unsafe. Cite a quotation that the unsafe square has to be a zone or an aura.

You won't find such rules.

Is it a safe square? No. Will a creature take immediate damage when it enters the square? Yes. Hence, it is unsafe. DMG requirement for an unsafe square satisfied.
Well, I'm not going to find any such rules, because unlike "Hindering Terrain", "safe" is not a technical term. I never made claims about what was safe. I've only been talking about Hindering Terrain. I don't like "safe". "Safe" is vague. You certainly don't get saves for being forced into "unsafe" squares. But you do get them for being forced into Hindering Terrain.

I also never said that Hindering Terrain was only caused by zones or auras. In fact, I would never say that. I am unaware of any powers or abilities that create Hindering Terrain, although more on that later.

Squares, in general, are not filled with Hindering Terrain. Since 4e is exception-based (PHB, pg 11), squares do not become Hindering Terrain unless it is explicitly stated that they are so.

Are you claiming that the adjacent squares to the Storm Pillar are safe squares to enter???
No. I'm not. Obviously, if you enter those squares you're going to take damage. What I am saying is that "Hindering Terrain" is a specific feature, and not interchangeable with "unsafe square". Just like "Difficult Terrain" is a specific feature, which some powers and abilities interact with in certain ways. For example, the power Prismatic Wall creates a wall that costs one extra square of movement to go through. It is not difficult terrain, which means elves can't shift through it.

The second part of my claim is that if Storm Pillar (and other damage zones) were creating Hindering Terrain, they would explicitly say so. Hindering Terrain is listed with Difficult Terrain, and there are powers that explicitly create Difficult Terrain, so why doesn't Storm Pillar state that it creates Hindering Terrain.

Fair enough regarding Rain of Blows. I should have used the Archlich ED as my example instead, since that causes damage when enemies move too close and when they start their turn too close. So... Archliches? Surrounded by Hindering Terrain?

I realize that I probably come off as a huge pedant for emphasizing the difference between unsafe and Hindering Terrain, which I apologize for. But I think the distinction is crucial. Squares can be unsafe for many reasons, but that does not make them Hindering Terrain. Just like Prismatic Wall can wreck movement without being Difficult Terrain.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
The criteria the DMG lists for Hindering Terrain is that it prevents/punishes movement or it damages those who enter. A fake acid pit in an otherwise normal square is not Hindering Terrain, since there's no movement penalty and there's no acid damage. I agree that a blind character gets saves against Hindering Terrain.
I already said that the rules evidence for this is there, but not strong, hence, I won't debate it.

Well, I'm not going to find any such rules, because unlike "Hindering Terrain", "safe" is not a technical term. I never made claims about what was safe. I've only been talking about Hindering Terrain. I don't like "safe". "Safe" is vague. You certainly don't get saves for being forced into "unsafe" squares. But you do get them for being forced into Hindering Terrain.
Unfortunately for your POV, unsafe is used repeatedly in the DMG on hindering terrain.

Targets
forced into hindering terrain receive a saving throw immediately before entering the unsafe square they are forced into. Success leaves the target prone at the edge of the square before entering the unsafe square.

...

Targets of forced movement in hindering terrain (pits, precipices, fire) can avoid plunging into a pit or over the edge of a cliff or being pushed into a raging fire. The creature makes a saving throw rolled immediately before entering the unsafe square, with success leaving the creature prone at the edge of the precipice.
You are claiming that the squares next to a Storm Pillar are safe.


Unfortunately for your POV, the term unsafe is not needed for my POV. It's just additional support. A trap does not definitively do damage (the PC can be slide over the pit, DMG page 44), but it is still an unsafe square and still hindering terrain.

Hindering terrain prevents movement (or severely punishes it) or damages creatures that enter it, but allows line of sight.
By definition, squares adjacent to Storm Pillar damages creatures that enter the square and allows line of sight, hence, it is hindering terrain.


Please feel free to show rules support that effects that do immediate damage when a creature enters the square and allows line of sight are NOT hindering terrain.

That's what you need to prove. The rules are clear. Terrain in which a creature will be damaged by entering it and allows line of sight is hindering terrain.

Show us rules that say that this is sometimes the case and sometimes not the case. I don't see any exceptions listed for this rule. Lava, fire, Wall of Fire, Cloud of Daggers, Storm Pillar.

There are no rules that indicate that Storm Pillar is an exception to the general rule. Please post them.


Note: Wall of Fire was bugging me, so I looked it up. It blocks line of sight, hence, it is not hindering terrain. The line of sight rule is a stupid rule (I think the purpose of it was supposed to be that the creature has line of sight to the unsafe square in order to determine that it is hindering terrain, but that's not the rule). For example, a Cloud of Darkness over a pit is also not hindering terrain (it's obscured terrain). But, a blind man next to a normal pit, it is hindering terrain. Go figure. ;)
 
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Velmont

Visitor
My 2 copper about Storm Pillar:

I don't think forced movement would trigger the damage of this power.

Storm Pillar said:
Each enemy that moves into a square adjacent to the pillar...
At the opposite of 'Each enemy that enter a square adjacent to the pillar'. So only willing movement would trigger it.

And for hindering terrain, if the creature doesn't fear to get hurt by the forced movement, it is to him to decide if it want to save or not.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
My 2 copper about Storm Pillar:

I don't think forced movement would trigger the damage of this power.

Storm Pillar said:
Each enemy that moves into a square adjacent to the pillar...
This wording is not much different than Wall of Fire.

If a creature moves into the wall’s space or starts its turn there, the creature takes 3d6 + Intelligence modifier fire damage.
And WotC has already ruled that creatures forced moved into a Wall of Fire take damage.

The phrases "entering a space" and "moves into a space" (or square or whatever) are synonymous. Forced movement is still moving a creature into a square.

A target’s speed is irrelevant to the distance you move it.
The rules would have to state that the phrase "moves into" has an explicit rules meaning of "consciously decides to move into on the creature's turn" and it doesn't.

The spell (especially in Arcane Power, this late in the game) would be phrased "Each enemy that uses an action to move into a square adjacent to the pillar..." if they meant your interpretation.
 

CaBaNa

Visitor
Alright, after looking it up, and reading lots and lots of threads...

Storm Pillar, as a conjuration, can be summoned mid-air. It does NOT hover, fly, or move at all. It stays where it was conjured. PHB2 pg 220.

Storm Pillar, may or may not trigger off forced movement, the contentious issue here is the wording. Storm Pillars key sentence, "Each enemy that moves into a square adjacent to the pillar" is very similar to Wall of Fire's key sentence " If a creature moves into the wall’s space", which the dev's officially said triggers damage.

The issue is NOT "would the enemy take damage?", but "has the enemy moved?".
PHB pg 285 qualifies forced movement as "Not a Move: Forced movement doesn't count against a target's ability to move on its turn. A target's speed is irrelevant to the distance you move it." (emphasis mine.) So it's not a "Move Action", however it has "moved" into the space.

My interpretation is as follows;

Storm Pillar may be placed mid-air, and it will stay where it is placed (It will NOT hover, fly, or take any other move action...). Storm Pillar triggers off forced movement, however as per PHB pg 286, for each square the enemy would enter they would get a chance to "Catch" themselves. (Info on Catching Yourself on PHB pg 284, it's basically a saving throw)

Also, if an AP is spent, to place two storm pillars, and an enemy moves into the overlapping threatening squares, they take double damage as it is from differing sources.


This took me a while to find all the parts and pieces in the rules... Not to mention the amount of time spent reading other forums trying to find a clear answer...

DMG pg 44 and 61 seem to back up the idea of "catching yourself" before entering a square filled with lightning. The fire example could be a wall of fire, or a mundane fire. It's still a raging inferno, that few monsters want to go in.

Also note that the definition for Precipice includes any situation of immediate peril, and not just a cliff.
 
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I already said that the rules evidence for this is there, but not strong, hence, I won't debate it.
Yeah, sorry. I think/hope that was one of the things you changed in your edit.

In the following post, I use "unsafe" and "hindering" to mean separate things. "Unsafe" means it punishes/prevents movement or causes damage when you enter, while "hindering" means the same as "unsafe", except it also counts as hindering terrain for any rules, powers, and abilities that work with hindering terrain. I believe that while all hindering terrain is unsafe, not all unsafe terrain is hindering.

Ok, here's my argument:

Powers only do what they explicitly state they do. No power explicitly creates hindering terrain. Therefore, no power creates hindering terrain.

The second premise is fact. A search through the compendium reveals this. So if we agree that no power explicitly creates hindering terrain, then there must be contention as to whether powers can do more than what they explicitly state they do. Specifically, whether a power that duplicates a terrain's effect is, in fact, creating that terrain.

However, it is possible to duplicate a terrain's effect without creating the terrain. Again, moving through a Prismatic Wall costs double movement, just like difficult terrain. However, Prismatic Wall does not create difficult terrain. If it did, then the writers would have just said it creates difficult terrain, rather than restate the difficult terrain rules. Here we have an example of a power doing the same thing difficult terrain does without creating difficult terrain.

So if we can create squares that cost double movement without them being difficult terrain, it isn't outside the realm of reason that it's possible to create unsafe squares without them being hindering terrain. By default, no power creates difficult terrain. There are many powers that explicitly state that they create difficult terrain. Why is hindering terrain any different?

The above, by the way, is also pretty much my response to your request for rules that state that auto-damage squares aren't hindering terrain. Hindering terrain is a specific term with specific relations to rules, powers, and abilities. If the text doesn't say something is hindering terrain, then it isn't.


Some other stuff that isn't directly related to my argument, but I think is worth considering:

If damaging zones create hindering terrain, why isn't this mentioned in the PHB? The PHB contains powers with forced movement and powers with damaging zones; so why doesn't it also talk about how people get saves when the two are combined? This is sort of a big deal. Even if they just forgot the first time around, wouldn't they have stated this in the rules updates the PHB2 contains?

Are Archliches and Warlocks with Minions of Malbolge up are surrounded by a ring of hindering terrain that moves as they do?


Regarding Storm Pillar, there's a CS response here that says it doesn't trigger off forced movement. Make of that what you will, but I find the hindering terrain discussion more interesting.
 

Velmont

Visitor
Looking at that post with the CS response, I see my interpretation is true... and that Grease could be abusive... well, it is a Daily, so that's not too bad.
 

ryryguy

Visitor
This is a pretty icky, nit-picky, annoying sort of debate... but it does keep coming up.

Unfortunately for your POV, unsafe is used repeatedly in the DMG on hindering terrain.

[...]

By definition, squares adjacent to Storm Pillar damages creatures that enter the square and allows line of sight, hence, it is hindering terrain.

[...]

Please feel free to show rules support that effects that do immediate damage when a creature enters the square and allows line of sight are NOT hindering terrain.

That's what you need to prove. The rules are clear. Terrain in which a creature will be damaged by entering it and allows line of sight is hindering terrain.
KarinsDad, I think the counterargument to all this is simply that a zone is not terrain. A damaging zone certainly shares many characteristics of Hindering Terrain. They both can be said to have "unsafe squares". However, unsafe squares do not by themselves alone categorize something as Hindering Terrain. This is like saying an elephant has tusks, and a walrus has tusks, therefore a walrus is an elephant.

Terrain is not something that is created or changed by a power (unless the power specifically says so). Terrain has an independent existence as part of the environment. Terrain is part of the setting of an encounter.

Now, this is a very pedantic distinction to make, as I believe THB has acknowledged. It's also not a distinction that appears with 100% explicit clarity in the rules. You could read them differently. But I think it's certainly a fair reading of the rules.

On the other hand, taking a step back from the domain of definitions and parsed wording, if you consider the spirit and intent of the Hindering Terrain forced movement saving throw rule, it's certainly reasonable to decide to apply it to damaging zones as well. They definitely are similar cases. The fluff more or less matches - a last ditch, desperate attempt to prevent oneself from being thrown into a hazard.

(You could take a step further and ask why can't you make that same attempt to negate any forced movement, but we could also just decide not to take that step because it would obviously neuter forced movement to a silly degree. So let's decide that. :))

So I would approach this by asking how it would affect play at the table. How would it affect the balance of other game elements? Would it significantly slow down or complicate play? Would it make the game more fun?

For balance, obviously it would have a negative impact on the power of damaging zones combined with forced movement, across the board. But since this requires a combo of two effects, the impact is limited. Zones can still be used at "full power" by dropping them directly on foes. They still present obstacles and project control just fine. And even if a character does avoid the hazard, they don't get off scot free, they end up prone, so the forced movement did still have some useful effect. All in all I would not rule out applying the saving throw rule on this basis.

For ease of play, the rule itself is simple enough, adding just a single die roll. The only concern I would have is with these notions about whether the character is aware of the hazard. That could get sticky and confusing. But assuming there is a simple rule of thumb that can determine whether or not the saving throw is allowed, i.e. the character will immediately be subject to an attack, damage, or a condition, then it seems fine.

Finally, would it make the game more fun? This is a matter of taste. I think my answer would be yes, it would. It would add a little bit more drama in certain situations. But, it doesn't seem like a huge deal either way. I think I'd be equally happy playing in games where the saving throw was granted and in games where it was not. (Sorry if that doesn't help resolve the issue. ;))
 

CaBaNa

Visitor
Putting forward two proposals to start getting this resolved...

Proposal A: Storm Pillar triggers off forced movement, however as per PHB pg 286, for each square the enemy would enter they would get a chance to "Catch" themselves. (Info on Catching Yourself on PHB pg 284, it's basically a saving throw)


Proposal B: Storm Pillar triggers off forced movement, a creature may be damaged in this way once per turn. (On the monsters turn it moves willingly through the Storm Pillar area, and takes damage. On the PC's turn, it is slid in and out of the Storm Pillar area three times, it takes damage only once.)

-----------------------


Also, please take a look at Elec-Squall's Storm Pillar in particular. I added implement bonus to damage, as well as elemental empowerment. This is another thing that may be contentious.

(I really wasn't trying to start a ruckus when I made the Lyrander Storm Wizard. If this gets too difficult to make a decision on, like the minotaur thing, I'd rather change characters than fuss.)
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
KarinsDad, I think the counterargument to all this is simply that a zone is not terrain.
Which zone would that be? We are not talking about a zone.

And even if we were, there are no rules that a zone does not create hindering terrain, obscured terrain, or other types of terrain (underwater even if the square is filled with water).

The Obscured Terrain section of the DMG even specifies:

Examples: Fog, mist, zones of magical darkness.
It doesn't matter where the effect comes from (spell, prayer, zone, aura, whatever), if it follows the rules for that terrain type, then the terrain within the area of that effect becomes that terrain type.

Terrain is not something that is created or changed by a power (unless the power specifically says so).
Not true. DMG page 44. Cloud of Daggers is listed in the examples.

Please go read the relevent sections of the DMG before claiming one way or the other. That way, you can post rules support behind your opinion.
 
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ryryguy

Visitor
Which zone would that be? We are not talking about a zone.
Oh, I have not actually looked at the text for Storm Pillar... some of the other effects under discussion have been zones. Substitute "power effect" for zone if you like.

And even if we were, there are no rules that a zone does not create hindering terrain, obscured terrain, or other types of terrain (underwater even if the square is filled with water).

The Obscured Terrain section of the DMG even specifies:

Examples: Fog, mist, zones of magical darkness.

It doesn't matter where the effect comes from (spell, prayer, zone, aura, whatever), if it follows the rules for that terrain type, then the terrain within the area of that effect becomes that terrain type.
Well, that's the fundamental point of disagreement. Can you provide a rules quote for the assertion that power effects should be treated as terrain? Again, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to want to treat it that way, but it's just not as clear cut as you're presenting it.

(Regarding the quote about "zones of magical darkness", in context I don't think it's clear that refers to a zone as a power effect, as opposed to just a synonym for "area".)

I don't want to belabor this... although I do wonder, what do you think about the example of Prismatic Wall? Would you say that should be treated as difficult terrain? (And if so, why do some powers explicitly say that they create difficult terrain or change terrain to be difficult terrain, wouldn't that be redundant?)

*edit*
You added:

Not true. DMG page 44. Cloud of Daggers is listed in the examples.

Please go read the relevent sections of the DMG before claiming one way or the other. That way, you can post rules support behind your opinion.
Sorry, I have not had access to DMG today (while at work), I will look at it tonight. What you're saying about Cloud of Daggers sounds like pretty strong support for your position.
 
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Putting forward two proposals to start getting this resolved...

Proposal A: Storm Pillar triggers off forced movement, however as per PHB pg 286, for each square the enemy would enter they would get a chance to "Catch" themselves. (Info on Catching Yourself on PHB pg 284, it's basically a saving throw)


Proposal B: Storm Pillar triggers off forced movement, a creature may be damaged in this way once per turn. (On the monsters turn it moves willingly through the Storm Pillar area, and takes damage. On the PC's turn, it is slid in and out of the Storm Pillar area three times, it takes damage only once.)
I like A. Storm Pillar needs something to prevent people from being yo-yoed through it, and allowing saves seems as good a way as any.

*Realizes that he may be coming across as a huge hypocrite.*

What? I never said how I think things ought to work. Just how I think they do work. Also, while I may not agree with A, I agree with B even less.
 

ryryguy

Visitor
Ok... so, I really don't want to drag out this rules argument. I'd also be fine with option A, it seems playable and fun. But, I did review the rulebooks as suggested, so I might as well post what I found.

After review, I still think it's ambiguous at best. There is no unambiguous, explicit statement (that I can find anyway) stating that squares with a damaging effect created by a power should be treated as hindering terrain. Pretty much all of the discussion of terrain in the DMG is geared towards how a DM should use it in constructing an encounter. Indeed, it's rather parallel to the discussion of monster roles: categorizations to help in encounter design rather than something to hang other rules off of.

You could say that this is just a function of the fact that it appears in the "Encounter Settings" section. However, if powers were definitely meant to create terrain effects as a matter of course, I'd expect to see at least a little discussion of how that might come into play in encounter design, i.e., how to use a monster that has a power that creates hindering terrain.

The majority of examples that appear are explicitly, unambiguously "things in the world" placed by the DM: "the low rock wall, or the crumbled statues in the dungeon room... a wide chasm... lava... etc." I found only two which seem like they could refer to power effect: "zones of magical darkness" (pg 62) and "a cloud of daggers" (pg 44). The first still seems quite ambiguous to me. The second is stronger, but still not completely clear cut. "the effect of Cloud of Daggers" would be clear cut. "a cloud of daggers" is not. (I will grant that it's tough to say what "a cloud of daggers" might refer to other than the power. This is definitely the strongest example; it seems very likely that the author did have Cloud of Daggers in mind.)

I did find one other reference to powers and terrain effects, in the PH, under How to Read a Power, "Zones":
PH pg 59 said:
"For example, some zones create terrain effects, such as difficult terrain or scorching fire that harms anyone who enters it."
This is still kind of frustrating. Why not "difficult terrain or hindering terrain such as scorching fire"? And why only zones? There's no such language under "Conjurations". So would this not apply to a conjuration such as Storm Pillar? That seems odd.

All in all, I suspect that this is all an artifact of the order in which the rules were finalized and the books were written and edited. Difficult terrain was established early on. It's described in the PH, and has plenty of powers that explicitly create it and interact with it (like elven wild step). The other types of terrain were elaborated on later as Wyatt was working on encounter design. Finally, the rule about forced movement into hindering terrain was added late in the game, possibly as a "patch" when there were too many instant deaths during playtests resulting from people getting pushed off cliffs. (It's striking that this is maybe the closest thing left in 4e to "save or die", imagine if there was no save!) Of course this is all speculation on my part, but it seems to fit what's in the texts pretty well.

That's how it seems to me!
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
After review, I still think it's ambiguous at best. There is no unambiguous, explicit statement (that I can find anyway) stating that squares with a damaging effect created by a power should be treated as hindering terrain.
There are also no rules in the DMG terrain sections that state that terrain is only caused by mundane DM placed in the scenario objects either.


People might be getting a little wrapped around the axle with:

Oh, rocks. Difficult terrain.
Fog. Obscured terrain.

The thought process is that the terrain is placed by the DM.

Instead, think of it as a square. What's in it? Darkness. An effect. It obscures vision, so it's an Obscured Square or Obscured Terrain.

A Wall of Stone spell. It's Blocking Terrain, just like a wall made out of normal stone. You'll note that the Players Handbook does not discuss blocking terrain. It discusses obstacles and solid objects.

The Terrain idea that the designers put into the game is: "What is special about this square?". It doesn't really care if the cause is mundane or magical.

But when people read the word terrain, they think mundane and/or DM supplied. And this is especially true about most of the DMG with the exceptions you noted (and some wonderous special terrain later on in the DMG). This is because it is the DMG. It is about setting up encounters by the DM.

From the PC's perspective, there is no real difference between Fog and Magical Fog. They both do the exact same thing. They prevent line of sight through the square. They look the same and the game is easier to adjudicate and play if the rules work the same for both cases.
 

Kalidrev

Visitor
I'm going to put in my 2 cents here, as I've been following along.

In d20 games (and especially in 4e), the rules are THIS IS THE BASE; these are the exceptions.

What this means is that unless something is explicitly stated that it IS, then it is NOT.

The confusing thing about this situation, is that there IS no base in this case. There is no rule in the DMG or PH that specifically says "A square is NOT hindering terrain by default unless an effect makes it so."

What this leads me to believe (as is the case with so many other things in the 4e game) is that this is something that is supposed to be adjudicated by the DM. Unfortunately, with an online community like this, that could lead to entirely too many differences in a player's At-Will power usage...and could make the player feel that his/her character is "unplayable" depending on how the DM rules things.

So 1 of 2 things needs to happen.

1: We agree to ban the power.
2: We agree on HOW the effect will work with a proposal.

I think we will all choose the latter. I am going to hold off on voting for the moment (since a proposal was put in place), but am going to wait for another round of arguments before I make up my mind.
 

CaBaNa

Visitor
Elec-squall will just have to ready action that thunderwave now... ;)

Nah, just kidding, not trying to be a #%&@.

Excited they fixed it before Pok leveled!

did anyone have an issue with Elec-Squall adding implement damage, and elemental empowerment to Storm Pillar?
 

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