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D&D General Fantasy Equivalent of the Nuke

I was going to say Wish as well.

A friend of mine ran a campaign about a kingdom where wishes were forbidden, and people were hunted who had wish granting items. The kingdom had suffered multiple catastrophic events due to people's reckless wishes, such as rulers or other people being killed, or transformed into animals, economies being wrecked, etc. In the hands of selfish or careless people, the power to wish for anything would be a disaster.

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Victoria Rules
I am a big fan of cold war espionage surrounding nuclear secrets -- mostly the real world stuff (but some fiction, too). I have long toyed with the idea of trying to create a fantasy campaign that fits embraces that genre, but I often get stuck on what the right equivalent of the bomb should be. Assuming D&D-isms (even if the game that I would use isn't strictly D&D), what do you think would make a good stand in for the nuclear weapon in such a scenario?
A new all-powerful destroy-a-city scale spell someone's been secretly developing. Tenth level where spells only go to nine, yet in the right situation almost anyone can cast it...and recently, someone did; which proves the spell is now fact rather than theory.


EDIT: or like @Torquar said in the post right above this one. :)


Many high-level, high fantasy threats are kind of comparable to nukes, at least in my campaigns. In my latest, 2-year home-brew starting out in Forgotten Realms I had quite a bit of space jamming around lvl 10-16. One of the major archs for that level span was baddies using techno-magic to throw smaller asteroids from the Tears of Selune towards major Torun cities - hello, The Expanse and ye olde sci-fi trope of asteroid bombing. My players managed to stop it, but not before Baldur's Gate was turned to ash and rubble. Pretty nukey imho.


Lots of good stuff in this thread. Thanks everyone.

One of the keys to use this in a game, for me anyway, is the threat of the weapon propagating. That is what would drive the action in a theoretical fantasy cold war campaign. The problem isn't a singular fantasy nuke, but lots of them. I'm not saying there isn't a fun campaign to be had around "who discovers it first" but I am more interested in later, when it is more about catching spies and stopping terrorist states from getting it and avoiding deployment by rogue generals and so on.


The Elemental Evil storyline had some sort of elemental orb or destruction that created earthquakes and such, depending on which element it was created from.

Storm of Vengeance already is sort of mini nuke. It has radius of "only" 360 feet though. We could also theorise tenth level spells that are even more potent. Perhaps complex rituals that can only be cast by several archmages in unison.


In order for this idea to work, I think the McGuffin shouldn't be a high level spell or something only high level wizards can use. Part of the threat is a rogue faction stealing a McGuffin and using it for nefarious purposes, perhaps not even realizing exactly how devastating it is. All the work and magic to make the McGuffin so devastating was completed in it's creation, it just needs to be triggered.

Heck, the "oops we lost one" could be a fun twist. The McGuffin should be dangerous just because it exists even if no one touches the thing. Having a "magic bomb" opens up things like an intrigue arc where you know one of these things is being sold on the black market and that anyone who gets their hands on it could set it off. It also lets a fairly low level party get involved with incidents.

I was going to do mine as basically a magical nuke, doing massive damage with lasting aftereffects. That's why it was going to be force and fire damage while creating a wild magic zone afterwards, think long term effects after the bomb dropped causing mutations and weirdness like the Fallout series.

A macguffin that increases the radius to miles, and the duration to decades. It is consumed on use. Wipe out cities with miles wide Cloudkills, or protect them with miles wide Tiny Huts. For decades.

The main draw here is familiarity with existing spells, and the choice of what spell to spend the macguffin on.

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