Friendly Fire

Fauchard1520

Explorer
I enjoy big splashy spells. Fireball in my jam, and there's nothing more satisfying than dropping a dazing metamagic acid pit on the enemy. The problem is that my buddies oftentimes get in the way, and the team tends to resent getting blow'd up.

Aside from the obvious (looking at you selective metamagic) what are some good strategies to help AoE play nice with a party full of melee-oriented allies?

Comic for illustrative purposes.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Make sure party composition doesn't cause your tactics to get in the way of each other.

For example, if your party rogue is built around obtaining a flanking position each round, and your trying to drop a blast spell of some sort on the far side of the opposition every round, then chances are you are going to be continually getting in each others way. Talk about this before hand, and figure out how you are going to deal with it.

Mostly it should be a problem that the spellcaster should be trying to figure out, because spellcasters have much more flexibility than non-casters. A spellcaster that can't contribute without frequently frying his own party probably shouldn't be playing a spellcaster.

Occasions where a rogue calls in a danger close fire mission on purpose because he has improved evasion and its more likely he'll survive a fireball than survive another round of melee are of course special circumstances.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
You know how some quarterbacks will buy large meals at high-end establishments for their linemen?

Presenting your party members Rings of Resist/Immunity to _________ when you like throwing AoE spells of ________ is a good way to keepin’ ’em happy, and is just badass in a storytelling way.

Any survivors would be telling tales of the spell-lobber dropping this spell and that right on top of the party...and the party stepping out of the resultant haze, unscathed and still swinging steel.

How’s THAT gonna play around a bandit campfire?
 
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Greenfield

Adventurer
Two ideas:

1) Take Improved Initiative, so you are more likely to to get your Fireball off before your bloodthirsty teammates move into your target area.

2) Think three-dimensionally. A Fireball has a 20 foot radius, and so a 20 foot template is used. When it goes off at ground level that is. If it goes off at 10 feet height you use a 15 foot radius template at ground level. 15 feet high? 10 foot radius. 20 feet high? 5 foot radius (10x10 square). Taller opponents (Large and Larger) may be in the area of the next larger template even if Medium or Small PCs aren't.

You can do similar things with cone effects. Aim them upwards and the cone on the ground narrows. Aim them up at 45 degrees and the spell becomes a line effect *at the altitude of your caster's hand*. That is, since the cone starts at the caster's hand, if they hold it above their head and aim at 45 degrees, only creatures taller than Medium height can be in the area of effect.

Now many DMs I know resent the practice of spell casters being able to target AOEs with pinpoint precision. Those folks will like this even less, so be prepared for the DM to say no, or to call for a Spellcraft check, or something similar.

3) Take the feat Sculpt Spell (3.5 has it, I don't know about Pathfinder. ) That raises the spell slot by one, but gives you a number of options spell shapes and footprints.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I always tell my players who want to put a AOE spell in the middle of a rolling combat that imagine the rest of us are in a big fist fight and you have the great idea to start chucking grenades into the middle of that hoping to just get the bad guys. I despise grid counting and all that nonsense.
 

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Two ideas:

2) Think three-dimensionally... Taller opponents (Large and Larger) may be in the area of the next larger template even if Medium or Small PCs aren't.
I'd head about the trick of dropping darkness on a tall enemy's head, but for some reason it hadn't occurred to me to do the same with damaging spells. Cheers!
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I'd head about the trick of dropping darkness on a tall enemy's head, but for some reason it hadn't occurred to me to do the same with damaging spells. Cheers!
Most players don’t think in terms of all 3 dimensions.

Which makes aerial and aquatic encounters- and if you have tunnelers, arboreal or cliff-dweller creatures, terrestrial or subtrrranean- encounters soooo much fun for GMs.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
In 3.5, many/most players misapply the rules. They look at the map and carefully plot the exact center of their AOE spells. Fireball, on the other hand, say that the caster states distance and direction, not GPS coordinates down to the inch.

The fact is that there's no rule, no feat, no ability or skill check described as appropriate to allow that kind of pinpoint placement. I'd like to see the equivalent of Precise Shot for spellcasters, with a random chance of being off target by one five foot square per 50 feet or so. Maybe per hundred. If you use Spellcraft or something like that instead (since there isn't a Feat) then have them roll a D8 to determine which adjacent crossed vertices the center shifts to.

And, of course, PCs tend to ignore creatures and objects between themselves and the target area, even though the spell says what happens if the "bead" strikes an intervening object.
 

Eltab

Villager
Tell your armored allies to form a line, not a cluster. Tell the Rogue to hold his turn until after yours (or use a bow-and-arrow on Turn One). When you have softened up the opposition with a Boomer, your allies can do their thing as they see fit - and you can use pinpoint spells on whoever enemy still has too many HP.
 

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